Often some people say Tulasi is not offered to Shiva. But is there Scriptural reference to it?

I remember reading in Shiva Purana that "Tulasi is used in worship of all Gods except Ganesha". So even in Shiva Purana it was stated as "except for Ganesha".

So we can infer that Tulasi can be offered to Shiva. But what is some references for whether or not to offer Tulasi to Shiva?

4 Answers 4


According to this Skanda Purana chapter the leaves can be offered to Lord Shiva. The Shiva Lingam called Arunachala is in fact prescribed to be worshipped with Tulasi leaves.

This Arunachal is expected to be Parameswar Himself and a fourteen kilometre distance surrounding the Mountain is as good as a complete ‘Pradakshina’ (Circumambulation) of Lord Siva. A large number of persons perform the Pradakshina on every full moon night barefooted and Pournami of Chaitra Month is a very special day as over hundreds of thousands throng the Temple and the Mountain displaying sincere devotion from all over the World. A ten day long celebration culminating on the day of Karthika Deepam or lights day is a massive crowd puller; on that evening a huge lamp is lit in an open vessel with three tons of ghee from the mountain top. Among the ‘Pancha Bhutas’ (Five Elements), viz. Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Sky, the Fire is the symbol of Arunachaleswar as a corollary of the Agni Stumbh referred to as above.(The ‘Tiruvannaikavil’/ ‘Jalakantheswara’ Linga represents Water, Kancheepuram / Ekambareswara Linga the Earth, Kalahasti represents Vayu and Chidambaram represents Akash or Sky). Nandikeswar told Markandeya that at the commencement of ‘Ayanas’ (Fortnights) or Vishuvyog times, worship to Arunachal Linga would be very propitious. Early morning puja is performed with ‘Tulasi’ leaves, the mid-day puja with ‘Amalataasa’ and Bel flowers in the evening. By chanting the ‘Aghora Mantra’viz. Aghorebhyothaghorebhyo Namasthey

So, apparently not prohibited but usually no one does that too.


Upadating the answer from ShAktAnanda Tarangini's (overview of the text is here) 14th chapter:

Tulasi leaves are said to be indispensable for many sacred rites as said below (the verse is from YAmala Tantra, all the verses are from that source too):

VinA tulasyA snAnAdi shrAddham yajnamcha na priye |

O Beloved! Without Tulasi no rites like holy bath, Homas or ancestral rites can be successfully performed.

But for some deities it is forbidden to be used. For example for Goddess ChandikA:

Tulasi AghrAnamatrena kruddha bhavati chandikA |

It says that Goddess becomes angry even by the smell of Tulasi.

Similarly for Lord Ganesha and other deities:

Sarvadevamayi sA tu ganeshasya priyA na hi |
LakshmidevyAshchApriyA hi tArAdevyAstathaiva cha||

This verse says that although Tulasi is "Sarva Devamayi" but it is not liked by Lord Ganesha. It is also not liked by Goddesses Lakshmi and TArA.

So, point is, among all the deities, for whom Tulasi is forbidden to be used during worship, Lord Shiva is not mentioned.

Therefore, we can assume, that it is not forbidden but since it is not a favorite of Lord Shiva, usually no one offers it either.

For the restricted flowers in Lord Shiva's worship the same YAmala has the following verse:

Vakulam mAlatim jAtim kundam shephAlikAm jabAm |
Na dadyAccha mahAdeve yadicchechubhamAtmanah ||

One who desires one's own good must not offer MahAdeva the following flowers- Vakula, MAlati, JAti, Kunda, ShephAlikA and JabA.

So, apart from Ketaki flowers, these are the other forbidden flowers not to be used in Lord Shiva's worship. Since, again, Tulasi is not mentioned we can assume that it is not prohibited.

NOTE: Will check Nityotsava too and will update the answer further if something relevant found in it.

