Sudhir Ahluwalia

 We see the reference of relationship betweenmustard seeds” and faith” in the Gospel of Matthew and others. Mustard represents insignificance of the self and the world in the eyes of God. Mustard also represents humility.

Mathew 17:19-21

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.  “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Mustard is one of the oldest spices used by humans. According to an allegorical story by Gautama Buddha (c. 563–480 BC), the Buddha asked a grieving mother who lost her only son to bring a handful of mustard seeds from a family that has never lost a child, husband, parent, or friend. When the mother was unable to find such a family, she realized that death is common to all and thus she should not be selfish in her grief.

In the Quran too, God states that the scales of justice on the Day of Judgment will measure even a mustard seed’s amount, because God is the most efficient reckoner. Jewish texts compare the knowable universe to the size of a mustard seed. An intimate connection between the small mustard seed and faith occurs in the Bible, Quranic Hadiths, and Hindu literature.

Mustard seeds have been discovered in tombs of Pharaohs. They were thought to bring good luck. With the expansion of the Roman Empire, mustard traveled to Gaul, Spain, and England. King Charlemagne introduced mustard in the gardens surrounding the monasteries of Paris, establishing the now famous mustard industry in France. A 1634 law granted exclusive mustard-production rights to Dijon, now famous for its mustard. In German folklore, brides sewed mustard seeds into their dresses to bring them strength in their new home, perhaps because women were treated as subordinate to men and mustard brought good luck. In northern Europe, mustard seed was said to keep evil spirits away.

Mustard seed is often used in herbal medicine. Hippocrates used mustard in many medicines and poultices. Pythagoras mentions mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings. Mustard was said to increase blood circulation. Mustard plaster helped increase blood flow to inflamed areas and thus hasten healing. By drawing the blood to the skin surface, mustard relieves headache, neuralgia, and spasms. Mustard was thought to be an aphrodisiac in Europe and China.

Mustard seeds are not a frequently allergenic food, however when taken in sufficiently large doses, it warms the body. Not only taste, mustard was believed to also have significant health benefits. Mustard was used to relieve toothache, muscle cramps, clogged sinuses, and indigestion. French monks used mustard to treat wounds. A rubefacient poultice provided relief of rheumatic pain. Hot water poured on bruised seeds makes a stimulating bath that is good for achy feet, colds, and headaches. Mustard has been used to treat alopecia, epilepsy, snakebite, and toothache. The seed is also used internally as a digestive, diuretic, emetic, and tonic. Mustard oil is said to stimulate hair growth, and it is a popular hair oil in rural India. However, direct application of the oil has been known to cause severe irritation.

There are three types of mustard popular in human food. The mildest is white mustard (Brassica alba), yellow mustard (Brassica juncea) and black mustard (Brassica nigra). Scientific studies aimed to validate traditional medicinal use have been largely conducted on Brassica nigra.

Participate in the discussion:

Elaborate Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist texts that make a mention of mustard.

Share ancient and interesting recipes that have mustard as one of the key ingredients.

Share your stories on mustard.

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