The Ramcharitmanas is undoubtedly one of the greatest lyrical compositions in Hindi literature. Writing in the sixteenth century, Tulsidas chose to pen verses in Awadhi rather than Sanskrit, thus breaking with literary tradition and, importantly, making Lord Ram more relatable to the lay person. Pavan K. Varma, author of the best-selling Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker, has selected some of the most evocative stanzas—offering a succinct commentary for each—that capture the very core of the original.
While centering the philosophical aspect of the Ramcharitmanas—the immutability of the soul over the merely corporeal; the transience of worldly pleasures; the placing of wisdom above knowledge—The Greatest Ode to Lord Ram describes a devoted son, a loving sibling, a committed lover, an ideal ruler and also a human, almost bereft of divinity. Indeed, Ram is a god and a man; he is comprehensible.
Tulsi’s seminal work employs a unique poetic linguistic tool that unravels even the most profound concepts with utmost simplicity, blending philosophy with breathtaking verse. Varma’s compelling new selection and commentary achieves this effect by combining the aesthetics, romance and imagery of the original work with the unadulterated spirituality that sparkles through the conduct of a great god.