About the Book
In ten short works contained in this volume, Tulsi composes verses on themes, which evaluated his religious perspectives. Only three works are based on the deeds of Rama: In Baravai Ramayana, the rapute of devotion in the Name of Rama is brought out; in Ramalala Nahachhu Tulsi reiterates his faith in the Saguna from of Rama; in Ramajna Prashna, he ostensibly reads omens from the Deeds of Rama but conclude that all welfare depends on devotion to Rama. Three of the works: Sankata Mochana, Hanuman Bahuka and Hanuman Chalisa are dedicated to Sri Hanuman. Tulsi's avowed principle was 'greater than Lord, the Lord's devotee take to be'. In the long poem Janaki Mangal Tulsi sings of the wedding ceremony of adi-shakti Sita to Rama. In Parvati Mangal, he departs from the story of Rama and sings of the wedding ceremony of adarsha-nari Parvati to Lord Shiva. In Vairagya Sandipini Tulsi observes that vairagya is not renunciation of the worldly duties but of Ego and bonds of 'I and mine'. Krishna Gitavali is a work totally unconnected with the story of Rama, the only common link between them being the supremacy of devotion and bhakti which is the reason for this work finding place in this anthology.
About the Author
Shri S.P. Bahadur was born on 19th July 1926. he studied at the La Martinere College Lucknow, Universities of Lucknow and Roorkee. He visited Australia under Columbo Plan and retired as Chief Engineer, Irrigation Department, Uttar Pradesh in 1984. Born in a family devoted to the Rama tradition he received blessings and guidance in studies of Rama theology from his maternal uncle Mahatma Anjaninandan Sharan of Ayodhya, himself the author of exhaustive commentaries in Hindi on all literary works of Tulsidas Published by Gita Press.
Ramacharitmanasa, Vinaya Patrika, Gitavali, Dohavali, and Kavitavali are the major literary works of Goswami Tulsidas in which he has sung of the Glory and Deeds of Rama. Apart from these works Tulsi composed a number of short poems: Baravai Ramayana, Janaki Mangal, Ramalala Nahachhu, Ramajna Prashna, Parvati Mangal, Krishna Gitavali, Hanuman Bahuka, Hanuman Chalisa, Sankata Mochana, and Vairagya Sandipini. Only in one of these poetical works, Krishna Gitavali, Tulsi departs from themes contained in his Ramacharitmanasa, and composes beautiful songs on Lord Krishna, the only Incarnation of Vishnu apart, from Rama, in Whom Divinity exemplified the path of Devotion as the means of attaining salvation. In all the other works, the illustrious poet selects a theme from the story narrated by him in Ramacharitmanasa and sings of its glory differently and at greater length.
Having narrated events of the earthly deeds of Rama in Ramacharitmanasa, Tulsi had no new story o relate. Thereafter he sang of Adoration of His Divine Grace in Gitavali, and of the radiance of His Majesty in Kavitavali. He discoursed on Devotion to Rama and ethical aspects of life on earth in Dohavali and surrendered himself to his Lord, beseeching His Compassionate Mercy in Vinaya Patrika. But the yearning of his heart for his Beloved Lord Rama was insatiable and he sang of Him again and again till he left his mortal frame.
Tulsi's repetitious writings on Rama are characteristic of the application of a dedicated devotee towards the object of his devotion. The Lord Himself in His celebrated discourse to Shabri on the ninefold forms of Devotion had proclaimed the second way of Devotion to be engrossment in the story of His Deeds. It is in the nature of bhakti that repetition makes faith stronger and devotion deeper.
Though Tulsi, the great genius, wrote of the Glory of the Lord repeatedly, he composed his verses with a refreshing difference, varying mater and style, metaphors and similes, language and words, to create originality in his repetition no less than as if he was relating a new story. Thus the magic of his compositions and his inspired words imparted new meaning, new fragrance and fresh beauty to his verses, enrapturing hearts of readers devoted to the Lotus Feet of the Lord even as Tulsi himself was pervaded with ecstasy when he wrote on the same theme over and over again.
