Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas
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Sri Ramcharitmanas an epic poem in the Awadhi dialect of Hindi means The Lake of the Deeds of Rama. Ramcharitmanas was composed in 16th century by a great saint and poet, Goswami Tulsidas (1532-1623). Ramcharitmanas is totally devoted in a true way to Lord Rama. It is popularly called as Tulsi-Krita Ramayana and is well known, heartfully worshipped and religiously followed amongst the Hindi speaking people of India and elsewhere. It is considered one of the greatest works of Hindi literature and taken as an example for every situation in routine life. Many of the verses and phrases (chaupai) of this epic have passed into common speech by people all around India.
It is stated that Tulsidas started writing Sri Ramcharitmanas in Vikram Samvat 1631 (1574 CE) in Ayodhya and completed it in two years and seven months. A large portion of the epic was composed at Varanasi, where the poet spent most of his later stage of life. Sri Ramcharitmanas consists of seven chapters or Adhyaya (Cantos). Every chapter has quatrains called chaupais, broken by dohas or couplets and have occasional sortha and chhand. Ramcharitmanas is the best example of Hindi Literature in the Modern India and is very well written and followed. Goswami Tulsidas has also written Hanuman Chalisa.
Goswami Tulsidas (1532 - 1623) was born to Hulsi devi and Atmaram Dube in Rajpur district of Uttar Pradesh, India. He was a Sarayuparin Brahmin and is known as an incarnation of Sage Valmiki (Maraishi Valmiki who wrote Ramayan), the author of the Sanskrit Ramayana. It is said that Tulsidas was born after staying in the womb for around 12 months and did not cry at the time of his birth but uttered Ram and hence he is also known as Rambola. He was born with all thirty-two teeth intact. In his childhood, he was known as Tulsiram or Ram Bola. Due to the inauspicious events at the time of his birth, he was abandoned by his parents on the fourth night, sent away with Chuniya (some sources call her Muniya), a female servant of Hulsi. Chuniya took the child to her village of Haripur and looked after him for five and a half years after which she died. Rambola was left to fend for himself as an impoverished orphan, and wandered from door to door begging for alms. It is believed that the Goddess Parvati assumed the form of a Brahmin woman and fed Rambola every day. Tulsidas wrote 12 books, the most famous being the Hindi Ramayan - The Ramcharitmanasa that is read and worshipped with great reverence in every Hindu home in Northern India. An inspiring book, it contains sweet couplets in beautiful rhyme in praise of Lord Rama. Vinaya Patrika is another important book written by Tulsidas.
Ramcharitmanas, for the first time in the history of North India, made available the story of Sri Ram to the common man to sing, meditate and perform on. Tulsidas was a great scholar of Sanskrit. However, he wanted The story of Sri Ram to be accessible to the general masses and not just the Sanskrit-speaking elite. In order to make the story as accessible to the layman and general public as to the scholar, Tulsidas chose to write in Awadhi, a local dialect of Hindi which was in vogue and natural use as the language of general public in larger parts of north India during the composition of the work.
