HOW TO GROW, MAINTAIN AND PLUCK THE TULASI PLANT?
Let us see the words of SRILA PRABHUPADA, the founder of ISKCON movement in his letters to his disciples about growing Tulasi Plant:
“Please take care of the Tulasi plants in the following way. This is the best season for growing Tulasi plants. From 15th April to 15th June is the best season for growing this plant. Now I understand that the seedlings are coming out ~ so the whole spot if possible may be covered by some net because the seedling stage creepers are sometimes eaten up by the sparrows. All the devotees should pour water at least once in the morning before taking prasadam. The watering should not be very much large in quantity, but it should be poured just to keep the ground soft and moist. Sunlight also should be allowed. When the creepers are grown at last 7 inches high, then you can take them out from the planting soil and transplant them in a row in a different place . Then go on watering and they will grow like anything. I think this plant cannot grow in cold countries, but if the planets are dispatched from your place and if the devotees take care of the plant with a little care in a flower pot, then it may grow.”
READ THIS POST TO KNOW HOW TO PERFORM TULASI PUJA (WORSHIP).
CARING / MAINTAINING TULASI PLANT
(1) Tulasi’s body is spiritual. Although Tulasi appears as many individual trees, she is one person, and she comes wherever she sees devotion to Krsna.
(2) Every morning, devotees should water and pray to Tulasi Devi and circumambulate her three times.
(3) Worship Tulasi with nice food, flowers, incense, a ghee lamp, and other traditional articles of worship.
(4) Protect the delicate Tulasi seedlings from birds and insects. It is an offense to turn the seedlings back into the soil.
(5) In places where Tulasi cannot survive the winters when planted in the ground, provide a suitable house for her.
(6) Every day provide Tulasi fresh air, water (as needed be careful not to water too much), and sunshine (or plant lights).
(7) Neglecting to care for or water Tulasi properly is a great offense. Do everything carefully.
(8) Pick only the leaves that grow next to the manjaris (flowers) and the leaves that are ready to drop they will turn a pale color not the new, green ones. Pick the manjaris as soon as they blossom. Avoid letting them go to seed, which takes much energy from the plant that can be used to make more leaves and flowers for Krsna’s service. Pick the leaves one at a time with your fingertips. Don’t shake or stroke the branch and damage healthy leaves. Pick with care and attention. Avoid using cutting tools.
(9) Never cut or prune Tulasi Devi. This is a great offense. Remove dead branches if absolutely necessary. If branches obstruct a passageway, tie them back, but don’t cut them.
(10) Pick Tulasi leaves and flowers in the morning, never at night (from sunset to sunrise).
(11) Never use chemical sprays on Tulasi.
(12) Collect the leaves once in the morning for worshiping Krsna and for putting on the plates of food to be offered to Him. Put at least one leaf on each preparation. Never pick Tulasi leaves for any other purpose than to offer to the Lord.
(13) Lord Krsna likes garlands of Tulasi leaves. Tulasi leaves mixed with sandalwood pulp and placed on the lotus feet of the Lord is the topmost worship. Do not place Tulasi leaves on the feet of anyone other than Lord Visnu in His various forms. Srimati Radharani can be given a Tulasi leaf in Her hand for offering to Lord Krsna.
(14) Krsna accepts even dry Tulasi leaves. – Tulsa wood (taken after a plant has fully dried naturally) can be used to carve worship paraphernalia, such as beads. Place leftover Tulasi wood within the earth.
(15) Never use Tulasi leaves or flowers to make teas or juices, even after they’ve been offered to Krsna. It is a great offense to cook or heat Tulasi, or to use her for mundane purposes, such as medicines and ointments.
(16) Never cut down or pull up living Tulsa plants. This is a great offense.
(17) Avoid stepping on Tulasi Devi’s shadow.
(18) Tulasi Devi is very, very dear to the Lord. Therefore, serve her with love and devotion.
(Also read THIS POST about TULASI DEVI (VRINDA) – GLORIES AND HER ROLE IN RADHA KRISHNA LILAS AND OUR DEVOTION!)
(19) SHOULD WE ADD MANURES?
There is no need for any manures for tulasi. However, if you feel that your soil is weak, you may use a solution made by diluting the dried cow dung (Not fresh wet dung) with water and adding to the roots of tulasi plant. This is enough. If you use any other manures, the sensitive plant may die.
(20) GO TO TULSI WITH CLEAN BODY AND MIND:
Go near to Tulasi Plant only after taking bath. Do not touch Tulasi Plant during monthly periods. Do not pour excessive water to plant. Just keep the soil wet that is enough. If any animal/ bird touches Tulasi plant, mostly the plant dies. So, protect it by making a small fence. Allow sunlight falls on the plant atleast for a few hours daily.
(21) TULASI MUST BE OFFERED TO KRISHNA OR VISHNU TATVAS ONLY:
Tulasi leaves must be offered to Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna, Lord Narayana, Caitanya , etc. (Vishnu-tattva only).
