BEES IN THE HINDU WAY OF LIFE:
Bees are fascinating creatures, the buzzing of bees as they progress from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar is a pleasant sound. Bees make honey and pollinate flowering plants. In Hinduism, references to the Bee date back to 1500 BC, and it was believed that eating honey would ensure good health and fortify spirituality. In Hindu thoughts, bulls and bees were regenerative symbols. Its honeycomb, a hexagon, is the symbol of the heart. It also symbolizes the Sun and its energies. Bees remind us to extract the honey of life and make life fertile and productive while the Sun shines. Irrespective of the dream being great, there is still the promise of fulfillment if the dream is pursued. Thus the Bee is the symbol of accomplishing the impossible also.
INDRA: Lord Indra was the namesake of ancient India and the deity who separated heaven and earth, and is said to have received honey as his first food.
BHRAMARI DEVI: Similarly, the Indian Bee goddess Bhramari Devi derives her name from the word Bramari, meaning 'Bees' in Hindi. It is said that Bhramari Devi resides inside the heart chakra and emits the buzzing sound of Bees, called 'Bhramaran'. Likewise, the sound of a Bee humming was emulated in Vedic chants and the humming of Bees represented the essential sound of the universe all across India. (see earlier posting)
RADHARANI: Sri Krishna is also called Madhusudhana. His lilas in the Vrindavan cannot be without the bee. One day he sends a message to Radha through Uddhava but she was absorbed in thoughts of the Lord. The gopis called Uddhava to sit in a secluded placed. Radha began to talk with a bumblebee which was flying around her and trying to touch her lotus feet. Ignoring Uddhava she took the bumblebee to be Krishna’s messenger. She purposely addressed that bee sarcastically in order to criticize the messanger Uddhava. She was unsatisfied Krishna having sent a messenger. This is the part Radharani accuses Sri Krishna of abandonment vis-à-vis the bumblebee. Then again it also show Radha’s inability of stopping to talk about Him. These are symptoms of the topmost transcendental ecstasy, the maha-bhava unique to Radha alone. After over-hearing this Radha-bumblebee conversation, Uddhava understood that Radharani had become almost mad after Krishna. He thus understood Radha-Krishna divine love and that topmost ecstasy of maha-bhava love:
“Bumblebee, you are accustomed to drinking honey from the flowers, therefore you have preferred to be a messenger of Krishna, who is the same nature of you! I have seen on your moustaches the red powder kumkum, which was smeared on the Krishna’s flower garland while He was pressing the breast of some other competitor. You felt proud touching that flower and your mustaches have become reddish. Now you come carrying a message for me and anxious to touch your feet. But My dear Bumblebee, let me warn you; don’t touch Me. I don’t want any message from your unreliable master and you are an unreliable servant.”
“Your master Krishna is exactly of your quality. You sit on a flower, taking a little honey, then you immediately fly away and sit on another flower to taste honey there….He gave us a chance to taste His lips and then left altogether. We are more intelligent and not going to be cheated anymore by Krishna or His messengers…..You foolish bumblebee, you are trying to satisfy me by singing his glories. We know well about Krishna who is now in the cities, No doubt he is very happy in association with His new women, their lusts and burning sensation of their breasts having been satisfied by Krishna; they are happy while were bereft of all our purposes of leaving our home and families. Krishna may be pleased to reward you and you are trying to pacify me by putting your head under my feet. But I know the trick which you are up to; you are a messanger coming from a great trickster, Krishna. Therefore please leave Me!”
KAMADEVA: Kamadeva, the Hindu love god, carries a bow with a string made of honeybees. Kama, the Indian god of love, is also associated with Bees, as the famous Indian poet Kalidasa recounts; “A stalwart soldier comes, the spring, Who bears the bow of Love; and on that bow, the lustrous string is made of bees….Weaves a string of Bees with deft invention, To speed the missile when the bow is bent.” Kama’s ‘bow of Bees’ is also found in other cultures and myths.
SHUKRA BHAGAVAN: Sukrachariar was the Guru of asuras. He had got the blessings from Lord Siva after severe penances. In the Vamana Avataram of Lord Vishnu, Vamana sought three foot steps of land from Mahabali, an asura king. Realising Vamana to be no mere mortal, Sukrachariyar assumed the form of a bee and tried to block the flow of water from the kamandalam. Vamana picking up a pavithram blinds Sukracharya in one eye while trying to unclog the hole in the kamandalam. Sukracharyar has the prowess to bring the dead to living by virtue of his knowledge of Amirtha Sanjeevini Mantra. Using this mantra, in the asura war against the devas, he revived the slain asuras. This helped the asura army swell. The devas prayed to Lord Siva for help, who swallowed up Sukracharya in a fit of rage. After residing in Lord SIva's stomach in a siddha state, he emerged from Lord Siva's stomach.
