Ramcharitmanas, written in Awadhi dialect of Uttar Pradesh, occupies a place in literary works which can at best be given to the epic Mahabharata. Surviving the test of some five centuries, this unique epic has not become any less important over the years. Some people even go to the extent of treating it as a scripture or a religious book, there are many who remember it by heart or who move ahead in life by referring to it.
It deals with the story of Rama based on Valmiki'sRamayana which is the oldest written text available today. Tulsidas rewrote the Ramayana as Ramcharitmanas in the common man'slanguage to portray Rama as God. He emphasised ?Huye wahi jo Rama rachi rakha? (whatever misery, call it by any name, befalls the people is part of Rama'sbroad design and whatever He has planned is bound to happen).
The author of this book under review says that while Valmiki'sRamayana was basically history though occasionally interspersed with mythical stories, which in turn could be latter-day interpretations, Tulsidas'sRamcharitmanas presents Rama as a supreme being based somewhat on his personal beliefs. It was Tulsidas who placed Rama on a pedestal and gradually even the people began to believe it and accept Rama as their saviour. On the face of it, Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas have identical frameworks with seven kands (sections), each with the only difference that the sixth is named Yuddhakand in Valmiki'sRamayana, while it is Lankakand in Tulsidas'sRamacharitmanas, possibly because Tulsidas wanted to give greater focus to other aspects of the story than the Rama-Ravana battle.
The author says that while presenting his Uttarkand, Tulsidas totally deviates from Valmiki'sseventh section even though the titles are similar. In fact, Valmiki'sUttarkand is doubted by many a scholar as something appended by probably his latter-day disciples or by some unknown people.
The author compares the two books and says that though Ramcharitmanas is smaller than the original Sanskrit tale of Ramayana by Valmiki, the former ?tells the whole tale in an impressive and soul-stirring manner.? He also talks of the confrontation between Vibhishan standing in his chariot and Lord Rama standing barefoot on the ground and says, ?Dharma is the best weapon to fight against all odds and that is what makes this work memorable.?
The book can be read for comparing the presentation of the two epics as written by Valmiki and by Tulsidas.
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