America's Only Rudraksha Forest
The only Rudraksha grove in the Western world is here at the monastery. In 1984 Gurudeva planted 108 trees with his own hands. He dedicated this forest to pilgrims and all Kauaians, inviting them to sit among the sacred trees anytime from 7am to 4pm each day, to rest, meditate, have a picnic or tell stories to their children. Today the trees are fifty feet tall and produce hundreds of thousands of fruits each year. The English name is Blue Marble tree, since the one-inch diameter fruits are a rare cobalt blue. Their unusual color was written about in a Scientific American article. It seems there are two, and only two, living species on the Earth that create color using refraction and not reflection: a deep-sea crustacean and Eleocarpus ganitrus, the Rudraksha tree. Underneath the blue skin is a thin layer of flesh which is edible, but not too tasty. In Ayurveda, Rudraksha seeds, ground with healing herbs, are given to patients of heart disease to strengthen the cardiac muscle. The wood is also unusual. Almost white in color, it is said to have been the wood of choice in World War I for making airplane propellers; and in India the trees practically became extinct when they were chosen as the timber for railroad ties.
There are countless legends about the Rudraksha. One is that God Siva looked down upon the Earth and, seeing the sorrowful plight we humans had created for ourselves, wept a single tear. The tear fell from His cheek and upon hitting the ground created the first Rudraksha tree (the word rudraksha means the eye or tear of Siva). Hindus wear the beads for protection. They remind us of God’s compassion for our predicament. ¶Rudrakshas suitable for export are available in our gift shop. If you collect beads from the forest, be aware that you may not be allowed to take them out of Hawaii. Asked if it is safe to wear the beads, Gurudeva responded, “Yes, it’s fine to wear Rudraksha all of the time. It’s also beneficial for children as well. In our Rudraksha Forest here on the beautiful garden island of Kauai, pilgrims have been finding eight-faces, sixteen-faces, two-faces, six, all kinds.” The Rudraksha Forest, located at 7345 Kuamo’o Road, is a one-minute drive from the monastery entrance. A stone Ganesha will greet you just inside the gate.