Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Paarijaat Parichay

It was a long Republic day weekend and I was yearning to step out of the mundane. But I had no idea what a miraculously wonderful being was about to be introduced to me.

A small family discussion happened  on Saturday evening.I was  insisting for a long drive sorts to wilderness .The discussion ended with an  agreement on visiting a religious place called Mahadeva which has (as the name suggests ) a Shiva temple and some links to Mahabharata. I am not an atheist exactly but religious stuff doesn't really stay in my head . Though I  have great reverence for faith and belief and the people who are capable of living that way.
I just needed an outing and the long drive where i could relax watching the "peeli peeli sarson ke khet" and the glimpses of rustic life. So I actually failed to notice the other destination of the journey some  'tree to be seen' .

Sunday arrived . It was a 50 kms drive from Lucknow. The Shiva temple at Mahadeva was like any other temple with little tinsel shops, shops with religious books , beggars , singers , a load of stray dogs and rustic children with unmatched bliss. We did the 'pooja' (worship) with the holy water and the' pooja ki thali'. The hemp leaves were a distinct attraction for me. So with all the pooja , offerings and tilaks we headed for the destination which will continue to fascinate me for a long time.

It is in the Sirauli Gauspur Mandal of district Barabanki  , a village called Kintoor, named after Kunti (mother of Pandavas) , where breathes the static soul of a 6000 year old tree called the Parijaat Vriksha also referred to Kalpataru . Literally translated as the wish bearing tree or the tree from heaven.

 After a long trail of side shops with prasad and a motley of other things related to the place, we reached the entrance. It had , as the legend said , the statues of the five Pandavas.Inside  it seemed to me  like another park  with paved paths ,gardens and swings for children till I had the glimpse of it !

I was enthralled! enchanted ! amazed ! stunned!

As I got closer and closer to the Parijaat tree  I grew ' Curioser and curioser'.

The girth of the trunk  was humongous. It had a lovely shade of grey . The leaves were all dried so it displayed the wonderful structure of the branches which as such didn't have the usual branching patterns of the ordinary flowering trees.

 It looked like a baobab or boa boa tree me . Yes, the upside down tree . The one so beautifully depicted in  Antoine de Saint Exuprey's darling novel "The little Prince". (Thanks to Google and great mobile connectivity my hunch was confirmed.). Baobabs are natives of Africa and there are about six known species . Characteristically have large trunks which store water.

Depiction of Baobab trees from "The Little Prince"

Well we had a local person  to aid us in understanding the religious and mythological significance of the tree. He told us the story of how this tree landed from heaven to the mortal world .

It is said that Pandavas were banished after losing their in Kingdom in the game of Chausar to the Kauravas . It was a 12 year period , of which one year was to be spent in 'Agyatwaas'. This period was spent in this very village . Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, was advised by an ascetic that if she worshipped a special Shiva Linga with the flowers of the heavenly Parijaat tree that would end their hardships and ensure that they remained in hiding during the period of  'Agyatwaas' without being found out . Arjuna is said to have brought that tree from heaven for the purpose.

     So the Shiva temple at Mahadeva harbours the lingum which Kunti worshipped and the tree I was looking at with awe and enchantment was the Parijaat tree brought from heaven .

Interesting! Very interesting.

I got curious about the flower. The tree seemed dried up as of now . I was told that it has beautiful white flowers and the flowering season was during monsoons . The discussion revealed  another amazing fact. The tree flowers but does not bear fruits and hence has no seeds . There is no other way of propagating the tree.

This brings to another mythological story associated with the tree. It was said that Parijaat tree was obtained from the 'Samudra Manthan' and was planted in Indralok. Narad Muni plucked a few flowers and gave it to Lord Krishna just to see which of his wives he would gift it to. Krishna gave them to Rukmini. Narada Muni blabbed about this to Satyabhama ( other wife of Krishna). She took offence and demanded Krishna to prove his love for her by bringing the tree from heaven. NaradaMuni then informed this to Indra that some earthlings are planning to steal his Paarijaat Vriksha. Indra got furious and this lead to a war which was won by Lord Krishna .

 Paarijaat Vriksha was brought to earth and in order to maintain peace and harmony amongst his wives he cleverly planted the tree in Satyabhama's palace such that the flowers fell in Rukmini's palace. However the defeated Indra cursed the tree in anger that it would flower but never bear fruits or seeds  and thus would never have a progeny.

The tree is a unique male baobab tree which does not seed. It also does not have annular rings which leaves only carbon dating as a method for age estimation.

Like most sacred things in  this tree also automatically  turned it's surroundings into a religious place with an
altar for worship and temples of all sizes.

It is the wish bearing tree or the Kalpataru .So  around the iron fencing there is an arrangement to keep the  tradition of making a wish by tying the sacred ( orange- red- yellow) threads.

It is also said that one who touches the Paarijaat becomes blessed and its lucky to have touched the tree. So I did this little ritual though the spiked fence made it quite an awkward task.

However one thing was majorly missing. I had to see the flower. To my delight the local who was acting our guide had a picture in his mobile.

It was a mesmerising and exhilarating experience for me . I am a die hard fan of flowering trees and this was such a heavenly treat for my soul that perhaps the whole post might have sounded like a kid trying to tell her story in one tiny breathe jumping on her toes. I don't mind sounding that.

 In fact I don't even mind  mentioning that I seriously plan to return to Parijaat tree  after this Parichay , perhaps this monsoon, to have a look at the beautiful flower which was the reason that brought down the tree of heaven to earth.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Divine Prayer

Medium: mixed media primarily coloured inks.


Medium : water colors.