Biography of Tulsidas
He was the composer of the original Ramayana into Sanskrit. He lived in Varanasi till his death. The name of Tulsi ghat has been kept after him. He was the greatest poet of Hindi literature and founded the temple Sankat mochan.
Goswami Tulsidas was a great Hindu poet as well as saint, reformer, and philosopher who composed various popular books. He is also remembered for his devotion to Lord Rama and being the author of the great epic, the Ramcharitmanas. He was always admired as a reincarnation of the Valmiki (original composer of the Ramayana in Sanskrit and Hanuman Chalisa). Goswami Tulsidas spent his entire life in the city of Banaras and also took his last breath in this city.
Tulsidas was born on the 7th day in the month of Shraavana (July or August), in the bright half of the lunar. His birthplace is identified at the Rajapur (also known as the Chitrakuta) at the bank of the Yamuna river in UP. The name of his parents is Hulsi and Atmaram Dubey. The exact birth date of Tulsidas is not clear and different people have different opinions regarding his birth year. According to some scholars he was born in 1554 as per Vikrami Samvat and others say it was 1532. He lived his life around 126 years.
According to a legend, Tulsidas took 12 months to come out in this world, till then he stayed in the womb of his mother. He had 32 teeth from his birth and looked like a five-year-old boy. After his birth, he started enchanting the name of Rama instead of crying. That’s why he was named Rambola, he himself stated in Vinayapatrika. At the fourth night after his birth, his father had passed away. Tulsidas had stated in his works Kavitavali and Vinayapatrika about how his parents’ abandonment him after his birth.
Chuniya (the female maid of his mother Hulsi) took Tulsidas to her town, Haripur, and took care of him. She died after caring for him for just five and a half years. After that event, Rambola lived as a poor orphan and walked door to door begging for alms. It is assumed that the Goddess Parvati took up the form of a Brahmin for taking care of the Rambola.
He himself had given some of the facts and events of his life in his various works. Two ancient sources of his life are the Bhaktamal and Bhaktirasbodhini composed by the Nabhadas and Priyadas respectively. Nabhadas had written in his writing about Tulsidas and described him as an incarnation of the Valmiki. Priyadas composed his writing 100 years after the death of Tulsidas and described the seven miracles and spiritual experiences of the Tulsidas. Two other biographies of Tulsidas are Mula Gosain Charit and Gosain Charit composed by Veni Madhav Das in 1630 and Dasanidas (or Bhavanidas) around 1770 respectively.
The Incarnation of the Valmiki
It is believed that Tulsidas was the reincarnation of Valmiki. According to the Hindu scripture Bhavishyottar Purana, Lord Shiva had described to his wife Parvati that how Valmiki will incarnate in the Kal Yuga.
According to the sources, it is considered that the Hanuman use to go to Valmiki to hear him singing the Ramayana. After the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana, Hanuman continued to worship the Rama in the Himalayas.
Rambola (Tulsidas) was given the Virakta Diksha (known as Vairagi initiation) and got the new name, Tulsidas. His Upanayana was performed by the Narharidas at Ayodhya when he was just of 7 years old. He started his first learning at the Ayodhya. He mentioned in his epic the Ramcharitmanas that his guru narrated him the Ramayana over and over again. He came to the sacred city Varanasi when he was just 15–16 years old and got the knowledge of Sanskrit grammar, Hindu literature and philosophy, four Vedas, six Vedangas, Jyotisha from his guru Shesha Sanatana at the Panchaganga Ghat in Varanasi.
After study, he came back to his birthplace, Chitrakuta by the permission of his Guru. He started to live in his family home and narrating the story of Ramayana.
He was married to Ratnavali (the daughter of Dinbandhu Pathak of Mahewa village and Kaushambi district) on the 13th of Jyeshta month (May or June) in the year 1583. After some years of marriage, he had a son named Tarak who died in his toddler state. Once upon a time, his wife went to her father’s home when Tulsidas had gone to the Hanuman temple. When he returned home and did not saw his wife, he swam along River Yamuna in order to meet his wife. Ratnavali was very upset with his activity and blamed him. She remarked that he should become a true devotee and should focus on God. He then left her wife and went to the holy city of Prayag (where he renounced the stages of Grihastha’s life and became a Sadhu). According to some authors, he was unmarried and Sadhu from birth.
How He Met the Lord Hanuman
Tulsidas meet Hanuman at his own Katha, he fell at lord Hanuman’s feet and shouted ‘I know who you are so you cannot get away leaving me’ and lord Hanuman blessed him. Tulsidas expressed his feeling in front of lord Hanuman that he wants to see Rama confronting each other. Hanuman guided him and told him that go to the Chitrakuta where you would really see the Rama.
