Tulsidas was in an ecstatic mood and wanted to do Darshan (observation) of Lord Ram. He found peace nowhere and he was unable to stay in one place for long. He went from place to place in search of the Lord.
He crossed the River Gomti and then the River Tamas into the Avadh District. He thought that he should go to Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram; maybe here he would attain the Darshan of his Lord.
Therefore, he went to Ayodhya and paid homage to the holy sites of reverence. He met many Saints and Mahatmas who were engrossed into the devotion of Lord Ram. He decided to reside in Ayodhya for the ‘Chaturmaas’ and engaged in the devotion of Lord Ram. For a long time he did severe penances in Ayodhya however, even there he did not get the vision of Lord Ram.
Tulsidas’ mind was not at ease and day by day, his desire to see Shri Ram grew increasingly intense. However, through his steadfast devotion, he was certain that one day, when the time was right, Lord Ram would give him Darshan and that he should stop searching. Thus, after some time he thought of leaving Ayodhya and moving on.
He decided to undertake a grand pilgrimage of the holy land of Bhaarat. He was still young and had not as yet settled down so he thought the time was right. He planned his Yatra in such a way so that he could visit all four Dhaams (Badrinath, Jagannath. Rameshwar, Dwarika). For many years, he visited all the holy places of pilgrimage and met religious teachers from different walks of life, as mentioned in the following passages.
Tulsidas paid homage to the holy birthplace of Lord Ram and prayed that his trip would be a success. Before leaving on his journey, he put together and collected essential things for his trip and hailing the name of Lord Ram, left Ayodhya.
During his long journey Tulsidas would wake up early in the morning before sunrise, take a bath and perform his daily pooja and such duties. Having completed this he would start for his destination for the day. He would walk for the entire day whilst chanting the holy name of Shri Ram making casual stops on the way. After sunset, he would halt at some place for the night. Here again he would perform his evening prayers and then retire for the evening.
In this way, he passed many towns and villages and paid homage to any temples and holy places he saw on the way.
One day whilst walking, Tulsidas arrived at a village town called ‘Dubauli’. Here resided Hariram Kumar who was feared by all the villagers. He was a very strong person, known throughout the region for his might.
It is said that whilst Tulsidas was carrying out his prayers one evening, Hariram and his friends were busy causing mischief in the area. Soon enough Hariram and his companions saw Tulsidas in prayers and came over to him. For no reason they started to throw stones at him.
Eventually, Tulsidas awoke from his deep meditation and whilst the others made a run for it, Hariram continued to stone him. Tulsidas was angered and pronounced a curse, “Shame on you! Go and become a ghost!”
Note: Some saints have said that Tulsidas was such a pure saint that pronouncing curses was not in his nature. This incident is therefore an uncertain occurrence; but in the light of Tulsidas’ Yatra, he did stay a night in this village where Hariram resided.
From here, Tulsidas left for a town known as ‘Chenkul’. There was a Brahmani by the name of ‘Charukuari’ that resided here. She was always in the service of Sadhus and Saints that passed through the village. Tulsidas was also served well by her and satisfied with her Sewa, he blessed her.
After twenty five long days of travelling, Tulsidas finally reached the abode of Jagannath in Puri. Here he paid homage at the great Jagannath temple to the Lord of the Universe. He spent his days here in prayer, meditation and in the company of Sadhus and Saints. In the Mool Gosain Charit, it is stated that Tulsidas started to rewrite parts of the Valmiki Ramayan in his own writing. (It is said that copies of these have been found and do exist).
From Jagannath, Tulsidas left for Rameshwar in the South. Again, he passed through many villages, temples and holy sites on the way. He arrived in Rameshwar and here he paid homage to the grand Jyotirling of Lord Shiva. He stayed here for a while meditating upon Lord Shiva and Lord Ram. For Tulsidas this was a special place because it was here that Lord Shiva and Lord Ram were shown to be one within the other. The relationship between Lord Shiva and Lord Ram has been narrated at great length in the Maanas by Tulsidas himself (at the beginning of Lanka-Kand).
From Rameshwar, Tulsidas travelled up Northwest towards Dwarika Dham (in western Gujarat) and paid homage to Lord Krishna at this site. Again, he spent many days in reverence to the Lord and in the company of Saints. En-route it is said that he visited Ujjain and the grand Jyotirling of Mahakaleshwar. He is also said to have passed through Nasik (Panchavati) where Lord Ram stayed, while in exile.
