Offerings to Tulasi, Offering Tulasi to Krsna
Srimate Tulasi-devi at the Lotus Feet of Sri Kalachandji, ISKCON Dallas
May 15, CANADA (SUN) Part two of a seven-part series on worshipping and caring for Srimati Tulasi devi.
"In the Skanda Purana there is a statement praising the tulasi tree as follows: "Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the tulasi tree, which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities. Simply by seeing or touching this tree one can become relieved from all distresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the tulasi tree, one can become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yamaraja [the King of death, who punishes the sinful]. If someone sows a tulasi tree somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krsna. And when the tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krsna, there is the full development of love of Godhead."
In India all Hindus, even those not belonging to the Vaisnava group, take special care of the tulasi tree. Even in great cities where it is very difficult to keep a tulasi tree, people are to be found very carefully keeping this plant. They water it and offer obeisances to it, because worship of the tulasi tree is very important in devotional service.
In the Skanda Purana there is another statement about tulasi, as follows: "Tulasi is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, simply by touching, simply by remembering, simply by praying to, simply by bowing before, simply by hearing about or simply by sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the tulasi tree in the above-mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world."
Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 11
Immediately following Mangala-arati, Tulasi-puja is offered. The devotees sing prayers to Tulasi-devi while one devotee offers Her arati, then all circumambulate Tulasi-devi, offering her water. Preferably, arati should also be offered to Tulsi in the evening, just before Sandhya-arati.
Begin Tulasi-arati by offering obeisances to Tulsai-devi, chanting the Tulasi-Pranama mantra three times.
Sri Tulasi Pranama
priyayai keshavasya cha
satyavatyai namo namaha
vrndayai--unto Vrnda; tulasi-devyai--unto Tulasl Devi; priyayai-- who is dear; kesavasya--to Lord Kesava; ca-and; krsna-bhakti-- devotional service to Lord Krsna, prade--who bestows; devi--O goddess; satya-vatyai--unto Satyavati; namah namah--repeated obeisances.
I offer my repeated obeisances unto Vrnda, Srimati Tulasi Devi, who is very dear to Lord Kesava. O goddess, you bestow devotional service to Lord Krsna and possess the highest truth.
Next, the devotees sing Sri Tulasi Kirtana while one devotee offers arati to Tulasi-devi with incense, a ghee lamp and flowers. While offering the articles, the devotee offering Tulasi-arati should stand on a mat (asana) and ring a bell with the left hand. Just as when offering other aratis, the hands and paraphernalia should be purified (acamana) with water from pancha-patra. After offering each item, they may be distributed to the devotees.
Sri Tulasi Kirtana
namo namaha tulasi! krishna-preyasi
radha-krishna-seva pabo ei abhilashi
je tomara sharana loy, tara vanchha purna hoy
kripa kori' koro tare brindavana-basi
mor ei abhilash, bilas kunje dio vas
nayane heribo sada jugala-rupa-rashi
ei nivedana dharo, sakhir anugata koro
seva-adhikara diye koro nija dasi
dina krishna-dase koy, ei jena mora hoy
sri-radha-govinda-preme sada jena bhasi
O Tulasi, beloved of Krsna, I bow before you again and again. My desire is to obtain the service of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.
Whoever takes shelter of you has his wishes fulfilled. Bestowing your mercy on him, you make him a resident of Vrndavana.
My desire is that you will also grant me a residence in the pleasure groves of Sri Vrndavana-dhama. Thus, within my vision I will always behold the beautiful pastimes of Radha and Krsna.
I beg you to make me a follower of the cowherd damsels of Vraja. Please give me the privilege of devotional service and make me your own maidservant.
This very fallen and lowly servant of Krsna prays, ''May I always swim in the love of Sri Radha and Govinda.
When Tulasi-puja Kirtana song is finished, the devotees circumambulate Srimate Tulasi-devi at least four times, offering her water by pouring some at her root. (Water is only offered in the morning, not evening.) Use small spoons to help avoid over watering Her. While circumambulating, chant the Sri Tulasi Pradaksina mantra.
Sri Tulasi Pradaksina Mantra
yani kani cha papani
tani tani pranashyanti
pradakshinaha pade pade
yani kani--whatever; ca--and; papani--sins; brahma-hatya--killing of a brahmana; adikani--and so on; ca--also, tani tani--all of them; pranasyanti--are destroyed; pradaksinah--(by) the circumambulation (of Tulasi Devi); pade pade--at every step.
By the circumambulation of Srimati Tulasi Devi all the sins that one may have committed are destroyed at every step, even the sin of killing a brahmana.
Vrnda devi is a pure devotee of Lord Krsna and is responsible for setting up the wonderful pastimes of Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana. She exists as Tulasi to benefit the fallen conditioned souls by bestowing devotional service to Krsna.
