Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa (तुलसीदास) was a great sage, poet, philosopher, reformer, and more importantly an ardent devotee of Śrī Rāma belonging to Śrī-Sampradāya (Śrī-Rāmānandi-Vaiṣṇava-Sampradāya), who appeared to spread the divine ravishing tale of Śrī Rāma, and Śrī Rām-Bhakti among people. He is popularly reknowned for being the author of Śrī Rāmcharitmanas and Hanumān Cālīsā which are studied and recited daily by millions of Hindus. Goswami Tulsidas had got the vision of his Ishta Bhagavān Śrī Rām in this Kali-age from his physical eyes on the bank of river Mandākinī at Chitrakoot.
In his very life-time, Gosvāmī Tulsīdās was acclaimed a Mahā-Muni, the incarnation of Maharshi Vālmīki who composed Rāmāyaṇa in Sanskrit. Gosvāmī Tulsīdās has been the most influential Bhakti-saint in the India.
When great saints of his time identified and called him the incarnation of Mahā-Muni Maharshi Vālmīki, He said there is no greatness of him, It is all greatness of the name 'Rāma'.
“O Śrī Rām! Is Your name 'Rāma' clever or just mad, for it makes someone even worthless and useless like a tiny weed of grass into an exalted and heavier like mountain?” (— Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās, Kavitāvalī)
Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī was born to a Sarayupārīṇ Brāhmin Ātmārām Dubey and his wife Hulasī on the day of Shrāvaṇa-Shukla-Saptamī (the seventh day of the bright half of the Shrāvaṇa month) in the Vikrami Samvat 1554 (1497 CE) as per the Mula Gosain Charita.
Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās was born after staying in the womb for twelve months. He had all thirty two teeth in his mouth at birth, his health and looks were like that of a five-year-old child. Just after the birth, Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī uttered the name 'Rāma', instead of crying like ordinary newborns. And then a divine sound from sky said 'Rāmabolā', and thus Bhagavān Śrī Rām named the newborn divine child Rāmabolā.
Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī indicated this incident in Vinayapatrikā —
“मैं श्रीराम का गुलाम हूँ, बचपन में भगवान् श्रीराम ने हीं मेरा नाम रामबोला रख दिया!”
“I am a servant of Śrī Rām, having given a childhood-name 'Rāmabolā' by Śrī Rāma.”
Seeing Bhagavān Śrī Rām given the childhood-name for the divine child, the gods started dancing and playing their divine instruments in the sky to celebrate the birth of Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī. However, Ātmārām Dubey the father of Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī, became apprehensive after seeing the wonderful child as well as the strange events happening at the time of his birth. He consulted with astrologers who did their calculations and said to him 'Brahmā has written not a good fate for him, as the child is born under the Abhuktamūla constellation which according to Jyotisha (astrology) causes immediate danger to the life of the family-members'. Already apprehensive Ātmārām Dubey finally decided to abandon the newborn child.
Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī indicated this incident in Kavitāvalī how wretched fate he was born with —
“His parents abandoned him after giving birth to him, even Brahmā had not written anything good in his fate. So much wretched, and worthy of contempt that child was that He in his hunger had to look for the foods thrown for the stray dogs. After hearing the sweet disposition of Śrī Rām, that Child Tulasīdās opened his heart (told his agonies) to the Lord. Then, Raghunāth Ji as per his disposition left no stone unturned in taking care of the worldly well-being and the supreme spiritual welfare of Tulasīdās who sought his shelter.”
Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī was abandoned by his parents on the tenth night from his birth. Seeing her husband's inclination to abandon the child, The ailing mother Hulasī became very anxious, therefore on the tenth night she silently entrusted her child who was her life to the house-maid Chuniā and sent her away with some gifts to her in-law's village. And the next day on Ekādashī, the mother Hulasī left her body. Chuniā took the child to her village of Haripur and started taking care of the child with a great love, however she could not be much helpful to him for long, when the child became around five years and five months old, she was bitten by a poisonous snake and she left her body. Rāmabolā (Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās) became an orphan. The villagers of Haripur sent a letter to his father Ātmārām Dubey to come Haripur and for proper care take his child back to his village. However, Ātmārām Dubey sent back a blunt reply 'who would take back such a child who kills his caretakers', his reply created a fear among the people of Haripur. People started fearing even from his shadow, they became heartless over that destitute little child who needed kindness from them. The poor orphaned child Rāmabolā (Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās) became impoverished and emaciated. (Gosvāmī Tulasīdās mentions this in Kavitāvalī 7.73 बारेतें ललात-बिललात द्वार-द्वार दीन, जानत हो चारि फल चारि ही चनकको॥ ) in so young age, in his hunger He had to wander from door to door to beg some food, and when someone out of compassion used to put the four grains of grams on his hand, He regarded it as if much received that day like the attainment of the four rewards of the human-life!
