A lavishly illustrated manuscript of the Ramcharitmanas

A lavishly illustrated manuscript of the Ramcharitmanas

‘Ramcharitmanas’ is undoubtedly the greatest work of the 16th century Hindi devotional poet Tulsi Das and everybody should know about the lavishly illustrated copy of this manuscript, the interesting facts of which I am sharing with the readers. This copy was commissioned by a royal patron, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II (1835-1880) of Jaipur. The rulers of Jaipur are Kachwaha Suryavanshi Rajputs i.e. claiming descent from the Hindu Sun God Surya through Kusha, one of the twin sons of Rama and Sita. It is particularly appropriate therefore that Ram Singh II should have commissioned this lavish manuscript of Tulsi Das’s Hindi version of the life of Rama. It was copied in Varanasi over a period of some seven years between the Balkand dated Vikram Samvat 1914 (1857) and the Uttarkand dated Vikram Samvat 1921 (1864). This long period involved in bringing out this masterpiece lavishly decorated rather illustrated version was undoubtedly due to the time consumed in completing the illustrative paintings rather than the actual copying of the text itself.