CH1 – The Appearance of Tulasī Devī

Radhika Raman Das
By Radhika Raman Das 1.5k Views Add a Comment 12 Min Read

Nārada Muni asked Lord Nārāyaṇa, “O Bhagavān! How did the pure, chaste Tulasī Devī become Your wife? Where was she born? Who was she in her previous birth? What family did she come from? And what austerities did she perform to get You as her husband-You, who are above the material energy, not subject to change, the Cosmic Self, the Supreme God, the Lord of all, omniscient, the cause of all, omnipresent, container and preserver of all. And how did Tulasī Devī, Your chief goddess, become a tree? O You who resolve all doubts, my mind is curious to know all about these points; therefore, it compels me to ask you these questions. Kindly remove these doubts from my mind.”

Lord Nārāyaṇa then related the following account….
Manu Dakṣa Sāvarṇi was a partial expansion of Lord Viṣṇu. He was extremely virtuous, devoted to the Lord, and very famous for his good deeds. Dakṣa Sāvarṇi’s son, Dharma Sāvarṇi, was also extremely virtuous. Dharma Sāvarṇi’s pious son was called Viṣṇu Sāvarṇi, and his son, who was a great Vaiṣṇava, was known as Rāja Sāvarṇi.

However, Rāja Sāvarṇi’s son, Vṛṣadhvaja, was fanatically devoted to Lord Śiva. Lord Śiva lived in Vṛṣadhvaja’s house for three celestial yugas (ages) and loved him more than his own sons. Vṛṣadhvaja did not revere Lord Nārāyaṇa, Goddess Lakṣmī or any of the demigods. He abolished the worship of Lakṣmī in the month of Bhadra (Aug., Sept.) and the worship of Sarasvatī in the month of Māgha (Jan., Feb.). He did not participate in the sacrifice and worship performed out of respect for Lord Viṣṇu (Nārāyaṇa) and criticized them rather severely.

The demigods did not curse him because they feared Lord Śiva. However, Sūrya, the sun god, no longer able to restrain his wrath, cursed him: “O King, just as you are completely devoted to Lord Śiva and only to Lord Śiva, and just as you do not recognize any of the other demigods, I declare that you will now lose your wealth and prosperity!”

When Lord Śiva heard this curse, he became angry. Seizing his trident, he ran after Lord Sūrya. Afraid, the sun god went with his father, Kaśyapa Muni, to Brahmaloka, the highest material planet, to take shelter of Lord Brahmā. But Lord Śiva pursued him there. Lord Brahmā, also afraid of Lord Śiva, took Lord Sūrya and Kaśyapa Muni to the region of Vaikuṇṭha, the spiritual or eternal world. There, with throats parched due to anxiety, they took refuge of Lord Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of all. They offered obeisances to Him and praised Him repeatedly and finally explained why they were so apprehensive.

Lord Nārāyaṇa bestowed His mercy on them and granted them the power to be fearless. He said, “O fearful ones, be consoled. How can you be afraid of anyone while I am here? If anyone remembers Me when he is in danger, wherever he may be, I hurry to him with my Sudarśana disc in my hand and save him. O demigods! I am always the creator, preserver and destroyer of this universe. In the form of Viṣṇu, I am the preserver; in the form of Brahmā, the creator; and in the form of Śiva, the destroyer. I am Śiva, I am you, and I am Sūrya. I assume numerous forms and preserve the universe. So go back to your respective places. You have nothing to be afraid of. All will be well.

“From this day on, you have nothing to fear from Lord Śiva. He is the shelter of the pious, is easily pleased, is the servant and lord of his devotees, and is great minded. Lord Śiva and the Sudarśana-cakra are dearer to Me than My life. In the world of valor, they excel all. Lord Śiva can easily create ten million Sūryas and ten million Brahmās. For him, nothing is impossible. He is not conscious of the external world. Meditating on Me, his heart centered, he is absorbed day and night. From his five faces he repeats My mantra with devotion, and he always sings My glories. Day and night, I also always think of his welfare. To whatever degree one worships Me, to that degree I favor one. The nature of Śiva is all-auspiciousness.”

While Lord Nārāyaṇa was speaking, Lord Śiva arrived. His eyes red, he was sitting on his bull carrier holding his trident. He dismounted quickly and humbly offered obeisances with devotion to the Lord of Lakṣmī, the tranquil Supreme Being.

Lord Nārāyaṇa, Viṣṇu, was sitting on His jewel-studded throne. He was decorated with a crown, earrings, and a garland, and was holding His disc. His form was extremely beautiful, and His complexion like a fresh blue rain cloud. Each of His attendants had four arms and was fanning Him with four hands. His body was anointed with sandal paste and He was wearing a yellow garment. Lord Viṣṇu, who shows kindness to His devotees, was chewing betel nut that had been offered to Him by His wife Lakṣmī. Smiling, He was watching and listening to the dancing and singing of the Vidyādharīs.

