< Back to Newsletters

Champa 2, Champa in Literature

An Eastern Night

The sweet winds whispering breathe while the faint twilight fades,
And the fire-flies are gleaming like gems thro' the trees,
And the humming birds'hues, shine like stars thro' the shades,
As they float to their cinnamon nests on the breeze!

Flowers filled with all odours now scent the rich airs,
Where aloes, annanas, and orange-trees blow;
The fierce forest-kings slumber sound in their lairs,
Heaven above mirrored seems by a Heaven below.

Bright glow the champaka and pomegranate flowers,
Like stars that have fallen to Earth with a blush!
And the wild bulbul's strains are prolonged thro' these hours,
Till the zephyr streams by one rich musical gush!
Oh! how this deep beautiful music of night
Is stirring up echoes like spirits around---
Till the stars---those great, glorious Creations of Light---
Are listening like lovers to love's tenderest sound.
      Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley, 1806-1855 [from Hours at Naples, and Other Poems (1837)]



SUPPOSING I became a champa flower, just for fun, and grew on a branch high up that tree, and shook in the wind
with laughter and danced upon the newly budded leaves, would you know me, mother?

You would call, "Baby, where are you?" and I should laugh to myself and keep quite quiet.

I should slyly open my petals and watch you at your work.

When after your bath, with wet hair spread on your shoulders, you walked through the shadow of the champa tree
to the little court where you say your prayers, you would notice the scent of the flower, but not know that it came from

When after the midday meal you sat at the window reading Ramayana, and the tree's shadow fell over your hair
and your lap, I should fling my wee little shadow on to the page of your book, just where you were reading.

But would you guess that it was the tiny shadow of your little child?

When in the evening you went to the cow-shed with the lighted lamp in your hand, I should suddenly drop on to
the earth again and be your own baby once more, and beg you to tell me a story.

"Where have you been, you naughty child?"

"I won't tell you, mother." That's what you and I would say then.
 Rabindranath Tagore



His face smells like fresh butter; his speech is soft; having eyes like lotus petals; he rests on a banyan leaf – Vatapatra; his nose is like that of a fresh Champaka flower; from his form emanates the fragrance of Tulasi and other flowers. He is worshipped by Indra and the lokapalakas. He wears Kasturi tilaka; adorned with garlands of tender tulasi and other flows; He is attended on by Naarada and other sages. He is the protector of the worlds and is the Gopala praised by Guruguha.


In the ecstasy of love, Sri Jiva wandered hypnotically arousing the curiouslity of the other travellers on the road. "Who is this young man?" they wandered. "He must be a prince with a complexion of gold like a champaka flower. What a beautiful face! Just see his attractive wide eyes, nose, eyebrows, forehead, ears and curly hair. See his neck, his chest and his nails and fingers on his lotus like hands! How beautiful are his thighs, knees
and legs."


He then entered that samadhi, and as an offering to the Buddha, he rained down mandarava flowers and mahamandarava flowers from space. Finely ground, hard, black chandana also filled the sky and descended like clouds. And there rained the incense of ‘this shore’ chandana, six karshas of which are worth the entire Saha world, as an offering to the Buddha.

Having made this offering he arose from samadhi. He thought to himself, "Although by means of spiritual powers I have made this offering to the Buddha, it is not as good as offering my body." He then swallowed incense of many kinds chandana, kunduruka, turushka, prikka, aloeswood, and resin incense. He also drank the oil of champaka and other flowers for a full twelve hundred years. He smeared himself with fragrant oil, and in the presence of the Buddha Virtue Pure and Bright Like the Sun and Moon, he wrapped himself in heavenly jeweled robes and poured fragrant oil over himself. Then by means of spiritual penetration power and vows, he burned his own body. The light shone everywhere throughout worlds in number to the grains of sand in eighty kotis of Ganges Rivers.

Within them all, the Buddhas simultaneously praised him, saying, "Good indeed! Good indeed! Good man, this is true vigor. This is called a true Dharma offering to the Thus Come One. Offerings of flowers, incense, beads, burning incense, ground incense, paste incense, heavenly cloth, banners, canopies, ‘this shore’ chandana incense, and all such offerings of various kinds cannot come up to it. If one gave away one’s countries, cities, wives, and children, that also could not match it. Good man, this is called foremost giving. Among all gifts, it is the most honored and most supreme, because it is an offering of Dharma to the Thus Come Ones." Having uttered these words,they became silent.


The earth was full with these Sakas, with a sprinkling of
Yavanas, who appeared brilliant, were extremely valorous,
having the hue of gold, and resembling the middle stalk
of a Champaka flower (21).