‘ അമ്മേ, നല്ല മീൻ കിട്ടി, മസാലയുണ്ട്; ഒരു ഉള്ളിയും, ഒരു തക്കാളിയും. മീൻ കറി വയ്ക്കാൻ പറഞ്ഞു തരുമോ?’ ഗണിതമാണ് അവളുടെ വിഷയവും , ഉത്സാഹവും, ഉൾപ്രേരണയും. ആഹാര നിർമ്മിതി പഠിച്ചു തുടങ്ങിയതേയുള്ളൂ. കൂട്ടാൻ ഉണ്ടാക്കാൻ സുഹൃത്തും കൂടുന്നു. അറ്റകൈക്ക്, തണുത്തുറഞ്ഞ റോഡിൽ കൂടി അടുത്തുള്ള സ്റ്റോറിൽ പറഞ്ഞു വിട്ടു കുറച്ചു തേങ്ങാ പൌഡർ സംഘടിപ്പിക്കാം, കറിവേപ്പിലയും.
‘മക്കളെ, കൈപ്പുണ്യം എന്ന് വെച്ചാൽ, നല്ല സ്നേഹം മനസ്സിൽ നിറച്ചിട്ടു, ഭഗവാനെ ഞാൻ അന്നം ഉണ്ടാക്കാൻ പോകുന്നു, കൂടെ നിൽക്കണം കേട്ടോ, എന്ന് പ്രാർത്ഥിച്ചു കൊണ്ട്, വളരെ സാവധാനത്തിൽ, ലാളിത്യത്തോടെ ആഹാരം ഉണ്ടാക്കണം,’ ‘അമ്മ ഉപദേശിച്ചു.
‘ പരീക്ഷയ്ക്ക് മാത്രമല്ല, മീൻ കറി വെയ്ക്കുമ്പോഴും ഭഗവാനെ വിളിക്കാമോ?’ അവൾ ചിരിച്ചു.😊
‘ എന്തായാലും, മഞ്ഞളും, മല്ലിയും, മുളകും പുരട്ടി, തക്കാളിയും, നാരങ്ങാ നീരും ഉപയോഗിച്ച്, ഉള്ളി, എണ്ണ തുടങ്ങിയ സഹപ്രവർത്തകരെ കൂടെ ഉപയോഗിച്ച് ഒരു നല്ല ‘ടീം വർക്ക്’ ഞാൻ പറഞ്ഞു കൊടുത്തു. ‘ ‘കൈയിൽ ഉള്ള സാധനങ്ങൾ കൊണ്ട് പണ്ട് വലലനായ ഭീമൻ, അജ്ഞാത വാസക്കാലത്തു അവിയൽ വെച്ചത് പോലെ’, എന്നൊരു മേമ്പൊടിയും ചേർത്ത് കൊടുത്തു.
രാവിലെ എണീറ്റപ്പോൾ, ഒരു മെസ്സേജ് : ‘നല്ല ഒന്നാന്തരം മീൻ കറി ഉണ്ടാക്കി.’
കണക്കിനും, പാചകത്തിനുമുള്ള അടിസ്ഥാനം ലാളിത്യമാണ് എന്ന് ഞാൻ തിരിച്ചു മെസ്സേജ് അയച്ചു. **
‘തണുപ്പാണ്, സ്വെയ്റ്റർ ഇട് എന്റെ കുഞ്ഞേ !’ ‘എനിക്ക് ചൂടെടുക്കുന്നൂ !’ ‘ അയ്യോടി! നാട് മുഴുവൻ വിറച്ചു വിറങ്ങലിച്ചു ഇരിക്കുമ്പോഴോ?’ ‘ എനിക്ക് തണുക്കുന്നില്ല.’ അടുത്ത ദിവസം, യങ് റെബെല്ലിസ് ടീനേജർക്കു നല്ല പനി. രണ്ടു സ്വെയ്റ്റർ ഇട്ടിട്ടും ‘ തണുക്കുന്നു’ എന്ന് ചിണുങ്ങിയപ്പോൾ, ഞാൻ പറഞ്ഞു ‘തണുപ്പിന് അഹങ്കാരികളെ തീരെ ഇഷ്ടമില്ല. തുണിയുണ്ടായിട്ടു ഉടുക്കാതിരിക്കുന്നത്, ആഹാരം കഴിക്കാൻ ഉണ്ടായിട്ടു ഭക്ഷിക്കാതെ ഇരിക്കുന്നത്…ഇതൊക്കെ അഹന്തയുടെ ലക്ഷണങ്ങളാണ്. അവിടെ ‘ ഓൾഡ് ഫാഷൻഡ് ‘ ഒരു അമ്മയെ ഉളളൂ – പ്രകൃതി. അവർക്കാണെങ്കിൽ സന്തുലനം വളരെ ആവശ്യമായ കാര്യമാണ് താനും.
‘ എടി, ഞാൻ മീൻ കറി ഉണ്ടാക്കി. നിനക്കെന്താ പനി പിടിച്ചോ? കഷ്ടം, അമ്മ പറഞ്ഞിട്ടും സ്വെയ്റ്റർ ഇട്ടില്ല അല്ലെ?’ ചേച്ചി കളിയാക്കിയപ്പോൾ, അനിയത്തി പൂച്ചകുട്ടി മുരണ്ടു , ‘മീൻ കറി edible ആയിരുന്നോ?’ ‘ പണ്ടേ അവൾക്കു നല്ല ബഹുമാനമാണ്’, എന്ന് സിനിമ സ്റ്റൈലിൽ ചിരിച്ചു കൊണ്ട് ചേച്ചി അതിനെ കൌണ്ടർ ചെയ്തു.
