History Of Tulasi WorshipThe worship of Tulasi is still continuing by the Indians which are a part of Vedic tradition. A Hindu home in India is considered to be full only with a tulasi plant. The practice of growing tulasi in houses can date back to nearly 500 years. It has become a customary practice among the Indians to worship the tulasi plants by lighting lamps and offering water and flowers before they get into their daily routine. The tulasi plant is generally grown on the ground but now a days due to lack of space and coming up of apartments this has led to growing the tulasi in even smaller containers or earthern pots specially designed for tulasi plant along with images of deities on the four sides along with the small alcove in the center to place a lamp.
Houses with Tulasi Plant are said to Bring Peace-Houses with tulasi plant are said to bring peace, prosperity and health to the family members. There is also a belief according to the Hindu traditions that the place or the house where there is a tulasi plant, the messenger of death does not enter. Generally tulasi is compared to Goddess Lakshmi who is the wife of Lord Vishnu and so during puja, tulasi leaves are offered to the feet of Vishnu. Sometimes even tulasi along with sandal paste is offered to the feet of Vishnu during puja.Apart from the above religious significance tulasi plant has other medicinal features like it is used in the ayurvedic medicine for treating colds, headaches, stomach problems and even heart problems. Green tea with tulasi powder added to it is available in the market. The wood of tulasi plant is also used by the devotees of Lord Vishnu where they use the beads made out of tulasi in chanting known as japa mala and mostly they also wear it around their neck. There is s sacred custom among the devotees of Lord Vishnu to offer one thousand Tulasi leaves-one by one-to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna.
Tulasi Devi is a great devotee of lord Vishnu- This takes place during the month of kartika and followed by this the marriage of tulasi with Vishnu is performed and is celebrated with great pomp. This is commonly celebrated as tulasi vivaha.During tulasi vivaha Lord Vishnu comes in the form of a sacred stone, shalagram shila and the marriage is performed between the tulasi plant with the sacred stone where the former is fully dressed with a wedding sari, jewelry, and sometimes even a face made of silver or hardened wheat dough and the sacred stone. There are epics like Padma Purana in which Vrinda devi or Tulasi devi which narrates her arrival to this world and her atonement to attain Lord Vishnu as her husband. Tulasi is also supposed to be worshipped only in those homes which is pure and away from illicit practices like no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication, and no gambling. Since Tulasi Devi is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu she cannot be considered as an ordinary plant but certain rules and regulations has to be followed in worshipping the plant like not using chemical insecticides and every day it has to be worshipped by offering water and flowers and lighting a small lamp.
The Devotees of Lord Vishnu wear beads made of Tulasi Wood
-Since tulasi is a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi, the Vaishnvite people of Hinduism never fail to have this aromatic herb in their house and is worshipped with due respect twice a day namely morning and evening. It signifies the religious bent the Hindus have on this traditional and sacred plant. There are also legends which state that Lord Vishnu has an affinity for the tualsi leaf and that's the main reason why the Vaishnavites, the devotees of Lord Vishnu wear beads made of tulasi wood around their neck as a sign of their devotion to the Lord and these malas are supposed to have about 108 beads of Tulsi and is generally used for japa.Tulsi Malas are the most suitable for meditation and japa.There is another variety of Tulasi plant which has purple or dark leaves popularly known as "Krishna Tulasi" or "Shyma Tulsi" which is known for its medicinal properties and the regular light colored tulasi grown at houses is known as Ram tulasi. Most of the temples have this variety of Krishna Tualsi in their campus. There is also a temple for the Tulasi sacred plant in Varanasi in the name of Goddess Tulsi at Manas Mandir. The method followed in the performance of puja is similar to that performed for Gods and Goddess.
The Production of essential Oil and Pectin- Tulasi cannot be compared to any other plant and no other plant can be at par with this sacred and aromatic herb. It sacrifices itself by giving good and taking away the bad. Thus it plays a major significant role and a prime place in Hinduism not only today but forever and is always considered to stay with an enduring fame. There are ancient scriptures which narrate stories about Tulasi that when she was a princess she fell in love with Lord Krishna which was not liked by Radha and opposed it. But when Tulasi did not consider it Radha cursed her to be reborn as a mortal woman and after many years of great struggle Tulasi did get Krishna as her husband.
There is also another story which says that when unlimited gold was also insufficient to outweigh Krishna including all the jewelry of Satyabhama only one Tulsi leaf tilted the scale and Lord Krishna was weighed easily and after this Lord Krishna started liking tulasi and so came up the customary practice of getting tulasi married to Lord Krishna in the month of Karthika after diwali.This is the auspicious day that initiates the annual wedding season in India.
The Role of this Sacred Plant
- The role of this sacred plant during the performance of puja is given the sixth position among eight items of worship in the formal procedure of the sanctification of the Kalasha in which the holy water is kept. The Kalasha is a pot which takes its prior position in all the Hindu rituals after which the service is rendered to God which involves dedication of this tulasi soaked water to the deity and then garland made of tulasi leaves is worn around the God.
Once the puja is over towards the end fresh Tulsi leaves are put on the Prasad prepared for the God. Once this is done it is very clearly assured that the prasad is totally free from all odds and impurities and then offered to the creator of the universe. There are also beliefs which clearly state that Gods are not for or do not accept any offering if it is without Tulsi leaves. Once the puja is over the devotees are offered tulasi soaked water as prasad.
Mentions about the Tulasi Plant in Bhagavat Gita- Although flowering plants like the mandara, kunda, kurabaka, utpala, campaka, arna, punnaga, nagakesara, bakula, lily, and parijata are full of transcendental fragrance, they are still conscious of the austerities performed by Tulasi, for Tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with Tulasi leaves. In her form as a plant, Tulasi always stays at the Lord's lotus feet and around the neck of the Lord. The Vedic scriptures say that Krishna accepts only food adorned with a Tulasi leaf. The Gautamiya Tantra says, "Sri Krishna sells Himself to a devotee who offers Him merely a Tulasi leaf and a palmful of water."
The Famous Skanda Purana Depicts Tulasi as follows
"Let me offer my respectful obeisance's unto the Tulasi tree, which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities. Simply by seeing or touching this tree, one can become relieved from all distresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the Tulasi tree, one can become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yam raja the king of death, who punishes the sinful. If someone sows a Tulasi tree somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krishna. And when the Tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna, there is the full development of love of Godhead.
Legens about Tulasi which comes across during the Churning of the milky ocean-There is a legend about Tulasi which comes across during the churning of the milky ocean. As the churning process was carried by the Gods and the asuras and towards the end Dhanvantri, the God of Ayurvedam came up from the ocean with Amrita and was given to the Gods. Once this happened Lord Vishnu felt very happy and shed tears of happiness, the first of which fell in Amrita and formed the Tulasi.
As the devotees water the tulasi plant they recite mantras in which they call out the names of the deities in the Hindu religion. Since the tulasi is compared to that of Goddess Lakshmi the Hindus strictly follow the custome that when a woman at the time of menstruation is not supposed to go near the plant. Apart from it religious significance the tulasi plant helps in reducing stress, improving health, enhances a sound metabolism and acts as a natural immune booster. Sometimes it also serves as a repellent for mosquitoes and germs. All the sacred belief and the characteristic feature of this medicinal herb makes itself finding a steady place in the Hindu religion.