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An interesting communication between Tulsidas and Rahim…

An interesting communication between Tulsidas and Rahim

In India the valuable lessons of life are shared verbally by one generation to the next, in the form of anecdotes from their own life or what they heard from their previous generations. It is hard to accept all of it as historical facts, but at the same time it would be foolish to disregard it all as myths. They have extremely high value in terms of understanding and appreciating the moral fiber of our society which is thousands of years old.

A friendly comment on my bucket list made reminded me today about this interesting communication between Tulsidas and Rahim, I first heard about this as a kid while listening to a Bhajan by Anup Jalota and it got itched deeply inside my heart and soul. I always hoped to learn from the humbleness of Rahim and have tried to incorporate his teachings in my day-tod

Tulisdas came to know about the strange manner in which Rahim, a muslim by birth but a devotee of Lord Krishna who wrote poetry dedicated to Krishna, was well known for giving alms to the poor. He never looked at the person he was giving alms to, keeping his gaze downwards towards the earth, in extreme humility, rather than look towards the face of alms seekers. Tulsidas, a great poet himself – author of Hindu scripture Ramayana in popular language of Northern India and Hanuman Chalisa, promptly wrote the following couplet and sent it to Rahim.

“ऐसी देनी देंन ज्यूँ, कित सीखे हो सैन
ज्यों ज्यों कर ऊंच्यो करो, त्यों त्यों निचे नैन”

“Sir, Where have you learn that peculiar way of giving alms (Why give alms like this)?

As your hands go up (to give alms to others), your eyes start going low staring down)”

Rahim knew Tulsidas well and realized that he is well aware of the reasons and is merely giving him an opportunity to explain it to others who may have the same question in their mind. In today’s highly social media context, we could say that Tulsidas we ribbing/ trolling Rahim in a friendly manner. He replied to Tulsidas in extreme humility, completing the couplet which Tulsidas wrote with the following words:

“देनहार कोई और है, भेजत जो दिन रैन
लोग भरम हम पर करे, तासो निचे नैन”
“The Giver is someone else (the God almighty), giving day and night.

But the world gives me the credit, unnecessarily, so I lower my eyes in embarrassment.”

About Rahim

Rahim’s tomb is still preserved in New Delhi, situated near the bigger and much grander Humayun’s Tomb opposite the Durgah of Nizamuddin Aulia on the Mathura Road. Humayun’s tomb was built in much grander scale (Taj Mahal of Agra was actually inspired by Humayun’s tomb and both are quite similar in structure) and is a big tourist attraction even today, few people visit Rahim’s tomb, which is nearby, preserved by Archaeological Society of India but not as carefully. The tomb was built by Rahim himself for his wife in 1598, later he was himself buried in it in 1627. Later on, in 1753-4, marble and sandstone from Rahim’s tomb was used for the making of the tomb of Safdarjung in Delhi, which is also very well preserved by Archaeological Society of India.

Even though today we mostly know Rahim for his love of Lord Krishna (despite being a Muslim)  and his Dohas (couplets in local north Indian language) in our school books, Rahim also translated Babar’s memoirs, Baburnama from Chagatai language to Persian language in 1589–90. He knew Sanskrit language extremely well  and wrote two books on astrology, Kheta Kautukama and Dwawishd Yogavali.

Rahim was son of Bairam Khan, Akbar’s trusted caretaker, who had Turkic ancestry from his marriage with the daughter of a local Indian Zamindar Jamal Khan of Mewat (presently in the northern Indian state of Haryana). The local Muslim Zamindars of Mewat were Hindus who traced their roots in India back to Yaduvansh of Lord Krishna and were attracted to the Sufi form of Islam and converted to Islam.

Rahim (Abdul Rahim Khankhana) was born in Lahore (now in Pakistan), after Bairam Khan was murdered in Patan, Gujarat, his first wife and young Rahim were brought for safely to Ahmedabad and subsequently to Delhi in the royal court of Mughal Emperor Akbar, who gave him the title of  ‘Mirza Khan’ got him married to Mah Banu, sister of noted Mughal noble. Akbar also appointed Rahim as one of the nine prominent ministers – known as the Navaratnas, or nine gems.

रहिमन वे नर मर चुके, जे कहू मंगन जाही,
उनते पहेले वे मुए, जिन मुख निकसत नहीं.
“Rahim says, he who has to beg is no longer a man/ human being. But those who refuse to give someone alms were never men/ humans to begin with.”

