Nature has provided us with many plants such as tulsi, amla, bel, plash, etc which have religious importance and are used on the eve of religious ocassions such as yagna, marriage,puja etc.One of the most useful things provided by Nature is the wonder grass called Kusha or Drabha grass which is an important item among the paraphernalia of items used by Hindus on the eve of religious and cultural ocassions such as marriage/mundan and even on funeral ceremonies etc.
This wonder grass is known by various names such as halfa grass, big cord grass, salt-reed grass etc.It is a shrub which grows upto three feet and has long leaves having sharp edges.Puranas and Upanishadas describe that this grass came into existence after Samundra Manthan, the churning of Cosmic Ocean.Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Cosmic Tortoise whose shell served to support Mandara, the mountain that served as a dasher in churning the Cosmic Ocean.As the mountain rotated, several hairs were rubbed from the Tortoise’s back.In due course of time, they were washed ashore and became Kusha.Later when, Amrita (nectar of Immortality) was obtained as a result of the churning and distributed among the gods, some drops fell on the grass, which further sanctified it imbuing it with healing properties.
Therefore, in the traditional hair cutting of a Vaishnava toddler, the hair is touched with kusha before it is cut.Some people say, Dhraba grass represents the hair of Brahma;others say, it is the hair of Lord Vishnu.In folk variant of the Ramayana, it is the hair of Sita.As Sita entered the earth, a distraught Rama tried to hold onto her but could catch only a few strands of her hair which turned into kusha grass and cut his fingers.Thus, this grass is rich in mythology.According to another folk narrative, Sita had only one child, Luv.One day she left the child to the care of sage Valmiki and went to the forest to bring firewood.The child wandered off and sage Valmiki got worried.So,he fashioned out a doll using the Kusha grass and by his magical powers created another child like Luv.Thus, it was how Luv came to have his twin brother, Kusha.
The plant has also been mentioned in Rigveda for use in sacred ceremonies and as also a seat for the priests.This grass has been considered sacred in the Vedic texts and is recommended by Lord Krishna in Bhagwad Gita as part of the ideal seat for meditation.As it is known to have purifying effect , it purifies the atmosphere, performs the activity of removing distorted dreams and brings clarity to the minds of the people.It is believed that it can absorb most of the harmful radiations in the environment.Before starting any rituals offering to fire and puja, rings made of this grass are worn.Thus, if used, it can block energy generated during meditation from being discharged.Therefore, it is believed that one should always meditate while sitting on the mat of this grass.This magical grass is believed to possess the potency of Lord Vishnu it has purifying effect, it is worshipped by Vaishnavas on the special day of Bhadrapada i.e. Bhadrapadashtmi.
This grass is very hardy and if a blade of the grass is plucked, it sprouts back.Thus, this grass is also a symbol of regeneration, renewal, rebirth, fertility and thus prosperity. So, it is offered to Lord Ganesha.This grass also finds mention in Buddhist texts as Mahatama Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment while meditating on the mat of this grass.
This grass is used by Hindus both on the eve of auspicious and funeral ocassions.In Kumbha Pooja, this grass is used to purify different objects of worship by sprinkling holy water using this grass.Drabha is dipped in water which gets purifed and becomes fit for religious ceremonies.
Even during an eclipse, it is put on every eatable in the kitchen to keep away the harmful radiations in the environment.Not only this, this useful grass is used in Ayurveda to cure dysentry, urinary disorders and as an antidote.Research needs to be conducted to find out the magical, purrifying and healing properties of this wonder grass which has been in use since centuries.
(The writer is serving as lecturer in English, Govt Hr.Sec.School, Thial (Udhampur)