Why are tulsi leaves used while offering naivedya?



        Namaskar! We heartily welcome you all for this Satsang (spiritual meet)! Before we commence this Satsang let us pay obeisance at the Holy feet of Sadguru (spiritual master) so that by His grace the very objective of this Satsang is fulfilled. Please pay mental obeisance to your personal icon of faith and recite as follows:

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्‍णु गुरुर्देवो महेश्‍वर: ।
गुरु साक्षात्‌ परब्रह्म तस्‍मै श्री गुरवे नम: ।।

        Path of devotion describes nine types or modes of devotion unto God. The ritualistic worship of a deity is one of them. Just as the flowers have an important place in the ritualistic worship of deities, various leaves also have a significant place. Besides if we offer them with devotion and spiritual emotion then their significance is even more enhanced. Therefore in Srimad Bhagavadgita Shri Krushna says ‘if anybody offers me even a leaf with full devotion and bhav then I accept it by manifesting myself in gross form. This declaration by the Shri brings two things to our notice. First is that devotion and spiritual emotion have important role in our life and secondly every action of ours should be performed with full understanding of the science underlying it. In this satsang we will try to understand the science of offering leaves to deities and their effects.

1. Importance of patri in puja ritual

        Patri is related to the coloured particles. The deities’ principles get attracted to the leaves because of coloured particles. The leaves or patri have the capacity to attract and emit the deity principle. Some of the patris constantly emit the deity principle which helps in continuous purification of the surrounding atmosphere. Only that patri which has more capacity to absorb the respective deity principle should be offered to the deity. That is the reason it is said that only that patri which is ‘liked’ by the deity is to be offered to Her / Him.

        Generally five types of patri or leaves are to offered to deities during a puja ritual. The five patris represent the five great cosmic elements of the Universe namely earth, water, fire, air and ether. The deities are in the form of light. The principles of deities get activated with the help of the five elements. These deity principles are rapidly attracted towards patris when they are offered to a deity.

        Patris of Tulsi are mandatory in the ritualistic worship of Shri Vishnu, Shri Krushna and Pandurang, Bilvapatri is mandatory in the ritualistic worship of Shri Shiva and durvas in the ritualistic worship of Shri Ganapati. In karmakanda (spiritual practice with physical body) the availability of tulsi, bel and durva is mandatory. In addition the place of worship is decorated with some special leaves. For example the bough of mango leaves tied on the entrance of a house is a very common sight. Ritualistic worship of a deity is incomplete without the use of patris. The leaves of five trees namely Pipal (Ficus religiosa), Audumbar (glomerous fig tree), Ashok (Jonesia Asoka), mango, and Vat (ficus indica) are of special spiritual significance in religious rituals. They are known as Panchpallav (pancha=five, pallav=leaf).

        In some special worships of a deity, various types of leaves are offered to a deity and this particular worship is known as patrapuja. Among the various types of patris which are mandatory in the articles of puja, tulsi is one.

2. Tulsi

        Tulsi is a sacred plant. It has been mentioned in Skandapuran that some of the drops of nectar fell on the earth during the process of Samudramanthan (churning of ocean). Tulsi was formed out of them. It was handed over to Shri Vishnu by Shri Bramha. Tulsi is liked by Shri Vishnu and hence it is specially offered to Shri Vishnu. While citing the importance of Tulsi it has been mentioned in Padmapuran that offering flowers made of gold, stones and pearls do not have even one sixteenth of the importance of Tulsi! Sins of even many eras are destroyed by sight, touch, meditation, obeisance, planting and use of Tulsi. All deities reside in the plant of Tulsi from its roots to the tip. It constantly emits the principles of deities and purifies the surrounding atmosphere. It is even said that whoever has a garden of Tulsi in the front yard of his house makes the surrounding nine miles area (yojan) as pure as river Ganga.

