Dhurva grass and Sri Ganesh worship

Dhurva
Sri Ganesh

Dhurva grass is one of the significant ingredients of Sri Ganesh Puja. Whether it is the small prayer or the archana, Dhurva plays an important role.

Dhurva grass is biologically referred as Cynodon Dactylon. It is also called as Bermuda grass, Dhoob, Ethana grass, Dubo, Bahama grass, Couch grass, Indian doab, Arugampul, Grama, Wiregrass and Scutch grass.

Dhurva
Dhurva grass

Sri Ganesh, who is called as Sri Vinayak, Sri Vignesh and innumerable other names is the Primary God. He is invoked first for any auspicious occasion. He signifies wisdom, knowledge, prosperity and auspiciousness.

Though there are several flowers and leaves capable of being used for archana, Sri Ganesh is also compulsorily worshipped with Dhurva grass.

The legend behind the usage of Dhurva grass in Sri Ganesh Puja is described in this article.

Dhurva
Sri Ganesha

Sri Ganesh destroying Analasura

The usage of grass in Sri Ganesh Puja was initiated with the destroying of the Asura named Analasura.

Dharma Raja

Before thousands of Kalpas, Dharma Raja (Yama) was in his Kingdom. Thilothama, the most beautiful celestial maiden, was dancing. Dharma kept watching her.

Despite all his virtues, he had desired her. Admonishing himself on the unholy thought, he went to his dwelling den. However, since he was a Deva, his desire (though immoral) got personified and appeared before him as an asura.

Analsura

The asura was very huge, fierce and angry towards everyone and everything. Even Dharma Raja could not face him. He bolted to the den.

The Asura wanted to crush the Dharma Raja’s den. However, as Dharma Raja was the reason for his origin, he had decided against disturbing him. That Asura was Analasura.

Asura’s havocs

Analasura first came to the earth and ate whatever and whoever he saw. Then he went to Devalok. Fearing him, the Devas escaped to Vaikunth.

Sri Maha Vishnu had prophesized that only Sri Vinayak could save them. He asked Devas to seek the help of Sri Ganesh. They all prayed to Sri Gajanan.

When they were assembled, a booming voice was heard. It said, “I have been looking for you Devas all over. Now that you all are assembled here, my job is now easy. I’m going to devour you all”.

Sri Vinayak’s Vishwaroop

The Devas were desperate. They pleaded to Sri Vignesh. Sri Vinayak took the Vishwaroop which was the magnified huge form. The Devas hid behind Sri Ganesh.

Analasur was at quite a distance. Even then, they all felt the radiation of heat.

End of Analasur

Sri Vinayak in His gigantic form grew bigger than Analasur. He simply grabbed the asura with His tusk and swallowed him.

All the Devas rejoiced at the end of the Asura.

Retention of heat

Though the asura’s life had ended, another problem cropped up. As Sri Ganesh had swallowed the asura, His stomach was filled up with enormous heat. Not only that, the stomachs of Devas also started to burn.

The Devas realized that unless Sri Vinayak’s body cooled down, all the living beings would suffer from heated guts.

Deva’s efforts

Lord Indra, the King of Devas asked Chandra to pour nectar (amrith) on Sri Vinayak’s head. He did so. But it had no effect.

Then the wives of Sri Vinayak, Siddhi and Buddhi also tried to cool off the heat. Their efforts did not succeed.

Sri Maha Vishnu stroked the body of Sri Ganesh with lotus. Even that did not work.

Sages’ decision

There were around eighty thousand sages in the vicinity. They took a decision. Each of them brought twenty one Dhurva grasses and started covering the body of Sri Vinayak.

Dhurva grass miracle

As a miracle, the heat in Sri Ganesh’s body reduced slowly. Then it came down to normal. At the same time, the Devas and the other living beings also begun to have the normal temperature.

Sri Vinayaka’s citation

Sri Vinayaka said, “Dhurva grass has the quality of quelling the body heat. Whatever flower or leaf you may choose for doing Archana to me, it will not be complete unless it is done by Dhurva grass”.

From then onwards, it had become customary to worship and do archana to Sri Ganesh with Dhurva grass. The other legends pertaining to the significance of Dhurva Puja are given here.

Dhurva
Sri Vinayak

Dhurva – an ox, a donkey and a maiden

The significance of going Sri Ganesh Puja with Dhurva grass is described as a story.

