Goswami Tulsidas : 1497 A.D. - 1623 A.D., 126 years
Great people are born to serve a divine purpose. At times the purpose may appear to be limited to serve a set of people in a certain locality for a given period. Some personalities are created to serve people at large forever by bringing a change in their lifestyle for leading a contented and happy life. Such personalities are remembered forever with gratitude.
Man's needs are continuing to be the same over ages. He continues to have an un-quenching desire for achieving what he doesn't have. Some people crave to have what others have; though they too have similar things. Such an unhealthy craving is continuing to exist in the human style of living which is the basic cause for unhappiness. Those who are satisfied with what they have and don't have any cravings, are those who are always happy even under odd and difficult situations.
Saints, Maharshis, and Avatars are born, at appropriate times, by the divine will to bring in course correction to help people lead a Dharmic (disciplined) life. Sanatana Dharma provides a disciplined life for a man to live happily in this life and to achieve liberation from the everlasting life and death cycle. Those who understand that life is a continuum and that every act of theirs produces results which are to be enjoyed by them, either immediately, or spread over a large number of future lives, will care for each act of theirs and be self-controlled. Man has all the power within him to produce required results by suitably using this power with self-control and orienting to help people at large.
Self-control of desires makes a man realise that he is free and that the desires bind him to the cycle of birth and death. Saints show how to lead a desireless life. They live with the only Desire of self realisation and to help others to achieve self realisation. They strive to teach through examples of those who achieved such goals leading normal human life without seeking any extra ordinary divine powers.
Shri Goswami Tulsidas is such a saint who lived a life devoid of sensual pleasures. He wrote Ramayanaam in a popular spoken language easily understood by illiterate people, leading everyone to the path of bhakti. Bhakti makes a man lead a selfless life, while serving the mankind. One who follows the path of bhakti considers him as a sincere servant of the Almighty, and takes every action of his as to serve only the Divine purpose. Ramayanaa shows Lord Anjaneya as one who served his master Lord Rama with devotion in spite of the difficulties he faced in discharging his duties. Various characters in Ramayanaa reflect the common thinking of the normal human beings of the present today. Dharmik way of living induced by Lord Rama would make the people of today lead a purposeful and happy life without attachment.
The greatness of Sri Goswami Tulsidas is in bringing Ramayanaa in the local spoken language to enable even the illiterate to sing Ramayanaa even while working in a field. Thus they learn and remember Dharma and apply it in Every Walk of life. This appears to be the reason why the Divine had prompted Saint Goswami Tulsidas to write Ramayanaa in the spoken language of Ayodhya, the Awadhi language.
Some details of the life of Saint Goswami Tulsidas would help us appreciate how a man gets linked to the divine if only he has an intense desire.
The story goes thus:
Tulsidas was born in the year 1554 of Vikram Saka (1497 A.D.) in a village called Rajapuram of Banda district near the holy pilgrimage center Prayaga in India. He was born in a Brahmin family to Atma Ram Dubey and Hulsi. The prenatal was in his mother's womb for 12 months as against the normal duration of 9 months. He was born with 32 teeth which is odd as no child is ever born with teeth at the time of birth. The child at the time of birth looked like a grown up boy of five years! Man refuses to accept anything abnormal. Atmaram Dubey thought that such a child's birth as a bad oman. The child's mother also felt the same way. She gave the child to her servant maid by name Chunia, and sent her to her (Cunia's) mother-in-law's village. Hulsi passed away on the 4th day of the child's birth. Chunia took care of the baby until he grew up to the age of five and half years and then she passed away. The child became an orphan.
Divine plans are mysterious. The child was taken care by Goddess Parvati who used to feed the child with her own hands coming in the guise of a Brahmin lady. By divine prompting someone or the other was helping the child. One day a person by name Sri Narahari Anand, a student of Shri Anant Anand Maharaj came searching for this child. He named the child as Rambola and took with him to Ayodhya. During the Vikrama Shaka 1561, he got the upanayana sanskar performed for Rambola. The child was blessed with photographic memory. Rambola was initiated into the Vaishnava Sampradaya and got the pancha samskaras performed. He was getting educated for some time in Ayodhya. One day the boy and Sri Narahari Anand went to a holy place known as Varaha Kshetram where the child was taught Ramcharita by Sri Narahari Anand. After a few days they both went to Holy Kashi Kshetram(Varanasi). Ram bola learnt Vedas and Vedangas from a great scholar Sri Sesha Sanatanaswami for fifteen years. Later, with the permission of his Guru, Rambola wanted to get married to lead a Gruhastha life.