  • The unmanifest and subtle most Vishnu principle is absorbed through the stem of Tulsi leaf and is then converted into Krushna principle and goes on flowing through the stem.
  • Chaitanya is activated at the base of the Tulsi leaf and is projected into atmosphere in the form of circles. This chaitanya simultaneously flows through the vessels of Tulsi leaf.
  • The particles of Shakti (divine energy) are also present in the leaves of Tulsi.
  • The particles of chaitanya and Krushna principle are transmitted into atmosphere through the inflorescence.

        Now our readers must have realized the spiritual benefit of offering Tulsi leaves to a deity during puja ritual. The effect of plucking such sacred Tulsi leaves has been described thus in Skandapuran, तुलसीं ये विचिन्‍वन्‍ति धन्‍यास्‍ते करपल्‍लवा: ।- Tulsi ye vichinvanti dhanyaste karapallavaaha’ means blessed are those hands who pluck tulsi leaves for the puja. Thus by knowing the importance of gathering the tulsi leaves for puja our faith in tulsi must have been enhanced to a great extent.

        So let us now see some useful precautions to be taken while gathering Tulsi leaves.

  • Do not pluck the leaves singly, pluck them in pairs
  • Pluck the tip of tulsi consisting of leaves without shaking the plant.
  • When a manjiri (inflorescence ) is plucked then it should contain leaves.

        If we pluck the tulsi leaves while simultaneously chanting the name of our favourite deity and with utmost respect and with proper method, the spiritual benefit received through the puja ritual multiplies a million times.

2A Why are women prohibited from gathering tulsi leaves?

        As specified in Dharma texts, women have a high proportion of raja component when compared to men. There is generation of heat energy in the dormant and serene sattvik frequencies present in the tulsi plant by the touch of women which leads to decrease in its sattvikta (sattva quality). Hence they are prohibited from gathering or plucking the tulsi leaves.

2B Why are tulsi leaves used while offering naivedya to a deity?

        Thus we have learnt about the gathering of tulsi leaves which imparts spiritual benefits. We often see that while offering naivedya (food offering) to a deity it is offered with the help of two leaves of tulsi. One of them is kept on the naivedya while other is offered to the deity. Let us now understand as to why tulsi leaves are used while offering naivedya to a deity.

        Tulsi has the greater capacity to absorb and emit sattvik and Krushnatattva frequencies present in the universe. Therefore use of tulsi while offering naivedya imparts two benefits.

  • The tulsi leaf used while offering naivedya absorbs the subtle frequencies emitted from the food. When this tulsi leaf is offered to the deity, the deity principle rapidly absorbs the frequencies present in the leaf.
  • There is subtle covering of raja-tama present in the atmosphere around the food to be offered to the deity as naivedya. When a tulsi leaf is kept on the food, the sattvik frequencies emitted from the tulsi leaf reduces this covering. Besides the atmosphere around the plate or banana leaf meant for serving the naivedya gets purified. This retains the sattvikta of naivedya for a long period.

        Thus the tulsi leaf is used for offering naivedya for receiving the grace of the deity by pleasing Him/Her. Therefore there is a rich tradition of offering prayerful obeisance to tulsi plant loved by Shri Vishnu every morning and evening as mark of gratitude because it is a destroyer of negative energies and a purifier of the atmosphere.

3. Durva

        Durva has greater capacity of attracting and constantly enhancing principles of three deities namely AadiShiv, AadiShakti and AadiGanesh. The combined flow of all these three principles in durva is called Durvas. When this flow enters the idol of a deity its vital energy becomes manifest. This is called ‘awakening of idol’. In order to sustain this awakening, durva are offered on the idol of Shri Ganesh three times in a day in quantity of 21 or its multiple during ritualstic worship of Shri Ganesh. The number 21 is made up of two complete numbers namely 2 and 1. The addition of 2 and 1 gives number 3 which is symbolic of three primal principles (aaditattva).

        Generally tender shoots of durva are used in puja ritual of a deity. These tender shoots have highest capacity to absorb principles of deities present in the dew drops fallen on their leaves. This benefits the worshipper. If durva bear flowers, they are not used in puja ritual. Flowering plant denotes the ripeness. Ripening causes decrease in the vitality of the plant. This further reduces its capacity to attract the frequencies of deity principle. To further know durva from a spiritual standpoint let us understand it in the subtle dimension.

