The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “curse of tulasi” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 41 - The curse of Tulasī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Vyāsa said:—

1. How did the lord Nārāyaṇa manage to deposit his semen in the vaginal passage of Tulasī? Please narrate the same.

Sanatkumāra said:—

2. Nārāyaṇa is the person who carries on the task of the gods. He is the goal of the good. It was in the guise of Śaṅkhacūḍa that he indulged in sexual dalliance with his wife.

3. Listen to the story of Viṣṇu that causes delight, the story of Viṣṇu who acts at the behest of Śiva and Pārvatī, the mother of the worlds.

4-5. On hearing the aerial voice in the course of the war and urged by lord Śiva, Viṣṇu carried off the excellent armour of Śaṅkhacūḍa assuming the guise of a brahmin, rapidly, by having recourse to his Māyā. He then assumed the guise of Śaṅkhacūḍa and went to Tulasī’s palace.

6. Very near the entrance to Tulasī’s palace he caused the drum Dundubhi to be beaten and cries of victory to be raised. He thus made the beautiful woman wake up.

7. On hearing it that chaste lady was highly delighted. Eagerly she peeped through the window into the high way.

8. Knowing that her husband had returned she observed all auspicious rites and offered monetary gifts to the brahmins. She then beautified herself.

9. After decending from the chariot, Viṣṇu who assumed the guise of Śaṅkhacūḍa by deceptive art for the sake of carrying out the task of the gods went to the apartment of the queen.

10. On seeing her husband come before her she became delighted. She washed his feet, bowed to him and cried.

11. She made him sit on the gemset throne of great beauty. She handed him the auspicious betel leaf rendered fragrant with camphor.

12. āIt is today that my life has become fruitful since I see my beloved lover who had gone to fight back in the abode again”.

13. Saying so glancing at him with ogling eyes and smiling face she sweetly asked him about the events at the battlefield.

Tulasī said:—

14-18. “O lord, how did you fare in the battle with Śiva who renders help to the gods? You had gone to fight Śiva who is the foremost of the gods, who is the annihilator of innumerable universes, whose behests are strictly adhered to and carried out by Viṣṇu, Brahmā and other gods always, who is the progenitor of the three deities, who is the soul of three attributes, who being devoid of attributes puts on the form of attributes at the request and wish of the devotees; who makes Viṣṇu and Brahmā work, who asrumed the form of Śiva the resident of Kailāsa at the request of Kubera, who is the lord of Gaṇas, the supreme Brahman, the goal of the good; in a single moment according to whose calculation a crore cosmic worlds undergo destruction; and in whose minutest time many Viṣṇus, Brahmās and others pass away. It is with such a Śiva that you had gone to fight.

19. You have happily returned after defeating him, the great lord. How did you win? Please mention that to me.”

20. On hearing these words of Tulasī, Viṣṇu, the lord of Lakṣmī who had assumed the guise of Śaṅkhacūḍa, laughed and spoke sweet words to her.

Lord Viṣṇu said:—

21. “When I, fond of war, reached the battle ground there was a great tumult. A great battle ensued.

22. There ensued the battle between the gods and the Dānavas both desiring victory. The daityas were defeated by the gods who were proud of their strength.

23. Then I fought with the powerful gods. The gods defeated by me sought refuge in Śiva.

24. In order to help them Śiva came to fight. Proud of strength I fought with him for a long time.

25. My dear wife, we fought continuously for a year. O lovely woman, all the Asuras were destroyed.

26. Brahmā made us come to a peace. At the bidding of Brahmā the powers of authority were re-assigned to the gods.

27. I have returned home. Śiva has returned to Śivaloka. Every one has resumed health and normalcy. The torment has receded.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

28. After saying this the lord of the worlds lay down on his bed. Then out of joy Viṣṇu indulged in sexual intercourse.

29. That lady began to suspect on observing a change in her happiness, endearment and attraction and asked him “who are you?

Tulasī said:—

30. Who are you? Tell me quickly. I have been enjoyed by you deceptively. My modesty has been outraged. Hence I am going to curse you.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

31. On hearing the words of Tulasī, Viṣṇu became afraid of the curse. O Brahmin, sportively he re-assumed his own real beautiful form.

32. On seeing the characteristic signs she guessed that it was Viṣṇu. Infuriated by the violation of her chastity she said.

Tulasī said:—

33. “O Viṣṇu, you are ruthless. Your mind is likea rock. Since my chastity has been outraged my husband is doomed.

