Why Ramcharitmanas received more popularity than Valmiki Ramayana?


Summary: Tulsidasji chose to write the story in Awadhi on being ordered to do so by Lord Shiva who appeared before him. The incident is a very interesting one read the detailed part to find out. Further the popularity of the Manas is only restricted to the Hindi belt of Northern India and the part the of the answer describing the factors responsible, is obviously based on my opinion.


1. Reason for Tulsidasji writing the Sri Ramcharitmanas in Awadhi

On the command of Hanumanji, Tulsidasji went to Kashi and stayed at a Brahmin’s house. There, at Prahladghat, he began writing the Ramayana in Sanskrit. Thereafter the story goes as follows:

In the daytime how much ever he would write, would get erased at night. This incident happened everyday and he didn’t understand what to do. Then finally on the 8th day Lord Shiva came in his dream telling him to write the story in his own language. Tulsidasji at once got up with the words of the dream echoing in his heart. At that moment Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati appeared and Tulsidasji bowed down to them with his eight limbs. Lord Shiva said, “Write this poem in your own language and don’t go behind the language of the gods (Sanskrit). Do what will be beneficial to others and leave the old tradition. Go to Awadh and write your story there. With my blessings your poem will be as fruitful as the Sama and Richa (Rigvedic verse).” Saying this Lord Shiva disappeared and Tulsidasji headed for Awadh.
- Mūla Gosāīm̐ Carita, Chaupais of Doha 37

Since Tulsidasji was a Sarayūpārīṇa Brahmin, who are found in the Awadh region, ‘his language’ was Awadhi. Oh well then following the orders of Lord Shiva, Tulsidasji writes his story in his ‘own language’, Awadhi and alludes to this in the Balakand of the Ramcharitmanas:

Despite a black cow being so, her milk is still is very beneficial and thinking this people drink it. In the same way despite being in the rural language, smart people still sing and hear this story of Sri Sitaramji-
Doha 10

2. Popularity of the Sri Ramcharitmanas

(This part of the question being opinion based is most likely to result in the answer being based on my opinion yet I’ll try to stick to the story as much as possible.)

Gaining Acceptance

There were many incidents occurring in Tulsidasji’s life that lead to the traditional Brahmins accepting his work. They are:

  • Lord Shiva’s signature - After completing his work he made Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati hear it and kept it in the Kashi Vishvanatha temple. In the morning when the doors were opened, the book was signed by Lord Shiva himself bearing the words ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ - Mūla Gosāīm̐ Carita, Doha 47
  • Lord Rama protecting the book from thieves - when the Pandits of Kashi sent thieves to rob the book, they saw two men of dark and fair complexion each, protecting the book with bows and arrows. - Mūla Gosāīm̐ Carita, Doha 48
  • The Ramcharitmanas automatically reached atop the Puranas, Shastras and even the Vedas when kept below them, in the morning when the doors of the Kashi Vishvanatha temple were opened. - Mūla Gosāīm̐ Carita, Doha 50

These 3 incidents contributed to the acceptance of the Manas as an important book.

Gaining Popularity

In my opinion, the popularity of the Manas over the Valmiki Ramayana in Northern India can be attributed to:

  • Gita Press Gorakhpur’s efforts - Due to the absence of the printing press, many scriptures such as the Manas were not available to the public at large in the sense that each could not own his personal copy. Even after the advent of the press, these were costly. Gita Press was the first to publish a relatively authentic version of the Manas which was available at cheap rates for the general public to be able to afford a personal copy. Gita Press further advertised this book to a great extent, much more than the Valmiki Ramayana. (Refer: the entire story of Gita Press’ publishing of the Manas for more details.)
  • The Ramayana television series of Ramanand Sagar. It is said that though the Ramayana was immensely revered, people re-gained awareness of the story due to the television series of the Ramayan which primarily bases its story on the Manas (as per the introduction). This too ignited reverence for the Manas in the minds of people.
  • The most important reason being that the Manas is in one of the languages of Northern India and hence easier to understand than Sanskrit (before the translations of the Valmiki Ramayana emerged). Further as started by Tulsidasji, there used to be the Rama Leela during the 9 days of Navaratri in Nothern India, based on the Manas (instead of the Valmiki Ramayana)

Thus in my opinion, the above 3 are the primary factors causing the Manas to gain popularity over the Valmiki Ramayana in Northern India.

Note: The Mūla Gosāīm̐ Carita is the most widely referred biography of Tulsidasji, written by a disciple called Venimadhav. Also besides the biography, I have also relied upon Gita Press’ version of Tulsidasji’s life which too is primarily based on the Mūla Gosāīm̐ Carita.

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