(Goswami Tulasidas is reputed to have
lived for 125 years. 1511 to 1637 AD)
In the 16 th century, during the life time of Sant (saint) Tulasidas, the Moguls had established their rule in India. The Indian population was full of despair at its political defeat. There was the fear that together with the political rule, it would lose the influence of its religion and culture. The future of the country and the nation was enveloped in darkness. During such a time were born in India such saints as Tulasidas, Surdas, Kabir, Meera, Narsinh Mehta and Tukaram. By the flowing current of their devotion they immortalised the Hindu nation.
Sant Tulasidas endeared himself to his countrymen, because like Ramananda, he gave up the use of Sanskrit and wrote in the common language of the people.
Till the time of Tulasidas, the Ramayana had been told in chaste Sanskrit language, which enabled the priestly class of Brahmins to make the story a close preserve. Tulasidas wrote the Ramayana in the spoken language Avadhi and Brajbhasha. He composed his famous book Sri Ramacharitamanasa (Tulasi Ramayana) in 1574.
Sri Ramacharitamanasa or the life story of Sri Rama, proved to be a great force in preserving the Sanatan Dharma (Hindu religion) and helped in giving back to the people confidence in themselves and faith in their own culture. This great work proved to be an immediate success and has been enshrined in the heart of the common man for more than four centuries. In all the Hindi speaking provinces, many of its lines have become well known quotations. The influence of this book on the life and thought of the people cannot be overestimated.
The Ramacharitamanasa is in no way a Hindi translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana. Broadly speaking, it follows the course of Valmiki’s story, but the whole spirit of Tulasidas’s poem differs widely from that of Valmiki’s epic. Valmiki tells the story of Sri Rama as a royal hero, but for Tulasidas on the other hand, Sri Rama is held to be one with Vishnu and with Brahman (The Supreme Lord) playing the part of a mortal man for the benefit of the faithful.
Tulasi’s Sri Ramacharitamanasa is based on the Adhyatma Ramayana. The Adhyatma Ramayana forms part of the Brahmanda Purana. These works are very highly respected by all classes of Hindus. They make a clear statement of the doctrines of the Vedanta, and like the Bhagavad Gita, for its combination of the path of devotion with that of knowledge (bhakti marga and jnana marga). In these works, Sri Rama is depicted as the personification of the Supreme Spirit. The Vedanta looks upon the world as due to the action of Maya or Nescience (ignorance). Tulasi’s Sri Ramacharitamanasa and its parent the Adhyatma Ramayana, represent that school of thinkers in India which has adopted the theory of Anadi Avidya (or the Beginningless Error) to explain the world process.
For instance, in both the Adhyatma Ramayana and Tulasi’s Sri Ramacharitamanasa, in the Aranya Kanda, before Sita’s abduction by Ravana, Sri Rama makes the real Sita enter the fire (probably the Yogic Fire) and an illusory Sita play all the subsequent parts in the drama.
Tulasi Ramayana deals not only with the basic principles of religion but also their practical application to life. These principles have to be thoroughly understood before they can be put to use to bring about the integrated development of human personality. The practical techniques that will open up the secret chamber, will be available only to those who are prepared to understand the basic laws honestly and without making any compromises. The Tulasi Ramayana says in the Bala Kanda 34-14
Hoi Sukhi Jo Ehi Sara Paraee
He who dives deep into the Manas (mind) Lake will achieve happiness. (The Ramacharitamanasa Lake or the Ramayana of Goswami Tulasidas).
In the Bala Kanda, Chopai14 verse 6, is a specific assurance that whoever reads or listens to its recitation with full understanding and translates its principles into action, shall be freed from the evils of Kaliyuga and become a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra. He shall thereby be completely free from suffering in every form.
Jo Ehi Kathahi Saneh Sametaa, Kahihahi Sunihahi Samuzi Sachetaa
Hoihahi Rama Charana Anuraagi, Kali Mala Rahita Sumangal Bhaagi
In the Uttar kanda, Chopai 119 verse 5 it is written that not even in dream, shall the devotee have suffering of any kind or in any measure.
This assurance of the Ramacharitamanasa cannot be looked upon as a poetic overstatement. Goswami Tulasidas has repeated many a times that this sacred book is capable of removing Tritaap or the triple maladies of disease, worry and fear:
Rama Bhagati Mani Oor Basa Jaake, Duhukha Lavalesa Na Sapanehu Taake
This has been stated clearly towards the end of the book as well:
Sunu Khagapati Yaha Kathaa Paavani, Trividha Taap Bhavabhaya Daavani
The scripture that holds out such a promise, is widely read and listened to with reverence by princes and peasants alike. Non-stop recitals (Akhanda Paatha) are also arranged occasionally in thousands of homes.
