About the Book This magnificent composition of Tulsidas narrates the story of Sri Ram in the first half and has subline prayers in the second half. Kavitawali is in the poetic style called Kavitta, Sawaiya, Ghanakshari and Chappey. The book has full text with English translation and explanations with several appendices.
About the Author
Ajai Kumar Chhawchharia (b. 08/08/1955) Senior-Cambridge, B. Sc. (Silver Medalist), M. A. (Pub. Administration), Post Graduate Dip. Tourism and Hotel Management (Raj. University, Jaipur), Post Graduate Dip. Law (Taxation), (Anna University, Tamil Nadu) Dip. In Transport Management, Dip. In Homeopathy (MHM), Certificate in Vedanta with distinction (CIF, Mumbai) [Ex. Secretary Zoo, Association, University Science College, Jaipur Recipient of Award for Highest Marks (Zoology) B. Sc. Exam.].
Books Proposal: (a) Adhyatma Ramayan (Original Sanskrit)- from Brahmanand Puran, written by Veda Vyas [this is the basis of Tulsidas, Ram Charit Manas]
(b)Ram Purva Taponishad
(c)Ram Uttar Taponishad
(d) Ram Rahasya Upanishad (Sanskrit+English+Hindi). These books are Dictated by Lord Ram, Hanumanji is the Writer, My Fingers are only an Instrument like an ordinary Pen. Credit goes to them. And the Fame goes to Abhishek Prakashan c/o Raman Choudhary, Delhi for Publishing them.
Goswami Tulsidas' Kavitawali, as the name suggests, is a poetic composition called 'Kavitta'. The Kavitta is basically a type of Chhanda. There are 4 types of Chhandas of Kavitawali as follows.
(i) Kavitta- These are 8 line verses arranged in backwards-and-forwards' pattern, or a Z' pattern. The 1st line is a step ahead of the 2nd line; the 3rd line is in step with the 1st, the 4th in step with the 2nd and so on. The last word of every second line rhyme with each other. (For example see verse no. 1/8).
(ii) Sawaiya - These are 4 line verses, each line stacked one above the other, with the last word of all the lines rhyming (example verse no. 1/1).
(iii) Ghanakshari - These verses have 6 lines arranged in a pillar pattern i.e., the 5th and 6th lines form the broad base of the pillar and 1st to 4th lines represent the body of the pillar. For purposes of rhyming, the six lines are arranged in three pairs of two lines each. The lines of one pair rhyme, but no two pairs rhyme with each other (example verse no. 7/111).
(iv) Chappey - These are also 6 liners arranged one above the other, not like Ghanakshari but like Sawaiya, and rhyming pattern is like Ghanakshari (example verse no. 6/47).
The frequency of appearance of verses is in the decreasing order of Kavitta, Sawaiya, Ghanakshari and Chappey.
Kavitawali was composed between V. S. 1616-1671, and has been divided into 7 chapters on the pattern of the epic Ram Charit Manas, but unlike it, the contents are remarkably different. A brief summary is as follows:-
(a) Balkand - This chapter covers only two aspect of Ram's Story viz., his early childhood playful activities and the bow breaking ceremony highlighted by Parashuram's anger.
(b) Ayodhya Kand - The main topics covered here are Sri Ram's exile, the stunned villagers and wayside people en-route to Chitrakoot and their being enamoured at the beauty of Sri Ram, Sita and Laxman, concluding with a brief description of Sri Ram's sojourn at Chitrakoot.
(c) Aranya Kand - This consists of a single verse describing Sri Ram's sojourn at Panchwati. There, he is asked by Sita to fetch the decoy golden skinned deer for her, and the verse concludes with Sri Ram pursuing it.
(d) Kiskhinda Kand- Similarly, this chapter is also of one verse describing Hanuman's leap towards Lanka across the ocean.
(e) Sundar Kand-This whole chapter is devoted to the magnificient valour and brave deeds of Hanuman in the burning of Lanka and bringing back the news of Sita. The description is very vivid and so detailed that if one were to close his eyes, the whole tumult on the streets of the city of Lanka could well be visualized on the screen of the closed eye-lids, as it were.
(f) Lanka Kand-Again, the horrors of war have to come to the fore here, and splendidly narrated. The difference, however, from Ram Charit Manas is the fact that all the credit for the destruction of the demon army here (and the city in earlier chapter) has been accorded to Hanuman in Kavitawali, with even Laxman and others playing only a side role. This observation is substantiated by Sri Ram himself (see verse no. 6/40).
Another outstanding feature of Sundar and Lanka Kands is that it is in the present tense narrative. It appears that Tulsidas had closed his eyes, saw the happenings on the screen of his mind, and went on writing what he saw. It must be remembered that the events took place thousands of years ago, and to use the present tense shows that Tulsidas had that transcendental reach beyond time and space.
