Tulasi Care

Hare Krishna.

28th November, 2016. Gurgaon

Back to Godhead - Volume 10, Number 01 - 1975


We can understand how pure is the service which Tulasi offers to Sri Krsna. So we should always endeavor after becoming the servant of Tulasi devi. I do not know who has taught you that part of a Tulasi plant may be cut off and then replanted? From the Tulasi plant you can cut off only leaves for offering them to Krsna, never for cutting and planting. That is an offence. The manjaris (seeds) can be offered in water and it makes the water fragrant and tasteful. And the manjaris can be planted for growing new Tulasi plants. Yes, the prayer you have enclosed is bona fide. Tulasi devi never goes back to Godhead, she is always with Godhead. She is a pure devotee and thus she has appeared on this planet to render service to Krsna by being offered in all temples throughout the world by being offered up to the lotus feet of Krsna.”

(SPL to Radhaballabha dasa, January 6th, 1972)

There are few things as heart breaking as when a devotee’s Tulasi plant dries up. As the winter approaches in India, we should be more careful in our service towards Tulasi. We can take some basic precautions

  1. Making sure that she is not left out in the hard winter of North India. Try keep her under some shade, so she does not get too cold dew falling on her, or build a temporary shade for winter.
  2. We can bring her inside the house in the night, if making a shade is not practical for some of us. In that case please bring her outside during day time to get some sunlight.
  3. Please water her carefully, not too much (leaves turn black) or too less. Please keep a sharp eye on the soil and water accordingly,
  4. It is a good practice to give her a mild bath on a sunny afternoon. We can mix a little natural soap (free from animal fat) in water and spray on her leaves. After an hour or so we can spray normal water and we will immediately see the difference on her leaves. This also prevents breeding of insects on her leaves.
  5.  In case we see insects breed under her leaves then we can mix pure neem oil (8-10 drops in 500ml water) with the soap, as described above,  Spray fresh water after 1-2 hours.
  6. Besides daily singing her pranam mantra and arti, it might be a good practice to pray to her daily to remain healthy, seeking forgiveness for all the offenses we might be committing in her daily service and still requesting her to kindly inspire in our heart how to serve her best.

I’m copying some questions a devotee asked Srila Prabhupada on Tulasi and his answers via letter in 1965.

  • Q: Is each Tulasi a separate jiva soul or an expansion of one pure devotee?
  • A: Tulasi is one devotee who appears wherever there is devotion to Kåñëa.
  • Q: Where does her spirit soul go when she leaves this body?
  • A: Tulasi’s body is spiritual.
  • Q: When tulasi is being cared for by householders in their homes, must two aratis still be offered?
  • A: If possible
  • Q: When tulasi is being cared for by householders in their homes, may they use her leaves and manjaris on their home offerings or should they take them to the temple?
  • A: Tulasi leaves should be offered to the Deity.
  • Q: When tulasi is being offered arati by the householders, must she have a ghee lamp?
  • A: If possible
  • Q: Is it offensive to turn the baby tulasis back into the soil when they appear?
  • A: Yes
  • Q: There are even questions concerning tulasi’s aratis. We have always offered her incense, ghee lamp, and a flower. Is this correct?
  • A: Yes
  • Q: In the manual, it states that tulasi should not be pruned. Does this mean trimming the branches which no longer have leaves or life fluids flowing through them?
  • A: You may cut the dead branches, but what is the necessity?
  • Q: We were told you once spoke the “four regulative principles of tulasi care” which will keep her from getting sick: (a) keep her moist; (b) keep her clean; (c) give her morning sunlight (at least); (d) give her two aratis a day. Is this bona fide?
  • A: I never said that
  • Q: May tulasi be made into a tea after she has been offered?
  • A: No
  • Q: May devotees carve tulasi wood for Deity paraphernalia?
  • A: Yes
  • Q: When tulasi leaves her body and the body is too soft for carving beads, how should she be used? Should a small fire sacrifice be performed?
  • A: Use the wood for beads as far as possible, the balance may be placed within the earth.
  • Q: We have a letter from you requesting that no sprays be used on Tulasi-devé . May we use a spray of buttermilk and whole wheat flour dissolved in water which coats her leaves to keep spider mites from causing tulasi to leave her body?
  • A: I said no chemical sprays
  • Q: Does tulasi sleep? Should she be left undisturbed after nightfall?
  • A: Undisturbed means what?
  • Q: Is it permissible to use scissors to cut her manjaris, and when transplanting, to use knives to loosen her from her pot?
  • A: Use common sense and if you have none then consult with others
  • Q: Is it an offense to step on or across her shadow (or the shadow of any pure devotee)?
  • A: No
  • Q: For two years we have been waiting permission to use the following two prayers plus translations and a translation of the already existing prayer. Please tell us if these are bona fide. (I haven’t copied them here)
  • A: Don’t try to introduce something new. The most important thing is the love and devotion.

