Sage Narada once visited Amaravati, Lord Indra’s kingdom. There in the heavenly garden called Nandanavana, he spotted a tree with tiny beautiful flowers with an orange stalk and pure white petals amidst the green leaves. They were looking like stars and they were spreading a divine fragrance all around. They were Parijatha flowers.
When the devatas and the rakshasas together churned the milk ocean for “amruta”, many rare and unique things, plants, animals and beings emerged out of the milk ocean. Parijatha Vriksha was one amongst them. Not only the flowers are beautiful and have an unearthly fragrance, but the flowers also have great medicinal value. Indra, the king of the gods took the tree with him as a gift to his wife Sachidevi and planted it in his garden.
Narada asked Indra if he could take a few flowers with him and Indra agreed. Narada collected a few Parijatha flowers and reached Dwaraka. He met the Lord and gave the heavenly flowers to him. Narada told Krishna to give it to anyone of his queens whom he thought worthy of the flowers and added that whoever adorned themselves with these flowers would be immensely benefited. They would become more beautiful, keep good health and endear themselves to one and all. Krishna immediately gave it to Rukmini.
Narada was mighty pleased. He then went to the palace of Satyabhama, another consort of Krishna. He narrated the whole parijatha incident that had happened, and told her that though Krishna talked about Satyabhama being his favourite queen, in truth it was actually Rukmini who was his favourite, because the Lord had given her the flowers. Satyabhama became extremely angry with Krishna and even refused to meet him when he came to her palace. However, Krishna managed to console Satyabhama and told her that he would get the entire tree for her. She was very happy and decided to accompany Krishna to Indraloka.
Krishna and Satyabhama went to Indraloka and asked for the tree. The arrogant Indra refused to part with it, even though the Lord himself asked for the tree. To teach Indra a lesson, Krishna plucked the tree by its roots, placed it on Garuda’s back and was about to start from there when Indra stood against the Lord ready to fight with him. Krishna and Indra fought but Indra was defeated. He then realized his mistake and sought forgiveness from the Lord for waging a battle against him. The Lord forgave him. Krishna brought the Parijatha tree and planted it in the courtyard of Satyabhama as per her wishes.
Satyabhama went to Rukmini and boasted about the Parijatha tree in her courtyard and how the Lord had fought with Indra for the same. Rukmini smiled and very calmly told Satyabhama that she did not desire or long for anything when the Lord of all the worlds was her constant companion. However Satyabhama walked off, still revelling in the priceless gift that she had just then obtained. At night, the flowers bloomed, but the wind (Vayu) carried all the fragrance to Rukmini’s courtyard. And in the morning when Satyabhama went to the courtyard, she saw all the flowers fallen over the compound wall into Rukmini’s courtyard. Krishna had planted the tree in such a way that the tree was in Satyabhama garden but the flowers fell into the courtyard of Rukmini. She now realized that the Lord was teaching her a lesson and completely rid of pride and arrogance, with utmost devotion Satyabhama prostrated to Lord Krishna and Rukmini.
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