By Sage Pundareeka
Translated By P.R.Ramachander
This prayer is addressed to Tulsi who is also known as Vrinda (ocimum sanctum in Latin, and Sacred Basil in English). This plant is considered to be an incarnation of the consort of Lord Vishnu. Devotees believe that the leaves of Tulsi should be offered to Lord Vishnu.
One origin story of Tulsi is that Sri Lakshmi was born to Dharmadhwaja's wife Madhavi. Her parents named her Tulsi. Being beautiful and virtuous, she was married to Vishnu. Vishnu desired her to cast off her body and stay with him in spirit. Her body then became the river Gandaki. Vishnu's body become the Saaligrama stone and resided in the river. Sri Lakshmi's hair grew into a plant, become the famous Tulsi, an object of worship.
An alternate version of this origin story is that Tulsi was the wife of Jalandhara, a water demon, who caused great suffering to people. Lord Vishnu had to abduct her to kill Jalandhara. Lord Vishnu then lifted the plant to higher level by placing her leaves on His head. It is also said that Vishnu abducted Tulsi to help Shiva kill the demon.
Yet another version recites that Sarasvati's curse once turned Lakshmi into a Tulsi plant and forced her to live on the earth causing Vishnu to come down from Heaven and stay near her as the Salagrama. That is why the Salagrama is to be found under the river Gandaki on the bank of which the Sal tree grows and also in the Narmada river from which many Brahmin communities migrated to South India later on. Salagrama being Bhagavan Vishnu's counterpart for Sri Lakshmi's Tulsi, this sacred stone, is eulogized in the Puranas.
There is also a story in Uthara Ramayana about a lady who was doing prayers to become the wife of Vishnu. It seems Ravana tried to molest her. The lady cursed him and jumped in the fire and became Tulsi.
This prayer is written by Sage Pundareeka who lived in Thirukdalmallai in Tamil Nadu. It seems he used to worship the Lord with lotus flowers. One day the Lord himself appeared before him in the form of a poor hungry old man. When the sage went to bring food, the old man turned in to the idol of Vishnu and all the lotus flowers he worshipped earlier was on the body of Lord Vishnu’s idol.
Jagad dhathri namasthubhyam, Vishoncha Priya vallabhe, Yathro Brahmadayo deva, Srushti sthithyantha karina., 1
Salutations to mother of the universe,
Who is the darling wife of Lord Vishnu,
And due to you only, Brahma and others,
Are engaged in creation, upkeep and destruction.
Namas thulasi Kalyani, Namo Vishnu priye Shubhe, Namo moksha pradhe devi, Nama sampath pradhayike., 2
Salutations to the benevolent Tulsi,
Salutations to the holy darling of Vishnu
Salutations to goddess giving salvation,
Salutations to her who grants wealth.
Tulsi pathu maam nithyam, Sarva aapthbhyobhi sarvadha, Keerthithapi, smruthavapi, Pavithrayathi manavam., 3
Oh Tulsi, daily protect me,
Always from all dangers,
For you make than one holy,
Who sings or thinks about you.
Namami sirasa devim, Tulsim vilasa thanum, Yaam drushtwa papinor marthya, Muchyanthe sarva kil bhishath.., 4
I prostrate with my head before the Goddess,
Who gives brightness to our body,
And seeing her, the sinful humans,
Would get rid of all sort of sins.
Thulasya rakshtham sarvam, Jagadhedha characharam, Ya vinihanthi paapaani, Drushtwa ya papibhir narai., 5
Tulsi protects all,
The universe with its movable and immovable,
And when a man who is a sinner,
Sees it, it destroys all his sins,
Nama thulasyathi tharam, Yasyai bhadwa balim kalou, Kalayanthi sukham sarvam, Sthriyo Vaisya thadapare., 6
Salutations to Tulsi the great,
Who removes the bondage of Kali age,
And it blesses with a pleasant life,
To women and the merchant class.
Thulasya naparam kinchith, Daivatham jagathi thale, Yaya pavithratho loko, Vishnu sangena Vaishnava., 7
There is nothing in this world,
As divine as Tulsi,
For it makes the world pure,
And blesses Vaishnavas,
With company of Lord Vishnu.
Thulasya pallavam Vishno, Sirasyaropitham kalou, Aaropayathi sarvaani, Seshayamsi vara masthake., 8
In the kali age, If thulasi lea,
Is offered to the head of Vishnu,
It is same thing as receiving,
The blessings of Vishnu on your head.
Thulasyam sakala deva, Vasanthi sathatham yatha, Atha stham archaye loke, Sarvan devan samarchayeth., 9
Always in the Tulsi plant,
All gods live forever,
And so worshipping Tulsi,
Is same as worshipping all devas.
Namasthulasi sarvagne, Purushothama Vallabhe, Pahi maam srava paapebhyo, Sarva sampath pradhayige,., 10
Salutations to all knowing Tulsi,
Who is the consort of Lord Vishnu,
Save me from all the sins.
Oh bestower of all sort of wealth.
Ithi stotram pura geetham, Pundareekena dheematha, Vishnu marchayatha nithyam, Shobhanai thulai dalai., 11.
This prayer was composed,
By Pundareeka the able one,
Who worshipped lord Vishnu daily,
By the divine leaf of Tulsi.
Tulsi, sri mahalakshmi, Vidhya avidhya, yasaswini, Dharmya dharmanana Devi, Deva deva mana Priya., 12
Oh Tulsi, Oh Mahalakshmi,
Oh wisdom, Oh ignorance, Oh famous one,
Oh Charity, oh Goddess, Oh she Who makes us give,
The daring of the mind of Lord Vishnu.
Lakshmi, Priya sakhi devi, Dhyou bhoomir chala achala, Shodasaithani namani, Thulasya keerthayan nara., 13
Oh Mahalakshmi, Oh goddess who is a dear friend,
Oh Goddess, she who is in the mind,
Oh earth, oh movable one, Oh immovable one,
If these sixteen names are sung by men
Labhathe sutharaam bhakthim, Anthe Vishnu padam Labeth, Tulsi, bhhor maha Lakshmi, Padmini, sri hari Priya., 14
They get incomparable devotion.
And at the end reach the place of Vishnu,
Oh Tulsi, Oh earth, Oh Maha Lakshmi,
Oh goddess of lotus, oh Darling of Vishnu
Tulsi, Sri Sakhi, Shubhe, Papa Harini, punyadhe, Namasthe naradanuthe, Narayana mana priye., 15
Ithi Pundareeka krutham Tulsi stotram sampoornam
Thus the Tulsi Stotram composed by Sri Pundarika
- now considered to be an ammonite fossil