Transcendental Flowers

BY: SUN STAFF - 10.9 2020

Krsna brings the Parijata Tree to Earth for Rukmini

Transcendental flowers glorified throughout Vedic literature.

In the spiritual world, everyone is engaged in loving devotional service to Sri Krsna. The cows, the rivers, the trees and the flowers are enjoying santa-rasa, the mellow of neutrality in devotional service. In this series, we will explore some of the many flowers mentioned in sastra that are particularly favoured by the Lord and His transcendental associates.

"Accompanied by the cowherd boys and Balarama, Krsna brought forward the cows and played on His flute through the forest of Vrndavana, which was full of flowers, vegetables, and pasturing grass. The Vrndavana forest was as sanctified as the clear mind of a devotee and was full of bees, flowers and fruits. There were chirping birds and clear water lakes with waters that could relieve one of all fatigue. Sweet flavored breezes blew always, refreshing the mind and body. Krsna, with His friends and Balarama, entered the forest and, seeing the favorable situation, enjoyed the atmosphere to the fullest extent. Krsna saw all the trees, overloaded with fruits and fresh twigs, coming down to touch the ground as if welcoming Him by touching His lotus feet. He was very pleased by the behavior of the trees, fruits and flowers, and He began to smile, realizing their desires.

Krsna then spoke to His elder brother Balarama as follows: "My dear brother, You are superior to all of us, and Your lotus feet are worshiped by the demigods. Just see how these trees, full with fruits, have bent down to worship Your lotus feet. It appears that they are trying to get out of the darkness of being obliged to accept the form of trees. Actually, the trees born in the land of Vrndavana are not ordinary living entities. Having held the impersonal point of view in their past lives, they are now put into this stationary condition of life, but now they have the opportunity of seeing You in Vrndavana, and they are praying for further advancement in spiritual life through Your personal association. Generally the trees are living entities in the mode of darkness. The impersonalist philosophers are in that darkness, but they eradicate it by taking full advantage of Your presence.

"It is quite natural for these Vrndavana inhabitants to thus receive a great personality like You. The herbs, creepers and plants are also so fortunate to touch Your lotus feet. And by Your touching the twigs with Your hands, these small plants are also made glorious. As for the hills and the rivers, they too are now glorious because You are glancing at them. Above all, the damsels of Vraja, the gopis, attracted by Your beauty, are the most glorious, because You embrace them with Your strong arms."

(Krsna Book, Chapter 15)

Parijata flowers
 

The Parijat

Beautiful white and orange flowers grow on this heavenly tree, which was brought to Earth by Sri Krsna. Parijat -- Nyctanthes arbor-tristis in Latin or nishipushpika in Hindi -- is known by a great many other names, and is the official flower of West Bengal.

The holy Parijat is described in the 4th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam:

parijate 'njasa labdhe
sarango 'nyan na sevate
tvad-anghri-mulam asadya
saksat kim kim vrnimahi

"Dear Lord, when the bee approaches the celestial tree called the parijata, it certainly does not leave the tree, because there is no need for such action. Similarly, when we have approached Your lotus feet and taken shelter of them, what further benediction may we ask of You?

Bhaktivedanta Purport:

When a devotee is actually engaged in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord, his engagement in itself is so perfect that there is no need to ask for further benediction. When a bee approaches the parijata tree, it gets unlimited supplies of honey. There is no need to go to another tree. If one is fixed in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord, there is unlimited transcendental bliss, and as such there is no need to ask for further benediction. The parijata tree is not commonly found within this material world. The parijata tree is also known as kalpa-vrksa, or the wish-fulfilling tree. One can get anything he desires from such a tree. In the material world, one can get oranges from an orange tree or mangoes from a mango tree, but there is no possibility of getting oranges from a mango tree or vice versa. However, one can get whatever he wants from the parijata tree--oranges, mangoes, bananas and so on. This tree is found in the spiritual world. Cintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa-laksavrtesu. The spiritual world, cintamani-dhama, is surrounded by these kalpa-vrksa trees, but the parijata tree is also found in the kingdom of Indra, that is, on Indra's heavenly planet. This parijata tree was brought by Krsna to please Satyabhama, one of His queens, and this tree was implanted in the Dvaraka mansions constructed for the queens. The lotus feet of the Lord are exactly like the parijata trees, or wish-fulfilling trees, and the devotees are like bumblebees. They are always attracted by the lotus feet of the Lord."

(Srimad Bhagavatam 4.30.32)

Krsna uproots a branch of the Parijata tree from Indraloka

The divine Parijat is mentioned throughout sastra, where it appears in numerous pastimes. Sri Krsna fought with Lord Indra to claim the Parijat, and the flowering tree sparked a great drama not only in Indraloka, but in Krsna's Dvaraka household with His wives, Satyabhama and Rukmini.

In Srimad Bhagavatam 1st Canto we read the story of Krsna's delivering Parijata from Indraloka to Dvaraka:

"After killing Narakasura, Lord Krsna visited the palace of Narakasura accompanied by Satyabhama. He went to Indraloka also with Satyabhama, and she was received by Sacidevi, who introduced her to the mother of the demigods, Aditi. Aditi was very much pleased with Satyabhama, and she blessed her with the benediction of permanent youth as long as Lord Krsna remained on the earth. Aditi also took her with her to show her the special prerogatives of the demigods in the heavenly planets. When Satyabhama saw the parijata flower, she desired to have it in her palace at Dvaraka. After that, she came back to Dvaraka along with her husband and expressed her willingness to have the parijata flower at her palace. Satyabhama's palace was especially bedecked with valuable jewels, and even in the hottest season of summer the inside of the palace remained cool, as if air-conditioned. She decorated her palace with various flags, heralding the news of her great husband's presence there. Once, along with her husband, she met Draupadi, and she was anxious to be instructed by Draupadi in the ways and means of pleasing her husband. Draupadi was expert in this affair because she kept five husbands, the Pandavas, and all were very much pleased with her. On receipt of Draupadi's instructions, she was very much pleased and offered her good wishes and returned to Dvaraka. She was the daughter of Satrajit. After the departure of Lord Krsna, when Arjuna visited Dvaraka, all the queens, including Satyabhama and Rukmini, lamented for the Lord with great feeling. At the last stage of her life, she left for the forest to undergo severe penance.