Those who have failed to grasp the basic philosophy of the Ramayana and to translate it into action have failed to derive the promised benefits. Relying solely on rites and rituals without full understanding, such a person derives very little benefit.
Religion is a body of principles, of values and modes of conduct, the conscious practice of which is absolutely indispensable for the physical, mental and spiritual development of the individual and for transforming the brute and the sub-human in him into the human and the divine. Religion thus sets forth the correct and natural way of day to day living – the only means of ensuring abiding happiness and prosperity for man and society. In such a way religion becomes alive and points to the true way to God worship.
The true essence of worship is pure devotion and true love and this love of the Lord must find its very concrete expression in the conduct of the devotee in the day to day life. It would not remain a mere mental concept but would be revealed in his love of humanity.
The Ramayana teaches how man can bring about the necessary change within himself. We must accept the basic and fundamental truth that religion is the only true way of life. While the principles of religion remain unchanged, experiences will differ from person to person, according to his her stage of development and achievement.
People in general can be divided into two categories – the intellectual and the emotional. The actions of the intellectual are influenced mainly by thinking, analysis and reason. Such a person develops into a person of knowledge or Gyaanee. The emotional person is guided predominantly by feelings. He can launch his experiments on the basis of faith in the spiritual preceptor or in the revealed scripture and he becomes a Devotee or Bhakta.
In the Uttara Kanda, Chopai 114, verse 7, it is stated that all human sufferings are removed by either of these two paths (Knowledge and Devotion).
Bhagatihin Gyaanahin Nahin Kachhu Bhedaa, Ubhaya Harahin Bhava Sambhava Khedaa.
The two paths of sadhana, that of Devotion and Knowledge, have been mentioned in esoteric language in the opening lines of Tulasi Ramayana. Shloka 2 of Bala kanda reads
Bhavaani Shankarou Vande Shraddhaa Vishvaas Rupinou
Yaabhaam Binaa Na Pashyanti Siddhaha Svaantasthameeshwaram
These lines say that the aspirant cannot see God, Who is seated within all of us, without the help of Bhavaanee and Shankara, who are Faith and Reason personified.
The aspirant follows the method either of Faith or Reason in his progress towards the goal. It is significant to note that the emphasis here is not on Action but on a person’s Thinking and Feeling, which alone can bring about his transformation. The change has to come from the subtle level to the gross level. The Thinking and Feeling eventually get transformed into action. The whole process begins with Vasanas. (see explanations about "Vasana" Page 'Gita for Children'). The Ramayana is unique in that it relies upon a change, primarily at the level of Vasanas that transform at the level of the intellect into Thoughts which in turn transform themselves at the level of the mind into Desires and these get transformed at the physical level into Actions.
In the Uttara kanda, Chopai 71, Verse 4, it is said that the Lord is transcendent as well as immanent.
Prakriti Paar Prabhu Saba Oor Baasi
God is transcendent; God exists apart from and beyond the changing universe. God is also immanent; God is the indwelling spirit in everyone and in everything.
The Ramayana prescribes ‘Sumiran’ or methodical meditation for the transcendent and prescribes ‘Bhajan’ (singing the glory of the Lord) for the immanent aspect of the Divinity. Meditation is objectless concentration. In this transcendental consciousness, light descends and the devotee becomes a Gyaanee (self realised). This Gyaan or Knowledge is entirely different from the learning acquired through books. It is this Knowledge alone that enables the devotee to distinguish between the apparent and the Real.
Sahaja Vimala Mana Laagi Samaadhi
‘Bhajan’ is clearly defined by Lord Rama in the following lines. Uttara Kanda, Doha 16
Aba Graha Jaahu Sakhaa Sakala, Bhajehu Mohi Drdha Nem
Sadaa Sarvagata Sarvahita, Jaani Karahu Ati Prem
Friends, now go home and through bhajan devote yourself unto Me. I am present in all and desire the good of all. With this faith, love all intensely and serve them. The only way to love and serve God is to love and serve all. Love must pour forth in service.
Lord Rama told Jatayu that nothing is unattainable by him who has the good of others at heart.
