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CHAPTER TWENTY WORSHIP OF TULASI DEVI
Whoever worships Tulasi Devi with her eight names and their meanings--Vrinda, Vrindavani, Viswapavani, Visvapujita, Tulasi, Puspasara, Nandini, and Krishna Jivani--and properly sings this hymn of eight verses, acquires the merit of performing an Asvamedha (horse) sacrifice.
Because Tulasi was born on the lunar day of the full moon in the month of Kartika, Lord Hari prescribed this day for her worship.
Whoever worships her on this day will be freed from all sins and go to Vaikuntha.
Whoever, out of reverence, gives Lord Vishnu a Tulasi leaf in the month of Kartika, will gain the same benefit obtained by giving the gift of ten million cows.
By hearing or recalling the Tulasi hymn, a son will be born to the sonless woman, a wife will be obtained by the wifeless man, health will be restored to a diseased person, freedom will be given to a prisoner, fearlessness will be bestowed upon the terrified, and salvation will be given to the sinners.
In the Kanva Sakha branch of the Vedas, the method of worshiping and meditating on Tulasi Devi is described. Without invoking the goddess, one can reverentially meditate on her and adore her with sixteen ingredients in the following way:
"Of all flowers, Tulasi is the best. She is worshipable and beautiful, and burns up the fuel of sins like a flame of fire. Of all the goddesses, she is the most sacred. Because no one can compare to her, she is called Tulasi. I worship this goddess who is entreated by all. She is placed on the heads of all, desired by all, and makes the universe holy. She bestows liberation from this world and devotion to Lord Hari. I worship her."
After this meditation and worship, the wise should read her praises and bow down to her.
Among all articles which are offered to the Lord, tulasi is most highly praised. Therefore one may perform perfect worship of the Lord by simply offering pure water and tulasi leaves (Raghunatha das Goswami, Advaita Acarya). According to the Garuda Purana, tulasi must always be offered on the naivedyam.
tulasi vina ya kriyate na puja
snanam na tat yat tulasivinakrtam
bhuktam na tat yat tulasi vinakrtam
pitam na tat yat tulasi vinakrtam
Puja, bathing and offering of food and drink performed without tulasi cannot be considered as puja, bathing and offering to the Lord. The Lord does not accept anything or drink anything that is without tulasi.
Brihad Naradiya Purana
During the puja, one should offer tulasi leaves to the Lord's feet. tulasi garlands may also be offered around his neck.
Some say that gandha, flowers and tulasi should be offered at least three times, washing the hands each time before offering. The article is offered in the right hand, while the left hand touches the right arm. Some say that offering eight tulasi leaves is best.
Benefits of Worshiping Tulasi Devi
Although we can never fully describe the glories of Tulasi Devi, an eternal associate of Lord Krishna, the scriptures give us a hint of the value of worshiping her. The following list comes from the Padma Purana.
Tulasi is the essence of all devotional activities.
The leaves, flowers, roots, bark, branches, trunk, and shade of Tulasi Devi are all spiritual.
One who with devotion applies the paste of Tulasi wood to the Deity of Krishna will always live close to Krishna.
One who puts mud from the base of the Tulasi tree on his body and worships the Deity of Lord Krishna gets the results of one hundred days worship each day.
One who offers a Tulasi manjari to Lord Krishna gets the benefit of offering all other varieties of flowers, and he goes to the abode of Krishna.
One who sees or comes near a house or garden where the Tulasi plant is present gets rid of all his sinful reactions, including that of killing a brahmana.
Lord Krishna happily lives in the house, town, or forest where Tulasi Devi is present.
A house where Tulasi Devi is present never falls on bad times, and it becomes purer than all holy places.
The fragrance of Tulasi Devi purifies all who smell it.
Lord Krishna and all the demigods live in a house where mud from the base of the Tulasi tree is found.
Without Tulasi leaves, Lord Krishna does not like to accept flowers, food, or sandalwood paste.
