Encyclopedia of Vedic Astrology: Remedies: Vastushastra and Feng Shui, Chapter XIII, Part – 10



Continuation…
Dr. Shanker Adawal

Vastu and Sacred Vegetation

Part 2

Tulasi Plant- The Tulasi plant is said to be the most favourite of Vishnu. The name Tulasi is explained by the Brahmavaivarta P. by saying that after seeing her, men and women are unable to provide any comparison for her. Hence the knower of yore call her by the name Tulasi. She is also called Vrandavani, because she performed penance at Vrandavna, as is mentioned by the Skanda Purana.

About the birth of Tulasi, the Brahmavaivarta Purana gives two kinds of account. According to one account, the goddess Lakshmi once tried to settle the quarrel between the rivers Ganga and Sarasvati. So the Sarasvati cursed her to be both a tree and a river on the earth. As Lakshmi felt sorry for the curse, Vishnu told her that, on the earth, she should go to the house of Dharmadhvja, where she would be born as the ayonisambhava (supernatural) daughter of Dharmadhvaja. There she should be Vishnu’s wife and would be famous as Tulasi in the world. As a river she would be known as Padmavati.

The same Purana in its Prakrtikhanda gives another account. It says that Brahma asked Tulasi to marry the demon Sankhacuda, who was formerly a cowherd called Sudama, born of Vishnu’s part but was born as a demon due to the curse of Radha. The gods, who were harassed by sankhacuda, later on came to know that as long as Tulasi the wife of Sankhacuda was faithful to him, the later was invincible. Then Vishnu decided to seduce her taking the form of Sankhacuda and ultimately seduced her. When Tulsi came to know the mischief, she cursed Vishnu to become a stone on the bank of river Gandaki, which was in effect Tulasi herself.

As Vishnu is thought to be closely associated with Tulasi, there has been the tradition of performing the marriage of Tulasi with Krisna (Vishnu) every year in the bright half of Karttika. The Skanda P. mentions the festival dedicated to Krisna from the ninth to the twelfth bright half of Karttika, culminating in the marriage of Krisna (Vishnu) with the plant Tulasi. Thus the golden image of Krisna (Vishnu), adorned with ornaments is to be brought ceremoniously with all pomp and grandeur, accompanied by the beating of drums. Then this image of Vishnu and the Tulasi plant are to be separated by a piece of new cloth and at the close of the day on the Goraja muhurta (i. e. when the atmosphere is filled with the dust-particles from the feet of the cows, returning to the cow-pens after the day’s grazing), both are to be worshipped and the kanyadana (giving away the bride) of Tulasi is to be performed. After this marriage, one should eat all things that had been taboo in the four rainy months and they should be offered to the Brahmans.

The ritual of marriage of a god with a plant is a unique feature in any tradition and the marriage-ritual of Tulasi and Krisna (Vishnu) clearly brings out the aspects of vegetation and fertility in the character of Vishnu.

Apart from the mythological details noted above, the association of the Tulasi plant with Vishnu in the religions rituals is as follows. The Padma P. enjoins the worship of Vishnu on the completion of a ritual for Vishnu at the foot of a Tulasi plant. The skanda P. says that it is meritorious to keep awake, praising Hari (Vishnu) in the month of Karttika in a Tulasi- grove or under an Asvattha tree. Hence the devotees of Vishnu use the Tulasi-leaves. A paste made from the Tulasi-twig is also enjoined at the worship of Vishnu, according to the Padma P.

Tulasi plants are grown in abundance for offering to God in every house and in temples. Without tulasi the daily puja or any religious function cannot be performed. It has a great and inspiring fragrance and is believed to hve cured many diseases. Age old saying that; the dead body kept in the garden of Tulasi plants does not deteriorate, cannot be an exaggeration. It has scientific, medicinal and spiritual value. It contains about 28 minerals and is used in the preparation of more than 300 Ayurvedic medicines. It destroys bacteria’s, disease carrying germs, and is used in the treatment of asthma, tuberculosis, leprosy etc., and it also purifies blood and improves digestive system. Scientists have found that 15 drops of Tulasi juices (of Leaves) is added to one litre of petrol the speed of the Vehicle can be raised by 20%. Dried up plants are used in handicrafts and manufacturing sacred necklaces (Tulasi-mani). There are varieties of these plant like Krishna tulasi-red and black; shree tulasi-red; Rama tulasi, black tulasi, white tulasi and so on. Tulasi for puja should be plucked before the sunrise and not in the afternoon, evening or during the night and finger nails should not be used for the purpose. Tulasi plant grown in pedestal shaped pot known as `Vrindavan’ is normally located in the North-East corner of the plot and worshipped daily. This divine plant therefore can not be clubbed in the list of other plants and trees.

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Dr. Shanker Adawal
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