The Vishnu Purana

by Horace Hayman Wilson | 1840 | 287,946 words | ISBN-10: 8171102127

The English translation of the Vishnu Purana. This is a primary sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism. It is one of the eighteen greater Puranas, a branch of sacred Vedic literature which was first committed to writing during the first millennium of the common era. Like most of the other Puranas, this is a complete narrative from the cr...

Chapter XXX - The story of the Parijata tree

Kṛṣṇa restores her earrings to Aditī, and is praised by her: he visits the gardens of Indra, and at the desire of Satyabhāmā carries off the Pārijāta tree. Śacī excites Indra to its rescue. Conflict between the gods and Kṛṣṇa, who defeats them. Satyabhāmā derides them. They praise Kṛṣṇa.

GARUḌA, laden with the umbrella of Varuṇa and the jewel mountain, and bearing Hṛṣikeśa on his back to the court of Indra, went lightly, as if in sport, along. When they arrived at the portals of Swarga, Hari blew his shell; on which the gods advanced to meet him, bearing respectful offerings. Having received the homage of the divinities, Kṛṣṇa went to the palace of the mother of the gods, whose turrets resembled white clouds; and on beholding Aditī, paid his respects to her, along with Śakra; and, presenting to her her own earrings, informed her of the destruction of the demon Naraka. The mother of the world, well pleased, then fixed her whole thoughts upon Hari, the creator, and thus pronounced his praise: “Glory to thee, O god with the lotus eyes, who removest all fear from those that worship thee. Thou art the eternal, universal, and living soul; the origin of all beings; the instigator of the mental faculty, and faculties of sense; one with the three qualities; beyond the three qualities; exempt from contraries; pure; existing in the hearts of all; void of colour, extension, and every transient modification; unaffected by the vicissitudes of birth or death, sleep or waking. Thou art evening, night, and day; earth, sky, air, water, and fire; mind, intellect, and individuality. Thou art the agent of creation, duration, and dissolution; the master over the agent; in thy forms which are called Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva. Thou art gods, Yakṣas, Daityas, Rākṣasas, Siddhas, Punnagas, Kūṣmāṇḍas, Piśācas, Gandharbas, men, animals, deer, elephants, reptiles, trees, shrubs, creepers, climbers, and grasses; all things, large, middling, small, immense, or minute: thou art all bodies whatsoever, composed of aggregated atoms. This thy illusion beguiles all who are ignorant of thy true nature, the fools who imagine soul to be in that which is not spirit. The notions that ”I am—this is mine," which influence mankind, are but the delusions of the mother of the world, originating in thy active agency. Those men who, attentive to their duties, diligently worship thee, traverse all this illusion, and obtain spiritual freedom. Brahmā and all the gods, men and animals, are alike invested by the thick darkness of fascination, in the gulf of the illusions of Viṣṇu. That men, who having worshipped thee, should seek the gratification of their desires, and their own preservation, this, O lord, is also thy delusion. It is the sport of thy fascinations that induces men to glorify thee, to obtain thereby the continuance of their race, or the annihilation of their enemies, instead of eternal liberation. It is the fault of the impure acts of the unrighteous (to proffer such idle requests to one able to confer such more important benefits), like asking for a rag to cover one's nakedness from the tree that bestows whatever is solicited. Be propitious then, imperishable author of all the error that deceives the world; and dispel, O lord of all creatures, the conceit of knowledge, which proceeds from ignorance. Glory to thee, grasper of the discus, wielder of the bow, brandisher of the mace, holder of the shell; for such do I behold thee in thy perceptible form: nor do I know that form of thine, which is beyond perception! Have compassion on me, supreme god."

Viṣṇu, thus hymned by Aditī, smiled, and said to the mother of the gods, “Mother goddess, do thou shew favour unto me, and grant me thy blessing.” “So be it,” replied Aditī, “ever as thou wilt; and whilst thou dwellest amongst mortals, the first of men, thou shalt be invincible by gods or demons.” Then Satyabhāmā, accompanied by the queen of Indra, addressed Aditī respectfully, and solicited her benedictions: and Aditī in reply said to her, “Fair-browed dame, thou shalt never suffer decay, nor loss of beauty: thou shalt be the asylum of all loveliness, dame of faultless shape.” With the assent of Aditī, Indra then respectfully saluted Janārddana in all due form, and conducted him and Satyabhāmā through Nandana and other pleasant gardens of the gods; where Keśava, the destroyer of Keśi, saw the Pārijāta tree, the favourite of Śacī, which was produced when the ocean was churned for ambrosia: the bark was of gold, and it was embellished with young sprouting leaves of a copper colour, and fruit-stalks bearing numerous clusters of fragrant fruit.

When Satyabhāmā noticed this tree, she said to her beloved lord, Govinda, “Why should not this divine tree be transported to Dvāraka? If what you say is true, and I am really dear to you, then let this tree be taken away from hence, and planted in the gardens of my dwelling. You have often said to me, ‘Neither Jāmbavatī nor Rukminī is so dear to me, Satyā, as you are.’ If you have spoken the truth, and not mere flattery, then let this Pārijāta tree be the ornament of my mansion. I long to shine amidst my fellow queens, wearing the flowers of this tree in the braids of my hair.”