One who worships Lord Krishna daily with Tulasi leaves attains the results of all kinds of austerity, charity, and sacrifice. In fact, he has no other duties to perform, and he has realized the essence of the scriptures.
One who puts into his mouth or on his head Tulasi leaves that have been offered to Lord Krishna attains Lord Krishna's abode.
In Kali-yuga, one who worships, remembers, plants, keeps, or performs kirtana before Tulasi burns up all sinful reactions and quickly attains Lord Krishna's abode.
One who worships Lord Krishna with Tulasi leaves releases all his ancestors from the realm of birth and death.
One who remembers the glories of Tulasi or tells others about them will never take birth again.
Tulasi's glories from Garuda Purana
Chapter 8. An Account of the Gifts for the Dying
yada syad aturah kalas tada snanam samacaret
pujanam karayed visnoh salagrama-sva-rupinah (5)
When it is near the time to die he must perform his ablutions, and worship Vishnu in the form of Salagrama.
arcayed gandha-puspais ca kunkumais tulasi-dalaih
dhupair-dipais ca naivedyair bahubhir modakadibhih (6)
He must worship with fragrant substances, with flowers, with red saffron, with leaves of Tulasi tree, with incense, with lamps, with offerings of food and many sweetmeats, and other things.
ekadashi-vratam gita gangambu-tulasi-dalam
visnoh padambu-namani marane mukti-dani ca (26)
The fast on Ekadashi, the Gita, the water of the Ganga, the leaves of Tulasi tree, the caranamrta and the names of Vishnu - all these are givers of freedom at the time of death.
(The Lord explains to Garuda the rites for one preparing to leave the body).
Chapter 9 An account of the rites for the dying.
garu a uv ca
kathita bhavat samyag d na-m tura-k likam
mriyam Sasya yat-k tya tad-id n. vada prabho (1)
Garu a said: O Lord, You have spoken fully about the gifts for the diseased. Please tell me now about the rites for the dying,
shri bhagavan uvacha
nu t rk ya pravak y mi deha-ty gasya tad-vidhim
m t yena vidh nena sad-gati y nti m nav (2)
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Listen, O T rk ya, I will explain the rites for leaving the body, and by what rites men after death reach a good condition.
karma-yog dyad deh. muscaty atra nija^ vapu
tulas. sannidhau kury n maS ala^ gomayena tu (3)
When, by the effects of karma, the embodied being leaves his ordinary body, then, near to a Tulas. tree one should make a ring with cowdung.
til ^ caiva vik.ryatha darbhams caiva viniksipet
sthapayed asane subhre salagrama-silam tada (4)
Next, having scattered sesamum seeds, he should strew darbha-grass, and then have the Salagrama-sila placed on the cleaned platform.
salagrama-sila yatra papa-dosa-bhayapaha
tat-sannidhana-maranan muktir jantoh suniscita (5)
Liberation is certain for the being who dies near the Salagrama-sila, which removes all ills and sins.
tulasi-vitapac-chaya yatrasti bhavatapaha
tatraiva maranan muktih sarvada dana durlabha (6)
Where there is the shade of the Tulasi tree, which removes the pain of being, there is always liberation for the dying, difficult to obtain by gifts.
tulasi-vitapa-sthanam grhe yasyavatisthate
tad-grham tirtha-rupam hi na yanti yama-kinkarah (7)
The servants of Yamaraja do not go to the house where the Tulasi tree is situated and worshipped. Indeed, such a house is a form of a place of pilgrimage.
tulasi manjari yukto yas tu prananvimuncati
yamas tam neksitum sakto yuktam papa-satair api (8)
Yamaraja does not desire to go to the pious person who, while giving up their life air, keeps a Tulasi manjari (prasada) in their mouth, even if that person has committed hundreds of sins.
