Shri Ramcharitmanas (Devanāgarī: श्रीरामचरितमानस, Śrīrāmacaritamānasa), also spelt Shri Ramcharitamanasa, is an epic poem in Awadhi, composed by the 16th-century by Sant Shri Goswami Tulsidas (c.1532–1623). Ramcharitmanas literally means the “lake of the deeds of Rama.” Tulsidas compared the seven Kāndas (literally ‘books’, cognate with cantos) of the epic to seven steps leading into the holy waters of a Himalayan lake (Mānasa, as in Lake Mansarovar) which “which purifies the body and the soul at once.” The core of the work is a poetic retelling of the events of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, centered on the narrative of Rama, the crown prince of Ayodhya. The poem is also called Tulsikrit Ramayan (literally, The Ramayan composed by Tulsi or, loosely, The Ramayan of Tulsidas).
The Ramcharitmanas consists of seven books, of which the first two, titled Bālkāṇḍ (Childhood Episode) and Ayodhyākāṇḍ (Ayodhya Episode), make up more than half of the work. The later books are Araṇyakāṇḍ (Forest Episode), Kiṣkindhākāṇḍ (Kishkindha Episode), Sundarkāṇḍ (Pleasant Episode), Laṅkākāṇḍ (Lanka Episode) and Uttarkāṇḍ (Later Episode). The work is primarily composed in the Chaupai metre (four-line quatrains), separated by the Doha metre (two-line couplets), with occasional Soratha and various Chhand metres.
Morari Bapu talks about a tree as being a metaphor for the Ramcharitmanas. Tulsidas writes, “Ramayan is the sublime shadow of the tree of Divinity. One who seeks it, or comes near it, leaves his miseries far and behind.”
Invocations at beginning of each episode
Tuslidas began every chapter with an invocation because he believed that reading, and indeed the writing, of the story of Ram required the right frame of mind, and also the divine assistance of god.
Typically the first three or four verses of each chapter are invocations.
The beginning of Bālakāṇḍa has invocations to deities such as Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh and Hanuman.
Ayodhya Kānd begins with the following verse: May He in whose lap shines forth the Daughter of the mountain king, who carries the celestial stream on His head, on whose brow rests the crescent moon, whose throat holds poison and whose breast is support of a huge serpent, and who is adorned by the ashes on His body, may that chief of gods, the of all, the Destroyer of the universe, the omnipresent Shiv, the moon-like Shankar, ever protect me.
The first Doha of Ayodhya Kānd is the famous two line couplet: Cleansing the mirror of my mind with the dust from the lotus feet of the revered Guru, I sing Sri Ram’s untarnished glory, that bestows the four rewards of human life. This is the same couplet that begins the great poem of Hanuman, the Hanuman Chalisa.
Aranya Kānd’s first shlok is: I reverence Bhagavan Shankar, the progeny of Brahma, the very root of the tree of piety, the beloved, devotee of King Shri Ram, the full moon that brings joy to the ocean of wisdom, the sun that opens the lotus of dispassion, the wind that disperses the clouds of ignorance, who dispels the thick darkness of sin and eradicates the threefold agony and who wipes off obloquy.
Kishkindha Kānd commences with: Lovely as a jasmine and a blue lotus, of surpassing strength, repositories of wisdom, endowed with natural gracem excellent bowmen, hymned by the vedas, and lovers of the cow and Brahmans, who appeared in the form of mortal men through their own Maya as the two noble scions of Raghu, the armours of true religion, friendly to all and journeying in quest for Sita, may they both grant us Devotion.
Sundar Kānd begins with: I adore the of the universe bearing the name of Ram, the chief of the Raghu’s line and the crest-jewel of kings, the mine of compassion, the dispeller of all sins, appearing in human form through His Maya, the greatest of all gods, knowable through Vedanta, constantly worshipped by Brahma, Shambhu, and Shesh, the bestower of supreme peace in the form of final beatitude, placid, eternal, beyond the ordinary means of cognition, sinless and all-pervading.
Lanka Kānd begins: I adore Shri Ram, the supreme deity, the object of worship even of Shiv, the Dispeller of the fear of rebirth, the lion to quell the mad elephant in the form of Death, the Master of Yogis, attainable through immediate knowledge the storehouse of good qualities, unconquerable, attributeless immutable, beyond the realm of Maya, the of celestials, intent on killing the evil-doers, the only protector of the Brahmanas, beautiful as a cloud laden with moisture, who has lotus like eyes and appeared in the form of an earthly king.
Finally Uttar Kānd’s first Shlok is: I unceasingly extol Shri Ram, the praiseworthy of Sita the chief of Raghu’s line, possessed of a form greenish blue as the neck of a peacock and adorned with a print of the Brahman’s lotus-foot, which testifies to His being the greatest of all gods-rich in splendour, clad in yellow robes, lotus-eyed, ever-propitious, holding a bow and arrow in His hands, mounted on the aerial car named Pushpak, accompanied by a host of monkeys and waited upon by His own brother Lakshman.
Goswami Tulsidas similarly ends every chapter in the same manner.
Every Kānd is formally concluded by Goswami Tulsidas. The example below is an example of the ending of Kishkindha kānd.
Iti Srimad ramacharitamanase sakala kali kalusavi dhvamsane caturthah sopanah samaptah.
Translation: Thus ends the fourth descent into the Manas lake of Sri Rama’s exploits, that eradicates all the impurities of the kali age. All the other kānds are concluded in the same way where the word caturthah is substituted, according to the kānd being concluded.
The poem revisits Ramayana of Valmiki, but is not a mere retelling of the Sanskrit epic. Where Valmiki has condensed the story, Tulsidas has expanded, and, conversely, wherever the elder poet has lingered longest, there his successor has condensed.