അപ്പോൾ ഞാൻ ഭഗവാനെ വീണ്ടും വിളിച്ചു . പഠിക്കാനും, ഭക്ഷണം ഉണ്ടാക്കാനും നേരത്തു മാത്രമല്ല, വെറുതെ ഇരിക്കുമ്പോഴും അദ്ദേഹം വാതിൽ അടയ്ക്കാറില്ലല്ലോ. ‘ കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങൾക്ക് ആയുസ്സും ആരോഗ്യവും നൽകി കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന , ആവശ്യത്തിന് ഭക്ഷണവും ഉടുപ്പും നൽകുന്ന , സ്നേഹം വാരിക്കോരി വിളമ്പുന്ന , ജീവിതത്തിൽ എല്ലാം എല്ലാം തന്നു കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന, സ്നേഹസ്വരൂപ, ഇതൊക്കെ ധാരാളം. ഇത് തന്നെ അമൃത്. നിറഞ്ഞു വിളയാടിയാലും ഞങ്ങളുടെ ഉള്ളുകളിൽ.’
യാതൊന്നു കാൺമതതു നാരായണ പ്രതിമ യാതൊന്നു കേൾപ്പതതു നാരായണ സ്തുതികൾ യാതൊന്നു ചെയ്തവതതു നാരായണാർച്ചനകൾ യാതൊന്നതൊക്കെ ഹരി നാരായണായ നമഃ
The publisher is putting the finishing touches to the third translation/transliteration from Shri Ram Charit Manas : Aranya Kanda. I was fortunate to complete Aranya Kanda and Lanka Kanda in 2021. The kind hearted editor informs me that the artist has now started working on Lanka Kanda/Yuddha Kanda. I simply express my heartfelt gratitude for their commitment and sincerity. The Lord works through us: when we submit the results at His beautiful lotus feet.
I recollect the struggle of the days when I was completing these two translations. Perhaps, the words, page by page of grueling work, saved me from slipping into the morass of depression.
Today, when we discuss the publication, I wish to bow my head in reverence again to that ineffable loving energy which guides, protects and embraces all seekers. By whatever name we hail the Lord, in whichever manner we choose to pray…He is my light and signpost…the spark in my soul. May He allow this insignificant speck of dust to cling more to Him.
Those who tell stories, and those who write them are the ones cursed by life. It was Ramaniyamma who planted the root of that great truth in my mind. The ghostly spirit, part of Lord Shiva’s entourage, called Pushpadantan (Kadha sarit sagara), doomed to be born as a human because he dared to narrate stories; ‘Vetal’ (Betaal) who hung upside down to watch stories unfolding, and Dostoevsky who hurled his own life into the burning wild fire of experiences for discovering the great secret of being a human being; all of them came into my life lessons later. Much before that, Ramaniyamma had taught me that gibbous truth and reduced herself into the silence of memory.
She makes her appearance in my recollections as a plaintive cry. From her little hovel- constructed from mud and earth, with floors plastered with cow dung-Ramaniyamma’s primitive wails would intrude into my sleep. It was not exactly a mourning, rather a humungous humming, burning with sighs. I was a small child then. The cats which slept with their heads resting against the courtyard ridge would not heed my presence. I was familiar with the long hoots of Narayanettan as he ploughed the fields with the bullocks.
The folk songs which reverberated while the rice saplings were planted, used to silence the prevailing cries around.
When darkness descended, and silence spread its net wide, Ramaniyamma would start weeping desperately. The dreadful insects of fear would start crawling on my body then. I would suffocate, unable to choke out a cry.
As I started walking, and started speaking words, Ramaniyamma’s crying abated but did not end. The intensity of her melancholy increased during the rainy season. The monsoons are the season of depression in villages. As the Kannachi river and the farms became inundated with water, the landslide and water burst of memories overwhelmed the houses too. In my mind I can see the wavering image of Ramaniyamma: seated near the hurricane lamp, staring at the rain, her legs stretched, her chin cupped by a thoughtful hand. Unable to endure the inauspicious past, she would rage, ‘ Oww…damned rain of death, why doesn’t it stop?’
In my first memory, Ramayaniyamma was around sixty five, dressed in a lungi and blouse. A smattering of hair on her upper lip, curly, iron grey hair, round face, and red paan stained lips gave her the sheen of beauty. Neither the flow of time, disaster or extreme drudgery could exhaust her.
I came to know the answer to her wild cries much later. After boozing herself with local arrack at Umbichiyetty’s house, when she returned, Ramaniyamma rolled around in agony telling about Radha’s- her only daughter’s, untimely demise. She had been married off to Muzhakoth. She died within a month of her marriage. The husband’s household insisted that it was a suicide. There was also talk of murder. Those were old times, and lots of money exchanged hands…the investigation ended prematurely. Her daughter’s death became a flood for the mother. She started wailing on top of her voice during those days, trying to control the earthquake within her mind.
She raced towards death many a time. Ramaniyamma attired herself in black. She wandered about in pitch darkness. She promised many offerings to the deities. But nothing filled up the emptiness inside her, even after decades. Like an overcouded sky, the woman held onto the blackness of utter despair.
