a1 Reader in Indian Studies, University of Cambridge
Rāmacaritamānasa is a truly remarkable work, and the celebration of the fourth centenary of its composition calls for some recognition. Consider the artless guile of its author: at the start he protests that he is no poet, without skill in letters, lacking in all arts and sciences, lacking in all literary skills; and yet he has presented us with a creation of extraordinary skill and beauty, revealing, within the Indian context, a broad grasp of learning and a zeal to reconcile divergent doctrines. On the one hand Tulsīdās protests that he has done the work simply for his own personal satisfaction (svānta sukhāya), and on the other he proclaims that its virtue is the infiniteness of its theme. This is why Rāmacaritamānasa deserves attention, and why its study can be so rewarding.
* This paper is a revised version of that read at the Rāmacaritamānasa Quatercentenary Conference held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in March 1974.