Devī Pārvatī couldn't bear to see it for long and she took the form of a Brāhmaṇī and started coming everyday to feed the orphaned divine child from her own hands in her laps like a mother feeds. Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī remembers Devī Pārvatī and Lord Shiva as mother and father and guru with a great love.
Seeing Rāmabolā with improved health, the villagers of Haripur became curious to know who feeds this child? They put a woman behind the child to detect the truth. She saw a Brāhmaṇī comes to the child everyday and feeds him in her lap. Seeing this, the spying lady fell at the feet of Brāhmaṇī and asked who is she? But, Devī Pārvatī disappeared without telling anything. From that day Devī Pārvatī stopped visiting Rāmabolā, and He became orphan again.
“O Śrī Rām! for me the two letters 'Ra' and 'Ma' of Your name 'Rāma' are my father and mother, and I am their little child stubbornly remaining at their lotus feet (to receive their love and affection).” (— Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās, Vinaypatrikā 226.5)
...And, on the other side, Devī Pārvatī also became sad, to remove her sadness Lord Shiva expanded his leelā. In those days, Śrī Narharidās the renowned disciple of Śrī Anantānand Jī was used to live in Chitrakoot and do Bhajan-Sādhanā of Bhagavan Śrī SītāRāma. One day Lord Shiva graciously appeared to him, and preached him about Śrī Rāma-Tattva and narrated the mysterious tale of Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa. Then Lord Shiva asked him to go to Haripur, there is a divine child who is now orphan, adopt him and take him to Ayodhyā and give him proper Vaiṣṇavī-deeksha there and then after sometime narrate him the story of Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa which I told You.
From the divine inspiration of Lord Shiva, Śrī Naraharidās along with his disciples went Haripur and found the homeless child Rāmabolā sleeping under the trees in the forest of Tulasī (basil-plants) outside the village of Haripur. Śrī Narharidās was in the fourth generation of Spiritual teachers in the disciplic-succession (paramparā) of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand [Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand (CE 1299 - 1410) → Śrī Anantānand → Śrī Raṅg → Śrī Naraharidās]. Seeing the impoverished orphaned child, Śrī Narharidās started a conversation with the child and asked what is Your name, dear kid?
The child said "My name is Rāmabolā".
Śrī Naraharidās asked "why so?"
The child replied "The name 'Rama' was the word I uttered at the birth."
Śrī Naraharidās asked "what do you do here?"
The child said "I live in this Tulasī-Vana, and sometimes I chant the name of Rāma, it is like my food here."
Hearing this, Śrī Naraharidās was filled with a great love and affection over the child; he embraced the child from his heart as like Bhagavān Narasimha (Nara - man, hari - lion) had embraced the little Prahlād. The little child Rāmabolā sticked with the chest of his Gurudev Śrī Naraharidās and started weeping inconsolably, and told his all agonies. Guru consoled him with sweet and gentle words, and smelled his forehead with a great affection. Śrī Naraharidās fed the little boy some Prasāda of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma. Getting the love and affection from Śrī Naraharidās, the child Rāmabolā felt as if Bhagavān himself has come to him in the form of Gurudev to remove all his agonies. In fact, Sadgurudev himself appears to take the disciple in his shelter.
Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās remembers his Guru and indicates his name indirectly in Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa —
“I bow to the lotus feet of my Guru, who is an ocean of mercy and is no other than Śrī Hari Himself in human form.” (nara[rūpa]hari — narahari)
After taking permission from the villagers of Haripur, Śrī Naraharidās took the child Rāmabolā in his shelter and brought him to Ayodhyā, where Yajñopavīt-Saṃskāra of Rāmabolā happened on Māgha-Shukla-Pañcamī (the fifth day of the bright phase of Māgha month) in Samvat 1561 (CE 1504). During the Upanayan-Saṃskāra, the little child uttered the Gāyatrī-mantra on his own, and surprised all the people there. At that occasion, on the bank of divine river Sarayū, Sadgurudev Śrī Naraharidās gave Vaiṣṇavī-Deekshā to Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās with Pañca-saṃskāra (Five saṃskāras): 1. Rāma mantra, 2. a Vaiṣṇava name 'Tulasīdās', 3. divine-marks of 'Bow and arrows', 4. Tulasī Mālā and 5. Urdhvapundra Tilak. Thus, Rāmabolā received Rāma mantra and a new name 'Tulasīdās' from his Sadguru.