tasya dalam mukhe krtva tila-darbhasane mrtah
naro visnu-puram yati putra-hino 'py asamsayah (9)
The person who dies on a seat of darbha grass and sesamum seeds with a Tulasi leaf (prasada) in his mouth, goes without a doubt to the abode of Lord Vishnu, even if they have no son.
tilah pavitras tri-vidha darbhas ca tulasir api
naram nivarayanty ete durgatim yanta-maturam (10)
Sesamum seeds, darbha-grass and Tulasi Devi are three holy things, and they prevent an ailing man from going to a miserable condition.
naite nirmalyatam yanti kriyamanah punah punah (14)
Therefore, kusa-grass, fire, mantras, Tulasi Devi, brahmanas and cows do not lose their purity by being used again and again.
darbhah pindesu nirmalya brahmanah preta-bhojane
mantra gaus tulasi nice citayam ca hutasanah (15)
Darbha-grass becomes unclean when used with rice-balls (offerings to the departed ancestors). Brahmanas, by eating the offerings for the departed; Mantras, cows and Tulasi Devi, when used in base ways (used for other then Krishna's service); and fire, when used on a cremation ground.
(Chapter ten Rules for burning the body)
iti samprarthayitva 'gnim citam tatraiva karayet
After (the son) has offered prayers to the fire, he should make a funeral pyre with sandalwood, Tulasi, and palasa and asvattha woods. (20)
Tulasi Devi, Beloved of Krishna
One of Krishna's most intimate servants comes in a special form to bless us with extraordinary fortune (BTG Article)
by Govinda dasi
Devotees of Krishna worship a little tree. She's not an ordinary tree. She's Tulasi Devi, K.rsna's favorite plant. Tulasi has delicate purple and green leaves, flower tassels like miniature temple spires, and an arresting, sweet fragrance famous for attracting the minds of yogis to K.rsna's service.
Tulasi's wood is carved into the japa heads on which devotees chant K.rsna's name. Devotees wear strands of Tulasi beads around their necks. Her leaves and flowers decorate the Deity of K.rsna in the temple and are placed on food offered to Him. She has taken the form of a tree so that everyone, even the poorest person, can offer something wonderful to K.rsna.
MY FASCINATION with Tulasi Devi began very soon after meeting Shrila Prabhupada in 1967. I searched Indian stores all over New York City to find a set of Tulasi japa beads. One clever man sold me rosewood beads, assuring me they were Tulasi. When I presented them to Shrila Prabhupada, he held them and looked at them with scrutiny, then simply said, "No, not Tulasi." But he chanted on them anyway.
Later, in 1968, as I was cleaning Shrila Prabhupada's room I found his Tulasi japa beads lying near his bead bag on his cushion. As I carefully put them back into their bag, I was mesmerized by their smooth touch and golden glow. They were large, round beads, shiny from years of use, with a mystical quality that still sticks in my mind.
In 1969, Shrila Prabhupada sent me to Honolulu to open a temple. I spent much time at the research library of the University of Hawaii's East-West Center. I found many ancient texts from India, some by Shrila Prabhupada's guru and other Vaishnava saints. And I found information on Tulasi Devi her botanical names, her history, and ways to grow her. My desire to grow Tulasi became an obsession, and somehow I got seeds from India.
The first set of seeds did not grow. I daily worshipped a thin green sprout until it became painfully evident that it was a blade of grass. The second batch of seeds proved fruitful, however, and tiny heart-shaped seedlings spread their delicate leaves in our Honolulu home. That was the beginning.
I still didn't know why growing Tulasi was important to Shrila Prabhupada or his mission. But when I later presented two small Tulasi plants to him in Los Angeles, he was delighted. He held one of the small pots in his hand for a long time, gazing at the seven-inch seedling, noting that she was indeed Shrimati Tulasi Devi.