Tulsidas travelled up the western route of Bharat and arrived at Badrikashram at the abode of Lord Badrinath. He resided here engaging in prayer, meditation and Pooja for many days.
Note: It is said that Veda Vyas is immortal and still living in the region of Badrikashram. Tulsidas is said to have heard the ‘Mahatmay’ of Badrikashram and Mansarovar here from Veda Vyas. Again, the certainty of this occurrence cannot be confirmed!
From Badrikashram, Tulsidas travelled to Mansarovar high up in the Northern Mountains. Here he gained supreme peace and joy. He performed the Parikrama (circumambulation) of the great Kailash Parvat (Mountain) and paid homage to Lord Shiva. Tulsidas was absolutely delighted at the sight of Kailash and is said to have spent many days there.
Having arrived back at Mansarovar, Tulsidas then made his way to the region of the Nilgiri mountain range. Here again he enjoyed the tranquil surroundings and the air, which was full of bliss. It is here that the great crow Kaagbhusundi and Garudji (Lord Vishnu’s eagle) reside engaging in Ram Katha. It is said that Tulsidas did Darshan of Kaag Bhusundi here in Nilgiri.
From here, he passed through Sukarkhet where he had heard the Ram Katha from his Sadaguru and then arrived in Chitrakut. He spent a while in this region visiting the various places of interest including temples and religious sites.
Finally, after nearly fifteen years of travelling the whole of Bharat, Tulsidas arrived in Kashi, his home to be. He visited the Kashi Vishwanath temple and made salutations to Lord Vishwanath and to express gratitude for ensuring that he arrived back safely from his long journey.
Tulsidas was enthralled with the Land of Kashi. Kashi is a ‘Gyan Bhumi’ – the land of Knowledge and for Tulsidas this applied greatly because he had spent fifteen odd years here under the guidance of Guru Shesanatanji Maharaj. From now on, Kashi was also to be one of Tulsidas’ residences.
Tulsidas had gained a good insight into the different forms of worship having travelled all over Bharat. He realised that because of so many forms of worship, people were segregated. He realised that if this sort of segregation that existed was not addressed, it would take a task of great multitude to re-unite the Hindus together. Moreover, he was aware of the mistreatment of the people of low caste and those that were illiterate.
In one part of Kashi, there was a temple of Hanumanji. Tulsidas made it his home and settled in Kashi where he spent many days in devotion and prayer. He used to bathe in the River Ganga daily and then go to the Kashi Vishwanath temple for Darshan; thereafter for hours, he would be immersed in meditation.
Tulsidas made it a daily routine to give discourses in the evening for a couple of hours having completed his usual daily routine. He began to recite the Ram Katha (discourses about Lord Ram & his life-history) in a simple format for the benefit of all people. This was his first sermon in Kashi, which was full of Pandits and well-versed discourse givers. Nevertheless, Tulsidas felt that he wanted to share his knowledge with the people and instil the devotion of Lord Ram within people’s hearts.
Soon enough Tulsidas’ Ram Katha became quite famous within Kashi and a crowd always gathered in the small temple where he gave the discourses. Such was his love for the Ram Katha that whilst narrating it, tears strolled down his cheeks. Even the listeners were enthralled with Tulsidas’ beauty of speech.
Tulsidas offered his prayers and Pooja every morning after sunrise and again in the evening after sunset. There was a Peepal tree (a holy tree found in Bhaarat) near his place of stay. Having completed his Pooja in the mornings, he would water this Peepal tree with any excess water remaining in his Pooja vessel.
It has been said that a ghost or evil spirit resided in this Peepal tree. The Mool Gosain Charit proclaims that this ghost was none other then Hariram Kumar, whom Tulsidas had pronounced a curse upon, and turned into a ghost. (See previous chapter; others have said that this was a Bhrama Rakshasa - a spirit under curse).
Thus, Tulsidasji carried out this routine of watering this Peepal tree for days, as if he was feeding the ghost that lived in the tree. Through Tulsidas’ daily service, the ghost was kept alive and eventually was freed from the curse, by the sanctified water. However, Tulsidas was unaware of its existence.
Extremely happy with Tulsidasji’s service, the ghost wanted to show his real form to Tulsidas and extend his gratitude to him for services rendered, and to offer him some sort of service in return.
