1-1 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa

(The Mānasa lake containing the exploits of Śrī Rāma)

Descent One

I reverence Vāṇī (the goddess of speech) and Vināyaka (Lord Gaṇeśa), the originators of sounds represented by the alphabet, of the multitudes of objects denoted by those sounds, of poetic sentiments as well as of metres, and the begetters of all auspiciousness.(1)

I greet Goddess Pārvatī and Her consort, Bhagavān Śaṅkara, embodiments of reverence and faith respectively, without which even the adept cannot perceive God enshrined in their very heart. (2)

I make obeisance to the eternal preceptor in the form of Lord Śaṅkara, who is all wisdom, and resting on whose brow the crescent moon, though crooked in shape, is universally adored. (3)

I pay homage to the king of poets (Vālmīki) and the chief of monkeys (Hanumān), of pure intelligence, both of whom sport in the holy woods in the shape of glories of Sītā and Rāma. (4)

I bow to Sītā the beloved consort of Śrī Rāma, who is responsible for the creation, sustenance and dissolution (of the universe), removes afflictions and all blemishes. (5)

I adore Lord Hari, known by the name of Śrī Rāma, who is superior to and lies beyond all causes, whose Māyā (illusive power) holds sway over the entire universe including gods from Brahmā (the Creator) downwards and demons,

whose presence lends positive reality to the world of appearances - even as the false notion of a serpent is entertained with reference to a rope - and whose feet are the only bark for those who are eager to cross the ocean of mundane existence. (6)

For the gratification of his own self Tulasīdāsa brings forth this very elegant composition relating in common parlance the story of the Lord of Raghus,

which is in accord with the various Purāṇas, Vedas and the Āgamas (Tantras), and incorporates what has been recorded in the Rāmāyaṇa (of Vālmīki) and culled from some other sources. (7)

May Lord Gaṇeśa, the leader of Śiva’s retinue, whose very thought ensures success, who carries on his shoulders the head of a beautiful elephant, who is a repository of wisdom and an abode of blessed qualities, shower his grace. (1)

May that merciful Lord, whose grace enables the dumb to wax eloquent and a cripple to ascend an inaccessible mountain, and who burns all the impurities of the Kali age, be moved to pity. (2)

May the Lord who ever sleeps on the ocean of milk, and who is swarthy as a blue lotus and has eyes resembling a pair of full-blown red lotuses, take up His abode in my bosom. (3)

May the crusher of Cupid, Bhagavān Śiva, whose form resembles in colour the jasmine flower and the moon, who is the consort of Goddess Pārvatī and an abode of compassion and who is fond of the afflicted, be gracious. (4)

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, and whose words are sunbeams as it were for dispersing the mass of darkness in the form of gross ignorance. (5)

I greet the pollen-like dust of the lotus feet of my preceptor, refulgent, fragrant and flavoured with love.

It is a lovely powder of the life-giving herb, which allays the host of all the attendant ills of mundane existence. It adorns the body of a lucky person even as white ashes beautify the person of Lord Śiva, and brings forth sweet blessings and joys.

It rubs the dirt off the beautiful mirror in the shape of the devotee’s heart; when applied to the forehead in the form of a Tilaka (a religious mark), it attracts a host of virtues.

The splendour of gems in the form of nails on the feet of the blessed Guru unfolds divine vision in the heart by its very thought: The lustre disperses the shades of infatuation, highly blessed is he in whose bosom it shines.

With its very appearance the bright eyes of the mind get opened; the attendant evils and sufferings of the night of mundane existence disappear;

and gems and rubies in the shape of stories of Śrī Rāma, both patent and hidden, wherever and in whatever mine they may be, come to light - (1 - 4)

 - as for instance, by applying to the eyes the miraculous salve known by the name of Siddhāñjana (the eye-salve of perfection) strivers, adepts as well as men of wisdom easily discover a host of mines on hill-tops, in the midst of forests and in the bowels of the earth. (1)

The dust of the Guru’s feet is a soft and agreeable, salve, which is ambrosia as it were for the eyes and remedies the defects of vision.

Having brightened my eyes of discernment thereby I proceed to relate the story of Śrī Rāma, which secures freedom from the bondage of mundane existence.

First I reverence the feet of Brāhmaṇas, the very gods on earth, who are able to dispel all doubts born of ignorance.

Then I make loving obeisance, in a polite language, to the whole body of pious souls, the mines of all virtues.

The conduct of holy men is noble as the career of the cotton plant, the fruit whereof is tasteless, white and fibrous (even as the doings of saints yield results which are free from attachment, stainless and full of goodness).

Even by suffering hardships (in the form of ginning, spinning and weaving) the cotton covers others’ faults and has thereby earned in the world a renown which is worthy of adoration.

The assemblage of saints, which is all joy and felicity, is a moving Prayāga (the king of all holy places) as it were.

Devotion to Śrī Rāma represents, in this moving Prayāga, the stream of the holy Gaṅgā, the river of the celestials;

while the proceeding of an enquiry into the nature of Brahma (the Absolute) constitutes the Sarasvatī (a subterranean stream which is traditionally believed to join the Gaṅgā and the Yamunā at Prayāga, thus accounting for the name ‘Triveṇī’, which signifies a meeting-place of three rivers).

