The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Greatness of Tulasi which is chapter 8 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the eighth chapter of the Margashirsha-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 8 - The Greatness of Tulasī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Tulasī (Basil plant) is the special favourite with god Viṣṇu. The glorification of Tulasī in Kārttika-Māhātmya (KM) Ch. 8 and the legend of Jalandhara and Viṣṇu’s illicit love to his wife Vṛndā (KM Chs. 14-23) explain Viṣṇu’s special attachment to Tulasī. VV 2-20 glorify Tulasī implying that it is liked by Viṣṇu both in Kārttika and Mārgaśīrṣa.

Brahmā said:

1. O Lord, describe the greatness of the glorious Tulasī accurately, whose mere presence makes you very much happy.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

2. Jewels, gold-flowers and pearls (when offered) do not give even a sixteenth part of the merit that the offer of a Tulasī leaf gives.

3. One who worships me with Tulasī sprouts does not enter the womb (a new birth). He attains salvation.

4. One should grow Tulasī and worship me with its leaves. He shall rejoice in heaven as well as in my abode in Śveta Dvīpa.

5. If a man worships me at least once with the pure, fragrant and unbroken leaves of the glorious Tulasī, Yama wipes off the sin of that man which he sees written in his record.

6. If people do not gather together Tulasī leaves for the sake of my worship, fie upon their youth, life, wealth and progeny! Their happiness is not seen here and hereafter.

7. By seeing my idol worshipped with a mass of Tulasī leaves in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, one is rid of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

8. If anyone always worships me, the Lord of Ramā, with Tulasī, his major sins perish. What to say of minor sins!

9. A flower is to be discarded if a long time has passed after plucking it. Water should be discarded if it is long since drawn (from a well etc.). A Tulasī leaf need not be discarded at all (even if stale). Gaṅgā water need not be discarded at all.

10. As long as the holy Tulasī, my favourite leaf, is not available, O son, so long Mālatī and other flowers roar (i.e. boast of their efficacy).

11. A man who worships me, at least once, with Bilva leaf shall be free from agony. He will come to me and attain salvation.

12. Tulasī leaf is a greater favourite of mine than Bilva leaf, Śamī leaf, Jāti leaf, lotus and (even) the Kaustubha jewel.

13. A cluster of Tulasī blossoms with unbroken leaves is dear to my heart like this Padmā (Goddess Lakṣmī) who has come out of the Ocean of Milk.

14. Just as Dvādaśī (twelfth day), whether of the dark half or the bright half (of a lunar month), is my favourite, so also Tulasī leaf, whether black or not, is my favourite.

15. If a man takes up a Tulasī leaf and worships me devoutly, all including Devas, Asuras and human beings is worshipped by him.

16. As long as a dark sprout of the black variety of Tulasī is not available, so long an infinite number of precious stones and jewels like Kaustubha roar (i.e. boast of their efficacy).

17. One who devoutly worships Kṛṣṇa with Kṛṣṇatulasī, attains the bright world where Viṣṇu is present along with Śrī.

18. People who give Tulasī leaves to mendicants and other devotees for the purpose of worshipping me, go to the immutable region (Mokṣa).

19. One who worships me with Tulasī of dark and white (colours) attains the perpetual Vaiṣṇava goal after abandoning the body.

Brahmā said:

20. O Keśava, tell me truly the efficacy of offering incense[1] and the benefit obtained by offering lamps.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

21. Listen, O son, I shall tell you the benefit of offering incense and the efficacy of offering lamps. It is extremely delightful to me.

22. By offering me incense with agallochum, camphor and fragrant divine sandalwood in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, the devotee shall redeem a hundred generations of his family.

23. The Vaiṣṇava who fumigates my temple with the incense originating from black aloe-wood is liberated from the sea of Narakas (Hells).

24. If a person offers me incense of aromatic gum-resin mixed with buffalo-ghee and sugar-candy, I grant him whatever he wishes.

25. Gum-resin when fumigated dispels all calamities. Black aloe-wood gives different kinds of cherished desires.

26. The incense of black agallochum sanctifies the body and the abode. The incense from the resinous exudation of a Sāla tree (Vatica robusta) destroys Yakṣas and Rākṣasas.

27. Dhūpa has ten units or ingredients. They are: Jāti flower, cardamom, gum-resin, Harītakī (Terminalia chebula?), Kūṭa (a kind of sandal, MW 1089), exudation of a Sāla tree, jaggery, Saila (Benzoin?) and Acchaḍa(?) along with Nakha (Unguis odoratus?).

28. If anyone offers me the incense with all the ten ingredients in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa which I like very much, I grant him even very rare things, strength, nourishment, sons, wives and devotion.

29. Men like the incense from Mustā (a kind of grass, Cyperus rotundus); that of jaggery is conducive to auspiciousness and winning over others. One who offers this in front of me in the Mārgaśīrṣa month gets rid of all the sins and attains me.

30. One whose limbs are wiped (smeared) with the remnants of the incense offered to me, has no fear whatsoever coming from heaven, earth or the atmosphere.

31. If the incense is offered in front of me ceaselessly with great faith in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, the man will have no calamities. He will have all kinds of riches.

32. Incense accords handsome features. Incense is highly sanctifying. The exudation of a tree is divine. It is extremely pure and sanctifying.

33. Henceforth I shall recount the excellent efficacy of Lamps.[2] If they are offered, the man undoubtedly goes to Vaikuṇṭha.

34. He who ceremoniously waves a lamp of many wicks profusely filled with ghee, shall reside in heaven for one crore of Kalpas.

35. He who witnesses the waving of light in front of me in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, shall be born as a Brāhmaṇa for seven births and in the end shall attain the highest region.

36. He who waves devoutly lighted camphor in front of me, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, shall enter me, the infinite one.

37. If Nīrājana is performed, O son, all is accomplished to the full even if the worship done for me is devoid of Mantras and (prescribed) rites.

38. He who offers a lamp of camphor in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, shall attain the fruit of a horse-sacrifice. He shall redeem his family.

39. One who offers a lamp in front of me, or of Brāhmaṇas and in a crossroads, becomes highly intelligent, full of perfect knowledge and of keen eyesight.

40. Listen to the merit of that person who lights a lamp with ghee or oil in front of me in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa.

41. He gets rid of all his sins. He becomes as resplendent as a thousand suns. In a luminous aerial chariot he goes to my world where he will be honoured.

42. Hence a clever devotee should by all means offer lamps. He who puts it out after it has been offered shall certainly fall into hell.

43. A sinner who removes the lamp, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, out of greediness or hatred, becomes blind and dumb on account of that removal of lamp.

Footnotes and references:


Offering of incense and waving of lamps before the deity are the next important Upacāras in worship. VV 21-33 describe the importance of incense-burning.


VV 33-43 describe the efficacy of offering lamps to the deity; the last two verses state the imprecation for violators of this service.

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