Ramaniyamma was my grandmother’s sister. Their house was next to ours. When I say ‘their’, I mean Umbichi the black cow and Ramaniyamma. She would speak to the animal very loudly. Passersby would stop awhile, wondering whether the woman was addressing them. When she bathed the cow, plucked pests from its skin, gave it water, when she milked the creature, tied it up in the shed and fed it with fresh grass, Ramaniyamma would chatter at the top of her voice. Umbichi would sharpen her ears, lower her eyes and listen intently.
Umbichi was the clock controlling Ramaniyamma’s days. The animal which shook its horns at everybody else and was bold to a fault became meek and submissive before Ramaniyamma’s affection. Even before light ensconced our village, Ramaniyamma would have tied her freshly bathed cow in either the harvested field, on the Meethele hillside, or in Sukumaran sir’s coconut planation.
Before feeding Umbichi the cow, Ramaniyamma would pay a visit to Umbichiyetti, the village woman. After filling her tummy with a glass or two of arrack, she would return to shovel grass to her cow and then visit our house. Then she would stay till sleep arrived.
My grandmother (Valiyamma) and Ramaniyamma would enter into a secret discourse. Escaping my mother’s sharp eyes, Valiyamma would slip away to Ramaniyamma’s home. In a bottle of Ayurvedic medicine-Dasamularishtam- Ramaniyamma would have smuggled some arrack for her older sister. My amma would see red if she caught them. That is why my blind grandmother would pretend to fetch wood for the cooking and stumble her way to her younger sister’s place. There, on the ridge of the earthern cooking stones, the ‘ayurvedic’ remedy would be hidden.
When Ramaniyamma went home at night, my older brother would accompany her. He was her lone companion after she lost her daughter. I too wished heartily that I could go with them. There were two main reasons for that: Ramaniyamma’s curries and her stories!
Ramaniyamma was a gifted cook…her dishes were delicious to a fault. She could cook up a feast with very few items. Even now I can recollect the’chammanthi’ she made with the last bits of coconut which stubbornly stuck to the shell. She made the yummy ‘Enaru’ curry: complete with sardine heads, enaru, white rice and turmeric…if I recollect that my stomach flares with greed! You can float a ship in my mouth, to use the local saying. She would toast the roasted cashews into a curry and I can remember it like yesterday’s rain.
The good fortune extended further…Ramaniyamma would tell stories. Stories which were never heard before, never read before even in an Amar chitra kadha. This illiterate woman had a stock of such stories with her. She would tell these tales with the ease of singing a song. The good fortunes which graced my brother made me pensive.
And sometimes, the nights filled with stories, came searching for me too. When our father was admitted in Mangalapuram or Kanjagadu hospital for his frequent illness, my brother would stay the nights with him. I would be Ramaniyamma’s companion during such occasions. Shining the ‘Eveready’ battery torch, she would show the way. When she finished her dinner, and returned after smoking a bidi, I would be lying down on the mattress handwoven by Karichiyamma. I would snuggle close to the wall, next to the windows.
‘Have you slept, da?’
She would call me in her mournful voice.
I would raise my head.
‘Please tell me a story…can’t seem to sleep.’
I would crunch my nails against the palm frond mattress.
‘Which story? Have told them all.’
A silence would descend on Ramaniyamma.
‘Anything will do…cannot sleep.’
Spitting her paan juice into a coconut shell, the woman would again become silent. I knew…she was digging up a story from her great treasure trove.
She would clear her throat harshly and start…I would turn towards her and listen with alacrity. The cockroaches would stop protesting. Fireflies would flit around the room like the characters of the stories. Bats would swoop inside the room through the window and then go searching for some unknown fruits. Umbichi the cow would stop chewing the cud, stop her constantly flailing tail and lay down her head quietly. The cries of the night emerging from the farms would cease. The breeze would drop in to listen to the tales….’Once upon a time, an old man and woman- Thondan and Thondi- felt hungry during the rains….’
Just an excerpt from an exceptionally gifted writer’s memoirs (Translated from Malayalam)
The phantasmagoric imagery was striking and intriguing. Could not help translating for other language speakers.)
By the time I had finished playing kabbadi and started back home, darkness had fallen. The birds which had returned to roost, announced to the world, that they were about to sleep. As I descended the hill, Karichiyamma, who was gathering fallen cashews beneath the Parangimanga tree *, caught sight of me.
‘Come home with me…made chakkakkoottan ( jackfruit curry) today.’
My stomach growled in response. Well, Karichiyamma had invited me…it was chakkakoottan too…might as well indulge!
As I slouched behind her, she asked me something or the other. I responded. I asked her something or the other. She responded too.
Inside the kitchen, a young girl was gobbling down the jack fruit curry ; seated near the smouldering embers. Who was she? I had never seen her before in the house. The girl smiled at me. Before I could smile back, Karichiyamma served me the chakkakkoottan. Gnawing hunger, the deepening darkness; ignoring everybody, I started wolfing down the food.
As I got ready to leave, after washing my hands, Karichiyamma extended some jackfruit curry, wrapped tight in leaves, towards me….’Give it to Thangam’. (My mother’s name is Thangam).
I received it.
‘Could you recognise the girl?’
I shook my head to negate the query. Typically, I feel very embarassed while speaking to girls of my age.
‘ She is your grandmother’s sister.’
