Thursday, August 15, 2013

Story of Goddess Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Goddess Tulsi exists in the material world in the form Holy Basil plant which is highly revered among Hindus not only because of its therapeutic qualities but also because of the legendary story attached with it. 

Goddess Tulsi came into being purely due to her devotion, dedication and chastity that she practiced in her previous birth as Vrinda - wife of a demon king (Jalandhara). While a short article is too less to describe the entire life of Goddess Tulsi, I will try to do justice while writing about the great Goddess. 

Vrinda was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu as she worshipped him with great devotion. She was also chaste due to which Jalandhara (her husband) was protected from a lot of his misdeeds. Jalandhara was a powerful demon king who had become victorious all over the world; however, such continuous victories led Jalandhara to believe that he is invincible. 

After defeating the Demi-Gods, Jalandhara began to believe that he is capable of defeating Lord Shiva (the God of destruction) - one of the Hindu Trinities. Due to this false belief, Jalandhara became very arrogant and also insulted Lord Shiva many times. However, Lord Shiva let go off Jalandhara on several occasions as the demon king had won a boon from Lord Brahma.

Jalandhara was not able to recognize that Vrinda's chastity was saving him from a lot of hardships and even death. Therefore, he continued with his misdeeds such as torturing ordinary humans, banning fire worship and challenging the trinity time and again. However, time was running out and the Hindu Trinity had to make a quick decision in order to stop the evil emanating from Jalandhara. 

After a lot of discussions, the trinity concluded that Vrinda's chastity must be spoiled in order to defeat Jalandhara, otherwise the entire world will suffer and imbalance will be created. Therefore, for the protection of Greater good, Lord Vishnu undertook the task of destroying Vrinda's chastity.

Meanwhile, a war was about to break out between Jalandhara and Lord Shiva. While Jalandhara was in a war, Vrinda was praying to Lord Vishnu for the safety of her husband. At this moment, Lord Vishnu took Jalandhara's form to meet Vrinda. When Lord Vishnu (in Jalandhara's form) met Vrinda, he told her that he has won the war against Lord Shiva. At that very moment, Vrinda left her prayers and embraced Jalandhara (Lord Vishnu).

However, Vrinda had actually embraced Vishnu. As a result, she lost her chastity and during the same time Jalandhara was killed by Lord Shiva in the battlefield. Meanwhile, Vrinda also realized that Lord Vishnu had deliberately done this to kill Jalandhara. Vrinda was very upset and cursed Lord Vishnu that he will be also separated from his wife (Goddess Laxmi) and that he will feel the pain similar to what she is feeling now. 

Vrinda also questioned Vishnu on why did he do such a thing? At which, Lord Vishnu had replied by saying that for the protection of Good he had no option but to destroy her chastity. However, Lord Vishnu felt very bad because of his action particularly towards a lady who is one of his most ardent devotees. 

As a result, Lord Vishnu gracefully accepted his devotee's curse and also blessed Vrinda that in her next birth she will become the Holy Basil plant and that no prayer will be complete without offering Basil leaves to him. 

Till today, Hindus offer Holy Basil leaves to Lord Vishnu as they are considered very auspicious and many Hindus also keep Holy Basil plants in their homes because they feel that it doesn't allow any negativity to enter the house. 

Thus, we can say that Vrinda became Goddess Tulsi because of the following:
  1. Worshipping Lord Vishnu who is the preserver of the entire universe
  2. Living a chaste life
  3. Being pure from inside
  4. Performing severe austerities
  5. Sacrifice for the good of others
Anyone and everyone has the capability to be like Tulsi, we just need to perform actions at that frequency level. Such is the power of Vrinda's devotion (or Bhakti) that it forced Lord Vishnu to come to the material world. And even then, Lord Vishnu (who is all loving and merciful) accepted Vrinda's curse and also gave her more blessings.

Jai Tulsi Maiya. Jai Vishnu Bhagwaan.