34. O wicked one, being ruthless you are like a rock. Hence due to my curse you will become a rock.

35. Those who call you ocean of mercy are erring. There is no doubt. How was a devotee killed for another man’s sake, even without any offence?”

Sanatkumāra said:—

36. After saying this, the chaste beloved of Śaṅkhacūḍa, Tulasī lamented again and again in the excess of her grief.

37. On seeing her crying, Viṣṇu remembered lord Śaṅkara, Parameśvara, by whom the universe is deluded.

38. Then Śaṅkara, favourably disposed to his devotees appeared in front of them. He was bowed to and eulogised humbly by Viṣṇu.

39. On seeing Viṣṇu distressed and the beloved lady lamenting, Śiva kind to the poor tactfully enlightened both of them.

Śiva said:—

40. “O Tulasī, do not cry. Every one reaps the fruit of his actions. In the world that is an ocean of actions and rites there is no external entity that bestows happiness and sorrow.

41. Listen to what is relevant to the context to get rid of misery. Let Viṣṇu of good intentions too, listen. I shall mention what is beneficent to both and conducive to happiness.

42. O gentle lady, penance had been performed by you. The fruit thereof has been attained now. How can it be otherwise?

43. Cast off this body. Take up a divine body and indulgence in dalliance with Viṣṇu for ever. Be equal unto Lakṣhmī.

44. The body that you caste off shall become a river in Bharata. That will be a sacred river famous as Gaṇḍakī.[1]

45. O great lady, as a boon granted by me, Tulasī (holy basil) will be the most important constituent of the materials of worship of the gods some time.

46. In heaven, earth and the nether worlds you will become the Tulasī plant more excellent than flowers.

47. As the presiding deity of the plant you shall assume a divine form and shall for ever sport in secret with Viṣṇu.

48. The presiding deity of the river in Bharata, the consort of the briny sea and highly meritorious, shall be a part of Viṣṇu.

49. As a result of your curse, Hari shall assume the form of a rock on the banks of the river Gaṇḍakī and shall preside on the same in Bharata.

50. Crores of terrible sharp-toothed germs shall penetrate and erode the rock and carve rings on it.

51. Those pieces shall be known as Śālagrāma rocks and will be meritorious. Differentiated by the rings they shall be known as Lakṣmīnārāyaṇa etc.

52. O Viṣṇu, Śālagrāma stone shall signify your contact with Tulasī. Similar in appearance they shall increase merit.

53. O gentle lady, If anyone plucks the leaves of Tulasī lying on Śālagrāma he will be separated from his wife in the next birth.

54. If any one plucks Tulasī leaves without using conch he will become a widower and a chronic patient for seven births.

55. He who keeps Śālagrāma, Tulasī and Śaṅkha in one place shall become wise and a favourite of Viṣṇu.

56. You have been the beloved of Śaṅkhacūḍa for the period of a Manvantara. Your separation from Śaṅkhacūḍa is really painful to you.

Sanatkumāra said:—

57. After saying so, Śiva narrated the greatness of Śālagrāma stone and Tulasī, that is highly meritorious.

58. After delighting Viṣṇu and Tulasī, Śiva the benefactor of the good vanished from there and went to his abode.

59. On hearing the words of Śiva, Tulasī was delighted. She cast off that bo:ly and assumed a divine form.

60. The lord of Lakṣmī went to Vaikuṇṭha with her. Immediately the river Gaṇḍakī took its origin from her cast off body.

61. On its banks Viṣṇu became a mountain conferring merit on men. O sage, germs make different kinds of holes therein.

62. The pieces that fall into the water are highly meritorious. Those that remain on the dry land are known as Piṅgalas. They are harmful.

63. Thus I have narrated everything in accordance with your enquiry. The story of Śiva is meritorious and bestows all cherished desires on men.

64. This narrative has been made in detail intermingled with the greatness of Viṣṇu. It confers worldly pleasures and salvation. What is it that you wish to hear further?

Footnotes and references:


The river Gaṇḍaki issues from the Himalayan foothills, rises in Bihar and joins the Ganges near Sonepur in the Muzaffarpur District. Cp. Mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇa Ch. 57.

vipāśā devikā raṅkṣurniścīrā gaṇḍakī tathā |
kauśikī cāpagā vipra himavatpādanissṛtāḥ ||

It is one of the most sacred rivers and is the source of Śālagrāmaśilas.

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