Prabhupada talked on and on about the glories of Tulasi Devi, and he was in such joyful spirits! Shrila Prabhupada's servant, Kartikeya Dasa, was astonished. He later told me that he had not seen Shrila Prabhupada so light-hearted and happy in over a year.
At one point, Shrila Prabhupada told us that Tulasi Devi was a great devotee of Lord Krishna, and that her husband, a demon, was killed by Krishna. Then Prabhupada stopped short and became thoughtful. My intuition was that he had given us as much as we could then understand.
So my understanding became quite basic: somehow, growing Tulasi made Shrila Prabhupada very, very pleased. That was enough. I proceeded to cultivate Tulasi plants on a large scale. I wrote a booklet entitled "How to Grow Tulasi Devi," sent seeds and booklets to every temple, and tried to offer advice and assistance to devotees in their efforts to cultivate Tulasi.
Later, I came across the following purport by Shrila Prabhupada in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (4.8.55) It is specifically mentioned herein that Tulasi leaves are very dear to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and devotees should take particular care to have Tulasi leaves in every temple and center of worship. In the Western countries, while engaged in propagating the Krishna consciousness movement, we were brought great unhappiness because we could not find Tulasi leaves. We are very much obliged therefore, to our disciple Shrimati Govinda Dasi because she has taken much care to grow Tulasi plants from seeds, and she has been successful by the grace of Krishna. Now Tulasi plants are growing in almost every center of our movement."
Only then did I become truly aware of the importance of cultivating Tulasi plants. I realized that my initial attraction to Tulasi and any obsessive desire to grow Tulasi plants, though not inspired by a direct instruction from Shrila Prabhupada were communicated from within the heart by the Lord to please and assist Shrila Prabhupada in his mission. I felt humbled and joyful that even in my ignorance I had been given an opportunity to serve him in this way.
Learning Respect for Tulasi
In l965, before Tulasi made her appearance in the West, Shrila Prabhupada sometimes talked about her. I recall him saying that in India everyone considers Tulasi plants sacred, and no one will cut or uproot them. Even non-Hindus, he said, will not destroy Tulasi to build a house on a spot where she is growing they'll look for a place not inhabited by Tulasi. When Bhaktivinoda Thakura discovered the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, it was so overgrown with Tulasi that no one had settled there, thinking it to be a sacred place. Even non-Hindus considered that disturbing Tulasi plants would bring ill fortune.
When Prabhupada came to Hawaii
In 1971, he admired our lush Tulasi garden in front of the entrance to the temple. Because these Tulasi had grown far larger than we had expected (some nearly seven feet tall and with stalks two inches in diameter), we had a problem. The Blast branches were beginning to cover the entrance, and people unavoidably brushed up against her. We pointed this out to Shrila Prabhupada and asked his permission to trim some of the branches. He became alarmed and exclaimed, "You cannot cut Tulasi that is the greatest offense! You must never cut her. But you can tie back the branches obstructing the entrance." Even after tying back the branches, Tulasi kept growing, and the problem continued. When we told Shrila Prabhupada that people had to bend down when passing through the Tulasi archway on the way into the temple, he was delighted. He smiled, his eyes sparkled, and he said, "That's good. It is good that they have to bow to Tulasi before entering Krishna's temple."
When Shrila Prabhupada came for a later visit, he carefully entered the Tulasi archway by going through sideways to avoid brushing against her leaves and branches. And while walking along the walkway to the temple, which was lined with more Tulasi plants, he told his secretary, Syamasundara, "Don't step on her shadow." In these ways Snla Prabhupada showed great respect for Tulasi Devi.
In his books. too, Shrila Prabhupada called attention to the exalted position of Tulasi Devi. He writes in a purport to the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (3.16.21):
The goddess of fortune, Laksmi is sometimes envious of the tulasi leaves which are placed at the lotus feet of the Lord, for they remain fixed there and do not move, whereas Laksmi, although stationed by the chest of the Lord, sometimes has to please other devotees who pray for her favor. Laksmi sometimes has to go to satisfy her numerous devotees, but tulasi leaves never forsake their position, and the Lord therefore appreciates the service of tulasi more than the service of Laksmi.