(g) Uttar Kand-This is an absolute divergence from Ram Charit Manas. In Kavitawali, the main theme is prayer and invoking Sri Ram's mercy and benevolence; no mention is made of Ram's coronation, rule etc., neither is there any question answer format of either Ram Charit Manas or the Upanishads..
If one wishes, this chapter can be totally extracted from Kavitawali and read as a separate entity, without affecting the story of Ram in any manner. So, one could split Kavitawali into two sections-the first dealing with Ram's story (chapters 1 to 6) and second (chapter 7) dealing exclusively with hymns and prayers in the form of psalms. The only linking factor being the poetic style of Kavitta etc. adopted by the poet.
The prayers can be roughly classified into 3 main categories- (i) those offered to Sri Ram as a human incarnation of the Lord (verse 7/1-7/24, 7/111-114); (ii) those that extol and worship his holy name, greatness, its benefits etc. (verse nos. 7/25-82, 7/89-96, 7/115-127, 7/178); and (iii) those offered to Lord Shiva (verses nos. 7/149-176, 7/181-183). There are scattered verses on Nirguna God (e.g., 7/126), and on Tulsidas' humility and Lord's benevolent mercy on him (e.g., 7/56-73). These verses are also very prayerful.
There are minor prayers to river Ganges (verse no. 7/145-147), Annapurna (7/148), Chitrakoot (7/141-143), Sita Vat (7/138-140) and Prayag (7/144).
Besides prayers, he has referred to devotee Prahalad to establish the event which led to Idol worship (7/128), contemporary events such as plague in Prayag (7/169), wild fire in Chitrakoot (7/143), his tormenting by the pundits of Varanasi (7/165), good omens (7/180), effect of Kaliug (7/83-88, 7/97-109, 7/182) etc. Tulsidas' relationship with his Lord is succinctly encapsulated in a single verse-no. 7/110 or 7/126. he has also referred to Lord Krishna (7/131-135) and -remarkable for an ardent devotee of Sri Ram who is said to have refused to bow his head before an image of Krishna if he did not leave his flute and hold a bow and arrow, at which, as the legend goes, Krishna obliged-the Uddhav Gita (verse no. 7/134-135). Further, there are interspersed verses on general wisdom (e.g., verse no. 7/116-120).
This, in brief, is the epitome called Kavitawali. According to some, the collection had only 177 verses, but Kashi Nagari Pracharani sabha and gita Press have both 183 verses. So, the latter collection is preferred by me. I have, as is my practice and style, tried faithfully to stick to the original text while translating, with clarifying phrases in brackets. I have resisted the inclination to fiddle, tweak or twist the text to make the translation florid, attractive, succulent and dramatic; it would be tentamount to foisting on the original. As a consequence, the rendering appears drab or a little bit odd at times.
It would be noted that Tulsidas has covered the entire Aranya Kand and Kiskindha Kand in a single verse each. What was he trying to covey? For my personal views on this, and many other interesting relevant matters, I have included an Appendix no. 3 which would convey my thoughts.
In similer vein, I have tried to mathametically arrive at the probable speed of Hanuman's flight to bring the Dronachal mountain as well as the time he might have taken to leap across the ocean. Interesting figures and deductions emerge once you put on your thinking cap on any topic. This subject is included in Appendix No. 2.
Appendix No. 1 has an interesting chart of the probable periods when Tulsidas penned his various compositions, including the present Kavitawali.
The time spent in remembering the Lord is always beneficial and spiritually uplifting. Since writing and translating requires immense amount of concentration, thought and effort, the accompanying benefit becomes as the more distilled and provides a sense of contentment, which only a farmer can realize on seeing his full granary. Besides, the text is churned, boiled, sizzled and scrambled in your mind, with your subconscious thoughts as the receptacle, and the resultant broth is then filtered down and percolates in your whole being. One feels the 'one-ness' with one's Lord; it appears that the prayers are not of Tulsidas but that of the writer or translator himself. And even those of the reader.
This euphoric, exhilarating and refreshingly uplifting feeling is to be experienced to be believed. And surely, this is the greatest reward for the effort. A dive in the ocean reveals, a be-witching and bewildering world of fascinating aquatic life, which is not imaginable from the surface. Likewise, a dive into Tulsidas' works opens a panaromic view of mysticism, spiritualism, philosophy, metaphysics, devotion, auspiciousness, righteousness, morality/ethics, civics/polity - infact every conceivable concept under the sun. but, as the aquatic life is all-encompassed by the surrounding water, so is Tulsidas' philosophy all drenched and soaked in the devotion for Sri Ram. He sings the Lord' glories:- Speaking to youself in psalms and hymns and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord' and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faith-ful (Bible, Revelation 17/14).
I hope my dear readers will forgive me for my temerity, errors and follies, and enjoy the book. 'Finally, bretheren, fire-well. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the god of love and peace shall be with you' (The Bible-Corinthians 2/13/11). As for my own self, my beloved Lord Sri Ram is sure to smile at and accept my efforts as an offering by his child, no matter how mumble and incompetent they are. And, that is my reward Amen.
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