Sandalwood (chandan)

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Sandalwood (chandan) - byakudan

***** Location: India, other regions
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Plant


Sandalwood or chandan as it is known in India has an aroma which is distinct and is used throughout the year

The Sandalwood tree is widely grown and extensively used in India . . . although it is extremely expensive; every house almost owns one small chandan stick at least -

The peculiarity of this tree is that though the trunk of this tree has a beautiful aroma and is widely used for religious, cosmetic and medicinal reasons . . . the tree bears no flowers!

The quirks of nature as Sant Kabir has said in one Bhajan.

Kudaratha ki gati nyaari . . .

Hermit, nature has unnatural ways.
She smiles on a pauper and makes him a king,
she turns a king into a beggar:
She keeps the clove tree from bearing fruit,
the sandalwood from blooming.

Kala Ramesh


Santalum album (LINN.)
Quote from Botanical.com

A small tree 20 to 30 feet high, with many opposite slender drooping branches, bark smooth grey-brown. Young twigs glabrous; leaves opposite, without stipules, petiole slender, about 1/2 inch long, blade 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, oval, ovate-oval or lanceolate, acute or obtuse at apex, tapering at base into petiole entire, smooth on both sides, glaucous beneath.

Flowers small, numerous, shortly stalked in small pyramidal erect terminal and axillary, trichotomus paniculate, cymes panicle, branches smooth, bracts small passing into leaves below.
Perianth campanulate, smooth, about 1/5 inch long, divided into four (rarely five) triangular, acute, spreading segments, valvate, in bud rather fleshy, at first straw coloured, changing to deep reddish purple provided at the mouth with four erect, fleshy, rounded lobes.

Stamens four, opposite, perianth segments, filaments short, in serted in mouth of perianth alternating witherect lobes. Anthers short, two-celled, introrse, ovary half, inferior, tapering, onecelled, an erect central placenta, rising from base and not reaching to the top, to the summit of which are attached three or four pendulous ovules without the usual coverings, style filiform, stigma small, three or four lobed on a level with anthers.

Fruit concealed about size of a pea, spherical, crowned by rim-like remains of perianth tube, smooth, rather fleshy, nearly black, seed solitary.

The trees are felled or dug up by roots; the branches are worthless, so are cut off. It is usual to leave the trunk on the ground for several months for the white ants to eat away the sap wood, which is also of no value; it is then trimmed and sawn into billets 2 to 2 1/2 feet long and taken to mills in the forests, where it is again trimmed and sorted into grades. It is heavy, hard, but splits easily; colour light yellow, transverse sections yellow to light reddish brown, with alternating light and dark concentric zones nearly equal in diameter, numerous pores, and traversed by many very narrow medullary rays. Odour characteristic, aromatic, persistent; taste peculiar, strongly aromatic. Indian Sandalwood is a Government monopoly.

Other Species
Pterocarpus santalinus or Santalum rubrum (Red Sandalwood), solely used for colouring and dyeing. Other varieties come from the Sandwich Islands, Western Australia and New Caledonia.

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Worldwide use


White Sandalwood (byakudan 白檀)
Red Sandalwood, purple Sandalwood (shitan 紫檀)

Quote from
The One-eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log : Nichiren

The Anrakugyo chapter in the fifth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, "Bodhisattva Monjushiri, as for this Lotus Sutra, throughout countless numbers of countries one cannot even hear the name of it."

To illustrate the extreme rarity of encountering this sutra, the Buddha likened it to the difficulty of a one-eyed turtle encountering a floating sandalwood log with a hollow in it. To give the essence of this analogy: Eighty thousand yojana down on the bottom of the ocean there lives a turtle. He has neither limbs nor flippers. His belly is as hot as heated iron while the shell on his back is as cold as the Snow Mountains. What this turtle yearns for day and night, morning and evening--the desire he utters at each moment--is to cool his belly and warm the shell on his back.

Copyright © 2002 SGI-USA.


The Red Sandalwood Study : (CCPIT)
China Pavillion at the Expo in Aichi, Japan


- - - - - Legends about Sandalwood

byakudan 白檀 statue from sandalwood
from Kyoto 南丹市 Nantan town
Suddenly there was a ray of golden light and in no time there grew a sandalwood tree. An old man appeared and told 和気清麻呂 Wake no Kiyomaro : "Build a temple right here!".
When the old man had disappeared, there was a statue of Taishaku Ten made from Sandalwood instead.

. Legends about Taishaku Ten 帝釈天 .

- - - - -

In Okayama at the Genpin Valley
Priest Genpin stuck his walking stick in the ground and it became a sandalwood tree (byakudan 白檀).

Genpin 玄賓 げんぴん (? - 818)
The legend of Miwa temple says that this was originally a hermitage of the Buddhist priest Genpin, who did not like earthly affairs and moved to the foot of the mountain called Miwa, despite the fact that he was trusted greatly by the Emperor Kanmu and the Emperor Saga.

In Hiroshima at Seiko village 南生口村
|At the temple 松蟲寺 Matsumushi-Dera, 法然上人 Saint Honen left his walking stick and it became a
sandalwood tree (byakudan 白檀).

. Hoonen Shoonin 法然上人 Honen Shonin, Saint Honen .

Legends about
. tsue 杖 stick, walking stick - Wanderstab .

- - - - -

one legend about shitan 紫檀 red sandalwood
from Akita 秋田県

At the time of 崇神天皇 Emperor Sujin Tenno (148BC - 29 - at age 119)

The first use of sasara was at the time of Emperor Suijin in the province of 常陸国 Hitachi (now Ibaraki).
After the defeat of the local chief 悪路王 Akuro-O the army of the emperor wanted to appease his soul. So they planted 1000 heads of deer on a hill and put 1000 sticks of red sandalwood in the ground. After some appeasement rituals the soul was pacified. The army of the Emperor had been helped by the sound of sasara clappers.

. sasara ささら / 簓 / 讃良 wooden clappers, bamboo clappers .

- - - - -

- my online reference -

Things found on the way


autumn dusk. . .
chandan tilak on forehead
he goes for his walk

festival day –
god is bathed
in chandan

yogis . . .
I walk pass their smell
of chandan

Yogi and yogini are person who have given themselves to the service of god

Kala Ramesh, 2005

Related words

***** Incense used worldwide, as topic for haiku

***** . Sant Kabir, the Poet .




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