The poet who wrote Ram-Charit-Manas
The Ramayana, written in Sanskrit by Valmiki is considered to be the 'Adikavya', the first ever poem. Tulsidas rendered it into Hindi in the sixteenth century. But his 'Ramcharit-manas' differs from the original in many ways. It was written at a time when a very vast area of India was under Mughal rule. Amongst the Hindus, there were frequent controversies between the worshippers of Shiva, Vishnu and the Mother Goddess, and again between the worshippers of Rama and Krishna. There were also cults which were almost cut off from the mainstream of Indian life. It is to the credit of Tulsidas that he tried to weave all these cults into an integrated whole. He made his Rama say that he would not tolerate anyone who showed disrespect to Shiva. He worshipped not only at the temples dedicated to Rama but also at those dedicated to Krishna. His works and teachings stressed the importance of the life of a householder and weaned people away from the tantric cults. Tulsidas hailed from a poor family of Rajapur in Uttar Pradesh. He was orphaned soon after his birth and even his foster-mother died when he was barely seven years old. When he was married, he became deeply attached to his wife, Ratna. She was the first person in his life whom he could call his own. One day not finding her at home on his return, he became extremely restless and rushed to his father-in-law's house in the dead of the night, braving heavy rains and a storm. But Ratna rebuked him and said, "Had you loved Rama as intensely as you do this bundle of flesh and bones, you would have overcome all mortal fears." This was the turning point in his life. The story as narrated in this book is mostly based on legends. A contemporary of Shakespeare, Tulsidas (1532-1623) was known for singing the glory of Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. The Ramcharitmanas, Tulsidas version of the Ramayana in Awadhi, a dialect of Hindi, consists of over 1,0000 stanzas of about 12 to 18 lines each. Tulsi's words are musical and hypnotic. Every village and town in the Hindi heartland has a troupe that enacts the story of Rama based on Tulsida's work.