Tulsi's shorter literary works bring out his poetic art in all its lustrous beauty. In these works the poet sings of what his heart fancies and they are thus more representative of the poet's genius. They also serve to under-score his steadfast adherence to the path of Devotion, and in Krishna Gitavali, he provides testimony that if anything could be dearer to Tulsi's heart than deep attachment to his Lord Rama, it was the ecstatic rapture of Devotion, which he found equally enthralling both in his beloved Lord and in Lord Krishna.
Tulsi's short poetic works also contribute towards providing a complete appraisal of the great poet saint's religious viewpoint. He sings with equal fervour of Shiva's marriage to Parvati and of Rama's wedding to Sita; he dwells lingeringly on the ecstasy of the gopis' overwhelming devotion to Lord Krishna and sings in highest rapture of Hanuman, the Lord's greatest devotee emphasizing his viewpoint: '
dearer than Rama Himself, O Rama's devotee take to be' (Dohavali, 102). Tulsi also composes verses on the Rapture of Renouncement, and hails the Nameless, Non-Dual, Calm, Unborn, Unseen, and Attributeless Divinity with pacific reverence. Tulsi thus establishes himself as an apostle of a broad based religion aimed at unifying divergent schools of thoughts and giving a practical perspective to religious application in everyday life in terms of virtue, ethics and morality.
Tulsi therefore succeeded in giving humanity what many saints and sages sought to propound: a practical religion eminently suited to the common man. The ease with which each and every human being involved in worldly life-its trials and ardours-can adopt the way shown by the inspired poet saint, makes Tulsi the spiritual guide of millions of people and his name immortal.
Tulsi's short poetical works contained in this anthology are particularly suitable for children who will be charmed by the simple verses on Gracious Lord Rama and His Divine Consort Sita. Young boys will be thrilled reading the wondrous deeds of Rama and courageous adventures of Hanuman which are referred to in the verses. Young girls will be enthralled reading of the wedding rites of Sita-Rama and Shiva-Parvati, the nahachhu rites of Rama, the glamorous bridegroom, and of gopis' attachment in devotion to Lord Krishna.
Ramacharitmanasa, Vinaya Patrika, Gitavali, Dohavali, and Kavitavali are the main works of Goswami Tulsidas. Apart from these, he wrote a number of short work which are presented in this volume. These are: Baravai Ramayana, Janaki Mangal, Ramalala Nahachhu, Ramajna Prashna, Parvati Mangal, Krishna Gitavali, Hanuman Bahuka, Hanuman Chalisa, Sankata Mochana, and Vairagya Sandipini.
The religious significance of Rama postulated by most sages and saints is interpreted from their compositions on Rama, contained in their Ramayanas, or versions of the earthly Deeds of Rama. In the case of Tulsidas however, his compositions on Rama are not restricted to his Ramacharitmanasa. He presents different aspects of the Divinity of Rama in his other works. Therefore the necessity of considering all his works is for a comprehensive appreciation of his postulation of the Rama Symbol. The lack of access to other works of Tulsidas has been acknowledged by scholars in making an appraisal of his religious perspective. Whaling points out that the integral study of other works of Tulsidas is important to reveal the full depth of Tulsi's message. Babineau is more forthright in expressing his disappointment at the inadequate attention paid to Tulsi's literary works: 'It is unfortunate that most of the works attributed to Tulsidas still remain to be translated in modern European languages. We may also deplore the fact that modern scholarship, both Eastern and Western, has given too little attention to the works of Tulsidas, including Ramacharitmanasa, Vinaya Patrika and Kavitavali.
Brief description and religious significance of the works contained in this volume is given in this Introduction.
Barvai Ramayana is a short work containing 69 verses composed in Avadhi. It takes its name from the meter in which it is composed. The work commences with meditation on Rama and Sita. The salient events in the earthly Deeds of Rama are very briefly narrated in the conventional seven Kandas of Ramacharitmanasa. The selection of events clearly depict the choice of an ardent devotee. The verses being out tender emotions of earthly Rama and the thrilling rapture of devotion. In Uttara Kanda Tulsi reaffirms his faith in the Name of Rama. Divine Rama has Ascended to His Abode but the name of Rama is eternal on earth. Lord Rama is Tulsi's hope in the Beyond, but while he lives on earth; Rama-nama is his strength. Tulsi's last verse in Baravai Ramayana adds luster to Devotion. He does not seek salvation. He prays that in all his future births he is granted eternal love for Rama.
