Stories of Tulasa
Story No.1 & 2 Tulasa was very diligent in her seva of the Lord. Once a Vaishnav (brahmin by cast) from the Gaud country (modern Orrisa) came to do the darshans at her house. Tulasa offered him some rice as prasaad from the food she had offered at Rajbhog. Unfortunately, the young man declined to take the pradsaad and pleaded the excuse that he had to go home and have a bath before his meal. The rules of caste restrictions were still very strong in his mind and he could not bring himself to eat rice cooked by members of another community.
Upset, Tulasa also went without eating her Mahaprasaad as well. The Lord came to her in her dream and instructed her to cook prasaad for the Vaishnav for the next day, for the Lord said he will eat the prasaad the next day. Knowing full well the reason for his refusal, Tulasa decided to cook prasaad (sweets) that the young man could eat without breaking his caste rules. The next day, the Vaishnav came early to have a darshan of the Lord and willingly sat down to take the Mahaprasaad. When Tulasa offered the sweets, the brahmin asked her to give him some rice ! Surprised, Tulasa said that this was not possible and the sweets that she was offering would be perfectly OK for him to eat without breaking any caste rules. But the young man insisted on eating rice.
He explained that yesterday night, the Lord came to him in his dream and ordered him to eat rice and daal from this Mahaprasaad. "Vaishnavs must not discriminate amongst each other. This goes against the principles and indeed, the very spirit, of Pushti Marg. As devotees of the Lord and Shri Vallabh, they are to function as one community. How can you do this if you hold on to your petty caste rules and refuse to even eat at other's houses ? More over, the food offered to the Lord belongs to Him and therefore, it is above and beyond any caste or creed. No Vaishnav should refuse to eat prasaad of the Lord, for it is the most tangible item of Lord's grace - food from His plate !"
Story No.3 Once, Shri Gosaiji visited Kanoj. Tulasa served the son of Shri Vallabh with great love and care. She would converse on religious matter with Shri Gosaiji and he was very impressed by her indeed. He remarked that progeny of such a learned and true Vaishnav is exactly as it should be ! He asked her if the Lord was conversing with her. Tulasa, humble as she was, replied, "We eat till our stomachs are full and sleep peacefully. The only good thing was, we read the works of Shri Vallabh." Shri Gosaiji was very impressed by this answer indeed.
Tulasa's answer can be read in three ways. Indeed, as a humble servant, she is saying that being an ignorant soul, like all creatures of this universe, she too sought only the basic needs of life - eat, drink and be merry ! The only spiritual thing she did in her life was to read and meditate on the good works of Shri Vallabh.
On a different level, she meant, Having separated from the Lord, I have taken birth in many different species. In all those lives, I did so much to fill this stomach ! I toiled and even sinned to fill this eternally empty hole called "stomach" ! But, I was never satisfied. Thanks to the Lord and Shri Vallabh, I am now satisfied and no longer wish to maintain this body just for the sake of material enjoyment. I now maintain this body (and feed the stomach) so I can do seva !! In all my lives, I have never had peaceful sleep. Forever worried about how to live on, I have not really "slept" till this life. Through the Lord's grace, I now realise that he is the true Lord and master of my life. I now sleep peacefully because I know my Lord is taking care of me - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ! Through the grace of Shri Vallabh, I have now realised that these two truths and so in this life, I am very happy and truly satisfied.
On the third level, more spiritual level, she meant to say, The Lord grants us as much "rasa" (enjoyment of the Lord's lila) as we are able to stomach - hence I have a full stomach. Being an intimate servant of the Lord, I am at peace with my self and hence am able to sleep peacefully. And all this is through the grace of the Lord Shri Vallabh !
Having thus read the great devotion of these Vaishnavs, let us too pray for the Lord's grace, so that we may be inspired by their stories and we too may get closer to God.
© Bhagwat Shah
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