  • The point where three leaves of durva meet together, divine energy is activated and is emitted in the form of circles of chaitanya.
  • Ganesh principle gets activated in the space of the stem.
  • This activated chaitanya is then emitted from the leaves and their tips.

The speciality of durva is that the process of receiving the principles of deities starts from the roots.

3A What is the difference between durva and common grass?

        We just saw that durva has maximum capacity to absorb and emit three primal deity principles. Common grass does not have such capacity and therefore it is not helpful to increase the sattvikta. The vibrations entering and leaving the common grass are illusory that is they appear just like common vibrations but are deceptive. To understand this point let us see it in the subtle dimension.

  • In the roots of common grass the raja component is more active and is emitted through the leaves.
  • Due to the presence of raja component in common grass there is flow of illusory vibrations through it and these are then emitted out.

        Some people offer common grass to the deity mistaking it for durva. This does not accrue any benefit to the worshipper. If durva is not available every time then akshatas (unbroken rice grains) having the all encompassing property should be offered to the deity. Even scriputures say, ‘सकलउपचारार्थे अक्षताम्‌ समर्पयामि’ ‘Saklopchararthe akshtan samrpayami’ meaning akshtas can be offered in place of all substances. When akshatas are offered with full faith and spiritual emotion then we can get the benefit of frequencies of deities.

        Let us proceed further with same faith and spiritual emotion towards one more patri and that is bilva patri or bel leaf.

4. Bilva patra (leaf of aegle marmelos)

        There is mention of bilva tree in such ancient scriptures as Atharvaved, Aitereya Bramhan and Shatpath Bramhan. It is a sacred tree having sacrificial importance. The leaves of this sacred tree is generally trifoliate. This trifoliate leaf is symbolic of Trikal (three states in time), Trishakti (Volition, action and knowledge), three lingas and three syllables of Omkar. It is offered to Shri Shiva.

        The proportion of sattva component is more in bilva patra and hence it has more capacity to absorb and emit sattvik frequencies. This has various effects. One of them is the reduction of raja-tama particles present in the atmosphere. A sattvik leaf like bilva patra when brought in proximity of a person suffering from negative energy distress then the black energy present within him is reduced.

        Whenever a person is affected by the distress due to negative energies then his control over his physical body, mind and intellect is reduced and control of negative energy increases. Such a person when comes in contact with an environment not conducive for negative energy for instance in a sattvik environment then there is a battle between the negative energy and the satva predominant environment. This battle can manifest at various levels. The manifestation can vary from such simple thoughts like running away from the place to destructive thoughts also. Sometimes the negative energy may manifest in gross form like sudden burst of anger, shouting, throwing articles and may indulge in any type of destructive act like actually breaking and plundering articles etc. To understand this further let us see the effect of keeping a bilva patra in front of a person affected by negative energy distress.

        The person is visibly distressed when the bilva patra is taken in hand and applied to the neck and head. Thus we have seen the gross effect of bilva patra on the affected person affected by negative energy.

  • The unmanifest-manifest frequencies of chaitanya of Shiva form are attracted to the bilva patra and absorbed there.
  • The unmanifest subtlemost frequencies of Shiva principle and frequencies of chaitanya are emitted from bilva patra in the form of circles.
  • Their effect take place on the subtlemost energy of the negative energy and the black energy is disintegrated.
  • Frequencies and particles of divine energy are projected towards the negative energy from bilva patra.
  • This energy then reduces the amount of black energy emanating from the negative energy.

        Thus up till now we have been introduced to the subject of sacred leaves like tulsi, durva and bilvapatra. Similarly we also became acquainted with the effect of sattvik leaves on individual and the environment. Let us pray that whatever things we have been introduced to in this satsang will be remembered and applied correctly during a puja ritual so that we can obtain the blessings of deities and thus spiritually benefitted.

Reference: Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy Text ‘What is the importance of the substances used in Ritualistic worship?

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