Janaki Mangal, composed in Avadhi, contains 120 verses of four lines each. 96 of these verses are in Hansagati meter and 24 verses are in Harigitika meter. Four verses in the former meter are followed by one in the latter meter.
In Janaki Mangal Tulsi narrates Rama and Sita's marriage ceremony and events related to the wedding. In Ramacharitamanasa Tulsi sings at length of the wedding rites, but there is a difference in perspective in the two works. Ramacharitmanasa contains descriptions of the wedding of Saguna Incarnated Form of Rama to Sita, the Adi-shakti (Primeval Energy), Sarvaeshwari (Great Goddess). The gods bowed to Sita when she entered the marriage mandapa and showered flowers upon her, King Janaka washed Rama's Feet which are enshrined in Shiva's heart, of which 'one moment's meditation banishes sins and makes pure.' In Janaki Mangal Tulsi describes the wedding of Purushottama Rama and adarsha nari, the daughter of Earth and the ideal of womankind. As Rama comes to the mandapa, water is sprinkled as a customary auspicious ritual and Sita's sakhis sing songs of welcome. Rama's form is enthralling like Kama's; the rites of placing sindoor in the parting of Sita's hair, the kohavara and other marriage rites are performed. Tulsi adopts versions contained in other Ramayanas to suit the Purushottama perspective of Rama in Janaki Mangal. Parashurama entered the swayamvara site in Ramacharitmanasa shortly after Shiva's bow was broken and ultimately acknowledges Rama's Divinity. In Janaki Mangal, Parashurama meets Rama when the marriage party is returning to Ayodhya. His anger and appeasement is described in a single verse.
In the last verse of Janaki Mangal Tulsi commends Rama and Sita's wedding to young men and women who are on the threshold of marriage. If they bear in mind the ideal relationship of Sita and Rama in their married life, all welfare shall attend the newly weds.
Ramalala Nahachhu is a short poem composed in Avadhi containing only 20 four-line verses. The poem describes lesser known rituals related to weddings. They are performed the day before the marriage party leaves for the bride's home for the wedding. The rites involve participation of the entire household and provide occasion for jubilant merrymaking. In his poem Tulsi highlights the social interaction and camaraderie between the higher and lower strata of society which prevailed in those times. The Nahachhu rites of the Saguna Incarnated Rama therefore confirm Tulsi's assertion that Rama is the common man's God. Hindu marriages involve many rituals in which gods are invoked and priests chant hymns. In Ramalala Nahachhu Tulsi does not sing of them but composes joy filled verses of the merry-making of simple people, prominent among them being women, from the lower stratum of society. The blacksmith's wife, milkmaid, the tambolin, tailoress, cobbler's wife, barber's wife, barin and serving maids of the household surround the royal prince of Ayodhya and amuse the queens with their mirthful and facile songs: 'Why is Rama sky-blue and Lakshmana is fair?' Tulsi reminds his readers the prince of Ayodhya is Divine and lauds his modest grace for the poor and lowly: 'Behold Rama's Feet washed by the barber's wife, dust of these Feet to see saints yearn
.Overwhelmed by the Lord's Mercy for the poor and lowly, Tulsi concludes Ramalala Nahachhu: 'Tulsi Raghu's Lord most humbly greets.
Ramajna Prashna, composed in Avadhi, contains 343 Dohas. Instead of the conventional Kandas, the seven chapters of the work are called Sargas; each Sarga contains seven Saptaks and each Saptak has seven verses. While the work is based on the Deeds of Rama, a different nomenclature has been adopted because each Sarga does not contain events of the corresponding Kanda in Ramacharitmanasa. Grierson refers to composition of its verses at the requests of Ganga Rama, as astrologer, and states that the work was completed in a single night-Sunday June 4, 1998.
Ostensibly, Ramajna Prashna is a work which contains Dohas to serve in the prediction of omens. Tulsi refers to omens frequently in other works also but he does not consider omens by themselves to predict future events or to convey forebodings of welfare or misfortune. Welfare according to him depends on Devotion to Rama. In Tulsi's viewpoint, when a human being is unsure of himself and loses faith in God, he resorts to seeking support from omens. When Arjuna was faced with the dilemma of waging war against his kins, he felt his limbs give way, his mouth parched and body quivers. He found inauspicious omens around him. The Lord admonished him for his infatuation and confusion. He told Arjuna that he should make his mind steadfeast with faith and worship God with devotion for welfare. In his verses of Ramajna Prashna, Tulsi links answers to problems faced in life with faith and devotion to Lord Rama as the means to attain welfare. He also stresses meditation on the Saguna form of Rama to impart peace to the mind, restoring tranquility to discern righteous actions without seeking resort to omens. In the last Saptak of Ramajna Prashna Tulsi clearly enunciates his viewpoint on omens: 'Devotion deep in Sita's Lord, from this good omens are inferred.