Avanthi Kingdom

Avanthi was ruled by the King named Sulabha. He was an excellent and benevolent ruler. His wife Subhadra was very pious, well educated, disciplined and kind. They were the revered and celebrated couple.

Brahmin’s visit

One day, a poor Brahmin named Madhusudhan came to the palace. He wanted to seek some help from the King. He was wearing torn clothes.

Due to fate, the King felt like laughing at the appearance of Madhusudhan. So, he laughed.

Exchange of curses

Without realizing the importance of where he stood, the Brahmin got angry. He told the King,” Even if you are a King, you have no right to laugh at me and my poverty. You don’t know what it means to be poor and toiling. May you become an ox”.

Subhadra got angry. She told the Brahmin,” You have met the king to seek help. Just because he had laughed, you chose to curse the King. You have forgotten your own lower level. May you become an ass.”

Now things had totally gone out of control. The Brahmin had totally lost his head. He said, “You too are as insensitive as the King. You too take the poor for granted. May you become a lowly born maiden”.

Curses’ effect

All the curses became effective.

The King became an ox. A farmer had put the ox in his yard. The ox was given no rest. The Brahmin became an ass. It was caught by a washerman. He worked it relentlessly.

The queen was born as a lowly maid. She had no money. Food for even one session was a problem.  She cut the grass, sold it and ate with that money. Everybody insulted her.

River bank

One day, the ox was very tired after the day’s work. The farmer let it out to graze in the river bank. The ass also had to make several trips from the river bank to the city and back. It was resting there. At the same time, the maiden was cutting and bundling grass. It was Dhurva grass.

Rain and Shelter

Suddenly it started raining. There was a Vinayaka temple nearby. The ox went there. So did the ass. The maiden also took shelter there with her bundle of grass.

Temple Events

The trio, viz., the ox, the ass and the maiden had taken shelter in the outer precincts of the temple.

Outer precinct

Seeing the grass bundle, the ox, being hungry, started to eat it from one side. The ass, being hungry too, had the grass from the other side.

The maiden, seeing the ox, got furious as her source of revenue was being eaten away. So, she took a stick and beaten the ox. The ox backtracked and dashed on the ass. Not able to bear the pain, the ass kicked the ox with the back legs.

With pain, the ox said “maa”, turned and came to the side of the maiden. Maiden got scared and ran around the prakara. The Ox followed. The donkey followed suit.

After every round, the ox pulled a sheaf of grass and ran. So did the donkey. The maiden was also running scared of both the animals.

All these were happening in the outer precinct of the temple.

Inner precinct

In the inner precinct, the Brahmins and sages were preparing for Sri Vinayaka Puja. They were about to do abhishek and archana. It was Vinayaka Chathurthi day.

The sounds at the outer precinct disturbed them. So, they sent a servant to check and do the needful.

Servant’s actions

The servant shooed the ox, the donkey and the maiden away. Both the animals went out. The maiden stayed at a corner. The rain was getting heavier. The wind was awful.

Heavy rains

The animals could not go anywhere and came back to the temple. This time they were silent. They roamed around the outer precinct, each pulled out a sheaf of grass from either and ate them for every round. The maiden fainted due to hunger.

Flying grass

The wind was like a tempest. It was merciless. The grass bundle tumbled and flew away. A few of the Dhurva grass strips from the bundle flew to the head of Sri Ganesh.

A grass escaped from the mouth of the ox and fell on the tusk of Sri Vignesh. A grass from the mouth of the donkey flew away and fell on the feet of Sri Gajanan.

Sages’ misery

The sages doing pooja were disgusted at the sight of chewed and stamped grass being falling all over on Sri Ganapathi. They thought that their Puja’s sanctity has gone. So, they again cleaned the Vinayaka Vigraha and did Puja.

They came to the outer precinct and saw the ox, the donkey and the maiden exhausted with hunger and misery. They found the trio dead.

Vinayak lok

At that time, a chariot from Vinayak lok landed there. The Ganas had carried the ox, the ass and the maiden into the chariot.

The Sages asked them, “the two animals did nothing as prayer. The maiden never even visited the sanctum. They never did anything good. Why are you taking these three to Vinayak lok?”.

The Vinayak Ganas said, “even if they are animals, the ox and the donkey did perambulation of the temple and enabled the Dhurva grass to be put on Sri Vinayaka on Vinayaka Chathurthi day. So did the maiden.