The little boy (Gōsvāmī) Tulasīdās started his learning in Ayodhyā under the guidance of his Sadgurudev. One day the child Śrī Tulasīdās told his all stories starting from birth to his Gurudeva, listening which tears came in the eyes of Gurudeva. Seeing Gurudeva in tears, the child also started weeping, that sight of Guru and disciple is indescribable, then Śrī Naraharidās narrated the divine mercy of Śrī Pārvatī-Shiva over him, from that day Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās got a great reverence in his heart for them.
After living for ten months in Ayodhyā, Śrī Narharidās brought him to Vārāha-Kshetra (now known as Soron), where Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās heard first time the divine tale of Mānas-Rāmāyaṇa from the mouth of his Sadgurudev. He mentioned it in Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa :
“Then I heard the same narrative (story) [of Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa told by Lord Shiva to Devī Parvatī] in the holy Vārāha-Kshetra (the modern Soron in the Uttar-pradesh) from my Sadgurudev (Śrī Narharidās); However I did not understand it full well then, as I had no sense in those days of my childhood.”
“Nevertheless, when the preceptor repeated the story time after time, I followed it to a certain extent according to my poor lights. I shall versify the same in the popular tongue, so that my mind may derive satisfaction from it.”
Wherever the child inquired anything, Gurudeva explained the story again and again.
Spending time in learning Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa, Sanskrit Grammar, and other sacred scriptures from his Sadguru, a total five years elapsed in the holy Vārāha-Kshetra. Then, Śrī Naraharidās along with his disciple (Śrī) Tulasīdās went Kāshī for some festival.
Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās came Kāshī and studied the four Vedas, Six Vedāṅga (the limbs of Vedas), and six schools of Hindu Philosophy over a period of fifteen years under the guidance of Shikshā-Guru Śrī Śēṣasanātana. Śrī Śēṣasanātan was a friend of his Sadgurudev Śrī Narharidās.
Śrī Naraharidās with his disciple (Śrī) Tulasīdās went Kāshī for some festival. After reaching Kāshī, Śrī Naraharidās made a seat on Panchagaṅgā Ghāt, on the same place where once Paramaguru Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand used to sit on the Ghāt of divine river Gaṅgā in Vārāṇasī. Till this date, the lotus-feet marks and the Āshram (Śrī-muṭha) of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand are present at Panchagaṅgā Ghāt, Kāshī.
(There are two regions within Kāshī :— 1. Shiva-Kshetra, and 2. Vishṇu-Kshetra (Kshetra ~ region). Panchagaṅgā Ghāt is the Vishṇu-region, where there is an ancient Bindu-Mādhav (Vishṇu) Temple. On the steps of the same Panchagangā Ghāt, the Bhaktarāj Kabīr got Gurumantra 'Rāma' nāma from Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand.)
At that Panchagaṅgā Ghāt, there lived Śrī Śēṣasanātan (Shesh Sanatan), an accomplished saint and a renowned scholar of Vedas, Sanskrit Grammar, Vedāṅgas, and six schools of philosophy. He was a close friend of Śrī Naraharidās. These two great Munis used to do Sankirtan-Bhajan together at Panchagangā Ghāt, and discuss the secrets of Paramātm-Tattva, Ātmā, Paramātmā, Bhakti, Vairāgya, etc.
The boy Śrī Tulasīdās used to sit near the lotus feet of his Sadguru and hear them very attentively. One day Śrī Śēṣasanātana asked Śrī Tulasīdās "My child, You hear us with a rapt attention, Do You grasp well what we say?"
Then, the boy repeated whole everything correctly what He had heard so far from them since the beginning they had met. Śrī Śēṣasanātana was awestruck and enchanted from the amazing brilliance of the child. Recognizing this is definitely some divine child, Śrī Śēṣasanātana became very affectionate over the child and wished to make him his disciple. He wanted to have a worthy disciple who can inherit his knowledge.
Śrī Śēṣasanātana requested his friend Śrī Naraharidās "O Muni! Please give this Brāhmaṇ-Batuk (young disciple) to me, I want to teach him all the Vedas, Vedāṅgas, Itihās, Purāṇ, poetry, etc, and will make him a great scholar, seeing him You will feel a great happiness in Your heart."
Hearing the heartfelt desire and prayer of Śrī Śēṣasanātan, Śrī Naraharidās became very glad and delighted, and He called his young disciple (Śrī) Tulasīdās and gave him to Śrī Śēṣasanātan on the bank of divine river Gaṅgā.
