During the churning of the Ocean of milk (ksheera sagara mathana), Sri Hari came up in the form of Dhanvantari carrying the kalasha of amruta. At that time some drops of Hari’s tears of joy fell into the amrutha kalasha. Tulasi was born out of those tears of joy. Having been born out of tears of joy, she herself gives joy. She has Lakshmi Devi’s amsha in herself. That is the reason for the celebration of marriage of Tulasi with Shri Krishna on every Karthika shuddha dwadashi day. Hari likes her very much. It is believed that Hari is present wherever Tulasi is present.
“Yanmoole sarva tirthaani | Yan Madhya Sarva Devatha |
yadagre sarva vedAscha | tuLasI tvAm namAmyaham”
At the base of the Tulasi/Tulsi plant all the rivers abhimani devatas are present; in the stem all the devatas are present; and in the tip all Vedas are present. Tulasi’s darshana is equivalent to gifting away (daana) of one crore cows.
Basil, which is commonly known as Tulasi in Sanskrit, is a very sacred plant that has been revered by all Hindus since Vedic Era; literally means ‘beyond compare’.
It is a traditional practice in India to grow a Tulsi plant in the courtyard, for she is believed to be a very sacred and divine plant that has both physical and spiritually healing properties. There are numerous referenced to this sacred plant in the Vedas. According to these ancient and sacred texts, the Tulasi is a Divine woman endowed with power symbolizing Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu (whose qualities and virtues are unmatched by anything present on Earth). Tulasi also known as Surasa, Deva – Dundubhi is considered to be the Shakthi or energy in movement. As the energy moves on it’s natural path, the body automatically balances itself. For this reason, Tulasi is used to heal any kind of energy imbalance in the human body.
The origin and birth of Goddess Tulasi is mentioned in various Vedic texts and literatures. As per the Sri Bhagavata Purana, Tulasi is a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi, principal consort of Lord Vishnu. It narrates that Manu Daksa Savarni was a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. He was extremely virtuous, devoted to the Lord, and very famous for his good deeds. Daksa Savarni’s son, Dharma Savarni, was also extremely virtuous. Dharma Savarni’s pious son was called Vishnu Savarni, and his son, who was a great Vaishnava, was known as Raja Savarni. However, Raja Savarni’s son, Vrisadhvaja, was a great devotee of Lord Siva. Lord Siva lived in Vrisadhvaja’s house for three celestial yugas.
Vrisadhvaja did not revere Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi or any other Gods. He abolished the worship of Goddess Lakshmi in the month of Bhadra and that of Goddess Sarasvati in the month of Magha. Either he did not participate in the sacrifice and worship performed out of respect for Lord Vishnu and criticized them rather severely. The rest of the gods did not curse him because of the fear of Lord Siva. However, Surya, the sun god, could no longer his wrath, cursed him: “O King, as you are completely devoted to Lord Siva and you do not recognize any of the other gods, you will now lose your wealth and prosperity!”
When Lord Siva heard this curse, he became angry and was after Lord Surya. In turn the sun god went with his father, Kasyapa Muni, to take shelter of Lord Brahma. But Lord Siva pursued him there. Lord Brahma, also afraid of Lord Siva, took Lord Surya and Kasyapa Muni to the region of Vaikuntha. There, they took refuge of Lord Vishnu where the Lord bestowed his mercy on them and granted them the power to be fearless.After Lord Siva bowed down to Lord Vishnu and then to Lord Brahma. Lord Surya and Kasyapa Muni respectfully saluted Lord Siva. Lord Siva said “King Vrisadhvaja is my great devotee. Lord Surya has cursed him and that has made me angry. Out of affection for my son, the king, I was about to kill Surya.
But Surya sought shelter of Lord Brahma, and now both of them have sought your protection. Those who are distressed and take shelter of You, either by speaking about You or by remembering You, become completely safe and free from danger. They overcome death and old age. What to speak of those who come personally to You and take shelter. When one remembers You, his dangers disappear. All good comes to him. Lord Visnu replied, “O Lord Siva! A half hour has elapsed here in Vaikuntha. In that time, twenty-one celestial yugas have passed away.
