Bilwapatra (bael leaf) is offered to Lord Shiva. What is the importance of Tulsi?
You should not think in this light. Tulsi is a botanical plant. It is basil. Each plant has got some property which is known to the pharmacists. Tulsi has got many properties. Hindustan Antibiotics manufacture antibiotics out of Tulsi near Haridwar. Tulsi has got a property to resist disease. Chemically-based antibiotics are also used for the same purpose, to counteract disease. There is a place called 'Raiwata' in between Rishikesh and Haridwar. Hindustan Antibiotics have cultivated a big jungle of Tulsi in a vast area. We should think in this practical light.
Tulsi has got a special significance in relation to girls and even to the nadis, in India. It is simple, because Tulsi controls the hormonal cycle of women. Hormonal cycle means the period of menstruation for five days every month. This is the reason girls are asked to worship Tulsi. Sometimes males also put lighted earthen lamps near Tulsi, but it is the duty of the girls or the ladies of the family. It is also certain that Tulsi is a very sensitive plant.
Sometime back I lived in the ashram below Ganga Darshan and there was a Tulsi plant. Afterwards one female swami came and stayed there. She was very devotional and she started watering the Tulsi. She was watering it daily, even during her hormonal cycle. The Tulsi died. It dried up. After some time I asked her about the Tulsi. She said it had died, but she was not able to explain why, I enquired if she watered it daily even during her hormonal cycle. She answered in the affirmative. There was the explanation! This much is sure, that it is affected either by smell or by touch. There is some peculiarity about this.
Among human beings some are intelligent, some are retarded and some are normal. Similarly, in plants also some are very intelligent. Tulsi is the most intelligent of the plants.
Once I went to Satpura Hills from Khamgaon in MP. A man by the name of Girdhari Purwar and some villagers were also with me. We stayed in the forest at night. The next day we reached Burhanpur Chitran, missing our way and came upon the habitation of nomads. We halted there. In the evening we went out to locate the route. The purpose of our journey was to see plants which we had been told, glowed in the night like the Juganu (fire-fly). We had gone there to see those plants at night.
While we were locating the route and passing through a narrow path I felt that some tree was falling on me and quickly moved away. In those days I was using only two dhotis, one below and the other on the shoulders. It picked up my dhoti and returned. It was something like a carnivorous plant It just bent down and caught hold of the dhoti and look it away. I feel that, had I not moved away, it would have picked me up, or I would have got a prick on my body through which it would have sucked my blood. Imagine, it means a lot! A human being is moving, the plants nearby react. It wanted blood of some living being or a man. Carnivorous plants are rare in India. They are found in Australia in quite large numbers. They are also found in South American countries.
Tulsi is also very intelligent like that; Ayurveda is full of its praise. It says that Tulsi is the abode of all the gods and is a treasure of numerous properties.
In Greece it is planted before each house. This is their tradition. It is similar to ours. They also put the icon of Christ near it, but this is common only in the countryside, not in the cities. They make a small parapet and plant it. You can also see this in Thailand, where they even put it in the coffins.
How is it used? They say it is beneficial for householders.
You can take Tulsi daily with black pepper and sugar crystals, the three together. It is believed that Tulsi cures semenal defects. These defects are of various types of which people are not aware. They do not even know about semenal defects. Testosterone is a hormone secreted in the body. When this hormone is secreted desire is aroused in men (We generally call it 'passion' or 'sex feeling'). It is not considered to be good for man. It causes nervous depression which afterwards damages the heart and brain.
Tulsi has got the property to cure and correct these semenal defects. Curing semenal defects by Tulsi means that Tulsi regulates the secretion of the hormone testosterone.
In Sanatan Dharma it is essential to take Tulsi because it regulates the secretion of this hormone and does not allow it to run wild, anarchical and self-willed. The secretion must follow some pattern. There is a system and it must abide by the system. In the Smriti or Vedic religion some dates are mentioned, as being prohibited for the physical contact between man and woman. There are auspicious dates also along with the prohibited ones.
