Tulsi is an powerful aromatic herb that is used extensively both in Ayurvedic clinical and folk medicine. It is also an example of a plant which plays a central role in religious devotion.
Recognizing that plants have special powers, traditional cultures incorporated them into their mythologies and religious practices. By doing so, the plants become part of society, and were protected and cared for. Recognizing the sacred life-giving and health-promoting aspects of medicinal plants and re-introducing them into culture will help bring humanity back into a harmonious relationship with the natural world.
Holy basil has been revered in India for thousands of years. It is regarded as the incarnation of Vishnu, and a favorite plant of Krishna and Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. It has a special place in the courtyard of Hindu homes, and the daily religious rituals of many families are centered around the worship of this plant. It fills the surrounding atmosphere with a high quality medicinal aroma, which repels mosquitoes and purifies the air.
Tulsi devotional rituals are based on classical Tantric ceremony. The plant is placed in a special altar, invoked and adored as the embodiment of Vishnu or the Divine Mother, given ritual watering, and offerings of incense and food. The worshipper prostrates to the invoked deity, dresses the tulsi in silk offering scarves, and decorates it with flowers. At the end of the ceremony, the leaves are taken as a sacrament.
Tulsi has a wide range of therapeutic applications, both in whole plant form and as an essential oil. Ayurveda considers tulsi a purifier of the mind, body and spirit. It is a powerful mosquito repellant.
Holy basil is easily cultivated in a wide range of climates. Two major varieties of tulsi are in cultivation: the green variety, which is the most common, and the purple.
Caution: this oil is extremely dermo-caustic; do not apply directly to the skin.