Significance of Bilva leaves


Bilva leaves
According to Shiva Purana, the great epic on Lord Shiva, the Bilva tree is the manifest form of Lord Shiva himself, while all the great tirthas (pilgrimage places) are said to reside at its base. One who worships the Shiva Linga while sitting under the Bilva tree attains the highest bliss of oneness with Lord Shiva. The trifoliate leaves symbolize the tridentthat Shiva holds in his right hand.
The Scientific Name of Bilva tree is – Aegle Mermelos. Its fruits which have surplus health benefits is referred as Golden Apple or Stone Apple in English.
Just like Tulsi plant is sacred to Lord Krishna and Durva grass is sacred to Lord Ganesha, Bilva tree is sacred to Lord Shiva. Since the Bilva leaf has such significance in the worship of Lord Shiva, it is common to find Bilva trees cultivated in the vicinity of Shiva temples. Bilva leaves are also auspicious to Goddess Lakshmi who is considered as the sister of Lord Shiva.
When a Bilva leaf is offered to Lord Shiva,the most terrible karma(sin) is destroyed.The unbelievable merits one receives on offering a single Bilva leaf to Lord Shiva are described in the 9 verses of the sacred hymn known as Bilvashtakam.
Tridalam trigunakaram trinetram cha triyayudham

Trijanmapapasamharam ekabilvam shivarpanam     .. 1
Trishakhaih bilvapatraishcha hyachchidraih komalaih shubhaih .

Tavavapujam karishhyami ekabilvam shivarpanam    .. 2

Koti kanya maha danam tila parvata kotayah
Kanchanam sheela danena ekabilvam shivarpanam    .. 3

Kashikshetranivasam cha kalabhairavadarshanam
Prayagamadhavam druishtva ekabilvam shivarpanamh    ..  4

Induvare vratam sthitwa niraharo maheshwara
Naktam haoushyami devecha eka bilvam shivarpanam    .. 5

Ramalinga pratistha cha vaivahika krutam tatha
tatakadi cha santanam eka bilvam shivarpanam     .. 6

Akhanda bilva patram cha ayutam shiva poojanam
Krutam nama sahasrena eka bilvam shivarpanam    .. 7

Umaya sahadevesha nandi vahana meva cha
Bhasma lepana sarvangam eka bilvam shivarpanam     .. .8

alagrameshu vipranam tatakam dasha koopayo
Yagyakoti saharacha eka bilvam shivarpanam     .. 9

Dantikoti sahasreshu ashwamedha shatakratau
Kotikanya mahadanam ekabilvam shivarpanam    .. 10

Bilvanam darshanam punyam sparshanam papa nashanam
Aghora papa samharam eka bilvam shivarpanam    .. 11

Sahasra veda patheshu brahma sthapana muchyate
Aneka vrata kotinam eka bilvam shivarpanam     .. 12

Annadana sahasreshu sahasropanayanam tatha
Aneka janma papani eka bilvam shivarpanam     .. 13

Phalastuti 
Bilvashhtakamidam punyam yah patheth shivasannidhau.
Shivalokamavapnoti eka bilvam shivarpanam    .. 14

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