“बड़े बड़ाई न करें, बड़े न बोले बोल,
रहिमन हीरा कब कहे, लख टका मेरो मोल.

“Truly great never reveal their worth, nor do those who are truly worthy of  it, praise themselves.      Rahim says, have you heard a diamond reveals its extremely high value itself?”

“रहिमन देखि बड़ेन कों, लघु न दीजिए डार,
जहाँ काम आवे सुई, कहा करे तलवार.
“Rahim says, when you are introduced to an important person, do not ignore your poor friends.            Where you’d need a small needle to successfully complete a critical job, a sword would be of no use!”

रहिमन धागा प्रेम का, मत तोड़ो चटकाय,
टूटे से फिर न जुड़े, जुड़े गाँठ पड़ जाये.
“Rahim says, Do not break the delicate thread of love/ friendship in a haste. Once it snap, it cannot be rejoined and if you do try to rejoin it, there will always be a knot in it.”

तन सूप, है लीजीये जगत पच्होर,
हरिकन को उदिजन दे, गरुय राखी बटोर.
“This human body is like a sieve, sort out your friends through it. Let go of the light (non-committed) ones fly in the wind and carefully keep the heavy (committed, true) friends.”

खीरा मुख ते काटिये, मलियत लों लगाये|
रहिमन कडवे मुख कों, चहियत इही सजाये||
“To remove the bitterness of a cucumber,we need to cut it from the top and rub some salt in it. Rahim says to cure a bitter mouth we may need to apply a similar procedure”

जे रहीम उत्तम प्रकृति, का करी सकत कुसुंग,
चन्दन विष व्यापत नहीं, लिप्तात रहत भुजंग.
“Rahim days, The evil/ corrupt one’s will never be able to manipulate the one who has an excellent character? After all the snakes sticking around its trunk, still the sandalwood never become poisonous?”

कही रहीम सम्पति सगे, बनत बहुत बहु रीत,
बिपति कसोटी जे कसे, ते ही सांचे मीत.
“Rahim says, people will find many many ways to claim to be related when fortune smiles at you. But only a true friend is the one who stands by you in misfortune”

About Tulsidas

The historian Vincent Smith, author of a biography of Tulsidas’ contemporary Akbar, called Tulsidas as the greatest man of his age in India and greater than even Akbar himself. The Indologist and linguist Sir George Grierson called Tulsidas the greatest leader of the people after the Buddha and the greatest of Indian authors of modern times; and the epic Ramcharitmanas worthy of the greatest poet of any age. The work Ramcharitmanas has been called “the Bible of North India” by 19th century Indologists including Ralph Griffith, who translated the four Vedas and Valmiki’s Ramayana into English, and many modern writers.

Mahatma Gandhi held Tulsidas in high esteem and regarded the Ramcharitmanas as the greatest book in all devotional literature. The Hindi poet Suryakant Tripathi Nirala called Tulsidas the most fragrant branch of flowers in the garden of the world’s poetry, blossoming in the creeper of Hindi. Nirala considered Tulsidas to be a greater poet than Rabindranath Tagore, and in the same league as Kalidasa, Vyasa, Valmiki, Homer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and William Shakespeare. Hindi litterateur Hazari Prasad Dwivedi wrote that Tulsidas established a sovereign rule on the kingdom of Dharma in northern India, which was comparable to the impact of Buddha. Edmour J. Babineau, author of the book Love and God and Social Duty in Ramacaritmanasa, says that if Tulsidas was born in Europe or the Americas, he would be considered a greater personality than William Shakespeare. In the words of the archaeologist F. R. Allchin, who translated Vinaypatrika and Kavitavali into English, for people of a large part of North India Tulsidas claims reverence comparable to that accorded to Luther as translator of the Bible into the native German. Allchin also mentions that the work Ramcharitmanas has been compared to not only the Ramayana of Valmiki, but the Vedas themselves, the Bhagavad Gita, the Quran and the Bible. Ernest Wood in his work An Englishman Defends Mother India considered the Ramcharitmanas to be superior to the best books of the Latin and Greek languages.Tulsidas is also referred to as Bhaktaśiromaṇi, meaning the highest jewel among devotees. Specifically about his poetry, Tulsidas has been called the emperor of the metaphor and one who excels in similes by several critics.The Hindi poetess Mahadevi Verma said commenting on Tulsidas that in the turbulent Middle Ages, India got light from Tulsidas. She further went on to say that the Indian society as it exists today is an edifice built by Tulsidas, and the Rama as we know today is the Rama of Tulsidas.

