'Ramacharitmanas' of Tulsidas ranks amongst the most popular religious classics of the world. While Valmiki composed the original 'Ramayan' in Sanskrit, Tulsidas deliberately chose to write in the common man's language Avadhi, a dialect of Hindi, and acquainted the masses with all that was worthwhile in the entire gamut of Hindu scriptures, including the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads, in easy and understandable language. It is the quintessential expression of the poet's deep devotion for Rama, who upheld the highest ideals of humanity as Maryada Purushottama or the ideal of Supreme Godliness.
The narrative of Rama's life serves as a beacon light for treading the path of morality, righteousness and spirituality. Rama exemplifies these virtues by boldly facing the diverse vicissitudes of life, in success and in adversity, with friends and with foes, in peace and in war. His countenance shines with benevolent effulgence of divinity. He shows the way to achieve and manifest the divinity inherent in each human soul. Each chapter of this epic sends out powerful vibrations of peace and joy which dispel the gloom encircling the human minds today.
In modern times, when the mankind faces a crisis of moral and spiritual values in all spheres of life, Tulsi's 'Ramacharitmanas' has assumed renewed importance and added relevance. All India Radio has been broadcasting the musical rendition of this popular epic, every morning, for years. With this album being released, not only the regular listeners would re-live their cherished memories of this popular broadcast, but the message of Tulsi's classic will also reach all those who are not able to read it in the original, and thus, it would spread the fragrance of Rama's life and virtues among the humanity at large.
This volume presents the musical rendering of Baalkaand, the opening chapter of 'Ramacharitman The contents comprise invocatory salutations to Vani Vinayaka and Bhawani Shankara, Kaveeshwara Valmiki and Kapeeshwara Hanumana, the glory of Rama's na and the greatness of Rama's story. Then comes' dialogue between rishi Yajnavalkya and rishi Bharadv folly of Parvati and her penance, the destruction Kama, marriage of Shiva-Parvati, Narada's pride, birtl Rama, protection of Vishwamitra's yajna, deliverance Ahilya, Rama-Lakshmana in Janakpuri, breaking of' bow (Shiva-Dhanush), the wrath of Parashurama, . wedding of Rama-Sita and their return to Ayodhya. The music, opening with the early morning raga Bhairava, is also conceived very thoughtfully, accord to the Rasa-Bhava (emotional content) of the text.
'Ramacharitmanas' of Tulsidas is one of the most popular and widely read epics of the world. The epic has seven chapters, each describing, with great devotion and skill, the events of a particular segment of Rama's life.
Ayodhyakaand narrates the episodes that take place as Rama returns to Ayodhya after his marriage with Sita.
There is great rejoicing in the city that lingers on. And thus, several happy years roll by. Then, one day, King Dasharatha tells his ministers that he wishes to crown Rama as the Yuvaraja. The ministers and the people of Ayodhya are overjoyed. Preparations for the ceremony begin in right earnest.
Everyone is happy. But Kaikeyi's maid-servant Manthara poisons Kaikeyi's mind by saying that after Rama's coronation, Kaikeyi and her son Bharata will have to serve Kaushalya and Rama like slaves.
At first, Kaikeyi scolds Manthara for saying such vicious things. But then, she falls prey to the evil advice of Manthara that she ought to ask for the fulfilment of two boons that Dasharatha had promised her earlier, when his life had been saved in a battle by Kaikeyi.
Accordingly, when Dasharatha comes to Kaikeyi's apartment, she is lying on the floor and shedding tears of anguish. She has removed her ornaments and is dressed in rags. Her hair is dishevelled. The King is shocked to see her in that state. He asks her what is troubling her and promises to fulfil her wish, whatever it is. Hearing this, Kaikeyi reminds him of the two boons. She demands two things: that Bharata should be crowned as Yuvaraja and that Rama should be banished to the forest for fourteen years.
On hearing these words, Dasharatha falls into a swoon. He is speechless. He tries to persuade Kaikeyi to change her mind. But it has no effect on the queen. Instead, she taunts him for going back on his promise. This goes on till the night passes and the dawn arrives.
