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Saint Tulsidas

Tulsidas is considered to be one of the greatest of the Hindu saints of India.  He is is considered to be one of the most famous representatives of the Bhakti school of Hinduism.

Details of his early life are life are a bit sketch.  Some say that he was born in 1589, while others say that it was in 1532.  There is however, an agreement that he was born in Rajpur India, in present day Uttar Pradesh.  He was born to Atmaram Shukla Dube and his wife Hulsi.  As a younster, his name was Tulsiram and / or Ram Bola.  (Even today in India it is not unusual for a person to have different names, at different times of their life, and to different people).

His introduction into the principals of the bhakti school came when Tulsidas was a young boy in Sukar-Khet.  There he heard the story of Rama, which would form the basis for much of his later literary work.  This was from Narhari Das who was a very influential saint.

Tulsidas' family life was not unusual.  As is the custom, he lived for a time as a householder, and assumed the normal duties of raising and supporting a family.  He was married to a woman by the name of Buddhimati (Ratnavali).  She bore him a son by the name of Tarak.

However his life as a householder was to be short-lived.  He left home and took sanyas (the life of a renunciate).  For the next 14 years he visitied various pilgrimage places.  Afterwords he settled down and started an ashram where he taught, and composed his literary works.

His literary work was most impressive.  He was a Sanskrit scholar, but he is known for his works in Awadhi (A dialect of Hindi).  He his particularly known for his "Tulsi-Krita Ramayan", this is also known as "Ramacharitamanasa".  He is also well known for his "Hanuman Chalisa".  In all, he composed 22 major literary works in his lifetime.

He died about 1623 in Asighat in Varanasi (Benares).

His boyhood was one of poverty and suffering; but yet he became a great scholar. One word spoken by his wife brought him a realization of his true goal; he became a devotee of Lord Sri Rama. And this poet-saint showed thousands of people the way to a meaningful life.

'Tulasi Ramayana' is a very famous and great epic of North India. It relates the story of Sri Rama.

It was written by Goswami Tulasidas. (Goswami means one who has renounced the world and has become a sanyasi, that is, an ascetic.) That is why it was popularly known as Tulasi Ramayana.

Tulasidas gave it the title, 'Ramacharitamanasa'.

Valmiki, the first poet, told the story of Sri Rama in his 'Ramayana'; after him hundreds of poets have retold it in their own way. 'Tulasi Ramayana' is one of the most popular and venerated Ramayanas.

Many poets of our country were saints. They were great scholars as well as great devotees. They lived as rishis. Goswami Tulasidas too was a great scholar well versed in Vedic lore, philosophy and mythology. People say that Tulasidas, by virtue of his perfect devotion, was so fortunate as to meet Anjaneya, the renowned servant of Sri Rama. It is said Anjaneya helped him to see with his own eyes Sri Rama and Lakshmana. Tulasidas declared: 'Bhakti is the only way leading to God's grace. Sri Rama is the Supreme God (Parabrahma). He is the ideal man. And he is the Lord of this world. His words and deeds themselves form the code of human conduct in this world.'

In his 'Ramayana' Tulasidas has narrated the story of Sri Rama; he has also taught the principles of right living through different characters. The lessons taught in that work are valid to this day.

The epic gives beautiful pictures of the right relation between father and children, and of the affection among brothers. It also shows how the husband and the wife, mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, should conduct themselves. Tulasidas describes the affection of a teacher for his disciples and the respect of the disciples for their teacher. But his poem is not just a moral Piece. Tulasidas has narrated the story of Sri Rama in a moving and delightful way. As we read it we feel as if we see Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana before our very eyes.