12.2.6 GOSWAMI TULSIDAS
Tulsi (1497 ?-1623 ?) is the author of the retelling, in immortal Hindi verse, (actually in awadhi dialect, though Sanskritized) of Valmiki's Sanskrit Ramayana under the title rAm-charita-mAnas which has in effect replaced the original in North India and may well be called the Bible of the masses wherever Hindi is spoken. Tulsi’s is a household name and millions have been inducted into bhakti by the all-pervasiveness of the bhakti spirit in this masterpiece. It thus rendered a great service to the Indians submerged under the flood of Islamic conquest. He wrote many other devotional works, which, together with his magnum opus, leave us in no doubt about his superiority as a poet and religious thinker. His writings further display a keen sense of understanding of the human mind and so have a universal appeal for all mankind. In his own life, enlightenment and initiation came to him in a unique manner when he was taunted by his wife for his excessive, almost crazy, attachment to her. From then on he became the apostle of bhakti towards his ishta devatA, rAm, for whose darSan, he yearned and meditated for years. Inspite of his exclusive devotion to rAm, he adored all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. But rAm as the supreme manifestation of Absolute brahman, and Tulsi as the humblest devotee of rAm reverberate through all his writings. His depiction of Bharata's Rama-bhakti is the greatest and purest example of devotion to Rama. Tulsi ranks next only to Vyasa and Valmiki in terms of extent of influence and its persistence over centuries.