Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas, and criticism of the holy book

Source: The post is based on the article “Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas, and criticism of the holy book” published in Indian Express on 28th January 2023

What is the News?

Bihar Education Minister has said that the Ramcharitmanas spreads hatred in society.

What is Ramcharitmanas?

Ramcharitmanas is an epic poem in the Awadhi language composed by the 16th-century Indian bhakti poet Tulsidas.

It is divided into seven chapters (Kand) that tell the story of Lord Ram from birth to his becoming King of Ayodhya.

The Ramcharitmanas is based on the Ramayana, sage Valmiki’s great epic. It is the holiest book of the Indo-Gangetic region and among the world’s most-read holy books.

Who is Goswami Tulsidas?

Tulsidas was a Brahmin whose original name was Ram Bola Dubey. He composed the Ramcharitmanas on the bank of the Ganga in Varanasi.

Tulsidas lived in the time of Emperor Akbar, and some believe that he was in touch with Abdurrahim Khan-e-Khanan, the son of Akbar’s commander Bairam Khan, and they possibly exchanged some poetic communication as well.

Which portions of Ramcharitmanas are criticized?

The main criticism is of a chaupai in Sundar Kand. Lord Ram is on the coast, but the Sea is refusing to make way. When the Lord threatens to dry the Sea out, he says, imbeciles, illiterates, shudras and women sakal tadana ke adhikari. While the Geeta Press Ramcharitmanas translates “taadan” as shiksha (education), some critics say it means beating or reprimanding.

In Uttar Kand, Kagbhushundi (the crow) tells Garuda, the king of birds: Lower castes like Teli, Kumhar, Chandal, Bheel, Kol and Kalwar, etc. become sanyasis by tonsuring their heads after their wife dies or they lose their wealth.

Later, Kagbhushundi says, Educating a lower-caste person is like feeding milk to a snake. This was the line that the Bihar Minister mentioned.

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