Para Hita Basa Jinhake Mana Mahin, Tin Kahan Jaga Durlabha Kachhu Naahin.
In the lines spoken by Lord Rama to Hanuman, the same principle is stated:
‘O Hanuman, his devotion is exclusive who is steadfast in his faith that the Lord is manifest in all movable and immovable creation, and he is their servant.’
So Ananya Jaake Asi Mati Na Taraee Hanumanta
Main Sevaka Sacharaachara Roop Swami Bhagavanta
A very subtle distinction has been drawn by the Ramayana between serving others as a form of worship of the Lord and helping others, thinking them to be needy and poor and thereby feeding one’s ego. A great philanthropist may just have a highly developed ego-self. The devotee on the other hand gives and feels grateful to the Lord for having accepted his services. He does not draw back at the sight of an ailing dirty beggar in rags. There is the Lord in one form or another waiting to be served.>
In the Tulasi Ramayana, Aranya kanda, Chopai 14, verse 1, Sri Rama explains:
Main Aru Mor Tor Tein Maya
"The feeling of "I" and "Mine" implies delusion. When these do not exist, the aspirant discovers that his body is the dwelling place of the Lord. Immediately thereafter follows the realisation that ‘He’ alone exists, not ‘I’, resulting in a full surrender to the Lord. Unconditional surrender to the Lord is the key to universal love. Surrender is not complete as long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. The devotee ultimately becomes an active instrument to carry out the Lord’s will. Surrender to the Lord is not the end but the beginning of a truly religious living.
The Importance of Satsang
(Company of holy people)
(Company of holy people)
How is such a noble state to be obtained?
Goswami Tulasidas says: Bala Kanda, Chopai No.2.
Goswami Tulasidas says: Bala Kanda, Chopai No.2.
Binu Satsanga Bibeka Na Hoi,
Rama Kripaa Binu Sulabha Na soi
Rama Kripaa Binu Sulabha Na soi
Whoever, whenever and by whatever means has ever attained wisdom, glory, salvation, material prosperity and welfare anywhere and by any means whatsoever – know it to be the result of association with holy men; there is no other means either in the world or in the Vedas. Wisdom dawns not without association with saints and such association cannot be easily had without the grace of Sri Rama (the Lord).
Contact with noble souls is the root of joy and blessings. It constitutes the very fruit and fulfillment of all endeavours, whereas all other practices are blossoms as it were. Through contact with the virtuous even the wicked get reformed, just as a base metal is transmuted by the touch of the philosopher’s stone.
I bow to the saints, who are even minded towards all and have no friend or foe, just as a flower of good quality placed in the palm of one’s hands communicates its fragrance alike to both the hands (the one which plucked it and that which held and preserved it). Realising thus the noble disposition and loving nature of saints, who are innocent at heart and catholic in spirit I make this humble submission to them. O noble souls, bless me with devotion to the feet of Sri Rama."
It has been laid down here, categorically and firmly, that Satsang or the company of holy people is the only way to achieve anything good and great. This has been repeated many a times not only in the Ramayana but also in other holy books. In Bhakti-Sutra, Narada says: Mukhyatastu Matkripaiva - Mainly through the grace of the great ones.
The primary means of attaining divine love is the grace of the saints. Such contact, it is further said, is rare, difficult to attain, yet uplifting in its effect. It is possible only through God’s grace.
Tadeva Saadhyataam, Tadeva Saadhyataam – Therefore cultivate this contact with the lover of God.
That is why the importance of Satsang cannot be emphasized enough times.
The Ramayana holds out the grand assurance that the man who surrenders to the Lord wipes out the sins of crore (ten million) lives. Sanmukha Hoi Mohin Jabahin, Janma Koti Adha Naasahin Tabahin.
The philosophy underlying the mythology in the Ramayana is not always apparent. The saint-poet Tulasidas himself admits that he could understand only a part and that also after his guru had repeated it to him quite a number of times.
Tadapi Kahi Guru Baarahin Baara, Samujhi Pari Kachhu Mati Anusaara
Such being the case, it is natural that the principles embodied in the Katha or the story should pass unnoticed except dimly and partially. Behind every incident or episode in the Ramayana there is a fundamental principle that is not always easy to understand. However, many of the principles can be easily translated into action and they are within the reach of every earnest seeker after truth.
