Shri Ramcharitmanas / Ramayana is the important scripture of the Vaishnavs who worship Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Ram. There are 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu out of which 10 are more important and amongst the ten principal incarnations, the ones of Ram and Krishna are the most predominant. Of these two, Ram precedes Krishna.
It is believed that Ram is ‘Maryada Purushottama’ (the best exemplar of Restraint and Modesty) while Krishna is ‘Pushti Purushottama’ (the best exemplar of love and fulfillment). Ram’s life teaches us the way to lead a life of restraint and diffidence, while Krishna’s life teaches us the way of love and fulfillment. For people who worship Ram, Ramayana is extremely important. It narrates an ideal lifestyle, which we ought to follow. However much one may claim of being unaffected and independent, the fact remains that an individual is always influenced by his surroundings, society, media, etc. An individual is like a liquid that assumes the form of the container, whatever the shape. Hence when one listens or reads about an ideal character, he is inspired to be like that. When the characters of our scriptures inspire and motivate the society and the entire nation, people change. Once society and nations change, entire humanity changes for the better. This will help solve most of the problems affecting mankind. Politics is only a superficial arrangement, which cannot solve problems. Until people change themselves no solution can be found. For changing the people, Dharma (religion) has an important role to play. Ram is a Dharma incarnate. Everything that he does is Dharma. Hence to follow Ram in itself is following Dharma (religion).
Considered to be the oldest poet known to man, Valmiki was the first to narrate and put in writing Ram’s story. It was in Sanskrit. Since then many poets and writers have written about Ram. Of the many versions of the Ramayana, two are very popular. The first being sage Valmiki’s Ramyana and the second Goswami Tulisidasji’s Ram Charit Manas composed in simple Avadhi language. It is the language of the area surrounding Ram’s birthplace. Tulsidasji would have never imagined that someday his work would be appreciated and admired all over the world. He basically aimed at making Ram’s story popular in the area where he lived. Hence he wrote it in a language, which was locally known and popular so that the local people would find it interesting try to read and understand it. Goswami Tulsidasji Ram Charit Manas has seven sections –
All these sections cover various periods of Ram’s life. Preceding these seven sections the story of Lord Shiva has been narrated. It is in the form of a prologue to Ram’s story. Beginning with the conversation between Lord Shiva and Parvati, Ramayana is principally written in the form of three conversations. These conversations are between Sage Yagnavalka and Sage Bharadhwaja, between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and the third between Garuda and Kagabhushandiji. Just as there are three principal conversations in Shrimad Bhagwat, so also there are three principal conversations in Ramayana. The story of Lord Ram has been elucidated in detail in the Ramayana. Through Ram and other noble characters interacting with him one gets the message of an ideal happy life. If you are a brother, you should follow Bharat’s example. As a father, Dashrath’s. An aide should follow the example of Hanuman. A teacher should be like Vashishtha. The ideal roles of a husband, wife, friend, teacher, son etc. have been depicted and explained through the medium of Ramayana. Ramayana teaches the way of an ideal social life.
The Ramayana and the Bhagwat both are principally devotional compositions. Both aim at making an individual a true devotee and a true lover. The Ramyana manifests the devotional aspects of human beings and thus removes or destroys their grievances.