MAI's picture

Average: 5 (1 vote)

A simple story.

Of a flower.

Fragile and fragrant.

Whispering in the night.

A wisp of a star, white,

Annointed with a vermillion dot at its centre.

Perched delicately atop a flaming saffron coloured stalk.

Peeping shyly, through a thick foliage of dark green leaves.

Bringing an ethereal, milky white, misty glow to the whole tree.

Gently, spreading a sweet smelling aura, all around.

With the first rays of the sun, dropping to the ground,

Thick, carpeting, the earth beneath.

The Parijaata.

Growing up, in a place called Devlali, in India.
At age 7 or 8.

Vivid memories of this flower.

A small circular, brass tray, edges decorated with a floral engravings, held in my hands.

Out in the garden, early in the mornings.
A daily ritual.
Of gathering flowers for my paternal grandmother’s pooja.

A pergola.
Surrounded by small, lush green, shrub like trees.
And the earth beneath the trees.
Carpeted by these sweet smelling flowers.

As I gently gathered these flowers, picking them up
One by one, with barely a touch to their stalks,
They were so delicate.

And the never to be forgotten fragrance.

Heavenly, divine.

Fast forward to many years later.
One day, sitting in darshan.
In Whitefield, Bangalore.

Eyes closed.

Suddenly flooded by the fragrance of Vibhuti { sacred ash }.

This would often happen.

Initially, I would look for an external source.
Not finding one I realized that the fragrance was emanating from within me.

And in a flash….
The ethereal perfume of a flower.

Long forgotten memory.
Came back.

I was a little girl, again… gathering flowers for my grandmother.

I never even knew the name.
And I’d never seen it again, since then.

Quietly I opened my eyes.
My friend Shubha was sitting next to me.

I asked her…

“There is a flower…” I said……

She looked at me, initially bewildered.

I explained that I was engulfed by the fragrance…

She understood.

“Haven’t you noticed?” she asked.

“In Puttaparti, Swami’s ashram, the entire temple is surrounded by these small trees?” she said.

“The flower is called PARIJATA” she smiled.

“There is also a beautiful bhajan :
Shesha Shaila Vasa Narayana
Bhakta Parijata, Narayana…”

I smiled back.

The mysteries of life.


This beautiful little flower:
Also called ‘Har Singar’,
Night-flowering Jasmine,
Coral Jasmine.

Parijaata flowers are the only flowers have a special status that can be offered to the Gods even when they lie on the ground.

They begin blossoming at dusk, opening up their fragrant heart, through the night.
With the first rays of the sun, they fall off the tree, to the ground beneath.

A short span.
But what a glorious life.


The flower is the official flower of the state of West Bengal, India.

Parijat, Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, appears in several Hindu myths and is often related to the Kalpavriksha.

In one myth, which appears in Bhagavata Purana, the Mahabharata and the Vishnu Purana, Parijat appeared as the result of the Samudra manthan (Churning of the Milky Ocean). Lord Krishna battled with Indra to win parijat.

This flower blooms only at night and sheds flowers before sunrise.


Spiritual Significance of the Flower

The flower itself conveys a very special message to those who know how to read its language. If one closely observes its delicate beauty one will observe that it has a vibrant orange center. This color is a symbol of fire in the Hindu tradition. Fire, in turn, is considered that power which purifies a persons heart and mind so that all desires for the world are consumed, leaving only a pure consciousness which directly communes with the Hidden Power within that has been and is called by many names.
The white petals which surround the orange center symbolic of that pure consciousness.
In the ancient times Buddhist monks and Hindu ascetics dyed their robes a rich fiery color to show that they had renounced the world. This dye was produced from the very same orange centers of the parijat. When the flowers would fall to the ground, people would collect them and separte the orange tube from the white petals and dry them. Once they were dried they could be used for making this saffron-colored dye.

The parijata flowers resemble miniature mandalas, with pure white petals unfolding from a bright orange center; this image was seen by the Rishis as symbolic of agni, the purifying flame of awareness, burning away the obscurations of the mind to reveal the petals of purified consciousness.

In India the parijat tree is planted in the precincts of temples because of the sublime atmosphere created by the aroma of its flowers.

This flower is used, in the worship of Krishna.

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 manthana, and thus was a celestial plant.

It was brought from Indralok, by Krishna.


Asanga's picture


Every night,
Every morning...
In our garden...
Shiuli phooler chador...
I am, yet I am not...

Asanga | Tue, 04/09/2013 - 17:39
MAI's picture

Haunting Fragrance

That's beautiful, Asanga.
Truely a flower that evokes poetry.

Soothing to the eyes,
Velvet to the touch,
Haunting fragrance,


MAI | Wed, 04/10/2013 - 02:00