In the "Nectar of Devotion" Shrila Prabhupada quotes from "Skanda Purana":
"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 abovementioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world."
Shrila Prabhupada taught us never to think of Tulasi as an ordinary plant. She is a great devotee standing before us in the form of a small tree. She appears as a delicate tree in this world to serve the Lord and uplift human society.
Tulasi Devi can be used in many ways to please the Supreme Lord, but never for gratifying one's senses. To offer Tulasi Devi with a material incentive to destroy one's enemies, to remove anxieties, to make medicine will be the bridge by which one enters the hellish regions.
Tulasi Devi has come to the West to give us the opportunity to serve her for our benefit. If we care for her nicely, she can grant us love for Krishna.
Serving Tulasi's Home
In November 1989, I met "Vrnda Kunda Baba," or Madhava Dasa, a renowned scholar and Vaishnava saint, and a great devotee of Shrimati Tulasi Devi. He had spent years in Vrndavana working to restore and develop Vrnda Kunda, the eternal home of Vrnda Devi, the cowherd-girl form of Tulasi Devi.
Madhava Baba's knowledge of the scriptures, especially those relating to the glories of Tulasi Devi, was vast. Not surprisingly, I felt an immediate connection.
Because Baba had become old and ill, he wanted to leave his work to reliable people who were also devoted to Tulasi Devi. Somehow, by the divine arrangement of the Lord, he ended up at ISKCON's Krishna-Balaram temple.
On meeting him, I felt a strong urge to assist him and began by helping with his medical expenses. Later, when he became bedridden in February and March of 1990, I worked with Vidya Devi Dasi, Muralidhara Dasa, and Mohana Dasa to help provide nursing and medical care for him in his final days.
At that time, I was inspired to paint a picture of Vrnda Devi. Madhava Baba knew all the scriptural references to Vrnda Devi, and he carefully supervised the tiniest details of this painting. The scriptures describe Vrnda Devi as having a beautiful complexion like molten gold, a shimmering golden effulgence, and an enchanting pearl on her nose. A gentle smile decorates her lips.
She wears blue garments and is decorated with pearls and flowers. Her right hand is raised in blessing the devotees, and on her left hand she holds her yellow parrot, Daksa, who has thousands of parrot disciples of various colors: red, green, yellow, blue, white. The parrots serve Vrnda Devi by carrying messages to various parts of Vrndavana.
Vrnda Devi is in charge of the Vrndavana lila pastimes of Radha and Krishna. She decides which flowers will bloom, which birds will sing, which songs will be sung, which breezes will blow, which food will be served, which games will be played, and which musical instruments will be played.
Lord Krishna and Shrimati Radharani have given Vrinda Devi her role as queen of Vrindavan. Vrinda Devi may be likened to a grand director or choreographer of the Vrindavana lila, and her parrots are her communication service. She always stays in Vrindavan, absorbed in love for Radha and Krishna. Her great yearning is to expertly arrange Their meeting, and by doing this she feels the greatest joy.
When the painting was finished, I would holding it up before Baba daily, and he would chant his prayers to Vrnda Devi his worshipable Deity. Often he would cry when he saw her.
Once he looked up at me and very humbly said, "Thank you, Mataji. You have made just the exact replica of Vrinda Devi.
I told him, "Baba, because you are now unable to walk and go see your beloved deity, Vrinda Devi has arranged to come to see you."
We pressed Baba to tell us his life story so we could tape it for future publication. He was reluctant. "No Mataji, I don't want name and fame."
We persisted, imploring him that it would be a necessary part of continuing the development of Vrnda Kunda. We pleaded that name and fame would come after he had left this world. He finally agreed, for the service of Vrinda Devi and we began documenting his life story and the development of Vrinda Kund.
