One obvious example of an eternally liberated devotee who changed her form for the pleasure of the Lord is Srimati Tulasi devi.

Tulasi Maharani is an expansion of Srimati Vrnda devi, the expansion of Srimati Radharani who has the service of organizing all the necessary requirements to facilitate Lord Krsna’s lilas.

We worship Tulasi devi in her form as a plant

and there is a story how she came to take that form:

Tulasi devi becomes a plant (from www.
Pastimes involving pure devotees are only for the benefit of conditioned souls in the material world. This pastime, given in the Padma purana and in the Brahma-vaivarta purana involvong Tulasi devi reveals this clearly.

Once Tulasi devi descended as the daughter of King Kushadvaja. She was married to Jalhandara. It is said that Samudra deva the demigod controlling the nether regions had Lakshmi devi as a daughter (since she appeared from him at time of the churning of the ocean) and Jalandara (one who is born from water).

Jalandara was married to Tulasi devi and drew strength from her purity and chastity. So firm was her chastity that even Lord Shiva could not defeat Jalandara in battle and all the demigods went to Lord Vishnu for help.

At this time, Lord Vishnu went to Tulasi devi assuming the form of her husband, Jalandara. When Tulasi devi greeted Him, thinking Him to be her husband, her chastity was momentarily broken. Taking advantage of this the demigods killed Jalandara.

When Tulasi devi understood what happened, Lord Vishnu revealed His original form. An enraged Tulasi devi cursed Lord Vishnu for His stone hearted behavior to become a stone. Honoring His pure devotee, Lord Vishnu accepted this curse and promised to appear as the Saligrama shila in the Gandika river (now in Nepal).

He also gave Tulsai devi the benediction that she will eternally reside with Him as His consort in Vaikuntha. He said that for the benefit of every one she will assume the form of a plant which will be most auspicious for anyone performing devotional service.

Thus devotees never offer anything to Krishna without a Tulasi leaf. He always adorns Himself with a Tulasi garland. The goddess of fortune, Laksmi, is sometimes envious of the Tulasi leaves which are placed at the lotus feet of the Lord, for they remain fixed there and do not move, whereas Laksmiji, although stationed by the chest of the Lord, sometimes has to please other devotees who pray for her favor. Laksmiji sometimes has to go to satisfy her numerous devotees, but tulasi leaves never forsake their position, and the Lord therefore appreciates the service of the tulasi more than the service of Laksmi.

In October 1976 Srila Prabhupada received a long list of questions from Vidya dasi, who was the tulasi pujari in Los Angeles:

TD vol 5 – October 25 1976 – Sri Vrndavan dhama
There was an interesting letter today from Vidya dasi, the pujari for Srimati Tulasi devi in Los Angeles. She wrote at length asking about the care of Tulasi plants. She has been experimenting with trying to grow Tulasi in the open ground but has not met with much success. She asked if they should build a special Tulasi house.
Prabhupada replied to the affirmative. “If it is not possible for Tulasi to survive the winters when planted in the ground, then a suitable house should be provided for her. Even the Canadian temples, which are in a much colder climate, are keeping Tulasi nicely. Why should there be so much difficulty in Los Angeles, which has such a nice climate? Just do everything very carefully. Tulasi Flourishes where there is love and devotion.”
Vidya dasi also included a series of eighteen specific questions, some of which, I gathered from Prabhupada’s reaction, he considered a bit trivial, but he answered them nevertheless. As he sat in the sunshine on a straw mat in the back garden receiving his massage, surrounded by Tulasi plants growing around the perimeter of the lawn, he listened carefully as Jagadisa asked the questions and replied them one by one.

The first two questions were:

Q1) Is each Tulasi a separate jiva soul or an expansion of one pure devotee?

Q2) Where does her spirit soul go when she leaves this body?

Srila Prabhupada answered:

1)  Tulasi is one devotee who appears wherever there is devotion to Krsna.

2)  Tulasi’s body is spiritual.

Tulasi Maharani is therefore the best example of an eternal associate of Krsna who changed her eternal body just for the pleasure of the Lord. She is worshiped in all ISKCON temples
and indeed, in the homes of all pious Hindus.

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