The Ramayana is like an almond with a smooth and beautiful lustrous hard shell. The shell is the story part of the classic which pleases all who come to it. A rare reader of the Ramayana is able to break the shell and go to the principles embodied in the allegories. He then gets the kernel in hand. This again has a covering that is removed by putting it in water for some hours. Only the competent teacher can help the seeker unravel and understand the principles and the technique, the use of which will rid a man of the Tritaap (triple maladies) of disease, worry and fear and bestow on him everlasting happiness and blissful love.Question: How can one, standing alone on the ground, bare feet, and without armour to protect the body, defeat the opposition who is mounted in a battle tank?
The Victory Chariot of Sri Rama
From Tulasi Ramayana, Lanka-Kanda Chopai 79
Vibhishana was disconcerted when he saw Ravana mounted on a chariot and the hero of Raghu’s line (Sri Rama) without any (chariot). Vibhishana’s great fondness for the Lord filled his mind with diffidence; and bowing to His feet he spoke with a tender heart:
"My Lord, you have no chariot nor any protection either for your body (in the shape of armour) or for Your feet (in the shape of shoes). How then, can You expect to conquer this mighty hero?"
"Listen, friend:" replied the all-merciful (Sri Rama), "the chariot which leads one to victory is quite another. Valour and fortitude are the wheels of that chariot, while truthfulness and good conduct are its enduring banner and standard. Even so strength, discretion, self-control and benevolence are its four horses that have been joined to the chariot with the cords of forgiveness, compassion and evenness of mind.
Adoration of God is the expert driver; dispassion the shield, and contentment the sword. Again, charity is the axe; reason, the fierce lance and the highest wisdom the relentless bow. A pure and steady mind is like a quiver; while quietude and the various forms of abstinence (Yamas) and religious observances (Niyamas) are the sheaf of arrows. Homage to the Brahmins (priests) and to one’s own preceptor is an impenetrable coat of mail. The hero who happens to be in possession of such a strong chariot can conquer even that mighty and invincible foe, attachment to the world. There is no other equipment for victory as efficacious as this. My friend, he who owns such a chariot of piety shall have no enemy to conquer anywhere."
Swami Vivekananda wrote:
The foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa
(Compiled by G.M.Jagtiani)
Survival of the FittestAy, it is a curious fact that while nations after nations have come upon the stage of the world, played their parts vigorously for a few moments and died almost without leaving a mark or a ripple on the ocean of time, here we are living, as it were, an eternal life. They talk a great deal of the new theories about the survival of the fittest, and they think that it is the strength of the muscles which is the fittest to survive. If that were true, any one of the aggressively known old world nations would have lived in glory today, and we, the weak Hindus, who never conquered even one other race or nation, ought to have died out.
Yet we live here three hundred million strong! (Nearly one billion today). (A young English lady once told me: What have the Hindus done? They never even conquered a single race!) And it is not at all true that all its energies are spent, that atrophy has overtaken its body; that is not true. There is vitality enough, and it comes out in torrents, and deluges the world when the time is ripe and requires it.
Religion Is The Backbone Of This RaceHere we are, the Hindu race, whose vitality, whose life-principle, whose very soul, as it were, is in religion. I have seen a little of the world, travelling among the races of the East and the west; and everywhere I find among nations one great ideal which forms the backbone, so to speak, of that race. With some it is politics, with others it is social culture. Others again may have intellectual culture and so on for their national background. But this, our motherland (India), has religion and religion alone for its basis, for its backbone, for the bedrock upon which the whole building of its life has been based.
India’s gift to the world is the light spiritualPolitical greatness or military power is never the mission of our race (Hindu people of India); it never was, and mark my words, it never will be. But there has been the other mission given to us which is to conserve, to preserve, to accumulate, as it were, into a dynamo, all the spiritual energy of the race, and that concentrated energy is to pour forth in a deluge on the world whenever circumstances are propitious. Let the Persian or the Greek, the Roman, the Arab, or the Englishman march his battalions, conquer the world, and link the different nations together, and the philosophy and spirituality of India is ever ready to follow along the new-made channels into the veins of the nations of the world. The Hindu’s calm brain must pour out its own quota to give to the sum total of human progress. India’s gift to the world is the light spiritual.
We never preached our thoughts with fire and sword.Civilisations have arisen in other parts of the world, in ancient times and in modern times. Great ideas have emanated from strong and great races. In ancient and in modern times, wonderful ideas have been carried forward from one race to another. In ancient and in modern times, seeds of great truth and power have been cast abroad by the advancing tide of national life; but, mark you, my friends, it has been always with the blast of war trumpets and with the march of embattled cohorts.
