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The bard who sang to Ram

The bard who sang to Ram
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The festival is observed on the seventh day (saptami) of the Shukla Paksh in the holy month of Shravan. The great saint-poet Tulsidas was a contemporary of Emperor Akbar.

Tulsidas was born of Brahmin parents, Hulsi and Atmaram Shukla Dube in Rajpur, Uttar Pradesh in 1532. He was a Sarayuparina Brahmin by birth and an incarnation of sage Valmiki, the author of the Sanskrit Ramayana. It is said that Tulsidas did not cry at the time of his birth, and was born with all thirty-two teeth intact. In his childhood, he was known as Tulsiram or Ram Bola. Tulsidas was passionately attached to his wife Buddhimati until the day she uttered these words: ‘If you would develop for Lord Ram even half the love that you have for my filthy body, you would certainly cross the ocean of Samsara and attain immortality and eternal bliss’.

These words pierced his heart. He abandoned home, became an ascetic, and spent fourteen years visiting various sacred places. He was brought up and educated by a saint named Narharidas. It is he, who gave him the mantra of ‘Ram Naam’. Tulsidas became a sanyasi and began to live in Varanasi, where he wrote his so well-known Ramacharit Manas besides a dozen other books. He wrote his masterpiece in the language of the common people for the benefit of the masses.

The book contains sweet couplets in beautiful rhyme in praise of Lord Ram. ‘Vinaya Patrika’ is another important book written by Tulsidas. It is said that Tulsidas met Lord Hanuman, and through him had a vision of Lord Ram. Tulsidas lived in Ayodhya for some time, and then shifted to Varanasi. He once went to Brindavan to visit the temples of Lord Krishna. Seeing the statue of Krishna, he said, ‘How shall I describe thy beauty, O Lord! But Tulsi will bow his head only when you take up bow and arrow in your hands’.

The Lord revealed himself before Tulsidas in the form of Lord Ram with bow and arrows. It is believed that Tulsidas’s blessings once brought the dead husband of a poor woman back to life. The Moghul emperor in Delhi came to know of this miracle and sent for Tulsidas, asking the saint to perform some miracles. He declined saying, ‘I have no superhuman power, I know only the name of Rama’, only to see himself behind the bars.

Tulsidas then prayed to Lord Hanuman as countless powerful monkeys invaded the royal court. The emperor released him from prison and asked Tulsidas to pardon him. On the auspicious day of his jayanti and moksha, a fast is kept, charities are done. Ramacharit Manas is read and recited, Brahmins are fed, and Lord Ram, along with his consort Sita and devotee Hanuman, is worshipped with great religious fervour. In literary and social circles, discussions, lectures, seminars and symposiums are organised on his teachings, life and works.

The devotees visit temples of Lord Ram and Hanuman on Tulsidas Jayanti. The Ramacharit Manas is read with pious feeling on the day. Several seminars and symposiums are arranged on the teachings of Tulsidas are also held on the day in North India on this auspicious day. Apart from this, Brahmins are fed.

The legend has it that Tulsidas used to throw the remaining water from his water-pot, after his daily ablutions, at the roots of a tree which was occupied by a spirit. The spirit was very much pleased with Tulsidas. The spirit said, ‘O man! get a boon from me’. Tulsidas replied, ‘Let me have darshan of lord Ram’. The spirit said, ‘Go to the Hanuman temple. There Hanuman comes in the guise of a leper to listen to the Ramayan as the first shrota (listener) and leaves the place last of all. Get hold of him. He will help you’. Accordingly, Tulsidas met Hanuman, and through his grace, had darshan or vision of Lord Ram at Chitrakoot.

Another legend has it that once, some thieves came to Tulsidas’s Ashram to steal. They saw a blue-complexioned guard, with bow and arrow in his hands, keeping watch at the gate. Wherever they moved, the guard followed them. They were frightened. In the morning they asked Tulsidas, ‘O venerable saint! We saw a young guard with bow and arrow in his hands at the gate of your residence. Who is this man?’ Tulsidas remained silent and wept. He came to know that Lord Ram himself had been taking the trouble to protect his bhakta.
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