Valmiki’s Uttar Kānd goes into great detail about Sita going into the forest, as a result of disapproving gossip of the citizens of Ayodhya, during the rule of Ram over Ayodhya. Sitaji asks mother Earth to receive her and Ram leaves His human form and returns to His celestial abode. Tulsidas decides not to mention these at all. The Katha Kar Sant Shri Morari Bapu has mentioned in many of his retellings of Ram Katha, that Tulsidasji didn’t want to end the Manas in heartache for Sita. Tulsidas refers to Sita as his mother (as well as the mother of the entire universe) many times in the poem and so, on an emotional level, this becomes very understandable. She has endured enough pain throughout the Manas and so ends his retelling at a relatively happy moment. It is said that there are some Vaishnav devotees who will only recite the Bālakāṇḍa of the Manas, as this is seen as the happiest period of Ram and Sita’s lila on earth
The Rāmcharitmānas is basically three separate conversations. These being between Shiv and Parvati, Bharadvaj Muni and Sage Yajnavalkya and finally Kakbhushundiji to Khagpati Garuda. It is also said that there is an underlying personal conversation between Goswami Tulsidas and Shri Ram.
Sri Ramacharitra Manas
The Child Episode
Prior to starting the actual story, Goswami Tulsidas begins with the invocation of various deities, guru, sadhus and saints. He pays particular homage to Valmiki for bringing the Ramayan to the devotees of Ram. The idea is that the Manas cannot be started without praising such entities. He thereafter begins a dramatis personae of sorts by introducing and praising the various characters of the epic beginning with the birth place (janam bhumi) of Ram, the holy city of Ayodhya. He then greets Kaushalya, Dashrath and the other Queen mothers. He makes obeisances to the father of Sita, King Janak and his family. Finally he praises Bharat, Lakshman, Shatrughan and then sings the glories of Hanuman. He thereafter introduces the bear and monkey kings such as Sugreev and Jambavan and then finally introduces Sitaji and Ram.
The Manas is finally underway. The story begins with the meeting of Muni Bharadvaj and Sant Yajnavalkya. Bharadvaj asks Yajnavalkya to speak in detail, the story of Ram. Yajnavalkya begins with how Shiv came about retelling Ram Katha to his consort Parvati. (The great story of Sati’s self-immolation, the destruction of her father Daksh’s sacrifice, the rebirth of Sati as Parvati and her marriage to Shiv). Shiv explains as many as five reasons as to why Ram incarnated on earth. Each of these is discussed in detail, with the primary message being that Ram incarnated on earth to protect the saints and His devotees. This is followed by the birth of Ravan and his brothers. After this point the narration passes between Shiv, Yajnavalkya, Kakbhushundiji and Tulsidasji.
The story now moves to the abode of Narayan where Brahma and the other demigods make an appeal for him to do something about the demons that are raging havoc on earth. Narayan shows great compassion to all and declares that he is soon to take birth in the Sun Dynasty. Meanwhile in Ayodhya, Dashrath is very uphappy as he is aging and has no heir to take over his throne. He visits the royal family’s Guru, Vasistha and narrates his problem. Vasisthaji comforts Dashrath by telling his that not only will he have a son, but will have four sons. With Dashrath’s consent, Guru Vasistha summons Rishi Shringi to perform the Putra-Kam yagna (sacrificial fire for the birth of sons). Tulsidas states that the birth of Ram and his brothers took place on the ninth day of the Chaitra month. It was the fortnight of the moon, known as the shukla period. Despite being the of all creation and Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ram slept in his mothers lap crying. The demigods looked on in awe as the played out childish exploits through His toddler and childhood.
The story then moves on and Ram and His brothers are now grown boys. The sage Vishvamitra arrives at Dashrath’s royal court where the King receives his eminent guest with great honour. Sage Vishvamitra lived in the forest and was performing great sacrifices. However, the demons Mareech and Subahu would always desecrate the ceremonies. He knew that Ram had taken birth on earth to protect his devotees and so he decided to visit Dashrath to ask him for favour. The sage asks the king to let his sons roam the forest with him. Reluctantly the king agrees. Ram knew the intention of Vishvamitra and gave his assurances to the sage. The vedic sacrifices were performed and Lakshman kills Subahu and Ram dispatches Mareech.
Vishvamitra looks as Ram breaks the bow, winning the hand of Sita in marriage.
The story then moves to the deliverance of Ahalya. Ram, Lakshman and Vishvamitra venture on a journey and reach the beautiful capital of the Videhas, Mithila. The king of Mithila, Janak, welcomes the great sage and asks him who he is accompanied by. Janak is overcome by great emotions he is able to sense the true nature of the brothers. The brothers then set out to discover the beautiful city and visits Janak’s garden. This is an important section of the manas as it is the first meeting of Ram and Sita takes place. King Janak has arranged a swayamvar ceremony to select a husband for his daughter Sita. Sitaji has fallen for Ram and prays to Devi Gauri that she helps her attain Ram as her husband. King Janak sends a messenger to invite Ram, Laksman and Sage Vishvamitra to attend the swayamvar. Whomever could lift and tie the great bow of Shiv (Shiva Dhanush) would be married to Sita. Many princes try and fail to lift the mammoth bow, whereas Ram steps up and effortlessly lifts, strings and breaks the divine bow. Sitaji approaches Ram and places a wreath of victory around his neck. Janak dispatches messengers to Ayodhya from where a marriage procession, consisting of Ram’s family, friends and well wishers depart for Mithila. After a great wedding, Ram and Sitaji return to Ayodhya where there is a great celebration and much rejoicing
The Ayodhya Episode
Ayodhya is described as being like heaven on earth ever since Ram and Sitaji arrived back from Mithila. Being wary of his old age, King Dashrath wanted to install Ram as Prince regent. He has decided that the next day he would begin the ceremony for the installation of Ram. The demigods and mother earth become very concerned that the is becoming very settled in Ayodhya and something has to happen if Ram is to vanquish the world of Ravan. They approach Goddess Saraswati for help.