The structural composition of Parvati Mangal in similar to that of Janaki Mangal. Of its 90 verses, 74 are in Hansagati meter and 16 in Harigitika chhandas. In Paravati Mangal Tulsi narrates Shiva's wedding to Parvati. The even is also described at length in Ramacharitmanasa. One of the main features of Tulsi's religious viewpoint is the unity of Vaishnava and Shaiva sects. He emphasizes this aspect in most of his works, addressing hymns to both Rama and Shiva with equal fervour. In Ramacharitmanasa Shiva is hailed as the Divine Lord and Parvati as Adimaya; Sita addressed an impassioned prayer to Parvati to fulfil her desire to be wedded to Rama. Tulsi hails Goddess Parvati in other works also.
Parvati is of special relevance to women in the present times. Both Sita and Parvati are ideals for women, both represent highest virtue, both are Consorts of Divine Lords and both are steadfastly devoted to their husbands. The nature of their shaktis is however different. Sita's Shakti was exclusively dedicated to Rama, leaving her Lord and Consort to exterminate evil and thus fulfil the purpose of His Saguna Incarnation. But when her exclusive devotion to Rama was imperiled by Ravana, she assumed her saharkarini Shakti (energy to destroy) and dared the mighty invincible Ravana even to touch her. Parvati's Shakti is an ideal for women of today, reminding them of the latent strength they possess in a society which still looks upon them as the 'weaker sex'. In Vinaya Patrika Tulsi hails the Goddess who 'trident bear to end vile foes' and 'all Forms in Thee: Dreadful for vile; thy grace, bliss, beauty nonpareil.
In Ramacharitmanasa, Shiva sends the saptarishis to test Parvati's resolve to marry him. In Parvati Mangal, dignity is imparted to woman-kind and Shiva himself goes to meet Parvati. Shiva pretends to dissuade her by deriding himself as a suitable spouse but Parvati remains firm in her resolve. Tulsi assures that Uma and Shiva will grant their blessings to those who sing this song on the occasion of their marriage.
Krishna Gitavali is composed in Vrajabhasha, the dialect of the gopas and gopis of Vraja. It contains 61 songs, of which the first twenty are on the Childhood Deeds of Lord Krishna. The next three songs are in adoration of His earthly Form. Significantly. Tulsi refrains from composing songs on Rasa-lila or the Sportive Deeds of Sri Krishna. The next nine songs are on viraha or the pangs of anguish suffered by the gopis on separation from their beloved Lord. The next 27 songs, the main part of Krishna Gitavali, are devoted to the conversation between the gopis and Uddhava who brings Lord Krishna's message of yoga for the gopis. The intensity of the gopis' love for the Lord is described in scintillating glory, the gopis forthrightly rejecting the Lord's message of yoga.
In Krishna Gitavali Tulsi makes a rare departure from his oft-repeated avowal: 'Rama's Name for me is all, on Rama my oath; significantly, Tulsi's songs in Krishna Gitavali are mainly centred on Devotion of gopis for Lord Krishna. Both Rama and Krishna were avataras of Vishnu. Both preached the three paths of Knowledge, Actions and Devotion as the means of attaining salvation. Rama revealed the ninefold forms of Devotion to Shabri, any one of which earn salvation. In Bhagavadgita Lord Krishna declared Knowledge to be the superior path to earn salvation, and 'the best is the man of wisdom, ever steadfast and devoted to Me'. Tulsi, without making any comments, highlights the supremacy of Devotion by showing that Lord Krishna who so clearly preached the path of knowledge, Himself became the idol of Devotion for gopis of Vraja, who rejected His message of Knowledge.
