Today I was delighted by the appearance of tiny sprouts! I planted three types of Tulsi basil seeds on the New Moon, June 11. I read the seeds can take 3 weeks to sprout, but mine peeked out of the soil today, June 18… exactly a week after I planted them, and, on my sister’s birthday!
These sprouted seeds are especially exciting to me because I planted them with intention. I’ve long been fascinated by medicinal herbs and nature’s medicines, and when I read in Horizon Herbs’ seed catalog about Tulsi, I knew I had to grow them.
Tulsi, or Tulasi means “The Incomparable One” and represents the Divine Mother on Earth. It’s revered for its healing abilities, known to cure “countless diseases of the body, mind and spirit, bringing harmony and healing on all levels,” Sarvaga and Gunavati tell us in their book Tulasi Devi The Goddess of Devotion.
Even its Latin name, Ocimum sanctum, reveals this plant’s sacredness. Called the “Elixir of Life,” Tulasi is an important Ayurvedic herb. Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years in India. It is basically living in harmony with the universe, to heal and maintain health. “Ayu” means “life” and “veda” means “knowledge” or “science.”
Herbal medicine is a huge part of Ayurveda, and Tulasi is “one of the most admired and respected Ayurvedic herbs and is renowned for its powerful healing abilities.” The list of conditions treated by Tulsi is astounding: “coughs, colds, flu, fever, congestion, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, earaches, headaches, diabetes, indigestion, gastric disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sore throat, kidney stones, join pain, rheumatoid arthritis, nausea, vomiting, cramping, mouth diseases, allergies, skin diseases, internal parasites, insect bites, numerous skin and eye disorders, malaria and cancer.” The book says there’s probably no other plant on Earth known to have such a “vast range of medicinally and spiritually uplifting properties.”
I love that Tulsi is a sattvic, or pure, herb. Ayurvedic herbs are classified by their natures, either sattvic, active (rajasic) or dull (tamasic). These can also be thought of as states of consciousness. Sattvic properties “include pure light, righteous action, creativity and the power of observation. Sattva gives the power of discrimination, knowledge and the ability to know truth. The highest state of sattva manifests as peace, harmony, contentment, compassion, unconditional love, selflessness, devotion and faith. Sattva is the state of equilibrium. When sattva prevails, there is peace and tranquility. Tulasi has the quality of pure sattva.”
Being this is an Ayurvedic herb, I decided to plant some Tulsi seeds for me and my classmates in my Yoga & Ayurveda teacher training program. I found a Tulsi Seed Set, Tulsi Kapoor, Tulsi Rama and Tulsi Krishna, along with the wonderful little Tulasi Devi book at Horizon Herbs, an awesome seed company in Williams, Oregon.
The book talked about how to plant Tulsi seeds and their favored conditions and also the medicinal and spiritual role of the herb.
I’m fascinated to learn that there are 108 names for this plant, so revered as it is in the Indian culture. I’ve been reading that scriptures and legends tell of Tulsi’s virtues. Apparently, traditionally every house in India had a Tulsi plant in the front yard that they cared for and worshipped as a symbol of divine nature. Tulasi comes from the word thula, which means “to lift up.” Tulasi is believed to “lift us all up to the Lord’s side.”
The Tulasi seed is said to symbolize the spiritual awakening within us. I can understand that by the wonder and joy I felt looking at the little sprouts that surprised me this morning!
Of the countless stories about Tulsi, one I especially love comes from a scripture recalled by Swami Premananda told in the book. “If one lovingly gazes at Tulasi with devotion in the early morning hours, one will enjoy perfect eyesight for the rest of his life. Knowing that the modern mind needs scientific facts in order to prove these types of scriptural statements, he resolved to look into this further.
“After a long search, he discovered research confirming that Tulasi releases a special vapor, along with ozone, during the early morning stages of photosynthesis. He felt that when one gazes with devotion the eyes may become moist or filled with tears. What else but this moisture of devotion could make the eyes best able to absorb the benefit of the vapors?” So as often goes, science confirms spirit.
I am so excited to watch these sprouts grow into this glorious herb and experience its magical, natural healing.
I also love being a part of “the preservation of healing plants worldwide,” as Horizon Herbs says we are doing by sowing these medicinal seeds. GMO-free, naturally…