Interpretation of Tulsidas

tulsidas ramayan

From time immemorial, when we begin any work, say for example, sending invites for occasions like marriage, opening of a new office, starting a new project and even starting a new day, we remember Lord Ganesha first (Om Sri Ganeshay Namaha) and then start whatever the work or occasion. It is an accepted norm. Even gods are believed to start their Yagna or Havana after remembering Lord Ganesha.

Goswami Tulsidas had deviated from this norm while beginning his 'Ram Charit Manasa'. In the first stanza of Ram Charita Manasa itself, he has bowed to the Lord Ganesha and Godess Saraswati (goddess of learning), in the same breath saying 'Vande Vani Vinayako'. This was not the norm then. From beginning of time (adikal), 'Om Sri Ganeshay Namaha' was the norm. Why did Tulsidas do so? Why did he deviate from the norm while describing Sri Rama's character?

Tulsidas believed Rama to be a perfect or a complete man (Purna Purusha) and Rama's character to be a perfect character. Before Tulsidas, many people have written Ramayana, Valmiki being the first. Tulsidas wrote Ram Charit Manasa for his own satisfaction, to fulfill his own desire to further perfect Rama's character. At the same time, he wanted the story to spread far and wide. He also believed that every man should know and follow Rama's beliefs and actions for one's own well being. But, his prime desire was to satisfy his own urge, so he says.

Sri Morari Bapu explains or interprets this phenomenon of using Ganesha and Saraswati's name in the same breath as thus: Lord Ganesha had knowledge whereas Goddess Saraswati had words or language. If Tulsidas pays obeisance to Lord Ganesha alone, Ganesha can silently transfer his knowledge to Tulsidas. But in order to express and spread that knowledge one needs words, speech and power of expression. Only Saraswati could provide the medium of language and expression. Hence, Tulsidas pays his obeisance to both in the same line in the beginning of Ram Charit Manasa.

Explaining this further, Morari Bapu has given an excellent example from a more recent time. Everybody knows about Sri Rama Krishana Paramhansa and everybody knows that Swami Vivekananda was a devotee, rather a great devotee of Sri Rama Krishana. Sri Rama Krishana himself was a devotee (bhakta) of Goddess Kali (Ma Kali, as the goddess is usually addressed in Bengal). He was totally involved in Kali worship. It is widely believed, even today, that Rama Krishna was in contact with the Goddess, often talked to her and was guided by her. Being the top disciple of Rama Krishna, Vivekananda gained whatever knowledge he had about the philosophy and principles of life from him. He blindly followed Rama Krishana's teachings.

But, Rama Krishana was a simple man and not a good orator. So it was Swami Vivekananda, who was a good orator spread Rama Krishana's teachings, his philosophy and beliefs far and wide. Whenever you think of Rama Krishana, Vivekananda's name is bound to crop up in mind and vice versa. They are inseparable. Knowledge and expression. Ganesha and Saraswati.

This explains Tulsidas's "Vande Vani Vinayako".

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