Goswami Tulsidas was a great devotee of Lord Ramachandra (Lord Rama) who appeared in India in the 16th century. A true saint, he is best known for the books that he authored, the most famous of which was the Ramacharitamanasa.
The original story of Lord Ramachandra, an incarnation of Lord Krishna or God, was written by Maharishi Valmiki during Lord Rama’s appearance on earth in the Treta yuga, and this story is famously known as the Valmiki Ramayana. Stories relating to Lord Krishna and His incarnations are also found in many other Vedic literatures, such as the Puranas, all of which are written in the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit, known as the language of the gods, is a very difficult language for people to understand in this age of Kali. Tulsidas wanted to make Lord Rama’s story more accessible to today’s society. He wrote the Ramacharitamanasa, also known as the Tulsi Ramayana, in Awadhi, which is a dialect of the Hindi language. His version is based off the historical accounts of Lord Rama found in all the Vedic literatures, but is especially based off the Valmiki Ramayana and the Adhyatma Ramayana found in the Brahmananda Purana. Tulsidas’s Ramayana is written in a mood of pure devotion, using beautiful poetry, making it a wonderful read for anyone.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna to “declare to the world that My devotee never perishes.” The popularity of the Ramacharitamanasa is proof of that. Tulsidas’s work is a staple in the homes of all Indians. It is recited regularly during the holy periods of the year relating to Lord Rama.
Aside from the Manasa, Tulsidas also authored several other shorter works relating to Lord Rama, including the Vinaya Patrika, Dohawali, and the Kavitawali. In addition, he is the author of the famous Hanuman Chalisa, a poem which glorifies Lord Rama’s greatest devotee Lord Hanuman.
Tulsidas belonged to the Ramananda Sampradaya, which has a hint of impersonalist philosophy. The Vedas describe the Supreme Absolute Truth as “nirguna”, which means attributeless. Impersonalitsts misinterpret this to mean that God is only an all pervading spirit, or Brahman, and not a person. Nirguna actually means that God is formless in that He doesn’t have a material form, but He is still an individual separate from us. From reading Tulsidas’s works there is no mistaking that he is a pure devotee of God’s form as Lord Ramachandra. In fact, Tulsidas boldly declares that God’s name is even more important than God Himself, since His name directly brings us in touch with Him. He teaches that we should be constantly engaged in reciting the Lord’s name and in this way our lives will be perfect.
Several English translations of his works are available, but sadly they usually include impersonalist and atheistic interpretations which distort the original meanings. Tulsidas’s works must be presented in their original form, with the original meanings preserved. Tulsidas was a great devotee of Lord Ramachandra and his writings leave no doubt about that. He taught devotion to God and nothing else. Krishna’s Mercy is dedicated to honoring Goswami Tulsidas by distributing his works and presenting his teachings without deviation.