In the morning, Vashistha sends Sumantra to find out why the King has not woken up before dawn. Sumantra finds the King lying on the floor in a miserable state. Kaikeyi asks Sumantra to bring Rama there. When Rama comes, he is grieved to see the King in that state of misery, unable to speak anything. Rama asks Kaikeyi about the cause of the King's distress. Kaikeyi tells him that the King is not able to speak now, but it is his wish that Bharata should be crowned as Yuvaraja and that Rama should go and live in the forest for fourteen years.
Rama gently replies that he will gladly carry out the wishes of his father. the news spreads like wildfire and people begin to curse Kaikeyi and condemn the King's action. Rama bids farewell to his mother and gets ready to leave for the forest. Sita and Lakshmana also decide to go with Rama. The three bow at the feet of the queens and the King and set out for the forest in a chariot driven by Sumantra. They reach the bank of Ganga where the hunter king Guha welcomes them and takes them in his boat to the other bank. Sumantra returns to Ayodhya.
Ram, Sita and Lakshmana reach Prayag and go to the ashram of rishi Bharadwaj. On the advice of rishi Bharadwaj, Ram decides to dwell at Chitrakoot.
The city of Ayodhya is drowned in sorrow. King Dasharatha is unable to cope up with the grief and dies.
Bharata and Shatrughna are unaware of these happenings as they have been away from Ayodhya. When they are informed about the death of the King, they return home. As they come to know of all the things, they are furious. Bharata declines the crown and decides to go to the forest and bring Rama back.
On reaching Chitrakoot, Bharata prostrates himself before Rama, who lifts him up and embraces him. Rama is shocked to know that King Dasharatha is no more. Bharata pleads with Rama that he should return to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. But Rama stands firm like a rock. He says that it is his sacred duty to ensure that the King's pledged word is honoured.
Bharata reluctantly agrees to look after the kingdom in the name of Rama. He begs Rama to give him his sandals as a symbol. On returning to Ayodhya, Bharata places the sandals on the royal throne. He builds a hut for himself in Nandigram and lives like a hermit. As Rama's representative, he looks after the kingdom and welfare of the people.
The musical rendering of the epic is very charming and heart-warming.
'Ramacharitmanas' of Tulsidas is one of the greatest epics of Indian Literature, in which the various events and episodes of Lord Rama's life are described with great devotion and superb narrative skill.
There are seven chapters in 'Ramacharitmanas'. In the first chapter, Rama's childhood exploits are dwelt upon and in the second chapter the episode of Rama being exiled for fourteen years is sensitively described.
Bharata goes to Chitrakoot to persuade Rama to go back to Ayodhya. But Rama cannot disregard orders of his late father. So, Bharata is sadly disappointed and returns to Avodhva.
In Aranyakaand, Tulsidas describes the life of Rama, 5ita and Lakshmana in the forest and the episode of Ravana forcibly carrying off 5ita when she is alone in the cottage.
After Bharata's departure, Rama feels that Chitrakoot is quite close to Ayodhya and that Bharata may come again to entreat him to return. So, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana travel southward into the forest. They meet rishi Atri and his wife Anasuya. Anasuya and Sita have a long conversation about the virtues of a good woman.
From Atri's ashram, they move on to the Dandaka forest and go to ashrams of many great sages who live there. Thus, ten years go by. Then they reach the ashram of rishi Agastya. At this stage, 5ita expresses a desire to have a cottage of her own. On hearing this, rishi Agastya advises them to go to Panchavati and live there, by the river Godavari.
Panchavati is a charming place with blooming flowers and fruits, chirping bin and the deer roaming about. Lakshmana builds up a small cottage and decide to spend the remaining days of their exile there.
One day, a raakshasa princess Surpanakha happens to see Rama, Sita ar Lakshmana sitting outside their cottage. On seeing Rama, she feels infatuate with him and expresses her love for him. She says that if Sita is the obstacle, she will devour her. This frightens Sita. Thereupon, Lakshmana cuts off Suparnakha’s nose and she runs away bleeding and shrieking.