Karichiyamma nodded in affirmation.
Grandmother’s sister would be aged, wouldn’t she? But this girl seems younger than me! Karichiyamma must have lost her marbles…
Maybe she is making fun of me.
The girl stepped out.
‘I had visited your home that day …on the feast of the dead.’
She grinned at me.
‘Weren’t you the one to apportion food to the ancestors?’
‘But I didn’t see you anywhere’, I said.
She smiled instead of replying.
Karichiyamma bent down to whisper to my ears.
‘She died at your age.. a cobra bit her when she was carrying the rice stalks .’
A lightning struck me down.
She…no, what do I call her, was still smiling at me.
I remembered my mother commenting that Karichiyamma went loony in Karkitakam: the month of the crab. Karichiyamma said that the dead visited her then. I had overheard her narrating to my mother about how she chatted with them and fed them.
So that meant, she was not loony…was it for real?
‘If you invite me, I will accompany you home. We can play together’, the girl said.
I could not bring myself to look at her.
My mind advised sagely, ‘Listen, it is your grandmother’s sister, she has come from the land of the dead, and you can see her because of love…invite her home.’ But terror drowned all voices.
‘I am leaving‘.
I thought I would scream in fright. Remembering my mother telling that men don’t cry, I controlled myself and started walking away fast, without a backward glance.
Both of them said nothing.
The leaves rustled in the wind.
I thought the dead were following me; and that the heavy panting was not of the rain.
I shut my eyes tight and took flight….
Late at night, covered from head to toe with a sheet, as I lay, I remembered the girl.
I did not feel afraid then.
I should have brought her along.
Grandmother would have been so happy.
I could have played match-boxes with her…
I felt miserable.
The rain, which was hiding, started pouring again.
( Literally: Mango tree brought by Parangis or the Portuguese. The Cashewnut tree)
A chapter from a simple book of memoirs, of growing up, by P.V. Shaji Kumar.
Book Title: Itha Innu muthal Itha Innale vare ( Here, from today ; Here, until yesterday)
Side Note: Tongue-in-cheek nostalgic take on an iconic movie title
The Wind Blows As Yet
The wind which comes harrumphing like an intoxicated elephant raises its trunk when I recollect my MCA days in LBS College of Engineering.
The wind was everywhere: in the classrooms, canteen, boulders, side paths…It never abated in its fury. Like a lover driven mad due to a tragic affair, it wandered incessantly, unable to sit still.
When I arrived at the campus, I was like a leaf caught in the wind. My mind struggled free from my grasp and went flying. I had never been a regular student even during my pre-degree days. The proclivity to skip classes increased during my degree days. And when MCA started, the tendency went overboard. On the rare occasions when I did sit inside the class room, the wind would rip in, seize the windows and bang them against the walls. Almost as if the wind took offence at my presence inside the classroom.
Within a few days of joining the class, I came to realize that computer science was not the path meant for me. My mind resolved many a time to drop out and study some other subject. But it was all in vain. The wind took away three years. I would start from my home in the morning; spent some time inside the campus, before catching a bus to Kasargode.
I was lost amongst the mountains of self-contempt. ‘Why am I so worthless?’ I would constantly recriminate myself. While my classmates studied whatever they could, I would remain alone inside the circle of zero.
That was how Jayashankar and Rauf came to befriend me. Jayashankar, who hailed from Palakkad and studied in Coimbatore, and Rauf, who was educated at Sulli, knew the fundamentals of computers. Jayashankar was least interested in continuing his studies. He would repeatedly tell us that he would not be completing the MCA course and would take up a job in some IT company. Rauf was eager to agree; but the anxiety about procuring a job made him attend classes. I became a companion to Jayashankar who avoided going to the classroom. The tender-hearted Rauf could not resist the pleasures of our vagabond style and soon joined our tribe. Both of us affirmed that we would be taking up jobs without completing the masters course too. I had no clue about bagging an assignment since the A, B, C, D of computers remained unknown to me.
Jayashankar got a job when the first semester came to an end. I can recollect, as if yesterday, the horror with which Rauf and I stared at the examination schedule. I cannot remember what I scribbled on the answer sheets.
It was with my friends that I watched the first adult film of my life. Inside Kanyaka Talkies ( Virgin Talkies). Terrified of being espied by the locals, pretending not to be natives, we sat hidden at the very back of the theatre. It was an English movie. After watching it, when Jayashankar asked, ‘How was it?’ I replied, ‘The music was good.’ Really, it was a harmonious melody!
After many years, when I wrote the story 18+, the Kanyaka Talkies, the audience and the movies played inside my mind. The story evolved from the thought that the church and theatre were similar in looks. Afterall, men lay down their sins in both the places. The name of the theatre in my story was ‘Kanyaka Talkies.’ The theme was how a theatre, which played adult movies, transforms into a church and the hallucinations of the newly arrived priest.
The story was made into a movie called ‘Kanyaka Talkies’ later.
If I had not studied in LBS College, the story would not have been written; neither would the movie be made.
My LBS days were chaotic, to say the least. As I meandered within the rebellious chaos, the cowardly me, proclaimed himself to be brave and strong. That increased the inherent anxiety and insecurity. During the examination on ‘Pentium’ during the third semester, I sat there unable to write a word. Everything vanished from my mind. Dread swelled within like a sea at high tide. I stared through the window at the sun scalding the rocks. When depression encircled me in its entirety, without further thought, hardly five minutes after the examination began, I left the hall and walked out. I would have collapsed at a mere touch.