 HH Satsvarupa Maharaj commented as below on the above Q & A in his book Srila Prabhupada Nectar.

Devotees will probably always continue to inquire how they may increase or improve the performance of Deity worship and their other service activities. Prabhupäda gives some important guidelines here when he writes, “Don’t try to introduce something new. The most important thing is the love and devotion.” Not simply by adding more mantras and more paraphernalia do we increase the standard of devotion. At the same time, Prabhupäda gradually introduced more of the temple activities as time went by and he saw that the devotees were able to do it. As far as possible, we should try to gather Prabhupäda’s authoritative instructions and follow them, such as this valuable collection of advice about tulasé worship.

Vidyä-devé däsé was impelled by her devotion to tulasé to ask Prabhupäda many questions about her worship, but Prabhupäda, by his short replies, reminds us that even on a practical basis, tulasé is kept alive and well by the love and devotion of her worshipers. That is the main ingredient.

Pundarika: I remember one time I was in Mayapur in 1976 and was serving as a pujari. One day I was collecting tulasi manjaris from the tulasi plants that grew around the temple. All of a sudden Prabhupada’s servant yelled down, “Pundarika, come upstairs. Srila Prabhupada wants to talk to you. Come right now.” When I got there Prabhupada told me, “Never touch tulasi with a knife.” I had been cutting the tulasi manjaris with scissors and Prabhupada said, “Never touch tulasi with a knife.” So I learned to pick by hand the tulasi manjaris and not a knife.

( Srila Prabhupada rememberances- Sidhanta dasa)

I am copying links to some websites which might help those devotees who may wish to know in more detail on how to serve Tulasi properly. As climate and soil varies from each location, my strong advice will be to first cross check, whatever we may read and feel inspired to apply, with the local temple/ devotees.





Below is a link to various seminar and glorification of Tulasi by senior devotees.

Seminars on Tulasi and other pastimes



We should be clear in our consciousness that Tulasi is not merely a Holy plant but that she is personality and as an aspiring devotee it is in our best interest to build a relationship with her, serving her with Love and Devotion is first step in that direction. Tulasi devi has manifested in this world to render service to Krishna, and not to us, and as aspiring servant of the servants, it will do us much good to serve her in best possible manner.

So I am very glad that you are seriously interested, and Kåñëa is pleased upon you. And that you are sincerely trying, I can understand from these tulasé plants. Yes. This is the practical demonstration. Unless there is bhakti, this tulasé plant will not grow. We must be very much thankful to our Govinda däsé. She first of all cultivated the tulasé plant in Hawaii. And now our tulasé plants are distributed. So she has done a great service. I think I gave her the seeds, and she very nicely done it. Now everywhere we see tulasé plant. It is very pleasing. So the same thing—Deity worship and watering the tulasé plants, chanting sixteen rounds at least, and observing the rules and regulation, regulative principle… Then your life is successful. Don’t neglect. Very seriously continue. And in this one life you are going back to home, back to Godhead. It is sure. I am not flattering you. Kåñëa says, man-manä bhava mad-bhakto mad-yäjé mäà namaskuru, mäm evaiñyasi asaàçayaù [Bg. 18.68]. Asaàçayaù, “Without any doubt, simply following these rules and regulation,” mäm evaiñyasi, “you come back to Me.”