ARDHANAREESHAVARA: The concept of Ardhanareeswara has various Puranic versions. One story goes like this. One day the sage Bhringi wanted to circle Lord Shiva in devotion. This upsets Shakti insisting that Bhringi has to go around the both of them because each of them is incomplete without the other. But Bhringi was adamant of circling the Lord only. He thus took the form of a bee and tried to fly between them. Shakti was quick in infusing her body with Shiva to take the Ardhanareeswara form. Bhringi then took a worm form and tried to bore a hole. Bhringi’s stubbornness exasperated Shakti. “If you insist only on praying to Shiva, then you may be deprived of every tissue that a human gets from a women” she cursed. Within seconds Bhringi was reduced to a skeleton. His flesh and blood was stripped and he could not even stand. This earned the Lord’s sympathy and Bhringi was given a tripod kind of third leg. However good sense prevailed over him to realise the sanctity and complementary relationship between Shiva-and Shakti. There is indeed a Temple in Thiruchengodu depicting Sage Bhringi with tripod leg.
KALIDASA: The bees and their honey have inspired many poets to create beautiful poems and songs ever since Homo Sapiens began keeping bees and tasted Sweet Honey. In Kalidasa’s verses Vikromarvasie, The Hero and the Nymph, bees and honey are mentioned many times, always in connection with love. The following is ‘Vikramorvasie’ by Kalidasa, translated by Sri Aurobindo.
What cry is this that breaks upon our prologue
From upper worlds, most like the wail distressed
Of ospreys, sad but sweet as moan of bees
Drunken with honey in deep summer bloom,
Or the low cry of distant cuckoo? or hear I
Women who move on Heaven’s azure stage
Splendid with rows of seated Gods, and chant
In airy syllables a liquid sweetness?
AYURVEDA: In ayurveda, honey is known by many names. The names differ from one region to the other. However, the most common names are madhu, makshika, madwikam, kshaudram, saradham, vantham, varadi, bringavantham and pushparasolbhavam. It is used internally and externally in ayurveda. It is a natural healer, treating many illness and acts as a natural preservative and sweetener in ayurvedic preparations. It is also to improve or mitigate the side effects of medicines it is mixed with.
According to ayurveda, there are eight different types of honey:
1.Makshikam: Used in the treatment of eye diseases, hepatitis, piles, asthma, cough and tuberculosis
2.Bhraamaram: Used in the treatment when blood is vomited
3.Kshoudram: Used in the treatment of diabetes
4.Pauthikam: Used in the treatment of diabetes and urinary infection
5.Chathram: Used in the treatment of worm infestation, when blood is vomited and diabetes
6.Aardhyam: Effective for eye diseases, cough and anaemia and
7.Ouddalakam: Increases taste and swarasudhi. Used in the treatment of leprosy and poisoning cases 8.Daalam:
It increases digestion and helps in the treatment of cough, vomiting and diabetes.
THE VEDAS: In ancient India honey was worshiped in many scriptures. In the Vedas, created 1000-1500 BC we find in the Rig Veda, 1:90:6-8: Prayer to the Sun: Let every wind that blows drop honey, Let the rivers and streams recreate honey, Let all our medicines turn honey, Let the dawn and evening be full of honey, Let the dark particles be converted to honey, Our nourisher, this sky above, be full of honey, Let our trees be honey, Let the Sun be honey, Let our cows secrete honey.
RIGVEDA: The most ancient of India’s sacred books is the Rig-Veda, and it contains countless references to Bee’s and honey. So do other texts, such as the Atharva-Veda, which speaks at length about the Bee and the twin horseman lords of light known as the Avsvins; “O Asvins, lords of Brightness, anoint me with honey of the bee, that I may speak forceful speech among men.” In Indian mythology, goddesses frequently turned into Bees to ward off demons and purify the land. The god Prana – the personification of the universal life force, is sometimes shown surrounded by a circle of Bees. The goddess is said that to have applied nectar – or honey, to the roots of the ash tree in order to keep it alive and well – and green. Even Krishna, the sacred Hindu deity, was sometimes depicted as the Bee goddess Madhusudana, the divine Bee of loving mellows.
MADHUVIDYA FROM THE RISHIS: Madhuvidya means ‘Nectarine Wisdom’ from the Rishis. This has been a priceless gift of the ancient seers. They used bees and honey directly and metaphorically in expounding spiritual philosophies.
VEDIC VERSES: That essence flowed forth and went toward the sun. That forms what is called the white colour of the sun.
Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanishad III, II - The Honey-Doctrine (Yajur-Veda), 3
The western rays of the sun are the western honey-cells. The Saman-verses are the bees. The Sama-Veda is the flower. The water is the nectar.
Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanishad III, III - The Honey-Doctrine (Sama-Veda), 1
The Samans heated the Sama-Veda. From it, thus heated, issued forth-as its essence-fame, radiance, vigour of the senses, virility and the food that is eaten.
Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanishad III, III - The Honey-Doctrine (Sama-Veda), 2
That flowed forth and went toward the sun. called the dark colour of the sun.
Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanishad III, III - The Honey-Doctrine (Sama-Veda), 3
The northern rays of the sun are the northern honey-cells. The verses of the Atharvangirasa are the bees. The Itihasa-purana is the flower. The water is the nectar.
Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanishad III, IV - The Honey-Doctrine (Atharva-Veda), 1
Chandogya Upanishad: 188.8.131.524: The rays of the preliminary direction of the sun in the eastern direction crack of the umbrella in the form of outer space are the large black bees. Rig Veda is a flower, Soma nectar etc. They are immortal water. Large bees in the form of Rika pre heated the Rig Veda. From the pre heated Rig Veda ensue glory, light, senses, semen and Rasa (juice) which is the primary form of food. They all took shelter in the eastern part of the sun and established themselves there in red form.
Chandogya Upanishad 3.2.1: The rays of the southern direction are Yajur Veda or black bee. Yajur Veda is a flower, Soma nectar, water etc.
Chandogya Upanishad 3.3.1: In the 3rd section it is said that the western nectarine nerves are western oriented rays produced from the western crack. Saam Veda is the large bee and it is also the flower.
Chandogya Uoanishad 3.5.1: In the 5th section one finds the description of rays emanating from above: The large bee of the upper nerves are secret commands and Brahman or cosmic consciousness is its flower.
NECTARINE NERVES OF SAVITA: Exponents of Upanishads have called the radiating light rays of the sun as nectarine nerves. Discussions have been made on the stream of nectar flowing from the nectarine nerves. With reference to this as far as modern materialism is concerned they have found that on all sides of the atom’s nucleus, electrons revolve.
Exponents of Upanishads have termed the radiating light rays of the sun as nectarine nerves. Discussions have been carried out on the stream of nectar flowing from the nectarine nerves. With reference to this as far as modern materialism is concerned and regarding research of fundamental particles/unit of the universe they have found that on all sides of the atom’s nucleus electrons revolve. And yet its direction, along with its relative force has not been measured by scientists. The reason being, that the correct position and force of the electron is scientifically studied in laboratories using light rays. The photons themselves contain light rays which are one amongst the root particles of the cosmos and are said to be ageless and immortal.
Savita is the fount of a nectarine divine principle. When it is worshipped it imbues the aspirant with intense life force, vibrations of divine joy and help the soul realize its nectarine nature. In order that the aspirant’s mind does not stray away from it research scholars of spiritual wisdom have depicted its meaning, nature, function and form.
Madhuvidya is dealt with in the Chandogya Upanishad so as to explain this principle in a total manner. The scattered mysterious rays of this worship are gathered here so as to shine forth effulgently. In the first 12 verses of the 1st section of this Upanishad, Madhuvidya -nectarine wisdom and Savita worship have been depicted gloriously. Chandogya Upanishad 3:1:1 states: Om! This sun is verily the nectar of gods. Heaven is that tilted bamboo on which nectar hangs. Outer space is an umbrella and the rays are like children of honey bees. In tis verse a discussion ensues regarding Savita, sun element in the glorious Indian literature tradition. Sun is material in nature, its atom godly in nature and its spiritual form is conscious i.e. all pervasive Savita soul. It is said that whatever is there in the microcosm is present in the macrocosm. Similarly in the atom lies the entire cosmos.
MAREECHEE: Particles of light are made of photons. Mareechee is another name for solar rays. Indeed the Sun is also called Mareechee. The other term Aaditya for Sun signifies its divine meaning as solar deity. From the standpoint of light radiation energy it is an active conscious energy. From the spiritual viewpoint the sun is omnipresent Savita soul consciousness. It is the nectar of gods. Savita is the source of invincibility and nectarine fount of conscious divine powers. The scriptures say that Sun God is Prasavita. It is here that demigods drink nectarine juice and attain power. This nectar pervades entire interstellar space too. Space principle is all pervasive, formless and rudimentary in nature. In it one finds nectar of divine consciousness which is none other than Sun God or Savita/Aaditya. From this demigods imbibe power called vital juice or nectar juice.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(drafts Nature in the Hindu Way of Life) Yogi Ananda Saraswathi