Goswami Tulsidas was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion to the god Rama. Tulsidas spent most of his life in the city of Varanasi. The Tulsi Ghat on the Ganges River in Varanasi is named after him. He founded the Sankatmochan Temple dedicated to Hanuman in Varanasi, believed to stand at the place where he had the sight of Hanuman. Tulsidas started the Ramlila plays, a folk-theatre adaption of the Ramayana. The impact of Tulsidas and his works on the art, culture and society in India is widespread and is seen to date in vernacular language, Ramlila plays, Hindustani classical music, popular music, and television series. He is also believed to be a reincarnation of Valmiki, the author of Ramayana – The story of Rama – one of the most important Hindu scripture. In the Hindu scripture Bhavishyottar Purana, the god Shiva tells his wife Parvati how Valmiki, who got a boon from Hanuman to sing the glory of Rama in vernacular language, will incarnate in future in the Kali Yuga (the present and last Yuga within the cycle of four Yugas). Tulsidas started composing poetry in Sanskrit in Varanasi on the Prahlada Ghat. Tradition holds that all the verses that he composed during the day, would get lost in the night. This happened daily for eight days. On the eighth night, Shiva – whose famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in Varanasi – is believed to have ordered Tulsidas in a dream to compose poetry in the vernacular instead of Sanskrit. Tulsidas woke up and saw both Shiva and Parvati who blessed him. Shiva ordered Tulsidas to go to Ayodhya and compose poetry in Awadhi. Shiva also predicted that Tulsidas’ poetry would fructify like the Sama Veda. In the Ramcharitmanas, Tulsidas hints at having the Darshan of Shiva and Parvati in both dream and awakened state.

From his time, Tulsidas has been acclaimed by Indian and Western scholars alike for his poetry and his impact on the Hindu society. Tulsidas himself acknowledges this in his work Kavitavali. Tulsidas died at the Assi Ghat, Varanasi, on the bank of the river Ganga in 1623 but the month and date of his death are a mystery like the exact month and day of his birth. But what has made him immortal is his writing in local north Indian language. His works can be classified into two groups 1) Awadhi works – Ramcharitmanas, Ramlala Nahachhu, Barvai Ramayan, Parvati Mangal, Janaki Mangal and Ramagya Prashna and 2) Braja works – Krishna Gitavali, Gitavali, Kavitavali, Dohavali, Vairagya Sandipani and Vinaya Patrika. Besides these twelve works, four more works are popularly believed to be composed by Tulsidas which include Hanuman Chalisa, Hanuman Ashtak, Hanuman Bahuk and Tulsi Satsai.

