By MANEKA GANDHI
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Additional resources for Brahma's Hair: On the Mythology of Indian Plants
They came back months later. As their cart neared the house they saw a dazzling, resplendent woman get into a chariot studded with jewels. It was Lakshmi. Her three-year penance was over and Vishnu had come to fetch her. The Brahmin realized it was her. He bowed his head in shame before her and apologized for not recognizing her and treating her the way a goddess should have been treated. But Lakshmi had been very happy these last three years. Blessing the Brahmin, she told him to look under the Bael tree as she had left a gift for him.
But as he passed it to his minister the fruit fell on the ground. From it emerged the daughter of the Sun God, the wife of the king. The royal pair were united and lived happily ever after. It is a large, evergreen tree with a densely rounded crown. The bark is thick, rough and flaking. The leaves are stiff, narrow, glossy and leathery and grow alternately. They are lance-shaped, tapering at both ends with wavy edges. When crushed, they have a strong smell. The flowers are small. The petals are pale yellow-green with a touch of pink-purple at the base.
He cut a bamboo and fastened it to the branch to make a bridge that all the monkeys could climb over to escape. But the bamboo was short so he stretched out his body to complete the bridge. The monkeys climbed over the body of their lord and escaped to the other bank of the river and away from the army. But one monkey, Devadatta, the cousin of Buddha, who had also been born in that incarnation, hated him. When his turn came to cross, he stamped so heavily on Mahakapi’s back that it broke. Mahakapi was alone and in great pain.