While Lord Krishna extolled the path of Knowledge in no uncertain terms, he assured salvation to one who follows the path of Devotion also. The lord declares in Bhagavadgita: 'the devotee who is steadfast in mind is established in Me', and 'that Supreme God in Whom all beings reside and by Whom all this is pervaded is attainable only by Devotion'; the Lord further assures that:' those whose mind is set on Me, I straightaway deliver from the ocean of death bound existence'. Significantly, both Sri Rama and Sri Krishna expounded the message of Devotion to common people; Rama to shabri, Kols, Bhils, Nishads and vanars; Krishna to the gopas and gopis of Vraja. In fact, in the first song of Krishna Gitavali, Tulsi declares: '
compelled by love alone, Lord took a mortal form'.
In Krishna Gitavali, Tulsi reaffirms his own religious preference for the Saguna Incarnated Form of Divinity. He asks: 'Can hearts so full of love for Shyama, of Nirguna's fancies harbour thoughts'? He likens the Lord's Saguna Form to the Milky Sea and compares Nirguna Divinity to the sap of a wort plant. In sheer contempt, gopis tell Uddhava to go somewhere else where he can find aged yogis to take his 'Mines of Nirguna'; those who dwell in love like nectar of the Moon cannot bear the brilliance of Knowledge like the sun.
Hanuman Bahuka, composed in Avadhi, is a short poem containing 44 verses. Most of the verses are composed in Ghanakshari meter (Kavitta). Tulsidas composed Hanuman Bahuka when he was suffering from a serious inflammation due to an abscess in his arm which caused him excruciating pain. When medical treatment failed to heal him, he addressed an importunate prayer to Sri Hanuman, which is contained in Hanuman Bahuka.
Tulsi did not address his prayer for Mercy to Rama. In Ramarahasyo-panishad, while addressing Sanakadi munis Sri Hanuman says, 'Rama should not be invoked to achieve worldly gains and even when faced with the gravest disasters; He is verily the means to attain salvation only. When in need of worldly help one should call on me. I am the servant of Rama. I am trained in bringing about total fulfillment of the desires of one who devoutly chants the Holy Name of Rama. I shall never fail to fulfil the requirements of Sri Raghunath.
Miraculously Tulsi was healed of his ailment. In Dohavali, Tulsi declares
dearer than Rama Himself, O Rama's devotee take to be'. Tulsi followed what he preached. He sought and obtained Hanuman's assistance repeatedly: for fulfillment of his prayers for a vision of his Ishtadeva which the Lord granted to him at Chitrakoot; imploring Sri Hanuman to place his Vinaya Patrika in the Divine Court of Rama; helping Tulsidas in composing his Ramacharitmanasa.
In the last two verses of Hanuman Bahuka, Tulsi hails Hanuman as the Incarnation of Shiva, hailing him as Bholanath and Shiva himself to be his guide.
Hanuman Chalisa is a poem of forty verses of who lines each composed on the glory of Hanuman and his deeds. The poem has been ignored by Western scholars even as a minor work of the poet, despite the fact that it is a prayer that is recited daily by millions of devotees. Hanuman was the mightiest of the mighty, the humblest of the humble. He was a Messenger of Lord Rama who became a god himself. Rama is incomplete without Hanuman. There is hardly a temple of Rama in which Hanuman is not depicted. Temples of Hanuman by himself, however, large and ornate or small and simple, are dedicated to vanar-god in all towns and villages.
Tulsi hails Hanuman as Rama's Messenger. He went with Rama's message to Sita in Lanka, to Drona peak for sanjivini herbs to save Lakshmana's life in the war of Lanka, and to announce Rama's arrival in Ayodhya to Bharat. Apart from specific missions undertaken by Hanuman, being hailed as 'the Lord's Messenger'. Hanuman was not only the messenger of Sri Ram during His earthly life, but is also the bearer of the Lord's Divine Message of Love, faith and Devotion even today. Both Sita and Rama had granted him boons to convey this Message of Devotion to eternity. 'May you remain ajara amara (immortal) and may Rama grant you abundant Grace', were Sita's boons; and when Hanuman implored Rama to grant him the boon of eternal Devotion, the Lord clasped him and said 'Be it so: These boons granted to hanuman by the Lord and His Consort raised him from the stature of Rama's greatest devotee to the pedestal of the most popular deity of the Hindu pantheon.
