Sunday, April 1, 2007

Setu Bandhan by Goswami Tulsidas

In Ram Charit Manas, that great work which galvanized the North India of middle ages giving it a fresh energy, Sant Sri Goswami Tulsidasji has described the events of Setu Bandhan in very poetic form with a lot of metaphors, in great length. Setu episode begins towards the end of Sundar Kanda and opens up the Lanka Kanda.

Thanks to Gita Press Gorakhpur, which provides the digital book of Manas with original Awadhi text along with the English translation, for online reading. Use the following links to read:

Sundara Kanda
Lanka Kanda - Part 1 {Main part of the Setu-Bandhan description is in this}
Lanka Kanda - Part 2

Goswami Tulsidasji had also compiled Kavitavali ('Garland of Poems'), in which he had sung the glory of Sri Rama in an abridged form, and in a beautiful Kavitta format, unlike Ram Charit Manas which is in Doha-Chaupai format. In Kavitavali, Sri Goswamiji has devoted two Kavittas to Setu episode, which are reproduced below:

बिपुल बिसाल बिकराल कपि-भालु, मानो कालु बहु बेष धरें, धाए किएँ करषा।
लिए सिला-सैल, साल, ताल औ तमाल तोरि तोपैं तोयनिधि, सुरको समाजु हरषा।।
डगे दिगकुंजर कमठु कोलु कलमले, डोले धराधर धारि, धराधरु धरषा।
'तुलसी' तमकि चलैं, राघौकी सपथ करैं,को करै अटक कपिकटक अमरषा।।

Many large horrifying vanaras, as if Death itself in many forms, are moving hither tither!
Carrying stones, rocks, Saal trees, Taal trees and Tamaal trees, setting them into the oceanbed, an act seeing which all Gods are excited!
Elephants in all directions are agitated, so are the other creatures, mountains are shaking, and even all-powerful Sheshnag is subdued!
But then, says Tulsi, when one takes oath on the name of Sri Rama, like those Vanaras, who in the world can stop that rage, that energy, that momentum?

जब पाहन भे बनबाहन-से, उतरे बनरा, 'जय राम' रढैं।
'तुलसी' लिएँ सैल-सिला सब सोहत, सागरु ज्यों बल बारि बढैं।।
करि कोपु करैं रघुबीरको आयसु, कौतुक हीं गढ़ कूदि चढ़ैं।
चतुरंग चमू पलमें दलि कै रन रावन-राढ़-सुहाड़ गढ़ैं।।

Then even stones became raft-like, when vanars descending from forests, shouted 'Jai Rama'!
Says Tulsi, those heroic vanaras, carrying stones and rocks, look as beautiful as the rising tide of the ocean!
In command of Rama, all heroes were in rage, jumping and ascending as if it was all but a game!
They showed such courage and excitement, as if they would crush in a moment that mighty army of Ravana, with all four divisions of it, (and on their own) will repair the bones of Ravana, nothing less!

{the image is from a large glass painting that decorates the Birla Temple of Jaipur, showing Tulsidas composing the Ram Charit Manas - Link}

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