Introduction to Tulasi Devi

Serving Trees Such as the Tulasi

In the Skanda Purana there is a statement praising the tulasi tree as follows:

“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 be free 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 become devoted to Lord Krsna. And when the tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krsna, there is the full development of love of Godhead.”

In India all Hindus, even those not belonging to the Vaisnava group, take special care of the tulasi tree. Even in great cities where it is very difficult to keep a tulasi tree, people are to be found very carefully keeping this plant. They water it and offer obeisances to it, because worship of the tulasi tree is very important in devotional service.

In the Skanda Purana there is another statement about tulasi, as follows:

Tulasi is auspicious in all aspects. Simply by seeing, simply by touching, simply by remembering, simply by praying to, simply by bowing before, simply by hearing about, simply by sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the tulasi tree in the above-mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world”.
(Srila Prabhupada. The Nectar of Devotion, Aspects of Transcendental Service, p 99).

For those who have an interest in the history of the naming of Tulasi-devi by the scientific community, the information below has been kindly given by Mr M L Grant, Botanist for The Royal Horticultural Society.

It seems that the plant was named twice by Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist, who invented our present system for naming plants. In his work of 1753 called Species Plantarum he named the plant Ocimum tenuiflorum (the latter word meaning “with slender flowers”). In a later work of 1767 called Mantissa Plantarum, he named what he thought was a different basil Ocimum sanctum (meaning “holy”). Later botanists have examined Linnaeus’s specimens and decided that they are actually one and the same species, so the earliest name is the correct one. The rule of priority in naming is one of the main principles of botany, so even though the latter name sounds more appropriate, the scientific community have to use the earlier one.

The main character that distinguishes Ocimum tenuiflorum previously sanctum from other commonly cultivated basils is the cluster of hairs at the base of the upper stamens. Other basils have no hairs or tooth-like appendages. This character is difficult to see with a lens but can usually be detected under a low-power binocular microscope.


I offer my most respectful obeisances to His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada please accept this book as a token of my sincere gratitude to you for showing us the way home.

The verses, purports and letters used in this work are all © Copyright BBT International. All right reserved.

I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to my son Balarama dasa, for his patience, computer skills and continued support, working with me day-to-day preparing this book. Without his help this book could not have been written. I would like to give special thanks to Lokadristi devi dasi for her guidance with the mantras and letters of Srila Prabhupada. My special thanks to Anuradha devi dasi and Vrajasundari devi dasi for their kindness and patience in proof reading this work. To my dear friend Serena Buchan for the final proof reading at such short notice. To Gadadhara dasa, for the photographs and support throughout the writing of this book and getting it to print.

Text written by Lilavati devi dasi, illustrations by Lilavati devi dasi and Balarama dasa.
Photographs by Gadadhara dasa

All proceeds from this book go towards maintaining Srimati Tulasi devi at Bhaktivedanta Manor.

© Copyright 1999 Lilavati d.d. All rights reserved.

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