Sankata Mochana containing only nine verses is the shortest poem of Goswami Tulsidas, to merit attention. The earthly Deeds of Sri Rama have inspired our countrymen towards attainment of ideal governance of Rama-Rajya; similarly the daring deeds of Sri Hanuman lead us towards the ideal of making impossibles possible. Both Rama and Hanuman have thus become parts of the Indian tradition.
In Sankata Mochana, Tulsi has selected seven deeds from the innumerable exploits of Sri Hanuman and has composed a single verse on each of them. The verses are recited along with Hanuman Chalisa. When recited with devotion, they are said to dispel fear.
Out of the seven events selected from the deeds of Hanuman, five are mentioned in Ramacharitmanasa. Hanuman's amazing feat of leaping towards the Sun is narrated (somewhat differently) in Valmiki's Ramayana. The seventh event of vanquishing Ahiravana is narrated in Ananda Ramayana. All the seven events illustrate Hanuman's fantastic might and deepest devotion to Rama.
The eighth verse has a reference to the ailment in Tulsi's arm, which confirms that Sankata Mochana was composed in continuation of Hanuman Chalisa. The ninth verse is composed to hail the glory of Hanuman.
Vairagya Sandipini, composed in Avadhi, contains 62 verses comprising Dohas, Sorthas and Chaupais. The first six verses are Invocatory and Introductory. Tulsi introduces the work by comparing the human form to a field, the yield of which depends upon the inputs of mind, speech and actions. In the next verse Tulsi declares that devotion to Rama alone can save one from burning in the three pains of life: daivika (pertaining to gods), bhautika (material), and daihika (physical). In the next two verses Tulsi describes his work. He then proceeds to enumerate the qualities of saints. He does not consider vairagya to be renunciation of worldly duties; he interprets it as the negation of Ego and bonds of 'I' and 'Mine'. In such an equalitarian state of mind, a human being considers the welfare of others to be as important as his own. He restrains his speech, taking care not bring sorrow or pain to others; he has no foes nor very close friends. A saint's desires are controlled and he is untouched by passions and covetousness his heart remaining steadfastly devoted to God. Tulsi hails the glory of such saintly men in his next nine verses. He condemns people who are proud of their high caste an wealth, comparing their high-mindedness to living on mountains where snakes and reptiles lie hidden in holes and caves; humble men are like those living on plains where crops grow in plenty, water is available readily, and sugarcane grows in abundance (sugarcane suffers to get itself crushed into bagasse but yields sugar for others, thus exemplifying selfless actions). Finally, in his verses on the Path to Peace, Tulsi asks his readers not be misled into considering restrained speech and humility to be signs of weakness. To dispel such doubts he observes that though peace brings tranquility, its might is like that of a blazing fire.
Tulsi's Minor Works contained in this volume contribute significantly towards an appraisal of the religious significance of his concept of the Rama Symbol. In Baravai Ramayana, he declares devotion in the Name of Rama to be the highest aim in life. In Janaki Mangal he describes the wedding of Purushottama Rama and adarsha nari Sita (unlike Ramacharitmanasa in which the wedding of Incarnated Saguna Rama and Sita in her aspect of Adi-shakti is described). In Ramalala Nahachhu Tulsi describes the participation of the entire social fabric with dignity, which was a way of life even in royal households. In Ramajna Prashna, Tulsi postulates seeking support from omens to be the outcome of being unsure of one's self and losing faith in Divinity; he reminds his readers subtly that steadfast devotion and faith in Rama is the only way to attain welfare. In Parvati Mangal, Tulsi reaffirms his concept of Vaishnava-Shaiva unity and projects Parvati as the ideal of womankind in the present times. In Krishna Gitavali Tulsi stresses that Love and Devotion to God is the highest obeisance to the Supreme Being regardless of the Form of the Divine Visitation. In Hanuman Bahuka Tulsi adds a new dimension to his religious viewpoint by declaring that the Lord grants His Own might to His steadfast devotee. In Hanuman Chalisa Tulsi shows that a devotee by steadfast unswerving devotion may attain the status of gods. Sankata Mochana gives examples of immense might attainable by unswerving devotion. In Vairagya Sandipini, Tulsi projects vairagya (renunciation) as abandoning earthly passions and emotions while one performs his worldly duties selflessly.
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