Have the words to the Tulasi arati prayers typed and posted so guests can see them. Encourage all guests to participate in Tulasi-arati. With a little encouragement, they will join in and enjoy themselves. The devotees should always bow down when they see Taulasi-devi, and others will follow in showing her respect.
Tulasi-devi should be kept in a special pot, and the pot should sit upon a stand, up off the floor. When carrying a potted Tulasi plant, it is traditional to honor Her by carrying the pot on one's head. If it's too heavy, carry the pot out in front. For worship, the stand Tulasi-devi sits on should be high enough so the base of the plant is above the waist of the devotee offering arati. If it is not possible to keep a live Tulasi plant, one may offer worship to a picture of Tulasi-devi.
For one who is Tulasi's servant, that responsibility enters into all the different aspects of Her existence. You must see that She is being maintained properly, that Her leaves are always offered in a clean and fresh manner, and that all the devotees are given the opportunity to worship Her. Make Tulasi-devi some skirts to fit around Her pot, particularly when She is being offered arati. If Tulasi is very close to, or on the altar, make sure that no candles or ghee lamps are placed close enough to burn her leaves. Use incense sparingly as it tends to make Her sick if burned continually. Garlands left for more than a day will mold and attract bugs, so if Tulasi is nearby, she will be affected.
While in Detroit, Srila Prabhupada asked, "Where is Tulasi?". When She was brought in, Srila Prabhupada put His garland around Her and had Her placed on the altar, saying "Mother Tulasi is so kind. Treat Her as you would any of
Krsna's pure devotees."
Offering Tulasi to Krsna
"Tulasi leaf is very, very dear to Visnu. All Visnu-tattva Deities require profusely Tulasi leaves. Lord Visnu likes garland of Tulasi leaves. Tulasi leaves mixed with sandalwood pulp and placed on the lotus feet of the Lord is the topmost worship. But we must be very careful that Tulasi leaves cannot be placed on the feet of anyone else than Lord Visnu and His different forms. Tulasi leaves cannot be placed even on the lotus feet of Radharani or on the lotus feet of the Spiritual Master. It is entirely reserved for being placed on the lotus feet of Krsna. We can place, however, Tulasi leaves in the hands of Radharani for being placed on the lotus feet of Krsna, as you have seen on the Govinda Album."
Srila Prabhupada Letter to Govinda, 04-07-70, Los Angeles
Lord Krsna's favorite plant is Tulasi. Tulasi garlands are made for Krsna, and His lotus feet are decorated with Tulasi leaves and manjaris (flower buds). The devotees wear Tulasi neck-beads and chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra on Tulasi beads.
Tulasi plants and their leaves are very important in devotional service, and devotees are encouraged to care for and water the Tulasi tree every day, collecting the leaves for offering to the Lord. Tulasi leaves may be offered with each food preparation.
"The Lord does not care for a single one of fifty-six offerings or thirty-six curries offered without a Tulasi leaf. Lord Shiva, Subdeva, Narada Muni, Brahma, and all others are paying their respects unto thee. Candra Sekara (the author)' who is singing your glories, prays, "Please bestow Prema~bhakti unto me. My humble obeisances unto thee again and again."
Tulasi's leaves should be washed three times before offering, and should be kept in a bowl of fresh water inside a refrigerator. If They are not kept like this, They turn limp and pale. If They are kept in water, but not in a refrigerator, They will turn brown. Be sure to change the water in the bowl every day, and clean the sides of the bowl so no film will grow. (Proof that Mother Ganga is actually pure is that Ganga water will not become murky if kept contained.)
Estimate the required amount of leaves needed per day and try to pick
about the same amount each day. In that way you will always have a supply, and Tulasi will feel the regularity. (Sometimes in the case of manjaris, there will be an extra amount of mercy.) Don' t pick Her leaves sporadically, but aim for
the same time, same amount, every day. How many leaves may be safely picked depends on how healthy and bushy She is. If there are hundreds of leaves on Her, it won't hurt to take a few. If there are only 13 or 14 leaves, don' t take any at all unless they are about to drop off. It depends on the size and health of the plant. Use your
discretion in the matter. Srila Prabhupada said that dried leaves are just as offerable as fresh green ones, and the dried leaves should be sent to centers having little or no Tulasi. Extra dried leaves, manjaris, etc., may be distributed as needed.
By offering Lord Krishna a single Tulasi leaf, one attains the result of offering Him every flower and leaf that exists. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur said, "Srimati Tulasi Maharani is our spiritual master. She is the queen of Sri Vrindavana Dhama. It is only by her mercy that one can be qualified to enter in Sri Vrindavana Dhama. We wear Tulasi Maharani around our neck, knowing that she is very dear to Lord Krishna. By our allegiance to her, we chant the name of Lord Hari."