Śrī Tulasīdās started taking Shikshā of Vedas and Vedāṅgas from his Shikshā-Guru Śrī Śēṣasanātana. When Śrī Tulasīdās was studying various Bhāshya (commentaries) on the Brahm-sutras, Sadguru Śrī Naraharidās went to Chitrakoot after instructing various things to his dearest disciple (Śrī) Tulasīdās. Śrī Tulasīdās started studying while serving Guru Śrī Śēṣasanātana with a great love and dedication.
Śrī Tulasīdās studied all four Vedas, six Vedāṅgas (Phonetics, Prosody, Sanskrit grammar, Jyotisha, Nirukta, Kalpa), and the six schools of Hindu philosophy over a period of 15 years from the Vidya-guru Śrī Śēṣasanātan. Śrī Śēṣasanātan, from his Tap and Sādhanā, made his disciple Śrī Tulasīdās the topmost scholar as well as the most adept and accomplished poet in the world.
On the bank of Mandākinī river at Chitrakoot, there happened an assembly of saints. While Gosvāmī Tulsīdās was preparing the sandalwood-paste to give Tilaka to devotees, then the two most charming bluish and golden princes Śrī Rāma and Lakshmaṇ appeared again however this time not in the form of two charming-princes, but in the form of Vanavāsī (forest-dwellers) Śrī Rāma-Lakshmaṇa Rupa. Vanavāsī Śrī Rāma-Lakshmaṇa suddenly appeared from the crowd and came in front of Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa. Seeing their incomparable beauty, Goswami Ji was mesmerised and lost in their eye-captivating Then, Śrī Rāma smilingly asked sandalwood-paste and adorned his forehead with the Tilak on his own, and then he marked the Tilaka to Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa. To bring Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa back to his senses and let him meet his Ishta-dev Śrī Rāma with due reverence, Hanumān immediately took the form of parrot and uttered this stanza loudly :—
“On the bank of Mandākinī river at Chitrakoot, there happened the assembly of saints. While Gosvāmī Tulsīdās is rubbing the sandalwood for making the paste [to give Tilaka to devotees], Tilaka is being given on the forehead of Tulasīdāsa by Raghuveer Śrī Rāma himself.”
Such a sweet leelā, Bhagavān is giving Tilak to his devotee after taking Tilak himself. Hearing the words of Hanumān Ji in the form of the parrot, and seeing this unusual grace of his Ishta Śrī Rāma giving Tilaka on his forehead, Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa came back from trance and fell down in the lotus feet of his Ishta-dev Bhagavān Śrī Rāma.
रामु हैं मातु, पिता, गुरु, बंधु औ संगी, सखा, सुतु, स्वामि, सनेही।
रामकी सौंह, भरोसो है राम को, राम रँग्यो रुचि राच्यो न केही॥
जीअत रामु, मुएँ पुनि राम, सदा रघुनाथहि की गति जेही।
सोई जिए जगमें, 'तुलसी', नतु डोलत और मुए धरि देही॥
“Rāma is my mother, father, Guru, brother, friend, companion, son, Lord and love (Beloved)! (I) Swear to Rāma, my belief is solely on Rāma only, I am colored in the love of Rāma, and my heart does not get Ruchi (love, interest) in anyone else except Rāma. (Śrī Tulasīdās says to his heart) O Tulasī ! The one whom Rāma is dearest here while alive, and wishes to again have Rāma's love only after the death, for whom Raghunāth alone is dearest all the time, he is the one who actually 'lives' (with a heart beating with love) in this world, while all others are really dead with a body which moves and speaks” (— Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās, Kavitāvalī 7.36)
The divine ravishing tale of Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa was conceived by Lord Shiva in his heart, he had communicated it first time to Bhagavati Pārvatī and imparted once again to Kākabhushundī, and then that tale came into Guru-Paramparā of Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa. One day Lord Shiva appeared in dreams of Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa and asked him to compose the same ravishing tale of Śrī Rāmacaritmānas in the vernacular language. The same morning Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa got the divine vision of Lord Shiva and Pārvatī who again asked him to go in Ayodhyā-dhāma to compose the divine exploits and the life-story of Śrī Rāma in the form of Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa there.
