Devotional aspects of Goswami Tulsidas

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V Subrahmanian

Aug 8, 2022, 3:31:44 AMAug 8
to Advaitin
FB post by Sri Divyasanu Pandeyji.

Goswami Sri Tulsidas Ji was a smarta Brahmana who without any discrimination among Ganesha, Shiva, Devi, Vishnu and Surya, worshipped Panchayatana and, his ishta was Sri Sitaramamurthy. This is evident from his works.
He had no such insistence that "Vishnu is the only supreme (and others like Ganapati, Shiva etc are not)" - as is often seen in Vaishnava sects of Srivaishnava, Madhva, Ramanandi, Gaudiya etc. In light of the following points, one should ask the vaishnava Acharyas of the Madhva, Srivaishnava and other sects to decide whether Tulsidas ji was a smarta brahmana, just like Adi Shankara, Appaydeekshita, Shyamashastri and Tyagaraja-

1- Shri Tulsidas ji Maharaj starts his works with offering prayers to Ganesha and not with the praise of Vishvaksena. In his Vinayapatrika, he has praised even Bhairava, but there is no separate stuti for Vishwaksena.

2- Sri Tulsidas ji has praised bhagavaan Shiva in many places with adjectives like parabrahmaswaroopa, nirguna, nirvikalpa, nirakara, pranavamoola, tureeya, goteeta, Ishvara etc. He has described Rama, his ishtadeva, as Shiva's servant in vinayapatrika [दूसनरिपुसेवक... song 9], as well as, devadeva, i.e., the god of all gods [song 9]. Madhvas, who consider Shiva (Rudra) even below Vayudeva, and shrivaishnavas who who consider Shiva to be Paramavaishnava, cannot agree to this description.

He has often referred to Shiva as Rudra which is same as the smarta tradition of Adi Shankara and different from the opinion of shrivaishnavas with respect to Rudra. He has described Shiva in Vinayapatrika as sachchidananda, sarvajnya, yajnyesha, achyuta, vibhu, and what more to state, even brahman (the supreme) which is not in accordance with the Vaishnava opinion.

3- Sri Tulsidas ji has praised Shiva, in the 11th song as विष्णुविधिवन्द्याचरणारविन्दम् which means that the feet of Shiva ji are worshipped by Vishnu and Brahmaji. This is a different opinion from Vaishnavacharyas.

4- Shri Tulsidasji Maharaj has worshipped Devi as Mahamoolamaya. He has praised her as Vishwamoola [Vinayapatrika/song 15]. He has said all this, not for Lakshmi, but for the Trishuladharini Mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya. In Gita, bhagavaan has stated about his trigunatmika maaya with respect to his incarnations as per अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा etc (bhagavadgeeta 4/6) and the same has been described by Adishankara in his bhashya as vivartaroopa Mayashabalita Parabrahma. She is the same trigunatmika prakriti, worshipped by tulasidasa. She is the Haimavati Uma of kenOpanishat.

Tulsidasji called her Samastajagatswamini and Maheshbhamini (Shiva's consort). She is the supreme. Will madhva-s accept it in light of their taratamya! This is not according to Vaishnavism.

5- In his Kashistuti, Tulsidasaji rather seems to look like a Shaiva-smarta, that is, a smarta who keeps Shiva in the middle of Panchayatana. This is so as he has described Shivatattva and Shivapanchakshari Mantra as being the life-form of Kashi in such a manner that, his vaishnava-smarta-nature, considering Rama as his ishtadeva, which is different from the vaishnava dharma of the Madhvas, the Shrivaishnavas, the Gaudiyas and various other Vaishnavas, appears to be transformed into Shiva-centered-smart-dharma-parayanatva. And why shouldn't it be so, as this is the characteristic of a virtuous smarta who is simultaneously Shaiva, Shakta, Ganapatya, Kaumara, Saura and Vaishnava.

