Worshipping Tulasi to Perfection
BY: SUN STAFF
Aug 24, VANCOUVER, CANADA (SUN) While traveling in British Columbia last week, visiting Saranagati and attending the Ratha Yatra, we heard a most inspiring story at the Vancouver Temple.
Dr. Sukumaran is an Auyervedic doctor, originally from the town of Kotakala in Kerala state, where his family owns and operates one of the biggest auyervedic hospitals and herbal remedy centers in all of India. It was there that he met and married a Canadian devotee, Rudrani devi dasi. Due to her preaching, he became a devotee and Gaudiya Vaisnava, now known as Sananda dasa.
Sananda and Rudrani returned to Canada joined by Shanta, who came to assist as an attendant for Rudrani, who suffers from chronic arthritis. Rudrani, who was initiated in the mid-1970's as a Srila Prabhupada disciple, has taken care of Tulasi in various temples throughout her devotional career.
Sananda (at left), Rudrani and Shanta have been living in Vancouver for about 15 years, during which time they have served the temple in many ways. Recently, Rudrani made the Vancouver temple authorities aware of the abominable condition Tulasi was in there. She convinced them through strong arguments and persistence to come up with the capital to erect two first-class greenhouse structures. At a local home show, she convinced a greenhouse manufacturer to give them a show model at a very reduced price. Sananda dasa helped to supervise the construction and installation of the first greenhouse, and the temple then purchased and installed a second.
Due to her physical condition, Rudrani couldn't personally do the work required to care for Tulasi. Her husband Sananda began dedicating his time and energy, outside his business commitments as a doctor, to care for Tulasi devi. He is now considering how to free up more time from his auyervedic practice to dedicate himself even further to this endeavor.
All this devotion has resulted in a most phenomenal exhibition of pure Bhakti Tulasi worship. There's no denying that the Tulasis currently residing at Vancouver yatra, which completely fill the two greenhouses, are the finest specimens of Tulasi on the planet today. This is true despite the fact that Vancouver is not a climate where Tulasi devi likes to grow. Constant supervision is required throughout the seasons of inclement winter, along with grow lights and constant monitoring of temperature.
Sananda das has taken Tulasi worship to a degree that no one has ever done in the past. Before watering, he warms the water to the exact temperature that is ideal for Tulasi. He changes the earth in her pots, completely replacing it with new, fresh earth every two months. The earth consists primarily of cow dung, and is phenomenally nutritious.
Shanta spends a good portion of her day picking Tulasi manjaris. As you see in the pictures, Shanta, who is just under 5 feet tall, and whose head barely sticks out above Tulasi, needs to stand on a milk carton in order to reach the manjaris. Tulasi's manjaris are so abundant that Sri Sri Radha Madana-Mohana and all the Deities on the altar now wear an abundance of Tulasi garlands - with more being made available than the pujaris can put to use.
Whenever an infestation of spider mites is detected, Sananda makes up a batch of soapy water in an inflatable swimming pool and dunks Tulasi in this solution. Her new greenhouses are state of the art, fully equipped with automatic air vents, double doors, hot and cold running water, grow lamps, heaters and fans. Temperature controlled air blows gently over the Tulasi plants, keeping air circulating over the leaves. Vents in the roof open and close automatically, providing constant temperature control.
The Vancouver Tulasi houses are completely filled with over 30 Tulasis, all in perfect shape and perfect color. Krsna kirtans and Srila Prabhupada's audio tapes are constantly piped into the greenhouses. Once a week, a group of children come to spend time working with Tulasi, after which they enjoy a picnic together.
All in all, the circumstances surrounding the manifestation of Tulasi at ISKCON Vancouver is an amazing thing. The devotional service offered by the devotees is a perfect example of the mood of Krsna Consciousness that we should all endeavor to strive for in our service.
While taking darshan of Sri Sri Radha Madana-Mohana, we were delighted to witness how Tulasi stood beside the altar, one large branch continually fanning the Deities. With little breeze moving in the room, we could only conclude that Srimati Tulasi devi was very actively serving Their Lordships.