King Dashrath has three wives. Queen Kaushalya is the principle queen and the mother of Ram. Queen Kaikeyi is the mother of Bharat amd Queen Sumitra is the mother of Lakshman and Shatrughan. Saraswati decides to alter the mind state of one of Queen Kaikeyi’s maid servants named Manthara. Manthara’s mind becomes twisted and begins to talk to Queen Kaikeyi in harsh terms. She chastises Kaikeyi for being supportive of the king’s plan of installing Ram, as Prince Regent when in her mind Bharat would clearly be a greater king. At the time Bharat is in Kekeya country visiting his uncle and so he is unaware of what is happening in Ayodhya. Slowly Queen Kaikeyi’s mind is poisoned. Manthara reminds Queen Kaikeyi of the two boons that the King had promised her. Kaikeyi enters the sulking chamber in the royal palace and awaits Dashrath. Dashrath is greatly alarmed and concerned that Kaikeyi is sat in the sulking chamber as the entire population of Ayodhya is greatly happy and eagerly anticipating the coronation of Ram. Queen Kaikeyi speaks harshly to Dashrath, which surprises the king. She reminds him of the two boons he promised her and to his bewilderment, asks for him to install her son Bharat as Prince Regent and exile Ram to the forest for 14 years. Queen Kaikeyi is unaffected by Dasarth’s lamentations and finally the king emotionally breaks down. The kings court assistant Sumantra sends Ram to His father.
Queen Kaikeyi speaks to Ram and explains the boons that she has asked of His father. Ram is actually Supreme Personality of Godhead incarnated on earth, yet He accepts His step mother’s request and decides to leave the kingdom as it serves all purposes of his incarnation. The people of Ayodhya remonstrate against Queen Kaikeyi who firmly believes that she is doing the right thing. Ram attempts to talk Lakshman and Sitaji out of joining Him but is unable to. The story becomes very emotional as Ram, Sitaji and Lakshman greet their mothers before finally going to Dashrath to take leave of him. Dashrath attempts, in vain, to try to talk Sitaji out of joining Ram in the forest.
The residents of Ayodhya can’t spare the thought of being away from Ram and decide to join him in the forest. Ram, Sitaji, Lakshman and Sumantra separate and escape from the citizens during the deep night and venture further into the forest towards Sringaverapur after which they meet Guha, the Nishad king. They arrive at Prayag, the holy city where the Rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet. Ram meets with the Sage Bharadvaj at his ashram. Ram is overwhelmed with the reception and love shown by the people inhabiting the banks of the Yamuna. Ram then meets Sage Valmiki, the author of the Ramayan at Chitrakoot dham. Valmiki recognises the true opulence of Ram and sings His praises. At this point Tulsidas takes great care to describe the beauty of the land of Chitrakoot with some inspiring poetry.
Ram asks Sumantra to return to Ayodhya which sorely saddens Sumantra. He not only wants to stay with Ram, he is also afraid of how the citizens will treat him after arriving back to Ayodhya without Ram. On returning to Ayodhya, Dashrath asks Sumantra of the whereabouts of Ram. The pain of separation from Ram is too much for Dashrath who passes away crying Ram’s name.
Sage Vashishth knows that Ram will not return to the kingdom and so immediately sends an envoy to call Bharat and Shatrughan back to Ayodhya. Bharat learns of all that has happened and chastises his mother, Queen Kaikeyi. He is greatly pained and blames himself for Ram leaving Ayodhya. He accuses her of bringing ruin to the family. Shatrughan comes across Manthara and beats her in rage. They approach Queen Kaushalya and see her sorry state. Bharat begs her forgiveness and loudly laments while the Queen attempts to pacify him. She asks him to carry out his duty and rule Ayodhya, but he cannot bear the thought of sitting on the throne with his father dead and his brothers in exile in the forest. The cremation of King Dashrath takes place. Bharat and Shatrughan decide to go into the forest and ask Ram to return to Ayodhya and take the throne. Many citizens as well as the royal family, who have been grieving ever since Ram had left them, decide to join the brothers.
The Nishads see the approaching royal party and become suspicious. Guha approaches Bharat to understand his motive for bringing such a large party to the forest. He assumes that Bharat has some sinister motive. Bharat shows his love for Ram. The royal procession then moves forward to Chitrakuta. Lakshman sees the huge army of people with Bharat and immediately begins to chastise Bharat. Ram counters this by praising the greatness of Bharat, leaving Lakshman feeling sorry for his harsh words. Bharat finally arrives at Chitrakoot where the brothers are all reunited once again. They collectively mourn the passing of their father and perform his shradh (obsequies) along with Sage Vasistha leading the ceremony.
Despite all of Bharat’s convincing, Ram is true to the word of his father and step mother Kaikeyi, and vows that he will fulfill her wish. Bharat says that he simply cannot sit on the throne while Ram wanders in the forest. He asks Ram for his sandals, which he would place at the throne and would serve personally. With much sorrow and hurt, Bharat leaves Ram and returns towards Ayodhya. He decides that he would not live in the kingdom while Ram is in exile and so lives like a hermit in a nearby town called Nandigram
The Forest Episode
Ram, Sita and Lakshman wander in the forest and come across the hermitage of Atri. Atri sees them approaching and is overcome with great joy. Sita is embraced by Atri’s wife, Anasuya and then talks to Sita at length about the duties of a devoted wife.
Ram, Sita and Laksman venture further into the forest and encounter Viradha. Viradha attempts to capture Sita. Ram kills him by burying him in a ditch. They then visit the ashram of Sage Sarabhanga. Ram asks him of where he should go for shelter in the forest. He is advised to visit the sage Sutiksna. As Ram approaches Sutiksna, the latter awakes from meditation. He tells Ram, that he had been awaiting his arrival, and had even turned down the offer of entering the heavenly planets.
Continuing on their journey through the forest, they meet with Sage Agastya where Ram pays his respect to the sage. Agastya gifts divine weapons to Ram and advises him to venture further into the forest and into the region of Dandaka. Ram meets with the eagle, Jatayu. Ram, Sita and Lakshman take up abode at Panchavati and build a beautiful ashram, at the earlier advice of Agastya. Laksman becomes nostalgic on the past and begins to talk harshly about Kaikeyi. Ram pacifies him and explains that it is sinful to speak of his mother in such a way.
The story takes a change in direction as Ram, Sita and Laksman are approached by the sister of the demon-king Ravan, called Surpanakha. She immediately takes a liking to Ram and falls in love with him. She disguises herself and talks to Ram in sweet tones. Ram rejects her advances explaining that he is already married and advising that she should approach Laksman as he is unmarried. However, Laksman also rejects her advances. Surpanakha takes great shame in being rejected and attempts to hurt Sita. Laksman takes hold of his sword and lops off Surpanakha’s ear lobes and nose. Feeling humiliated, Surpanakha leaves the forest and goes to the abode of her brothers Khara, Dusana and Trisira. They are angry at the treatment of their sister and leave with the intention of killing Ram. All three brothers are vanquished by Ram.