Shrila Prabhupada had told us that Vrindavana is named after Vrinda Devi. It means "forest of Tulasi".
Baba explained, "This Vrindavana Dhama belongs to Shri Krishna. It is the shining crest jewel of all the Vaikunthas and Shrimati Radharani, the daughter of King Vrsabhanu, has made Vrinda Devi the ruling monarch of Lord Krishna's opulent and auspicious abode of Vrindavan."
Every day Baba talked to us of the glories of Vrnda Devi as described in the Skanda Purana, Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Padma Purana, Garuda Purana, Narada Purana and the other Vedic texts. He carefully translated the Vrndadevyastakam of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and he told us about the mercy of Lord Chaitanya. We learned that the Lord would have a Tulasi tree carried before him in His sankirtana party.
During this time, I visited Vrnda Kund. There is a small, simple temple there, and a lovely pond lined with Tulasi Trees. The atmosphere was surcharged with a unique spiritual essence.
I sat quietly and chanted and meditated besides Tulasi Devi. In my mind I had a fleeting "glimpse" of a beautiful palace, with winding crystal staircases and shimmering decor. I wondered at this, and when I saw Baba I asked him about it. He began to describe such a palace from various scriptural quotations. I was stunned.
In a miraculous way that only Lord Krishna could have designed, this aged saint, who was born in a highly situated brahmana family and who had spent his entire life as a sadhu, was now being cared for by a small crew of American and European disciples of Shrila Prabhupada.
Witnessing his love and devotion for Vrnda Devi was our greatest gift. It was as if Shrila Prabhupada had arranged for us to receive further instruction and opportunity to serve Shrimati Tulasi Devi by sending Baba into our midst.
A Divine Soul Departs
Baba's passing away was glorious. It was early, just after mangala-arati, on March 27, 1990. Vidya and I were in the temple making Tulasi garlands when Baba's nurse rushed in, telling us to come quickly. On the way to his room I grabbed the painting of Vrnda Devi to take to him.
As I entered the room, I was a bit shaken by the hanging presence of impending death. Death is a powerful, compelling force, hard to describe, yet almost tangible.
I held the painting for Baba to see and said, "Vrnda Devi has come."
He focused on the beautiful form of Vrnda Devi and tried to say his Sanskrit prayers to her. His last audible words were "Krishna! Krishna!" We sat beside his bed and chanted Hare Krishna on our beads. Dinabandhu Dasa arrived and began playing the harmonium and singing.
It was a soft and gentle kirtana, penetratingly sweet and melodious. The whole room was filled with a golden glow. Baba's eyes were fixed on Vrnda Devi, and when he could no longer see externally, his eyes were shining in ecstasy and focused on some other world. It was as if he was clearly seeing Krishna and his beloved Vrnda Devi.
A beautiful smile was on his lips. His breath came in tiny gasps, and with each breath his ecstasy increased. His face shone with a remarkable radiance. Then he was gone. It was a moment of incredible awe and ecstasy! We were seeing a divine soul depart for the realm of Goloka, and we cried for joy.
Baba's departure left on indelible imprint on my mind. I saw the energy of death in action compelling, relentless, moving forward like a bull-dozer, pushing the soul out of the body. It was fierce and final, frightening and overwhelmingly real. This was the essence and inner meaning of time. I tasted the divine words of the Gita-: "I come as death."
Then I saw the devotee's response to death: full surrender at the Lord's lotus feet with pure love and trust. And I witnessed the Lord's divine protection of His devotee. What may be fearful and horrible for others was for Baba a joyous reunion with his beloved Lord Krishna which came and filled the room with him to eternally serve Vrnda at her home in Vrnda Kunda.
Baba's work at Vrnda Kunda was left unfinished. I believe it was his gift to us, Shrila Prabhupada's generations of disciples. Because of Shrila Prabhupada's efforts in spreading the glories of Tulasi Devi all over the world, Vrinda Devi led Baba Madhava Dasa to choose ISKCON to continue her service at Vrinda Kund.
