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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 139-142

Interface between humanities, spirituality, and medical science in ramacharitmanasa

Department of Cardiology, National Heart Institute, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission26-Jun-2022
Date of Decision26-Jun-2022
Date of Acceptance26-Jun-2022
Date of Web Publication28-Jul-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shridhar Dwivedi
Department of Cardiology, National Heart Institute, East of Kailash, New Delhi - 110 065
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injms.injms_78_22

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How to cite this article:
Dwivedi S. Interface between humanities, spirituality, and medical science in ramacharitmanasa. Indian J Med Spec 2022;13:139-42

How to cite this URL:
Dwivedi S. Interface between humanities, spirituality, and medical science in ramacharitmanasa. Indian J Med Spec [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 30];13:139-42. Available from: http://www.ijms.in/text.asp?2022/13/3/139/352633

Ramacharitmanasa popularly known as “Ramayana” or “Manasa” is an epic narration of Lord Rama by poet Tulsidas sometime in 1574 [Figure 1]. Rama is considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu according to Hindu belief/Sanatan Dharma. Ramayana is a poetic compendium of Rama's entire life story in colloquial Hindi, the then common language of masses in Oudh, Braj, Central, and Rajputana regions of then India.[1]
Figure 1: Ramcharitmanas English.

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  Various Chapters and Their Contextual Contents Top

The entire text has been written in seven chapters/descents, namely Bala-Kanda (Birth and thereafter), Ayodhya-Kanda (Stay at Ayodhya and nearby), Aranya-Kanda (Stay in the deep forest), Kiskindha-Kanda (Stay at Kiskindha, present-day Hampi, Karnataka), Sundara-Kanda (Hanuman's successful mission), Lanka-Kanda (Great Fight at Lanka present-day Sri Lanka), and Uttara-Kanda (The aftermath/Ramarajya). In Bala-Kanda, the poet has amply described the reasons and circumstances of Lord Rama's birth at Ayodhya, his childhood, adolescence, and marriage with Sita. Sita was the daughter of Janaka, the King of Janakpur, presently in Nepal. Ayodhya-Kanda deals with the return of Rama after marriage, his proposed coronation thereafter, step-mother Kaikeyi's conspiracy to install her own son, Bharata, instead on the throne and send Rama to the forest for 14 years, Rama's departure to the forest along with newlywed Sita and younger brother Lakshmana, sudden cardiac death of Maharaja Dasaratha, Bharat's refusal to rule Ayodhya and Rama's insistence on continuing his stay at a forest in pursuance to father's promise to queen Kaikeyi. In Aranya-Kanda, Tulsidas describes Rama's stay in the deep forest, Sita's kidnapping by devil Ravana and forcibly taking her away to Lanka, Rama's grief for Sita, and his exploratory visits to the forest. Thereafter comes Kiskindha-Kanda which describes Rama's meeting with Hanuman, the monkey-God, forging of friendship with Sugriv, the monkey-king of Kishkindha (Present-day Hampi, Karnataka), and sending of search parties to look for the kidnapped Sita. Then comes Sundara-Kanda, wherein the laudable role of great Hanuman in locating Sita at Ashoka Garden, Lanka, his open challenge to ten-headed monster Ravana in his court, burning of well-protected golden Lanka by Hanuman, his safe return and reporting to Lord Rama and the entire party reaching the seacoast of the vast Indian Ocean overlooking Lanka is beautifully described. The sixth chapter Lanka-Kanda depicts Rama and his entire army crossing the great sea, the big fight between Lakshman and Indrajit, wherein Lakshman is grievously injured and Hanuman brings the life-saving herb “Sanjivani” from the Himalayas overnight, and a fierce battle between Rama and Ravana wherein Rama and his army finishes entire clan of Ravana. At the end of this great war, Rama's confidante Hanuman brings back Sita to Rama and Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravana gets the throne of Lanka. Rama plans to return to Ayodhya and sends Hanuman as his emissary to Bharat to let him know about his return to Ayodhya well in time. It is at this point that the last chapter Uttara-Kanda begins. Rama returns to Ayodhya by “Pushpak Vimana,” an aerial chariot forcibly taken by Ravana from Kuber, the God of wealth. After the death of Ravana, this chariot was owned by Lanka King designate Vibhishan who in turn gave that to Rama for going to Ayodhya. After reaching Ayodhya, Rama returns the chariot to the original master, the Kuber. There is a great jubilation in Ayodhya after the return of Rama thereafter occurs the great coronation. Rama becomes the king of Ayodhya. Now onward the golden time for Ayodhya begins what is popularly described as “Ramrajya – rule of law, culture and humanities” in which the entire universe was bestowed justice and peace be it human, tree, plants, animals, and terrestrial objects.[1]

