|14 Vedavati-Maya Sita- Draupadi and finally as Devi Tulasi|
In the lineage of Manu Daksha Savarni were born Brahma Savarni-Dharma Savarni-Rudra Savarni-Deva Savarni and Indra Savarni who were all Parama Bhaktas of Bhagavan Vishnu.The son of Indra Savarni viz. King Vrishabhadhwaja was a great devotee of Parama Shiva and the latter considered the King even more important than his own sons Ganesha and Kumara. Somehow the King never followed the Vaishnava Dharma and even discouraged Vishnu Puja and Lakshmi Puja. An infuriated Surya Deva cursed the King that his Rajya Lakshmi would abandon him. Shiva in turn lifted his Trishul and ran behind Surya Deva and the latter sought refuge from his father Kashyapa Muni and Brahma. The three some of Surya, Kasyapa and Brahma sought protection from Vishnu Deva. Shiva too reached there and told Vishnu that Vrishabhadhwaja was his personal Bhakta and Surya cursed the King. Vishnu replied that by the time Shiva reached Vaikuntha, lot of time elapsed and not only Vrishabhadhwaja lost his Empire and died but also his son Rathadwaja passed away and the latter’s sons Dharmadwaja and Kushadwaja became intense Bhaktas of Vishnu and were performing Tapasya to Lakshmi Devi; Vishnu further said that an ‘Amsha’ of Maha Lakshmi would be soon born to Malavati, the blessed wife of Kushadwaja. As soon as the baby was born, she recited Vedas and was thus named Vedavati. In course of time, Vedavati took to severe Tapasya. There was an Akaasha Vani (Celestial Voice) which pronouned that Vedavati in her next birth would be Vishnu’s wife. On hearing this, Vedavati left for Gandhamadana Mountain and intensified herTapasya further. The demon Ravanasura spotted Vedavati in Tapasya and made advances to her; she cursed Ravana at his misbehaviour, declared that she would sacrifice her life by jumping into Agni Kunda and in her next birth would become responsible for his death as Devi Sita, the wife of a human Avatara of Vishnu to be called Shri Rama. Devi Sita was wedded to Shri Rama in the next birth. To keep up the word of his father Dasharatha, Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana moved on to the forests and Agni Deva approached Rama as a Brahmana and conveyed that since the time for Sita’s abduction by Ravana was imminent, he (Agni) should replace Devi Sita with Maya Sita and after the episode of Ravana’s killing was over, he would replace real Sita with the shadow Sita after the ‘Agni Pariksha’ time. Vedavati alias Chhaya Sita proceeded to perform Tapasya at Pushkara Kshetra and in Dwapara Yuga became Draupadi as the daughter of Drupada Raja and further as the wife of Pandavas. Thus Vedavati was blessed as a Trihaayani born in Satya, Treta and Dwapara yogas.
The daughter of King Dharmadhwaja and Malati was named Tulasi as both men and women could not weigh the beauty and charm of the Child-Tulanaasmartha- she was named as Tulasi. Being a ‘Jatismara’ with the memory of her previous births, Tulasi performed very strict Tapasya to Brahma Deva who appeared and asked Tulasi to seek a boon. Tulasi recalled that she was in her earlier birth she was a Gopi by the same name as Tulasi, that she was in Goloka as a close companion of Devi Radha and was fond of a boy called Govinda who was too a Gopa boy in the ‘Raasa Samaaja’, that their freindship blossomed into lust, that Devi Radha cursed the lovers to be born into ‘Martyaloka’/ Bhuloka and assured that on performing Tapasya to Brahma Deva the latter would give the boon of marrying Shri Krishna. Brahma smiled and told Tulasi that the same Gopa was already born with the ‘Amsha’of Shri Krishna as a Danava King called Shankhachooda residing in Samudra, who was invincible to even Parama Shiva and that he would be her husband initially and subsequently wed Vishnu Deva as his very dear wife when Tulasi would become a Tree /Shrub when the whole Universe would worship as Vrindaavani. Devi Tulasi was thrilled at what Brahma revealed about the future course of events, but had a lurking fear of Radha Devi as to whether she would make this dream-like future possible as predicted by Brahma. Brahma again smiled and taught the procedure of pleasing Devi Radha by a Shodashopachara Mantra, Radha Stotra, Kavacha and Puja Vidhana.Tulasi was determined to please Radha and performed incessant ‘Raadhopaasana’. In course of time, Tulasi had dreamt of a handsome youth and on the next day a Yogi called Shankhachooda landed at ‘Badarivana’who practised Shri Krishna Mantra and Kavacha, thanks to Jaigeeshva Muni. As Tulasi got his darshan at a common place she was readily got attracted to him and vice versa. They exchanged pleasantries as also serious matters of Vedanta content, especially in the background of both of them being Jatismaras, when Brahma appeared and encouraged their Gandharva Vivaha.