It is equal to doing archana with Dhurva grass which is the favorite of Sri Vinayak. Hence we are taking them to Vinayak lok”.

Sages’ realization

The Ganas also described the legends pertaining to Janaka King and Sage Koundinya. After listening to them, the Sages then realized the importance and significance of Dhurva grass.

Dhurva
Sri Gajanan

King Janaka – Dhurva

As per the legend, Janaka, the King of Mithila was made to realize the importance of Sri Vinayaka through an episode concerned with Dhurva grass.

Janaka’s opinion

King Janaka was a scholar. He had in-depth knowledge in Vedas, Vedantas, Agamas and the Holy scriptures. But his pride on knowledge went to his head.

He thought that, since he knew whatever was there to know, he and Brahmam (Supreme God) were one and the same. He was of the opinion that a separate Brahmam could not exist as he himself knew everything.

This dented his scholarly achievements though he was not aware of it.

Narada’s visit

One day, Sage Narada visited Mithila. He went to Janaka’a palace. Janaka did not welcome him properly. Even then, the Sage did not get angry.

He blessed the King, “With the blessings of God may you get all the glory and wealth”. Janaka said, “Is there a God beyond me? There is no point in invoking God for blessing me”.

Narada was unperturbed. He said, “I am not arguing with you. For every living being, there is a level of existence; For every being, there is a superior being; In the chain of superiority, there is an all pervading Brahmam in all. I will prove to you that there is a superior Brahmam beyond you and me’’.  Then he left Mithila.

Sage Koundinya

Narada directly went to Sage Koundinya’a ashram. Sage Koundinya was an ardent Vinayak Bhakt. Just at the time of Narada’s visit, Koundinya had completed the Sri Vinayak Puja.

Narada had prostrated before Sri Vinayak and sang in praise of Him.

Sri Vinayaka’s boon

Sri Vinayaka was pleased with the song and appeared before Narada. He asked him whether he required any boon from Him. Narada told Him about King Janaka’s demeanor. Sri Vignesh said that He would look into the matter.

Poor Brahmin

Lord Ganesh took the form of a poor hungry Brahmin and went to Janaka’s palace. He told the guards “Tell your King that a poor Brahmin had come to meet him”. Taking in his poor attire and rich tone, they rushed to the King with the news of arrival of a strange person. Janaka summoned him as he too was intrigued.

Janaka’s welcome

Janaka had welcomed the visitor and asked him to occupy the chair. He also asked him the purpose of his visit.

The visitor said, “I have walked a very long distance to come here. I have heard a lot about you. I am hungry. Please give me food’’.

Janaka then arranged for a person to take the Brahmin to the dining hall.

Visitor’s hunger

The ‘’poor Brahmin’’ went to the dining hall. There a nice spread of food was given to him on a banana leaf. He finished it quickly and asked for more.

Then he said, “what you are serving me in the dining hall is not enough for me. Let me directly come to the kitchen and have food there itself”.  He was taken to the kitchen.

In the kitchen, he had finished off the food in no time. Since the cooked food got completed, he ate the raw rice, grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits. Even then his hunger had not subsided.

King Janaka was surprised. He took the matter as a prestige issue. He had ordered his subjects to bring all the food items to the palace to feed the Brahmin. They all brought all the available foodstuff in. The visitor had polished off everything.

Then came a stage that there was no food item left in the country. King Janaka told the Brahmin, “The food stock of my entire country is nullified by feeding you. Please stop eating”.

Poor Brahmin’s reply

The “poor man” said to Janaka, “You are not able to alleviate the hunger of a poor man. Yet you call yourself Brahmam. Shame on you”. Saying thus, the Brahmin had left Mithila.

Janaka’a position

Janaka had some realization. Yet his head weight on his ‘knowledge’ did not go away. He did not understand the nuances.

Thirisara

After leaving Mithila, the ‘’poor Brahmin’’ went to the house of another Brahmin named Thirisara. Thirisara and his wife Virochana were good Vinayak-Bhakts. Despite their poverty, they never failed to worship Sri Ganesh. Thirisara was a vedic pandit as well.

Poor Brahmin’s request

At the time of the visit of the “poor Brahmin”, Thirisara was completing his Sri Vinayaka Puja. The couple were elated that a Brahmin had come to them. They welcomed him whole heartedly.

