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HINDOSTANI

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 370 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HINDOSTANI LITERATURE).death, and carefully corrected, it is alleged by Tulsi Das himself, is at Ajodhya. Another autograph is reported to be preserved at Malihabad in the Lucknow district, but has not, so far as known, been seen by a European. Other ancient MSS. are to be found at Benares, and the materials for a correct text of the Ramayan are thus available. Good editions have been published by the Khadga Bilas press at Bankipur (with a valuable life of the poet by Baijnath Das), and by the Nagari Pracharini Sabha at Allahabad (1903). The ordinary bazar copies of the poem, repeatedly reproduced by lithography, teem with interpolations and variations from the poet's language. An excellent translation of the whole into English was made by the late Mr F. S. Growse, of the Indian Civil Service (5th edition, Cawnpore, 1891). Besides the " Lake of Rama's deeds," Tulsi Das was the author of five longer and six shorter works, most of them dealing with the theme of Rama, his doings, and devotion to him. The former are (i) the Dohabali, consisting of 573 miscellaneous dohs and sorafha verses; of this there is a duplicate in the Ram-satsai, an arrangement of seven centuries of verses, the great majority of which occur also in the Dohabali and in other works of Tulsi; (2) the Kabitta Ramayan or Kabiildbali, which is a history of Rama in the kabitla, ghanakshari, chhappai and sawaiya metres; like the Ram-chant manas, it is divided into seven lands or cantos, and is devoted to setting forth the majestic side of Rama's character; (3) the Gil-Ramayan, or Gltabali, also in seven kands, aiming at the illustration of the tender aspect of the Lord's life; the metres are adapted for singing; (4) the Krishnawali or Krishna gitabali, a collection of 61. songs in honour of Krishna, in the Kanauji dialect: the authenticity of this is doubtful; and (5) the Binay Pattrika, or " Book of petitions, a series of hymns and prayers of which the first 43 are addressed to the lower gods, forming Rama's court and attendants, and the remainder, Nos. 44 to 279, to Rama himself. Of the smaller compositions the most interesting is the Vairagya Sandipani, or " Kind-ling of continence," a poem describing the nature and greatness of a holy man, and the true peace to which he attains. This work has been translated by Dr Grierson in the Indian Antiquary, xxii. 198-201. Tulsi's doctrine is derived from Ramanuja through Ramanand. Like the former, he believes in a supreme personal God, possessing all gracious qualities (saguna), not in the quality-less (nirguna) neuter impersonal Brahman of Sankaracharya; this Lord Himself once took the human form, and became incarnate, for the blessing of mankind, as Rama. The body is therefore to be honoured, not despised. The Lord is to be approached by faith (bhakti)--disinterested devotion and surrender of self in perfect love, and all actions are to be purified of self-interest in contemplation of Him. " Show love to all creatures, and thou wilt be happy; for when thou lovest all things, thou lovest the Lord, for He is all in all." The soul is from the Lord, and is submitted in this life to the bondage of works (karma) ; " Mankind, in their obstinacy, keep binding them, selves in the net of actions, and though they know and hear of the bliss of those who have faith in the Lord, they attempt not the only: means of release. Works are a spider's thread, up and down which she continually travels, and which is never broken; so works lead a soul downwards to the Earth, and upwards to the Lord." The bliss to which the soul attains, by the extinction of desire, in the supreme home, is not absorption in the Lord, but union with Him in abiding individuality. This is emancipation (mukii) from the burthen of birth and rebirth, and the highest happiness.' Tulsi, as a Smarta Vaishnava and a Brahman, venerates the whole Hindu pantheon, and is especially careful to give Siva or Mahadeva, the special deity of the Brahmans, his due, and to point out that there is no inconsistency between devotion to Rama and attachment to Siva (Ramayan, Lankakand, Doha 3). But the practical end of all his writings is to inculcate bhakti addressed to Rama as the great means of salvation—emancipation from the chain of births and deaths—a salvation which is as free and open to men of the lowest caste as to Brahmans. The best account of Tulsi Das and his works is contained in the papers contributed by Dr Grierson to vol. xxii. of the Indian Antiquary (1843). In Mr Growse's translation of the Ram-charit-Manas will be found the text and translation of the passages in the Bhaktamala of Nabhaji and its commentary, which are the main original authority for the traditions relating to the poet. Nabhaji had himself met Tulsi Das; but the stanza in praise of the poet gives no facts relating to his life.; these are stated in the lika or gloss of Priya Das,. who wrote in A.D. 1712, and much of the material is legendary and untrustworthy. Unfortunately, the biography of the poet, called Gosain-charitra, by Benimadhab Das, who was a personal follower and constant companion of the Master, and died in 1642, has disappeared, and no copy of it is known to exist. In the introduction to the edition of the Ramayan by the Nagari Prachartini Sabha all the known facts of Tulsi's life are brought together and critically discussed. For an exposition of his religious position, 3 The summary given above is condensed from the translation by Dr Grierson, at pp. 229-236 of the Indian Antiquary, vol. xxii., of the fifth sarga of the Satsai, in which work Tulsi unfolds his system of doctrine. and this place in the popular religion of northern India, see Dr Grier-son's paper in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, July 1903, pp. 447-466. (C. J. L.)
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