When I went to Varanasi with YPO as an official ,I was down with fever and could not go to the Kashi Vishwanath temple moreover the previous day had been too taxing so I kept indoors at Taj Varanasi .That prevented me from going to Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir as well. Although I did travel to Ganges and the Ghats in a cycle rickshaw with Mrs. Costa wife of a rotund and obese tycoon who had a bonhomie demeanor and who was a shipping magnate. She was excited to have me besides her as I was telling her tales of the Hindus.
Varanasi consumes 100 quintals of tulsi leaves per day for various rituals in 100s of temples and tulsi farming has become lucrative in nearby fields.I wish a significant of this would have gone into making herbal medicines. There is a Tulasi Ghat near Sankat Mochan mandir abode of the great scientist and seer the mahant of the mandir Pandit Veer Bhadra Mishra where I wish we had taken the entourage to listen to his discourse than another Business swami in Mumbai The anecdotes of Tulsi are abundant but some have to be experienced. I was so overjoyed when Dr Ameeta gave us a packet full of the seeds on world environment day at a function on at KEM of BMC on Environment Pollution Research Cell.
I don’t recollect if I have told the story of Surya my driver whose child was sick and fretting. 4 days had passed with no result from the GP.Then he took the child to a pediatrician with whom he worked as a driver before. He got the child investigated and treated but alas there was no response.Surya became desperate having spent money and the child becoming weaker.
Earlier after my lecture at Godrej Hospital he had heard from one Dr Borikar whom I had given a lift to. He was extolling the virtues of Tulsi and I had told him of my earlier experience.Surya saw me plucking a few tulsi leaves from the garden at Godrej and an idea flashed him. He went to the market and got Tulsi in bulk. He prepared a decoction for his sick child and administered him even if to his chagrin. The child cried and cried for the medical enforcement and at last slept. Three hours of sleep and Surya saw him perspire profusely .He touched him and felt that he was peaceful and normal.Tulsi had won for the gods!
Last week was a marriage in the house. It is traditional to conduct a statyanarayan pooja a vaishnav ritual on the next day where the new couple is the Yejman or host. The pooja requires 108 tulsi leaves to be offered to the deity along with fruits and flowers .This pooja is done to gain benefaction from the gods for good days ahead. I was out to shop for the occasion and wife called me to get tulsi leaves but to dismay all florists were closed in afternoon. Then at a signal my vehicle parked and I saw a mobile greenhouse with various items on sale on the shop on wheel.Quicly I lowered the window and asked the vendor.” Tulsi hai kya”? .He handed a plant nicely packed in mud in a polythelene.The leaves were green and fresh.”20 bucks” he said. I showed a note and the car moved on. My sister was dozing on the back seat. The plant sat on the rear .When she got up we were chatting about the number of leaves as this plant had not more than 80 leaves. Then Chandra my driver waived his hand as my sister turned around. Presto- she saw tulsi plant and superstitious as she is she thought it to be a miracle.Chandrakant my driver she thought was endowed by divinity .We later had to explain in good humor.
There was a plastic vrindawan pot mimicking earthen one in brick color and shape. It had been there for ages and every time I thought to throw it away something prevented me. Now out it came from the store room and the plat fit snugly on its new throne. It stood heroically near the pooja Table or the Chaurang.
The newlywed couple did the pooja devoutly .I was reminded of the movie “Main Tulsi tere angan ki” which I had seen long time back a family drama expounding the virtues of Indian married women. Now I offer the leaves daily in my pooja chore. Fresh leaves to Vishnu incarnations, Ram, Krishna and Hanuman and Shri Datta and Laxmi .I have wowed that I will take care of this plant since another cute little plant was nibbled away by squirrels in my office.
Tulsi shreesakhi shive pap harini punyade
Namaste narada nute namo narayana priye
It is customary to recite this shloka while circumambulating around the revered tulsiplant in every Hindu house hold in front of the house just as you have Nandi in front of any shivalaya.
Defense Research and Development Organization is looking at this herb to prevent immune deficiency due to Radiations at High Altitude .This project has entered it s 2nd phase with encouraging results reported from Bhubaneswar by W Sevamurthy .The project costs 7 crores. Tulsi has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial pharmacological activities. It is specifically indicated in oral health, fevers of viral and malarial origin, as an anabolic and ant ageing herb and for circulatory insufficiencies.
Tulsi has religious connotations in the west too. It is known to have grown on Christ’s grave and hence used in Christian funeral rites just as in India when it is customary to place basil leave in the mouth of the dead perhaps due to its antibacterial effect and to prevent transmission of disease from the deceased to the bereaved family. Tulsi and marriage have something common in Italy and India In India marriages take place after Tulsi vivah somewhere in October November. In Italy if a potted Tulsi plant is kept on the balcony it means there is a young girl awaiting proposal. Also if a Basil plant is planted on May 15th the girl ought to be married off by June 24.All this and many more is sufficient to declare Christ as a reincarnation of God Vishnu for even the birth of Krishna and Christ have much in common.
The Italian Basil and Indian Tulsi are both from Osmium genus but the species varies .The Italian is fleshy and can be used in salads but Indian used only as a topping sometimes in cocktail too or in pep up drink. It is thought that Alexander who carried a learned entourage carried Basil to Europe from India