  • My family does!
    – user9969
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 5:41
  • 1
    Okay .. but usually no one does.. also u will find some websites and blogspots saying that it is forbidden to do so.. but from the passage in my answer apparently it seems that it is not forbidden. @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 5:42

Attempting to state an observation (not complete answer) this with one stotra as a reference.

Verse 94 of the Bilva Ashtottara stotram (108 names of Bilva)

This verse states 5 forms of Bilva, namely Tulasi, Bilva (the original), Nirgundi, ambhira and Amalakam. The proposed logic is that, since Tulasi is also treated as one of the 5 forms of Bilva, it can be offered to Sri Ishwara during Pooja.

तुलसीबिल्वनिर्गुण्डी जम्बीरामलकं तथा ।
पञ्चबिल्वमिति ख्यातं एकबिल्वं शिवार्पणम् ॥ ९४॥

EDIT - Kindly do NOT accept this attempt as the answer. This is only an observation.

Reason being that there is a lot of content on the web that says that Vrinda / Tulasi (latter is the previous incarnation of the former) has banished using her leaves in the worship of shiva owing to the fact that her chastity had to be violated for securing victory over Shankachuda as well as Jalandhara (the husband of the latter and the former respectively). There is a mention that this information is available in the episode of Jalandhara in Shiva purana. I am currently unable to validate this! If someone is able to do so with actual text and sanskrit slokas, i can delete this point of view.

  • Here verse 94 is slightly different - "94.Thulasi bilwa Nirgundim Jambheeramalakam thadha, Aghora papa samharam , Eka bilwam Sivarrpanam. - Offer of ocimum or ocimum or vitis* flowers or lime or Gooseberry, Leads to the destruction of great sins and so offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,. *Vitis negundi hindupedia.com/en/Bilwa_Stotram Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 16:50
  • hmm .. while Tulasi is mentioned here, i see (from my sanskrit understanding and from the interpretation of other slokas) the translation of the word offer is not with respect to the 5 leaves but with respect to offering 1 bilva in the name of the 5 sacred leaves which destroy even henious sin. This is similar to all other slokas which translate to offering 1 bilva which yields the fruit of the respective mentions. Well, that's my translation and so you may choose to not go with it. Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 16:57
  • Yes , you are very right. No problem with your interpretation. Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 17:01
  • No there is NO such thing as Vrinda/Tulasi said Tulasi not to be used in Shiva worship, in Shiva Purana. In fact Shiva himself told Tulasi the reason why Hari killed ShankhaChuuda. And in case of Jalandhar, Vrinda never said such thing that I wil not be used in Shiva worship. I read Vrinda story in Shiva, Padma and Skanda puran, but no such thing Vrinda said.
    – user12826
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 5:51

Tulsi leaves are generally not used in Shiva worship as these are not the Lord's favourite.. However, tulsi leaves are offered to Bhagwan Shiva on Kartikeya Poornima, and bilva leaves to Bhagwan Vishnu on the same day...

  • Thanks for answer. Kindly cite proper references such as which scripture , Puraana, Sanhita, Smriti et cetera.
    – user12826
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 18:01
  • Hello! Welcome to [main]. Please add some references for your answer. Read How to Answer page and take a tour of our site. Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 1:40

As per Skanda Purāṇa (Verse, Tulasī is to be used in the worship of both Śiva and Viṣṇu.

Chapter 23 - The Origin of Dhātrī and Tulasī,
Section 4 - Kārttikamāsa-māhātmya, Book 2 - Vaiṣṇava-khaṇḍa

तुलसीमंजरीभिर्यः कुर्याद्धरिहराऽर्चनम् ।
न स गर्भगृहं याति मुक्तिभागी न संशयः ॥ १३ ॥

tulasīmaṃjarībhiryaḥ kuryāddhariharā'rcanam ।
na sa garbhagṛhaṃ yāti muktibhāgī na saṃśayaḥ ॥ 13 ॥

  1. He who worships Hari and Hara with bunches of Tulasī, is not reborn in any other womb. He shall certainly attain salvation.

English Translation by G.V. Tagare

You must log in to answer this question.