Once as usual, Tulsidasji was watering the foot of the Peepal tree, and the ghost taking this opportunity, suddenly appeared in front of him. Initially, Tulsidas was taken aback and thought that this was some sort of evil spirit. He was unsure of what to do. Full of gratitude the liberated spirit saluted him, “O Holy one! I am very pleased with the daily service that you have offered me, ask me for whatever you wish!”
Tulsidasji stood silent for a while and realised that the ghost was not an evil spirit but a friendly being. He thought of what he could possibly ask for and then realised that there was but one wish that he dreamt of day and night and that was to see Lord Ram. Thus, he said, “Dear Ghost, if you are truly happy with my service then kindly grant me the Darshan of my Lord Ram!”
The ghost thought to himself that what Tulsidas had asked for was truly of great nature. He knew it was difficult to grant him that wish but having thought of a way to grant him the Darshan of Lord Ram he spoke, “Dear holy one! I do not have the power to directly grant you the Darshan of Lord Ram! However I can guide you to someone who can definitely grant you your wish!”
Tulsidas was extremely overjoyed. He had never dreamt that someone would ever grant him such a wish. With joined palms, Tulsidas asked in a humble tone, “Tell me, who will grant me my hearts desire of the Lord’s Darshan?”
The ghost replied, “Lord Ram’s closest and most loved disciple Hanumanji will grant you this wish! He lives on this earth and is the only means of getting to Lord Ram!”
Tulsidas was overjoyed and asked a succession of questions, “Where will I find Hanumanji? Is he here? Will he really guide me to my Lord? Will you take me to him?” The ghost replied, “Holy sir, I am a ghost and hence I am unable to come into contact with him. However I will show you a way so that you yourself can locate him!”
Tulsidas waited in eagerness for the ghost to tell him the location of Ram-doot Hanumanji. The ghost further added, “Hanumanji attends all the recitations of the Ram Katha. Wherever there is Ram Katha he is surely there. He does not take his usual form so it is difficult to recognize him!”
Tulsidas’ mind went straight to his Katha recitals. He had been doing Katha for so long. Why then had he not been able to locate or see him? Tulsidas was even more delighted at the thought that whilst he was narrating the Katha, Hanumanji himself had actually been attending his discourses in some form!
Whilst Tulsidas was in such thoughts, the ghost further added, “He takes the form of an old diseased man, and for this reason you cannot recognize him. However, he is none other than Shri Hanumanji. His love of Ram Katha is such that he comes to listen to your discourses daily without fail. He is the first one to arrive and the last to leave and he sits right at the back of the audience!”
A thrill ran through Tulsidas’ body and he knew that now his meeting with Lord Ram was certain. Tulsidas thanked the ghost with soft words, “Dear ghost! You have done me a great honour in directing me towards Hanumanji. You are great, because I had only asked for the Darshan of Lord Ram but you have granted me the Darshan of Hanumanji too. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
Tulsidas’ words were soothing for the ghost and as Tulsidas danced with joy, the ghost warned, “Dear Holy one! I have given you the instructions for obtaining the true Darshan of Hanumanji but it may not be straightforward. He may not reveal his true identity straight away.”
Tulsidas listened attentively to the ghosts remarks. The ghost explained further, “You must be very persistent and ensure that he reveals his true form. If you let go of this chance you may never get another one!”
Tulsidas ensured he took a note of this and thanked the ghost once again, which then disappeared. Tulsidas was now very eager for Hanumanji’s Darshan and waited for the best opportunity to locate him.
That evening, full of devotion, Tulsidas arrived at the Katha Mandap (pavilion) earlier than usual. He sat in a corner eagerly waiting the arrival of the first person. As he waited, a frail and diseased elderly man entered the Mandap. He walked right to the back of the Mandap and sat down in one corner. Tulsidas watched very carefully and took a mental note of the old man.
Tulsidas suspected that this could be Hanumanji, and he felt like running to him and falling at his feet. However, he had to be sure and thus, controlled himself. As usual, the place began to fill up heavily and soon enough; the discourse pavilion was packed with eager listeners. The Katha eventually got underway.
Everyone listened attentively to the Katha and took part in singing the praises of the Almighty. The entire discourse that evening seemed to be directed at Hanumanji, in the form of the old man at the back. All the time Tulsidas’ eyes were fixed on him. Finally, after a couple of hours, the discourse concluded with Ram Bhajan and Tulsidas looked to the back of the Mandap where the old man was sitting.