Saint Tulsidas married a beautiful lady named as Ratnavali, daughter of Dinbandhu Pathak. After marriage, Tulsidas becomes so infatuated and attracted towards his beautiful wife as he could hardly think about anything else! He became over possessive for Ratna and was not able to concentrate properly. Even in meditation, his mind rested not on Sri Ram, but on his wife and his beauty only. Ratnavali herself was a great devotee of Sri Ram and was very upset by this. One day, while Tuslidas went to a Hanuman Temple she went to her brother's house for a length of time. Tulsidas being so addicted of her wife could not bear any separation from hera dnd began to go mad. One night he decided he just had to see her at any cost, even though there was bad weather and a violent storm going on. On his way he tried to cross a river, he is swept along in a fierce flood. Catching hold of a log, he manages to struggle ashore. When he reached the shore he got to know that the log was actually a dead body. Barely surviving the journey to Ratnavali's brother's house, Tulsidas climbs a rope onto her balcony. After climbing, he realized that the rope was actually a snake. Her wife Rantavali got very shocked to see him there. A girl today would be pleased at such romance, but Ratnavali felt disgusted. Ratnavali implores Tulsidas to focus his love not on her but on the Lord Ram. She said that if you let your peace of mind rest of Sri Ram rather than on my body which is mortal and which will get older and die one day. Her words hit Tulsidas like arrows. With these words, Tulsidas realizes that in his mad infatuation for his wife, he has indeed forsaken Sri Ram. Tulsidas left her home instantly and took to a life trying to spread spiritual values amongst the people. Ratnavali and Her brother reliazes that Tulsidas was hurt and they went to feel sorry, but this turning phase made Tulsidas so enlightened that she reunciated Ratnavali. He fulfilled his childhood promise of making the story of Sri Ram and Sita available to the people in the common tongue. He traveled through North India, spending long periods of time in Varanasi and Ayodhya. It is believed he had mystic communion with Hanuman, who led him to Sri Ram. His works have had such an effect of the lives of the people that it is difficult to describe. As Ram Chandra Prasad, who translated the Ramcharitmanas into English has said of Tulsidas "To many of his readers in India he has been a lamp of guidance, a star of good fortune shining from the horizons of shining from the horizons of humankind, and a fountain of life for such as lie buried in the muir of ignorance and delusion. To those who find themselves wandering in the wasteland of their defilements and sins he has been a clear, sacred spring of perfections, a strong citadel of faith in the graciousness of God, and an impregnable sanctuary of love and peace for the sorely distressed.
The Story of Sri Ram written by Tuslidas has 7 chapters (cantos) with sitaram (सीताराम) at every verse.
The first Chapter is Bala Kand (Childhood Episode). It tells about the importance of the name Ram of the Sri Ram, how the story of Lord Ram is propogated through the ages, who told whom and how Tulsidas got this story, about the reasons of incarnation of the Lord on earth, the marriage of Shiv & Parvati and the childhood of Sri Ram. It concludes with the marriage ceremony of the Lord Ram and his 3 brothers. The first chapter is the largest of the seven chapters.
The second chapter is Ayodhya Kand. It tells about sending of Sri Ram to forest for 14 years, the event on way to Chitrakoot, life at Chitrakoot, meeting with his younger brother Bharat and all the citizens of Ayodhya and reasons of leaving Chitrakoot for denser areas of the forest. Together, the first and second chapter form half volume of this great epic.
The third chapter is Aranya Kand. It gives a glimps of life of Sri Ram along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman in forest, meeting with sages, devotees and earning of Astra & Shastra (divine weapons) from Gautam rishi, the life at Panchavati, the stealing of Lord Ram's wife Sita by the demon king Ravana, and the search process of Sita by Lord Ram and his brother Lakshmana.
The fourth chapter is Sundar Kand which is about meeting of Sri Ram with monkey king Sugreev, their friendship, the vow of Sugreev to find Sita, fight of Sugreev with his brother Baali, the throning in of Sugreev as king of Kishkindha and the search of Sita by the monkies led by Hanuman, Jambwant, Nal-Neel and Angad.
The fifth chapter, Kishkindha Kand is about the exploits and bravery of Hanuman - the incarnation of 11th Rudra (Shiva), the finding of Sita at Ashokvatika in Lanka - the kingdom of Ravana, the burning of Lanka by Hanuman, bringing back the message of Sita to Lord Ram and the effort of Lord Ram to find way across the Indian Ocean to Lanka.
The sixth chapter is Lanka Kand which is about the fight of Sri Ram's monkey army and demon king Ravan's demon army, the fight of Lakshman and Meghanaad, the bringing of life giving medicines by Hanuman to save the life of Lakshman, the killing of Ravana and his complete army, the throning in ceremony of Vibhishan - the youngest brother of Ravan, and the journey of Lord Ram along with Mother Sita and monkey chiefs to Ayodhya.
The seventh chapter, Uttar Kand narrates the reception of Lord Ram at Ayodhya, the throning-in ceremony of Lord Ram as king of Ayodhya, the paying of respect of all Gods and Vedas to Lord Ram, the rule of Lord Ram, the qualities of His rule, the life and bhakti of Kakabhusundi - the great crow, the various principles of life, about the knowledge & relation of the earthly materialism (Maya), the spirit (Atma) and God - the supreme Lord.
Those who read Ramcharitmanas or the Ramayana are blessed with Bhakti (devotion) and Moksha (Salvation). They mostly achieve all that they deserve in the materialistic world and are united with the Lord.