Rambola went back to his birthplace and learnt that his parents passed away and that he didn't have any of his relatives there. He performed Shraddha karmas for his parents. He lived there popularizing Ramayana amongst the villagers. During the year 1583 of Vikrama Shaka Rambola was married to a Brahmin bride by name Ratnavali. They both were leading a happy married life. One day Ratnavali went to her parents place with her brother. Young Rambola couldn't be happy without her presence. After a while, he too went to her village to be with her.
One should note that at times, some small and apparently ignorable events become turning points for some people in their lives.
When Rambhola met his wife Ratnavali, she might have got embarrassed and remarked" If you have at least half of the love you have for my body full of blood and flesh, on the Almighty, you will transform into a great personality". This unintended remark intrigued and changed the outlook of Rambola. He went to his house, left his family life and went to Holy Prayaga.
He started concentrating on the Almighty. He denounced the worldly pleasures and became a Saint- Tulsidas.
He performed pilgrimages and reached Holy Kashi (Varanasi). He had the vision of 'Kakabhushundi'. Tulsidas was giving discourses on Rama Charitra at Varanasi. An interesting event occurred there. He was performing Sandhya Vandanam regularly and was dispensing the tirtham near a tree. After a few days, affected by this powerful tirtham, a brahmarakshas who was living on that tree got relieved of his curse. He came to Tulsidas, prostrated before him and said that he was grateful to him for having relieved him of his curse. It was a surprise toTulsidas as he never intended this to happen nor was he aware of such an effect. This person requested Tulsidas to ask for any help from him. Having heard from him that he was a brahmarakshas Tulsidas wanted him to get Lord Rama's Darshan. What else would a real Saint ask for! He said that he didn't have the power to provide Lord Rama's Darshan. He told Tulsidas that Lord Hanuman can help him in this endeavor. Tulsidas asked him how to find Lord Hanuman. The man reminded Tulsidas that lord Anjaneya is present where ever Lord Rama's kirtana is heard. "Yatra yatra raghunatha kirtanam, tatra tatra kruta mastakaanjalim, bashpavari paripoorna locanam, Marutim Namata rAshasaantakam". Thus Tulsidas was trying to find if Lord Hanuma was present amongst the audience for his discourses.
He observed an old brahmin coming in before anyone else came in and was leaving only after everyone else left, after the discourse on Ramayanaa. Tulsidas approached him and requested him to identify himself. The old Brahmin was Lord Hanuman. Tulsidas was grateful and happy. He prayed Lord Hanuman to provide him the Divine darshan of Lord Sri Rama. Lord Hanuman directed Tulsidas to go to Chitrakoot Dham where he would get the desired Darshan.
Tulsidas immediately proceeded to Chitrakoot and stayed at Ramghat longing to get the Divine Darshan of Lord Rama. After reaching there, Tulsidas wanted to perform Giripradakshina to 'Kamadagiri'. On the way he saw two young, very handsome, well-built Princes wearing bows and arrows riding two horses. Tulsidas was pleased to see such attractive youngsters. He could not recognise them as Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Tulsidas was very unhappy that he missed to recognise them. Lord Hanuman consoled him and told him that he would have Lord Rama's darshan next morning.
During the year 1607 of Vikram Saka, on Pushya Bahula Amavasya( Mouni Amavasya), Wednesday, a little boy came to Tulsidas and asked him to give Chandan. Hanuman prompted Tulsidas in the form of a parrot saying the Doha:
"Chitrakoot ke Ghat par bha yi Santan ke bhir
Tulsidas Chandan ghise tilak deta Raghuveer".
meaning - at Ramaghat in Chitrakoot there are a number of Sajjan groups. Tulsidas prepared Chandan and Lord Raghuveer used for His Tilakam.
In other words he told Tulsidas that the one who uses the Chandan prepared by him is Lord Ramachandra. Tulsidas observed the great Tejas of Lord Rama in the boy and lost his consciousness. Lord Rama took the Chandan in to His hands and made tilakam on His face and on Tulsidas's face and disappeared. Tulsidas was extremely happy, thanked Lord Anjaneya and with his permission started for Ayodhya during the year 1628 of Vikram Saka.
On the way, he reached prayaga where "magh Mela" was being celebrated. He stayed there for a few days. One day he saw Maharshi Bharadwaja and Maharshi Yagnyavalkya. Later, he went to Holy Kashi and was staying in a Brahmin's house near Prahlad Ghat. He started writing poetry in Sanskrit. Surprisingly whatever he composed and wrote during the day was disappearing during the night. This happened continuously for 8 days. On the eighth night Lord Shiva appeared in a dream and directed Tulsidas to compose poetry in his spoken language. Immediately Tulsidas woke up and had the Divya Darshan of Parvathi Parameshwara. Then Parameswara asked Tulsidas to go to Ayodhya, and compose in the local spoken language. He blessed Tulsidas, saying that this work of his would be sung by the Bhaktas like Samaveda. The divine couple disappeared.
