Romaharshana assured the group of wise men and women, “Shiva is simple to please.” However, neither the ketaki nor the champaka flower should ever be offered to Shiva.
Just what is wrong with these bouquets, anyway? enquired of the wise ones.
Let me begin with the ketaki flower, Romaharshana said.
Rama’s dad, Dasharatha, made him go live in the woods for 14 years. So Rama took his brother Lakshmana and his wife Sita and headed into the woods. The three of them set up housekeeping near the Falgu River. A shraddha (funeral) ritual was held for King Dasharatha after word reached the forest that he had died while they were away.
Lakshmana was dispatched by Rama to a nearby village to acquire the required items. Laksmana disappeared for a while and nobody heard from him. Then Rama set out to find Lakshmana and get the necessary components. Rama, however, did not come back either. The ritual needed to be finished before noon, and time was running out. Sita, out of despair, resolved to hold the ritual herself. She then took a dip in the Falgu River, where she also lit an earthen candle. The pinda were then fashioned by her for the departed ancestors.
A voice could be heard right away. It told Sita, “You are blessed.” That settles it for us.
Sita gaped in awe as she saw what appeared to be disembodied hands appear in the air and collect the offerings.
Which begs the question: who are you? Is Sita’s question.
That old man answering the phone is my late father-in-law, I told the speaker. We are pleased to report that the funeral went off without a hitch. I’ll take what you’re giving me.
Sita responded, “But Rama and Lakshmana would believe me.” They have no way of knowing that ghostly hands materialised out of thin air to receive the gifts.
The answer is yes, of course. responded to the call. You have at least four witnesses. We’ll start with the Falgu River. The other one is that cow over there. The blaze is the third. The ketaki bush is the last one.
When Rama and Lakshmana returned, they ordered that dinner be prepared immediately. Almost no time remains. The funeral must end before lunchtime.
Even after Sita explained what had happened, her brothers did not trust her. They mocked her and inferred that she was fibbing. When Sita questioned her four purported eyewitnesses, all of them said they had seen nothing. There was no more bickering, so Sita prepared the meal and Rama made sacrifices to his forefathers.
The skies then echoed with a human voice. To what end are you summoning us once more? the statement made. In that regard, Sita has already gratified us.
I don’t think Rama believed that.
The replying voice confirmed that this was really the case. Query the sun deity.
The sun god validated Sita’s story, saying everything had transpired as she described. Both Rama and Lakshmana were humbled by Sita’s goodness and repentant for ever having doubted her. However, Sita pronounced a curse on the four liars. With her hex, the Falgu River could no longer surface above ground. She swore that the pandanus odoratissimus flower known as ketaki would never again be accepted as a sacrifice to Shiva. She put a spell on the cow that made its mouth unclean forevermore. After all, it had knowingly told a lie. There would, however, be no contamination in the cow’s rear end. Sita finished by wishing that the flames would destroy everything without discrimination.
Because of this, a ketaki flower should never be offered to Shiva in worship.
The Champaka Tree and the Sage Narada
In addition, a champaka flower is not permitted.
In the region known as Gokarna, you might visit a Shiva temple. Narada made up his mind to pay the shrine a visit. An in bloom champaka tree caught his eye and he paused to take it in. Flowers were being picked from the tree by a brahmana who had come to do so. The brahmana normally would have picked flowers, but since Narada was around, he refrained.
If you could tell, where you were planning on going, I’d be grateful demanded Narada.
The brahmana gave a false reason for his request for charity: he wanted to beg for alms.
Narada visited the holy site. While this was going on, the brahmana gathered blossoms from a nearby champaka tree and hid them carefully in a basket. On his way back from the temple, Narada ran across the same brahmana.
In which direction are you now heading? The brahmana was questioned.
The brahmana lied once more, saying, “Home,” “I couldn’t obtain any alms.”
Narada began to have misgivings. As he approached the champaka tree, he said, “Has that brahmana plucked any flowers?”
Oh, you brahmanas! answered the tree. Nobody that I am aware of is a brahmana. No blossoms have been picked so yet. Returning to the temple, Narada saw that the Shiva linga now had a bouquet of fresh champaka flowers placed atop it. They were joined by another believer who had come to pray in that spot. Do you know who came to worship with these champaka flowers? Narada queried.
The devotee responded, “Yes, I do; it is a wicked brahmana.” He offers champaka flowers to Shiva every day. With Shiva’s help, he was able to successfully brainwash the king and take all of his money behind his back. Other brahmanas are likewise under his oppression.
When questioned by Narada, Shiva was challenged, “Why do you condone such evil?”
As Shiva explained, “I am powerless,” I have no control. If someone offers me champaka flowers in adoration, I will give in.
At that very moment, a brahmana woman rushed in to share her tragic story. The man she loved was paralysed. However, they had bribed the king in order to marry off their daughter. The monarch had also given them a cow. However, the bad brahmana insisted that half of their spoils rightfully belonged to him. He claimed that the king’s generosity was in part attributable to his own efforts behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, the malicious brahmana had already stolen half of the funds. But the question remained, how exactly was a cow going to be cut up?
After considering the situation, Narada decided that the champaka tree and the brahmana should be dealt with.
In addition to its other flaws, the champaka tree was dishonest. When Narada cursed the champaka tree, he said that Shiva would never accept an offering of flowers from the tree. A rakshasa (demon) by the name of Viradha was the result of the malevolent brahmana’s curse. However, the brahmana was a Shiva worshipper. For this reason, the curse was conditioned on Viradha’s death at Rama’s hands, at which point he would once again be a brahmana.