All of us are aware of the Tamil saying, “Vallavanukku pullum Ayudham”, describing how even the humblest and most harmless of things like a blade of grass could be turned into a weapon of destruction, in the hands of an accomplished person. Dharbai, commonly used in the households of Brahmins holds such significance in everyday life. Let us now unwrap some of the significance, usage and benefits of Dharbai.
What is Dharbai?
- The botanical name is “Eragrostis cynosuroides” and in Hindi they call this as Kus or Kusha. Brahmins use this Dharbai grass in all functions, auspicious or inauspicious.
- Puranas narrate that once Lord Vishnu incarnated (personified) as the form of Kurma (one of theAvatharas of Vishnu) the Cosmic Tortoise where the shield of the sacred Kurma supported, the mountain Mandara that operated like a dasher in the Churning of the sacred sea of milk. When the mountain spined, several hairs got wiped off the dorsal side of the tortois. Later these hairs washed onto dry land and transformed to Kusha grass. In a while, when the amritha (nectar of immortality) was formed due to the churning and distributed among the gods, some drops of the amritha fell on the grass and sanctified it permeating the Kusa grass with healing properties.
- Dharbai grass grows in the places of briny (salty) water such as is found at the estuaries (mouths of rivers). Dharbai is a kind of bunch tussock grass growing in a tuft. The edges of the long leaf blades of Dharbai that grow in pairs along the lengthy stems are very prickly. When the kusa grass is dried then the straw is termed Dharbai.
- Brahma is stationed at the root of the Darbha grass, Keshava is stationed in the middle and Shankara is stationed at the tip of the Darbha grass. Thus, the three deities are stationed in the
The references of Darba are mentioned in Vedas as follows;
- Rig Veda I.191.3
- Atharva Veda, IX.28.1
- Atharva Veda, II.7,VI 43 ; VIII.7.20
- Atharva Veda, II.7.3
- Atharva Veda, XIX.32.3
- Atharva Veda, XIX.33.4
- Atharva Veda, VI.43.2
- Atharva Veda, VIII.7.20
- Atharva Veda, XIX.28.1
Significance of Dharbai?
Dharbai helps to protect from toxic radiation and negative energies of all types. It is used for all functions, auspicious or inauspicious. It energetically shields the area around it from the negative energies created by negative thoughts. It simultaneously works to carry and amplify spiritual energies and helps to connect with the higher spiritual realms. Dharbai is not only useful in religious rituals, but also around the home, where it can be used to help shield people from the radiation from electrical appliances. Dharbai also has healing properties and is used in Ayurveda medicine. For all of its importance in the religious rituals of India, Dharbai remains virtually unknown in the West and largely unavailable.
- A person performing any ritual needs to wear a ring made of this Dharbai.
- While chanting and reciting some Vedic phrases and verses, one needs to wear a ring made of Dharbai on his right hand ring finger. This is most essential, while performing all the rituals, such as Agni Santhana, Thiru-Aaradhanam, all sorts of Havans known as Homam etc.
- The count of leaves depends upon the function that is held viz. for some functions related to death only single leaf Dharbai is used; for auspicious and daily routine a ring made of two leaves is used; for inauspicious but not death related functions, (i.e. Amavasya Tharpanam, Pithru Pooja etc.) a three-leaf Dharbai ring is used and for the Temple Prayer and Pooja, a four-leaf Dharbai ring is used. When we have to perform Aachamaneeyam, we remove the Pavitram and place it over the right ear (for convenience) because it should not get wet.
- Also, when a fire ritual known as Agni Santhana is performed, these Dharbai are spread all the four sides of the Agni Kundam.
- At the time of Solar eclipse or Lunar eclipse our elders used to keep this Holy grass in all the food containers in the house to protect from radiation of eclipses.
- Whenever any function is held, firstly they perform a site-cleansing act known as “Shudhhi Punyaahavachanam”. While reciting the selective versus, they hold the Dharbai bunch in their hand and placing the tip point of it over the vessel containing water. Thus the recited vibration values are absorbed by water in the vessel through the Dharbai
- They found that the Holy Grass known as Dharbai has the highest value in conducting the phonetic vibrations through its tip. Later, they sprinkle the Holy water at every nook and corner of the place, where the function is held. A Dharbai without the tip is considered of no value, as the conductor-type value is lost in it.
Uses of Dharbai?
- SPIRITUAL USES:
– Dharbai is used for making asana (seats for prayer and meditation). Traditionally, the seat of Dharbai grass is covered with another asana of wool, silk, cotton or animal skin. A Dharbai-asana aids in meditation and protects the person who sits on it from all sorts of negative spiritual energies. If a Dharbai-asana is not available, a few blades of Dharbai grass can be placed under the seat for similar effects.
