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Hare Krishna, my name is Sukhi Bhakta dasa, and I am the Tulasi pujari at New Govardhana Dhama in San Diego, California.
Since the beginning of my devotional life, Tulasi has always been a fascinating subject matter for me. I first learned about her my first time attending mangala arati. I had never read about her in any of the books I had by Srila Prabhupada, so I was quite surprised to see all of the brahmacaris bowing down as a plant was carried into the temple room. I looked towards the monk I had met my first time coming to the temple for a Sunday Feast, only four days prior, for some help in my confusion, and he simply told me," Tulasi is a sacred plant that we worship." Although this was a completely new concept to me, I had faith that the devotees were highly spiritually elevated people, much more highly elevated than myself, and therefore took this with an open mind. I thought," If these people are worshipping this plant, then this must be no ordinary plant! I want to find out more." Every mangala arati after that, I prayed to Tulasi devi that she would give me the ability to understand her, that she would give me some experience by which I could know who she is. And I especially tried to sing with sincerity "seva-adhikara diye koro nija dasi"- please give me the privilege of devotional service and make me your own maid servant. Two months after I moved into the brahmacari ashrama, Tulasi devi granted me my request. The brahmacari who was taking care of her moved out of the ashrama, and I was asked to take over her care. I had no prior experience, and honestly no idea what I was doing. But, by Tulasi devi's mercy and the help of His Grace Badrinarayana dasa and Her Grace Isana devi dasi, I over time have learned a great deal and want to help spread knowledge of how to properly care for and worship the only plant who can award bhakti, the only entity who is always present on Lord Krishna's lotus feet, the one whom the sacred abode of Lord Krishna is named after. I pray for the blessings of the Vaishnavas that I may execute this attempt at devotional service nicely and please Tulasi devi, Srila Prabhupada, and Krishna in my efforts.