Each idea had to be soaked in a deluge of blood. Each idea had to wade through the blood of millions of our fellow-beings. Each word of power had to be followed by the groans of millions, by the wails of orphans, by the tears of widows. This in the main, other nations have taught; but India has for thousands of years peacefully existed. Here activity prevailed when even Greece did not exist. When Rome was not thought of, when the very fathers of the modern Europeans lived in the forests and painted themselves blue.
Even earlier, when history has no record, and tradition does not peer onto the gloom of that intense past, even from then until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it. We, of all the nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live.
There was a time when at the sound of the march of big battalions the earth trembled. Vanished from off the face of the earth, with not even a tale left behind to tell, gone is that ancient land of the Greeks. There was a time when the Roman Eagle floated over everything worth having in this world. Everywhere Rome’s power was felt and pressed on the head of humanity. The earth trembled at the name of Rome. But the Capitoline Hill is a mass of ruins. The spider weaves its web where the Caesars ruled. There have been other nations equally glorious that have come and gone, living a few hours of exultant and exuberant dominance and of a national wicked life, and then vanishing like ripples on the face of the waters. Thus have these nations made their mark on the face of humanity. But we live.
Seven questions of Garuda and Kakabusundi’s replies to them
- Which form of all is the most difficult to obtain?
- Which is the greatest misery?
- Which is the highest pleasure?
- What are the innate disposition of, or the essential characteristics of the saints and of the evil-minded?
- Which is the highest religious merit made known in the Vedas?
- Which is the most terrible sin?
- What is the disease of the mind?
1. There is no other form as good as the human body: every living creature – whether animate or inanimate - crave for it. It is the ladder that takes the soul either to hell or to heaven and again to final beatitude, and is the bestower of blessings in the form of wisdom, dispassion and devotion. Men who fail to adore Sri Hari even after obtaining this body, and wallow in the basest pleasures of the senses, throw away the philosopher’s stone from the palm of their hand and take bits of glass in exchange for the same.
2. There is no misery in this world as terrible as poverty.
3. There is no blessing as great as communion with saints.
4. Beneficence in thought, word and deed is the innate disposition of saints. The saints undergo suffering in the interest of others while impious wretches do so with a view to tormenting others. Tender hearted saints, like the birch tree, submit to the greatest torture (even allow their skin to be peeled off) for the good of others; while the wicked, like the hemp, have their skin flayed off and perish in agony in order to be able to bind others (in the form of cords). Like the rat and the serpent, the wicked injure others without any gain to themselves. Having destroyed others’ prosperity they perish themselves, even as the hail dissolves after destroying the crops. The elevation of the wicked, like the rising of the comet- which is a detestable heavenly body- is a source of calamity to the world. The advancement of a saint, on the other hand, is ever conducive to joy, even as the rising of the sun and the moon brings delight to the whole universe.
5. A vow of non-violence is the highest religious merit known to the Vedas.
6. There is no sin as grievous as speaking ill of others.
7. Note now the diseases of the mind, from which everyone suffers. Infatuation is the root of all ailments and from these again arise many other troubles. Lust is a counterpart of wind and inordinate greed corresponds to an abundance of phlegm; while anger represents bile, which constantly burns the breast. Should all these three combine, there results what is known as Sannipata (a derangement of the aforesaid three humours of the body, causing dangerous type of fever ). The cravings for the manifold pleasures of the sense, so difficult to realise, are the various distempers, which are too numerous to name
The feeling of mineness corresponds to ring-worms, envy represents itches, while joy and grief correspond to a disease of the throat marked by an excessive enlargement of the glands (goiter). Grudging contemplation of others’ happiness represents consumption; while wickedness and perversity of soul correspond to leprosy. Egotism is the counterpart of the most painful gout; while hypocrisy, deceit, arrogance and pride correspond to the disease known as Dracontiasis (which is marked by the presence in the body of a parasite known as the guinea-worm). Thirst for enjoyment represents the most advanced type of dropsy; while the three types of craving (those for progeny, riches and honour) correspond to the violent quartan ague. Jealousy and thoughtlessness are the two types of fever. There are many more fell diseases, too numerous to mention.