My shirt, which had space for two more humans, became wings in the wind. As I boarded the bus to the railway station, I could hear the hungry, greedy beckoning of death.
My mind kept whispering, ‘Death while being run over by a train is so quick…’
‘This damned world will end with death!’ Some voices rained furiously from inside.
As I stepped down determined that there was no answer but death, a rain came holding the fingers of the wind, stamping down the sun. As the other passengers took shelter in nearby places, I stood in the rain, getting drenched. It was raining within and without.
The rain danced in the wind.
‘Death is easy, it is tougher to live.’
The rain within spoke up.
‘Live…miracles are waiting for you somewhere…do not let go of your mind…let whatever happen, happen.’
I found myself jumping inside the bus to Kanjagadu.
There was no death inside me then.
Somehow, I passed the MCA course.
I am still playing football with life.
The wind blows as yet.
Like a leaf torn away from the branch, I am still flowing in the wind.
Sab bidhi puri manohar jani/ Sakal siddhiprada mangal khani//
Bimal kadha kar keenh arambha/ Sunat nasahi kaam mada dhambha//
Knowing that Ayodhya is beautiful in all ways, grants all siddhis and is the seating place of all prosperity, I started writing this pure story. If anybody listens to it, all desires, ego and pride (kama, mada, dhambha) shall be cleansed from within.
Mann kari bishay anal ban jarayi/ Hoyi sukhi jaum ehim sar parayi//
The name of this work is ‘Ramcharitmanas’. On hearing it with one’s ears, it leads to peace. The elephant called mind, which is burning in desire’s fires, shall find itself cool and blissful when it steps inside the lake called ‘ Shri Ramcharitmanas’.
Tribidh dosh dukh darid davan/ Kali kuchali kuli kalush nasavan//
The Ramcharitmanas is beloved to sages. This beautiful and pure story was told by Lord Shiva. It destroys three types of doshas, sufferings and penury; and all the hypocrisies of Kaliyuga and all forms of sins.
Rachi mahes nij manas rakha/ Payi susamavu siva san bhasha//
Tatem Ramcharitmanas bar/ Dharevu naam hiyam heri harashi har//
Lord Shiva conceived the story and it stayed within his mind until he narrated it to his wife Parvati. Since the Lord’s story was gracing his heart (manas), Lord Shiv was pleased and named it ‘Ramcharitmanas’.
Kahavu kadha soyi sukhad suhayi/ Sadar sunahu sujan mann layi//
I am going to narrate the same beautiful, blissful story of Lord Ram. Devout souls, listen to it with sincerity.
Jas manas jehi bidhi bhayavu jag prachar jehi hetu/
Ab soyi kahavu prasang sab sumiri uma brishketu//
Now, remembering the divine Uma and Mahesh, let me describe how the Ramcharitmanas was created and which reason it spread across the world.
Sambhu prasad sumati hiyam hulasi/ Ramcharitmanas kabi tulsi//
Karayi manohar mati anuhari/ Sujan suchit suni lehu sudhari//
Due to Lord Shiva’s grace, intelligence dawned, and Tulsidas became the poet of Shri Ramcharitmanas. He has created it as beautiful as his intelligence could endeavour. Yet, devout souls, by listening to it with pure hearts, kindly modify any mistakes.
Barashahim Ram sujas bar bari/ Madhur manohar mangalkari//
Clear, pure intelligence is like earth; the heart is a place within; Vedas and Puranas are the oceans, and the sages and saints are the rain filled clouds. These clouds shower us with the rain waters of Lord Ram’s glorious, beautiful, sweet, wondrous and ever bountiful grace.
Leela sagun jo kahahim bakhani/ Soyi swachhata karayi mal hani//
Prem bhagati jo barni najayi/ Soyi madhurata susselatayi//
The elaboration of all the wonderful lila of the Lord forms the pure waters of Sri Ramji’s glory; which annihilates all evil. The ineffable loving devotion to the Lord causes the sweetness and coolness of the above said divine waters.
So jal sukrit saali hith hoyi/ Ram bhagat jan Jeevan soyi//
The waters of Sri Ramji’s glorious story are very beneficial for the rice crop of good deeds; and is the very life of Ram devotees. The pristine waters of Sri Ramji’s story fell on the earth of intelligence, flowed through the ears, and entering the ‘Manas’ or heart, stayed still therein. Residing there forever, it became beneficial, cool, sweet and beautiful.
Sudi sundar sambad bar birache buddhi bichari/
Teyi ehi pavan subhag sar ghat manohar chari//
The four enchanting and glorious conversations interwoven within this story ( Kaka Bhushundi-Garudji, Shiva-Parvatiji, Yagyavalkya-Bharadwaji, Tulsidas-Sages) form the four ghats of the immaculate and lovely lake.
Sapt prabandh subhag sopana/ Gyan nayan nirakhat mann mana//
Raghupati mahima aguna abadha/ Barnab soyi bar bari agadha//
The seven sopans (cantos) are the seven steps of this gorgeous lake of Ramcharitmanas. Gazing at which, through eyes of wisdom, the mind becomes pleased. The description of SriRamji’s nirguna (transcending all qualities) and unique greatness ushers in the depths of the graceful waters.
