WHEN the great deluge occurred, everything was swept under the swirling waters. Even the most precious and irreplaceable things were washed away or got submerged deep in the ocean bed. The gods decided to retrieve whatever they could by churning the ocean. It was during the churning process that the Parijata tree emerged to the surface. It was the most beautiful tree that one could have laid eyes on. Even the gods and goddesses had not seen such a beautiful tree. It had star-shaped blossoms which spread their sweet fragrance in the air around. Indra saw the tree come out of the ocean and laid his claim to it. He thought, “This is the most beautiful tree that I have ever seen. I will take it away and plant it in my kingdom before anyone else sees it.”
The other gods too had seen the tree emerge from the ocean waters but they decided not to stake a claim to it because they all knew that once Indra had set his mind on anything, nothing could stop him from possessing it, come what may. Moreover, no one wanted to annoy him as they feared that an angry Indra could either release no rain and cause a drought on earth, or else release too much water and lead to floods.
As was expected, Indra took the Parijata tree to his garden and planted it, telling his wife Sachi to take good care of it. Sachi religiously watered the tree and nurtured it as her own child. Its enticing fragrance captivated the entire kingdom of Indra.
One day Sri Krishna decided to pay a visit to Indra. Krishna and his wife Satyabhama reached Indra’s palace and on getting the fragrance waft in the air, they were drawn to the source and found the Parijata tree blossoming in full glory. Satyabhama said to Krishna, “I want this tree in our kingdom. We have all kinds of trees but none emits such a fragrance as this one does.”
Krishna tried to dissuade her, “Dear wife, how can I take something which belongs to somebody else? Moreover, Indra will never forgive me if I took his tree.”
But Satyabhama insisted and refused to relent. She persisted, “Surely you can take this Parijata tree forcibly because you are more powerful than Indra.”
A reluctant Krishna gave in to his wife’s wishes. After meeting Indra and his wife Sachi, Krishna quietly uprooted the tree when Indra and Sachi had returned to their chamber. He took the Parijata tree to Dwarka and planted it in his garden. Indra soon discovered that his precious tree was taken away by Sri Krishna. He became livid with anger and collecting his army, launched an attack on Dwarka. A fierce battle ensued and ultimately Indra was defeated. Krishna told the humiliated Indra, “The tree will remain with me as long as I am alive. After my death, you can take it away to do whatever you want with it.”
The Parijata tree blossomed in Dwarka till Krishna’s death. On the seventh day, following his death, when the city of Dwarka began to get submerged under the deluge, Indra rushed to Dwarka and uprooted the Parijata tree to plant it in his own garden. He was happy and so was his wife Sachi.