In the World of Tulsidas's 'ram-kathas'
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The article offers the analysis of four works of the famous Hindi poet Tulsidas (1532-1623) that are concerned with 'ram-katha', i.e. the story of the deeds of Ram. The objective of the study is to show the ways adopted by the poet in order to retell the well-known story. The discussion starts with the analysis of the poet's magnum opus, the epic 'Ram-carit-manas' (RCM), considered to be the greatest achievement of Hindi literature, the quintessence of its own times' spirituality, which has exerted an immensely strong influence upon the religious life in North India. Special attention is paid to the narrative structure of the poem realised through a series of four dialogues, which in fact are traditionally considered as different ways of interpreting the text of the poem. The study scrutinises also the causes of extraordinary popularity, which the RCM gained soon after its creation, becoming an epitome of the ideal society, state and its ruler, having set the analysis in the historical and socio-cultural context of the poem. Next, two minor works of Tulsidas, 'Ram-lala-nahachu' and 'Janaki-maUgal', are discussed with a view to indicate how the different natures of these works influence the way of depicting the same episodes of the same story. Finally, a very interesting, atypical short work 'Ramajna-prasna' is examined, in which 'ram-katha' serves as the means of divination, ensuring thus devoted bhaktas that they are protected in every possible way.
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