SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 9 CHAPTER 24

THE NINTH BOOK

Chapter XXIV

On the glory of Tulasī

1. Nārada said:

How did Nārāyaṇa impregnate Tulasī? Kindly describe all that in detail.

2-11. Nārāyaṇa said:

For accomplishing the ends of the Devas, Bhagavān Hari assumed the Vaiṣṇavī Māyā, took the Kavācha from Śankhachūḍa and assuming his form, went to the house of Tulasī.

Dundubhis (celestial drums) were sounded at Her door, shouts of victory were proclaimed and Tulasī was informed.

The chaste Tulasī, hearing that sound very gladly looked out on the royal road from the window.

Then for auspicious observances, She offered riches to the Brāhmins; then She gave wealth to the panegyrists (or bards attached to the courts of princes), to the beggars, and the other chanters of hymns.

That time Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa alighted from His chariot and went to the house of the Devī Tulasī, built of invaluable gems, looking exceedingly artistic and beautiful.

Seeing her dear husband before her, She became very glad and washed his feet and shed tears of joy and bowed down to Him.

Then She, impelled by love, made him take his seat on the beautiful jewel throne and giving him sweet scented betel with camphor, began to say:

“Today my life has been crowned with success. For I am seeing again my lord returned from the battle.”

Then she cast smiling glances askance at him and with her body filled with rapturous joy lovingly asked him the news of the war in sweet words

12-13. O Thou, the Ocean of mercy! Now tell me of your heroic valour, how you have come out victorious in war with Mahādeva who destroys countless universes.

Hearing Tulasī’s word, the Lord of Lakṣmī, in the guise of Śankhachūḍa, spoke these nectar-like words with a smiling countenance:

14-17. O Dear! Full one Samvatsara the war lasted between us. All the Daityas were killed.

Then Brahmā Himself came and mediated. Peace, then, was brought about and by the command of Brahmā I gave over to the Devas their rights.

When I returned to my home, Śiva went back to His Śivaloka.

Thus saying, Hari, the Lord of the world, slept and then engaged in sexual intercourse with her.

But the chaste Tulasī, finding this time her experience quite different from what She used to enjoy before, argued all the time within herself and at last questioned him:

18-22. Who are you? O Magician! By spreading your magic, you have enjoyed me. As you have taken my chastity, I will curse you.

Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa, hearing Tulasī’s words and being afraid of the curse, assumed His real beautiful figure.

The Devī then saw the Eternal Lord of the Devas before her.

He was of a deep blue colour like fresh rain-clouds and with eyes like autumnal lotuses and with playful Līlas equivalent to tens and tens of millions of Love personified and adorned with jewels and ornaments. His face was smiling and gracious; and he wore his yellow-coloured robe.

The love- stricken Tulasī, seeing That Lovely Form of Vasudeva, immediately fell senseless; and at the next moment, regaining consciousness, she began to speak:

23-27. O Lord! Thou art like a stone. Thou hast no mercy. By hypocrisy Thou hast destroyed my chastity, my virtue and for that reason didst kill my husband.

O Lord! Thou had no mercy; Thy heart is like a stone. So Let Thee be turned into a stone. Those who declare Thee as a saint are no doubt mistaken. Why didst Thou for the sake of others, kill without any fault, another Bhakta of Thine.

Thus speaking, Tulasī overpowered with grief and sorrow, cried aloud and repeatedly gave vent to lamentations.

Seeing her thus very distressed, Nārāyaṇa, the Ocean of Mercy, spoke to her to cheer her up according to the rules of Dharma:

28-102. O Honoured One! For a long time you performed tapasyā in this Bhārata to get Me. Śankhachūḍa, too, performed tapasyā for a long time to get you.

By that tapas Śankhachūḍa got you as wife. Now it is highly incumbent to award you also with the fruit that you asked for. Therefore I have done this. Now quit your this terrestrial body and assume a Divine Body and marry Me.

O Rāme! Be like Lakṣmī. This body of yours will be known by the name of Gaṇḍakī, a very virtuous, pure and pellucid stream in this holy land of Bhārata. Your hairs will be turned into sacred trees and as they will be born of you, you will be known by the name of Tulasī. All the three worlds will perform their Pujas with the leaves and flowers of this Tulasī.

Therefore, O Fair-faced One! This Tulasī will be reckoned as the chief amongst all flowers and leaves. In Heavens, earth, and the nether regions, and before Me, O Fair One, you will reign as the chief amongst trees and flowers.

In the region of Goloka, on the banks of the river Virajā, in the Rāsa circle (the celestial ball dance,) where all amorous sentiments are played in Vrindāvana forest, in Bhānḍīra forest, in Champaka forest,

in the beautiful Chandana (Sandal Forests) and in the groves of Mādhavī, Ketakī, Kuṇḍa, Mallikā, and Mālatī, in the sacred places you will live and bestow the highest religious merits.