He respects everyone without entering into the paths of Tantra, Aagama, Pancharatra, Pundrabheda etc, and remains engaged in the daily devotional service of the Vedas and remains faithful to the words of Jaimini without indulging into forbidden deeds (vikarma), and remains ready for the knowledge of the Brahman, becoming a follower of path shown by Badarayana. While on one hand, Tulasidasa has called Shivapanchakshari as the life of Kashi, on the other hand, he has described bhagavaan Vindumadhava as the joy of Kashi. This is a wonderful example of Shivakeshavabhakti.

6- Shri Tulsidas ji has repeatedly called Hanuman ji as Rudravatara (Eleventh among Rudras - Vinaya Patrika, song 27), Shankar-Suvana (Shiva's amsha). This is not in line with the opinions of those who consider Vayu to be much higher above Shiva (Rudra), i.e., Madhva-s; those who believe in Ramanuja's commentary of Rudraprashna, i.e., Shrivaishnava-s and other Vaishnavas belonging to various sects. Tulasidasa calls Hanuman ji as Veda-Vedanga-Brahmavadi, not Pancharatra-Vaikhanas-vadi. And why should he say so, as he was a follower of smarta tradition!

7- Shri Tulsidas ji Maharaj has praised the Sun God in the very second song of Vinaya Patrika. Describing the form of bhagavaan Surya, as per scriptures, he calls him Hari-Sankara-bidhi-murti (Harishankaravidhimurti) ,i.e., form of Vishnu-Shiva-Brahma, in accordance to the smarta belief system that surya assumes the form of brahma in the morning, Shiva in the midday and Vishnu in the evening [according to some Puranas, Vishnu in the midday and Shiva in the evening].

All in all, Surya is the Parabrahman, embodiment of all deva-s. Tulsidas ji says that Vedapuranapragat Jas Jagai – that is, your glory is shining in the Vedas and Puranas.

 This does not match with the opinions of Vaishnavas who consider the Sun to be the form of Vishnu, as the one present in the centre of savitrimandala, and not as brahmaswaroopa or shivaswaroopa.

8- In the 49th song of Vinayapatrika, Shri Tulasidasa has praised Hari and shankara simultaneously. Such a depiction of Harihara-bhakti is impossible to be found among Vaishnavas who do not consider Shiva as Parabrahman. Only a smarta can understand the oneness of deva-s and state it.

There are many such examples. It is a herculean task to enumerate and present all of them.

Just as Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada performed Panchadevopasana with impeccable intellect while having devotion to Narayana, as Appaya Dikshita, who believed in Shiva as the supreme, devoted his life to Panchdevopasana with no discrimination among panchadeva-s, it is clear from these few abovementioned examples that Tulsidas ji, without having the prejudice to consider Vishnu as the only Parabrahma Paratpara, worshipping Ganapati Shiva, vishnu, Devi and Surya with equal state of devotion, was foremost among smarta-s who considered Sri Sitaramchandramurti as his ishtadeva.

Tulasidasa has established supremacy of varnashramadharma and path of veda-s in his description of Rama - rajya as "baranasrama-nija-nija- dharama-nirat bedapatha loka", which means that people in ramarajya are involved in the activities as per their varna, treading on the path of vedas. In ideal ramarajya, Tulasidasa has not described tantra and purana procedures like Mudradharana and Panchasankara etc. This non-inclusion of taptamudra, panchasanskara etc is not as per the beliefs of vaishnavas.

At many instances, He has described sandhyavandana (sabahi sandhyabandanu keenha etc.). Why hasn't he described the Tantrokta Kalpas in an ideal way of life - it is a question to ponder. Because of being a smarta, he favours sanatanadharma having varnashrama based on birth and commended by shrauta and smarta rituals. He doesn't favour various Vaishnavaadi-Tantra paths which are propogated by Shiva and others, for those who wish to return to Vedic religion after becoming nastika-s.

All glories to the sun of smarta tradition, Tulasidasa who is the honey bee hovering over the lotus feet of Sita and Rama!

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