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In the manner it is believed that Gods and Asuras (demons) claimed ‘Amrit’ by churning the ocean, in the great mythological event of Samundra Manthan,’ which happens to be the genesis of the world famous ‘Kumbh Mela’ now considered the biggest spiritual congregation on earth. In the same manner it is also believed that either Lord Krishna or Arjun brought the Parijaat Tree from heaven.
Parijaat is a Baobab tree considered sacred. Located in the village of Kintoor, near district Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh. In botanical terms Parijaat is known as Adansonia Digitata and is placed in a special category, because it does not produce either fruits or seeds and neither can its branch cuttings be planted to reproduce a second Parijaat tree. This is a unisex male tree and the botanist say there is no such tree anywhere else to be found. The leaves of the tree in the lower part have five tips like the fingers of a hand, while in the upper parts it has seven.
Parijat has beautiful small flowers, with snow-white petals, five in number and a red stalk and after drying the flowers take to a golden tinge. The flower blooms only at night and sheds before sunrise, and it also has medicinal value. Parijaat blossoms very occasionally, with very few flowers, but when it does, that is after the season of ‘Ganga Dashehra’ its fragrance spreads far and wide. The age of this tree is said to be some 1000 to 5000 years and the perimeter of the trunk is around 50 feet and the height around 45 feet.
Kintoor is named after Kunti, mother of Pandavas and is about 38 km east, of district headquarters Barbanki. There also exists a number of ancient temples and their remains around this place. Near the temple established by Kunti, is this special tree called Parijaat which is said to have grown out of Kunti’s ashes.
There are many other legends about this tree that find popular acceptance. One being, Arjun brought it from heaven and Kunti offered its flowers to Lord Shiva.
There is also a sad romantic myth. According to which Princess Parijataka was in love with Sun, but her love was never reciprocated. Having lost in love, she committed suicide and from her ashes rose, the Parijaat tree. Since she is unable to bear the sight of her love during the day, she blooms only at night, and sheds the flowers as tears, before the sun rises.
Another story is, Lord Krishna brought this tree for his beloved queen Satyabhama or Rukmini. According to Harivansh Puraan the Parijaat Tree is a Kalpavriksh or wish bearing tree, which, apart from this one is only found in the heaven. New-weds visit the tree for blessings, and every Tuesday a fair is held where local people worship the tree.
Some myths go on to say, that the tree sheds its tears on the touch of the first rays of the sun. The fragrant flowers spread their fragrance in the entire area during the day, as a sign of undying love for her lover, the Sun.
Another myth has a romantic link, but is a bone of contention. According to this myth, the Parijat tree was planted in Indralok (the abode of Lord Indra) which was one of the gifts received from the Samudra Manthan. It was thus a celestial plant, not available on earth. To sow seeds of discord, Narada, brought some flowers from Indralok and gave them to Lord Krishna. And waited to see, to which of his wife Krishna gave the flowers to. Finally Krishna gave the flowers to Rukmini. On seeing this, Narada went to Satyabhama; Krishna’s other wife and told her about it.
On hearing this Satyabhama’s felt very jealous. Then Narada went on to give her a solution. He suggested that she should insist on Krishna getting the plant itself from Indralok and plant it at her home, instead of a few flowers. Satyabhama decided to do that, and when Krishna came to her quarters, she showed her anger and disappointment on the whole incident and insisted that he get the entire plant from Indralok.
True to his nature in the mean time Narada went and warned Indra that some earthlings were out to steal the celestial plant from his Indralok. Meanwhile when Krishna and Satyabhama after visiting Indralok were about to leave after picking a branch of the celestial Parijata tree, they were accosted by Indra. Soon a battle broke out between them in which Indra lost.
But Indra would not let it go so easily. He cursed the plant would never bear fruits again, though it might bear flowers, and thus since then, the Parijat tree does not bear any fruit.
Having brought the tree to Dwarka, Rukmini also took fancy to the tree, because of its flowers. So Krishna planted the tree in such a manner, that though the tree was planted at Satyabhama’s house, but when it bore flowers, they would fall in Rukmini’s home. Satyabhama had asked for the tree and she got it, and Rukmini wanted the flowers, and she had it too!
It is believed that the Parijat Tree located at Kintur Village, in Barabanki District of Uttar Pradesh belongs to the age of the Mahabharat. It is mentioned in the Mahabharat that Sri Krishna uprooted the Parijata Tree from the kingdom of Indira, the God of Devas, and presented it to his wife Rukmini.
Another legend in the Puranas suggests that Arjuna of Mahabarat brought the Parijata Tree for his mother Kunti, who offered it to Shiva.
By Kamlesh Tripathi