People die even of one disease; while I have spoken of many incurable diseases which constantly torment the soul. How then can it find peace? There are sacred vows and religious observances and practices, austere penance, spiritual wisdom, sacrifices, Japa (recitation of prayers), charity and myriad of other remedies too; but the maladies just enumerated do not yield to these.>
Thus every creature in this world is ailing and is further afflicted with grief and joy, fear, love and desolation. I have mentioned only a few diseases of the mind; although everyone is suffering from them, few are able to detect them. These wretches, the plague of mankind, diminish to a certain extent on being detected, but are not completely destroyed. Fed by the unwholesome diet of sensuality they sprout even in the mind of sages, to say nothing of poor mortals. All these ailments can no doubt be eradicated if by Sri Rama’s grace the following factors combine.
There must be faith in the words of the physician in the form of a true preceptor; and the regimen is indifference to the pleasure of the senses. Devotion to the Lord of the Raghus (Sri Rama) is the life giving herb; while a devout mind serves as the vehicle in which it is taken. By this process the ailments can certainly be eradicated; otherwise all our efforts will fail to get rid of them. The mind should be accounted as cured only when the heart gathers strength in the form of dispassion, appetite in the shape of good resolutions grows stronger and stronger every day and weakness in the form of sensual appetite goes. (Being thus rid of all diseases) when the soul bathes in the pure water of wisdom, the heart is saturated with Devotion to Sri Rama.
It would be easier for the hair to grow on the shell of a tortoise, or for the progeny of a barren woman to slay anyone or for flowers of every description to appear in the air than for any creature to be happy even though hostile to Sri Hari. Sooner shall thirst be slaked by drinking of a mirage or horns sprout on a hare’s head or darkness efface the sun than a creature who has turned his face against Sri Rama find happiness. Sooner shall fire appear out of ice than an enemy of Sri Rama enjoy happiness. Sooner shall butter be churned out of water or oil be extracted from sand than the ocean of worldly existence be crossed without adoring Sri Hari: this is a conclusion which cannot be set aside. The Lord can exalt a mosquito to the position of Brahma (the Creator) and degrade Brahma to a position lower than that of a mosquito. Realising this, the wise discard all doubt and worship Sri Rama.
I have told you my considered views and my words can never be untrue; Men who worship Sri Rama are able to cross the most turbulent ocean of mundane existence.
TulasidasSome Legends connected with Goswami Tulasidas
By Chandra Kumari Handoo
When Tulasi went to Kashi and stayed at the house of a pious Brahmin, a keen desire to sing the glory of Rama arose in his heart, but whatever he composed (in Sanskrit verse) during the day he would forget overnight. This went on for several days and Tulasi wondered very much at this strange phenomenon. On the eighth day, however, Siva appeared to him in a dream and said, "Compose in your own spoken language."
These words were still echoing in Tulasi’s ears when, on waking, he had a vision of Siva and Parvati. Repeating the words of his dream, Siva said: "Compose your verses in Hindi, my son. Do not get involved in the language of the gods (Sanskrit). You should do that which will be of benefit to all; do not follow the traditional path. Go and live in Ayodhya and let your poetry come to light there. Through the grace of my meritorious deeds, your poetic talent will be fruitful as the hymns of the Sama Veda." Saying this both the divine forms disappeared.
Tulasi marvelled at his own good fortune and left immediately for Ayodhya. This was around the year 1572 AD. While wandering about in the lanes, gardens and woods of the city of Ayodhya, Tulasi met a holy man who in the course of conversation remarked, "I will show you a beautiful spot if you will come with me." Tulasi accompanied him and they came to a secluded place covered with a network of Banyan trees. A seat had been constructed under one of these trees, on which sat an ascetic whose face glowed like fire. He was a realised soul who told Tulasi that his Guru had foretold the coming of Tulasi and had requested him to keep the seat of meditation reserved for Tulasi. The ascetic said "Now my work is done." Then he got up, sat in another place and through the fire of Yoga, burnt his body.
Early in the new Vikram Samvat year of 1631 (March-April of 1574 AD), the position of the planets ( and other astrological signs, not excluding the day of the week, Tuesday, on Rama-Navami day, the birthday of Sri Rama), were exactly as they had been when Rama was born in the distant age of Treta. On this very auspicious day, Hanuman appeared, performed the purification ceremony (abhishek) by the sprinkling of sacred water and chanting of Mantras and installed Tulasi in a new life. Celestial beings such as Siva, Parvati, Ganesha, Saraswati, Narada, Sesa, Surya, Sukracharya and Brihaspati also showered their blessings on him. And then at last Tulasi commenced his writing of the Ramacharitamanasa. He wrote in all for 2 years, 7 months and 26 days, and was able to finish the book on a Tuesday afternoon, on the anniversary of the marriage of Rama and Sita in the month of November-December (Margasirsa) of the Samvat year 1631 (1574 AD). Tulasi was at this time 77 years of age.
