|Tulsi or Tulasi or Holy basil plant found in Karnataka, India. en.wikipedia.org|
|Tulsi (Basil) plants, India www.theweek.in|
While tree worship is not uncommon in Hinduism, it has gained prominence through ages just like the concept of Panchbootha - five elements essential for our survival and their association with Lingam ( Lingam: Lord Shiva's aniconic symbol). As you may be aware, tree worship is common among certain tribes of many countries. Regarding Hinduism, as a matter of fact, each Hindu temple is traditionally associated with a particular tree. Among the plants, the Tulsi plant or Indian "Basil" is regarded as the holiest of all plants and an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition. The venerated Tulsi plant is an integral part of almost all pious Hindu families, and daily at home women worship Tulsi kept in the Tulsi Madam. Tulsi Maadam or Vrindavan is a small platform 2 to 3 feet high made of brick. It is kept in the middle of the house in the courtyard or in the back of the house near well. It is believed that the "God of Creation" Brahma resides in its branches, so are other Hindu deities in its roots. The river Ganges, it is said, flows through its roots. Vaishnavites consider that this plant has close affinity with God Vishnu, the Protector. It is also an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi. In all Vishnu temples, the offering of Tulsi leaves to the main deity is mandatory in ritualistic daily worship. According to the Devi Bhagavata Purana this plant is a manifestation of of Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishu and she is supposedly takes care of the wealth and property of the family, besides protection.
|Tulsi Maadam. ykantiques.com|
Tulsi plant grows in the tropical countries and basically there are two varieties: Dark or Shyama tulsi - with dark green or purple leaves and purple stem and light or Rama Tulsi - with bright green leaves. Rama Tulsi has good medicinal value whereas the Krishna or Shyama Tulsi is commonly used for worship. Normally both varieties are used for medicine and worship because it is difficult to differentiate them in some places where the soil conditions play a vital role.
There are a few legends about the origin of Tulsi, one being related to the Samudra Manthana, the massive churning of the cosmic ocean by the Devas (Celestials) on one side and asuras (demons on the other. Towards the completion of churning Dhanvantari appeared from from the ocean with a pot containing the elixir of immortality - Amrita . Both demons and devas vied with one another to get it. Realizing the danger that might befall if the demons got the pot of Amrita, Vishnu himself secured it for Devas and in doing so he shed happy tears. It is believed that the first tear of fell in Amrita and formed the Tulsi.
The plant is considered as the woman's deity and a symbol of womanhood. Traditionally in all households only womenfolks worship Tulsi plant. The auspicious days for Tulsi worship are Tuesdays and Fridays, scriptures say daily worship is good for the welfare of the family. Whoever takes care of Tulsi plant will not only gain divine grace but also will attain Moksha (heavenly abode). Part of worship of Tulsi includes cleaning the surrounding areas as well with water almost daily and offering of food, etc. The Tulsi plant is often worshiped twice in a day: in the morning and in the evening. Commonly an oil lamp is lit near the plant or in the niche provided for it in the Maadam or platform.
In daily worship of Vishnu, Krishna, Vithoba, Rama and other Vishnu - related deities. Tulsi is considered holy. In all Vaishnavite temples one can see the Tulsi Maalas- Tulsi garland on the deities in the sanctum. It is common to see Tulsi garlands being offered in veneration to Vishnu or Krishna deities. Vaishnavite Pandits wear Tulsi Malas made of beads taken from stems.
|Tulsi worship. rashmiprabhanjan.wordpress.com|
Some interesting facts:
01. Every part of the Tulsi plant- leaves, stems, roots, etc is considered sacred.
02. A person cremated with Tulsi twigs in his funeral pyre will gain moksha and a place to repose in Vishnu's abode - Vaikudam, according to The Padma Purana.
03. If a Tulsi stick is used to burn a lamp for Vishnu, it equivalent to burning innumerable oil lamps before the deity.
04. It is believed that water mixed with Tulsi leaves is given to the dying person, his soul will get Mosksha - heaven. There will be no rebirth for him.
05. It is a taboo to litter around the Tulsi plant and make the surrounding place dirty. Attending nature's call, spitting etc.will invite serious trouble.
06. In the state of Kerala the Nayars keep Tulsi plants to pacify or ward off evil spirits. In Tamil Nadu, in particular, Brahmins keep the plant to have peace of mind, success in education, trouble free wedding, etc.
07. Though there are no constraints about Tulsi leaves being offered to Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of Destroyer, Pundits - Shivacharyas normally avoid Tulsi leaves or take them with hesitation.
08. Tulsi Malas are worn by devout people and is considered to be good for the wearer, supposedly giving him protection of the deity Rama or Vishnu. People wearing such malas should not consume non-vegetarian food, liquor and other beverages
09. Tulsi Japa malas (a string of Hindu prayer beads) made from Tulsi stems are commonly used by elderly people in the evening of their lives to chant mantras while meditating on God. They wear it around their neck or use it as rosary when doing prayer by holding it in their hands.