Why is Tulasi given so much importance in devotional life? What is the significance of worshiping her? What are the benefits one gets from worshiping Tulasi?
by Laxmimoni dasi
Tulasi worship is an ancient part of the Vedic tradition, dating back thousands of years and continuing to the present day. Every morning, families throughout India offer water and flowers to Srimati Tulasi Devi before going about their daily duties.
Vaishnavas, devotees of Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna, chant on beads made from the wood of the Tulasi plant and wear Tulasi beads around their necks. During the holy month of Karttika (October-November), devotees in some Vaishnava lines daily offer one thousand Tulasi leaves—one by one—to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. And in November one can still find people celebrating with great pomp the marriage of their Tulasi with a neighbor’s shalagrama-shila (Vishnu, in the form of a stone). The Padma Purana relates how Vrinda Devi once came to this world and performed great penance to obtain Lord Vishnu as her husband.
We can find glorification of Srimati Tulasi Devi throughout the Vedic literature. While describing the transcendental Vaikuntha planets, the Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.19) explains the special position of the Tulasi plant:
“Although flowering plants like the mandara, kunda, kurabaka, utpala, campaka, arna, punnaga, nagakesara, bakula, lily, and parijata are full of transcendental fragrance, they are still conscious of the austerities performed by Tulasi, for Tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with Tulasi leaves.”
In her form as a plant, Tulasi always stays at the Lord’s lotus feet and around the neck of the Lord. The Vedic scriptures say that Krishna accepts only food adorned with a Tulasi leaf. The Gautamiya Tantra says, “Sri Krishna sells Himself to a devotee who offers Him merely a Tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.”
One who worships Tulasi with faith gets unending benefit. The Skanda Purana describes a few:
"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 Krishna, there is the full development of love of Godhead."
You can worship Tulasi-devi in your home if your home is pure. In other words, there should be no breaking of the regulative principles there — no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication, and no gambling. If you want to worship Tulasi-devi, always remember that she is a very exalted devotee of Krishna. You should care for her as you would an ordinary plant, but there are also certain things that devotees don't do in caring for her, like using chemical insecticides, for example. I suggest you ask the devotees at a temple near you who take care of Tulasi-devi for more guidance concerning the details of her worship if you would ever like to bring her into your home.