Summary of Shankaradeva’s Parijata Harana
Shankaradeva’s Parijata Harana retells two stories from the Bhagavata and the Vishnu Puranas. The king of the devata, Indra asks for help from Lord Krishna as demon Naraka or Narakasura attacks his palace and seizes their belongings. In the hour of need, Lord Krishna consoles him and promises that he will save him from the threat. Krishna defeats Narakasura and restores order, harmony in heaven. In the second part, Krishna under compulsion steals the divine parijata from Indra’s garden for his wife Satyabhama, hence the name Parijata Harana. This causes a war between the two divine figures. In the end, Indra accepts his defeat and offers the parijata to Krishna, and Krishna plants the tree.
Shankaradeva’s Parijata Harana Extended Summary
Indra with his wife Shachi and Narada descends to the earth to meet Lord Krishna. Narada offers the divine flower parijata to Krishna and tells him the qualities of the flower.
The celestial sage Narada tells that the aroma of the parijata can be felt from six kilometers away distance. The house which has parijata within its boundary, wealth, family, and glory will always be present. The woman who wears the flower will enjoy its enormous benefits. Her married life will always be happy, her husband will never leave her.
After listening to the wonderful qualities of the flower, Rukmini holds Krishna’s feet and begs to offer the precious flower to her since she is his senior wife. Krishna happily puts the flower on her head and fulfills her wish.
Narada informs the Lord that the demon Naraka has created chaos causing. Therefore Indra and Shachi have come to him to take refuge at his feet.
Indra is distressed because the demon Narakasura has defeated the gods and has seized their belongings. Indra falls at Krishna’s feet and informs that Naraka has stolen the umbrella of Varuna, and took away the mountain of jewels, and the earrings of Mother Aditi.
Lord Krishna tells him not to worry anymore and go on ahead to Amaravati. He promises that he will kill the demon today. Indra gets relief after hearing the words from Krishan and leaves the place.
Narada too laves the place and goes to Krishna’s wife Satyabhama. Narada inflames in her with envy. He tells her that she is an unfortunate and unlucky woman. He creates a curiosity in her to know the reason for being unfortunate. When she demands to know the reason, the sage tells her that he has brought the divine parijata from heaven to Krishan. He tells her the wonderful qualities of the flower. He emphasizes that she deserves the flower. Despite telling Krishna who is worthy of the flower, Krishna does not pay attention and fixes the flower with love in Rukmini’s hair.
Satyabhama is furious with the fire of envy and humiliation. She can’t bear the news and becomes senseless. Then Narada returns to Krishna and informs him about his wife Satyabhama has “stopped eating and drinking because of the insult of the parijata flower. She’s dying of grief. Go to her quickly and see for yourself.” (9)
Krishna dashes to see his wife. He pacifies her that he will offer her a hundred pariajata flowers if she is lamenting only because of the flower. He promises that he will uproot the whole parijata tree for her and plant it by her door. Hearing his words, Satyabhama asks him to fulfill her wish right now.
Lord Krishna tells him that Narakasura has conquered the gods and now they need his help to defeat the demon. Therefore he is going to kill him and after that, he will bring the tree. Satyabhama insists that she will also go with him so that he can’t give the flower to any of his wives. Krishna agrees and both mount on on Garuda and fly to Kamrup.
Lord Krishna blows the conch ‘Panchajanya’, after hearing it the demon runs to Krishna with his sword. Lord Krishna singlehandedly kills the demons and their king, Naraka. The gods celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Upon knowing that Krishna has slain Narakasura’s head. Narakasura’s mother, Vasumati comes to Krishna with her grandson Bhagadatta to surrender Bhagadatta at the Lord’s feet. Lord Krishna announces Bhagadatta as ruler of Kamrupa. He frees sixteen thousand women from the demon’s harem and sends them to Dvaraka. He collects all the belongings of the gods and goes to heaven.
Indra welcomes them and Krishna hands over their belongings to Indra and returns with Satyabhama and Narada.
Satyabhama reminds him that he has forgotten his word. Krishna asks Narada to take the parijata tree to him. Narada informs the reason for his visit. Shachi becomes furious for daring to wear the divine flower. She asks Narada to tell Satyabhama that only a resident of the Amaravati has the right to have the flower. Indra cannot give her parijata to a mere human being.
Narada goes back and tells them what Shachi has said. He tells them that Shachi is in rage and after ages of persistence she has become the mistress of Amaravati, the city of the gods, and earned the right to wear the parijata flower.
Satyabhama feels offended and demands her husband to take the tree right now. Krishna follows and steals the parijata tree. The guards inform Indra and Shachi about the theft. It infuriates Shachi and incites Indra to punish them.
Indra mounts on his elephant Airavata and goes with Shachi and the gods to bring back the tree. Shachi orders Satyabhama to return the parijata and accuses Krishna of being flirtatious. Satyabhama replies with a similar tone.
Shachi provokes her husband for bearing the insult the words of a mere woman. Indra prepares for war. He arrogantly says to Lord Krishna that he is going to end his life with his pin-point arrows. The two leave arrows at each other, when Krishna’s arrow strikes Indra, he falls unconscious. When he regains his consciousness, he asks to return parijata. He threatens Krishna to end his life with his thunderbolt.
Indra throws his thunderbolt to Krishna but it can’t do anything to him. Krishna picks up his discus. Seeing the discus, Indra flees. Indra accepts defeat and realizes his mistake of fighting with the lord. Indra offers the parijata to Krishna and leaves the place.
Krishna plants the parijata by the door of Satyabhama’s residence. This is how in the end her wish is fulfilled.
Parijata Harana by Shankardeva is an ankiya nat. The term ankiya is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘anka’. Anka means one-act play.
Ankiya nat is different from Sanskrit plays in many ways. In the case of language, they are a mixture of Sanskrit and mostly, Vrajavali language. Apart from using Sanskrit couplets in the play, the dialogue and the songs are composed in Vrajavali.
Unlike Sanskrit plays where professional actors play the roles, in ankiya nat, the village men perform the roles. They are not divided into acts and they have no vidushaka or jester.
The village nam ghar serves as a stage for the play. These plays are performed at night, on religious occasions like Janmashtami, after the harvesting in winter, on full moon nights, etc. the village people come and enjoy the play.
Like Sanskrit plays, ankiya nat begins and ends with a benediction. Similar to Sanskrit plays, a sutradhara or director introduces the play and the characters to the audience. But his role is not limited only to the introduction, the sutradhara sings, dances introduces each scene of the play, and also explains it to the audience throughout the play.