Gradually, most of the people began to disperse from the discourse place for their homes. Time went on and now there were only a handful of people left. The old man had still not moved from his place. Tulsidas was almost certain that this had to be Hanumanji. However, he wanted to make sure that he would be the last one to leave (as mentioned by the ghost).
Finally, there were but two people left in the Mandap, Tulsidas and the old man. Tulsidas was now certain that this had to be Hanumanji and whilst he was thinking, the old man slowly got up to leave. Tulsidas immediately ran up to the old man at the back of the Mandap and fell into his feet.
The man was astonished and looking at Tulsidas, he exclaimed, “What are you doing, let go off my feet!” Tulsidas smiled and said, “Dear holy one, I think I know who you are, but kindly reveal your true form!” Pretending to be ill and to know nothing, the man spoke, “I am an old diseased man and very tired indeed! You are hurting my feet, so please let go and let me get on my way!”
Tulsidas was certain that this was indeed Hanumanji and continued to cling onto his feet. The old man was still trying to hide his true identity and spoke, “What do you want from me?” Tulsidas again smiled and spoke in soft words, “I know that you are Hanumant, Lord Ram’s trusted servant and most loved disciple! Please do me the honour of revealing your true form!”
The old man said, “I am not Hanuman” and tried to walk away. However, Tulsidas persisted, and begged and pleaded with him in several ways, “I will not leave your feet unless you reveal your true self to me and fulfil my wish.” Thus, in the guise of an old man, Hanumanji recognized that Tulsidas was not going to give up.
To reveal his identity, Hanumanji appeared in his true form and said, “Dear Tulsidas! You have realised my true identity. For years, I have come to listen to Ram Katha and have remained unnoticed but today you have revealed my true form! Blessed is your devotion to Lord Ram.”
His joy knew no bounds and with utmost love and emotion, Tulsidas offered Dandavat Pranaam to Hanumanji. As he lay on the floor, remaining with his head at Hanumanji’s feet, his eyes filled with tears of joy.
Hanumanji lifted Tulsidas and embraced him with true Love. Both shed tears of joy. A great Saint had met another and for anyone who would have witnessed this scene, the site was truly amazing.
Tulsidas thus realised that to get to Lord Ram, one has to first please his devotee Hanumanji, and he has stated this fact in the Hanuman Chalisa:
|| Raam Duwaare Tumh Rakhvaare,
Hota Na Aagyaa Binu Paisaare || (H Chalisa)
“…Oh Hanumanji! You are the sentinel at the door of Lord Ram’s mercy-mansion or His divine abode. No one may enter without your permission (get near the Lord without your blessings)…”
Thereafter, Hanumanji spoke, “Dear Tulsidas what is it that you truly wish for?” Tulsidas knew that Hanumanji was wise and knew exactly what he wanted. Nevertheless, he requested, “My master, this servant of yours is truly eager and thirsty for the Darshan of Lord Ram. You are his close and most loved servant, and know of his whereabouts. Please show me Lord Ram or tell me where I may find him. O Hanumanji, have mercy on me.”
Hanumanji smiled and recognised that Tulsidas was a true devotee. Not wanting to make him have to wait any longer Hanumanji spoke, “For the Darshan (sighting) of the Lord you will have to go to Chitrakut, where you will have darshan of Shri Ram, Sita and Lakshman in their gracious form.”
Tulsidas felt immensely happy to hear the words of Hanumanji and once again touched His feet in reverence. He knew that now the Darshan of Lord Ram was going to be a certainty and danced in ecstasy chanting Shri Ram’s sacred name. Having blessed Tulsidas thus, Hanumanji disappeared.
Note: The Scholars of Kashi have said that the grand temple of ‘Sankat Mochan Hanuman’ in Kashi is the actual place where Tulsidas obtained the Darshan and meeting of Hanumanji. The statue of Hanumanji there is in a standing posture with one hand on his heart and one hand pointing in the direction of Chitrakut. Hence, saints have said that this is where Hanumanji directed Tulsidasji towards Chitrakut.
It has also been suggested that this temple was constructed by Tulsidas himself and is one of the twelve temples of Hanumanji in Kashi that Tulsidas established during his lifetime.
In the Hanuman Bahuk, Tulsidasji has mentioned the direction Hanumanji gave him in order for him to meet Lord Ram:
|| Anjanee Kumaar Sodhhyo Raam Paani Paak Hau || (Hanuman Bahuk 40)
“…Anjani Kumar (Hanumanji) took me on and granted me the meeting and Darshan of Lord Ram…”