Why circumambulate Tulasi plant?
The Tulasi tree is a most important plant, and is often seen at numerous Vedic temples, especially those dedicated to Vishnu and Krishna. At such temples you are likely to find one or more in the courtyard wherein pilgrims circumambulate it, water it, or even offer prayers to it. Some temples will even have Tulasi groves, wherein you will see numerous Tulasi plants growing in a garden. Some temples will even have a special greenhouse just for taking care of Tulasi plants. At such temples, they may even prepare large garlands of Tulasi leaves and manjaris (the ends of the branches) for the Deity of Lord Krishna to wear. It is said that Tulasi will not grow well where there is no devotion to the Lord. In fact, how well Tulasi grows is said to be like a barometer that indicates how high the devotional attitude is of the devotee community around the temple.
Vaishnava devotees also use the wood to make neck beads and wear two or three strands of them around their necks signifying their devotion to the Lord. They also make their japa mala or chanting beads from wood of the Tulasi tree. Tulasi is considered to be a pure devotee of the Lord who has taken the form of a tree, and is very dear to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu (Krishna) likes to wear garlands made of Tulasi leaves. Often sandalwood paste and Tulasi leaves are placed on the lotus feet of the Deity of Lord Vishnu/Krishna. Therefore she is given the utmost respect. This is also why many devotees and Hindus in general also grow Tulasi in their homes. In this way, the Tulasi plant plays an important part in the spiritual life of many devotees. So what is the significance, history and legends behind this little tree?
To begin with, the Basil plant (Ocimum sanctum) is commonly called Tulasi (pronounced tulsi). In some accounts of the Puranic story of the Churning of the Ocean (samudramathana), the Tulasi is added to the list of articles which emerged from it, and is sacred to KrishnaIt is also sacred to Lord Vishnu’s consort Laksmi, and hence it is itself an object of worship.
The Tulasi plant also possesses curative properties and is said to be an antidote to snake-venom. It destroys mosquitoes and other pests and purifies the air. It even is said to ward off the messengers of Yama, the ruler of the dead, who will not enter a house containing a sprig of Tulasi. This is also one of the reasons why devotees wear the Tulasi as neck beads. When death occurs, the funeral pyre should be constructed of Tulasi, palasha, and sandal-wood.
The Worshiping of SrimatiTulasi-devi
"Every home with a Tulasi plant is a place of pilgrimage, and no diseases, messengers of Yama, the God of Death, can enter it."
Skandapurana 2, 4, 8, 13 PadmapuranaUttarakhanda
Wherever the aroma of Tulasi is carried by the wind, it purifies the atmosphere and frees all animals from all baser tendencies."
"Vishnu, the Lord of the Three Worlds, takes up abode in the village or the house where Tulasi is grown. In such a house no one suffers calamities like poverty, illness or separations from dear ones." Padmapurana, Uttarakhanda, 6-24-31-32
Benefits of Worshiping Tulasi-devi
Although we can never fully describe the glories of Tulasi-devi, an eternal associate of Lord Krsna. 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 Krsna will always live close to Krsna.
One who puts mud from the base of the Tulasi tree on his body and worships the Deity of Lord Krsna gets the results of one hundred days worship each day.
One who offers a Tulasimanjari to Lord Krsna gets the benefit of offering all other varieties of flowers, and he goes to the abode of Krsna.
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 Krsna 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 Krsna and all the demigods live in a house where mud from the base of the Tulasi tree is found.
Without Tulasi leaves, Lord Krsna does not like to accept flowers, food, or sandalwood paste.
One who worships Lord Krsna 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 Krsna attains Lord Krsna'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 Krsna's abode.
One who worships Lord Krsna 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.