Tulsidas has depicted Rama as the ultimate figure in creation. Tulsidas did not consider Rama as an ordinary mortal with highest qualities. He considered Rama as the highest being in a mortal frame. But in Rama’s time, they said completely the opposite. They thought that he was a man with very high qualities, they considered him a very great man in regard to duty, society and fulfilling dharma. Some considered Rama as representing the divine qualities. Tulsidas said he was God in a physical body – you see the full argument, the whole Ramayana is that.
The second point is that Vedanta says the supreme Paramatman, Supreme Soul, and the individual soul, atma, are the same, not different. Like man and his shadow; atman and his reflection. Other philosophies, like Christianity say that God is there and you are here. He is beyond all things. He has created you, but you are not like his shadow, you are not his replica. God and man are different. This is the fundamental philosophy of Judaic religions. God is elsewhere and man is elsewhere. Man is only the creation of God, but not at all a shadow, or a replica, a representative of God, no. That is what they believe.
The third philosophy is that man is a shadow of God. Just like the light you see in this room now. It is an expression of the sun, but the sun is not here. The light emanated by the sun is not the sun. It is a quality of the sun. It is an attribute of the sun and not the sun itself. In the same way, man is not God, but he is an expression of his divine qualities and attributes, part and parcel.
These are philosophical points which have been discussed for many centuries in India to find out what is the truth. In the Ramacharitamanasa the basic theme is that Rama is the Supreme, and by love and devotion you can reach him whether he is in a divine form or a human form. Man is so limited in his mind that he cannot conceive of a divine form, nirguna. Therefore, he has to think and contemplate on a form which his mind can comprehend. You can only comprehend me because you love me. If I become unmanifest, you cannot comprehend me. You will remember me, but you cannot love nirguna. You cannot love an unmanifested being. Rama is a manifested being, an avatar. This is a very intricate philosophy so the stories are given throughout the Ramacharitamanasa.
In the Uttar Kand there is a discussion between two rishis, Lomasha and Kakabhushundi, about whether the truth is formless or with form. Whether the ultimate is nameless or with name? Whether the ultimate is manifest or unmanifest? Whether saguna or nirguna, sarkara or nirakara? Sarkara means with form, nirakara means without form. A lot of argument is going on.
Tulsidas has maintained the hypothesis all throughout that Rama is the truth in a form, the truth which has manifested in a form. Man cannot reach the formless, cannot think of the formless. Tulsidas has tried to maintain the relationship between the formless and form. He says what is formless and what is form? They are the same. At one point, water is liquid, at another point water is solid. At a third point water is vapour. It is the same. Formless God, God with form – they are various stages of the same substance. God is incomprehensible, you cannot say anything about Him. Do not say He has form; do not say He has no form. Both the categories applied to Him are false. Water, ice, vapour, it is all the same thing in different manifestations.
It is a very systematic book. It is very comprehensive and easy to read. If you read it, you become a master of philosophy. He has discussed all philosophies there: monism, realism, qualified monism, pantheism, panentheism, even the Greek philosophies are discussed, western philosophies are discussed there, semitic religions like Judaism are also discussed there. He has discussed all the different ideas, but he has come to one point: God is only accessible through love. There is no other way, no austerity, no yoga, no mantra, nothing. He is accessible to anyone. It is not important whether one is a sannyasin, celibate or brahmachari, these are only social qualities. God is accessible to anyone. It does not take many years. It does not take one life. It can happen now, in this instant.
Rama has become the central point in Tulsi’s Ramacharitamanasa. He represents the total idea of God.
You should go through this. Everywhere the arrangement of words, expression, the precision of ideas and the poetry has been put beautifully. It is the best of books I have read. The last sentence Ramacharitamanasa is:
Kaamihi naari piaari jimi lobhihi priya jimi daama,
Timi raghunaatha nirantara laagahu mohi raama.
May Rama become dear to me constantly. As a woman is very dear to a passionate man, as money is very important to a greedy man, similarly should be my passion for Rama all throughout.
Na Dharma, na, artha, na, kama ruchi Gati mrita ho nirvana,
Janamajanama rati Rama pada Yah bara dhana ka
I don’t want to practise virtue, dharma, I don’t want to fulfil my desires; I don’t want to fulfil my passions. I don’t want to get liberation. I don’t want nirvana. I only want just one thing whenever I take incarnation, let me live in the love of God.
Rati means passion for women, the deep-rooted attachment and passion. Not only love, it is more than that. Rati means, the moment a man and a woman are intimately related that is called rati. Janama-janama means every life. Rama pada means perfect union with Rama’s feet.
Don’t waste time but read systematically. In the Ramacharitamanasa there are slokas, there are dohas, there is chopayi, there is sarvaya, there is soratas, there is chapah. You must read any article written on the Ramacharitamanasa.
There are two important things: the Ramayana and Ramacharitamanasa, they are different, not the same. What you read is Ramacharitamanasa and not Ramayana. The Ramayana is written by Valmiki in Sanskrit, and it is the story of Rama. Ramacharitamanasa means the work of Tulsidas on Rama written in a Hindi dialect, not in Hindi. The subject matter is Rama in both, but when Valmiki writes it is called Ramayana, although there are other Ramayanas written by Champu and other authors throughout India. When Tulsidas writes it is called Ramacharitamanasa.
I am talking about the Ramacharitamanasa. Rama means Rama, charita means life, manasa means esoteric – the esoteric life of Rama.
22 April 1981, Gokul