How He Met the Lord Rama
As per Lord Hanuman instructions, he started to live in the Ashram at Ramghat in Chitrakuta. One day when he went on Parikrama of the Kamadgiri Mountain, he saw two princes on the horsebacks. But he could not distinguish them. Later when he acknowledged that they were Rama and Lakshman by the lord Hanuman, he got disappointed. All these events were described by himself in his writing Gitavali. On the next morning, he met Rama again when he was making sandalwood paste. Rama came to him and asked for a Tilaka of sandalwood paste, in this way he saw Rama clearly. Tulsidas was so happy and he forgot about the sandalwood paste, then Rama took the tilak himself and applied it on his forehead and also on the Tulsidas‘s forehead.
In the Vinayapatrika, Tulsidas had mentioned the miracles at Chitrakuta and lot of thanks to the Rama. He got darshan of the Yajnavalkya (speaker) and Bharadvaja (listener) in the Magha Mela under a banyan tree.
About His Literary Life
Tulsidas had made the Statue at Tulsi Manas Mandir, Chitrakuta, Satna, India. Then he started composing poetry in Sanskrit for people in Varanasi. It is considered that Lord Shiva himself ordered him to compose his poetry in the vernacular language instead of Sanskrit. When Tulsidas opened his eyes, he saw that both Shiva and Parvati blessed him. He was ordered to go to Ayodhya and write his poetry in the Awadhi.
Composition of the Epic, Ramcharitmanas
He started to write the Ramcharitmanas in Ayodhya on the Ramnavami of the Chaitra month in the year 1631. He completed his writing of the Ramcharitmanas in two years, seven months and twenty six days in the year 1633 at the Vivaha Panchami (marriage day of the Rama and Sita) of the month Margashirsha.
He died on the river bank of Gange at the Assi Ghat in the month of Shraavan (July or August) in 1623.
His other Major Works
Apart from the Ramcharitmanas, there are the five major works of the Tulsidas which are:
Dohavali: It has a collection of at least 573 miscellaneous Doha and Sortha in Braja and Awadhi. Out of all-around 85 Dohas of it is also included in the Ramcharitmanas.
Kavitavali: It has a collection of Kavittas in Braja. Just like the epic, Ramcharitmanas, it also has seven books and many episodes.
Gitavali: It has a collection of 328 Braja songs divided into seven books and all are of Hindustani classical music type.
Krishna Gitavali or Krishnavali: It has a collection of 61 Braja songs especially for the Krishna. Out of the 61, 32 songs are dedicated to childhood and Rasa Lila of the Krishna.
Vinaya Patrika: It has a collection of 279 Braja stanzas. Out of all, around 43 hymns are attended to a variety of deities, Rama’s courtiers, and attendants.
His Minor Works are:
- Barvai Ramayana: It has 69 verses created in the Barvai meter and divided into seven Kands.
- Parvati Mangal: It has a collection of 164 verses describing the marriage of the Mata Parvati and Lord Shiva in the Awadhi.
- Janaki Mangal: It has a collection of 216 verses describing the marriage of Sita and Rama in the Awadhi.
- Ramalala Nahachhu: It described the Nahachhu ritual (cutting the nails of the feet before the Vivaha) of the child Rama in the Awadhi.
- Ramagya Prashna: It described the Will of Rama in Awadhi, consisting of the seven Kands and 343 Dohas.
- Vairagya Sandipini: It consists of 60 verses in Braja describing the state of realization and Vairagya.
Popularly Recognized Works
- Hanuman Chalisa: It consists of 40 verses devoted to the Hanuman in the Awadhi, 40 Chaupais and 2 Dohas and is a prayer to Hanuman.
- Sankatmochan Hanumanashtak: It consists of 8 verses for the Hanuman in the Awadhi.
- Hanuman Bahuka: It has 44 verses in the Braja describing The Arm of Hanuman (praying to the Hanuman for curing his hand).
- Tulsi Satsai: It has a collection of 747 dohas in both Awadhi and Braja and separated into seven Sargas or cantos.
Other Related People:
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Ans. Dohavali, Ramcharitmanas, Hanuman Chalisa, Geetawali, Sahitya Ratna, Vairagya Sandipani, Janki Mangal, Parvati Mangal, Vinaya Patrika, etc.
Ans. Tulsidas was born in 1532 in Banda and died in 1623 at Assi Ghat.
Ans. It was written in the year 1631 in Ayodhya.
Ans. It is written in the Awadhi language.