The book was first read in the presence of Hanuman who blessed Tulasi, saying, "May your fame spread in the three worlds!"
The next person to hear it was Sri Ruparuna Swami, a holy man of Mithila, who happened to be visiting Ayodhya at that time. He had cultivated the devotional attitude of Janak, regarding Sita and Rama as his daughter and son-in-law. Tulasi held him in high regard and so selected him alone for his first human audience.
Then Dayaludasa, a disciple of Swami Nandalala made a copy for himself and read it to his Guru, presumably in Vrindavan. Later the famous Muslim (Hindi) poet and devotee of Krishna, called Rasakhana heard it.
A few copies of the book had been made by this time. Then through the guidance of the Lord, Tulasi went to Kashi and in the Viswanatha temple recited it to the divine and invisible presence of Siva and Parvati. At night the book was left near the image of Siva and the doors were closed. The ignorant and the learned, ascetics and lovers of God, crowded the temple gate in the morning eager for Darshana (viewing). When at last the temple door opened, to the surprise of every one concerned, "Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram" (the Truth, the Good and the Beautiful) was found written on the Ramacharitamanasa, bearing the signature of Lord Siva Himself. These appreciative words were not only there in black and white, but were heard to echo and re-echo within the temple walls. The spectators, perhaps consisting of the audience of the previous day’s recital, were duly impressed.
In this prosaic and down-to earth age of Kali, a miracle had taken place and the news spread like wild fire. The man in the street was beside himself with joy and people rushed to pay their homage to Tulasidas, vying with one another to touch his feet and receive his blessings.
But in this ancient city of Kashi, which had been the seat of Sanskrit learning and a stronghold of orthodoxy from time immemorial, the arrogance of the intellectuals was a force to be reckoned with. They raised a storm of opposition. The Lord’s leela (stories about the Lord) should be sung in no other language but the language of the gods (deva-bhasha) or Sanskrit. They exclaimed in pious horror that the great mystery of the Supreme Godhead in the human body (Rama) could not be thus desecrated. The persecution of Tulasidas that followed proved how strongly ingrained was the language prejudice. But befitting his role as a great teacher and in refreshing contrast to the dogmatism of the Pandits (pundits) was the great quality of vision and imagination that Tulasi showed.
The narrowness of heart, stubborn conventionalism and spiritual pride had completely blinded the pandits. Perhaps envy also did not allow them to acknowledge the merits of the book. They were so enraged at its increasing popularity that they decided to get rid of it by shady and unscrupulous means. Two professional thieves called Nidhua and Sidhua were engaged to steal the book. Printing had not been introduced and copies of the Ramacharitamanasa were still rare. In this way the pandits hoped to destroy the work altogether. When the thieves tried to enter Tulasi’s hut at night they found two young boys, one of fair and the other of dark complexion, walking up and down with bow and arrow in hand, guarding the entrance of the hut. Observing them thus vigilant the whole night the minds of the thieves were purified.
The next morning they made a confession of their intention to Tulasidas and enquired who were his night watchmen. On hearing the description of what they had seen, Tulasi shed tears of joy and distributed all his possessions to the poor. He congratulated Nidhua and Sidhua on having had a vision of Rama and Lakshmana and they also repented, fell at his feet, and reformed their lives.
Sri Hanuman and Sant TulasidasRama Darshan at Chitrakut
(The Vision of Sri Rama at Chitrakut)
Sri Hanuman is an ideal of Dasya Bakti- the devotional attitude of the servant of God. He is worshipped by all devout lovers of Sri Rama to this day, as being one who can bring us into the divine presence with greater ease than would be possible by the direct worship of Sri Rama Himself. Tulasidas considered Sri Hanuman to be his chief benefactor and protector.
Sri Hanuman is a friend of the common man and a mediator between him and the Lord.
When Sri Rama in His human incarnation withdrew himself from the world, He has left Sri Hanuman to look after us for all eternity. And so, wherever the name of Sri Rama is mentioned in conversation, song or recital, Sri Hanuman in his untiring devotion is always known to be present there.
