Instructions on Vaisnava Etiquette and Protocol, Part Five
BY: SUN STAFF
Patna, 19th c.
Oct 12, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of excerpts from 'Hari Bhakti Vilasa'.
The Glories of Tulasi Devi
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said, "One who wears tulasi mala, even if he is unclean and devoid of proper activities, will surely attain Me."
Shri Krishna offers the benefit of residing in Dwaraka to one who wears tulasi mala. When one wears tulasi mala after it has been offered to Vishnu with devotion, he becomes completely free of sin and Devakinandana Krishna is always pleased with him. He does not need to atone for any sinful activity as no sin remains in his body and any pious activity he performs in the age of Kali is multiplied ten million times. When the Yamadutas see tulasi mala, they fly away like dry leaves tossed in the wind.
The Skanda Purana says that one who wears tulasi mala after offering it to Shri Hari is undoubtedly the chief of the devotees. A fool who wears tulasi mala without offering it to Shri Hari surely goes to hell. When the mala is made it should be washed with pancagavya, have the mool mantra chanted upon it once and the Gayatri eight times. After that one should touch it with the smoke of incense and worship the mala by saying:
om sadajatam prapadyami sadajataye vai namo namah
bhave bhave nadi bhave bhaja shaiman bhavad bhavaye namah
One should then pray, "O necklace! You are prepared out of tulasi wood and you are very dear to the Vaishnavas; I am wearing you on my neck, please make me dear to Krishna. The meaning of the word 'ma' is 'to me', and the meaning of 'la' is 'to give'; O beloved of Hari! Please offer me to the devotees of Krishna. In this way you are known as 'mala'."
A Vaishnava who prays in this way and wears the mala on his neck after it has been offered to Krishna attains the lotus feet of Vishnu.
The Padma Purana states regardless of whether one is in an impure or pure state, one should always wear tulasi mala and never take it off even when bathing, eating or even when passing stool and urine.
The Skanda Purana explains that in the age of Kali, the Lord leaves all of His thousands of holy places and elevated mountains and resides in gardens with tulasi.
Those who see the tulasi forest or plant tulasi according to rules and regulations, attain Vaikunthaloka. Those who serve tulasi every day by seeing her; touching her; meditating upon her; glorifying her qualities; offering obeisances to her; listening to her qualities; planting, watering and worshipping her, reside in Vishnuloka for an unlimited period of time. The Yamadutas do not approach the house where tulasi is being watered regularly and is being served very carefully.
No one should ever deride tulasi thinking her to be a tree. In Vaikuntha Dhama, tulasi's body is non-different from the body of Shri Vasudeva. It has also been mentioned in Agasta Samhita that just as the two mile radius around the Ganges is pure, the same area around tulasi is also pure.
"O best of the sages! Those who leave their body near a tulasi plant never suffer in hell but go to Vishnuloka. Shri Hari always resides in a tulasi garden, lotus garden and wherever the Puranas are recited."
It is very rare for one who has fallen into the ocean of birth and death to be able to serve tulasi, associate with devotees and develop love for Shri Hari.
The Prahlada Samhita and Vishnu Dharmottara says the leaves, flowers, fruits, wood, bark, branches, twigs, seedlings, root and soil of tulasi all are pure. When a dead body is burnt with tulasi, that person does not have to come back to this world again.
According to the Skanda Purana, those who always put tulasi leaves in their navel, mouth, head and two ears, do not need to go to any place of pilgrimage or perform any sacrifice.
Although the scriptures glorfy tulasi in this way, Vaishnavas will never accept tulasi without offering her to Krishna first.
The Lord said, "One who worships Me without picking tulasi every day, even if He worships me for a hundred years, I do not accept his worship." (Hari Bhakti Vilasa, 7th Chapter)
It says in the Brhad Naradiya Purana that if one worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead without tulasi, that is not worship; if one bathes the Lord without tulasi, that is not bathing; if one feeds the Lord without tulasi, that is not feeding and if one offers water to the Lord without tulasi; that is not drinking. (Hari Bhakti Vilasa, 7th Chapter)
The Varaha Purana says that Shri Hari never accepts worship without tulasi. If tulasi leaves are not available, touch Shri Hari with tulasi water and if that is not available, utter the name tulasi while worshipping Shri Hari.
One who worships any demigod (other than Vishnu) with tulasi commits sin equal to murdering a brahmana, murdering a cow or having sexual intercourse with the spiritual master's wife.
In the Hari Bhakti Sudodaya the Yamadutas say, "One who worships Shri Hari with tulasi, irrespective of whether he is religious or irreligious, we cannot touch him after his death."
The Agasta Samhita describes that in the past Tulasi Devi very intelligently performed severe austerities and asked Krishna for a boon and has become dearer to Hari than any other flower or leaf.
In the Padma Purana it says that of all leaves, Tulasi is the dearest to Shri Hari. Those who worship Vishnu in the age of Kali with Tulasi leaves and manjaris are glorious.
The Garuda Purana also quotes the Supreme Personality of Godhead: "One who worships Me with tulasi leaf does not have to take birth again. He becomes delivered and goes back to Vaikuntha."
The Vishnu Dharmottara states: "O Brahmanas! Vaishnavas should never pick tulasi on dvadasi day."
According to the Garuda Purana, a religious person should not pick durva grass on Sundays and tulasi on dvadasis. If one does so he will lose his longevity.
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