Surpanakha is greatly upset and visits Ravan at his residence in Lanka. She explains all that has happened, after which Ravan calls for his old friend Marich. Ravan hatches a plot and asks Maricha to disguise himself as a golden deer, so that Ravan may then kidnap Sita. Maricha has already felt the power of Ram (as mentioned in Bālakāṇḍa) and is apprehensive, however, he thinks that he is going to die either way since Ravan will kill him in rage for refusing him. Ravan and Marich immediately leave for Ram’s forest abode. Maricha takes his position and instantly Sita is attracted by his deer form. She asks Ram time and time again to mane the deer and bring it too her. Ram runs after the deer and is soon quite a far distance away from the ashram. Ram releases an arrow and hits the deer. Impersonating Ram’s voice, Marich shouts out to Laksman to help him. Sita hears the cry and orders Laksman to go help his brother. Ravan, while posing as a begging minstrel, uses this opportunity to forcibly kidnap Sita from the ashram. Jatayu, the eagle, sees Ravan’s sinful act and attempts to fight with him, but Ravan has too much power and cuts off Jatayu’s wings and leaves him for dead. Ram and Lakshman return to find the ashram empty. They anxiously set out to find Sita and find the severely wounded eagle. Jatayu dies in Ram’s lap and receives liberation. As the brothers continue to look for Sita they come across the hermitage of Shabari. Tulsidas says that Shabari washes the feet of Ram with tears from her eyes and feeds him half eaten wild berries to ensure He gets only sweet ones. She is given liberation by Ram.
The brothers then head towards the Pampasarovar lake.
The Kishkindha Region Episode
High up in the Rishyamuk mountains, Sugriva sees Ram and Laksman at the foothills. He consults Hanuman as to whether he thinks they have been sent by his brother Bali. Hanuman disguises himself as a Brahmin and approaches the brothers. Hanumanji recognises the true nature of Ram and surrenders himself to his holy feet. He tells the brothers that his king, Sugriva, wishes to extend his friendship to Them and will help Them to find Sita. Ram asks Sugriva why he resides in the mountains instead of Kishkindha, where Sugriva tells of his feud with his brother Bali. Ram sympathises with Sugriva and decides to help Sugriva in return for the latter’s help in finding Sita. Ram kills Bali and installs Sugriva as king of Kishkindha and Angada, Bali’s son, as prince regent. Sugriva becomes too attached to his new regal lifestyle and forgets about his agreement with Ram, which fills Ram with great anger. Ram asks Laksman to bring Sugriva to him. Laksman enters the royal court and threatens to burn the entire city to ashes. Sugriva is gravely worried and asks Hanuman to pacify him. Laksman escorts Sugriva to Ram and upon seeing Him, Sugriva falls as His feet and begs forgiveness.
Sugriva immediately orders the gathering of the region’s bear and monkey community. Armies of bears and monkeys are dispatched north, south east and west to search for Sita. Ram knew that only Hanuman was really capable of finding Sita. He asks Hanumanji to narrate the agony of separation from her and then hands over his ring. Hanumanji is joined by Angad, Nala, Kesari and Jambavan as well as many others as they head to the south. As the army approach the coast, Jambavan and Angad see a cave by the shore of the ocean. The cave is occupied by Sampati (who is actually Jatayu’s older brother). There is a conversation during which Angad explains that Jatayu died serving Ram and thereafter Sampati narrates his biography. He tells the monkeys that he is sure that Sita is captive in Ashok Vatika in Lanka. The island is 400 hundred miles away and requires someone who is able to jump the distance. Jambavan deduces that Hanuman is the only one capable of the task.
The Pleasant Episode
Hanuman approves of Jambavan’s suggestion. He immediately takes off for Lanka by climbing onto the mountain and using it as a pivot, launches himself into the air. He meets Surasa, the mother of serpents and passes her test. The ocean she-demon tries to capture Hanuman, thinking of him as a bird. He quickly kills her and then lands on the shore of the ocean in Lanka. He sees beautiful lush gardens, groves, lakes and reservoirs. Hanumanji takes a minute form and, remembering Ram, enters Lanka. He is accosted by the she demon Lankini whom he hits with his fist and causes her to fall to the ground.
Hanuman flies through the various palaces and gardens for his search of Sita, and amongst all the demonic activities going on in Lanka, Hanuman sees a palace where Sri Hari’s name is being chanted. He is drawn towards the palace and decides to visit the inhabitant. The palace belongs to Ravan’s brother, Vibhishan. Hanumanji narrates Ram katha and then introduces himself. Hanuman proceeds to Ashok vatika where he finally sees Sita. He takes position on a branch of a tree, above Sita, and contemplates his next move. He sees Ravan walk towards Sita and beg her to glance at least once toward him. She simply looks at a blade of grass to insult him. Ravan threatens to behead Sita but is calmed down by his wife, Mandodari. Hanumanji has to use all his powers of calm not to react to Ravan’s threats. When all is quiet again, Hanuman begins to sing Ram katha in sweet tones. He then approaches Sita and explains who he is. He presents the ring Ram had given him and Sita is overjoyed. She blesses Hanumanji with many kind words and boons.
Hanuman tells Sita that he is hungry and asks for her permission to eat fruits from the grove. He not only eats but manages to destroy large parts of it. He easily kills one of Ravan’s sons, prince Aksaya. Indrajit arrives in the grove and Hanuman allows himself to be captured. He is brought in front of the king of Lanka, Ravan. Ravan orders his death, however, Vibhishan reminds him that Hanuman is an envoy and cannot be killed according to religious principle. Ravan decides to humiliate Hanuman be setting his tail on fire. Large amounts of cloth are tied to his tail and soaked in oil. Hanumanji chants the name of Ram and his tail gets longer, and more cloth and oil is used. He changes from his small form into a gigantic form and decides to torch alight the whole of Lanka.
