Bhakti, as an intense love for God, is an existential fact. It is ever
present a deeper level within us. Time and again mahatmas come and wake
us to the truth of this already existing wealth within us, our
possession, our birth-right, which we must strive to reclaim.
Tulsidas was one such mahatma whose heart melted in the white heat of
love for God, whose pure, home-spun, and simple longing for God was to
show direction not only to a few individuals, but to humankind at
large, not only to one particular nation, but also across all borders,
not only for a decade or two but for centuries. Such saints do not
direct just a small number of persons but wake the divine consciousness
of all humanity.
the 16th century Rajapur – about 200 km east of Allahabad – in the
Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, there live a rather gullible brahamana
couple: Atmaram Dube and Hulsi Devi. The year 1532. One day, at a
somewhat inauspicious moment, was born to them a make child. Even at
this happy moment the mother was frightened. Born after 12 months of
gestation, the baby was rather huge and had a full complement of teeth!
Under which unfortunate star this child was born is not known for
certain. But it is belied that it was asterism mula that was on the ascent then – a period of time known as abhuktamula.
According to the then popular belief, a child born during this period
was destined to bring death to its parents. The only remedy, it was
believed, was for the parents to abandon the child at birth – or
atleast not to look at it for the first 8 years!
poor father had nothing in his house for the celebration of the child’s
birth or for the naming ceremony. Meanwhile, the mother died. Weighed
down circumstances and superstition, the father abandoned the child.
Chuniya, the mother-in-law of the midwife who had helped during the
birth of the child, wet-nursed him. Such was the child’s fate that
Chuniya too died after five years and he was left wandering, looking
for morsels of food here and there, taking occasional shelter at a
Hanuman temple. This was the boy who would later be recognized as Sant
Tulsidas and excite bhakti en masse with soul inspiring couplets.
penchant of saints for self-abnegation and their aversion to renown and
recognition make it difficult for biographers to obtain details about
their lives. This is also true of Tulsidas. Benimadhavdas, a
contemporary of Tulsidas, wrote two different biographies, Gosai Charit
and Mula Gosai Charit, the latter included more incidents. However,
both these books are full of fanciful details; they also contradict
each other and the biographies written by others.
a large volume of undated origin, was written by Raghuvardas. Although
this work contains a lot of information, it cannot be accepted in toto
as it too contradicts Tulsi’s own works and those of other writers. The
Gosai Charit, believed to have been written in 1754 by Bhavanidas, is another biography.
from Tulsi’s own works, and through commendable scholarly research, a
lot of information has been gathered about his life. But in his own
works Tulsidas gave no information about his youth or the grihastha
period of his life. He does not even tell us his father’s name, though
his mother does find mention in the Ramcharitmanas: ‘Tulsidas hit hiyan
hulsi si, the story of Ram is truly beneficent to Tulsidas, like (his
own mother) Hulsi’.