Goswami Tulsidas: Life, Works and Ramacharitmanas

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Goswami Tulsidas JI

Goswami Tulsidas holds a revered position as a poet and philosopher. His contributions are considered significant and his works continue to inspire generations. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Rama and dedicated his life to his worship.  In this article, we will delve into the life, history, books, and remarkable works of Goswami Tulsidas, with a special focus on his renowned masterpieces, the Ramcharitmanas and the Hanuman Chalisa.

Early Life

Goswami Tulsidas was born in the 16th century in the town of Soron Shukar Kshetra, UP (as officially announced by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, India in the year 2012). According to some scholars, he was born on 11 August 1511 AD while some believed he was born in the year 1532 AD.

  • According to Vinaya Patrika,  he was born with 32 teeth and uttered Ram as the first word.  
  • Hence his birth name was Rambola Dubey  (who uttered the word Ram), given by his parents Atmaram Dubey and Hulsi Devi.
  • As a child, Tulsidas showed immense curiosity and an inclination towards spirituality. Although not many sources are available in the context of his early life. But it is believed, he was abandoned by his family at an early age.
  • The guru of Tulsidas was Guru Narharidas, who also renamed him from Rambola to Tulsidas.   

“रघुपति राघव राजाराम, पतित पावन सीताराम।”

(Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Patit Pavan Sita Ram.)

  • At the young age of seven, Tulsidas was gifted his first book, the Ramayana. It is believed that this encounter planted the seeds of devotion and love for Lord Rama within his heart by his guru – Narharidas.
  • At the age of 15-16, he moved to the sacred city of Varanasi and got knowledge of Philosophy, Sanskrit Grammar and Hindi Literature by another guru, Gurur Shesha Sanatana, who was a friend of Guru Narharidas
  • He also learned about the four Vedas, Six Vedangas, Jyotisha and the six schools of Hindu Philosophy in Varanasi.

Some believe Tulsidas was an ascetic and lived a celibate life, but another belief prevalent is he was married to Ratnavali and had a son Tarak, who died as a toddler. Later, renounced his wife to become a saint.

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Books and Works

Goswami Tulsidas authored several notable works and showcased his remarkable command over poetry and philosophy. Here are some of his influential literary contributions:

  1. In Awadhi Literature – Ramcharitmanas, Barvai Ramayana, Parvati Mangal, Janaki Mangal, Ramlala Nahachhu and Ramagya Prashna.
  2. In Braja Work – Vinay Patrika, Vairagya Sandipani, Gitavali, Krishna Gitavali and Sahitya Dohavali.

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Major Works of Tulsidas

  1. Dohavali – The book is a collection of nearly 573 miscellaneous Doha and Sortha in Braja and Awadhi. 
  2. Kavitavali – It has a collection of poems or Kavitta sin Braja dialect. It also has many episodes. 
  3. Gitavali – Consists of 328 Braja songs of Hindustani classical music.
  4. Krishna Gitavali – It is a collection of 61 Braja songs dedicated to Lord Krishna.
  5. Vinaya Patrika – The book is a culmination of 279 Braja Stanzas and hymns.

तुलसी दान जो देत है जल में हाथ उठाई |प्रतिग्राही जीवै नहीं दाता नरकै जाई |

(Tulsi daan jo det hai jal mein hath uthai. Pratigrahi jevai nahin daata narkai jayi)

Minor Works of Goswami Tulsidas   

  1. Barvai Ramayana – The book is a collection of 69 verses which is created under the Barvai meter and divided into seven Kands.
  2. Janaki Mangal – This book is a collection of 216 verses in Awadhi language describing the marriage of Sita and Lord Rama.
  3. Ramalala Nahachhu- This work is also in Awadhi dialect depicting the ritual of Nahachhu.
  4. Vairagya Sandipani –  It is written in Braja and has 60 verses elaborating on the state of Vairagya and realisation.
  5. Ramagya Prashna – It describes the Will of Lord Rama and has 343 dohas and seven Kands.

Apart from these major and minor twelve works of Tulsidas, there are four major works that include – Hanuman Chalisa, Hanuman Bahuk, Hanuman Ashtak and Tulsi Satsai.

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Undoubtedly, the magnum opus of Goswami Tulsidas is the Ramcharitmanas. This epic poem narrates the story of Lord Rama based on the Valmiki Ramayana. Its simplicity and profoundness have made it one of the most cherished texts in Indian History.

The Ramacharitmanas, also known as the Tulsi Ramayana. It is an exquisite amalgamation of devotion, storytelling, and spiritual wisdom. Tulsidas composed this epic in the 16th century around 1574-1576.  The holy book consists of 12,800 lines divided into seven Chapters (Kands) that narrate the story of Lord Ram from his birth to his ascension to the throne. It was written in the Awadhi dialect as most people understood the language.

Some of the original manuscripts of Ramcharitmanas are still preserved in various places like Ayodhya, Soron, Varanasi, Chitrakut and Lucknow.

Original Manuscripts of Ramcharitmanas in Goswami Tulsidasji’s Handwriting

How did Tulsidas approach the Ramayana story in Ramcharitmanas?

Tulsidas reimagined the story of Lord Rama, adding his unique touch of devotion and spirituality. He wrote the Ramacharitmanas with beautiful poetry, storytelling dialogues and deep philosophical insights. Tulsidas aimed to make the divine story accessible to the masses by writing it in the common language of the people Awadhi.

The Hanuman Chalisa 

One of Tulsidas’ most iconic compositions is the Hanuman Chalisa. This devotional hymn consists of 40 verses and praises the qualities and virtues of Lord Hanuman. It is widely recited by millions of devotees around the world.

According to folklore, Tulsidas Ji was called by Mughal Emperor Akbar in his court to reward him and see his talent. But Tulsidas denied having any magical powers, which made Akbar angry and sentenced him to jail in Fatehpur Sikri. Staying at the jail, Tulsidasji composed Hanuman Chalisa and narrated it for forty days. Surprisingly. The city of Fatehpur Sikri was attacked by an army of Monkeys and Akbar had to release Tulsidasji from Jaii.

Goswami Tulsidasji is believed to have died at the age of 126 years, on the banks of river Ganga in Assi Ghat at Varanasi.

Statue of Tulsidasji.

Goswami Tulsidas through his literary brilliance and devotion still continues to be a beacon of inspiration for millions. His works, especially the Ramacharitmanas, have touched the hearts and minds of people across generations. Tulsidas’s profound wisdom and spiritual insights continue to guide seekers on their quest for truth and enlightenment. 

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That’s all about Goswami Tulsidas Ji! If you want to know more about topics like this, then visit our general knowledge page! Alternatively, you can also read our blog on general knowledge for competitive exams!

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