As directed by Parameswara, Tulsidas went to Ayodhya.
During the year 1631 of Vikram Shaka on the auspicious day on which Shri Rama janmadinotsavam was being celebrated, Tulsidas began to write Ramcharitmanas in the spoken language Awadhi of Ayodhya. He completed this great work in 2 years 7 months and 26 days. He completed all the seven kaandaas of Ramcharitmanas on the day when the annual Kalyana mahotsavam of Lord Sri Rama with Sita Devi was being celebrated during the year 1633 of Vikram Shaka.
Later Tulsidas went to Holy Kashi and sang Ramcharitmanas before Lord Visweswara and Goddess Annapurna Devi. He then placed the work in Lord Vishweshwara Mandir. Next morning when the Mandir was opened, Tulsidas was surprised to see the words Satyam Shivam Sundaram written on the book with the signature of Lord Shankara. The Bhaktas who were present there also heard the words Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
The local Pandits of Kasi were jealous of Tulsidas getting such a fame. They wanted to destroy this great work. They engaged two thieves to go to Tulsi Das's place and destroy the written book. When the thieves went there, they were scared to see two warriors wearing bows and arrows guarding the place. The thieves changed their mind and left the idea of stealing since then. They were performing Ram bhajan. After coming to know of this event, Tulsidas gave away all his belongings to others. Tulsidas kept this book in the custody of his friend Todarmal. Later he made a copy of this work. This work became very popular.
Local Pandits didn't like Tulsidas getting fame. They wanted to get an expert comment on the content and its sanctity, from an erudite scholar, Shri Madhusudana Saraswati. He studied the entire work patiently and thoroughly. He commented that this was an excellent work saying:
"Ananda Kaananehyasmin jangamastulasi taruhu, Kavita Manjari Bhati Rama Bhramara bhushita."
meaning- in Kashi known as AnandaKaananam, there is a mobile tulsi plant called Tulsidas The poetic fragrance of his work attracted the Honey Bee Lord Sri Rama who hovers over it.
Such a great comment couldn't be digested by the jealous pandits. To find out the sanctity of the work, they planned another test. In Lord Visweswara's mandir, they placed this book on a plank and placed Veda and Purana granthas on its top. They closed the Mandir after the evening Poojas were over. Next morning when they opened the Temple they found to their surprise the work of Tulsidas was being kept on the top of all others.
This opened up their eyes and they realised their folly. They felt ashamed. They prostrated before Tulsidas and apologized to him.
During that time Tulsidas was living at Assi Ghat in Holi Kashi . One night Kalipurusha started troubling Tulsidas. He was afraid and prayed to Lord Anjaneya who suggested that he should write 'Vinaya Patrika' and submit it to Lord Sri Rama. Tusidas did so and got the Blessings of Lord Sri Rama who put His signature on this submission. With Lord Sri Rama's Abhayam, Tulsidas was free from his fear.
During the year 1680 of Vikram Shaka on Ashadha Bahula Vidiya, Saturday, Tulsidas left his physical body and joined Rama padam uttering rama namam.
Thus Tulsidas lived for 126 years physically and through his work lives eternally!!
Some valuable lessons from the biography of Saint Goswami Tulsidas:
1. One is not born out of his will, but by the divine wish to make him serve a divine purpose.
2. No one knows the purpose of one's life but would proceed to achieve the goal set by the Divine. He gets pushed onto the path by the circumstances in which he is placed and by his reactions to the events without his intention. The unintended comments of Rambola's wife Ratnavali, turned him into Saint Tulsidas.
3. We normally feel that we are independent but we will be made to learn that all activities including every individual's activities are being controlled by the divine force.
4. We feel the local and mundane activities are ours and the divine has no role to play in them. We learn from Tulsidas that even the poetry he wanted to write was directed and controlled by the divine. Lord Parameswara directed Tulsidas to choose Awadhi- a spoken language in Ayodhya, to enable even an illiterate to enjoy singing Ramacaritamanas as a lyric even while working in a field!
5. The Supreme Master is over viewing every activity of each human being and is making the course correction as and when He wanted.
6. This shows that God is not too far away from us but He is as close to us as our longing for Him is.
Reference: Sri Ramacarita Maanas (code 1352) Gita Press, Gorakhpur.