After getting divine inspiration and instruction from lord Shiva, Goswami Tulsidasa went Ayodhya and started composing the great epic poem Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa (श्रीरामचरितमानस) in the year Vikram-Samvat 1631 (1575 CE) in bright-half of the Chaitra-month on the day of Rāmanavamī (the appearance day of Śrī Rāma). He completed the work of composing Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa in 2 years 7 months 26 days in the Year Vikram-Samvat 1633 (1577CE) in the Margshirsha Month on the day of Vivāh-Panchamī (the marriage anniversary of Sita-Rama). His most renowned work Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa is universally accepted and respected by the common people, Vaidic-scholars, devotees and saints irrespective of their affiliations to different Sampradāyas, such is the universal acceptance of Gosvāmī Tulsīdās. Lord Shiva even approved the great epic poem Śrī Rāmcharitmanas as the most superior among sacred texts by leaving his sign (Satyam Shivam Sundaram) on the original copy of Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa at Kāshī-Vishwanātha Temple in Vārānasi. Actually, BrAhmina-s in Kashi were earlier not accepting Tulsidasa's Rāmāyaṇa due to being composed in vernacular language, and they were questioning the authenticity and divinity of work in parallel to divine scriptures composed by Vālmīki & Ved-vyasa. As Lord Shiva had motivated Tulsidas to compose Śrī Rāmcharitmanas in vernacular language so that Rama's divine life-story could be spread and easily accessible to all sections of society, even to those who were not adept in Sanskrit to study Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, thus all the responsibility of upholding the greatness and authenticity of Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa as authoritative scripture (text) came directly on Lord Shiva, therefore Lord Shiva left his sign on the original copy of Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa when it was kept for a night under the stacks of scriptures in Kashi-Viswanath temple under closed doors. Lord Shiva not only left his signature “Satyam Shivam Sundaram (It is True (real), Auspicious, and ravishing)”, but he also kept it over the top of the stacks of scriptures. When doors of Kashi-Vishwanath Temple were opened in morning, everyone saw the miracle of Lord Shiva leaving his sign on the original copy of Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa, Brahmina-s who were opposing Goswami Tulsidas fell down in feet of Gosvāmī Tulsīdās, and they asked forgiveness from him for their misdeeds. Everyone hailed Lord Shiva, and greatness of Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa and Gosvāmī Tulsīdās.
Each and every Shloka of Śrī Rāmcharitmanas is accepted as the divine powerful mantra by devotees and saints' community.
The verse given below can also be taken as Pramaan (proof) which is from Buddha-kaushik Ram-raksha Stotra as well as found in Padma-Purana and other sacred texts :
Each and every Shloka of Śrī Rāmcharitmanas is accepted as the divine powerful mantra by devotees and saints' community.
The verse given below can also be taken as Pramaan (proof) which is from Buddha-kaushik Ram-raksha Stotra as well as found in Padma-Purana and other sacred texts :
“The divine exploits of Śrī Rāma has been exclusively described in the form of 100 crore stanzas (verses). Each and every single word of those stanzas describing divine exploits of Śrī Rāma can eliminate the utmost grievous sins of this world i .e those letters are महापातकनाशनम् MahA-pAtaknAshanam.”
To make the divine Mānas-Rāmāyaṇa easily accessible and understood by all, Gosvāmī Tulsīdāsa composed (revealed) the great epic poem Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa (श्रीरामचरितमानस) in vernacular language i.e. Avadhī, after the divine inspiration and instruction of Lord Shiva. Actually, Śrī Rāmāyaṇa was first sung by Śrī Hanumān in Avadhī language to Śrī Sītā in Tretā-Yuga.
Lord Shiva tells —
“O Goddess Pārvati ! Maharshi Vālmīki will become Tulasīdās in the Kali age (Kaliyuga), and will compose this narrative of Śrī Rāma (the narrative of Śrī Rāma told by Lord Shiva to Pārvati called Mānas Rāmāyaṇ/Śrī Rāmacaritamānas) in the popular language.”
In the aforementioned verse, Both Ved-Vyāsa and Lord Shiva authenticated the divine authority of Śrī Rāmacaritamānas as same like Vālmīki-Rāmāyaṇa.