Even as Shankhachooda was enjoying his new marital life, he was simultaneously warring with Devatas, as he was essentially a Danava and tortured Devas and forcibly dislodged them from Indraloka. He acquired three crore ‘Dhanurdhaaras’/ ace bowmen, three lakh race horses, five lakh top rate elephants, Trishula dhaaris, countless chariots, and highly trained Maharathis and virtually became an unconquerable force in the entire Universe. On top of it he was a staunch Krishna devotee and the latter himself bestowed a talisman which fortified his prowess further. Shri Krishna was no doubt aware that the Danava King was performing all acts of Viciousness, brutality and violence; yet the demon’s staunch devotion to him far outweighed his vices and cruelties to Devas, Maharhis, Sages and Brahmanas. This situation prompted Bhagavan Shiva to advise the Danava King and mediated peace with Devas. He used all his skills and powers of bringing about rapproachment; he said: ‘Raja! You release the kingdom of Devas and make me and every body happy; you enjoy your own Kingdom and desist from fraternal enemities as Daityas, Danavaas and Devatas are all from the Kashyapa Muni and the own sisters of Diti, Danu and Aditi respectively. ‘Brahma hatya’ and ‘Jaati droha’ would be equally despicable etc. He also threatened that besides Indra, Surya, Yama, Varuna, Vayu, Shaneswara, Kubera etc. the illustrious Kumara, Nandi, Bhadra Kaali and he himself too would fight against him and the opponents. But the good advice given by Maha Deva himself fell flat on Shankhachooda’s deaf ears and the great battle of Devas and Daanavas which could have been avoided did take place due to the persistence of one Daitya King Shankhachooda! The King descended to the battle field adorned with the Dhanush and arrows that Bhagavan Vishnu gifted to him once. Skanda intiated the battle by destroying Shankhachooda’s chariot, Kavacha, the charioteer and his headgear and made the Daitya faint. But the latter recovered quickly and took up a Vishnu Shakti and attacked Skanda, by the powerful strike of which Skanda fell down. Devi Kaali took over and assaulted the Daitya who was an expert in Maya Shakti and dodged the Devi. Bhagavan Shiva revived Skanda by his Jnaana Shakti in a moment. Maha Deva then declared a fulfledged war in which Indra was pitted against Vrishaparva, Surya Deva against Viprachittha, Chandra against Dambha, Kaala Deva against Kaleswara, Agni against Gokarna, Kubera versus Kalakeya, Vishwakarma against Mayasura , Mrityu Devata against Bhayankara, Yama Raja against Samhara Danava, Varuna against Kalivinka, Vayu versus Chanchalasura, Budha against Ghritaprishtha and Shanaischara versus Raktaksha, Jayanta versus Ratnasaara, Vasugana versus Varchogana, Nalakubara versus Dhumra, Dharma vs.Dhanurdhara, and Mangala vs. Mandukasha. The Adityaganas, Ekadasha Rudras, Rudraganas headed by Nandeswara, Gandharvas, Yakshas and Kinnaras were all a the battle where the Danava Sena was annihilated mercilessly and there were streams of blood and floating dead bodies of soldiers and animals on the battle front. As there was a climatic moment at the combat, Maha Kali released Brahmastra at the Danava King who retalliated with another Brahmastra with the result was a nought. Then Devi Kaali intiated the Mantra to release ‘Brahmastra’ when a Celesial Voice was heard to say: King Shankhachooda is a ‘Maha Purusha’ (Illustrious Noble Being) and Pashupataastra should not be released against him, since he would not be killed by it. In fact, as long as a ‘Kavacha’(Shield) given by Shri Hari was carried on his body and as along as his wife’s ‘Pativratya’(High devotion to her husband) would last, the Danava would continue to be indestructible as these were the boons to him by Brahma. Bhadrakali then refrained from attacking the King but concentrated on destroying the rest of the Danavas and their Chiefs and so did the other Devas.Meanwhile, Bhagavan Vishnu took the form of an old Brahmana and approached for a boon. When Danava King replied that he could grant him anything, the Brahmana asked for the ‘Krishna Kavacha’; the Danava King who abided by his word parted with the Kavacha. Bhagavan Vishnu then assumed the Form of Shankhachooda and entered Devi Tulasi’s interior room in a delightful mood saying that he won the battle and wished to rest. Devi Tulasi was full of joy and in a celebrating mood of relaxation; the Maya Shankhachooda and Devi Tulasi were happy in their union and thus Tulasi’s ‘pativratya’ got affected. As both the hurdles of ‘Krishna Kavacha’ being donated by the Danava King to a Brahmana and the ruin of Tulasi’s Pativratya by Vishnu impersonating as Shankhacooda were removed, it was easy for Mahadeva to terminate the Danava King who returned to Devi Radha’s Rasa-leela party at Goloka as Sudama and Bhagavan Krishna and Devi Radha welcomed him back into their fold. From the bodybone - remains of Shankhachooda