Tulsi Maa is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Devotees all over the world are seen to worship Maa Tulsi in the form of a sacred plant planted in their houses and wearing a mala of Tulsi beads. According to the Holy Scripture, Devi Bhagavat Puran, Tulsi ji is also the wife of Lord Vishnu. In this Sandesh, we present the story of Maa Tulsi as described by Pujya Bhaishri during his Katha and in the Devi Bhagavat Puran.
Once, there was a demon called Shankhachud (also known as Jalandhar in some scriptures) who performed difficult meditation. As we see in our scriptures, even demons meditate. However, what is important is what people use the powers gained by meditation for. If used to cause harm to others and benefit oneself, then such a person is called a demon.
After the meditation, Shankhachud went to the town called Pushkar on Lord Brahma’s request. Here, he met Tulsi (also known as Vrinda). Tulsi was very pretty and had performed great meditation when young to obtain Lord Vishnu as her husband. In Pushkar, Lord Brahma performed the ceremonial wedding of Shankachud and Vrinda.
Shankhachud became the king of demons and began to misuse his power. He seized all the demi-gods’ possessions. The demi-gods in return took refuge of Lord Brahma who led them to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu revealed that Shankachud had been born as a demon due to a curse in his previous birth. Thereafter, the demigods, with the help of Lord Shiv, embarked on a war with Shankhachud but no one could defeat him as Vrinda was a virtuous and chaste wife. Consequently, Lord Vishnu took the form of Shankachud and entered his house in the evening. Vrinda welcomed him home thinking her husband must be exhausted after a whole day’s battle. Here, Lord Vishnu destroys her chastity. In the battlefield, Shankachud is killed by Lord Shiv.
However, Vrinda recognises from the odd behaviour and different tastes that this is not Shankhachud. She questions angrily, “Who are you?”
Lord Vishnu reveals himself. Vrinda angrily tells Lord Vishnu that he is merciless and has done wrong by destroying her chastity and getting her husband killed. She curses Lord Vishnu, “You are stone-hearted; go turn into a stone.” Lord Vishnu accepted this curse and became a stone we know and worship as Shaligram.
Lord Vishnu took mercy on Vrinda and told her, “You will leave this body, manifest as the sacred plant Tulsi and be greatly worshipped. In addition, it will be my pleasure and I promise to be present with you all the time”. This is why Shaligram should never be left without a Tulsi. The body of Vrinda then became the holy river Gandki, where these Shaligram stones are found, which are the form of Lord Vishnu.
Tulsi ji is worshiped as the holiest of all plants. The shade under a Tulsi tree is also considered very sacred. Tulsi ji has great medicinal value. Tulsi leaf must be offered to Lord Vishnu during His worship. Water mixed with Tulsi leaves, when given to the dying, raises the departing soul to Lord Vishnu’s abode. Tulsi Mata Ki Jai!