He returns to the ocean to extinguish his tail and then goes to Sita to reassure her that the next time she sees him, it will be with Ram. He bids farewell to Sita and leaps back towards Angad and Jambavan. The monkey army then ventures back to where Sugriva, Ram and Laksman are waiting. On arrival Hanumanji explains all that happened and immediately an army is prepared to go south towards Lanka.
Meanwhile in Lanka, both Mandodari and Vibhishan ask Ravan to hand Sita back to Ram. Ravan takes great exception to this suggestion and begins to insult Vibhishan particularly. He tells him he has no need for a weakling like him and that he is no longer needed. Vibhishan decides to join Ram at Kishkindha. Vibhishan falls at Ram’s feet and asks him for protection. The army deliberate over how to cross the ocean to Lanka. The deity of the seas tells Ram of the boon obtained by the monkey brothers Nila and Nala, and that they have the power to build a bridge to link the seashore to Lanka.
The Lanka Episode
Jambavan asks the monkeys Nala and Nila to begin work on building the bridge across the sea. The Manas states that entire mountain ranges were used by Nala and Nila to complete their objective. Ram remembers his chosen God, Shiva and decides to install a shrine for Rameswaram. Upon completion, the army of Ram begins to cross the bridge and arrives at Lanka, taking camp on Mount Suvela. Ravan hears of the advance of Ram’s army and feels greatly agitated. Mandodari asks Ravan to return Sita to Ram as she fears for her husband’s life. Ravan is dismissive of Ram’s power and pacifies his wife. Next, Ravan’s son Prahasta attempts to reinforce his mothers sentiments, but all to no avail.
Ram fires a warning shot from his retreat in Suvela. The arrow strikes Ravan’s crown and royal umbrella. Mandodari once again attempts to convince Ravan of handing Sita back to Ram. Meanwhile Ram asks Jambavan what should be done. Jambavan suggests that they send Angada, as messenger, to give Ravan a chance to return Sita. On reaching Ravan’s court, Angada explains he is the ambassador of Ram, and tells Ravan that he still has time to save himself from destruction. Ravan insults Angada and his refusal to comply makes war inevitable.
The war begins with great ferocity as Ravan loses half of his army on the first day. Indrajit, Ravan’s son, is required to enter the battle far earlier than he expected. He severely wounds Laksman with his special weapon, the Saang. Hanumanji is ordered to fetch the doctor of Lanka called Sushena. Sushena tells Ram that there exists a herb called Sanjivani which can only be found in the Himalayan mountains. It is the only hope to save Laksman. Hanuman immediately reassures Ram that he shall find this herb. As Hanuman is about to leave, Ravan orders the demon Kalanemi to impede him. However, Hanuman kills Kalanemi with ease. Hanuman reaches the mountain and can’t find the herb. In his frustration he decides to take the entire mountain to Lanka.
Hanuman makes good speed towards Lanka when suddenly he is shot by an arrow as he approaches Nandigram. Hanuman is mistaken to be a demon by Bharat. Hanuman falls to the ground together with the great hill. Hanuman regains consciousness and recognizes that Bharat is Ram’s brother. He continues on to Lanka where he delivers the Sanjivani herb and Sushena treats Laksman. Ram embraces Hanuman with great pride and affection. Ravan takes the news of Laksman’s recovery very badly and decides to awaken his brother Kumbhakarna. Kumbhakarna kills indiscriminantly and wreaks much havoc. Ram releases an arrow which kills him instantly. The death of his brother scares Ravan greatly. Indrajit hastily tries to arrange a ceremony to receive great boons and powers but is interrupted by Hanuman and Angada. Laksman takes up arms against Indrajit and kills him. Ram throws numerous arrows at Ravan but is unable to kill him. He asks Vibhishan on how to kill his brother after which Ram finally kills Ravan. The war is over.
Ravan’s funeral takes place and Vibhishan is crowned the king of Lanka. Hanuman carries the happy news to Sita in Ashok vatika. Finally Ram and Sita are reunited. Ram and the army prepare to depart Lanka and return back towards Ayodhya. Ram, Sita, Laksman and the senior monkeys travel back in Ravan’s flying vehicle, Pushpak Vimaan.
It is now the day before Ram is to return to Ayodhya after serving his exile. Bharat is anxious that his brother still hasn’t arrived. The Manas mentions that Bharat had passed his days shedding tears for fourteen years in Nandigram. Hanumanji meets Bharat telling him of the arrival of Ram, Sita and Laksman. Bharat rushes to Ayodhya to tell the citizens of the great news. As the Pushpak Vimaan landed in Ayodhya the citizens shouted chants of ‘Glory be to Ramchandra’. Ram, Sita and Laksman collectively touch the feet of the sage Vasishta on arriving in Ayodhya and thereafter greet all that have gathered in the assembly. Lastly Ram meets Bharat with great affection and love. Ram’s coronation takes place and he is finally crowned king of Ayodhya. Shiva arrives to glorify the festivities further and asks Ram of the boon that he may have firm and undeviating devotion of Ram’s feet.
In conclusion to the tale, Ram has twin sons named Luva and Kusha. The other brothers each have two sons as well. It is mentioned that great sages like Nārad and Sanaka visit Ayodhya to meet with Ram and to see his great city.
In the subsequent passages of Uttar Kānd the biography of Saint Kakbhushundi is given, followed by a description of what is to be expected in the current vedic age of Kaliyuga. Shiva ends his narration of the Ram Katha to Parvati as does Kakbhushundi to Garuda. It is not mentioned whether Yagnavalka finishes his recitation to Bharadwaj. Finally Goswami Tulsidas concludes his retelling of the Shriramcharitmanas.Famous Stotram The Rudrastakam in Sanskrit is a part of this Kanda.
Sri Ramachandra’s Incarnation
During the Bālakāṇḍa it is mentioned that Shiva is retelling the story of Ram (Ram Katha) to his spouse Parvati. During this retelling, Shiva explains as many as five reasons as to why Ram incarnated on earth.