The small crew of us who cared for Baba all feel deeply committed to carrying on his work at Vrinda Kunda. By Krishna's grace, the daily worship of Vrinda Devi is still going on. We promised Baba that a compound wall will be built around Vrinda Kund and other improvements will be made. Through this work, our spiritual strength will be increased and our understanding of krishna bhakti will become mature. There is the greatest spiritual merit accrued from caring for holy places. And of all holy places, Vrnda Kunda is one of the most auspicious.
Govinda Dasi became a disciple of Shrila Prabhupada in 1967 in San Francisco. She now lives in Hawaii. Our thanks to Manjari Devi Dasi also a disciple of Shrila Prabhupada for her help in putting together this article.
Worshipping Tulasi Devi
The following list was compiled from scriptures and from Shrila Prabhupada's instructions.
Tulasi's body is spiritual. Although Tulasi appears as many individual trees, she is one person, and she comes wherever she sees devotion to Krishna.
Every morning devotees should water and pray to Tulasi Devi and circumambulate her three times.
Worship Tulasi with nice food, flowers, incense, a ghee lamp, and other traditional articles of worship.
Protect the delicate Tulasi seedlings from birds and insects. It is an offense to turn the seedlings back into the soil.
In places where Tulasi cannot survive the winters when planted in the ground, provide a suitable house for her.
Every day provide Tulasi fresh air, water (as needed be careful not to water too much), and sunshine (or plant lights).
Neglecting to care for or water Tulasi properly is a great offense. Do everything carefully.
When picking Tulasi leaves, chant the following mantra:
tulasy amrta janmasi
sada tvam kesava-priya
kesavartham cinomi tvam
varada bhava sobhane
"O Tulasi, you were born from nectar. You are always very dear to Lord Kesava. Now, in order to worship Lord Kesava, I am collecting your leaves and manjaris. Please bestow your benediction on me."
Pick only the leaves that grow next to the manjaris (flowers) and the leaves that are ready to drop they will turn a pale color not the new, green ones. Pick the manjaris as soon as they blossom. Avoid letting them go to seed, which takes much energy from the plant that can be used to make more leaves and flowers for Krishna's service. Pick the leaves one at a time with your fingertips. Don't shake or stroke the branch and damage healthy leaves. Pick with care and attention. Avoid using cutting tools.
Never cut or prune Tulasi Devi. This is a great offense. Remove dead branches if absolutely necessary. If branches obstruct a passageway, tie them back, but don't cut them.
Pick Tulasi leaves and flowers in the morning, never at night (from sunset to sunrise).
Never use chemical sprays on Tulasi.
Collect leaves once in the morning for worshiping Krishna and for putting on the plates of food to be offered to Him. Put at least one leaf on each preparation. Never pick Tulasi leaves for any other purpose than to offer to the Lord.
Lord Krishna likes garlands of Tulasi leaves. Tulasi leaves mixed with sandalwood pulp and placed on the lotus feet of the Lord is the topmost worship. Do not place Tulasi leaves on the feet of anyone other than Lord Vishnu in His various forms. Shrimate Radharani can be given a Tulasi leaf in Her hand for offering to Lord Krishna.
Krishna accepts even dry Tulasi leaves. - Tulasi wood (taken after a plant has fully dried naturally)
can be used to carve worship paraphernalia, such as beads. (or give to other devotees to offer).
Never use Tulasi leaves or flowers to make teas or juices, even after they've been offered to Krishna. It is a great offense to cook or heat Tulasi, or to use her for mundane purposes, such as medicines and ointments.
Never cut down or pull up living Tulasi plants. This is a great offense.
Avoid stepping on Tulasi Devi's shadow.
Tulasi Devi is very, very dear to the Lord. Therefore, most important is to serve her with love and devotion.