It is rare to find a Hindu home without a Tulsi plant. Tulsi is considered to be the holiest plant in the Hindu religion. The literal meaning of Tulsi is “unmatched” or “incomparable.” Also known as holy basil, tulsi has numerous religious, health, and Vaastu benefits. But what is the story of the incarnation of Tulsiji in Hinduism? There are related stories in Shiv Purana and Shrimad Devi Bhagavad Purana that show us the whole picture.
The Birth of Jalandhar as per Shiv Purana
When Lord Shiva resided on the Kailash Parvat, Lord Indra and Brihaspati went there to see him. However, Lord Shiva thought of taking a little test, so he took the form of a deranged, naked man.
On seeing such a man on the way to Kailash, Lord Indra asked him about the whereabouts of Lord Shiva. When the man did not reply, Lord Indra belittled him with his own pride and greatness. This made the deranged man (who was actually Lord Shiva) furious. His anger could be seen on his forehead.
Brihaspati recognized Lord Shiva instantly and begged for forgiveness for him and Lord Indra. Lord Shiva accepted after Indra made a heartfelt apology. However, the light of anger that was already on the forehead of Lord Shiva needed to be disposed of, as no one can ever survive such outrage. Hence, Lord Shiva threw that light in the ocean. At the exact moment, a child was born of this light named Jalandhar. The daityas raised this child as their king as his origin was to kill Indra. He was immensely powerful as he was born from the light of Shiva.
Jalandhar and Vrunda (Shrimad Devi Bhagwad Purana)
As the king of asuras or daityas, Jalandhar was all-powerful. He married the daughter of Kallnemi asura named Vrunda (or Vrinda). Vrunda was a pure and devout wife. Due to her rigorous bhakti, Jalandhar had achieved immortality. He fought many wars and was saved due to the devotion of his wife. The only way to stop the demon king was to blemish the character of his wife, Vrunda.
Lord Vishnu took it upon himself to ruin the devotion of Vrunda for her husband. So, he went to Vrunda in the form of a Rushi or a sage along with two monkeys. He showed Vrunda the cut head of Jalandhar in the hands of one monkey and his body in the hands of another monkey by using sorcery. Vrunda was devasted and asked the Rushi to bring back her husband to life. So, Lord Vishnu took the form of Jalandhar to entice her.
Transformation of Vrunda to Tulsiji
On seeing her husband come back to life, Vrunda was overjoyed. She performed all the duties of a wife, not doubting for a second that he was someone else. As soon as Vrunda performed her wifely acts, the blessing on Jalandhar disappeared, and he was killed. When Vruda found out that Lord Vishnu was behind this, she cursed him to become a stone. A form of Lord Vishnu Shaligram in the form of stone is still revered. A temple is built in Nepal for Shaligram, where this event took place.
After cursing, Vrunda became a sati by sacrificing herself to bonfire along with her dead husband. However, Lord Vishnu had married Vrunda to carry out this deceit. He respected and loved Vrunda for her devotion. Hence, he gave her the blessing that she will be revered on earth in the form of Tulsiji. Thus, tulsiji is still considered the purest and the most sacred plant.
Also, on the day of Tulsi vivah, Shaligram, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, is married to Tulsiji to mark the union between the two. She is considered an equal to Lakshmiji.
This story signifies why Tulsiji has a place in every Hindu home. If a dying person is given a leaf of Tulsiji and some water from Gangaji, his soul is said to achieve moksha.
This story of the origin of Tulsji, Shaligram, and Tulsi vivah has touched my heart. In the following article, we will see another story that appears in Hindu texts about the origin of Tulsiji and why she is holy.