( SPL 1st August, 1975, New Orleans Farm)


All glories to Tulasi Maharani.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

O Holy Name!

Hare Krishna.

17th November, 2016. Gurgaon

Holy Name



Even when a person becomes an offender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, he can still be delivered simply by taking shelter of the Holy Names of the Lord: Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare. In other words, the chanting of Hare Kåñëa is beneficial for eradicating all sins, but if one becomes an offender to the Holy Names of the Lord, then he has no chance of being delivered.

NOD Ch. 8



My tongue has taste for so many sweets but it has still not developed a taste for the sweetness of the Holy Name.

I push my family for savory food but do not push my mind to relish the Holy Name.

My ears are always anxious to hear melodious sound but alas they have no such anxiousness to hear the melody of the Holy Name.

I have developed so many worldly affections but still not developed any attachment for the Holy Name.

I say sorry when I hurt someone but I never uttered sorry to the Holy Name after chanting a bad round.

I strive not to harm others but I have done so many offenses to the Holy Name. 

O Holy Name, indeed I am very fallen,

but you are known as the savior of the most fallen,

this way we have a relationship.

Invoking that relationship, I beg you to be merciful on this most insignificant shameless beggar.

O Holy Name I am begging you to please maintain me under your lotus feet.

Forgiving my past offenses,

I beg you to please give me a taste to chant your Holy Name.



And the remedy..

Hari he! tomäre bhuliyä  (from Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura’s Çaraëägati)

hari he!
tomäre bhuliyä,  avidyä-pédäya,
pédita rasanä mora
kåñëa-näma-sudhä,  bhälo nähi läge,
viñaya-sukhate bhora

O my Lord Hari! Because of forgetting You, my tongue has become embittered with the disease of ignorance. I cannot relish the sweet nectar of Your holy name of Kåñëa, for I have become addicted to the taste of worldly pleasures.*

prati-dina jadi,  ädara koriyä,
se näma kértana kori
sitapala jeno,  näçi’ roga-müla,
krame swädu hoya, hari!

If I sing that holy name of Yours aloud every day with warm affection, then as sugar candy taken medicinally destroys the very disease which makes it taste bitter (jaundice), so Your holy name, O Lord Hari, will cure my spiritual disease and allow me to gradually taste Your sweetness.

durdaiva ämära,  se näme ädara,
nä hoilo, doyämoya!
daça aparädha,  ämära durdaiva,
kemone hoibe kñoya

How great is my misfortune that I feel no appreciation for Your holy name, O merciful Lord! In such a lamentable state, how will I be freed from committing the ten offenses to the holy name?

anudina jeno,  tava näma gäi,
kramete kåpäya tava
aparädha jä’be,  näme ruci ha’be,
äswädibo nämäsava

If I sing Your name every day, then gradually by Your mercy the ten offenses will disappear, taste for Your holy name will grow within me, and then I shall relish the intoxicating wine of that name.


All glories to the most merciful Holy Name.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada


Is today the end or beginning of Kartika?

Hare Krishna.

14th November, 2016. Gurgaon.


Today is the last day of Kartika. Different devotees would have had different experiences and realisations in this Kartika. But for some fortunate devotees it will be the beginning of a full year of Kartika! Yes, it is indeed very rare and only some fortunate souls receive the mercy and inspiration to observe it properly for one full year (or a life time).

In one of the verses in Stavamala, Srila Rupa Gosvami, describes Srimati Radharani as Kartiki-devi. She is the presiding deity of this month. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, he describes Kartika Vrata as the Urja vrata. Urja means power, strength and empowerment. Who is the source of this urja, power and spiritual strength? Urjesvari, Srimati Radharani.  So this is the month we can receive spiritual strength, empowerment to increase our qualification for service and power to make rapid progress in bhakti. So most devotees observe Kartik vrata to somehow please Srimati Radharani.

Does this mercy departs on the last day of Kartika?

