Transcendental Flowers, Part Two

BY: SUN STAFF - 15.9 2020

Transcendental flowers glorified throughout Vedic literature.

"There were various trees and creepers on all sides of the lake, and there were mad bumblebees humming all about them. The trees appeared to be very jolly due to the sweet humming of the bumblebees, and the saffron, which was contained in the lotus flowers, was being thrown into the air. These all created such an atmosphere that it appeared as though a festival were taking place there.

Purport: "Trees and creepers are also different types of living beings. When bumblebees come upon trees and creepers to collect honey, certainly such plants become very happy. On such an occasion the wind also takes advantage of the situation by throwing pollen or saffron contained in the lotus flowers. All this combines with the sweet vibration created by the swans and the calm of the water."

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4:24:22 Purport)

Campaka Flowers

Among the most desirable of sweet flowers targeted by the bees of Vraja are the glorious Campaka flowers. The creamy yellow blooms have an all-attractive scent, making them a favorite flower of Sri Krsna, Radha and the Gopis. The beauty of the Lord in His various forms and many of His transcendental associates are compared to the Campaka flower in Vaisnava literature.

The Champaka flower (Michelia champaca) is synonymous with the Sanskrit terms, hema-puṣpaka (golden-flowered) and dīpa-puṣpa (lamp-flowered); the term campeya is also used to mean 'gold'. There are a few other campakas in Sanskrit: the bhūmi-campakā or bhū-campakā, both meaning 'ground-Campaka'; and the śveta-campaka (white Campaka), which is apparently the same as the kśīra-campaka (kṣīra means 'milk' or 'sap'). All of these are different from the (Michelia champaca), however.

Because of their pleasing color and aroma, Campaka flowers are prized for offering to the Deities, and Campaka trees are found in many temple precincts and asramas. Such sweetly aromatic flowers are included among the five primary ingredients of Deity worship mentioned in Caitanya-caritamrta:

(1) very good scents, (2) very good flowers, (3) incense, (4) a lamp and (5) something edible.

Campaka flowers are specifically mentioned in the same verse (Madhya lila 24.324), describing the sixteen ingredients for sodasopacara, which recommends that one "offer flowers with good fragrance, like the rose or campaka".

Because of its heady scent, the Campaka flower is often described as being one of the five flower-darts employed by Kamadeva:

indindirair nirbhara-garbham īṣa-d-unmeṣac-campaka-puṣpam āsīt |
hiraṇmayaṃ śāsana-lekha-hetoḥ sajjaṃ maṣī-bhāṇḍam iva smarasya ||

"The campaka flower, just beginning to open, its inner bud filled with bees, seemed to be the golden ink pot of Smara the god of love, readied for the pen-stroke of his edict."

(Subhashitavali, verse 1659 )

The glories of the Campaka flower are very evident in this passage from Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 24.349, which compares the golden lustre of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to the Campaka: "The Lord, who has the complexion of a golden campaka flower", campaka-gaurah. Also associated with Mahaprabhu is the tomb of the Chand Kazi in Mayapur, which sits beneath a Campaka tree.

Srimati Radharani's beauty is also compared to the Campaka flower:

kada karisyasiha mam kripa-kataksha-bhajanam

O Srimati Radharani, when will You cast Your merciful glance upon me? Your form is as splendid and effulgent as a yellow campaka flower, gold, or a lightning bolt. The luster of Your face has eclipsed the shining of millions of autumn moons. Your eyes are as amazingly beautiful as quickly moving young cakora birds.

(Urdhvamnaya-tantra, text 4)

The transcendental presence of the Champaka flower in Vraja is also described in a passage from Krsna Book, Chapter 30, in which the Gopis are searching for Krsna:

"The gopis therefore began to question the trees and plants about Krsna. There were various types of big trees and small plants in the forest, and the gopis began to address them. "Dear banyan tree, have you seen the son of Maharaja Nanda passing this way, laughing and playing on His flute? He has stolen our hearts and has gone away. If you have seen Him, kindly inform us which way He has gone. Dear asoka tree, dear naga flower tree and campaka flower tree, have you seen the younger brother of Balarama pass this way? He has disappeared because of our pride."