Satyabhama instigated her husband to get the parijata flower from the heavenly planets, and the Lord got it even by force from the demigods, as a common husband secures things to please his wife. As already explained, the Lord had very little to do with so many wives to carry out their orders like an ordinary man. But because the queens accepted the high quality of devotional service, namely administering the Lord all comforts, the Lord played the part of a faithful and complete husband. No earthly creature can expect to have things from the heavenly kingdom, especially the parijata flowers, which are simply to be used by the demigods. But due to their becoming the Lord's faithful wives, all of them enjoyed the special prerogatives of the great wives of the denizens of heaven. In other words, since the Lord is the proprietor of everything within His creation, it is not very astonishing for the queens of Dvaraka to have any rare thing from any part of the universe."

(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.14.37 Purport)

The Lord's fight with Indra over the Parijata is also described in the Bhagavatam:

"Just to please His dear wife, the Lord brought back the parijata tree from heaven, just as an ordinary husband would do. But Indra, the King of heaven, induced by his wives (henpecked as he was), ran after the Lord with full force to fight Him.

Purport: The Lord once went to the heavenly planet to present an earring to Aditi, the mother of the demigods, and His wife Satyabhama also went with Him. There is a special flowering tree called the parijata, which grows only in the heavenly planets, and Satyabhama wanted this tree. Just to please His wife, like an ordinary husband, the Lord brought back the tree, and this enraged Vajri, or the controller of the thunderbolt. cause he was a henpecked husband and also a fool, listened to them and dared to fight with Krsna. He was a fool on this occasion because he forgot that everything belongs to the Lord.

There was no fault on the part of the Lord, even though He took away the tree from the heavenly kingdom, but because Indra was henpecked, dominated by his beautiful wives like Saci, he became a fool, just as all persons who are dominated by their wives are generally foolish. Indra thought that Krsna was a henpecked husband who only by the will of His wife Satyabhama took away the property of heaven, and therefore he thought that Krsna could be punished. He forgot that the Lord is the proprietor of everything and cannot be henpecked. The Lord is fully independent, and by His will only He can have hundreds and thousands of wives like Satyabhama. He was not, therefore, attached to Satyabhama because she was a beautiful wife, but He was pleased with her devotional service and thus wanted to reciprocate the unalloyed devotion of His devotee."

(Srimad Bhagavatam 3.3.5 Translation and Purport)

The transcendental aspects of this pastime are further revealed in Nectar of Devotion Chapter 21, which describes the Qualities of Krsna, and particularly the quality of determination:

18. Determined

"Any person who observes regulative principles and fulfills his promises by practical activity is called determined. As far as the Lord's determination is concerned, there is an example in His dealings in the Hari-vamsa. This is in connection with Lord Krsna's fighting the King of heaven, Indra, who was forcibly deprived of the parijata flower. Parijata is a kind of lotus flower grown on the heavenly planets. Once, Satyabhama, one of Krsna's queens, wanted that lotus flower, and Krsna promised to deliver it; but Indra refused to part with his parijata flower. Therefore there was a great fight, with Krsna and the Pandavas on one side and all of the demigods on the other. Ultimately, Krsna defeated all of them and took the parijata flower, which He presented to His queen. So, in regard to that occurrence, Krsna told Narada Muni, "My dear great sage of the demigods, now you can declare to the devotees in general, and to the nondevotees in particular, that in this matter of taking the parijata flower, all the demigods--the Gandharvas, the Nagas, the demon Raksasas, the Yaksas, the Pannagas--tried to defeat Me, but none could make Me break My promise to My queen."

There is another promise by Krsna in Bhagavad-gita to the effect that His devotee will never be vanquished. So a sincere devotee who is always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord should know for certain that Krsna will never break His promise. He will always protect His devotees in every circumstance.

Krsna showed how He fulfills His promise by delivering the parijata flower to Satyabhama, by saving Draupadi from being insulted and by freeing Arjuna from the attacks of all enemies.

The promise of Krsna that His devotees are never vanquished had also previously been admitted by Indra when he was defeated in the govardhana-lila. When Krsna stopped the villagers of Vraja (Vrndavana) from worshiping Indra, Indra became angry and therefore inundated Vrndavana with continuous rain. Krsna, however, protected all of the citizens and animals of Vrndavana by lifting Govardhana Hill, which served as an umbrella. After the incident was over, Indra surrendered to Krsna with many prayers, in which he admitted, "By Your lifting Govardhana Hill and protecting the citizens of Vrndavana, You have kept Your promise that Your devotees are never to be vanquished."

(Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 21)

Parijat tree manifests in Samudra-manthan pastime
17th c., Deccan

Another famous mention of the Parijata in sastra is the Samudra-manthan pastime, the churning of the Milk Ocean. The Parijata appeared as a wish-fulfilling tree, along with many other divine entities.

Lord Vishnu's heavenly throne is often depicted beneath a flowering Parijata tree, and Sri Hanuman lives under its shade.