Post No. 9021

Date uploaded in London – –11 DECEMBER 2020      

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What is Guggulu?

It is a resin extracted from a plant.

What is the name of the plant?

It is a tree called Commiphora wightii or mukul

Where does this grow?

India, Arabia and Africa (Somalia)

What is it used for?

In Ayurveda, it is used to cure several diseases; it reduces cholesterol and cures arthritis. Indeed, it is a panacea to various ailments.

It is also used in incense and perfumes

It is similar to other incenses like myrrh and frankincense.

Where do we find the references?

The oldest reference to Guggulu comes from the Atharvaveda and the world uses this word until today.

What are the names in Indian languages?

It is called Kungiliam in Tamil. Other languages have words similar to Guggul.

Other plants belonging to different plant families also have similar resins which can be used as incense. Sal, Deodar are some of them. One should not confuse them.

What is the mystery?

2000 year old Greek book Periplus of Erythraean Sea says that it is exported from Barbaricae, an Indus River port, which is located near  Karachi of modern Pakistan. New Testament also says that the three Magis from the EAST took Myrrh as gifts to Baby Jesus.

It shows India as the origin of this plant. From India it spread to East Africa and Arabian Peninsula.

At least 1000 years before the Greek book, is dated the Atharva Veda, the Fourth Veda of the Hindus. Atharva Veda also says what Periplus said- It is produced by the Sindhu and by the sea. It confirms that it was exported from India from the Indus port. This shows the sea borne trade existed between India and Babylonia around 1000 BCE.

AV.19-38-2; 2-36-7

Later it occurs in old Ayurvedic books from 600 BCE. 



Though another word bdellium from Hebrew literature is used to similar substance, scholars couldn’t agree whether it meant a precious stone or incense

The word frankincense is of Sanskrit origin. Frankin came from old French which meant PARAM in Sanskrit meaning supremely pure , super. ‘Incense’ came from ‘to be burn’t, found in ‘incen’diary bombs etc. it is derived from AGNI in Sanskrit meaning fire (compare words like ignite, igneous etc)

If we think deeper and analyse why three Magis went to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus and why they took Myrrh(Incense) as a gift, we will come to the conclusion that it was exported from India to Babylonia and they valued it much.






The history of Holy Servants of Lord Siva , popularly known as Periya Puranam in Tamil , has 63 stories of Saivite Tamil saints. One of them is called Guggulu Pot Nayanar. Two miracles happened in his life.

KATAVUR in the Choza country has a famous shrine where lord Siva killed  Yama with a kick to save his devotee Markanteyar from the jaws of death.

In the prosperous town there lived a brahmin by name Kalayar, literally Mr Pot. He used to worship the feet of Siva everyday and he burnt fragrant Guggulu, Kungilyam in Tamil, in the temple. As the days went by Kalayar was known by the name Guggulu Pot man. He fell into poverty at one time had no money to buy the basic provisions for his family. When they had nothing to eat for two whole days his wife gave him her Thali, golden sacred trinket of married Hindu women, to sell and get some provisions.

He got the golden Thali and on his way saw a merchant with Guggulu. He became very happy and bought all the Guggulu by giving him the golden  thali. He went to the temple and offered his service to the lord and slept in the temple out of tiredness. His wife and children were eagerly waiting at home for him to return with lot of money. But he didnt come home.

In the meantime, lord Siva appeared in his dream and asked him to go home. Before he went home Lord Siva did transform  the entire house by providing them enormous wealth. When Mr Pot returned home, he saw incredible treasure and lived happily ever after.

Once the big Siva Linga statue at Tiruppanantal temple , which is near Tiru Katavur, started leaning down. The Choza monarch sent an army of elephants to pull the statue and make it straight. But nothing worked and the king felt sad. Hearing the plight of the king, our hero Mr Gugguu Pot Nayanar (Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar) went and tried, but in vain. At last he  tied a rope around the statue and put the other end around his neck like a garland and pulled the statue. It stood upright because Lord Siva obey his loving servant. What an army of elephants couldn’t do he did it with the bond of love. Choza monarch thanked him and showered him with lot of gold coins.

Kungiliya Kalayanar was a contemporary of another great saint Jnana Sambandar who lived 1400 years ago. So from the day of Atharva Veda (1000 BCE) we have the history of Guggulu in India, from the Indus river to Kaveri river. No wonder India exported it to Babylonia and got references in Greek and Roman works.

India’s relationship with Iran and Iraq goes back to thousands of years and Guggulu and camels are some of the proofs.

Tags- guggulu, kungiliyam, frankinsense,  Babylonia, Somalia, Kungilia Kalaya Nayanar


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