Tulsi : From the Pages of India’s Ancient History
I remember running around in my grandma’s house, going to the front yard, and plucking a few leaves from the Tulsi plant that flourished in a small pot. Savoring it’s refreshing taste, I would watch as my grandma would use the leaves during her poojas (worshiping Hindu Gods). I’ve always known Tulsi to be the sacred plant packed with health benefits. Yet, I didn’t know the intricate history of Tulsi in Hindu Mythology back then, the pot of Tulsi in my grandma’s house has always been an important part of my religion.
According to one legend, Tulsi was the incarnation of a princess who fell in love with Lord Krishna, and so had a curse laid on her by his beloved Radha. Tulsi is also mentioned in the stories of Meera and of Radha in Jayadev’s Gita Govinda. The story states that Krishna was weighed in gold, yet even all the riches of Satyabhama couldn’t outweigh him. Then, when a single Tulsi leaf was placed by Rukmani the scale tilted, symbolizing Tulsi’s great importance and significance.
Tulsi is also associated with Goddess Lakshmi, where it is said that having Tulsi in ones house brings a prosperous and peaceful life, which helps devotees get closer to the goal of Moksha (release from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth). The sacred plant is believed to eliminate Vasta Dosha, of the presence of evil and negativity when people would do parikrama (circumambulation) to pay their respects to the Goddess.
Tulsi is also regarded in ancient scriptures as a gateway between heaven and earth, or the Vaikuntha which is home of Lord Vishnu.
Lastly, the sacred texts of Sanatana Dharma illustrate Tulsi to have the supreme creator Brahma in its branches, while the Vedas (the sacred Hindu scripture) are the lower branches, all other deities are the stem while the Ganges runs through its roots.
By Kinnari Setty
Student and Entrepreneur.