The epic Ramcharitmanas was written in the Awadhi language by Tulsidas in the 16th century, where Tulsidas adapted the original stories of Ramayana with new generations in view.
The Ramcharitmanas is by no means a word-for-word copy of the Valmiki Ramayana or a condensed account of the latter. Ramcharitmanas has elements from many other Ramayanas previously written in Sanskrit and different Indian dialects and stories from Puranas.
A little about Tulsidas and His Ramcharitmanas
Tulsidas was born on the Saptami Tithi of Shukla Paksha of the month of Shravan (July or August on the banks of river Yamuna in Rajapur, Uttar Pradesh (also known as Chitrakoot).
His father’s name was Atmaram Shukla Dubey, and his mother’s name was Hulsi Dubey. Tulsidas stayed in his mother’s womb for 12 months, according to a legend.
At the time of birth, Tulsidas had 32 teeth; he did not cry but spoke the name of Ram, so his childhood name was Rambol.
Tulsidas calls the epic Ramcharitmanas the story of Rama, which was stored in Shiva’s mind (Manasa); later, he narrated the same to His consort, Devi Parvati.
Tulsidas claims to have received the story through his guru, Narharidas. Tulsidas was a naive child, and the story was stored in his mind (Manasa) for a long time before he wrote it as Ramcharitmanas.
Therefore, the epic poem is also known as Tulsikrit Ramayana (The Ramayana composed by Tulsidas). The Ramcharitmanas is a masterpiece of vernacular literature.
Shri Ramcharitmanas Facts
1. Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas are different
Ramcharitmanas and Ramayana are two different versions of the Rama story written in Sanskrit and Awadhi. There are some differences between them regarding the style of poetry used, composition, religious significance, and the like.
Ramayana is written by the sage Valmiki. It is considered Adi Kavya or the first book of ornate poetry. Ramcharitamanas is based on Valmiki’s original work. It was written by the great Awadhi poet Goswami Tulsi Das.
It is important to note that Tulsidas compared the Seven Kandas or chapters to the seven steps leading to Lake Manasa. It is popularly believed that a bath in Manasarovar, near Mount Kailash, brings purity to mind and body by removing all kinds of impurities.
2. Ramcharitmanas as North India Bible
It is not hyperbole to say that Western scholars regard Ramacharitmanas as the North Indian Bible. This is because the work is loaded with spiritual and religious thoughts. The father of India, Mahatma Gandhi, often regarded Tulsidas Ramayana as more spiritual than Valmiki Ramayana.
3. Seven Kandas of Ramcharitmanas
Tulsidas wrote the work in seven Kandas, and they are called Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkindakand, Sundar Kanda, Lanka Kanda, and Uttar Kanda. The main difference between Valmiki Ramayana and Ramacharitmanas is that Tulsidas did not write the sixth chapter under the title Yuddh Kanda but instead titled it Lanka Kanda.
Tulsidas is believed to have ended Ramcharitmanas’ work abruptly without going into the details of the events at Uttarakhand, as explained by Valmiki.
4. Composition of Ramcharitmanas
The word Ram appears 1443 times in Ramcharitmanas. The word Sita appears 147, and Janaki appears 69 times in Ramcharitmanas. The word Baidehi appears 51 times, and Temple appears 35 times.
Similarly, the number of verses in Ramcharitmanas is 27, the number of Chopai is 4608, and the number of Doha in Ramcharitmanas is 1074. Kishkindhakand is the shortest chapter in this epic, and Balakanda is the longest.
Tulsidas was 77 years old when he composed Ramcharitmanas. Tulsidas started writing it in 1574 AD and completed it after two years, seven months, and 26 days in 1576 AD. Tulsidas is also considered an incarnation of Maharishi Valmiki. Lord Shiva inspired him to write Ramcharitmanas in a dream.
5. Ramcharitmanas Details
According to Ramcharitmanas, the speed of Pushpak Vimana was 400 miles/hour, the war between Rama Team and Ravana Team lasted 87 days, and the Ram-Ravan war lasted 32 days.
Similarly, a bridge constructed to cross the ocean to reach Lanka took five days to complete. Lord Ram stayed in Lanka for 111 days, and Sita stayed in Lanka for 435 days. During her stay in Lanka, Sarama served Sita in Ashok Vatika. Sarama is the daughter of Gandharva king Shailush and the wife of the asura king Vibhishana.
6. Story of Shurpanakha
Vidyujjihi was the husband of Shurpanakha, the only sister of Ravana. For some reason, Ravana killed Vidyujjihi. She then cursed Ravana in her mind that he would die because of a woman.
After becoming a widow, Shurparnakha became autocratic, so on the orders of Shri Ramchandra, Lakshman cut her nose.
7. Reality of Ravana
Everyone knows that Ravana was the king of Lanka, but very few know that the actual king of Lanka was Kuver, a half-brother of Ravana. According to Ramcharitmanas, Kuver was also a devotee of Shiva; being pleased with his penance, Shiva gave him Lanka, which Ravana later won in the battle with Kuver.
Ravana was also a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Ravana cut off his head and dedicated it to Shiva as a symbol of his severe penance. Lord Shiva impressed by Ravana’s devotion, gave ten heads to Ravana; that’s why he is also known as Dashanan (the one with ten heads).
8. Sri Ram also had a sister
Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughan were four brothers, and they also had an elder sister named Shanta. Shanta was the elder daughter of King Dasharatha and Kaushalya, but for some unknown reason, King Dasharatha gave her to King Rompad of Angadesh when she was young.
Shanta was raised by King Rompad and his wife Varshini, who was childless and had asked for a child in jest during a visit to Ayodhya. King Dasharatha kept his word and Shanta became the princess of Angadesh.
9. Story of Meghnath
The Ramcharitmanas feature Meghnad, who was the son of King Ravana and Mandodari. His name means “one whose speech was like thunder” and he was known for his remarkable warrior skills. Meghnad was the most powerful warrior in Lanka’s army and was feared for his bravery. He even defeated the king of the gods, Indra, and earned the title Indrajit.
He received a boon that he would be killed by the one who hadn’t slept for 14 years. Lakshman hadn’t slept for 14 years, so he is also named Gudakesh. So Meghnath was killed at the hands of Lakshman.
10. Tulsidas Vision
Tulsidas has indicated in many of his works that he had received direct visions (darshan) of Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama-Lakshman, and Shiva-Parvati.
During his journey, Tulsidas found a saint in Kashi, who told him the address of Hanuman. After seeing Hanuman, he was blessed to have a vision of Lord Rama as well. However, when Lord Rama gave him darshan, Tulsidas couldn’t recognize him.
On the day of Mauni Amavasya, Lord Rama again visited Tulsidas, and this time Hanuman helped him identify Lord Rama.
Ramcharitmanas at Modern Times
The former Bihar Education Minister Chandra Shekhar during his convocation ceremony speech at Nalanda Open University claimed Ramcharitmanas can spread hatred in society. He said that it is one of the religious books whose statements about Dalits and Backward people are questionable. Despite that Gita Press of Gorakhpur states that the Ramcharitmas is a sacred book that shouldn’t be replaced and has been selling the Hindu epic in mass numbers (more than 7 crores pieces).
Both the Ramayana and the Ramcharitmanas have attained great importance in the lives of Hindus in all parts of the world. The most important thing in the Ramcharitmans is the theory of karma, reincarnation, Advaita-Vedanta, brahmana, jiva, Maya, and Isvara. Ramcharitmanas passed the story of Ram in every household.