Tulsi – Srimati Tulsi devi is one of the most exalted devotees of Sri Krishna. All scriptures stress on the importance of getting the mercy of Tulasi devi if one has to make progress in devotion. In the Skanda Purana, it is said: ‘Tulasi is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, touching, remembering, praying to, bowing before, hearing about or sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the Tulasi tree in the above-mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world.’
Tulsi Mother became Vrinda in her former birth
Above this material world is the eternal spiritual world comprising millions of Vaikuntha planets. The topmost planet in Vaikuntha is Goloka presided by Sri Krishna in His original form. Here resides Vrinda devi, an intimate associate of and an expansion of Srimati Radharani. Her partial expansion is Tulasi devi in the Vaikuntha planets and they are all considered non-different from her.
Vrinda devi is the organiser of all the transcendental pastimes between Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani. In Goloka, everything is animate and for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. Vrinda devi is assisted by many confidential associates (which include two parrots) and with their help, she ensures everything is pleasing to Sri Krishna. MANIFEST VRINDAVANA
Five thousand years ago when Sri Krishna descended on Earth, Vrinda devi created the proper environment for His pastimes in Vrindavana. Millions of years before the descent of Sri Krishna, Vrinda devi had appeared as the daughter of Emperor Kedera. Then she performed penances for sixty thousand years. Pleased by her penances, Lord Vishnu gave the benediction that any austerities performed in Vrindavana would be very potent. Thus Vrinda devi sanctified the place and it got the name Vrindavana. Later Vrinda devi once again descended as Tulasi devi, daughter of King Kushadvaja, to perform penances and attain perfection here.
PASTIMES OF RADHA-KRISHNA
Vrindavana is under the control of Vrinda devi. Without her mercy, it is not possible to approach the confidential pastimes of Radha-Krishna. Even being allowed into Vrindavana dhama indicates that one has received some mercy from Vrinda devi. In Krishna lila, she appeared as a young gopi friend of Srimati Radharani. Under the instructions of Purnamasya (Yogamaya), she would arrange a secret meeting between Krishna and Radha. She would make all the material arrangements for Radha Krishna. Thus she carried on her eternal service in Goloka Vrindavana in the earthly Vrindavana. Once Srimati Radharani was so pleased by the service of Vrinda devi that with the help of the other gopis she arranged a magnificent throne and had Krishna and Vrinda devi sit on it. Lalita sakhi, acting as the priest, recited the mantras and performed the marriage ceremony of Krishna and Vrinda devi. Thus by the mercy of Srimati Radharani, Vrinda devi got Krishna. In another pastime, Vrinda devi offered all the forests of Vrindavana to Srimati Radharani. Thus Radharani is also known as Vrindavaneshwari.
TULASI DEVI BECOMES A PLANT
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 involving Tulasi devi reveals this clearly. Once Tulasi devi descended as the daughter of King Kushadvaja. She was married to Jalhandara. Samudra deva, the demigod controlling the nether regions, had Lakshmi devi as a daughter (since she appeared from him at the 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. Lord Vishnu went to Tulasi devi assuming the form of her husband. 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 behaviour to become a stone. 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 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. 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 Laksmi, although stationed by the chest of the Lord, sometimes has to please other devotees who pray for her favour. Laksmi sometimes has to go to satisfy her devotees but tulasi leaves never forsake their position, and the Lord appreciates the service of the Tulasi more than the service of Laksmi.
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TULASI AS THE SOURCE OF BHAKTI
The scriptures are full of pastimes that reveal the potency of Tulasi in developing devotion for the Lord. The Srimad Bhagavatam talks about this pastime with the four Kumaras, the sons of Lord Brahma, who were very much attached to the impersonal aspect of Godhead. ‘When the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasi leaves and saffron from the lotus feet of the lotus-eyed Personality of Godhead entered through the nostrils into the hearts of those sages (the Kumaras), they experienced a change in body and mind, even though they were attached to the impersonal Brahman understanding.’ Thus by simply smelling the fragrance of the Tulasi leaves the four Kumaras became pure devotees of the Lord.