Discourses on Karma or Action, consisting of injunctions and interdictions, have been spoken of as the sacred Yamunā - a daughter of the sun-god in her angelic form - washing the impurities of the Kali age;

while the stories of Viṣṇu and Śiva stand out as the triple stream known as Triveṇī, bringing joy and blessings to those who listen to them.

Unwavering faith in their own creed constitutes the immortal banyan tree and noble actions represent the royal court of that king of holy places.

Easy of access to all on any day and at every place, this moving Prayāga assuages the afflictions of those who resort to it with reverence.

This king of holy places is beyond all description and supra-mundane in character; it bestows the reward immediately and its glory is manifest. (1 - 7)

Men who having heard the glory of this moving Prayāga in the form of the assemblage of holy men, appreciate it with an enraptured mind and then take a plunge into it with extreme devotion obtain the four rewards of human existence during their very lifetime. (2)

The result of dipping into the sacred waters of this king of holy places is instantly perceived: crows turn into cuckoos and herons into swans. Let no one marvel to hear this; the glory of contact with saints is no secret:

Vālmīki, Nārada and Agastya, who was born of a pitcher, have related the story of their birth and transformation with their own lips.

Of the various creatures, both animate and inanimate, living in this world, whether in water or on land or in the air,

whoever has ever attained wisdom, glory, salvation, material prosperity or welfare anywhere and by any means whatsoever, know it to be the result of association with holy men; there is no other means either in the world or in the Vedas.

Wisdom dawns not without association with saints and such association cannot be easily had without the grace of Śrī Rāma.

Contact with noble souls is the root of joy and blessings; it constitutes the very fruit and fulfilment of all endeavours, whereas all other practices are blossoms as it were.

Through contact with the virtuous even the wicked get reformed, just as a base metal is transmuted by the touch of the philosopher’s stone.

On the other hand, if by mischance good men fall into evil company, they maintain their noble character like the gem on the hood of a serpent.

Even the speech of deities like Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, poets and men of wisdom falters in depicting the glory of pious souls. Much less can it be described by me, even as a dealer in vegetables finds himself incapable of expatiating on the qualities of gems. (1 - 6)

I bow to the saints, who are even-minded towards all and have no friend or foe, just as a flower of good quality placed in the palm of one’s hands communicates its fragrance alike to both the hands (the one which plucked it and that which held and preserved it).

Realizing thus the noble disposition and loving nature of saints, who are innocent at heart and united in spirit, I make this humble submission to them.

Listening to my childlike prayer and taking compassion on me, O noble souls, bless me with devotion to the feet of Śrī Rāma. (3 A-B)

Again, I greet with a sincere heart the malevolent class, who are hostile without purpose even to the friendly, to whom others’ loss is their own gain, and who delight in others’ desolation and wail over their prosperity.

They try to eclipse the glory of Viṣṇu and Śiva even as the demon Rāhu intercepts the light of the full moon (during what is known as the lunar eclipse);

and they are valiant like the reputed king Sahasrabāhu (so-called because of his possessing a thousand arms) in working others’ woe.

They detect others’ faults as if with a thousand eyes and their (designing) mind mars others’ interests even as a fly spoils clarified butter.

In splendour they emulate the god of fire and in anger they vie with the god of death, who rides a buffalo. They are rich in crime and vice as Kubera, the god of riches, is in gold.

Like the rise of a comet their advancement augurs ill for others’ interests; like the slumber of Kumbhakarṇa their decline alone is propitious for the world. They lay down their very life in order to be able to harm others, even as hail-stones dissolve after destroying the crop.

I reverence a wicked soul as the fiery (thousand-tongued) serpent-god Śeṣa, in so far as he eagerly expatiates on others’ faults with a thousand tongues as it were.

Again, I bow to him as the celebrated king Prithu (who prayed for ten thousand ears in order to be able to hear the glories of the Lord to his heart’s content) inasmuch as he hears of others’ faults with ten thousand ears as it were.

Once more do I supplicate to him as Indra (the lord of celestials) in so far as wine appears charming and beneficial to him (even as the army of gods is beneficent to Indra).

Harsh language is dear to him even as the thunderbolt is fondly cherished by Indra; and he detects others’ faults with one thousand eyes as it were. (1 - 6)

The wicked burn with jealousy as they hear of others’ welfare, be they his friends, foes or neutrals: such is their wont. Knowing thus, this humble soul makes loving entreaties to them with joined palms. (4)

I for my part have made entreaties to them; they too must not fail to do their part.

However fondly you may nurture a brood of crows, can you ever expect ravens to turn non carnivorous I adore the feet of saint and wicked soul both of whom give pain, though some difference is said to exist between them.

Whereas the former class cause mortal pain while parting, the latter give agonizing torment during their meeting. Though born together in the world, they differ in their traits even as the lotus and the leech (both of which spring from water).

The good and the wicked resemble nectar and wine respectively; the unfathomable ocean in the form of this world is their common parent. The good and the wicked gather a rich harvest of good reputation and infamy by their respective doings.

Although the merits of nectar, the moon - the seat of nectar - the Gaṅgā - the river of the celestials - and a pious soul, on the one hand,

and the demerits of venom, fire, the unholy river Karmanāśā - which is said to be full of the impurities of the Kali age - and the hunter, on the other,

- are known to all, only that which is to a man’s taste appears good to him. (1 - 5)

Of course, a good man has a bias for goodness alone, while a vile person is prone to vileness. While nectar is praised for its immortalizing virtue, poison is extolled for its deadly effects. (5)