Did you know there are more than ten thousand varieties of grass in the world? I didn’t till I began writing this blog post. I learned that rice, wheat, maize, bamboo and sugarcane are also part of the grass family! About 20 % of the land mass of the earth is covered by grass. They provide most of our food and sugar.
Tough and tenacious, grasses outlive you and me. There are some grass species that are estimated to be 1000 years old. Grasses have multiple growing points. They can grow from the stem node as well as from the base of leaf blades. The result is they survive our trampling on them and cattle grazing them, and live hardy and long.
I was opened to the world of grass at a young age when I read H.L.Thoreau in Walden “No dust gathers on the grass”. This statement fascinated me. I should be like that, I thought – I should not let the dust of life gather on my mind.
I started observing how a blade of grass welcomes a hurricane, torrential rain or scorching sun in its life. Gigantic trees break down in the face of strong winds because they resist the winds. A blade of grass, on the other hand, survives because it bends and welcomes the winds. It actually “stoops to conquer”. I learned it is important not to be rigid like a tree but be flexible like a blade of grass while rooted on strong human values.
Grass loses its lustre and scintillating vibrancy under the scorching sun. It cries out for water by turning brown. Just see what happens when the next rain quenches its thirst or when you water it. It springs to life again in no time. The lawn in our house, parched dry for almost the past five years due to water-shortage, sparkled with life as the rains returned this year.
The fact that the parched grass “hung in there” and came back to life after five years was a mighty lesson for me. A lesson that the spark of life is indeed more powerful than any challenge that comes its way. A lesson that hope never lets you down. A lesson that patience is all the strength one needs.
A grass variety that is classified as first-class weed in USA, the Bermuda grass, is actually present pervasively in India and finds powerful uses there in many ways. It offers several health benefits – anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antifungal, hypoglycemic, diuretic, antilithic, hypotensive, coagulant antidiabetic, antibiotic, and anticancer. Read more here and here.
The Bermuda grass is called doorvaa in Sanskrit. In India, we offer it in worshipping Ganesha. The Maha Narayana Upanishad rishi actually sees it as an effulgence of divinity itself, to be worshipped:
Doorvaa is an effulgence of Divinity, superior to thousand purifying agencies. has innumerable nodes and sprouts. May it destroy all my evil dreams and remove all impurities.
Sahasra paramaa devi satamoolaa sataankuraa |sarva haratu me paapam doorvaa dusswapna naasinee || 
Praying to grass as effulgence of divinity itself? How so? It is actually an interesting and powerful perspective to life. Just as the grass gives out innumerable sprouts, our mind gives out innumerable sprouts of impure thoughts. May all these be removed is the prayer. And the prayer is to the power that gives rise to the sprouts, the effulgence that is present in the grass, not the grass itself. Looking at the grass from this perspective, it puts me in proximity to divinity.
A blade of grass also reminds me of Rama and Krishna.
Rama, because, that is whom Sita kept in her heart and mind when she threw a blade of grass between herself and Ravana standing in front, and laughed derisively at his wicked and impotent attempts. [trunam antaratah krutvaa…Valmiki Ramayanam 5.21.3]
Wherever I see a blade of grass, when I do notice it, it jogs my mind to do the same, think of Rama and Sita and laugh derisively at any wicked thought that creeps up in mind.
The grass reminds me of Krishna because He prescribes a kusha grass seat to help the mind think of Him with focused concentration [kusha uttaram …yukta aaseet. Bhagavad Gita 6.11,6.14]
The kusha grass prevents the discharge of the energy generated during meditation. It has been observed to block X-ray radiation. It has several reported medicinal benefits.
“Take-home”s from a blade of grass
- Don’t let the “dust of life” gather on your mind. [Don’t fret the small stuff. And all stuff is small stuff]
- Be flexible and well rooted in your core values
- Be obedient, tough and tenacious
- Endure life’s rough patch with hope and patience
- Keep the company of God to remove the impure thoughts sprouting in mind
A single blade of grass, however lush and green it is, may not grab your attention. But a thousand of them grouped together, as in a meadow or a lawn, will do so without fail.
This is the prayer call of the Vedas. To live in togetherness. To live in harmony. Just as the different parts of my body live in natural harmony with each other, we, as different parts of the cosmic body, must live in togetherness, in harmony with each other.
Let us live together in harmony. Let us grow togetherin harmony. In harmony, let us achieve great things. Let us shine together in the effulgence of harmony. Let there be no disharmony among us.
saha naa vavatu | saha now bhunaktu | saha veeryam karavaavahai | tejasvinaavadheetamastu| maa vidvishaavahai||
How beautiful and peaceful the human society will be if we all lived with the same spirit of togetherness as the grass does, in harmony with each other!
Just a thought.
What do you think?