Monday, September 05, 2005

Banaras's own -Tulsidas

Hmmm....ever since I saw the original manuscripts of Saint Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas I have been wanting to know more about this great saint/ poet who lived and died in Banaras. I went digging into the past and these are some interesting facts I stumbled upon.
Tulsidas was born to Brahmin parents. A legend relates that he had all 32 teeth at birth! Having been born under an unlucky conjunction of stars, he was abandoned in infancy by his parents, and was adopted by a wandering sadhu. He married Ratnavali at a young age. The untimely death of their Tarak, led Tulsi's wife to lifelong wroship of Lord Rama. Apparently, she left her husband and returned to her father’s house to occupy herself with religion. Tulsidas followed her, and endeavoured to induce her to return to him, but in vain. He too renounced the world, and entered upon an ascetic life, much of which was spent in wandering as a preacher of his faith in Rama. According to the legends, Lord Rama is said to have appeared in his dream, and is said to have commanded him to write a Ramayana in the language used by the common people. In 1574, he began this work on Ramcharitmanas, after having migrated to Banaras. Tulsi's great poem, popularly called Tulsi-krita Ramayana, but named by its author as Ramcharitmanas or the Lake of Rama's deeds, is more popular in amongst Hindus in north India. It's a more simplistic version of Valmiki's Ramayana which is written in sanskrit - a language spoken only by the elite. Tulsidas re-wrote the epic in a common man's dialect. Not only are his sayings proverbial: his doctrine actually forms the most powerful religious influence in present-day Hinduism. His greatness lies in the fact that he founded no school and was never known as gugu or master. He died in Banaras, at the age of 91 in 1623 during the reign of Emperor Jehangir.