Ram Siya jas salil sudhasam/ Upma beechi bilas manoram//
The glories of Sri Ramji and Janaki are like amrit. The metaphors in the poetry are like the play of waves. The beautiful chaupayis are like lotus blossoms in the lake; and the poetic references are the sea shells holding pretty pearls.
Chhand sorada sundar doha/ Soyi bahurang kamal kul soha//
The beautiful play of words (Chhand, Sorada, Doha) is like an ensemble of vibrantly coloured lotus flowers. The incomparable meaning, spiritual elevation and exquisite language are the pollen, honey and fragrance of these flowers.
Sukrit punj manjul ali mala/ Gyan birag bichar marala//
Dhuni avareb kabit guna jati/ Meen Manohar te bahu bhanti//
The gathering of punya is like a flock of blue bees. Wisdom, detachment and contemplation are the swans. The intonation, word play, quality and character of the poetry are like beautiful fishes swimming about the waters.
Nav ras jap tap jog biraga/ Te sab jalchar charu tadaga//
Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha: these four purusharthas, the wisdom and practical knowledge ingrained within, the nine rasas of poetry, recitation of the Lord’s name (jap), tap or meditation, yoga, and affirmations of detachment- these are all the enchanting creatures which thrive in this water body.
Sukriti sadhu naam guna gaana/ Te bichitra jalbihag samana//
Santsabha chahu disi avarayi/ Shradhha ritu basant sam gayi//
The pure souls, sages and songs eulogizing Sri Ramji are the scintillating water birds around. The groups of sages are like the mango orchards surrounding the lake and the prayerful dedication shines like the spring season.
Jaan aadikabi naam pratapu/ Bhayavu suddh kari ulta japu//
Sahas naam sam suni siv bani/ Japi jeyim piya sangh bhavani//
Valmiki, the poet, knew about the powers of the Lord’s name. That’s why he recited ‘Ma Ra’, ‘Ma Ra’ and attained purity. When Lord Shiv said that one recitation of ‘Ram’ is equivalent to thousand recitations of any other god’s name, His consort, Devi Parvati started reciting ‘Ram, Ram’ along with Him.
Harshe hetu heri har hi ko/ Kiya Bhushan tiya Bhushan thee ko//
Naam prabhavu jaan Siv neeko/ Kaalkoot bhalu deenh ami ko//
Lord Shiv was thrilled by the devotion shown by Parvatiji and made her His ‘Ardhangini’. Though He drank the deadly Kaalkoot poison, it had the effect of amrit on Lord Shiv, because He knew the power of the reciting ‘Ram’.
Barsha ritu Raghupathy bhagati tulsi sali sudas/
Ram naam bar baran jug savan bhadav mas//
The devotion to Sri Ramji is the rainy season; and Tulsidas says that true devotees are like rice crop. The two beautiful syllables of ‘Ram’ are like the months of Sawan and Bhadav.
Note: Shravan and Bhadrapad months- the two months of Hindu calender stretches across late July/Aug/Sep
Aakhar madhur manohar dovu/ Baran bilochan jan jiya jovu//
Sumirat sulabh sukhad sab kahu/ Lok lahu parlok nibahu//
Both the letters/syllables of ‘Ram’ are so beautiful and sweet. They are the eyes of the varnamala; (the garland of letters); and the very life-spirit of devotees. Just remembering those causes such happiness; and they usher in prosperity in this mortal world and helps you to reach the Vishnu-dham (Abode of Vishnu).
Kahat sunat sumirat sudi neeke/Ram Lakhan sam priya tusli ke//
Barnat baran preeti bilgaati/ Brahma jeev sam sahaj samghati//
The name ‘Ram’ is extremely melodious and pleasant to recite or recollect. For Tulsidas, the name ‘Ram’ is as beloved as Sri Ramji and Lakshmanji themselves. As a ‘Bijamantra’ the enunciation, meaning and results seem different but in truth, the syllables of ‘Ram’ are like ‘jeev’ and ‘brahma’: one essence and one form.
Nar Narayan saris subhrata/ Jag palak biseshi jan trata//
Bhagati sutiya kal karan bibhushan/ Jag hit hetu bimal bidhu pushan//
The two syllables comprising ‘Ram’ are handsome brothers like Nar and Narayan. They reign over the world and specially protect the devotees. They are the lovely earrings adorning the ears of the woman called devotion (who symbolises devotion to the Lord). They are the pristine sun and moon working for the benefit of the universe.
Swad tosh sam sugati sudha ke/ Kamad sesh sam dhar basudha ke//
Jan mann manju kanj madhukar se/ Jeeh jasomati hali haldhar se//
‘Ram’ is akin to amrit which grants sweet salvation. ‘Ram’ is like the Sesh Nag and the Tortoise which support the universe. ‘Ram’ is like the blue beetles which buzz around the beautiful lotuses of the devotees’’ minds; and for the tongue called Yashodaji, ‘Ram’ is like Krishna and Balrama who delight her forever.
Eku chatru eku mukutamani sab barnani par jovu/
Tulsi Raghubar naam ke baran birajat dovu//
Tulsidasji says- The two syllables of ‘Ram’ shine resplendent. One is like the grand umbrella and the other, the crown reigning over the rest of the alphabets.