Balance of Creation
Shiva explains to Parvati that whenever virtue declines and vile and haughty demons multiply, and whenever Brahmanas, cows, demigods and the earth herself are in distress, the gracious assumes various transcendent forms and relieves the distress of the virtuous. Killing the demons, He reinstates the demigods and diffuses His great glory throughout the universe. This is the primary motive for Ram’s decent.
Jay and Vijay
The brothers Jay and Vijay are the two favoured gate keepers of Hari. Due to a curse, by the Brahman Sanaka and his three brothers, Jay and Vijay were born in the species of the demons. One took the birth of Hiranyakashipu and the other was born as Hiranyaksha. The Supreme incarnated Himself as Varaha in order to kill Hiranyaksha, while incarnating as Narasimha to kill Hiranyakashipu. Even though these brothers are killed by Hari Himself, they do not attain liberation as the Brahman’s had cursed them to three births and so were reborn as the powerful demons Ravan and Kumbhakarna. Hari took a human incarnation, as Ram, to kill Ravan and Kumbhakarna
The curse of Nārad Muni
Nārad Muni was wondering in Himalayan mountains and begins to think about Vishnu. He instantly falls into a deep meditative trance. Seeing the sage’s state, Indra becomes apprehensive as he sees Nārad’s trance as a threat to his own position as the chief of demigods in heaven. Indra asks Kamadeva to disturb Nārad’s trance. He creates an illusion of frangrant flowers, delightful breezes and such. Heavenly damsels are called but all this has no effect on the sage. Kamadeva accepts defeat and falls at Nārad’s feet, addressing him with deep humility. He recalls all that happened to Shiva and becomes puffed up with pride of his defeating of Kamadeva. Shiva admonishes him and begs him not to repeat the story to Hari.
Nārad visits Vishnu at His abode, and unable to control his pride, retells his episode with Kamadeva, ignoring all that Shiva had advised. Vishnu further fans Nārad’s pride by telling him that his steadfast vow of celibacy is so strong that he can never be smitten. Nārad then departs Vishnu’s abode. Hari tells Laksmi that he has a plan and sets his illusionary powers (maya) into operation. As Nārad departs Vaikuntha, Vishnu creates a beautiful illusionary city with illusionary inhabitants. The city is ruled by King Sheelanidhi, who has a beautiful daughter called Vishvamohini. Nārad is intrigued with the city and decides to visit the king. Nārad sees the king’s daughter and falls in love with her. The king explains that he wishes to marry his daughter to a suitable man. Nārad devises a plot to get the princess to choose him.
Nārad approaches Hari and asks him for the gift of great beauty. Vishnu says that he will do only that which is beneficial to Nārad. The sgae is glad at heart and thinks that with Vishnu’s favour, the princess will surely choose him. In reality the Hari had made Nārad look hideous. The entire royal court is aware of Nārad’s appearance, but says nothing. The princess filled with rage as soon as she sees Nārad’s ugly form and completely ignores him. He sees a reflection of his face in water and is consumed with rage. He instantly goes back to Vaikuntha and begins to speak to Hari in ugly tones. He curses Hari, “You made me look like a monkey; therefore You shall have monkeys for Your mates. And as You have grievously wronged me, so shall You suffer the pangs of separation from Your wife”. Hari accepts Nārad’s curse and instantly withdraws his illusionary spell.
Nārad realises that there is no city and there is no Visvamohini, and is dismayed at what he has done. He begs the to invalidate his curse. Hari explains that it was His will and advises Nārad to chant his name to absolve himself of any sin. Nārad returns to his abode chanting the praises of Ram.
Svayambhuva Manu and Shatarupa
Svayambhuva Manu had Shatarupa as his wife. Manu ruled the earth for many years and carried out the ‘s commandments. He longed to devotion to Hari and decides to give up rulership to his son so that he can retire to the forest with Satarupa and meditate upon the . Manu and Satarupa settle at the banks of the Gomati river and devoutly repeat the twelve-syllable Mantra, calling out to who is the source of many Brahmas, Vishnus and Shivas emanate. Some commentators indicate that the twelve-syllable mantra is the Vishnu mantra (Oṃ Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya). Rambhadracharya comments that the twelve-letter mantra is the coupled mantra for Sita and Rama.
Manu and Shatarupa first sacrifice food and then water and are finally willing to sacrifice air. Brahma, Hari and Shiva call on Manu but Manu and Satarupa are resolute and do not swerve on their sacrifices. A great voice from the heavens tells Manu, in sweet tones, to ask for a boon. Rama and Sita approach Manu in a beautiful form, which leaves Manu overcome with emotion. Manu explains now that he and Satarupa have seen the ‘s lotus feet, all their desires have been met. Manu has one longing but doesn’t know how to ask the . Finally he asks, “O gracious Lord, I tell You my sincere wish: I would have a son like You. I have nothing to conceal from You.”
The announces that it shall be, however, where would he find a son like Himself? The tells Manu that He Himself would be a son to him. then asks Satarupa of her wish. She says that she greatly likes the boon received by her husband and wants the same. Bowing at the ‘s feet, Manu then asks one more favour. He asks that he be dependent on which is granted. The then commands the couple to dwell in Indra’s capital in heaven.
The explains that after some time Manu would be born as the king of Ayodhya, Dashrath and Satarupa as Kausalya. He would then manifest Himself in the royal household as their son. He reassured the couple that their desire would be accomplished.
Tale of King Pratapbhanu
Prior to the birth of Ram, Muni Bharadvaja is told the story of King Pratapbhanu by Sant Yajnavalkya. There is a kingdom called Kaikay where Satyaketu is king. He has two sons, Pratapbhanu and Arimardana and rules his kingdom with his prime minister Dharamaruchi. Satyaketu abdicates and hands the reign to Pratapbhanu, who becomes conqueror of the world.
Once Pratapbhanu goes into the forest to hunt and sees a wild boar. The boar is actually the demon Kalaketu in disguise who runs away from the king. Pratapbhanu gives chase deeper into the forest. Pratapbhanu chases for many miles and becomes thirsty. He approaches a fake saints ashram, where the resident fake saint wants to hurt and insult Pratapbhanu due to a previous incident. Pratapbhanu doesn’t recognise the saint, who begins to sweet talk the king and says that by pure love, he wishes to impart boons onto the king. The king asks to be invicible[clarification needed] and never ageing, which the fake saint grants, but with the condition that he needs to win favour of all Brahmans. The fake saint advises that the king arrange the cooking of holy food (prasadam) to feed the bramanas, who would surely be in his favour for such an act of kindness. The fake saint’s real intention is to trap the king and repay him for his old grievances.