Same thing Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās Jī himself mentions —
“The ravishing tale of Śrī Rāmacaritamānas was originally conceived by the greatest of the poets Lord Shiva himself. Having conceived it, the great Lord Shiva treasured it in His mind till the time a favorable opportunity presented itself, and then he graciously communicated it to His Consort Devī Umā (Pārvatī). Therefore, after due consideration Lord Hara (Shiva) joyously gave it the excellent title of Śrī Rāmacaritamānas.” (Śrī Rāmacaritamānas 1.35.5-6)
Śrī Nābhādās, the renowned composer of Bhaktamāla (the garlands of devotees) was contemporary to Gosvāmī Tulsīdās, he was very much acquainted with the divinity of Gosvāmī Tulsīdās and his works. In Bhaktmal, Śrī Nābhādās gives introduction of Gosvāmī Tulsīdās as the incarnation of Sage Vālmīki in following verses :—
“For the deliverance of fallen-Jivas, Maharshi Vālmīki himself appeared as Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās. In Treta-Yuga, Maharshi Vālmīki composed Shat-Koti Rāmāyaṇa-s. Each and every letter of the Ślokas of Śat-Koti Rāmāyaṇas can destroy instantly all the grievous sins like Brahma-hatyas, etc. For bestowing the happiness and bliss to devotees, Maharashi Vālmīki in form of Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās revealed Śrī Rāmacaritamānas to narrate the leelā of Śrī Rām vividly. Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās remains engaged day and night in drinking the nectar of the devotion in the lotus feet of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma. He brought with him the great boat, easily accessible to everyone, in the form of Śrī Rāmacaritamānas to take everyone across the unfathomable ocean of mundane-existence (transmigration). For the ultimate welfare of fallen-Jivas, Maharshi Vālmīki himself appeared as Gōsvāmī Tulasīdās.”
Maharshi Vālmīki composed Ādi-Kāvya Rāmāyaṇa which is incarnation of all Vedas (-Agastya Samhita) and the seed of all other scriptures, and Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa is the abstract of all Vedic-scriptures including innumerable Rāmāyaṇa-s.
Śrī Madhusudana Saraswatī, a very famous Advaita-acharya of Bhagavadpad Shankarcharya's sect composed the following famous shloka in praise of Gosvāmī Tulsīdās Ji —
“In this Anand-kanan (another name of Kashi, literal meaning 'the forest of bliss'), Tulsidasa is a moving tree (of Basil)! On this tree there are manjaris (flower-buds of Tulasi) in the form of his poems which are always adorned and even relished by a bee in the form of Śrī Rāma Himself! (Rama is the bee which is always present on the flower-buds in form of the poetry of Tulasidas, Rama himself relishes the nectar of those flower buds!)”
Poet 'Beni' in praise of Gosvāmī Tulsīdās Ji said —
Had this Rāmāyaṇa (Ramacharitmanas) not sung by Gosvāmī Tulsīdās Ji
after stirring all the Vedas, all the Puranas again and again,
then who would have told us the difference between Sant (saints) and Asant (entities opposite to the saintly qualities);
Who would have broached the discussion of the name of Rama
among the insidious, impostor, cruel Jivas stricken by the evil effects of Kaliyuga, hence always prone to step on the misleading paths?
Beni (the poet) says with conviction after thinking again and again,
Who would have aroused the love among the stone-hearted people (for Rama)?
Who would have made Jivas cross this dreaded ocean of transmigration,
If Tulasidas had not sung this beautiful Rāmāyaṇa?
भावार्थ:- यह रामचरित मानस मुनियों का प्रिय है, इस सुहावने और पवित्र मानस की शिवजी ने रचना की। यह तीनों प्रकार के दोषों, दुःखों और दरिद्रता को तथा कलियुग की कुचालों और सब पापों का नाश करने वाला है ।
The holy and beautiful Ramcharitmanas is conceived by Lord Shiva, It is delight of sages. It uproots all evil practices and impurities of Kali-age. It put downs the three kind of errors, sorrow and indigence.
भावार्थ:-शिवजी ने पहले इस सुहावने चरित्र को रचा, फिर कृपा करके पार्वतीजी को सुनाया। वही चरित्र शिवजी ने काकभुशुण्डिजी को रामभक्त और अधिकारी पहचानकर दिया ।
This ravishing tale was conceived by Lord Siva, who graciously communicated it to His Consort Uma. Lord Shiva imparted it once more to Kak-bhusundi (a sage in the form of crow), knowing him to be a devotee of Śrī Rām and one qualified to hear it.
भावार्थ:-उन काकभुशुण्डिजी से फिर याज्ञवल्क्यजी ने पाया और उन्होंने फिर उसे भरद्वाजजी को गाकर सुनाया। वे दोनों वक्ता और श्रोता (याज्ञवल्क्य और भरद्वाज) समान शील वाले और समदर्शी हैं और श्री हरि की लीला को जानते हैं ।
It was Sage Yagyvalkya who received it from the latter (Kakbhusundi Ji) and narrated it to Sage Bharadvaja. Both these, the listener (Bharadvaja) and the reciter (Yagyvalka), are equally virtuous; they view all alike and are acquainted with the pastimes of Śrī Hari. Then the same tale went into Paramapara of Tulsidasa, and he heard it from his Sadgurudev.