Samuchat saris naam aru nami/ Preeti paraspar prabhu anugami//
Naam roop duyi ees upadhi/ Akadh anadi susamuchi saadhi//
It appears as if the name and the form are both same; but there is a master-servant relationship between both. (Lord Ram appears when His name is taken with devotion. The Lord follows his name.) Both the name and the form are ways of accessing the Lord. They are ineffable, without origin, and can be attained only by a mind which is full of true devotion and love.
Ko bad chot kahat aparadhu/ Suni guna bhedu samuchihahim sadhu//
Dekhiahim roop naam aadheena/ Roop gyan nahim naam biheena//
To say which is superior-the name or the form- is sinful. Hearing about their merits, the enlightened devotee can perceive by himself. The ‘roop’ or ‘form’ is always a step behind the ‘name’. Without name, the form can never be!
Roop bisesh naam binu jaane/ Kartal gat na parahim pahichane//
Sumiriya naam roop binu dekhem/ Aavat hridayam saneh biseshem//
Any ‘roop’ even if placed on the palm of one’s hand is unrecognizable without its ‘naam’ or name. Even without a ‘form’, when a ‘name’ is uttered, with special love the ‘form’ rushes inside one’s heart.
Naam roop gati akadh kahani/ Samuchat sukhad na parati bakhani//
Aguna saguna bich naam susakhi/ Ubhay prabhodhak chatur dubhashi//
The saga of the name-form/naam-roop is indescribable. It is wonderful to understand, but impossible to narrate. The ‘name’ is a beautiful witness between the play of ‘Saguna’ and ‘Nirguna’ (form with attributes and form without attributes). Only an expert in both can discern the truth behind each.
Ram naam manideep dharu jeeh deharim dwar/
Tulsi bheetar baherahu jaum chahasi ujiaar//
Tulsidasji says: ‘If you wish for light within and without; in the door of your mouth, at the stepping stone of your tongue, place the sparkling gem-studded lamp called ‘Ram Naam’ or ‘The name of Ram’.
Bhaniti mori siv kripam bibhati/ Sasi samaj mili manahu surati//
Je ehi kadhahi saneh sameta/ Kahihahim sunihahim samuchi sacheta//
Hoyihahim ram charit anuragi/ Kali mal rahit sumangal bhagi//
My poem, due to the grace of Lord Shiv shall be so radiant like a glorious night where there is moonlight and starlight. Those who listen to, or recite this poetry, with love and sincerity, understanding and care, shall be devoted to Lord Ram’s lotus feet; be prosperous, and all their sins accrued in Kaliyuga shall be extinguished.
Sapnehu sachehu mohi par jaum har gauri pasavu/
Tau phur hovu jo kahevu bhasha bhaniti prabhavu//
If even in dreams, Lord Shiv and Devi Parvati are actually pleased with me, whatever I have claimed to be the powers and effects of this vernacular poetry shall come to be true.
Bandavu avadh puri ati pavani/ Saraju sari kali kalush nasavani//
Pranavu pur nar naribahori/ Mamata jinh par prabhuhi na dhori//
I bow before the city of Awadh (Ayodhya) and the blessed river Sarayu which removes all mortal sins of Kaliyug. Next, I bow before the women and men who reside in Ayodhya with whom Lord Ram is greatly pleased.
Siya nindak agh ogh nasaye/ Lok bisok banayi basaye//
Bandavu Kausalya disi prachi/ Keerati jasu sakal jag machi//
The Lord has ensured the vanquishing of all sins of those gossipers who spoke ill of Devi Sita and sent them to His abode. I now bow before eastern direction symbolized by Devi Kausalyaji, whose fame is spread all over the world.
Pragatevu jah raghupathy sasi charu/ Biswa sukhad khal kamal tusaru//
Dasradh ravu sahit sab rani/ Sukrit sumangal moorati mani//
Karavu pranam karam manbani/ Karahu kripa sut sevak jani//
Jinhahi birachi bad bhayavu bidhata/ Mahima avadhi Ram pitu mata//
Sri Ramji the beautiful moon, born from (the eastern direction symbolised by) Devi Kausalyaji, grants happiness to the universe and is like killing frost on the wicked (symbolised by lotuses). Accompanied by his queens, I bow before Raja Dasradh; accepting him as the epitome of prosperity and purity. I pay respects with my words, deeds and mind. Knowing that I am their son’s servant, let them be compassionate towards me. Brahma must have delighted while giving life to Dasradhji and his queens, who by the virtue of being the mothers and father of Lord Ram have unlimited greatness.
I prostrate myself before Raja Dasradh who had true love towards Sri Ramji. He relinquished his physical body (which is dear to a human) like a speck of dust when the Lord parted ways from him.
Pranavavu parijan sahit bidehu/ Jahi Ram pad goodh sanehu//
Jog bhog mah rakhevu goyi/ Ram bilokat pragatevu soyi//
With all my family, I bow before King Janaka, who had deep devotion to the Lord. It was hidden in yoga and bhoga (in his kingly duties and life); but it burst into view when he saw the beautiful Lord.
Pranavavu pradham bharat ke charna/ Jasu nem brat jayi nab arna//
Ram charan pankaj man jasu/ Lubud madhup eev tajayi na pasu//
Of the Lord’s brothers, I first bow to prince Bharat whose dedication and discipline (when it comes to devotion to his brother Lord Ram) knows no limits. His mind is forever buzzing around like blue beetles around the lotus feet of Sri Ramji and never leaves them for a moment.