The “poor Brahmin” said, “I had been to the palace of Janaka to reduce my hunger. Though he gave me all the food in the kingdom, the hunger had subsided only a little. I have come to you to have the rest of the food to drive away my hunger. So, give me food.”

Virochana got scared. She told him “We have completed Vinayaka Puja just now. The house is now abundant (auspicious way to express poverty). We have no foodstuff. Only Dhurva grass is available. We did Puja with the grass; We did Neivedyam also of the grass only. If the King’s feast itself could not answer your hunger, what can we do?’’

He said “you do not know the benefits and special features of the Dhurva grass. You can give me one grass from your Neivedyam. That’s enough for me.”

Wonder happenings

Virochana gave him the grass with respect. The ‘’poor Brahmin” took it. His hunger had gone. The poor couple understood that it was only Sri Vinayak who had come to them.

They fell at his feet. He blessed them and told them to ask for boons. They said they always wanted to live with the thought of Sri Vinayak and prayer to Sri Vinayak. Sri Vinayak blessed them.

Their house became a big bungalow. It was filled up with gold, silver, cash and food grains. Not only that, the palace and the houses in Mithila also got filled up with food grains and the riches.

Janaka’s realization

Janaka also by this time realized his mistake. He understood that it was only Sri Vinayaka who taught him the lesson. He came rushing to Thirisara’s house and fell at the feet of Sri Ganapathi. Sri Ganapathi blessed him.

Dhurva
Sri Vinayaka

Sage Koundinya

Sage Koundinya came to know about the events at Mithila. He narrated the events to his wife. Koundinya’s wife was a scholar. She also used to teach in the Ashram.

Wife’s doubts

Koundinya’s wife asked him, “Thirisara just gave a strip of Dhurva grass to Sri Vinayak and he got so much of wealth. We are doing archana with 16000 grasses daily. But we are still poor. Why Sri Vinayak is not showing us any mercy?

Koundinya’s thoughts

Koundinya thought, “the purpose of doing Puja is attaining mukthi; not for worldly goodies; She is with me for so many years. Is this her learning? Though she is educated, the lure of gold and wealth has not eluded her. It is time I teach her a lesson”.

His directions

He said “you have always helped me a lot with Sri Vinayaka Puja. Now I’m giving you a small strip of the Dhurva grass which was used for Sri Vinayaka archana.

You take this to Indra. Tell him that I have asked him to give gold equal to the weight of the grass. Come back with the gold given by Indra”.

Her sojourn

She went to Indra with the demand. Indra was surprised. He said “only Kubera is in charge of gold. I will send some of my workers with you. You go to Kubera and collect the gold”.

Kubera was surprised at her strange request. He said “I have lots of cash and gold here. You take whatever you want. I don’t want to give gold which is only equal to grass weight”.

But she did not aspire beyond what her husband told her. She said “It is enough if you give gold equal to the weight of this grass. I don’t want anything more than that”.

Kubera asked his assistant to bring a weighing scale. He put the grass on one side and put a miniscule gold on the other side. The grass side did not move. The gold side went up.

So, he added more gold. He kept on adding gold. It kept going up. He had put all the gold, still the plate kept going up. He thought of Indra.

Indra came before him. He too felt ashamed of being complacent in giving gold. He prayed to three murthies. They also came and put themselves in the weighing scale. Then also the plates did not get equal. They all realized their mistakes.

Everybody rushed to Koundinya Ashram. They told him “you have made us realise that nothing in the universe will equal the Dhurva grass which was used for Sri Vinayaka Puja”. Lord Shiva said to Sage Koundinya, “from today onwards Karpaga tree, Kamadhenu and Chinthamani shall be at your service”.

After everyone had left, Sage Koundinya’s wife apologized to him for wanting gold and cash. He accepted her apology. They kept on doing Sri Vinayaka Puja.

Ganesh
Sri Vignesh

Dhurva grass – belief

It is believed that keeping a strip of the Dhurva grass (which was used for Sri Ganesh Puja) in the purse / cash box shall being in prosperity.

Apart from this, drinking the juice of Dhurva grass has enormous medicinal and health benefits.

Om Ganeshaaya Namaha!!!

Note:

The Stories were referred from the book titled Sri Vinayaka Vijayam written by Sri. Vidwan N. Subramanian in Tamil.

Lord Ganesh is referred with His other names such as Sri Vinayaka, Sri Vinayak, Sri Vignesh, Sri, Gajanan and Sri Ganapathi.

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