Chapter Nineteen

When Lord Hari stopped speaking, Tulasi left her physical body, assumed a celestial form and went to Vaikuntha. There she remained in the heart of Sri Hari, as did Goddess Laksmi. Lord Hari also went with her to Vaikuntha.

As soon as Tulasi Devi quit her physical body, this body became the Gandaki River; and Lord Hari manifested Himself as the mountain on the bank of that river, giving spiritual merit to the people. The worms on that mountain cut and fashion, i.e. construct, various kinds of stones. Those that fall into the river and assume the colour of clouds, without a doubt, yield results; but those that drop onto the dry land become brown by the sun's rays and unfit for worship.

Lord Hari duly honoured Tulasi and began to sport with her along with Goddess Laksmi. He elevated Tulasi to the rank of Laksmi, making her blessed and glorious. Laksmi and Goddess Ganga allowed and tolerated this new union of Lord Narayana and Tulasi. However, Goddess Saraswati became angered and could not tolerate Tulasi's elevated position.

Once, in the presence of Lord Hari, the dignified Saraswati quarrelled with Tulasi and hurt her. Tulasi, humiliated and insulted, disappeared. Then, out of anger, the wise and adept Tulasi became invisible even to Lord Hari.

When Lord Hari did not see Tulasi, he appeased Saraswati and, obtaining her permission, proceeded to the Tulasi forest--Vrndavana. He was very much disturbed by separation from her. There, he took a bath; then, with proper rites, he worshiped the chaste Tulasi with His whole heart, and then meditated on her with devotion, and uttered, "Obeisances to Tulasi Devi, Queen of Vrndavana Forest." During the worship, Tulasi was offered a lighted ghee lamp, frankincense, sandal flowers and sacrificial offerings. Anyone who worships Tulasi in this way will achieve complete perfection.

The Lord then began to praise His glorious devotee. "The Tulasi trees collect in many groups, thus the pandits call it Vrinda. I praise that dear Tulasi. Long ago she appeared in the Vrindavana forest and is thus known as Vrindavani. I adore that auspicious and glorious one. She is always worshiped in countless universes and so is known as Visvapujita--one who is worshiped throughout the world. I worship that Visvapujita.

"Countless universes are made pure and holy by her contact. She is therefore called Visvapavani--one who purifies the whole universe. Remembering her, I am suffering from separation from her. Though other flowers be heaped upon the demigods, they are not satisfied unless Tulasi is offered. Thus she is considered the essence of all flowers and is called Puspasara. Now I am anguished and troubled and very eager to see her--she who is purity incarnate. I crave the favor of that goddess. Because attainment of her brings faith and joy, she is called Nandini. O may she be pleased with Me. In the whole world she is incomparable, thus she is called Tulasi. I take refuge of that dear Tulasi. Very chaste and dear, she is the life of Krsna and so is known as Krsnajivani. O may that goddess save my life."

After Lord Hari finished the ceremony and prayers, Tulasi was pleased and came out of the tree. She immediately took refuge at Lord Hari's lotus feet. He blessed her by saying, "O Tulasi, you will be worshiped by all throughout the world. Dearest, I will hold you on my head and in my heart; and all the demigods will hold you on their heads."

When Lord Hari saw that the dignified Tulasi was weeping because her feelings had been hurt by Saraswati, He clasped her to His breast, took her to Saraswati and reconciled their differences. Then He blessed Tulasi, saying, "You will be worshiped by all, honoured by all and respected by all. And all will carry you on their heads. I also will worship, honour and respect you and carry you on My head."

Tulasi was now very happy. Saraswati then embraced her and seated her by her side. Laksmi and Ganga, smiling, also hugged her, and then took her home.

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