Image courtesy: TheHealthSite.com
The word meaning of Tulasi in Sanskrit means matchless or incomparable one. The name indicates the value of this herb in Ayurveda. The word basil comes from the Greek basileus, meaning “royal”. Basil is still considered the “king of herbs” by many cookery authors. It is a plant benefiting gross as well as subtle body!!! Yes, holy basil has many health and spiritual benefits.
Almost every household in India has a Tulasi plant in its courtyard. It has been introduced and worshipped as a traditional custom in disguise to its immense scientific health benefits. There are many mythological stories attributed to Tulasi depicting it as a powerful herb.
According to Vaishnavites, it is believed in Puranas that during Samudra Manthana when the gods win the ocean-churning against demons, God Dhanvantari comes up from the ocean with Amrita (nectar) in hand for the gods. Vishnu procured it for the gods, when the demons tried to steal it. Vishnu shed happy tears, the first of which fell in (nectar) and formed Tulasi.
A ceremony known as Tulasi Vivah is performed by the Hindus between Prabodhini Ekadashi (eleventh lunar day of the waxing moon of Kartika) to Kartik Poornima (full moon in hindu month of Kartika), usually on the eleventh or the twelfth lunar day. It is the ceremonial wedding of the Tulasi plant to lord Vishnu. The day inaugurates the annual marriage season in India.
Basil has a religious significance in Greek Orthodox Church as well. According to liturgical legend, Saint Helena and St. Constantine found the location of the true holy cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up where his precious blood fell along with the tears of the mother of sorrows.
These mythological stories are indicator of benefits the ancient learned people might have discovered in HOLY basil and made it a part of daily religious rituals.