Therefore, King Vrisadhvaja, through the revolution of irresistible and dreadful time, is dead. His son, Hamsadhvaja, in the course of time, also died. Hamsadhvaja begot two noble sons named Dharmadhvaja and Kusadhvaja. They are both great Vaisnavas but, because of Lord Surya’s curse, they have become luckless. They lost their kingdoms, including all property and prosperity. But they are now engaged in worshiping Goddess Lakshmi, who is pleased with their efforts. Therefore, she has agreed to descend to Earth and expand Herself partially by taking birth from the wives of those two kings. Then, by the favor of Goddess Lakshmi, Dharmadhvaja and Kusadhvaja will become prosperous, mighty kings. O Lord Siva! Your devotee Vrisadhvaja is dead, so return to your abode. O Lord Brahma, Lord Surya and Kasyapa Muni–you also should return your realms.”Dharmadhvaja and Kusadhvaja performed harsh asceticism and worshiped Goddess Lakshmi.
Thereafter, they separately obtained the blessings they desired. By Goddess Lakshmi’s favor, they again became the rulers of the earth. They acquired great spiritual merits, were married, and begot children. Lakshmi rewards by being born as daughters Tulsi and Vedavathi to Dharmadhvaja and Kushadhvaja respectively. Tulsi gave up all her royal comfort and went to Badrinath to perform penance to gain Vishnu as her husband. The god Brahma pleased with her penance told her that she will have to marry the demon Shankachuda before she marries Vishnu. Sudama, a part-incarnation of Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu) was born on earth as the demon due to a curse.
Shankhachuda, who also pleased Brahma with his penance, was granted the Vishnu Kavacha (armour of Vishnu) and blessed that until his wife’s chastity was retained and Vishnu-Kavacha was on his body, no one could slay him. Shankhachuda and Tulsi were soon married. Shankhachuda was filled with pride and terrorized the beings of the universe. To rescue the universe, Shiva challenged Shankhachuda to war, while Vishnu went to Tulsi to break her chastity. Vishnu assumed the form of Shankhachuda and now Vrinda was no longer a chaste woman, this caused Jalandhra to lose his powers who was in war with Lord Shiva and he dies. Vrinda cursed Vishnu to become a stone, turning him the Shaligram stone. Vrinda immolated herself in her husband’s funeral pyre as per horrible Hindu custom Sati. But Vishnu ensured that she got incarnated in the form of tulsi plant on the earth. Tulsi’s mortal remains perished and became the River Gandaki, while her hair transformed into the sacred Tulsi plant.
Tulasi in Ayurveda is known as a Divya Aushadhi (Divine Herb). It has been widely known for its health – promoting properties and is believed to be very powerful plant that purifies atmosphere and air surrounding. Modern scientific research shows us impressive evidence that Tulasi reduces stress, lowers cholesterol, relieves inflammation, eliminates toxins, lowers fevers, enhances stamina, improves digestion, and provides a rich supply of antioxidants. It is effective in supporting heart, lungs, liver, and helps in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
When leaves are plucked from the Tulasi plant, the following sloka is recited,
“Cayanodbhava-duhkham ca yad hrdi tava vartate tat ksamasva jagan-matah vrnda devi namostute”
“O Tulasi devi, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you. Kindly forgive me if I have caused you pain by picking your leaves and manjaris, O mother of the universe.”
Tulsi is especially sacred in the worship of Vishnu and his forms . Garlands made of 10000 tulsi leaves, water mixed with tulsi, food items sprinkled with Tulsi are offered in veneration to Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavas traditionally use japa malas (a string of Hindu prayer beads) made from Tulsi stems or roots called Tulsi malas, which are an important symbol of the initiation. Tulsi malas are considered to be auspicious for the wearer, and believed to connect the him with Lord Vishnu and confer the protection of the deity. They are worn as a necklace or garland or held in the hand and used as a rosary. Tulsi’s great connection with Vaishnavas is communicated with the fact that Vaishnavas are known as “ Those who bear the tulsi round the neck.” It is said that one who light a lamp near Tulasi regularly during Sandhya kala (Sunrise and Sunset) will have Vaikunta Prapthi.