Bandavu lacchiman pad jaljata/ Sital subhag bhagat sukhdata//
Raghupati keerati bimal pataka/ Dand saman bhayavu jas jaka//
I bow before the beautiful lotus feet of prince Laxman, who bestows happiness, beauty and coolness to the hearts of devotees. Prince Laxman is the flagpole on which the pure, pristine flag of Lord Ram’s greatness is hoisted high.
Sesh sahasraseesh jag karan/ Jo avatarevu bhumi bhay taran//
Sada so sanukul rah mo par/ Kripasindhu saumitry gunakar//
The thousand headed Sesh Nagji who carries the universe on his heads, has taken avatar as prince Laxman to remove the woes of the earth. May the son of Mata Sumitra, the treasure house of good qualities, compassionate Laxman, be pleased with me always.
Ripusudan pad kamal namami/ Sur suseel bharat anugami//
Mahabeer binavavu hanumana/ Ram jasu jas aap bakhana//
I bow before prince Shatrughan’s feet; he is handsome, valorous and always follows the footsteps of his brother Bharat. I fold my hands before Hanumanji, whose glories were narrated by the divine Lord Ram himself!
Pranavavu pavankumar khal ban pavak gyan khan/
Jasu hriday aagar basahim Ram sar chap dhar//
I bow to Hanumanji, the son of Wind God, who is like a blazing fire burning down the forest of sinners; and the treasure-house of wisdom and knowledge. In the residence of his heart, forever reigns Lord Ram, radiant with bow and quiver of arrows.
Sudhabrishti bhai duhu dal upar/ Jiye bhalu kapi nahim rajnichar//
Indra gave new life to the bears and monkeys by showering amrit on them. They all woke up joyously and approached the Lord. The amrit was showered on both armies but the asuras did not come back to life.
Ramakar bhaye tinh ke mann/ Mukt bhaye choote bhav bandhan//
Sur ansik sab kapi aru reecha/ Jiye sakal raghupathy keem eercha//
The rakshasas, at the time of death, by thinking of Ramji ( or by taking his name in fear during their last breath) had been absorbed into his divinity. Having been freed from the bhav-sagar, they did not come back to mortal life. The monkey army, a part of the Lord’s divine lila, returned to life due to Sri Ramji’s wish.
Ram saris ko deen hitkari/ Keenhe mukuth nisachar chaari//
Khal mal dham kamarat ravan/ Gati payi jo minibar paav na//
Who is there as benevolent as Sri Ramji? He gave moksha to the army of asuras! Even Ravan – wicked, sinful and full of desire- was granted Hari’s abode; a fate which is rare even for the most evolved sages.
Suman barshi sab sur chale chadhi chadhi ruchir biman/
Dekhi su avasar prabhu pahim aayavu sambhu sujan//
After showering flowers on the Lord, the devas boarded beautiful vimanas and left for Devalok. At that auspicious time, Lord Shiv arrived to meet Sri Ramachandra.
Param preeti kar jori jug nalin nayan bhari baari/
Pulakit tann gadgad giram binay karat tripurari//
With folded hands, heart full of love, his lotus eyes filled with tears, enthralled body, voice stricken with deep emotion, Tripurari Shivji (One who vanquished the three cities ‘Tripuram’ and killed the leader asura named Tripura) started praying to the Lord:
Mamabhiraksha raghukul nayak/ Dhrit bar chaap ruchir kar sayak//
Moh maha khan patal prabhanjan/ Samsay bipin anal sur ranjan//
‘Hey Scion of Raghu vansha, the One who holds the bow and arrows in his beautiful hands, please grace me with your protection! You are the powerful storm which carries away the dense clouds of desires; the blazing fire which burns away all doubts and anxieties; thou giver of joy to the devas!’
Aguna saguna guna mandir sundar/ Bhram tam prabal pratap diwakar//
Kama krodha mada gaj panchanan/ Basahu nirantar jan mann kanan//
‘You are the epitome of nirguna (beyond qualities), saguna (full of good qualities), guna mandir, (temple of divine qualities) and extremely beautiful. You are the powerful sun which destroys the darkness of ignorance and confusion. You my dear Lord, who is like the mighty lion which kills the elephants called kama, krodha and mada (desire, anger, arrogance) kindly reside in this servant’s mind-forest.’
Bishay manoradh punj kanj bana/ Prabal tushar udar paar mana//
‘You are the frost which destroys the enticing lotus forest of sensory desires. You are the Mandar mountain which is used to churn the bhav sagar (the ocean of worldly sufferings). Kindly help me overcome my great fear and help me cross the formidable samsara sagar (ocean of births and deaths).’
Syam gaat rajeev bilochan/ Deen bandhu pranatarit mochan//
Anuj Janaki sahit nirantar/ Basahu Ram nrip mam ur antar//
‘Hey beautiful, blue-hued One! Thou lotus-eyed One! The Lord who protects the needy and removes all their sorrows! Hey King Sri Ramchandra, kindly reside in my heart with your consort Sita and your brother Lakshman. You delight the hearts of sages. You are the ornament of the earth, Lord of Tulsidas, and the destroyer of all fears.’
Nadh jabahim kosalapurim hoyihi tilak tumhar/
Kripasindhu mai aavub dekhan charit udar//
‘Dear Lord, when your raj-tilak (coronation) happens in Ayodhya, I shall come to see your divine, benevolent lila!’
Kari binati jab sambhu sidhaye/ Tab prabhu nikat bibheeshanu aaye//