emerged several kinds of ‘Shankhaas’(conchshells) which were not only adorned on Shri Krishna’s hands but had since then found a permanent place in every Puja of Govinda. Meanwhile Devi Tulasi suspected the Maya Shankhachooda and as Vishnu revealed himself she was upset that original Danava King was no more, cursed Vishnu to become a ‘Paashaana’(rock piece) since he was unscrupulous and heartless and played the drama and removed her husband from the scene; eversince formal Vishnu Puja had been through the Sacred Form of a Shaaligraama. Vishnu then gave a reverse curse that Tulasi would become a holy River Gandaki as also as a Sacred Tree / shrub worshipped throught the Universe including Bhuloka, Swargaloka and Pataalalokas; Vishnu further said that ‘Abhisheka’with Tulasi leaves to Narayana would provide the same effect as ‘Sampurna Snaanas’ or baths in all hallowed places including Sarva Kshetras; performing several Yagnas; satisfying Shri Hari with thousands of Abhishekas of holy waters along with ‘Tulasi Dalaas’; thousnad ‘godaanas’ to equate a Tulasi patra daan; serving tulasi water at the time of a death; any puja with Tulasi to any Deity as good as lakhs of Ashwanmedha Yagnas or death with a tulasi on hand resulting in access to Vaikuntha. If a person swears with a Tulasi on hand, his pledge is considered to be an unquestioned belief and breaking the vow with a Tulasi would attract Kalasutra and Kubhipaaka Narakas. Bhagavan Shri Hari futher said that in order to make her curse to him true, he would become black ‘Paashaanas’ (Saligramas) on the banks of River Gandaki and several ‘krimi keedas’would bite the imprints of Shri Chakra thus becoming eligible for worship. Those Saligrams which have the colour of Cloud / Shyama Varna would be callled Lakshmi Narayana; those stones which have one door and four chakras are called ‘Vanamaali’; stones of light blue colour are called ‘Lakshmi Janaardana’; those with two doors, four chakras and a cow’s horn are called ‘Raghavendra’; small stones with two chakras of black colour are known as ‘Dadhi Vaamanaas’; very small stones with two chakras and vanamaali are called ‘Shridhara’; round stones with clear chakra and Vanamali sign are ‘Damodaras’; and so on. Narayana Rishi described the Puja to Devi Tulasi with the ‘Dasaakshara’ (Ten worded) Mula Mantra / Beeja Mantra viz. (OM) SHREEM HREEM KLEEM AIM BRINDAAVINYAI SWAAHAA comprising Lakshmi Beeja (Shreem), Maya beeja (Hreem), Kaama bija (Kleem) and Vaani beeja (Aim). After reciting the Mantra, formal Puja must be performed, followed by offering ghee soaked Deepa, Dhupa, Sindura, Chandana, Naivedya and flowers followed by the ‘Stuti’ that Vishnu himself recited:
Vrindaa rupascha vrikshaascha yadaiktra bhavanti cha,
Vidhurbhudaastena Vrindam matpriyaam taam bhajaamyaham/
Puraa babhuva yaa Devi twaadow vrindaavaney vaney,
Tena Vrindaavani khyaataa soybhaagyam taam bhajaamyaham/
Asamkhyeshu cha viseshu pujitaa yaa nirantaram,
Tena Vishwapujitaakhyaam Jagat-pujyaam bhajaamyaham/
Asamkhyaani cha Vishwaani pavitraani yayaa sadaa,
Taam Vishwapaavaneem Deveem virahena smraanyaham/
Devaa na tushtaah pushpaanaam samuhena yaya vinaa,
Taam Pushpa saaraam Shraddhaam cha drashtumicchhaami shokatah/
Vishwey yatpraaptimaatrena bhaktaanando bhaveda dhruvam,
Nandini tena vikhyaataa saa preetaa bhavataabhi mey/
Yasya Devyaastulaa naast Visweshu nikhileshu cha,
Tulasee tena vikhyaataa taam yaami sharanam priyaam/
Krishna jeevana rupaa yaa shaswatpriyatamaa Sati,
Tena Krishna jeevaneeti mama rakkshantu jeevanam/
(When Vrinda tree and another kind of tree look alike, then intelligent persons call the group of trees as Vrinda only! It is that Vrinda who is popular that I pray; my greetings to that auspicious Devi who emerged in ancient times in Brindavana and was called as Brindaavani; I implore that unique tree which is worshipped among innumerable other trees and is called as Vishwa pujita; I greet that universally revered tree in veneration; it is the Pushpasaaraa which is held in high esteem among several other flowers and is meditated by all Devas that I yearn to vision with emotion and anxiety; may Tulasi be kind to me as she is known for spreading happiness around and fulfil one’s desires and that is why her epithet is Nandini. I seek shelter from that Devi whose inherent values are impossible to weigh (tulana) and therefore called Tulasi. It is that Vrinda Swarupa who is considered as Krishna jeevani that protects the life of Shri Krishna!). In short, Tulasi Stotra is: Vrindaa Vrindaavani Vishwapijita Vishwapaavani, Pushpa -saaraa Nandini cha Tulasi Krishna jeevani/ Etannaamaashtakam chaiva Stotram Naamaartha samyutam, yah pathet taam cha sapujya soshwamedha phalam labhet/ After the Stotra as above, the formal Puja comprising the ‘Shodashopachaaraas’ are required to be performed by men and women for prosperity, long and healthy life.
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