Tulsi, Sacred Basil

by Alberto Molina

Tulsi plant - purple variationThe Tulsi Plant (Ocimum Tenuiflorum), from the Lamiaceae family is a plant originally from the North-Central portion of the Indian subcontinent; it is largely grown in India and in South-East Asia, in the tropical regions. It can be recognized by the green or purple leaves it presents (depending on where it was cultivated). The Tulsi has a great variety of uses, and it’s venerated by the Krishna religion as a representation of the Goddess Vishnu, which means Tulsi has not only material importance, but a deeply spiritual one as well.

Name

Tulsi plant - green variation (by GourandaUK)Tulsi receives different names, Tulasi and Surasah in Sanskrit, and Tulsi in Hindi. Other commonly used names are Haripriya, dear to Vishnu, and Bhutagni, destroyer of demons. In English, it is known as “Holy Basil”, a sample of the divinity accompanied by the plant.

Use

The Tulsi plant has a large variety of uses, from the culinary application in many Asian and Hindu recipes, to the Medicinal use to cure Malaria, kidney diseases, as an antidote for poisons, among many other uses.

Symbolism

Tulsi’s symbolism can be explained in three simple steps:

1)Kalyani – Normally poisonous snakes and mosquitos do not come close to it due to some smell that it emits. That explains why it is a must in every house. The leaves as well roots are a cure for several diseases like malaria, cold, fever. The wood of this plant is used for Mala, ie a rosary for worship of Lord Vishnu and when worn in the neck it prevents diseases of the throat.

2) Visnu Priye – Tulsi has been described as the beloved of Lord Vishnu since he is the creator and Tulsi helps the health of human beings and animals, prevents soil erosion.

3) Moksa – prade – By keeping the body healthy, it keeps the mind healthy and free of worries enabling us to concentrate on worship of the Ultimate Reality in comfort.

References

Bast, Felix; Pooja Rani, and Devendra Meena (2014). “Chloroplast DNA Phylogeography of Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) in Indian Subcontinent”. The Scientific World Journal 70 (3): 6.

“Why do We Consider Tulsi Sacred”. http://www.hindunet.org/faq/fom-serv/cache/19.html