However, man does not abide by these dates because he is suffering from semenal defects. If one is free from these defects one will have cool thinking about the dates such as Astami (8th day of the new or full moon), Amavasya (no moon), the day of an eclipse, the occasions of birth and death in the family, the period of Sutak and Jatak (the l2th day after death and birth in the family), and any marriage in the family. All these are mentioned in the Smritis in detail. We call it householder's brahmacharya or celibacy.
There are different types of celibacy, like uninterrupted celibacy (akhand brahmacharya), celibacy with faith (nastic brahmacharya), householder celibacy (grihastha brahmacharya) and the brahmacharya ashram (celibacy for a period of the first 25 years of life). Tulsi has a very close relationship with brahmacharya.
Tulsi is very essential for women. The sages have observed that passion or the sex feeling is aroused a little late in women, but early in men. There is therefore a lack of balance between, the two. By taking Tulsi this can be balanced.
There are periods of sex feeling when a girl is not fully matured, or before marriage. She should have control over the secretion of the hormone during this period. The second period is when they are fully grown up or married, say 25 to 30 years of age. Control should be exercised during this period also. It is simply because women are very emotional. Men use their heads to a great extent, but women are mostly guided by their hearts. As a result, they feel the strain of emotions. Sometimes it has been seen that girls of tender age go mad. They are not able to control their emotions bear the strain put on them. If there is some defect in the biological process of the body it should be controlled.
Due to this Tulsi is considered very important in India. We attach much importance to it. Rather it is extremely important. Ayurveda maintains that almost all the chemical properties of the plant world are contained in Tulsi alone.
What is the method of its use? Only by eating or something else?
Pour water on the Tulsi in the morning. Give a bath to the plant. After that, stand near it, do not sit, and sing its prayer for two or three minutes. There is oil in Tulsi. Dust collects on it in the day. So first it should be given a good bath. By pouring water on it the dirt is washed away along with the oil, but after two or three minutes the oil again appears on it. Then take Tulsi leaves as prasad. Not much, only three or four leaves. This is the process of taking Tulsi.
In the worship of Lord Vishnu, Tulsi water is given as prasad. It is not given with a religious viewpoint, it is because of scientific knowledge and understanding. We Sanatanis do not take Tulsi only with religious sentiment but also for its physical qualities which are the cause of its great importance. One thing is definite, that it has got the property of resisting disease and increase the immunity of the body. This is the reason antibiotics are being manufactured from Tulsi in India.
Tulsi is of two types, one Shyam (twilight) and the other Krishna (black). Which of the two is better?
Yes, two types of tulsi are found, Shyam and Krishna. Both are efficacious, but the Shyam species is considered more efficacious because it contains more chemicals in more concentrated form. But inspite of this both of them are considered efficacious and important.
In Nepal there is a reservoir in Muktinath. One crab-like creature is found in it. People of that area take some Tulsi and put it on the surface of the water. This creature comes up to the surface of the water being attracted by the smell or fragrance. People take them out and place them on the ground - the creature sheds its outer skin. In its body a small stone is to be found. That stone is known as shaligram, a symbol of Lord Vishnu.
The shivalinga comes out of the bed of the river Narmada. Similarly, shaligram comes out of this crab-like creature. There is a peculiarity with that shaligram. There is a gold, band around it. The government takes off the gold and allows people to take the shaligram stone with them. The gold band around the shaligram is pure. It is so perfect that one feels it has been fixed on by some good craftsman or goldsmith. It looks like gold work on the stone, as if it is part of the body of the shaligram. I think the gold in one shaligram should weigh 5 grams, or say 10 grams maximum. I cannot say its purity in carats, but it does not require any processing. It is in its purest form.
Tulsi is also found in Badrinath. Garland of Tulsi is offered to Lord Narayana there but the Tulsi of Badrinath is a little different. It is very strong.