The fake saint asks the king to go rest, and that he would arrange the feast for the bramanas using his mystic powers. Pratapbhanu waits for three days for the fake saint. Kalaketu, now disguised as a priest, approaches the King in his court and says that he has been sent to cook the holy food. The entire brahmana community is invited. A heavenly voice from above warns the brahmanas that the food is unpure and they should run away immediately. They curse the king that he, his kingdom and entire family are wiped from the face of earth. They also curse that he be born a demon in his next life. The heavenly voice says that the brahmana’s curse is ill thought, as Pratapbhanu is not to blame. Since their curse cannot be taken back, the voice says that it is the Brahmana community that will bare the brunt of the evil of his next life.
Pratapbhanu is distraught and quickly goes to his kitchen to find Kalaketu. The king is pained and cries as he realises Kalaketu has vanished. The brahmanas feel sorry for Pratapbhanu and tell him that his evil next life will be ended by Supreme Vishnu himself. As per the curse, Pratapbhanu, Arimardam and Dharmaruchi are all killed as other neighbouring kings invade Kaikay.
Pratapbhanu is reborn as Ravan, Arimardam is reborn as Kumbhkarna and Dharmaruchi as Vibhishan. All three take great penances and are approached by Brahma and Shiva and are asked for any boon. Ravan asks that no one should be able to kill me except the tribes of man and monkeys. Kumbhkarna asks for uninterrupted sleep for periods of six months. Vibhishan asks for unshakeable love for the feet of Vishnu.
The Divinity of Ram in the Manas
Ram’s divine birth
On the ninth day of the Chaitra month, the Manas describes that the Sun is at its meridian and the climate is neither cold nor hot. There is a cool, soft and fragrant breeze. The woods are full of blossom and the rivers or in full flow. Brahma deduces that the time for Ram’s birth is approaching and the heavenly beings all crowd over the skies to glimpse sight of the auspicious moment. The sky resounds of music and song as the heavenly beings offer their praises to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Here begins one of the most famous chhands from the Manas, the Ram Janam Stuti. The stuti begins with the appearance of Ram. Mother Kaushalya’s is filled with joy as she marvels over Ram’s dark complexion and his four armed form. He is adorned with jewels and a garland of Sylvan flowers and is described as being an ocean of beauty. Kaushalya joins her palms and prays. “O Infinite , How can I praise You! The Vedas and Puranas reveal you to be the repository of all virtues. You are the of Laksmi and the lover of all of Your devotees and have appeared for my good. Every pore of Your body contains multitudes of universes and the thought that You stayed in my womb is truly staggering.” Ram smiles and exhorts Kaushalya by telling her the charming account of her previous birth so that she can accept Him as her own child. Kaushalya asks Ram to give up His current superhuman form and to start to indulge in childish sports that are dear to a mother’s heart. Ram, described as the of immortals, immediately becomes an infant and begins to cry.
Tulsidas concludes that whoever sings this Stuti attains the abode of Vishnu and never falls into the well of mundane existence. The Stuti has therefore been immortalised and it is a popular prayer sung on the occasion of Ram’s birthday.
Deliverance of Ahalya
Ahalya, the wife of Rishi Gautam, was a beautiful woman. Indra, king of the gods, was tempted and decided to seduce her with trickery. He asked the moon to become a rooster and crow early, fooling Rishi Gautam into thinking the dawn had arrived and causing him to go down to the nearby Ganges for his usual morning bath. While the Rishi was bathing at the river, Indra assumed Gautam’s form and visited Ahalya, fooling her into thinking he was her husband. When Gautam returned, he encountered Indra, emerging from his hut in his (Gautam’s) form. Spiritually powerful, Gautam employed his divine vision to see the whole episode. Enraged, he cursed Indra with impotence and cursed the moon, which had an unblemished look until then, to have spots. Losing his potency, Indra lost heaven to demons and sat prayerfully in a lotus flower for thousands of years in order to repent. Rishi Gautam, in a blind rage, also cursed his wife, Ahalya, to turn into a boulder. Innocent of any intentional wrongdoing, Ahalya begged for forgiveness. Gautam relented somewhat and said that when Ram is incarnated, he will bless her and break her curse.
Ram, while going to Mithila for Sita Svayamvar along with Sage Vishwamitra and Laksman, stopped at the, then-uninhabited, hermitage of Rishi Gautam. Vishwamitra narrated Ahalya’s story to Ram, and asked him to free her. Ram touched the boulder with his foot and Ahalya was immediately released from the curse. She fell to Ram’s feet and washed his feet with her tears. She felt that her curse had become her fortune as she got the opportunity to seek Ram’s refuge in person. She then returned to her husband’s place.
The Immolation of Sati and The Incarnation of Parvati
The story of how Shiva came about retelling Ramkatha to his consort Parvati is retold in great detail within the Bālakāṇḍa. This part of the story is narrated by Sant Yajnavalkya to Bharadvaj Muni.
In the age of Treta, Shiva, accompanied by His consort Bhavani Sati, went to visit Rishi Khumbajh. The Rishi being pleased with Shiva’s visit, began to narrate the eternal story of Ram. Shiva listens with great pleasure and then they return back towards Their abode. Around these exact days Ram had descended on earth and was wondering the Dandaka forest with Sita and Lakshman. Shiva ponders how he can catch sight of Ram. He finally sees Ram, who is frantically searching for Sita, and instantly joins his palms and prays “Glory to the Redeemer of the universe, who is Truth, Consciousness and Bliss”. Sati cannot recognise Ram and wonders why her Supreme Shiva is praising a mortal. Shiva is the knower of all truth and instantly reads Sati’s thoughts. He advises her to not harbour such doubts and accept that she had seen Ram, whom Agastya had praised earlier. He finally says that if she is still not convinced then she should seek to verify this truth herself. Shiva observes as Sati takes the guise of Sita. Ram and Lakshman instantly see through Sati’s disguised and asks about Shiva’s whereabouts. Sati feels very uncomfortable and heads towards Shiva, thinking of how she is going to explain her stupidity of questioning His word.
