Goswaami Tulasidaasa was born in 1532 A.D. in a village in Uttar Pradesh, India. Being one of the foremost of Raam-bhaktas in medieval India, he traveled extensively throughout the subcontinent disseminating the message of Bhakti. His devotional and philosophical interpretations of Dharma flowered into beautifully eloquent poetry, found in the twelve surviving works of the innumerable books he is credited as having authored.
The magnum opus of Tulasidaasa is his Raamacharitamaanasa. It is the modified version of the life story of Raama as narrated by Vaalmiiki in his Raamaayana. Written in the Awadhi language, this work reflects the poet's well-settled views on life and religion. It is an immaculate combination of art and thought ; it is devotion presented in a supremely aesthetic way. The language used is simple and yet elegant, and the choice of words show a love of rhyme and rhythm. Very few writers have couched high philosophical truths in simple expressions, idioms and rhymes as Tulasidaasa. He sets a standard and reaches a height in this respect which no subsequent writer of this theme has been able to surpass. It is for this reason that Grierson has described Tulasidaasa as the greatest public leader after Buddha.
Besides its literary excellence, the Raamacharitamaanasa is a brilliant and popular treatise on devotion to God. The highest virtues such a truthfulness, patience, non-violence, forgiveness, generosity, detachment, control of the senses, purity and service to humanity, which are the components of Indian ethics and culture have found their rightful place in this great epic.
Tulasidaasa tried, though the Raamacharitamaanasa, to inculcate the feeling of tolerance and love in the hearts of people adhering to different faiths and beliefs. He sought to do this by portraying the magnificent personality of Raama in whom he combined all the noble characteristics emphasized by Saivites, Vaishnavaites and Shaktas, who constituted the principle religious divisions of that time. There is no character in this great work which is not imbued with spirit of sacrifice for higher ends. Being of the highest caliber, these characters serve as models of society for people's inspiration and emulation. Therefore. though essentially a poet, Tulasidaasa is a great devotee and a builder of society. His own life and the Raamacharitamaanasa molded the thinking of society to create the effects of harmony and religious tolerance. Indian historians have expressed the view that Raamacharitamaanasa can be counted among the important influences which mould people's destiny.
- from Shrii Raamacharitamaanasa - The Ramakrishna Centre
The Raamacharitamaanasa is divided along the lines of the Raamaayana into seven cantos or kaandas.
The first Baalakaanda, deals with the circumstances leading to Raama's birth, His birth and childhood, and ends with his marriage to Siitaa. It also contains the poets obeisance, covers various religious and philosophical topics and the lengthy story of Shiva's marriage to Paaravatii.
The next two cantos, Ayodhyaakaanda and AraNyakaanda covers Raama's banishment from Ayodhya and his exploits in the jungle respectively.
Kishhkindhaakaanda has Raama joining alliances with Sugriiva, and the search for Siitaa, who had been kidnapped by RaavaNa.
Sundarakaanda sees Hanumaan successfully finding Siita, the burning of Lankaa, VibhiishhaNa being banished by his brother RaavaNa, the former seeking refuge at Raama's camp, and the march of the army toward the ocean.
In the Lankaakaanda the ocean is bridged, and the great war between Raama and RaavaNa takes place, ending in Raama's victory and return to Ayodhya.
The Uttarakaanda differs from the original Raamaayana. Tulasidaasa's version contains Raama's welcome at Ayodhya, his coronation and a brief account of his reign. The remainder of the canto contain hymns or isolated incidents and anecdotes, all in glorification of Raama.
This is the most popular and well-loved portion of the Ramayana. Vaalmiiki has deliberately called it sundara because he believed that everything displayed in it by the hero, Hanumaan, was beautiful. In this canto Hanumaan exemplifies all the virtues of a supreme devotee - patience, tolerance, valor, bravery, kindness, mercy, obedience, forbearance, humility, non-idleness and sagacity. The Sundarakaanda of the Raamacharitamaanasa is so dear to devout Raam-bhakta that it is memorized and recited as one would the Hanumaan Chaaliisaa.
Devanaagri Version (uses Sanskrit-New Font) ................ Download Sanskrit-New Font
Transliterate version (uses Washington Indic Font) ....... Download Washington Indic Font
The ITRANS format version is available for downloading. However, being difficult to read because of the absence of diacritic pronunciation marks, I strongly recommend downloading of one of the above fonts. Furthermore, in Hindi two vowels may follow each other, without the rules of Sandhi being applied to join them. Where such situations exist I have separated the second vowel from the first by a period (.)
e.g. au is pronounced "owe", but a.u is pronounced er-oo
I may display the Xdvng Font Version in future if requests are numerous.
If you have a copy of the Raamacharitamaanasa at home an would like to help me code the other cantos, please mail me.
Mail corrections, suggestions and comments to :
Kalpesh Narsi ......................... firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit the following sites who have inspired me ( or provided material to steal from !! )
Biography of Tulasidaas : an excellent and inspiring account of the poet's life. Quite detailed. A must-visit site !
Vaalmiiki's RaamaayaNa : the entire original Sanskrit Ramayana is available for download from this sit in ps or txt version. There's also a fabulous introduction to the Ramayana, with a relatively good summary and some interesting comments. A must-visit site !
The Hanuman Chalisa : a great site the Chaaliisaa and its translation. A bonus is the cute little Hanuman pics - one for each verse ! A must-visit site.
Ramayan Homepage : has a summary, some excellent links and images. Even has maps that traces Raama's journey!
Ramayana in the Srivaishnava Experience : gigantic, comprehensive article on the Srivaishnava and South Indian perspectives on the Ramayana. The beautiful poetry of the Alvars definitely makes the visit worthwhile.
Srimad Ramayan : Karnamrta Dasa has begun the mammoth task of translating the Vaalmiiki RaamaayaNa. The first eight chapters are available from this visually stunning site! A must-visit site!
Avatar Homepage : a site that contains some useful info Siitaa and Raama, and many other avatars of Vishnu. Get the Gaudiya Vaishhnava view of Siitaa and see Siitaa's footprint at a South Indian shrine !!!
Rama and the Ramayana - Lessons in Dharma : a brief summary of the scripture, meant especially for those not familiar with it. If you're involved in religious education, check out the useful guidelines for teaching elementary students the Ramayana.
Ramayana - an Illustrated Overview : mini summary with a picture to complement each paragraph. A must-visit for kids and if you're new to the Ramayana.
Languages and Scripts of India : Dr Yashwant Malaiya's site is a bounty of resources on Indian languages. Learn about Avadhi, the language of the Raamcharitamaanasa. Visit the Hindi poets to discover more about Tulasiidaasa, Kabir and other Raam-bhaktas. Also great images of ancient manuscripts and yantras. A must-visit site !!
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