Let us hear what Srila Prabhupada has to say on it:

You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”

(SPL to HH Jayapataka Swami, 30th January, 1969)

For pure devotees every day of the year is Kartika.  But what about us? Those who are yet to develop, and bestowed upon, a spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam. What  if we did not/ could not keep any vow this Kartika or what if we feel disheartened because somehow we failed to keep our vows. Not everything is lost for us. We still have a ray of hope and a very bright ray, mercy of Srimati Radharani. It would not end on the last day of Kartika, provided we take some last minute action, today.

We are aware that mercy of Srimati Radharani is readily available in Kartika. Today being the last day, we can take a vow to improve upon any of the areas where we are spiritually weak and/or continue to keep what we started in Kartika. We should earnestly pray to Srimati Radharani to please help us in that area and we take a vow to continue our vow till the beginning of next Kartika. So that it finally becomes part of my daily service. We will show our sincerity and seriousness by trying to keep that vow for Her pleasure, not to collect some pious credits or flaunt some numbers. This will please Her. This would be a proper cultivation and utilisation of Kartika. We are not looking at Kartika as some quick fix solution. Our goal should be to cultivate bhakti, spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam.

I repeat what I quoted few weeks back that the temple will be packed all through the Kartika but it is practically empty a day after Kartika, that should not be the condition of our heart. Whatever mercy we received this month should propel us ahead in bhakti. Not that Kartika is gone and we are back to the same old routine, not the best of the attitude to please Srimati Radharani.

Also at our stage it is best to keep austerities away and take vows which are based on direct limbs of bhakti.

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (SB 7.5.23)

Some suggestions I am thinking for myself:

Endeavoring to carefully hear the Holy Name during my japa.

Daily read one chapter of Bhagavad Gita (takes 10-12 minutes)

Daily read Srimad Bhagavatam (HG Vasisesika Prabhu recently shared that it takes reading just 41 pages daily to complete Srimad Bhagavatam in one year! I could not believe it.)

Daily offer lamp to Tulasi Devi

Daily read the translation of Tulasi Arti after singing it.

Daily read the translation of any of the mantras ( pranam mantras, prasadam prayer, …)

Start daily Guru Puja at home

The list is endless and we can pick wherever we think we need improvement: our hearing, reading, improving relationship with Holy Name/ devotees/ guru.


Let us look at the lotus feet of Radha Shyamsundar and pray to Them, beg Srimati Radharani and we take our vow to continue what we started in Kartika or start afresh today with a new vow to please Her lotus feet. Today is the last day of Kartika to show Srimati Radharani that we indeed have some desire to please Her and are willing to walk the talk. 

Radharani’s mercy doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika. It’s ongoing!Let us aspire for it.

All glories to Kartika month.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Going back to Godhead

Hare Krishna,

6th November, 2016. Sri Vrindavan dhama.


Last Sunday as I was standing outside Balaram Hall in  Krishna Balaram temple at Vrindavan, a senior mataji, whom I know, stopped me and we had the following conversation.

Mataji : You live in Delhi?

Me : Yes mataji.

Mataji: Do you know what has happened in Delhi ?

Me: No mataji.

Mataji: They have closed all the schools in Delhi

Me: (a little surprised) Why mataji!

Mataji: The pollution level have reached alarming level in Delhi, they are spraying water on the streets. Didn’t you read the news.

Me: I don’t read news mataji, it is indeed a surprise. ( I could still not understand the reason for her anxiety)

Mataji: I have to go to Mumbai and catch a flight from Delhi. I am worried how will I go?

Me: (now I am surprised) Mataji. you will be going in a cab and in any case the pollution levels have been high since many years. Media needs something sensational and they would have put it on the main news. The pollution hasn’t gone up to these levels in just a day. It was already very high.

Mataji: Please read the news on your mobile. It is a very serious situation and I am very really worried.

Me: (a bit amused now, but I spoke with a passive face and seriousness) There is no need to worry mataji. They said even 10 or 20 years back that living in Mumbai (where mataji lives) is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day. So it’s nothing new for our body, Please rest assure your trip via Delhi will be fine and no need to be anxious.

Mataji, not very enthused with my reply, turned and left, with a worried expression her face.

As I started walking back towards my room I thought how as a devotee we get bothered with so many distractions. We forget whether our main goal is to go back to Mumbai or going back to Godhead.


