Chapter Sixteen

Meanwhile, at the palace, Tulasi Devi was still lying on the bed with Lord Visnu, who was still disguised as Sankhacuda. She suddenly realised that there was a distinct difference in the way her husband had expressed his affection to her in the past from the way he had just expressed it. This made her suspicious, and she began to wonder whether the man with whom she had just been intimate was really her husband. Then, not feeling the same happiness, affection and attraction, she looked at him distrustfully and said, "You're--you're not--" Realising in the core of her heart that He was not her husband, she asked, "Who--who are you?"

Tulasi Devi became angry. "Yes, who are you? I want to know immediately. For I know you have deceived me to enjoy me! You have outraged my modesty! For this I shall curse you!"

Lord Visnu then assumed His own true beautiful form. Tulasi saw the Lord of the demigods before her. His complexion was deep blue, like fresh rain clouds, His eyes were like autumnal lotuses, and He was decked with jewels and ornaments. His smiling face looked very gracious, and He wore a yellow robe. Seeing Vasudeva's handsome form, Tulasi fainted.

A few moments later she regained consciousness and said, "O Lord, you are like a stone! You are merciless! You violated my chastity by deception. And by this means you have killed my husband. O Lord, you are merciless! Yes, Your heart is like a stone. Therefore, I curse you to become a stone. Those who call you holy are doubtlessly wrong. Your devotee committed no offence and yet, for the sake of others, You killed him! Why?"

Overpowered with grief and sadness, Tulasi cried loudly and repeatedly lamented.

Seeing her so upset, Narayana, who is an ocean of mercy, tried to console her according to dharmic rules. He said, "O exalted one, you performed austerities for a long time to get Me as your husband. And Sankhacuda also performed austerities for a long time to get you as his wife. By that austerity, he fulfilled his wish. It was then necessary for Me to fulfil your wish. For this reason, I did what I did. Now leave your earthly body and assume a spiritual body--and be married to Me. Be like Laksmi. Your body will become a famous river known as Gandaki, a virtuous, pure and transparent river in this holy land of India. Your hairs will be transformed into holy trees; and since the trees will be born of you, they will be known as Tulasi trees. All the residents of the three worlds will perform worship with the leaves and flowers of this tree. Thus, you, Tulasi, will reign as the best among trees and flowers."

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