भावार्थ:-फिर वही कथा मैंने वाराह क्षेत्र में अपने गुरुजी से सुनी, परन्तु उस समय मैं लड़कपन के कारण बहुत बेसमझ था, इससे उसको उस प्रकार (अच्छी तरह) समझा नहीं।
Then I heard the same story in the holy Sukarkshetra (the modern Soron in the western United Provinces) from my preceptor; but as I had no sense in those days of my childhood, I could not follow it full well.
Thus, the Paramparā of Śrī Rāmcharitmanas is as follows-
Lord Shiva - Śrī Kākbhushundi ji - Śrī Yāgyavalkya ji - Śrī Bharadwāj Muni - Śrī Sanakadi /Śrī Naraharyānand - Śrī Tulsīdās ji.
We see proof of ParamparŚrī of Śrī Rāmcharitmanas from the verses of Śrī Rāmcharitmanas itself.
Śrī Rāmcharitmanas comprises all the six Vadas or philosophies of Vedanta, namely Advaita, Vishishtadvaita, Shuddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita, Achintyabheda and Dvaita. However, the main theme is Vishishtadvaita, which was propounded by the great Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya. Sad-Guru of Goswāmī Tulsīdās Ji was Swāmi Naraharidās (Śrī Naraharyānand) who was the fourth generation in the disciplic succession from Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda.
In the origin of all Vaiṣṇava Parampara-s, there is Bhagavān himself. Goswami Tulsidas was the disciple of Shri Narharidas, thus Goswami Tulsidas comes at the fifth in spiritual descent from Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya who is regarded as the incarnation of Lord Śrī Rāma by the devotees of Rāmāvat Vaiṣṇava sect.
Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandāchārya belonged to the lineage of Śrī-Sampradāya started from Bhagvati Sita (Sri-Devi), from this very Sampradāya Jagadguru Ramanujacharya learnt the philosphy of Visistadvaita and propounded it in world. Jagadguru Ramanujacharya was a renowned famous teacher of Sri-Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya, who is regarded as Sesha-avtaar i.e. incarnation of Lakshmaṇa (Śrī Rāma's Anuja i.e. Ramanujacharya), and Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya has been regarded as the incarnation of Lord Rama himself.
Lord Śrī Rāmananda took more radical approach in accepting disciples from all castes, and even to Muslims, declaring, Let no one ask a man's caste or with whom one eats. If a man is devoted to Hari, he becomes Hari's own. (जाति-पाती पूछे नहीं कोई, हरि को भजे सो हरि को होई ।) . When there was Muslim rule in North India, Lord Ramananda converted around Million Muslims into Vaiṣṇava in Ayodhya-dhaam. Thus Lord Ramananda played an important role in opening up the spiritual pathway to all people, no matter what their social station in life.
Thus, name of Sri-Sampradāya is also called as Ramanandi-samprday (The Sampradāya of Śrī Rāmānandācārya) or Ramavat Sampradāya). Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya believed that everyone has right to worship Śrī Rām without any caste barrier where Sri-Vaiṣṇava samprdaya of Jagadguru Ramanujacharya was more focused on caste purity. Jagadguru Ramananda had disciples of all castes, including Muslims. Most famous disciples of Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya were Dhanna Bhagat, Kabirdas, Nabhadas, Pipa, Ravidas, Sain,etc.
To read more about Sri-Sampradāya: Click here
Sad-guru of Gosvāmī Tulsīdās Ji
It is not in custom to take the name of Guru Ji directly, therefore Gosvāmī Tulsīdās Ji has mentioned his guru's name indrectly in Śrī Rāmacharitmanas.