Enraged at this insult, Surpanakha rushes to her brothers Khara and Dushan and urges them to take revenge. When Khara and Dushana attack Rama with huge army, they along with their entire army, are killed by Rama, single-handed. Then Surpanakha goes to her powerful brother, ten-headed Ravana, the King Lanka. Ravana consoles her. He meets Mareecha and hatches a plan to abduct Sita. Accordingly, Mareecha assumes the form of a golden deer. Sita is fascinate by its beauty and implores Rama to get it for her. Rama goes in pursuit of the fake deer. Before leaving, he instructs Lakshmana not to leave Sita alone.
The deer takes to flight. Rama pursues it and shoots an arrow that makes the deer fall dead. But before dying, it utters aloud, imitating Rama's voice, a piercing cry: "Help! Lakshmana, Help!"
On hearing this cry, Sita forces Lakshmana to obey her command to go out in the direction from which the call for help had come.
When Ravana sees that Sita is alone in the cottage, he assumes the disguise of, ascetic and appears in front of the cottage. Sita is deceived by his appear an and so, offers him alms. But Ravana reveals his true identity and forcibly lifts he puts her in his chariot and flies away, while Sita keeps on crying and wailing.
Jatayu, the king of vultures, hears Sita's cries and rushes to her help. He attack Ravana with his beak and claws. Ravana is enraged and he cuts off Jatayu's wings with his sword. Sita keeps on lamenting and wailing. But Ravana remains unmoved and his flying chariot reaches Lanka.
Ravana puts her in a grove of ashoka trees and some raakshasa women are deputed there to keep guard on her. Sometimes, Ravana begs Sita to become his chief queen and, many times, he threatens to kill her. But Sita only speaks of Rama's nobility and strength.
When Rama finds that the cottage is empty, he realizes that Sita has been carried away by some raakshasa. He cries out, "Sita, where are you!" Grief-stricken, he sobs all the way, as he wanders here and there in search of Sita. He asks the trees, the creepers, the flowers, the birds, the rivers and the mountains about the whereabouts of Sita. Lakshmana is equally distressed. While thus engaged in futile search, the brothers come upon the wounded Jatayu who is bleeding to death. Jatayu tells them that Ravana, the King of Lanka, has carried away Sita, towards the south. Jatayu had been fatally wounded by Ravana and after giving this information to Rama, he dies.
The two brothers come to the ashram of Shabari. She washes the feet of Rama with her tears of joy and feeds him half-eaten wild berries to ensure that he gets only the sweet ones. Then Shabari tells them the way to the Pampa Lake where they can make friends with Sugreeva, the vaanara prince, who will help them in getting Sita back. Rama and Lakshmana move on to the Pampa Lake where lotuses are blooming and birds are singing all around.
The melodious flow of the poetic lines regales the listeners with a beautifully memorable experience.
In the great epic 'Ramacharitmanas', Tulsidas narrates the heroic struggle and exploits of Rama in his fight against the forces of evil.
In Kishkindhakaand, we are told about Rama's search for Sita.
Rama and Lakshmana reach the Rishyamook hill. The vaanara prince Sugreeva is living there with his trusted followers. When he spots the two young warriors, he becomes worried. He is afraid that they might have been sent by his elder brother Bali, who had earlier driven him away and had also seized his wife. So, he sends Hanumana to find out who they are. Hanumana comes to know that they are sons of Dasharatha, the King of Kosal. They are going around in search of Rama's wife Sita, who has been forcibly carried away by a raakshasa.
Hanumana tells the two brothers that Sugreeva, too, is living there in exile. Sugreeva is glad to meet them and promises to trace Sita. He tells his own story to Rama. His elder brother Bali had fought a monster named Maayavi in a cave. Due to a misunderstanding, Sugreeva concluded that Bali was killed in the fight. So, he was proclaimed the King of vaanaras. But, in fact, Bali had killed the monster. So, when Bali returns and finds Sugreeva on the throne, he is furious. He drives Sugreeva out of the kingdom and even seizes his wife. Since then, Sugreeva has been living on Rishyamook hill because Bali can not come there due to a curse.
