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Published by Chitra Rangarajan

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Published by: Chitra Rangarajan on Oct 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Latin Name
: Nyctanthes arbortristis
English Names
 : Queen of the Night, Coral Jasmine
Indian Names :
 Bengali: Shephalika, SiuliHindi: HarashringaraMarathi: Parijata, KharsatiSanskrit: ParijataTamil: Parijata, Paghala
Family: Oleaceae
means Night Flower and
the Sad Tree. Parijata, the Sanskrit name, means descended from thesea. Harashringara is ornament of the gods or beautiful ornament.The flowers are gathered for religious offerings and to make garlands. The orange heart is used for dyeing silk andcotton, a practice that started with Buddhist monks whose orange robes were given their colour by this flower.The Parijata is regarded in Hindu mythology as one of the five wish-granting trees of Devaloka.Why the Parijata blooms at nightA legend in the Vishnu Purana tells of a king who had a beautiful and sensitive daughter called Parijata. She fell in lovewith Surya, the sun. Leave your kingdom and be mine, said the sun passionately. Obediently Parijata shed her royal robesand followed her beloved. But the sun grew cold as he tired of Parijata and soon he deserted her and fled back to the sky.The young princess died heartbroken. She was burnt on the funeral pyre and from her ashes grew a single tree. From itsdrooping branches grew the most beautiful flowers with deep orange hearts. But. since the flowers cannot bear the sight of the sun, they only bloom when it disappears from the sky and, as its first rays shoot out at dawn, the flowers fall to theground and die.
How the Parijata tree came to earth
When the Ocean of Milk was churned, the Parijata tree was created. But Indra, the chief of the gods, thought it was far too beautiful for the Earth. Its bark is of gold and it is embellished with young sprouting leaves of a copper colour and its fruit stalks bear numerous clusters of fragrant fruit, he said eloquently, if rather inaccurately. Anyway, he took it to his heavenly gardenAmaravati and there it grew as one of his five celestial trees, till Krishna brought it back to Earth.How did Krishna bring it to Earth? In the days when the gods visited the Earth and sometimes even took human form, liveda divine sage called Narada Muni. Narada travelled frequently between Svargaloka where the gods lived and Earth. He wasa mischievous sage who took great delight in creating problems for both gods and humans.One day Narada Muni arrived in Dvaraka where the god Vishnu, who had been born on earth as Krishna, lived with hiswives. Narada brought a single Parijata flower with him as a gift for Krishna.“My Lord,” he said, mischief hidden in his voice, “This flower is so beautiful that I thought you might like to give it to your wife Rukmini who so loves flowers.Krishna was very pleased. “What a good idea, Muni. I don’t think Rukmini has ever seen a Parijata flower before.” Hetook the small orange and white blossom and went to Rukmini’s chambers. Narada saw his opportunity. He sped to the rooms of Krishna’s other wife Satyabhama and, as he entered, he made hisface mournful. Satyabhama looked concerned. “What troubles you, Muni?” she asked worriedly.“My child”, he answered sorrowfully, ‘You know how special you are to me. I had brought a Parijata flower from Indra’sgarden for Krishna. I told the lord to give it to his favourite wife. I thought you would enjoy the gift. But, alas, he has given itto Rukmini. “Satyabhama had a short and explosive temper. “How dare he!” she cried angrily. “I won’t let Rukmini have it. I’ll go and...”“Calm down, child,” said Narada,” “What will you do with a single flower? Now, if Krishna loved you he would bring thetree itself from Arnaravati.”Satyabhama’s face lit up. “How clever you are!” she exclaimed. Narada bowed in acceptance of the compliment and Satyabhama left the room hurriedly.In Krishna’s palace was a room called The Chamber of Sorrow. Any wife who felt herself mistreated could retire to thisroom and her complaint would be heard. Satyabhama, her face like thunder, entered the room and sent her handmaiden to callKrishna.As soon as Krishna walked through the doorway Satyabhama burst out weeping. ‘You love Rukmini more than me. Whydid you give her the Parijata flower? I won’t stay here any more”, she wailed.Krishna was taken aback. Too late, he saw the trap that he had fallen into. “My beloved, Narada Muni is . . .”he startedto explain, but Satyabhama cut him short.“No, no, I won’t listen to any of your excuses. If you love me you will bring me the Parijata tree. Or I will stay in this roomforever and refuse to eat.”Krishna saw no way out. ‘Very well”, he gave in, “you shall have the tree.”He flew to Amaravati. But Narada had already been there. “I have heard that some thieves from Earth are coming to stealyour Parijata tree, my Lord,” he had whispered into Indra’s ear.Alarmed, Indra had sent his celestial guards to surround the garden. Krishna knew how dear the tree was to Indra and thathe would not give it away readily. He stole into the grove at night. But the guards were too quick for him. He was captured andtaken before the chief of gods.“Krishna, you!” exclaimed Indra. “Why have you come to steal my tree?”Krishna told him how he had been trapped by Sage Narada. “You know Satyabhama’s temper”, he said shrugging hisshoulders. “I cannot return to Dvaraka without the tree. “Indra laughed. “Wives!” He ordered the Parijata tree to be uprooted and given to Krishna immediately.On his way back Krishna found himself in a greater dilemma. “If I give the tree to Satyabhama, Rukmini will demandanother one. Where will I get that from? Oh dear.”Then he smiled to himself as he hit upon a solution.Satyabhama was ecstatic when she saw Krishna and the tree. “Thank you, my Lord,” she said flushed with happiness. Sheturned to order her handmaidens to take it away but Krishna said firmly, “I have brought the tree for you. But I will decidewhere it is to be planted. “Clever Krishna! Both his wives had adjoining gardens. He planted the Parijata tree in such a way that while its trunk stoodin Satyabhama’s garden, its branches drooped into Rukmini’s and she collected the flowers that fell every morning. And soKrishna kept both his wives happy and the Parijata tree came to Earth.

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