Tulsi & Shaligram


There are 2 famous rape incidences in the scriptures.  One is of Vrunda by Vishnu and the other is Ahalya by Indra.

In both, one of the participant becomes a stone. 

In the 1st instance, Vishnu, the perpetrator, becomes a stone.
In the 2nd, the victim, Ahalya becomes the stone.

Indra rapes Ahalya to satisfy his own carnal desires.
Vishnu commits the rape to weaken a danava king who was strong because of his wife.  It could be that her relatives were supporting his rule, making him invincible against his enemies.  Maybe the rape of Vrunda (also called Tulsi) broke the marriage alliances and weakened the king enough for Devas to attack and defeat the danavas. 

Vrunda cursed Vishnu for her fall from grace and widowhood that followed.  In the society of that era, widowhood was considered to be the biggest curse for a woman.  It deprived her of all joys in life and reduced her status to a lowly dependent.  Because Vishnu had acted in a cold, stone hearted way to assure the victory of Devas, Vrunda cursed Vishnu to become a stone.  Vishnu being Vishnu, he took the curse calmly and understanding the reason for her anger, married her so that she would not fall from grace and would not have to live out her life as a widow.  Infact, Vishnu declared that Tulsi is his favorite person and no offering to him will be considered complete without an obligatory Tulsi leaf added to it.

Unlike Indra, who abandoned Ahalya after the rape, Vishnu did not abandon Tulsi.  His marriage to Vrunda is celebrated on Prabodhini Ekadashi at the end of Autumn season.

In memory of that incidence, when in ancient times a woman wronged was given full reparation, we still worship Shaligram and Tulsi together.  

Maybe that is the main lesson of this lila.



Bhagwat Shah © 

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