Thus solicited by Satyabhāmā, Hari smiled upon her, and taking the Pārijāta plant, put it upon Garuḍa. The keepers of the garden remonstrated, and said, “This Pārijāta tree belongs to Śacī, the queen of the sovereign of the gods: it is not proper, Govinda, for you to remove it. At the time when the ocean was churned for the beverage of immortality, this tree was produced, for the purpose of providing Śacī with flowery ornaments. You cannot be suffered to depart with it. It is through ignorance that this is sought for by any one, as it is the especial property of her on whose countenance the king of the gods delights to look; and who shall go away with impunity, who attempts to carry it off? Assuredly the king of the gods will punish this audacity; for his hand launches the thunderbolt, and the immortals attend upon his steps. Forbear then, Kṛṣṇa, nor provoke the hostility of all the gods. The wise will not commence actions that can be productive only of unpleasant consequences.” Satyabhāmā, on hearing these words, was exceedingly offended, and said, “What right has Śacī—what has Indra—to the Pārijāta tree? it was produced at the churning of the ocean as the common property of all worlds. Wherefore, gods, should Indra alone possess it? In the same manner, guardians of the grove, as nectar, as the moon, as the goddess Śrī herself, so the Pārijāta tree is the common property of all the world: and since Śacī, confiding in the strength of her husband's arm, would keep it to herself, away with submission to her: Satya takes away the tree. Go quickly, and let Paulomī be told what I have said: repeat to her this contemptuous message from Satyabhāmā; ‘If you are the beloved wife of your lord, if your husband is obedient to your authority, let him prevent my husband from carrying off this tree. I know your husband Śakra; I know the sovereign of the divinities; and I, who am a mortal, take this Pārijāta tree away from you.’”

Accordingly the warders of the garden went and reported to Śacī the message of Satyabhāmā. Śacī appealed to her husband, and excited the king of the gods to resent this affront: and Indra accordingly, attended by the army of the celestials, marched to attack Hari, in defence of the Pārijāta tree. The gods were armed with clubs, swords, maces, and darts; and Indra wielded the thunderbolt. As soon as Govinda saw the king of the gods advancing against him on his elephant, attended by the immortals, he blew his shell so that the sound filled all the regions, and he showered smilingly myriads of arrows upon his assailants. Beholding the air in all directions overspread with his darts, the celestials in return hurled innumerable missiles; but every one of these the destroyer of Madhu, and lord of all worlds, cut playfully into a thousand pieces with his shafts. The devourer of serpents, Garuḍa, laid hold of the noose of the sovereign of the waters, and tore it to fragments with his beak, as if it had been a little snake. The son of Devakī threw his mace at the club of Yama, and cast it broken upon the ground: he cut in bits the litter of the lord of wealth with his discus: a glance of his eye eclipsed the radiance of the sun: he severed Agni into a hundred parts with his arrows, and scattered the Vasus through the realms of space: with his discus he cut off the points of the tridents of the Rudras, and cast themselves upon the earth: and with the shafts shot from his bow he dispersed the Sādhyas, Viśvas, Maruts, and Gandharbas, like fleeces of cotton from the pods of the Simel tree, through the sky. Garuḍa also diligently plied his beak and wings and nails, and bit and bruised and scratched the deities who opposed his lord.

Then the king of the gods and the foe of Madhu encountered and overwhelmed each other with countless shafts, like rain-drops falling from two heavy clouds. Garuḍa in the conflict engaged with Airāvata, and Janārddana was opposed to all the deities. When all the other weapons had been cut to pieces, Indra stood armed with his thunderbolt, and Kṛṣṇa with the discus Sudarśana. Beholding them thus prepared for fight, all the people of the three spheres exclaimed, “Alas! alas!” Indra launched his bolt, but in vain, for Hari caught and arrested it: he forbore, however, to hurl his discus, and only called out to Indra to stay. Satyabhāmā seeing Indra disarmed, and his elephant disabled by Garuḍa, and the deity himself about to retreat, said to him, “King of the triple sphere, it ill becomes the husband of Śacī to run away. Ornamented with Pārijāta garlands, she will approach you. Of what use is the sovereignty of heaven, embellished with the Pārijāta tree, no longer beholding Śacī meet you with affection as of yore? Nay, Śakra, fly not; you must not suffer shame: here, take the Pārijāta tree; let the gods be no longer annoyed. Sachs, inflated with pride of her husband, has not welcomed me to her dwelling with respectful presents. As a woman, I am light of purpose, and am anxious for my husband's fame; therefore have I instigated, Śakra, this contest with you. But I do not want the Pārijāta tree, nor do I wish to take that which is another's property. Śacī is proud of her beauty. What woman is not proud of her husband?” Thus spoken to by Satyabhāmā, the king of the gods turned back, and said to her, “Desist, wrathful dame, from afflicting your friend by further reproaches. I am not ashamed of being vanquished by him who is the author of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the world; who is the substance of all things; in whom, without beginning or middle, the universe is comprised; and from whom, and by whom, identical with all things, it proceeds, and will cease to be. What disgrace is it, O goddess, to any one to be discomfited by him who is the cause of creation, continuance, and dissolution? His form is the parent of all worlds, though infinitely subtle, and known to those only by whom all that may be known is known. Who is able to overcome the unborn, unconstituted, eternal lord, who has willed to become a mortal for the good of the world[1]?”

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The Bhāgavata merely says, “Incited by his wife, Kṛṣṇa took away the Pārijāta tree, having subdued the gods, and planted it in the garden of Satyabhāmā." The Hari V. makes a long story of it, and tells it with some variations, especially in the commencement; Satyabhāmā's desire for the Pārijāta tree having been excited by Nārada's presenting a flower from it to Kṛṣṇa's other spouse, Rukminī.

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