||Ramacharit Manas||

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RAMACHARITMANAS

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An Introduction to Rāmacaritamānasa

चरितं रघुनाथस्य शतकोटि प्रविस्तरम् ।
एकैकमक्षरं पुंशां महापातकनाशनम् ॥

The life story of Shri Rama has a vast expanse and each and every letter of it is capable of destroying even the greatest sins of mankind.

The Ramacaritamanasa, consisting of around 10,800 verses, was composed by Tulasidasji in the late sixteenth century.

Over 400 years, it became extremely popular in Northern India.

In Kashi, Lord Shiva came in the dream of Tulasidasji and inspired Him to write Sri Ram Katha in vernacular language.

Tulasidasji mentions this.
सपनेहुँ साँचेहु मोहि पर जौ हरगौरि पसा‌उ ।
तौ फुर हो‌उ जो कहे‌उँ सब भाषा भनिति प्रभा‌उ ॥-Ramacharitmanas, 1.15

Tulasidasji then visited Ayodhya and on Chaitra Ram Navami of the year Vikrami Samvat 1631 (1574 A.D.), during Abhijit Muhurat, Sri Ramacharitmanas appeared inside Him and illuminated His heart, as is evident.
सम्वत सोरह सै एकतीसा । कर‌उं कथा हरिपद धरि सीसा ॥
नौमी भौम वार मधुमासा । अवधपुरी यह चरित प्रकासा ॥
-Ramacharitmanas, 1.34.45

He completed Ramacharitmanas with seven chapters (Kandas) while staying at Ayodhya, Kashi and Chitrakoot.
The seven chapters form the seven steps (सोपान , Sopanas as Tulasidasji calls them) leading to the attainment of the Supreme Bliss.
I. प्रथम सोपान बालकाण्ड
II. द्वितीय सोपान अयोध्याकाण्ड
III. तृतीय सोपान अरण्यकाण्ड
IV. चतुर्थ सोपान किष्किन्धाकाण्ड
V. पञ्चम सोपान सुन्दरकाण्ड
VI. षष्ठ सोपान लंकाकाण्ड
VII. सप्तम सोपान उत्तरकाण्ड
The sole intention of the above seven सोपान, Sopanas is to inculcate supreme devotion (Bhakti) to Sri Rama.

Unqualified devotion (Bhakti) to the Lord is the keynote of Sri Ramacharitmanas.

Sri Rama the central figure of this epic poem is the very personification of Divine Virtues
(रामो विग्रहवान् धर्म: )
Sri Rama stands for all that is glorious and best in Indian Culture.
His life is an ideal example for Humanity, both from the Secular and Spiritual point of view.

Sita represents the highest ideal of Indian Womanhood.
(सीतायाश्चरितंमहत्
Sitayas Charitam Mahat)

The Ramacharitmanas consists of 1074 Dohas in the idiom of the common man of the land.

Tulasidasji's aim is to make his language accessible to the masses and thus the Ramacharitmanas has conquered the minds and hearts of people for the past 400 hundred years.
There is hardly any literate person in North India, who does not remember at least one or two lines of the Ramacharitmanas.

The Ramacharitmanas has been guiding the Manas (Minds) of its readers for the past 400 hundred years.

Ramacharitmanas has entered into the nerves of the Masses. It provides nourishment to their head & heart.

The secret behind the popularity of the Ramacharitmanas is its simplicity and the devotional (Bhakti) culture that permeates throughout the book.

In fact Devotion (Bhakti) is the highest form of culture as it purifies the mind.

As the devotee advances in the path of devotion, his capacity to visualise divinity, which is potentially present in all of us, gets automatically internalised.

Tulasidasji seeks the blessings of Lord Ganesha, to ensure that His Mind becomes the blissful abode for His Lord SitaRama:
गा‌इये गणपति जगवंदन।
शंकर सुवन भवानी के नंदन॥
सिद्धि सदन गजवदन विनायक।
कृपा सिंधु सुंदर सब लायक॥
मोदक प्रिय मुद मंगल दाता।
विद्या बारिधि बुद्धि विधाता॥
मांगत तुलसीदास कर जोरे।
बसहिं रामसिय मानस मोरे॥
Tulasidasji is a personification of Devotion (Bhakti).

Devotion or Bhakti is the key theme of this immortal work (Ramacharitmanas).

Bhakti is the main stream of Ramacharitmanas.

Tulasidasji has expounded his theory of devotion (Bhakti) through the seven steps (सोपान, Sopanas) in the seven chapters of the Ramacharitmanas.

His work provides a solution to almost all the problems that we are facing (petty quarrels in family, community, country, and the entire world).

A study of the Ramacharitmanas will restore in people the faith in Divinity.

Thus ensuring peace & harmony in Family, Community, Country, and World.

Ramacharitmanas covers a wide range of topics – Ethics, Philosophy, Sociology, and Jurisprudence.

The main story is only incidental and provides the basis to present a practical guide and a code of conduct, for the masses in their day to day life.

For this, Tulasidasji draws material from various sources, and mentions a few of them in his introductory verse:
नानापुराणनिगमागमसम्मतं यद्
रामायणे निगदितं क्वचिदन्यतोऽपि।
Ramacharitmanas, 1.7

The entire Vedic and Puranic literature, Agamas (Tantras), the Ramayana of Valmiki and its later versions mainly the Adhyatma Ramayana provide the source material for the Ramacharitmanas.

The Ramacharitmanas is a treasure house for the path of Devotion (Bhakti).

 

We wish to share with readers a four part series of articles titled:

"Bhakti Sadhanas (Spiritual Practices of Devotion) in Ramacharitmanas"

Part 1 will cover Sri Rama's preaching to Lakshmana, the Sadhanas of Bhakti.

Part 2 will cover Valmiki's discourse to Sri Rama, describing 14 types of Bhaktas.

Part 3 will cover Sri Rama's discourse to His subjects, describing the characteristics of Bhakti.

Part 4 will cover Sri Rama's preaching to Sabari, the Navadha Bhakti (Nine Stages of Devotion).

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Reference:
Sri Ramacaritamanasa
With Hindi Text and English Translation
(A Romanized Edition)
Gita Press, Gorakhpur, India.