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Gosvāmī Tulsīdās was an Awadhi poet and philosopher, and the author Rāmacaritamānasa (“The Lake of the Deeds of Rama”), an epic devoted to Lord Rama.

He was born in Rajpur, India in the present day Banda District, Uttar Pradesh, during the reign of Humayun to Hulsi and Atmaram Shukla Dube. During his life time, Tulsidas wrote 22 different works and although a Sanskrit scholar, he is considered the greatest and most famous of Hindi poets. He is regarded as an incarnation of Valmiki, the author of Ramayana written in Sanskrit.Rāmacaritamānasa (“The Lake of the Deeds of Rama”), an epic devoted to Lord Rama, was the Awadhi version of Ramayana of Valmiki, like many translations of the original Sanskrit Ramayana, is read and worshipped with great reverence in many Hindu homes in northern India. It is an inspiring book that contains sweet couplets in beautiful rhyme called ‘chaupai’. Vinaya Patrika is another important book written by Tulsidas.

The former is the most popular version of the Ramayana. Tulsidas lived at a time when Sanskrit learning was on the decline in India and he rewrote the ancient Ramayana, in the common dialect of the people, once again making the story of Rama and Sita accessible to the people. His Ramayana is still commonly studied, recited and sung throughout India today, particularly in the Hindi speaking North, where it is the most popular book for all Hindus, from rich to downtrodden, high and low. Tulsidas was a great poet and singer and also a saint and self-realised yogi, trained for 18 years in all branches of Sanskrit learning. He wove into his work all the wisdom of the entire civilisation and the great truths of Yoga and Vedanta, with their spiritual practices designated to show us our true self beyond time and space. His Ramayana is lauded as not only a great story, but has been elevated to the level of a scripture by the people as it has woven into it teachings for all people at all levels of spiritual development. Out of all the characters in the Ramayana, Hanuman occupies a crucial position. He is the embodiment of auspiciousness, courage, devotion, eloquence, physical prowess and victory. Therefore Tulsidas composed his beautiful ode to Hanuman, the Hanuman Chalisa. It was only through Him that Sita and Rama could be reunited. Similarly, it is through the lessons that we find in His character that the realm of divinity can become of our society. Sita represents the earth, the field, Mother Nature, creativity, abundance. Rama is the spiritual potential, which has been lost from creation. Hanuman is the forces and teachings that can reunite the creation and spirit, leading to the manifestation of the divine in life itself. The lessons in the character of Hanuman are the keys to unfolding divinity in our lives. The Hanuman Chalisa was written by Goswami Tulsidas to be a beautiful prayer and song, yet also to contain hidden in it the entire message of Hanuman in the Ramayana. These are the secrets of creating divinity in life, which if learnt, are reaffirmed into our minds each time we recite it. The Hanuman Chalisa is literally one of the most widely said prayers in the entire world.

Tulsidas’s most famous poem is Rāmacaritamānasa, or “The Lake of the Deeds of Rama”. It is popularly called Tulsi-krita Ramayana and is as well known among Hindi-speaking Hindus in India. Many of its verses are popular proverbs in that region. Tulsidas’ phrases have passed into common speech, and are used by millions of Hindi speakers (and even speakers of Urdu) without the speakers being conscious of their origin. Not only are his sayings proverbial: his doctrine actually forms the most powerful religious influence in present-day Hinduism; and, though he founded no school and was never known as a guru or master, he is everywhere accepted as both poet and saint, an inspired and authoritative guide in religion and the conduct of life.

Tulsidas professed himself the humble follower of his teacher, Narhari Das, from whom as a boy in Sukar-khet he first heard the tale of Rama’s exploits that would form the subject of the Rāmacaritamānasa. Narhari Das was the sixth in spiritual descent from Ramananda, a founder of popular Vaishnavism in northern India, who was also known for his famous poems.