बंदउँ गुरु पद कंज कृपा सिंधु नररूप हरि।
महामोह तम पुंज जासु बचन रबि कर निकर॥5॥
॥ श्रीरामचरितमानस बालकाण्ड गुरु वंदना श्लोक ॥
baṃdaum̐ guru pada kaṃja kṛpā siṃdhu nararūpa hari।
mahāmōha tama puṃja jāsu bacana rabi kara nikara॥5॥
॥ śrīrāmacaritamānasa bālakāṇḍa guru vaṃdanā ॥
भावार्थ:- मैं उन्हीं श्रीगुरु महाराज के चरणकमलों की वंदना करता हूँ, जो कृपा के सागर तथा नर रूप में श्री हरि ही हैं और जिनके वचन महामोह रूपी घने अन्धकार का नाश करने के लिए सूर्य किरणों के समूह हैं॥
Purport: I bow to the lotus feet of my Guru, who is an ocean of mercy and is no other than Shri Hari (Bhagavān) Himself in human form, and whose words are sunbeams as it were for dispersing the mass of darkness in the form of gross ignorance.॥
― नररूप हरि ' - मैं अपने गुरु महाराज श्री नरहरि की वंदना करता हूँ या मैं अपने गुरुदेव जो कि नर रूप में हरि हीं हैं उनके चरणकमलों की वंदना करता हूँ । 'nararūpa hari' - Here Goswami Ji says I bow down in lotus feet of Shri
Gurudev (indirectly indicating the name of Guru) Narahari who is none other than Hari in human form (for disciples). In this Shloka, Goswami Ji has
indirectly taken the name of his Gurudeva. It is forbidden to take the name of Guru Maharaj, therefore Goswami Ji used the way of indirect utterance
so he put an extra word 'Rup' between Nara and Hari to reveal the name of His Gurudeva.
Gurudeva of Goswami Tulsidas: Narharidas (also called as Narharyanand) was Sri Gurudeva of Goswami Tulsidas Ji, It is indicated by Goswami Ji himself in Sri Ramcharitmanas as well as by other contemporary of Goswami Tulsidas, Sri Nābhādās, in his Acharya lineage of Jagaguru Sri Rāmānandāchārya. Sri Nabhadas says :
अनंतानंद पद परसि के लोकपालसे ते भये । गयेश करमचंद अल्ह पयहारी ॥
सारीरामदास श्रीरंग अवधि गुण महिमा भारी । तिनके नरहरि उदित ॥
[Bhakta-maal, Chhappay 37]
“By touching the divine feet of Sri Anantānand, his disciples Sri Gayēśa, Sri Karamachand, Sri Alhadās , Sri Krishnadas Payahārī, Sri Sārīrāmadās, Sri śrīrangāchārya became equal to Loka-paals in virtues and glory! Thereafter Sri Narharidās appeared as the disciple of Sri śrīrangāchārya.”
Sri Anantanand was one of 12 famous disciples of Jagadguru Sri Śrī Rāmānandācārya. Thus Sri Narharidas (Narharyanand Ji) was third Acharya in lineage of Jagadguru Sri Śrī Rāmānandācārya. Therefore Acharya-lineage of Goswami Tulsidas is as below:
Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya
Sri Anantanand Ji
Sri Srirangacharya Ji
Sri Narharidas Ji (Narharyanand Ji)
Vālmīkiy-avatar Goswami Tulsidas Ji
Mulgosaincharit written by Venimadhav Ji too confirms this same lineage and the name of Gurudeva of Goswami Tulsidas Ji.
Goswami ji composed his works in Avadhi and Braja Bhasha. Apart from Śrī Rāmacharitmanas, Goswami Ji wrote 5 more major works (Vinaya-Patrikā, Kavitāvalī, Gītāvalī, Dōhāvalī , Kṛṣṇa-gītāvalī). There are 6 minor works : 'Baravai Rāmāyaṇa, Pārvatī maṃgala, Jānakī maṃgala, Rāmālalā Nahachhū, Rāmājñā Praśna, Vairāgya Saṃdīpanī' written by Gosvāmī Tulsīdās Ji. Besides these 12 works, Hanumān Chalisa, Hanumānashtak, Hanumān Baahuk are very popular but small compositions by Goswami Tulsidas Ji. Tulasi Satsai is also regarded as work of Goswami Tulsidas by many Historians and scholars.
Works of Goswami Tulsidas ji can be grouped in two groups based upon works in Avadhi and Braja languages:
Awadhi works – Śrī Rāmcharitmanas, Ramagya Prashna, Janaki Mangal, Parvati Mangal, Barvai Ramayan, and Ramlala Nahachhu.
Braja works – Vinay-Patrika, Kavitavali, Gitavali, Dohavali, Vairagya Sandipani, and Krishna Gitavalia.
Message for everyone by Goswami Ji —
बिगरी जनम अनेक की सुधरै अबहीं आजु ।
होहि राम को नाम जपु तुलसी तजि कुसमाजु ॥
।दोहावली दोहा 22।
bigarī janama anēka kī sudharai abahīṃ āju ।
hōhi rāma kō nāma japu tulasī taji kusamāju ॥
(dōhāvalī dōhā 22)
O soul, don't lament even if you have spoiled innumerable births and done nothing good to your soul, but accumulated only the fruits of bad-karmas, still You can make your good today and now itself. How? Just be of Rama, start chanting his name, and Leave all the bad company and association.