All the Tīrthas will reside at the bottom of the Tulasī tree and so religious merits will accrue to all.

O Fair-faced One! There I and all the Devas will wait in expectation of the falling of a Tulasī leaf. Anybody who will be initiated and installed with the Tulasī leaves water, will get all the fruits of being initiated in all the sacrifices.

Whatever pleasure Hari gets when thousands and thousands of jars filled with water are offered to him, the same pleasure He will get when one Tulasī leaf will be offered to Him.

Whatever fruits are acquired by giving Ayuta cows as presents, those will be also acquired by giving Tulasī leaves. Especially if one gives Tulasī leaves in the month of Kārtik, one gets the fruits same as above mentioned.

If one drinks or gets the Tulasī leaf water at the momentous Time of Death, one becomes freed of all sins and is worshipped in the Viṣṇu Loka. He who drinks daily the Tulasī leaf water certainly gets the fruit of one lakh horse sacrifices.

He who plucks or culls the Tulasī leaf by his own hand and holding it on his body, quits his life in a Tīrath, goes to Viṣṇu Loka.

Whoever holds in his neck the garland made up of Tulasī wood, gets certainly the fruit of horse sacrifices at every step.

He who does not keep his word, holding the Tulasī leaf in his hand, goes to the Kālasūtra Hell as long as the Sun and Moon last.

He who gives false evidence in the presence of the Tulasī leaf, goes to the Kumbhipāka Hell for the life-periods of fourteen Indras.

He who drinks or gets a bit of the Tulasī leaf water at the time of death, certainly goes to Vaikuṇṭha, ascending on a car made up of jewels.

Those who pluck or cull the Tulasī leaves in the Full Moon night, on the twelfth lunar day, on the passing of the sun from one sign to another, the mid-day, or on the twilights, on the night, while applying oil on their bodies, on the impurity periods, and while putting on night dresses, verily eat off the Nārāyaṇa’s head.

O Chaste One! The Tulasī leaf kept in the night, is considered sacred. It is considered good in Śraddhā, vow ceremony, in the making over of any gift, in the installation of any image or in worshipping any Deva.

Again, the Tulasī leaf fallen on the ground or fallen in water or offered to Viṣṇu, if washed out can be used in holy and other purposes.

Thus, O Good One! You will remain as tree in this earth and will remain in Goloka as the Presiding Deity thereof and will enjoy daily the sport with Kṛṣṇa.

And also you will be the Presiding Deity of the river Ganḍakī and thus bestow religious merits in Bhārata; you will be the wife of the Salt Ocean, which is My part.

You are very chaste; in Vaikuṇṭha you will enjoy me as Rāma lives with Me. And as for Me, I will be turned into stone by your curse; I will remain in India close to the bank of the river Ganḍakī.

Millions and millions of insects with their sharp teeth will make rings, (the convolutions in the Śālagrāma or sacred stones), on the cavities of the mountains there, representing Me.

Of these stones, those that have one door (entrance hole), four convolutions, adorned by the garland of wild flowers (having a mark like this) and which look like fresh rain-cloud, are called Lakṣmī Nārāyaṇa Mūrtis (forms).

And those that have one door, four convolutions and look like fresh rain-clouds but no garlands are called Lakṣmī Janārdana Chakras (discus).

Those that have two doors, four convolutions, and decked with mark like cow’s hoof and void of the garland mark are called Raghunātha chakras.

Those that are very small in size, with two Chakras and look like fresh rain clouds and void of the garland marks are named Vāmana Chakras.

Those that that are very small in size, with two Chakras and the garland mark added know then to be the Śrīdhara Chakras. These always bring in prosperity to the household.

Those that are big, circular, void of garland mark, with two circular Chakras, are known as Dāmodara forms.

Those that are mediocre in size, with two Chakras and marked as if struck by an arrow, having marks of arrows and bow-cases are known as Raṇa-Rāmas.

Those that are middling, with seven Chakras, having marks of an umbrella and ornaments, are called Rājarājeśvaras. They bestow the royal Lakṣmī to persons.

Those that have twice seven chakras, and are big, looking like fresh rain-clouds are named Anantas. They bestow four-fold fruits (Dharma, wealth, desire and liberation).

Those that are in their forms like a ring, with two chakras, beautiful, looking like rain-clouds, having cow- hoof marks and of mediocre size are named Madhusūdanas.

Those that have one Chakra are called Sudarśanas. Those that have their Chakras hidden are called Gadādharas. Those that have two Chakras, looking horse-faced, are known as Hayagrīvas.

O Chaste One! Those that have their mouths very wide and extended, with two Chakras, and very terrible, are known as Narasimhas. They excite Vairāgyas to all who serve them.

