By Madhava Smullen
After many years residing on the third floor of Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s temple, Tulasi Devi at the New Vrindaban farm community in West Virginia has been offered a beautiful new dedicated greenhouse to provide her with a high standard of care.
An intimate servant of Lord Krishna who appears in the form of a plant, Tulasi Devi is described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as very dear to Lord Krishna. Her leaves are placed on the lotus feet of the Lord, and her Manjari flowers used in garlands to decorate the Deity of Krishna. Her wood is carved into the japa beads upon which devotees chant Krishna’s name, and the beads they wear around their necks.
At New Vrindaban, ISKCON’s first farm, her care has been overseen for about 25 years by Srila Prabhupada disciple Lokadristi Devi Dasi. Lokadristi, who joined ISKCON in 1973 in Toronto, began serving Tulasi Devi in 1974 and has had 46 years of experience in caring for her at temples all over the world.
“Tulasi Devi is very forgiving, merciful, and kind,” Lokadristi says. “She’s always kept me engaged, and kept me close to the temple and devotees.”
When Lokadristi moved to New Vrindaban in 1994, residents would regularly ask for her advice whenever they encountered problems with Tulasi Devi. As they did not have a greenhouse, they asked which room in the temple would be suitable for the many Tulasi Devi plants. Lokadristi recommended a third floor room with plenty of natural light, and funded its remodeling herself.