The botanical name for neem is azadiracta indica. The Sanskrit name for the Neem tree is ‘Nimba’ meaning bestower of good health. Other Sanskrit names are ‘Arista’ which implies perfect, complete and imperishable and Pichumada which means destroyer of laprosy and healer of skin infections. Persian Scholar called Neem ‘Azad dirakht-i-Hind’ which means the noble or free tree of India. Unani scholars named it a ‘Shajar-e-Munarak’ or blessed tree. Neem in the Telugu language is known as Vepa or the purifier of air. The Tamil word for it is Veppam and the tree is Veppa Maram.
It is said that on the first day of Chaitra, after Amavasya, it is very essential to worship the neem and eat its leaves. It is mixed with pepper and sugar, as a safeguard from fever. The neem tree, besides having various medicinal benefits, is a highly revered tree among the Hindus because it is a manifestation of Goddess Durga or Kali. Thus, Kali takes manifestation as Neemari Devi. That is why the tree is sometimes referred to as Neemari Devi. The Tree is worshiped very intensely. Tamil Ladies, while worshiping Maa kali dress in red, carry branches of the Neem tree, and dance in public places swishing the branches as an act of exorcism and to purify the world.
The multi-headed occult goddess Yellamma, highly revered goddess in south India, sometimes assumes the appearance of a young neem tree. Renuka Yellamm is a grama-devata. Notwithstanding Renuka Yellama, both Bengal and pan-India is considered as the revered Mother of Universe or Jagadamba. By ancient tradition, Yellamma was attended to by devadasis. Young maidens worship this Goddess by cladding themselves all over in neem branches. In Bengal, neem tree is considered to be the abode of Goddess Sitala. She is the divine pox-mother. She causes and cures pox.
In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the equivalent deity is Goddess Mariamma. Pox marks are called ‘mutthu’ or ‘pearls’. So, she is also referred as Mother Muthu Mariamman. She also gets to be grama-devata with different attributes. The customary treatment of pox is to rub the body with neem leaves while making prayers to Sitala.
Those given to spirit worship, believe that the smoke of burning neem protects both the living and the dead from evil spirits. Its bark was burned to make red ash for religious decoration of the body of adulthood. Leaves are strewn on the floor of temples at wedding of temples to purify and bless the area.
CHARAKA SAMHITA: Neem's Medicinal value are listed in ancient Ayurvedic texts the 'Charaka Samhita' and 'Sursuta-Samhita' The 'Brihat Samhita' of Varahamihira recommends that the neem tree be planted near dwellings for its oxygen giving attributes. Every part of neem tree, leaves, twings, seed, oil and root have medicinal importance. It balance the vata and kapha dosha. At some time or other, neem is said to be used in the cure of AIDS, fungal infections, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, shingles and yeast infections. Blood disorders, digestive problems and kidney problems are brought into control. Ayurvedic treatment is time managed. So neem products are taken between Sunrise to Sunset. Try Neem leaf chutney!
Hara Hara Mahadeva.
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi