Monday, April 16, 2018

Guide: Tulsidas

This is a guide to Tulsidas: The Poet Who Wrote Ram-Charit-Manas (Volume 551). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.551

We also have an Amar Chitra Katha comic book version of Tulsidas' Ram-Charit Manas!

Summary: Tulsidas was a poet and saint (1532-1623), author of one of the most famous versions of the Ramayana. The comic book begins with the sinister omens surrounding Tulsidas's birth. Tulsidas devoted himself to Rama, and eventually left his family to preach the story of Rama in Hindi. He experienced visions of Hanuman, Rama and Lakshmana, and Shiva, and he was also involved in the politics of his time (you can read about Rana Pratap at Wikipedia). For more about Tulsidas, see Wikipedia: Tulsidas.


  1. Nice Blog!
    Well, I do not quite agree with the representation of Tulsidas in this cover page of ACK's "TULSIDAS." Tulsidas is shown as some sort of a sadhu with mala, kamandal etcetera. This I found to be quite incongruous with my vision of Tulsidas as a saint of the North Indian Bhakti movement the proponents of which, at least to the best of my knowledge, did not have the image of the conventional sadhu or hermit or renunciant. Many of them were householders (Vallabhacharya is one example that readily comes to mind) and discountenanced the use of the ritualistic symbolism of the conventional stream of karmic Hinduism that was in vogue then. Of course, whether this is true in case of Tulsidas I cannot say for sure. Frankly speaking, I haven't read much of the history from authoritative books but from my limited knowledge of the North Indian Bhakti movement I am saying this.

    1. I think what ACK is trying to do (just a guess) is to use a kind of visual vocabulary that their readers will recognize. The assumption of a comic book like this one is that their readers know nothing at all about Tulsidas. And it's a very limited visual vocabulary: some of the more recent ACK comic books are drawn with some real concern for detail and a nicely imaginative quality, but this is not one of those. Inside the cover it says that the illustrations here are by V. B. Khalap. I suppose if you were really interested in this question you could look at more ACK comic books by that same illustrator to see the range of visual vocabulary and draw what conclusions you wish. I'm guessing that what you have here is the artist's "generic holy man" depiction, not something that is specifically intended to show Tulsidas in a distinctive way. The story itself emphasizes Tulsidas's rejection of the household life, so the basic shape of the story is his life as a householder (literally the first half of the comic book), and then his life of renunciation.

    2. Your comment regarding the 'visual vocabulary' of illustrators and artists is very interesting and gives me much food for thought. I thank you for replying. I feel that the artist has indeed gone for the generic holy man depiction but even then, I feel that he should have tried to come up with a new depiction--that of a North Indian bhakti saint-poet--to incorporate into his visual vocabulary. Because, as you must be knowing, the bhaktic and the karmic (or dharmic) schools are so diametrically opposed to one another in reality that you just can't have one common depiction for figures affiliated to these two schools.