Shiva asks her to tell the truth of how she tested Ram. Sati is unable to tell the truth and says that she did not test Ram, but praised his as You had. Sati forgets that Shiva knows all that has happened and is disappointed that she was disguised as his Sita. He decides that Sati is too chaste to abandon and it is a sin to continue to be her Husband and so from then he has no connection with Sati in her current body. Sati concludes that Shiva has come to know everything and feels very foolish for having tried deceiving Him. Shiva sits under a banyan tree and enters into a long trance. Sati feel extremely sorry but accepts that providence is repaying her for her sins. Many years pass and Shiva finally ends his trance whilst praising Ram. Sati bows down at Shiva’s feet, after which he seats Sati opposite him and he begins to tell stories of Vishnu’s exploits.
Daksha’s Egoistic sacrifice
While Shiva is narrating the stories of Vishnu, the air is filled with celestial beings. Sati asks Shiva what the occasion is. Shiva explains that Her father Daksha has organised a great sacrifice where many demigods were invited. All except Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were invited as Daksha had developed a hatred towards the Gods. Sati thinks of Her father and asks if She may visit him at this time. Shiva says that they have no formal invite and that all of Sati’s sisters are invited but because of his animosity towards Shiva, Her father has not invited us. Shiva tries to reason with Sati, that no good can come of Her attending, but Tulsidas explains that a daughters ties to her father are very strong.
When she reaches her father’s abode, no one welcomes Her apart from Her mother. Daksha does not even acknowledge Her and actually burns with anger that She has turned up uninvited. Sati looks around and sees no oblations set apart for Shiva and the lack of respect of her father causes Her mind to rage with great anger. She faces Her father’s court and announces that Shiva is the father of the universe and the beneficent of all. It is the same Shiva that Her stupid father vilifies. She burns Her body with the fires of Yoga. Shiva sends Virabhadra, who reeks havoc of the sacrifice and Daksha is slain. As Sati is about to die, She asks Vishnu of the boon that she be devoted to Shiva’s feet in successive births. She is reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himachal and Mena.
Parvati and Nārad’s prophesy
Years after the birth of Parvati, Nārad Muni visits her parents Himachal and Mena. Himachal asks Nārad what the future holds for his daughter. Nārad says that Parvati will be adorned with good traits and win unfailing love of her husband. She will remain ever united with him and bring great glory upon her parents. The only drawback is that her husband will be an ascetic with matted hair who is naked and of hideous accoutrements. Himachal and Mena become disconsolate while Parvati is greatly pleased, as she senses from Nārad’s words, that her boon from Vishnu is coming true. Nārad explains to Himachal that the only person who shows the virtues as described by him is Shiva. Parvati’s parents are immediately uplifted and as Nārad leaves, he asks Parvati to fix Her thoughts on Hari and practice austerity. The young Parvati enters the forest and performs great penances in order to obtain Shiva. Her body thins greatly due to her self mortification after which Brahma declares that she should cease her severe penances as Shiva would soon be hers. History had produced many great sages, but none had performed such penances as this. Brahma instructs that her father would soon come for her and that she should return home with him.
Ever since Sati had quit her body, Shiva and begun chanting Ram’s name and entered into a great trance. Through his mystic power, Ram asks Shiva to marry Parvati. Shiva say’s that this is not a justifiable request but the word of a master cannot be set aside and must be obeyed. Shiva remains in his great trance. Around that time the demon Tāraka was causing distress and was in full flourish. Brahma declares that the son of Shiva will kill Tāraka, but for this to happen His wedding with Parvati needs to be arranged and for that to happen, Shiva’s trance has to be broken. It is decided that the God of Love should be sent to awaken Shiva. He fires five arrows of flowers at Shiva’s breast, the trance is broken and Shiva awakens. Shiva is enraged and, through his third eye, reduces Love to ashes. Love’s consort Rati faints as soon as she hears of her husband’s demise. Seeing the helpless woman, Shiva foretells that her husband will now be called bodiless and shall dominate all without a body form. When Krsna descends on earth, her husband would be born as His son Pradyumna. Thereafter Brahma and other gods approach Shiva and declare that they wish to witness His wedding with their own eyes. Remembering Vishnu’s early request, Shiva gladly agrees and Brahma proceeds to arrange the marriage.
The wedding of Shiva and Parvati
Shiva has no real family and so his attendants begin to adorn Him for His wedding to Parvati. His hair is formed into a crown with serpents forming a crest. Serpents form His earings, bracelets and adorn his neck and He is smeared in ashes and has lion’s skin wrapped around His loins. He heads the wedding procession and Vishnu and Brahma, as well as a host of spirits, goblins and fairies, follow behind.
The Beautiful Marriage of Shiva Shakti.
Sant Shri Morari Bapu on Sri Rama Charitra Manasa
The Bal Kānd is the root of the tree with very deep foundations upon which the rest of the glorious manas depends upon. Tulsidasji has written Bal Kānd with many invocations at the beginning and so it is seen as the source life for the entire poem. Ayodhya Kānd is the tree trunk and signifies the main body of the epic. Aranya Kānd is represented by the many branches of the tree. This Kānd shows many new situations and incidents arising. Kishkindha Kānd has been expounded as a leaf of the tree while Sunder Kānd is akin to the fragrant flower. Lanka Kānd is represented by the fruit and Uttar Kānd by the sweet juice of the fruit.
Sri Sita Ram, Laksman and Hanuman
Tulsidas (sometimes simply referred to as Tulsi) began writing the scripture in Vikram Samvat 1631 (1574 CE) in Avadhpuri, Ayodhya. The exact date is stated within the poem as being the ninth day of the month of Chaitra, which is the birthday of Ram, Ram Navami. A large portion of the poem was composed at Varanasi, where the poet spent most of his later life.
Today, it is considered one of the greatest works of Hindu literature