Rama advises Sugreeva to challenge Bali to a duel, and assures him that, during the combat, he would kill Bali, at an opportune moment. Accordingly, when Sugreeva challenges Bali for a fight, Bali comes out and thrashes Sugreeva. A little later, Rama kills Bali with an arrow. Sugreeva is crowned King of Kishkindha and Angada is made the Crown Prince or Yuvaraja.
But Sugreeva loses himself in pleasures of the palace and forgets his promise to trace Sita. Ram is impatient and Lakshmana is very angry. Hanumana reminds Sugreeva of his promise. Sugreeva realizes his mistake and orders Hanumana to mobilize his army at once.
The search begins in all directions. The contingent of vaanar army which goes to the south, is led by Angada and it includes Hanumana, Nala, Neela and Jamavanta.
The three contingents which had gone to north, east and west, return without any news of Sita. But the southern party persists. In the course of their conversation, they mention that only if Jatayu had been more powerful, he would have killed Ravana, instead of being killed by him.
It so happens that Jatayu's brother Sampaati overhears this conversation. He is sad to hear of his brother's death. Then he tell them that, being a vulture, his vision extends across the sea ant that he can see Sita, sitting under an ashoka tree in the garden of Ravana, the King of Lanka. Anyone who can leap a hundred yojana across the sea, can go there and meet her.
All eyes turn to Hanumana. He alone can do it. Hanumana assure: them that he would jump across the sea, kill Ravana and bring Sit, back. But Jamavanta advises Hanumana to do nothing more than t< bring back news of Sita, because Rama, accompanied by an army will himself attack Lanka, kill Ravana and bring Sita back.
The musical rendering of the beautiful poetic verses is very attractive and it touches the heart-strings of the listeners.
All India Radio has had a very popular daily broadcast of 'Manasgaan' over several years. Reciting, singing or listening to a devotional text is an important aspect of Indian devotional tradition. It is said that reciting or listening to a devotional text destroys sins and fulfils the devotee with all glories of life, both mundane and spiritual.
Tulsidas was a very distinguished poet of Hindi in the medieval times. Medieval Hindi poetry was primarily devotional poetry. Literary historians have named this age as the Age of Devotion (bhakti).lt is love for, and devotion to, the divine God who is either personified God (saguna) or Absolute God (nirguna). The grandest poetry of the Age of Devotion is saguna poetry in which the poets express their devotion to their personified gods, Rama and Krishna. Devotional saguna poetry is love poetry. Love for one's Lord, Krishna or Rama, the two main incarnations of the great God Vishnu. It is not worldly, but divine love. The dominating note in devotional poetry is ecstasy and total identity with God. It is a poetic approach to religion and an ascetic approach to poetry. The rise of bhakti poetry gave rise to regional languages. The conception of bhakti did away with elite tradition of Sanskrit and used the more acceptable language of the common man. Tulsidas was the greatest of the Ramabhakti poets, who wrote the famous epic, 'Ramacharitmanas' (Lake of the Deeds of Rama).
In this work, Tulsidas has made a definite departure from Valmiki and other poets, who had narrated the story of Rama before him. He has presented Rama as an incarnation of God, the Almighty. Tulsidas has narrated Rama's life, right from his birth to his coronation and thereafter to the establishment of an ideal kingdom. The poet describes the most important incidents of Rama's life with full emotional warmth and poetic elegance. These incidents are: his departure from Ayodhya together with Lakshmana to take care of the yajna of Vishwamitra, his marriage with Sita, his banishment for fourteen years, the meeting of Rama and Bharata at Chitrakoot, the abduction of Sita by Ravana and Rama's profound misery while searching for Sita, the great war between Rama and Ravana. Rama's return to Ayodhya, and finally his coronation and establishment of the ideal kingdom (Rama-Rajya).
The greatness of the poet is in his presentation of ideal human characters in a large number and almost from all walks of life. in fact, he has an idealistic vision of life and gives expression to all kinds of desires, emotions, and thoughts but in their sublimated forms. 'Ramacharitmanas' is a monumental epic, a great work of devotion and a guide to practical life. As a poet, he is totally committed to bhakti (devotion), and consequently, it defines his world-view. Bhakti is an active state where the grace of God enlightens the agent, smoothes his path by giving him strength to bear the suffering and by removing obstacles that may come in his way to the ultimate goal.