After Lord Śiva bowed down to Lord Nārāyaṇa, he bowed to Lord Brahmā. Lord Sūrya and Kaśyapa Muni respectfully saluted Lord Śiva. Then Lord Śiva worshiped Lord Viṣṇu, the Lord of all, and seated himself on a throne. The attendants of Lord Nārāyaṇa began to fan Lord Śiva with white whisks to relieve him of the fatigue of his journey. Lord Śiva, because of being in contact with Lord Viṣṇu’s virtues, then assumed a cheerful disposition and adored the Eternal Being with his five mouths.

Lord Nārāyaṇa was highly gratified. With sweet, nectarean words, He said, “O Lord Śiva, you are the symbol of all good and welfare. Thus, to ask about your welfare would be foolish. I would ask you only out of respect for the rules of society and the method prescribed in the Vedas. One who yields fruits of devotion and gives all prosperity should not be asked about his austerities or material prosperity. Since you preside over knowledge, it would be useless to ask if you are increasing in knowledge. It would be equally useless to ask a conqueror of death if he is free from all danger. But you have come to my residence for a reason. What is it? Have you become angry over something?”

“O Lord Viṣṇu!” Lord Śiva began. “King Vṛṣadhvaja is my great devotee. Lord Sūrya has cursed him and that has made me angry. Out of affection for my son, the king, I was about to kill Sūrya. But Sūrya sought shelter of Lord Brahmā, and now both of them have sought Your protection. Those who are distressed and take shelter of You, either by speaking about You or by remembering You, become completely safe and free from danger. They overcome death and old age. What to speak of those who come personally to You and take shelter. When one remembers You, his dangers disappear. All good comes to him. O Lord of the world! What will become of my foolish devotee who, by the curse of Lord Sūrya, has lost his fortune and prosperity?”

Lord Viṣṇu replied, “O Lord Śiva! A half hour has elapsed here in Vaikuṇṭha. In that time, twenty-one celestial yugas have passed away. Therefore, King Vṛṣadhvaja, through the revolution of irresistible and dreadful time, is dead. His son, Haṁsadhvaja, in the course of time, also died. Haṁsadhvaja begot two noble sons named Dharmadhvaja and Kuśadhvaja. They are both great Vaiṣṇavas but, because of Lord Sūrya’s curse, they have become luckless. They lost their kingdoms, including all property and prosperity. But they are now engaged in worshiping Goddess Lakṣmī, who is pleased with their efforts. Therefore, She has agreed to descend to Earth and expand Herself partially by taking birth from the wives of those two kings. Then, by the favor of Goddess Lakṣmī, Dharmadhvaja and Kuśadhvaja will become prosperous, mighty kings. O Lord Śiva! Your devotee Vṛṣadhvaja is dead, so return to your abode. O Lord Brahmā, Lord Sūrya and Kaśyapa Muni-you also should return your realms.”

Bhagavān Viṣṇu then went with His wife to the inner apartments. The demigods went cheerfully to their own abodes, Lord Śiva continuing his practice of austerity.

Dharmadhvaja and Kuśadhvaja performed harsh asceticism and worshiped Godesss Lakṣmī. Thereafter, they separately obtained the blessings they desired. By Goddess Lakṣmī’s favor, they again became the rulers of the earth. They acquired great spiritual merits, were married, and begot children. King Dharmadhvaja was married to Mādhavī. After some time, she became pregnant with a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakṣmī. However, the infant remained in Mādhavī’s womb for one hundred celestial years. Day by day Mādhavī’s luster increased. Then, on an auspicious day and moment, when there was a full moon, in the month of Kārttika, on a Friday, she gave birth.

The grace of the Goddess of Fortune, Lakṣmī, manifested through the baby. There were marks of the lotus flower on the infant’s feet. Her face looked like the autumnal moon, her eyes resembled blooming lotuses, and her lips appeared like ripe bimba fruit. Her palms and the soles of her feet were reddish, her navel was deep, and just above it were three folds. Her buttocks were round, and her body was delightfully warm in the winter and cool in the summer-very pleasant to touch. Her breast was firm and her waist thin, and the light shining from her body surrounded her like a halo. Her complexion was white, like a campaka flower, and her hair looked beautiful. Because her beauty was incomparable, the sages called her Tulasī.

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Raman (Radhika Raman Das) joined ISKCON in 2003 and got initiated by HH Bhakti Caitanya Swami Maharaj in 2011. As the Editor in Chief at "The Vaisnava - Online Magazine", he helps readers around the world hone in their Spiritual Curiosity, express their unique realizations as aspiring Vaisnava writers and enthusiasts, as well as to spread the digital seed of Srila Prabhupada's mission to spread Krishna Consciousness all around the globe.
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