The luxurious grouth of one of krsna"s greatest, who appears in a special from,attests to the devotion of two of her dedicated caretakers
Srila Prabhupada once quoted an atheist as saying,"What is the use of watering the Tulasi plant?It is better to water eggplant.By watering the eggplant one can get some fruits,but what is the use of watering the Tulas!?"
Rudrani Devi Dasi,one of Tulasl's caretakers at ISKCON Vancouver,responds to this challenge.
"Tulasi is not an ordinary plant,"she says."Just consider even her scientific Latin name-ocimum sanctum.ocimum means she is few lated to the herb basil,and sanctum means"holy."She is known as Holy Basil and is recognized as uniquely auspicious in all the Vedic scriptures,by all the saints in our tradition,and by our spiritual master,Srila Prabhupada."
Rudrani's husba nd,Sananda Kumara Dasa,who also takes care of Tulasi says,"A skeptic may think,'God is fictitious.God's service is another sen timent.Do something practical,' but a person who has some faith will not be sat isfied by such so-called logic.God,Krsna,is more than a force,light,or energy.He is a person,the Supreme Person,who is the source of all force and light and energy and is also an individual.Krsna has His favorite place:Vrndavana.And His favor ite animal:the cow. And He also h as His favorite plant:Tulasi. Honoring Tulasi can give us the highest attainment:devotion to Lord Krsna In India all Hindus,even those not belonging to the Vaisnava group,take special care of the Tulasi tree,and every day the devotees in our Hare Krsna movement pray to Tulasi.'Please give me the privilege of devotional service.'"
In a purport in his 1968 edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is,S rila Prabhupada wrote,"Krsna desires that one offer Him either a leaf,or a flower,or fruit,or a little waterand by such an offering He is satisfied. This leaf especially refers to the Tulasi.So one can sow Tulasi and pour water on the plant." Two years later,in the spring of 1970,Srila Prabhupada was delighted to introduce the worship of Tulasi in his ISKCON center in Hawaii,and today Tulasi is worshiped in almost all of the hundreds of ISKCON centers throughout the world.
In 2002 the Tulasi plants in Vancouver,which were housed in a small,well-worn greenhouse,had a crisis:Each Tulasi plant lost everyone of its leaves because of a misapplication of plant medicine.As soon as Rudrani,who was not active In Tulasi's service at that time,heard about this,she took steps to help,and seeing her determinatio n,sananda also became active.Sananda had grown up in South India,where his family was responsible for providing Tulasi leaves,as well as fresh milk and flowers,to the local temple of Lord Visnu.He had experience with growing Tulasi,but only outdoors in a tropical climate. Growing them in doors was quite different.udrani.who had cared for Tulasi in other North Ameri can ISKCON temples,knew how to grow her inside.Gradually this determined couple drew other qualified devotees to Tulasi's service.
After dozens of phone calls,Rudrani found a suitable greenhouse model for Tulasi,and she and Sananda persua ded the temple board to spend $20,000 (Can adian) for two greenhouses with special grow lights,complete air ventilation,and controlled air and water tempe ratures.When all these electrical systems are running they con sume thirty kilowatts per hour.Tulasl's Vancouver caretakers spend hours each day to water her,pick her leaves (Krsna prefers that food offered to Him be decorated with a leaf from Tulasi), make maiijarl (Tulasi flower) garlands for Sri Madana-mohana (the Deity of Krsna worshiped in the Vancouver temple),humidify the greenhouses,and control the spider mites that occasionally arrack her.As a result of their expertise and devotion,the Tulasi plants are flourishing and have grown so large that the green housesare now crowded.
By coincidence,the year that Rudrani and Sananda became act ive in Tulasi's service-2002- was the same year I planted a Tulasi seed from a bag of seeds a friend had given me.Those seeds,my friend said,were special because they were from Tulasi plants in Vrnda Kunda Tulasi's sacred grove in Vrndavana,India.When that one seed didn't grow,I planted two more from the same bag,and when they didn't grow,I planted twelve more.This time six of them grew.When five of those plants were strong enough,gave them away to neighbors and kept the sixth one until the fall.As I wasn't prepared to protect her from the winter drafts,dry air,and darkness of our Saranagati winter (Saranagati Village is a four and a half hour drive from Vancouver),Rudrani and Sananda kindly agreed to take in my ten-inch Tulasi for the season.When she came back in the spring,I could hardly recognize her- she had grown more than a foot in every direction. I cared for her that summer and sent her back t he next fall.Now she's too big to fit in a car seat.When I want to see her,I have to go to Vancouver.Some of my neighbors say that she couldn't have grown so much in such a short time and that someone confused my small Tulasi with some larger one.But in fact the small miracle I experienced with that Tulasi also happened to almost all the Tulasi plants at the Vancouver temple.
Srila Jiva Gosvami,arguably one of the greatest spiritual scholars in the history of religion,said that one does not really accept God unless one accepts His inconceivable nature.In other words,if we try to limit God in some way,then in effect we have eliminated His true nature.In the same way,how the Lord 's internal potency for per- forming pastimes in th is world expands as the pure devotee Tulasi,an eternal consort of Krsna,is also inconceivable.Devotees simply accept her and worship her with joy in their hearts.And if she blesses them by growing luxuriously,as she has in Vancouver,that,Srila Prabhupada wrote,is evidence of their sincere devotion.
Two verses in the Skanda Purana praise the Tulasi tree:"Let me offe rmy respectful obeisances unto the Tulasi tree,which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful act ivities.Simply by seeing or touch ing 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 become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yama raja [the king of death,who punishes the sinful].If someone sows a Tulasi tree somewhere,certainly he becomes 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."
And: "Tulasi is auspicious in all respects.Simply by seeing,simply by touching,simply by remembering,simply by praying to,simply by bowing before,simply by hearing about,or simply by sowing this tree,there is always auspiciousness.Anyone who comes in touch with the Tulasi tree in the above-men tion ed ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world."
Visakha Devi Dilsi,a disciple of Srila Prabhupilda,has published many articles and photographs in BTG over the years.She and her family live in Saranagati Village,a Hare Krsna community in British Columbia, Canada.