The Ramayana of Tulsidas ranks among the greatest and most popular religious classics of the world. One reason for its universal popularity and why it still casts a spell is because it is based on certain moral and spiritual values which have universal appeal. While Valmiki Ramayana is composed in Sanskrit, Tulsidas deliberately chose to write in the common man's language, Awadhi - a dialect of Hindi. When Valmiki wrote his Ramayana, India was at its peak of cultural refinement. At the time when Tulsidas wrote there was widespread degradation in the values of life. Society was vitiated by the rivalry among different faiths and sects to acquaint the mass with what was best in the Hindu scriptures in understandable language. It became extremely popular with the common man - labourers, peasants, householders, Indian labourers who were shipped by the colonial English rulers to Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, and West Indies, who carried it with them and made it known to others.
Tulsidas (b. 1497) was a Ramanandi Vaishnava saint and poet, re-nowned for his devotion to Rama. F.S.
Growse originally belonged to the Bengal Civil Service. He was first appointed as Joint Magistrate, Mathura in 1871 and the following year he became Collector and District Magistrate. On this post he served for six years before his transfer to Bulandshahr in 1878. He founded the Mathura Museum in 1874. Besides his stray articles on the archaeo-logical discoveries of Mathura in different journals, he made a wonderful contribution by writing the Mathura Memoirwhich is till date a celebrated work on the history and culture of the region. He has devoted a complete chapter to the Buddhist city of Mathura and its antiquities. Even a renowned archaeologist like Cunningham recognized him as a great scholar.
Tim Sanskrit Ramayana of Valmiki has been published more than once, with all the advantages of European editorial skill and the most luxurious typography. It has also been translated both in verse and prose, and, in part at least, into Latin as well as into Italian, French and English. The more popular Hindi version of the same great national Epic can only be read in lithograph or bazar print,' and has never been translated in any form into any language whatever. Yet it is no unworthy rival of its more fortunate predecessor. There can, of course, be no comparison between the polished phraseology of classical Sanskrit and the rough colloquial idiom of Tulsi This's vernacular ; while the antiquity of Vahniki's poem further invests it with an adventitious interest for the student of Indian history. But, on the other hand, the Hindi poem is the best and most trustworthy guide to the popular living faith of the Hindu race at the present day-a matter of not less practical interest than the creed of their remote ances-tors-and its language, which in the course of three centuries has contracted a tinge of archaism, is a study of much importance to the philologist, as helping to bridge the chasm between the modern tongue and the medimval. It is also less wordy and diffuse than the Sanskrit original and, probably in consequence of its modern date, is less disfigured by wearisome interpolations and repetitions ; while, if it never soars so high as Valmiki in some of his best passages, it maintains a more equable level of poetic diction, and seldom sinks with him into such dreary depths of unmitigated prose. It must also be noted that it is in no sense a translation of the earlier work : the general plan and the management of the incidents are necessarily much the same, but there is a difference in the touch in *very detail; and the two poems vary as widely as any two dramas on the same mythological subject by two different Greek tragedians. Even the coincidence of name is an accident ; for Tulsi Das himself called his poem the Ram charit manas; and the shorter title, corresponding in character to 'the Iliad' on ‘Eneid,' has only been substituted by his admirers as a handier designation for a popular favourite.
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