What do the three parts of the Bilva leaf symbolise?
The Bilva leaf has immense significance in the worship of Lord Shiva. The Bilvāṣtakam extols the virtues of the Bilva leaf and Lord Shiva’s love for it:
Tridalaṁ triguṇākāraṁ trinetraṁ ca triyāyudhaṁ
trijanma pāpasaṁhāram ekabilvaṁ ṣivārpaṇaṁ
I offer the Bilva leaf to Lord Shiva. This trifoliate leaf embodies the three qualities of sattva (goodness), rajas (passion) and tamas (inertia). The three leaflets are symbolic of the three eyes of Lord Shiva. Wielding the power of three weapons, it destroys sins committed in three earlier births. I worship Lord Shiva with the sacred Bilva Leaf.