Those that have two Chakras, mouths extended and with garland marks (elliptical marks) are called Lakṣmī Nrisimhas. They always bless the householders who worship them.

Those that have two Chakras near their doors (faces), that look even and beautiful and with marks manifested are known as Vāsudevas. They yield all sorts of fruits.

Those that have their Chakras fine and their forms like fresh rain-clouds and have many fine hole marks within their wide gaping facets are called Pradyumnas. They yield happiness to every householder.

Those that have their faces of two Chakras stuck together and their backs capacious, are known as Saṇkarṣaṇas. They always bring in happiness to the householders.

Those that look yellow, round and very beautiful are Aniruddhas. The sages say they give happiness to the householder.

Where there is the Śālagrāma stone there exists Śrī Hari Himself; and where there is Hari, Lakṣmī and all the Tīrthas dwell there. Worshipping Śālagrāma Śīla, destroys the Brahmāhatyā (killing a Brāhmin) and any other sin whatsoever.

In worshipping the Śālagrāma stone looking like an umbrella, kingdoms are obtained; in worshipping circular Śilas, great prosperity is obtained; in worshipping cart-shaped stones, miseries arise; and in worshipping stones, whose ends look like spears (Śūlas), death inevitably follows.

Those whose facets are distorted, bring in poverty; and yellow stones bring in various evils and afflictions. Those whose Chakras look broken, bring in diseases; and those whose Chakras are rent asunder bring in death certainly.

Observing vows, making gifts, installing images, doing Śrāddhas, worshipping the Devas, all these become highly exalted, if done before the Śālagrāma Śīla.

One acquires the merits of bathing in all the Tirthas and in being initiated in all the sacrifices, if one worships the Śālagrāma Śīla.

What more than this, that the merits acquired by all the sacrifices, all the Tirthas, all vows, all austerities and reading all the Vedas are all acquired by duly worshipping by the holy Śālagrāma Śīla.

He who performs his Abhiṣeka ceremony always with Śālagrāma water (being sprinkled with Śālagrāma water at the initiation and Installation ceremonies), acquires the religious merits of performing all sorts of gifts and circumambulating the whole earth.

All the Devas are, no doubt, pleased with him who thus worships daily the Śālagrāma.

What more than this, that all the Tīrthas want to have his touch. He becomes a Jīvanmukta (liberated while living) and becomes very holy; ultimately he goes to the region of Śrī Hari and remains in Hari’s service there and dwells with him for countless Prakriti dissolutions.

Every sin, like Brahmāhatyā, flies away from him as serpents do at the sight of Garuda. The Devī Vasundhara (the Earth) becomes purified by the touch of the dust of his feat. At his birth, all his predecessors (a lakh in number) are saved.

He who gets the Śālagrāma Śīla water during the time of his death, he is freed of all his sins and goes to the Viṣṇu Loka and gets Nirvana; he becomes freed entirely from the effects of Karma and he gets, no doubt, dissolved and diluted forever in (the feet of) Viṣṇu.

He who tells lies, holding Śālagrāma in his hands, goes to the Kumbhīpāka Hell for the life-period of Brahmā. If one does not keep his word, uttered with the Śālagrāma stone in his hand, one goes to the Asipatra Hell for one lakh Manvantaras.

He who worships the Śālagrāma stone without offering Tulasī leaves on it or separates the Tulasī leaves from the stone, will have to suffer separation from his wife in his next birth.

So if one does not offer the Tulasī leaves in the conch-shell, for seven births he remains without his wife and he becomes diseased. He who preserves the Śālagrāma stone, the Tulasī and the conch-shell, in one place, becomes very learned and becomes dear to Nārāyaṇa.

Look! He who casts his semen once in his wife, suffers intense pain, no doubt, at each other’s separation. So you became dear to Śankhachūḍa for one Manvantara. Now, what wonder that you will suffer pain from his bereavement.

O Nārada! Thus saying, Śrī Hari desisted. Tulasī quitted her mortal coil and assumed a divine form, began to remain in the breast of Śrī Hari like Śrī Lakṣmī Devī. Hari also went with her to Vaikuṇṭha.

Thus Lakṣmī, Saraswatī, Gangā, and Tulasī, all the four came so very dear to Hari and are recognised as Īśvarīs. On the other hand, the mortal coil of Tulasī, no sooner quitted by Tulasī, became transformed into the river Ganḍakī.

Bhagavān Hari, too, became also converted into a holy mountain, on the banks thereof, yielding religious merits to the people. The insects cut and fashioned many pieces out of that mountain.

Of them, those that fall into the river, yield fruits undoubtedly. And those pieces that fall on the ground become yellow coloured; they are not at all fit for worship.

O Nārada! Thus I have spoken to you everything. What more do you want to hear now? Say!

Here ends the Twenty-fourth Chapter of the Ninth Book on the glory of Tulasī in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.