“ सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके । शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥
 

Tulsi

2015-07-22 11:40:07, comments: 0

Tulsi or Tulasi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) or Holy basil is a sacred plant in Hindu belief. Hindus regard it as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi, a consort of the god Vishnu. The offering of its leaves is mandatory in ritualistic worship of Vishnu and his forms like Krishna andVithoba.

Many Hindus have tulsi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots or special small masonry structures. Traditionally, Tulsi is planted in the center of the central courtyard of Hindu houses. The plant is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil.

 

Names

In Hindu mythology, Tulsi ("matchless") is known as Vaishnavi ("belonging to Vishnu"), Vishnu Vallabha ("beloved of Vishnu"), Haripriya ("beloved of Vishnu"), Vishnu Tulsi. The Tulsi with green leaves is called Shri-Tulsi ("fortunate Tulsi"); also Shri is a synonym for Lakshmi, the principal consort of Vishnu. This variety is also known as Rama-Tulsi ("bright Tulsi"); Rama is also one of the principal avatars of Vishnu. The Tulsi with dark green or purple leaves and purple stem is called Shyama-Tulsi ("dark Tulsi") or Krishna-Tulsi ("dark Tulsi"); Krishna is also a prominent avatar of Vishnu. This variety is considered esspecially sacred to Krishna, as its purple colour is similar to Krishna's dark complexion.

Legend

The Devi Bhagavata Purana regards Tulsi as an manifestation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and principal consort of Vishnu. It narrates that Vishnu had three wives: Lakshmi, Saraswatiand Ganga. Once, Ganga was flirting with Vishnu, when a jealous Saraswati noticed her and dragged her to the ground. Lakshmi ran to save Ganga. An infuriated Saraswati then curses Lakshmi to be born on earth as a plant. Ganga (the Ganges river) and Saraswati (the Saraswati River) also curse each other to be born as rivers. Vishnu comforts Lakshmi that she will be born on earth as Tulsi, but only part of her will stay there as a plant and she will return to him. At the same time on earth, King Vrishadhvaja—a devotee of the god Shiva—banned worship all other deities except his patron god. An agitated sun god Surya cursed him that Lakshmi will abandon him. In turn, Shiva pursued Surya, who fled, finally arriving in shelter of Vishnu. Vishnu said to the deities that years had passed on earth, Vrishadhvaja and also his heir-son were dead and that then the grandchildren of Vrishadhvaja—Dharmadhvaja and Kushadhvaja—were worshipping Lakshmi to gain her favour. Lakshmi rewards by being born as daughters Tulsi (literally "matchless") and Vedavati to Dharmadhvaja and Kushadhvaja respectively. Tulsi gave up all her royal comfort and went to Badrinath to perform penance to gain Vishnu as her husband. The god Brahma pleased with her penance told her that she will have to marry the demonShankhachuda before she marries Vishnu. Sudama, a part-incarnation of Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu) was born on earth as the demon due to a curse. Shankhachuda, who also pleasedBrahma with his penance, was granted the Vishnu-Kavacha (armour of Vishnu) and blessed that until his wife's chastity was retained and Vishnu-Kavacha was on his body, no one could slay him. Shankhachuda and Tulsi were soon married. Shankhachuda was filled with pride and terrorized the beings of the universe. To rescue the universe, Shiva challenged Shankhachuda to war, while Vishnu went to Tulsi to break her chastity. Vishnu assumed the form of Shankhachuda and compelled Tulsi to have coitus. With her chastity broken, Shankhachuda was killed and Sudama was freed of his curse. In middle of the sexual act, Tulsi recognized the impersonator. Vishnu appeared in his true form and told Tulsi to abandon her earthly body and return to his celestial abode as Lakshmi, his wife. Tulsi's mortal remains decayed and became the Gandaki River, while her hair transformed into the sacred Tulsi plant.

A variant of the legend replaces Shankhachuda with Jalandhara and the name Tulsi with Vrinda (a synonym of the Tulsi plant). It concentrates on the tale of Vishnu destroying Vrinda'schastity to lead to the death of Jalandhara by Shiva. In this legend, Tulsi is distinct from Lakshmi. The legend ends with Vrinda cursing Vishnu to become a stone, turning him the Shaligramstone (which are found only in the Kali Gandaki River of Nepal) and Vishnu transforming Vrinda into the Tulsi plant. In a variant, Vrinda immolated herself in her husband's funeral pyre (seesati) but Vishnu ensured that she got incarnated in the form of tulsi plant on the earth. In both versions, she gain the status of a goddess named Tulsi, while his earthly form is the Tulsi plant.

A Vaishnava legend relates Tulsi to the Samudra Manthana, the churning of the cosmic ocean by the gods and asuras (demons). At the end of the churning, Dhanvantari rose from the ocean with Amrita (the elixir of immortality). Vishnu procured it for the gods, when the demons tried to steal it. Vishnu shed happy tears, the first of which fell in Amrita and formed the Tulsi.[

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