Life of Sant Tulsidas

  • By Swami Durgananda
  • September 2009

The End
Towards the end of his life suffered from very painful boils that affected his arms. At this time he wrote Hanuman Bahuk, which begins with a verse in praise of Hanuman’s strength, glory, and virtue, and is followed by a prayer to relieve him of his unbreakable arm pain. The disease was cured. This was the last of the many pains that Tulsidas suffered on earth. He passed away in 16239 at Asighat, Varanasi.

One interesting incident in Tulsidas’s life is quite representative of his teachings. Once a woman, who happened to stay behind after Tulsidas had delivered a discourse, remarked during the course of conversation that her nose-ring had been given to her by her husband. Tulsidas immediately directed her mind deeper saying: ‘I understand that your husband has given you this lovely nose-ring, but who has given you this beautiful face?’

The Ramayana
Before we appraise the works of Tulsidas, a review of the Valmiki Ramayana, the Sanskrit classic that inspired him, will be instructive. The Ramayan is an epic that that has kept not only India but the entire Hindu world spellbound and it has been chiefly responsible for giving Indian culture a general direction. It is broad in scope and provides guidance for all stages of one’s life- incidentally, ayana means journey (of life).

Human life, in all its facets and fancies, twists and turns, ups and downs, is on display in the Ramayana. People of different spiritual states derive different light and meaning from the text in accordance of their need and understanding. Ordinary human life can be sublimated and bhakti cultivated through a study of the Ramayana.

The Ramayana of Valmiki includes characters as they are and as they ought to be. Rama, Sita, Kausalya, Bharata, Hanumana, Janaka and others are ideal characters. Dasharatha, Kaikeyi, Lakshmana, Shatrugana, Sugriva, and others have presented as those with mixed qualities. Rama plays the role of an ideal son, disciple, brother, master, husband, friend and king. Subject to human emotions and weaknesses, Rama is a supernal god in human form – but conversely, he is also a human who has ascended to be an adorable god.

Rama’s bow and arrow symbolizes a force that guarantees and justice. Rama’s is the ideal of ‘aggressive goodness’ as opposed to ‘weak and passive goodness’. Rama does not, however, kill or destroy; he rather offers salvation to those he battles. This is technically called uddhara.

There are many other versions of the Ramayana. Adhyatma Ramayana, Vasishtha Ramayana, Ananda Ramayana, Agastya Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana (Tamil), Krittivasa Ramanaya (Bengali) and Ezuttachan’s Adhyatma Ramayana (Malayalam) amongst others. Although these differ in disposition, flavor, emphasis amount of details and length of each kanda, can to, they all describe the life of Rama, and are inspired by the Valmiki Ramayana.

1.    See Mataprasad Gupta, Tulsidas 52-141 and Ramcharitmanas, 1.31.6.
2.    The Cultural Heritage of India, 6 vols, 4.379.
3.    Goswami Tulsidas, Vinay-patrika, 76.1
4.    For example, Ramcharitmanas, 3.4.1-12, 3.II.2-8, 7.108.1-9 and passim; Vinay patrika, 10-12,50,56-60.
5.    Ramji Tiwari, Goswami Tulsidas, II.
6.    Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 12.472.
7.    Vinay-patrika, 120.I.
8.    Rajapati Dikshit, Tulsidas aur Unka Yug, 16.
9.    The Cultural Heritage of India, 4.395

        Courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata

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