Question: Can Tulasi also be used for consumption, in food and beverages?
Answer: Vaisnavas do not use Tulasi plant or leaves as food or beverage. They use it for worship and take it as prasada.
Question: Are there any shastric references?
Answer: I have not come across any shastric reference prohibiting to use Tulasi leaves for food or beverage. All references are about the glory of Tulasi. Some things are just known from sadacara, the behavior of sadhus.
Question: I personally do accept Vaisnava siddhanta regarding Tulsi, but I need to prove to someone my claim that Vaisnavas don’t use Tulsi for other purpose than worship Her and offer Her to the Lord. Otherwise, as “my opponent” claims, I’m just following blind Vaisnava tradition, and being a superstitious. Any news on this, please, let me know, thanks.
Answer: I already said that some things are known from sadacara – the behavior of sadhus. There is a popular saying in Sanskrit: samayascapi sadhunam pramanam vedvat bhavet – the conduct of sadhus is also pramana like the Veda. In this regard, Manu Smriti 2.6. says:
vedo’khilo dharma-mUlam smrtiSile ca tad-vidam AcAraScaiva sAdhunAm atmanstuStireva ca
“The entire Veda is the foundation of dharma, and also the smritis which are propagated by the knower of the Vedas. The conduct of sadhus and also one’s own satisfaction is the pramana.”
You can call it blind faith if you so like it. But in out Vedic culture sadacara is also one pramana, as Krsna also says in Gita3.21:
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate
“Whatever action a great person performs, the general populace emulates. Whatever a great person accepts as authority, people follow the same.”
He specifically uses the word pramana in this verse. Of course the sadacara should not contradict the sastra. The order of pramana is Sruti (Vedas), Smrti and sadacara.Veda is the highest pramana, then Smriti which includes Puranas and then sadacara. But Smriti should not contradict the Vedas and sadacara should not contradict the Veda and Smriti.
Tulasi is so much glorified in sastra and we worship Tulasi. So the natural conclusion is that Tulasi is not for our service, but that we are meant for the service of Tulasi. A Vaisnava is dasanudasa – a servant of the servant. So we are servant of Tulasi and not her enjoyers. And this is also seen in the behavior of saintly people. So what is the blind faith in it. You do not enjoy something that you honor, respect and worship. I hope your opponent can accept this much.