  • Hanuman Chalisa

जय हनुमान ज्ञान गुन सागर। जय कपीस तिहुँ लोक उजागर॥ १ ॥

राम दूत अतुलित बल धामा। अंजनि पुत्र पवनसुत नामा॥ २ ॥

महाबीर बिक्रम बजरंगी। कुमति निवार सुमति के संगी॥ ३ ॥

कंचन बरन बिराज सुबेसा। कानन कुंडल कुंचित केसा॥ ४ ॥

हाथ बज्र औ ध्वजा बिराजै। काँधे मूँज जनेऊ साजै॥ ५ ॥

शंकर सुवन केसरी नंदन। तेज प्रताप महा जग बंदन॥ ६ ॥

बिद्यावान गुनी अति चातुर। राम काज करिबे को आतुर॥ ७ ॥

प्रभु चरित्र सुनिबे को रसिया। राम लखन सीता मन बसिया॥ ८ ॥

सूक्ष्म रूप धरी सियहिं दिखावा। बिकट रूप धरि लंक जरावा॥ ९ ॥

भीम रूप धरि असुर सँहारे। रामचन्द्र के काज सँवारे॥ १० ॥

लाय सँजीवनि लखन जियाए। श्रीरघुबीर हरषि उर लाए॥ ११ ॥

रघुपति कीन्हीं बहुत बड़ाई। तुम मम प्रिय भरतहि सम भाई॥ १२ ॥

सहस बदन तुम्हरो जस गावैं। अस कहि श्रीपति कंठ लगावैं॥ १३ ॥

सनकादिक ब्रह्मादि मुनीसा। नारद सारद सहित अहीसा॥ १४ ॥

जम कुबेर दिक्पाल जहाँ ते। कबी कोबिद कहि सकैं कहाँ ते॥ १५ ॥

तुम उपकार सुग्रीवहिं कीन्हा। राम मिलाय राजपद दीन्हा॥ १६ ॥

तुम्हरो मन्त्र बिभीषन माना। लंकेश्वर भए सब जग जाना॥ १७ ॥

जुग सहस्र जोजन पर भानू। लील्यो ताहि मधुर फल जानू॥ १८ ॥

प्रभु मुद्रिका मेलि मुख माहीं। जलधि लाँघि गये अचरज नाहीं॥ १९ ॥

दुर्गम काज जगत के जेते । सुगम अनुग्रह तुम्हरे तेते॥ २० ॥

राम दुआरे तुम रखवारे। होत न आज्ञा बिनु पैसारे॥ २१ ॥

सब सुख लहै तुम्हारी शरना। तुम रक्षक काहू को डर ना॥ २२ ॥

आपन तेज सम्हारो आपै। तीनौं लोक हाँक ते काँपे॥ २३ ॥

भूत पिशाच निकट नहिं आवै। महाबीर जब नाम सुनावै॥ २४ ॥

नासै रोग हरै सब पीरा। जपत निरंतर हनुमत बीरा॥ २५ ॥

संकट तें हनुमान छुड़ावै। मन क्रम बचन ध्यान जो लावै॥ २६ ॥

सब पर राम तपस्वी राजा। तिन के काज सकल तुम साजा॥ २७ ॥

और मनोरथ जो कोई लावै। तासु अमित जीवन फल पावै॥ २८ ॥

चारों जुग परताप तुम्हारा। है परसिद्ध जगत उजियारा॥ २९ ॥

साधु संत के तुम रखवारे। असुर निकंदन राम दुलारे॥ ३० ॥

अष्ट सिद्धि नौ निधि के दाता। अस बर दीन्ह जानकी माता॥ ३१ ॥

राम रसायन तुम्हरे पासा। सदा रहो रघुपति के दासा॥ ३२ ॥

तुम्हरे भजन राम को पावै। जनम जनम के दुख बिसरावै॥ ३३ ॥

अंत काल रघुबर पुर जाई। जहाँ जन्म हरिभक्त कहाई॥ ३४ ॥

और देवता चित्त न धरई। हनुमत सेइ सर्व सुख करई॥ ३५ ॥

संकट कटै मिटै सब पीरा। जो सुमिरै हनुमत बलबीरा॥ ३६ ॥

जय जय जय हनुमान गोसाईं। कृपा करहु गुरुदेव की नाईं॥ ३७ ॥

जो सत बार पाठ कर कोई। छूटहि बंदि महा सुख होई॥ ३८ ॥

जो यह पढ़ै हनुमान चालीसा। होय सिद्धि साखी गौरीसा॥ ३९ ॥

तुलसीदास सदा हरि चेरा। कीजै नाथ हृदय महँ डेरा॥ ४० ॥

Translation in English

O Hanuman, the ocean of knowledge and virtues, may you be victorious. O the chief amongst Vanaras famous across the three Lokas (Pātāla, earth and Svarga), may you be victorious.

You are the trusted messenger of Rama and you are the abode of incomparable strength. You are known by the names of Anjaniputra (son of Anjana) and Pavanasuta (son of Vāyu).

You are the great hero, you are endowed with valour, your body is as strong as Indra’s Vajra. You are the destroyer of vile intellect, and you are the companion of one whose intellect is pure. 

Your complexion is that of molten gold, and you are resplendent in your handsome form. You wear Kundalas (small earrings worn in old times by Hindus) in your ears and your hair is curly. 

You have the Vajra and the flag in your hands, and the sacred-thread (Yajnopavita) made of the Munja grass adorns your shoulder. 

O son of Shiva (or son of Vāyu carrying the power of Shiva), the delighter of Kesari, your aura and majesty is great and is revered by the whole world. 

You are the praiseworthy abode of the eighteen types of Vidyā (knowledge), all virtues reside in you, and you are exceedingly clever. You are ever eager to perform tasks for Rama.

You delight in listening to the acts of Rama (Ramayana). Rama, Lakshmana and Sita reside in your mind and you reside in the minds of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita (owing to their affection towards you).

You assumed an extremely minute form and saw Sita in the Ashok Vatika. You assumed a very large and scary form and burnt the city of Lanka.

