Goswami Tulsidas was a master in the art of storytelling using a lot of similes and metaphors. This use of comparisons enhances the beauty of the poetry and helps in explaining complex concepts or describing the emotions of characters more effectively. The basic object behind creation of Ramcharitmanas was to provide spiritual wisdom to masses in their language. Goswami Ji achieved the same without compromising at the both levels of complex spiritual concepts and poetry.
SPIRITUAL CONCEPTS SIMPLIFIED
1. Let’s begin with a Chaupai where Goswami Ji describes the four brothers (Ram, Laxman, Bharat & Shatrughan) as four Purusarthas :
रामहि देखि बरात जुड़ानी ।
प्रीति कि रीति न जाति बखानी ।।
नृप समीप सोहहिं सुत चारी ।
धन धरमादिक तनुधारी ।।
The wedding participants felt at ease (the discomfort of separation ended) after seeing Ram. It is hard to explain this love (of people for Ram). The four sons near King (Dasrath) were looking as if Arth, Dharma, Kama and Moksha (the four noble pursuits (Purusharthas) of human life as per Sanatan Dharma) have taken human form.
2. At another place Goswami Ji incorporates the four stages of consciousness ( Walking, Dream, Sleep and Turiya) while describing the brides of the four brothers standing together:
अनुरूप बर दुलहिनि परस्पर लखि सकुच हियँ हरषहीं ।
सब मुदित सुंदरता सराहहिं सुमन सुर गन बरषहीं ।।
सुंदरीं सुंदर बरन्ह सह सब एक मंडप राजहीं ।
जनु जीव उर चारिउ अवस्था बिभुन सहित बिराजहीं ।।
(All four) Grooms and brides were elated after getting their worthy spouses. Everybody was praising the beautiful couples while Devtas were raining flowers over them. All beautiful brides along with handsome grooms in the same hall were looking as if all four states in the heart of Jiva (Waking, Dream, Sleep, and Turiya) are sitting with their masters ( World, Tejas, Pragya, and Brahman).
3. While staying in the forest, the mutual love and affection between Rama, Sita and Laxman is described using example of eyelids caring for eyes and the love for body one has due to ignorance about the true nature of self and impact of Maya.
जोगवहिं प्रभु सिय लखनहि कैसें ।
पलक बिलोचन गोलक जैसें ।।
सेवहिं लखनु सीय रघुबीरहि ।
जिमि अबिबेकी पुरुष सरीरहि ।।
How does Lord Shri Ramachandra take care of Sita ji and Lakshman Ji?- like the eyelids, take care of the eyes. Lakshmanji renders service to Shri Sita Ji and Shri Ramchandraji in the same manner as an ignorant man who takes care of his (perishable)body.
DEVOTION TO RAMA
4. The way Goswami plays with the name Rama and exhorts devotees to take shelter in Rama shows the depth of spiritual knowledge and his mastery of the language.
दो०—एकु छत्रु एकु मुकुटमनि सब बरननि पर जोउ ।
तुलसी रघुबर नाम के बरन बिराजत दोउ ।।
Tulsi says- Both alphabets in name of Ram are splendid and above all other alphabet, whereas, one (र is like the Umbrella or flag on chariot and the other (म or •) is like a jewel in a crown.
दो०—गिरा अरथ जल बीचि सम कहिअत भिन्न न भिन्न ।
बंदउँ सीता राम पद जिन्हहि परम प्रिय खिन्न ।।
I bow down at the feet of Sita-Ram, who are two only in speech but are actually one, just like a word and its meaning, or water and water wave are one and the same and the difference is only in speech. They (Sita-Ram) particularly like depressed and poor people.
तात सुनहु सादर मनु लाई ।
कहउँ राम कै कथा सुहाई ।।
महामोहु महिषेसु बिसाला ।
रामकथा कालिका कराला ।।
(Rishi Yajnavalkya to Rishi Bhardwaj) Oh Brother! Listen respectfully and with due attention as I am going to tell the beautiful story of Ram. Great ignorance is like the Mahisasur demon and the story of Ram is like the fear-inspiring Kali (destroyer of the demon Mahisasur).
Description of Natural phenomenon
5. Clouds, Mountains, Rivers and Rain are described through human characteristics and vice versa, which is beautiful to read:
बरषहिं जलद भूमि निअराएँ ।
जथा नवहिं बुध बिद्या पाएँ ।।
बूँद अघात सहहिं गिरि कैसें ।
खल के बचन संत सह जैसें ।।
The clouds come near the earth and rain, just as wisemen become humble after getting knowledge. How do mountains bear the hurt of drops, like Saints tolerate the words of wicked persons?
छुद्र नदीं भरि चलीं तोराई ।
जस थोरेहुँ धन खल इतराई ।।
भूमि परत भा ढाबर पानी ।
जनु जीवहि माया लपटानी ।।
Small rivers overflowed [breaking the banks] and ran, just as the wicked become arrogant, even with little money. As soon as (rain) water falls on the earth, it becomes muddy, just as the Maya (Illusion) wraps itself over the Jiva.
समिटि समिटि जल भरहिं तलावा ।
जिमि सदगुन सज्जन पहिं आवा ।।
सरिता जल जलनिधि महुँ जाई ।
होइ अचल जिमि जिव हरि पाई ।।
Water gathers in and fills the ponds, as the virtues reach saintly people (one by one). The water of the river goes to the sea and becomes stable, just as the Jiva attains stability (bliss)after attaining Sri Hari.
दो०—हरित भूमि तृन संकुल समुझि परहिं नहिं पंथ ।
जिमि पाखंड बाद तें गुप्त होहिं सदग्रंथ ।।
The earth has become full of grass, (due to which) the roads are not properly understood(visible).Just like the scriptures get hidden (vanish, not easily accessible) due to the propaganda of hypocrisy.
राम बिमुख संपति प्रभुताई ।
जाइ रही पाई बिनु पाई ।।
सजल मूल जिन्ह सरितन्ह नाहीं ।
बरषि गएँ पुनि तबहिं सुखाहीं ।।
The wealth and dominion of a person, who gets away from Ram, does not last long, and getting it is like not getting it. The rivers which do not have any source of water in their origin, dry up immediately after the rains have passed.
The above are just a few examples of the brilliance of Goswami Tulsidas as a magical poet and spiritual master. These are akin to a few droplets taken from the vast sea of wisdom known as Ramcharitmanas. Hope this will inspire readers to read the whole text themselves.
Click here to read the first article in this series where the role of Ramcharitmanas as a harmonizer between Shaivite-Vaishnavites and Nirgun-Sagun modes of worship was analyzed.