'Rarnacharitmanas' consists of seven chapters known as kaandas. The fifth chapter is Sundarkaand, or the Chapter of Beauty. it is considered by many to be the soul of the whole text. it consists of the tales of Hanumana, of his courage and complete devotion to Rama. it describes the exploits of Hanumana : his crossing of the sea, entry into Lanka, his meeting with Vibhishana, his discovery of, and meeting with, Sita, and his burning of Lanka. Other episodes described in this chapter are the defection of Vibhishana, the exchange of messages between Rama and Ravana and Rama's taming of the sea. The Sundarkaand of 'Ramacharitmanas' is universally revered and appreciated on the same level of importance as the Bhagawad Gita of the Mahabharata. Every action that is performed and beautifully described in the Sundarkaand is highly auspicious, inspiring, elevating and it promotes supreme values in life. It depicts the total commitment and unconditional surrender by the devotee Hanumana to the lotus feet of Lord Rama. In this Kaand, Hanumana displays the perfect behaviour of a siddha (a perfect man, who has achieved the grace of God).
The character of Hanumana teaches us of unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us and how to make use of that. Hanumana directs all his energies towards the worship of Lord Rama and his undying devotion makes him such that he becomes free from all physical fatigue. He has only one desire- that is to go on serving Rama. He is the archetype of complete devotion to Rama. He liquidates (nishesa) himself completely and totally identifies himself with his Lord, who is both the indweller in the devotee's heart, and also the icon. He acts like a servant to his Lord, which exemplifies 'dasyabhava', one of the nine types of devotions that bind the master and the servant.
In Indian tradition, reciting or listening to a sacred text plays a central role in virtually all features of devotional activity. Every sound of the word of a text is manifestation of the divine and His grace. Reciting or listening specially to the Sundarkaand confers inspiration, motivation, intelligence, creativity, righteousness, infinite bliss, peace, waves of devotion and enlightment. Tulsidas states that those who listen to the Sundarkaand with reverence and devotion, enjoy all glories of life: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.
The poetic brilliance of the epic is awe-inspiring and the music is captivating.
In the immortal classic 'Ramacharitmanas', Tulsidas describes various events and episodes in the life of Rama who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In his brave efforts to destroy the evil, Rama has to face a lot of adversities.
In Lankakaand, we are told about Rama's attack on Lanka and the fierce Rama-Ravana war, in which Ravana is vanquished by Rama.
According to the sea-god's advice, Rama orders a bridge to be built across the sea, with the help of Nala and Neela. Multitudes of vaanaras run hither and thither and bring big rocks and trees and give them to Nala and Neela. It takes them five days to complete the bridge. Then the army of vaanaras and bears cross over to the other side of the sea. There on Mount Subela, Rama pitches his camp.
When Mandodari hears that Rama has constructed a bridge and has crossed the sea, she is frightened. She clasps Ravana's feet and begs him to return Sita and make peace with Rama. But Ravana does not pay attention to her pleadings and leaves for the Council Hall.
Meanwhile, Rama, too, holds his Council of War. As suggested by Jamavanta, Rama asks Angada to go to Lanka as his envoy, with a final offer of peace. Angada goes to Ravana's Council Hall and announces himself as messenger of Rama. He asks Ravana to return Sita and surrender to Rama. Otherwise, he and all raakshasas will be wiped out. It infuriates Ravana who orders that the vaanara should be caught and killed.
That makes Angada very angry. Planting his foot firmly on the ground, he dares anyone to move his foot. All of Ravana's warriors try with all their might, but none can move the foot of Angada. When Ravana himself rises to try, Angada taunts him that it is no use clinging to his feet. He should clasp the feet of Rama. Thus, Angada crushes the enemy's pride and returns to Rama.