Srila Praabhupada says: “Tulasi leaf is very, very dear to Vishnu. All Vishnu-tattva Deities require profusely Tulasi leaves. Lord Vishnu 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 Vishnu 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 Krishna. We can place, however, Tulasi leaves in the hands of Radharani for being placed on the lotus feet of Krishna, as you have seen on the Govinda Album”
Read THIS POST to know whether Krishna Rings, dollars, Tulasi mala, etc. – Necessary or Not.
HOW TO PLUCK, SAVE & USE TULASI LEAVES FOR OFFERINGS TO KRISHNA?
(1) Wash the leaves well before offering and kept in a bowl of fresh water inside a refrigerator, if possible. If tulasi leaves are not kept like this, they turn 1imp and pale. Without refrigeration, they will turn brown. It is also alright to use for offering.
(2) Is it compulsory to keep in water and refrigerator? No. Srila Prabhupada has said that dried leaves are just as offerable as fresh green ones . So rather than strip a weak Tulasi of Her few greatly needed leaves, the devotees can use dried leaves in case of non availability.
(3) Change the water in the bowl everyday, and clean the sides of the bowl so no film will grow.
(4) Pluck only the required number of tulasi leaves daily. However, you may collect all the leaves that have fallen on ground and save as said above.
(5) Don’ t pick Her leaves harshly. Be gentle in plucking the tulasi leaves.
(6) DAYS TO AVOID PLUCKING THE TULASI LEAVES:
You may avoid plucking Tulasi leaves on Ekadasi and Dvadasi. Some advise to avoid sundays. But, it is necessary to avoid Ekadasi and Dvadasi. Particularly You should NOT strictly pluck on Dvadasi. Because, it is believed that Vrinda devi will be on rest on Dvadasi after performing fast for Krishna on Ekadasi.
Then, what to do to get Tulasi leaves to offer Bhoga (food) for Krishna on Ekadasi and Dvadasi? No Problem. Collect Tulasi leaves the previous day itself. Dried Tulasi leaves can be offered to Krishna. Eventhough it is 10 days old dried leaf, it is permitted.
There are some references in certain books that plucking the tulasi leaves can be avoided on Purnima, Amavasya, Dvadashi and Sunday. This much of strictness is not required in this matter. A vaishnava should avoid “Dvadasi day” to pluck tulsi leaves. He may avoid ekadasi also as it is believed that tulasi devi will be fasting.
Also read THIS POST on TULSI VIVAH (MARRIAGE) WITH SALAGRAMA (KRISHNA) – COMPLETE DETAILS AND HOW TO CELEBRATE IT?
(7) Hari Bhakthi Vilasa (7.353) says like this:
samkranty Adau ni Siddho’pi tulasyavacayah smrtau ; param zrI viznu bhaktastu dvadazyam eva nesyate
“It is generally forbidden to pluck Tulasi on Sankranti, (Purnima, Amavasya, Dvadashi, Sunday) etc., according to the strict rules of the Smritis, but the most important rule (according to Shrila Sanatana Goswami) which the Vaishnava devotees should certainly follow is to not pluck Tulasi leaves on Dvadashi.”
(8) Hari Bhakthi Vilasa (7.354) says like this:
NA CHINDYAT TULASIM VIPRA DVADASYAM VAISNAVAH KVACIT
“Oh brahmanas, a Vaisnava never picks Tulasi leaves on Dvadashi, (the day after Ekadashi).”
(9) Hari Bhaktha Vilasa (7.355) says like this quoting from Garuda Purana:
BHANUVARAM VINA DURVAM TULASIM DVADASIM VINA ; JIVITASYA AVINASAYA NA VICINVITA DHARMA VIT
“A scripturally learned and religious person, if he does not want to destroy his balance duration of life, he should not pluck Tulasi leaves on Dvadashi days and Durva grass on Sundays.”
(10) Hari Bhaktha Vilasa (7.353) says like this quoting from Padma Purana as conversation between Lord Krishna and Shrimati Satyabhama:
DVADASYAM TULASI PATRAM DHATRI PATRAS CA KARTIKE ; LUNATI SA NARO GACCHET NIRAYAN ATI GARHITAN
“Any person, who picks Tulasi leaves on Dvadashi or Amalaki leaves in the Kartika month, falls into a grievously hellish planet to suffer.”
IMPORTANT: MANTHRA TO PLUCK TULASI LEAVES
Whenever we pluck Tulasi leaves, we need to recite a manthra:
tulasy amrta janmasi sada tvram kesava-priya ; kesavartham cinomi tvam varada bhava sobhane
“O Tulasi, you were born from nectar. You are always very dear to Lord Kesava. Now, in order to worship Lord Kesava, I am collecting your leaves and manjaris. Please bestow your benediction on me.”
All kinds of sinful people, even a murderer of a brahmana can become pure by circumambulating Sri Tulasi, step by step.
Hope this article helps all of you.
(Also read THIS POST with the Procedure to wear Kanti (Tulasi) mala around neck)