Going back to Godhead

While walking back to the room I wished the conversation would have been:

Mataji : Are you aware that we are living in this material world, away from Krishna.

Me: (ashamed) only sometimes mataji.

Mataji : Do you know what all is happening here and what all is supposed to happen as kali-yuga progresses

Me: only a little mataji.

Mataji: Please hear what Srimad Bhagavatam has declared:

Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the Age of Kali.

In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power.

Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brāhmaṇa just by his wearing a thread.

A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely according to external symbols, and on that same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propriety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar.

A person will be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath.

A sacred place will be taken to consist of no more than a reservoir of water located at a distance, and beauty will be thought to depend on one’s hairstyle. Filling the belly will become the goal of life, and one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful. He who can maintain a family will be regarded as an expert man, and the principles of religion will be observed only for the sake of reputation.

As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power.

Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no better than ordinary thieves, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests.

Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined.

 The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety.

The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali-yuga will become fifty years.

By the time the Age of Kali ends, the bodies of all creatures will be greatly reduced in size, and the religious principles of followers of varṇāśrama will be ruined. The path of the Vedas will be completely forgotten in human society, and so-called religion will be mostly atheistic. The kings will mostly be thieves, the occupations of men will be stealing, lying and needless violence, and all the social classes will be reduced to the lowest level of śūdras. Cows will be like goats, spiritual hermitages will be no different from mundane houses, and family ties will extend no further than the immediate bonds of marriage. Most plants and herbs will be tiny, and all trees will appear like dwarf śamī trees. Clouds will be full of lightning, homes will be devoid of piety, and all human beings will have become like asses. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure spiritual goodness, He will rescue eternal religion.

(SB 12.2.1-17)

Me: (very surprised) Really!!

Mataji: Of course, don’t you read Bhagavatam daily?

Me: (ashamed) No mataji.

Mataji: well you should read it. You can now read Bhagavatam on your mobile also, there so many apps.

Me: (more ashamed) Actually I have downloaded all those apps but I do not get time to read SB.

Mataji : I am really worried about future. Should we wait for the Kali yuga to progress at a rapid pace to realise the urgency of going back to Godhead.

Me: (very ashamed) I will start reading Srimad Bhagavatam soon.

Mataji : I am really worried. I do not even know when our time will be up and then we will be born again in this Kali-yuga (‘mildly’ practicing Krishna consciousness ensures at least a human birth)

Me: I am very sorry mataji, I will read it the moment I reach back my room, just now, from today onwards. Thank you so much mataji, I am most grateful to you for stopping me and guiding me to get serious about going back to Godhead and the importance of reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily.

I also remember another conversation with very senior devotee last week who cautioned us that Maya is very clever and she catches us at several levels. At first she will try to catch us at four regulative principles. If she is not successful there then she will try to catch us ‘sadhu ninda’ (making offenses against devotees). If she is not successful there then she will catch us with distractions.

What to do?

Närada advises that one should “patiently endure.” This is advice for the devotee. He should fully engage himself in Kåñëa consciousness with the goal of going back to Godhead, and in the meantime he should tolerate the dualities of life. As Lord Kåñëa advises Arjuna, “O son of Kunté, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed” (Bg. 2.14). “Patiently endure” does not mean that one should stoically put up with life’s dualities and not fully engage in Kåñëa consciousness! The devotee spends all his days and moments wholeheartedly engaged in devotional service, but still he has to contend with material upheavals. So in the face of these inevitable changes, he should patiently endure and go on chanting Hare Kåñëa.

(Narada Bhakto Sutra, 77p)

Be always conscious about…

The symptoms of Kali-yuga are very severe, and they will grow more severe. The duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000 years, and although only 5,000 years of it have passed, already we find so many difficulties, and the more we grow into this Kali-yuga, the more the times will be difficult. The best course, therefore, is to complete our Kåñëa consciousness and return home, back to Godhead. That will save us. Otherwise, if we come back again for another life in Kali-yuga, we shall find difficult days ahead, and we shall have to suffer more and more.

(Teachings of queen Kunti, 15)



All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.