In Hindu culture, tulsi (basil) occupies a revered position among shrubs and herbs – a position of importance from the point of view of health, religion and even decorative value. It is unmatched as an offering to gods and goddesses.
In the scriptures, tulsi is described as the “ Mother of the Universe”. VishNu is supposed to take abode in a house where tulsi is grown. In such a house, no one undergoes sufferings, such as poverty, illness or separation from dear ones. No wonder, the tulsi plant occupies a prominent position in many households.
The high esteem for tulsi has a scientific basis. In addition to its spiritual qualities, tulsi has been found to possess extraordinary qualities of healing and promoting health. Researchers in modern chemistry have found tulsi to have the properties of killing harmful micro-organisms and that tulsi is a herbal plant with great medicinal value. Tulsi removes bad odour from the environment and controls pollution. It is used as medicine for controlling and curing heart diseases. Thus, the wind that carries the fragrance of tulsi spreads health and well-being wherever it blows.
Tulsi leaves are considered an air purifier and some people believe that the smell of the leaves keep their minds clear. It is very much used in ayurveda and naturotherapy as its essence is supposed to give relief from cough and cold.
Having a tulsi plant in the house, has for ages been considered a symbol of culture by the Hindus, who believe, it spreads a spiritual aura and promotes material prosperity and well-being of the household. The Hindu scriptures enjoin on us to look upon tulsi not as a mere plant, but as the divine representative of God VishNu. Tulsi is an important component of VishNu puja in temples as well as homes. Tulsi thirtha ( water in which tulsi leaves are soaked) is the prasada given in VaishNavite temples.
Wherever the wind that has touched a tulsi plant blows, sacred thoughts arise, spiritual upliftment prevails and goodness fills the mind. It is only because of these ennobling qualities that tulsi occupies a lofty position in the spiritual world.
The Hindus cling to the tulsi even in the last moments of their lives. Ganga water, further sanctified by the presence of tulsi in it, is dropped into the mouth of the dying person in the belief that the soul would attain liberation.
Thus tulsi occupies an exalted position because of its spiritual, medicinal and scientific properties.
Let us close with Tulsi Stuti;
Tulasi s(h)ree sakhi s(h)ubae paapahaariNim puNyadae
Namasthae naaradanuthae namo naaraayaNa priyae