– It is traditionally strewn around the place where Yagna (fire ceremony), puja (prayer ritual) and other religious rituals are conducted. This protects the people praying from negative spiritual influences and helps to open a channel for connecting with the Devas.
– Bundles of Dharbai grass are placed in the kumbhas (sacred water pot images) where the Devas are invoked for worship. When used in this way, they help to create a channel to the realm of the Devas while shielding from influences from the lower astral realms, and they also amplify the power of the prayers.
– During Kumbhābhiṣekam rituals (rituals of Temple consecration), water is kept in kumbhas (water pots). The Devas are invoked into the water pot and worshiped with yantra puja (mystical diagrams), upacāras (ritual offerings) and homam (fire ceremony). This process energizes the water in the kumbhas, which is then used in a ritual bath to purify and energize (or re-energize) the Temple murtis (icons). During this process a thread is woven from Dharbai grass to connect the kumbhas (water pot) to the Vigrahas (Temple Icons).
– Dharbai Pavitram (rings made from Dharbai), are worn by priests (or at home) whenever prayer rituals are conducted. These rings help to shield the wearer from negative spiritual energies and to energize their prayers.
– During Sankalpa (ritual of announcing to the Devas what and who the rituals being conducted are for), the wife maintains an energetic connection to the husband, by touching him with a Dharbai.
– During Vivāham (wedding rituals), the woman wears a belt tied from Dharbai.
– Similarly, a belt made of Dharbai is tied around the waist of brahmachari (spiritual aspirants) during Upanayanam (rituals of spiritual initiation).
– During Yagna (fire ceremonies), Dharbai is placed inside the homa kuṇḍa (fire altar) before the sacred fire is lit and on the four sides of the homa kuṇḍa along with mantras to protect from negative energies and empower the rituals.
– Upon the completion of a homam (fire ceremony), blades of Dharbai are burnt with special mantras. The black ash is then mixed with ghee and blessed with mantras before this black ash is offered to devotees to transfer blessings from the rituals.
- HOUSEHOLD USES:
-Dharbai is used medicinally in Ayurveda as a cooling diuretic and urinary tonic. It has been used to treat urinary diseases, diabetes, epilepsy, piles, dysentery, and heavy and prolonged menstruation. It is used to treat repeated abortion and spiritual disorders of all types. It is used to improve the complexion and to treat internal and external wounds. It also has tonic effects to help in emaciation, severe debility or after serious illnesses.
– Dharbai is traditionally used to protect cooked foods from toxic radiation during the eclipse. During solar and lunar eclipses, the atmosphere is full of toxic radiation. It is said that cooked food kept during an eclipse will become toxic. If cooked foods are covered in a container and Dharbai grass kept on top, the Dharbai will shield the food from toxic rays.
– A few blades of Dharbai can be soaked in water and the water poured over the head or drunk for purifying the body spiritually. This water may also be sprinkled around the home, vehicle, or workplace to purify the space from negative spiritual vibrations and to protect from ghosts, demons, and black magic.
– Dharbai can be strewn around large electrical appliances to help shield people from electric radiation. This is especially useful for people who work for long hours around computers or other machines.
– Small pieces of Dharbai can be taped to cell phones to help absorb radiation.
A few Guidelines for Using Dharbai?
– For the best results, blades of Dharbai with the tips intact should be used.
– When cutting Dharbai into smaller pieces, do not use the finger nails, and keep the tips intact if possible.
– Handle Dharbai with reverence and respect for its spiritual energies.
– When strewing Dharbai, keep its tips pointing toward the East, North, or North East.
– Dharbai kūrcas (bundles) should consist of 7, 9, 16, 18, 21, 24, 27 or other sacred numbers for best results.
– Dharbai Pavitram (rings) should be made with 1 blade for funerals and other rituals of death; with 2 blades for regular, home worship offered for oneself and family; with 3 blades for rituals for the ancestors like tharpanam and śrāddham; and with 4 blades for Temple worship / prayers for others- though there is no scientific reason attributed to these YET.
– After gathering, Dharbai should be used ideally within six months for best results.
– Dharbai should be gathered by spiritually-minded people, while chanting mantras.
– Dharbai should be gathered only on the first lunar day of the waning moon cycle.
– After use, Dharbai should not be re-used, but discarded respectfully in a natural place where people will not walk.
– Dharbai water should be ideally used within 24 hours.
– If Dharbai is not available, other grasses, especially those in the Desmostachya, and Eragrostis genera, or lemon-grass and its relatives can be substituted. These grasses will have lesser but adequate effects. Be careful when handling grasses, because many have razor-sharp edges which can cut the fingers if a person is not careful (lemongrass is a great example of this).
– To store Dharbai or other grasses, ensure they are dried well to prevent mold, and store ideally in an airtight container or bag.