Tulsi, or holy basil, is a herb revered for spiritual and medicinal qualities. It signifies the traits of devotion and love in women, and is the only herb worshiped as a devi, or goddess. Many sacred texts regard her as divine, and spiritual leaders revere her as a giver of blessings.
Mythology on How Vrinda became Tulsi Devi
Nature’s blessed child named Vrinda had chosen a demon named Jalandhar as her husband. Her devotion and chastity, in turn, became a strength for Jalandhar who began to challenge the Gods. To assist Lord Shiva in killing Jalandhar, Lord Vishnu impersonated her husband to weaken the powers of the demon. When she came to know about the ploy, she felt tricked and deceived by Vishnu to whom she was devoted and cursed Vishnu for deceiving her and taking away her chastity. As a result, Vishnu then turned into a stone known as Shaligram. But, thereafter, Vrinda turned intensely sad and repented for her act. At this instance, Shiva appeared and blessed Tulsi to be the beloved of Vishnu.
Once Vrinda died, Vishnu became a wanderer with intense regret. To end Vishnu’s remorseful state, the deities approached Shiva and asked for the help of his wife Goddess Parvati. Pleased with their prayers, Parvati agreed to help them. With the assistance of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati, Parvati created seeds, which she offered to them. The deities sprinkled these seeds on the same pyre of fire in which Vrinda had given up her life. From those seeds in the fire, three types of plants emanated; they are Amla, Tulsi and Malti. By their virtue, Tulsi and Malti entered into Vishnuloka (the transcendental abode of Vishnu).
Lord Krishna’s holy abode of Vrindavan, the setting of the Bhagavata Purana’s Rasa lila, mentions that Vrindavan is named after Vrinda devi (“forest of tulasi”). There, Tulsi Devi sets the mood of all of Krishna and Radha’s pastimes by planning out which flowers will bloom and superving them with her parrots who mimic Krishna’s mother calling him back home in the morning after nights under the moonlight. Srila Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) had great respect for the Tulsi plant. After his disciples began to grow the delicate plant in the West, he mentioned that if nicely taken care, Tulsi can grant everyone a unique love for Krishna because she herself is a the most exalted devotee of Krishna.
In the Shri Vrinda-Devyashtakam, the great teacher Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura chants glories of Vrinda:
vrinde! numas te caranaravindam
(“Vrinda/Vrinde, the daughter of Vrishabhanu Maharaja, Shrimati Radhika, has dominion over Shri Krishna’s most glorious abode of Vrindavana, which is the crowning glory of all the Vaikuntha planets. I offer pranama unto your lotus feet.”)
madhvadibhir bhanti vibhushyamana
vrinde! numas te caranaravindam
(“In Vrindavana Krishna enjoys his pastimes adorned with the beautiful creations of Nature – leaves, flowers, bees, deer, peacocks, parrots, and so on due to Vrinda’s order – I offer pranama unto your lotus feet.”)
In the epic Mahabharata, Krishna mentioned to the Pandava king Yuddhisthira that worshipping Lord Damodara (the form of Krishna as a baby tied with a chord at his waist by his mother) on Mokshada Ekadasi (the 11th lunar day of the fortnight of the waxing moon in the Hindu month of Margashirsha, or Agrahayana, in November–December) by offering incense, clarified butter, and flowers along with Tulsi buds, brings liberation to a devotee.
Healing Powers of Tulsi
Tulsi is considered the queen of herbs because of her healing, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Ingredients in this herb soothe the nervous system, bring relief from stress, anxiety and activate the intuitive mind. Activate your Heart Chakra, improve your immune system and libido with Dr. Pillai’s special Love & Grace Formula which contains blessed and energetically infused Tulsi as its primary ingredient.
Did You Know?
- It is said that when you worship Vishnu or his ultimate avatar Krishna with Tulsi leaves, you gain relief from incurable diseases and liberation from sins.
- As a plant, Tulsi is grown in most houses in India and considered very auspicious. When the householders pray to her before sunrise, it activates special energies of Tulsi that protects them from any negative energy and keeps away evil spirits. Without offering a sprig of Tulsi to the deities, worship is not complete.
- Wearing a Tulsi bead mala made out of the plant’s wood around the neck is a sign of a pious Vishnu devotee.
- Tulsi stringed into flower garlands worn by Hindu brides and grooms during marriage ceremonies is very auspicious.