You assumed a frightening form and destroyed the demons in the army of Ravana. You carried out all the tasks of Rama.

You brought the Sanjivini, the life saving herb from Dronagiri in Himalayas, and revitalized Lakshman. Out of elation, Rama embraced you. 
Rama, the chief among Raghu’s descendants, praised you profusely saying “You are dear to me like my brother Bharata. 

Rama also added that a thousand people will praise Hanuman’s glory and embraced him again. 

Saints like Sanka, Bramha, Munisa, Narad, Sarad, Sahit and Ahisa have blessed Hanuman; Yama (God of death), Kubera (God of wealth), Dikpala (Gods of eight directions), Kavis (poets), Kavidas (folk singers) cannot describe Hanuman’s reputation. 

You did Sugriva a great favour by making him meet Rama and bestowing on him the kingdom of Kishkindha. 

Your Mantra was accepted by Vibishana, as a result of which he became the king of Lanka.[28][48][53] The whole world knows this.

The Surya, situated many thousands of Yojanas from the earth, was swallowed by you after you assumed him to be a sweet fruit. One divine Yuga in scriptures is of 12000 years. Sahasra means a thousand. One Yojan = 8 Miles = 8 * 1.6 km (when converted into kilometers). Calculations : 12000 * 1000 * 8 * 1.6 = 1,53,600,000 kms. The distance between earth and sun is around 152,098,232 kilometres which is very close the figures described in simple words by Goswami Tulsidas here in Hanuman Chalisa.

O Lord, placing the ring given by Rama in your mouth, you leaped across the ocean – there is no wonder here.

All the unattainable tasks in the world become easily attainable with your grace. 

You are the doorkeeper and protector of the door to Rama’s court. Without your command, nobody can enter the abode of Rama.

Once in your refuge, a Sādhaka obtains all the pleasures. You are the protector, and there is nothing to be afraid of. 

When you roar, after remembering your powers, the three worlds tremble with fear.

Rambhadracharya comments that this verse refers to the narrative of Jambavan reminding Hanuman of his powers in the Kishkindha Kanda of Ramayana.\

Evil spirits (bhūta) and meat-eating ghosts (pishācha) do not come near those chant the Mahāvira name of yours. 

The brave Hanuman, when invoked incessantly by the means of Japa, destroys all ailments and removes all sufferings.

Hanuman extricates those from all adversities who remember him (or contemplate upon him) in their heart, by their actions and by their words.

Rama is the supreme God and a king with Tapas, and yet you executed all his tasks.

And whoever comes to you with any wish, that wish is fulfilled beyond limits (literally, “they obtain the unlimited fruit of the wish”) in this very birth.

Your glory is famous in all the four Yugas, and illuminates the whole world.

You are the protector of Sadhus (mendicants) and Sants (saints). You are the destroyer of demons and dear as a son to Rama.

You are the bestower the eight Siddhis (supernatural powers named Aṇimā, Garimā, Mahimā, Laghimā, Prāpti, Prākāmya, Īśitva, and Vaśitva) and the nine Nidhis (divine treasures named Mahāpadma, Padma, Śaṅkha, Makara, Kacchapa, Mukunda, Kunda, Nīla and Kharva). Mother Sita, the daughter of Janaka, has granted you this boon. 

You have the treasure of Rama’s Bhakti (rāma rasāyana) with you. May you always be the servant of the best of Raghu’s descendants.

Singing of you (Hanuman), a Bhakta obtains Rama and forgets the adversities and afflictions of many births.

As a result of devotion to you, a Bhakta goes to Sāketa Loka (raghubara pura) at the time of their end (physical death). Once the Bhakta reaches Sāketa, wherever they take birth, they are known as the Bhaktas of Hari.

Even one who does not contemplate on any other Devatas in their mind and only serves Hanuman, achieves all favourable bliss in this world and the next.

Whoever remembers the brave and mighty Hanuman gets free of all adversities and relief from all pains.

O Hanuman, the master of senses, may you be victorious, may you be victorious, may you be victorious. May you shower your grace lovingly, as a Guru does, and reveal to me the knowledge of devotion to Rama.

One who recites Hanuman Chalisa a hundred times (or for hundred days) is released from bondage and obtains great bliss”.

One who reads this Hanuman Chalisa obtains Siddhi (accomplishment or liberation). Shiva himself bears witness to this statement.

Tulsidas is always a devotee of Hari. O Lord, make my heart your abode.


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