Rama declares war on Lanka. The vaanara army attacks Lanka and they are confronted by an army of raakshasas, led by Ravana's son Meghnaad. Meghnaad resorts to maya or magic. Lakshmana challenges him. Meghnaad flings his lance and wounds Lakshmana in the chest. Hanumana finds Lakshmana lying unconscious on the ground and carries him to Rama. As suggested by Jamavanta, a vaidya named Sushena is brought there. Sushena examines Lakshmana and mentions a herb, Sanjeevani, and the mountain where it grows and asks Hanumana to bring it. Hanumana, at once, flies off and soon reaches the mountain, but he cannot identify the herb. To save time, he uproots the whole mountain and flies back with it. Sushena applies the herb and Lakshmana regains consciousness.
Then, Ravana sends his younger brother Kumbhakarna to the battle- ground. He creates havoc with his monstrous strength and puts the whole vaanara army in disarray. Finally, he is killed by Rama.
On Kumbhakarna's death, Meghnaad, comes out with a huge army. He resorts to many tricks, but nothing is achieved. So he goes to a lonely place to perform a yajna to ensure his victory. As advised by Vibhishana, Lakshmana goes to disturb the yajna and, in the ensuing fight, he kills Meghnaad ..
Finally, Ravana comes out with a very large army. Furious fighting breaks out. Rama attacks Ravana repeatedly, but is unable to kill him. Then, Rama asks Vibhishana about the secret of Ravana's endless renewal. After knowing that secret, Rama kills Ravana and the war is over. Rama asks Vibhishana to perform the funeral rites of his brother Ravana. After that, Vibhishana is crowned the King of Lanka. Rama sends Hanumana to carry the news of the victory to Sita. Rama and Sita are united and then they prepare to return. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana fly back in the Pushpaka Vimana.
The musical rendering is appropriate for the great epic's sublime verses and it enhances the aesthetic experience.
In 'Ramacharitmanas', Tulsidas narrates the wonderful and exemplary life of Rama who destroys the evil by killing Ravana, after facing a lot of adversities.
In Uttarkaand, the poet tells us about the return of Rama from the exile and the happenings thereafter.
Rama knows that the fourteen years' exile is about to end and he will not find Bharata alive if he reaches Ayodhya, even a day late. So he mounts the Pushpaka Vimana with Sita, Lakshmana, Vibhishana, Sugreeva, Nala, Neela, Angada, Jamavanta and Hanumana. As Pushpaka flies along, Rama shows Sita the places where Meghnaad, Kumbhakarna and Ravana were killed, the bridge built by Nala and Neela, Rishyamook hill where he had met Hanumana and Sugreeva, Kishkindha where he had killed Bali, the place where Jatayu was killed, Panchavati from where she had been forcibly carried off, the ashrams of Agastya and Valmiki, Chitrakoot where Bharata had come to entreat him to return and the river which they had crossed in Guha's boat. Talking thus, they reach the ashram of rishi Bharadwaj and alight there. From there, Rama sends Hanumana in advance to announce his arrival to Bharata.
Bharata has been living like a hermit for fourteen years on a diet of fruits and roots, wearing bark of trees and sleeping on the ground. He is feeling sad because the period of Rama's exile is about to end and yet he has no news of him. Just then Hanumana arrives with the news of Rama's return. Bharata is happy beyond words and sheds tears of joy. He clasps Hanumana to his heart and orders the city of Ayodhya to be decked with flowers and flags. The people of Ayodhya are overjoyed. Rama sees from his Pushpaka, the multitudes assembled to welcome him. As he alights in the outskirts of the city, Bharata prostrates himself at his feet. Rama embraces him and blesses him. Then Bharata greets all others. Shatrughna respectfully welcomes Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. The exiles also pay homage to Guru Vas the three queen-mothers and receive their bless this, Bharata requests Rama to ascend the throne.
Rama is crowned King of Ayodhya with great rejoicing the kingdom. Rama reigns over his kingdom for n with people's welfare as his sole concern. His r remembered as 'Rama-Rajya', an ideal kingdom. This is the story of 'Ramacharitmanas' and he who rewarded with clarity of vision and courage of overcome evil and attain happiness for himself mankind .
This offering is a soul-stirring blend of sublime poetry thoughts, brave deeds and fascinating music. The makes it so memorable and hauntingly beautiful.