Tulasi went on a pilgrimage and visited the holy mountain of Kailash in the Himalayas. Then he came to Bhavavana where he remained during the monsoon rains. In this forest named Bhavavana, Tulasi daily recited the Ramayana.
A legend says that there was a holy fig tree and the spirit of a dead man, bound to this fig tree for some evil deeds of its past life, was suffering in great agony. Tulasi passed that way daily and poured water at the roots of the tree after his morning ablution. This released the spirit from its painful bondage. Wishing to express its gratitude, the spirit asked Tulasi how his kindness could be repaid. Tulasi said that he did not desire anything except the vision of Sri Rama.
The spirit replied that it knew the means by which this wish could be fulfilled. The spirit then informed Tulasi that when he recited the Rama Katha (story of Rama); Hanuman came to listen to him in the guise of a leper dressed in rags. Shunned by the audience, he sat in a corner and was the first to come and last to go. The spirit said that Hanuman, by the strength of his own devotion could confer the boon of the vision of Rama upon Tulasi.
Next day, at the Rama Katha recital Tulasi looked carefully and found a man who answered to the description given by the spirit. When the assembled crowd of devotees had dispersed and this man was also about to leave, Tulasi went up to him, fell at his feet and begged him to fulfill the desire so dear to his heart. Tulasi implored him over and over again to be kind. At last he said to Tulasi: "Go to Chitrakut mountain and there you will be blessed with the vision of Rama."
Tulasi immediately left for Chitrakut. Throughout the journey Tulasi’s mind dwelt on Rama and on the possibility of Rama-Darshan (Vision of Rama).
On reaching Chitrakut, Tulasi lived at Ramghaat, and started his daily recitation of the Ramayana. One day, while doing pradakshina (walking about) Kamadgiri Hills, Tulasi came across a most unexpected sight. Two princely looking boys, one fair and the other of dark complexion passed by riding on horses. Attracted greatly by their extraordinary good looks, he wondered who they were. It did not occur to him for a moment that they were Rama and Lakshmana, the ideals enshrined in his own heart, until Hanuman enlightened him. When Tulasi discovered his mistake he wept inconsolably. Hanuman pacified him in a dream and said that he had been the recipient of great grace, and that a man or a woman in the Kali Yuga could expect no more.
However, Hanuman promised Tulasi that he would have another vision of Rama the next day. So, with the break of dawn, Tulasi went to Ramghaat and busied himself in making sandalwood paste for the mendicants and pilgrims who had come for a bath in the holy Mandakini river. It was a sacred day of Mauni Amavasya, which fell on Wednesday in AD 1550. A large number of people had assembled there for a bath and worship. Just at the time when everyone was busy, Sri Rama suddenly appeared before Tulasi and said, "Baba, give me some paste."
Fearing that Tulasi might allow this golden opportunity to pass unheeded once again, Hanuman, in the form of a parrot cried out to him from a nearby tree: "Tulasi rubs the sandalwood and Sri Rama anoints Himself."
Tulasi looked up in surprise and saw the enchanting form of Rama standing in front of him. The currents and cross-currents of random thoughts and desires were stilled in his heart and as the consciousness of the world and the physical self receded, his mind merged in Sri Rama completely. Sri Rama again asked for the paste, but Tulasi was unable to move or speak. The Lord then bent down and with his own hand took a little of the sandalwood paste, put it on Tulasi’s forehead and disappeared.
Tulasi was in a deep trance, oblivious of his surroundings, when Hanuman again came to his rescue. Slowly he recovered, but was unable to return to ordinary consciousness till the night.
As far as records go, this was the first time Tulasi had experienced Samadhi or God realisation. This is the highest stage of human consciousness. A strange quietness enters the soul. A great peace invades its being. The Supreme awareness, the intimately felt presence, brings with it a rapture beyond joy, and knowledge beyond reason; a sensation more intense than that of life itself ; infinite in peace and harmony.
An exalted experience of this kind is bound to have far-reaching effects. A great creative and beneficent force is born from the depths of a soul who has known this peace and harmony. In the case of Tulasi it gave to his words a power to move the hearts of men and women which time has not been able to lessen or efface. His inspired poetry, charged with potency and an ever-fresh stream of devotion and knowledge, is flowing onwards to meet the needs of the generations to come.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to Goswami Tulasidas ji and Brahmasri Sreeman G M Jagtyani and Ms. Chandrakumari Handoo ji for the collection)