The delicate beauty, the simple elegance, the flaming orange stem offsetting the white starlike form of this softly fragrant flower has inspired man to call it by many endearments: “paarijaat”, “harsingaar”, and “Shefali”. This is one of the flowers that enrich the Indian nights with their exotic perfumed bloom! They attain youth at night and as the darkness embraces dawn, they make heavy the air with their fragrant breath as they softly fall, too delicate to bear the light of day. The Bhagawat Purana says that offering one of these flowers to the Lord is like offering one tola (10gm approx) of gold in charity. Eager to reach the Lord, they bloom abundantly during Navratri.
On a fresh September morning, I spied a flowering Paarijaat tree. A simple, rustic and weak old man was walking around it. He sat down and started picking up the flowers from the ground. I asked what he was doing and he simply answered, “collecting flowers for the Lord”. Offering to the Lord fallen flowers? I said “but baba, fallen flowers are not pure enough to be offered to the Lord.” He said, “You should take only what the tree offers you in its benevolence.
Why do you pluck forcibly? You should not pluck flowers in a public park.” What an ecologically sensitive and law abiding man, and how refreshingly honest? He then muttered, “The Lord is hungry only for the Bhav (the love and surrender), not these flowers.” Deep teaching, taught simply! I humbly bent low to pick up nature’s fragrant gems from the ground. The arrogance of thinking that I could pluck and offer what belonged to the tree, or worse still, that I was the offerer. How superior the tree in its unmindful giving and how superior the old man’s simple devotion!
Prarthna Saran, President Delhi Chinmaya Mission