In Caitanya lila, Srila Advaita Acarya was disturbed to see the growth of irreligiosity. Thus He decided to call for Lord Krishna to descend by worshipping the Lord with tulasi leaves and the water of the Ganges. When Sri Krishna was pleased by this devotion He descended as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Haridasa Thakura, a great devotee of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, purified a prostitute who had come with the intention of seducing him with instructions to chant the holy name and worship Tulasi. She became so elevated by this service that even great Vaishnavas would come to get her mercy.
GLORIES OF TULASI DEVI
Quoting from the Gautamiya-tantra, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa states:
jalasya culukena va
vikrinite svam atmanam
‘Sri Krishna, who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to a devotee who offers merely a tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.’ In the Nectar of Devotion, service to Tulasi is glorified as one of the items of devotional service. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.15.19), it is said that 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 the Skanda Purana, there is a statement praising the Tulasi tree: ‘Let me offer my respectful obeisances 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 Yamaraja. If someone sows a tulasi plant 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 the love of Godhead. Gaurangasundar Das is Iskcon, Inc Communication Director and SM IT head.
Benefits of Tulsi:
1. Benefits of Tulsi for infections:
Tulsi is known to have antimicrobial activity against different microorganisms like Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. This property is attributed to its phytoconstituents present in various parts. The oil obtained from the Tulsi plant possesses antibacterial activity against organisms like Pseudomonas aeruginosa, S.aureus, and Bacillus pumius.2
2. Benefits of Tulsi for fever and the common cold:
The leaves of Tulsi are used to manage fevers. Tulsi leaves boiled with tea can be used to prevent malaria and dengue. A decoction of Tulsi leaves can be boiled with powdered cardamom in water and mixed with sugar and milk to manage acute fevers. The juice obtained from Tulsi leaves helps bring down the fever. It is also effective in reducing fever in children.3
3. Benefits of Tulsi for respiratory problems:
Tulsi is helpful in the management of disorders related to the respiratory system. A decoction obtained from the leaves of Tulsi is used with ginger and honey for dealing with asthma, cough, influenza, cold, and bronchitis. A decoction of the leaves, common salt, and cloves also provides quick relief in cases of influenza. The leaves of Tulsi have expectorant properties and help in expelling mucous from the bronchial tube.3
4. Benefits of Tulsi for diabetes:
Studies carried out on animals revealed that Tulsi leaves contain a hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) effect. Tulsi leaves can be used as an adjunct to dietary therapy and drug treatment in mild to moderate noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Another animal study suggested that Tulsi leaf extracts have a stimulatory effect on insulin production. Tulsi and neem extracts taken together are known to lower blood sugar levels in humans.2
5. Benefits of Tulsi for kidneys:
Tulsi is known to strengthen the kidney. The juice of Tulsi leaves, when taken with honey, helps in expelling kidney stones through urine.3
6. Benefits of Tulsi for heart diseases:
Tulsi is known to be effective in the management and prevention of heart diseases by lowering blood cholesterol levels and also preventing ischemia and stroke. Apart from this, Tulsi also plays an essential role in platelet aggregation and preventing the risk of pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure that affects arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart).
7. Other Benefits of Tulsi:
- The leaves of tulsi serve as a nerve tonic and aid in sharpening memory.
- Tulsi leaves also strengthen the stomach and promote sweating.3
- Tulsi leaves are described as an anti-stress agent. Tulsi leaves can be consumed to prevent stress.3 You should consult a doctor for the amount to be used.
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Nutritional Value of Tulsi:
Table depicting the nutritional value of Tulsi
In 100 grams of Tulsi, the nutrients present are:
|Total dietary fibre||1.6 g|
|Total carbohydrates||2.65 g|
|Vitamin C||18 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.155 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.209 mg|
|Vitamin A||264 µg|
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