  Poetic Skill Top

In presenting such a comprehensive account of Rama's entire life, the poet has used his superb poetic skill, humanitarian instinct, and contemporary knowledge so scholarly that it amazes present-day literary experts, linguistics, astrologers, and medical experts about his deep knowledge in these fields. Being a profound Sanskrit scholar Tulsidas has such a mastery over the appropriate use of words for the same thing he would use at different times befitting to poetic requirements, punctuation, and situation. For example, for Rama he has used some twenty different names like bhanukulnath, koshalpurnath, kripasindhu, kripanath, prabhu, prabhuhin , raghunath, raghupati, Ram, Raghubir, raghurai, ramchandra, raghunayak, Kripa Sindhu, Nath, Raghuraya, kripanidhi. Karunanidhi, bhagwana, kripaniket, koshalnath; similarly for Sita poet uses six different synonyms, for example, Sita, Vaidehi, Janaksuta, Janaktanya, Janaki, Janakkumari; for Hanuman some 14 different names, for example, Hanu, Hanumanta, Markat, Bandar, Vanar, Kapi, Kapiis, Pavantanay, Pavankumar, Vaayuputr, Marutsut, Anjninandan, Anjnisut, Mahaveer, and similarly for Indian ocean some nine different names such as, Udadhi, Jaldhi, Jalnidhi, Mhodadhi, Payodhi, Payonidhi, Paathodhi, Sagar, Sindhu, and Varidhi. He has used these words appropriately as per poetic and situational requirements to convey the exact sense. It would be difficult to find single equivalent words in English conveying the same meaning and sense. This is a remarkable poetic skill of Tulsidas, thanks to his profound Sanskrit knowledge which helped him in choosing the correct words relevant to an event or person.[2]

  The Interface Top

Remarkable thing about Tulsidas was his elucidation of certain human behavior such as lifestyle, equanimity, parenting, depression, certain physiological phenomenon, medical ethics, and compassion which have profound medical relevance and significance to human health.[3] Just to enumerate a few:

Rama's healthy lifestyle

Young Rama and his younger brother Lakshman both used to rise early morning in quite consonance to present-day adage– “Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy wealthy and wise”. For example when he was accompanying sage Vishwamitra at Janakpuri he got up quite early hearing the early morning call of the cock- “u¢he lakhanu nisi bigata suni arunasikhå dhuni kåna, gura te pahilehi Ú jagatapati jåge råmu sujåna”. 226. Toward the close of night, at the caraway of cock, got up Lakmaƒa. The Lord of the universe, the all-wise ›r ∂ Råma, also woke before His preceptor (Baal-Kanda, doha 226). Besides his early morning habits Rama was a strict vegetarian all through his life- “ka ≈ da mμula phala bhari bhari donå, cale ra ≈ ka janu lμu¢ana sonå.1 With cups of leaves full of bulbs, roots, and fruits they sallied forth as paupers to gather gold as spoils ((Ayodhya-Kand, doha 134, couplet 2). There are umpteen number of references wherein Rama has been offered fruits and nuts by forest people which he gladly accepted and ate without any reservation: (Ayodhya-Kand, doha 249, couplet2), (Aranya-Kand, doha 2, couplet 8), (Aranya-Kand, doha 34).

Rama demonstrated a well-composed mind and equanimity in extremely adverse situations. One such example is seen soon after his marriage when he arrived at Ayodhya. King Dasarath was contemplating to declare him the King of Ayodhya, but this was not to be. Thanks to the palace conspiracy hatched by stepmother Kaikeyi. He was asked to proceed for 14 years of exile in the forest. However, Rama true to his composed temperament accepted this with full grace– “ (prasannatå ≈ yå na gatåbhi¶ekatastathå na mamle vanavåsadu¨khata¨, mukhåmbuja ' r ∂ raghunandanasya me sadåstu så maäjulamaΔgalapradå. Ayodhya-Kanda shlok 2. May the splendour of ' r ∂ Råmaís lotus-like face, which neither grew brighter at the prospect of His being installed on the throne of Ayodhyå nor was dimmed by the painful experience of exile in the woods, ever bring sweet felicity to me. Ayodhya-Kand Invocation (2). If we follow this basic rule of keeping our poise in pleasant and unpleasant situations both, many of the ills in our life will cease to exist.

Rama's spiritual life has been amply mentioned in all seven chapters of Ramacharitmanas. This reflects his healthy lifestyle. It is now universally agreed that healthy lifestyle and peaceful mind is the doorway to healthy cardiovascular life.[4] Just opposite to this was the lifestyle of devils who used to eat all kinds of meat and wine- chand3 kahu mahia månua dhenu khara aja khala nisåcara bhacchah∂ Elsewhere the vile demons feasted on buffaloes, human beings, cows, donkeys, and goats (Sundar-Kand. Verse-3). It is no surprise that ten-headed monster Ravana offered several buffaloes and wine to his younger brother Kumbhkaran just before he was to fight with Rama– mahi¶a khåi kari madirå pånå, garjå bajråghåta samånå. Having feasted on the buffaloes and drunk off the wine, Kumbhakarƒa roared like a crash of lightning. Heavily drunk and full of passion for war, he sallied forth from the fort without any troops (Lanka-Kand, doha 63, couplet 1).

Worthy parenting

Poet Tulsidas mentions of good parenting and genes of Sita and Rama both at the time of their marriage– Janaka sukæta mμurati baideh∂, dasaratha sukæta råmu dhare deh∂. Vaideh∂ (S ∂ tå) is the incarnation of Janakaís merit, and Råma is Da ' arathaís virtue personified (Bal-Kand Couplet 309). We now know for definite that the current epidemic of noncommunicable diseases is due to the faulty lifestyle of the parents passed to their next generations.[4]

Depression and sudden cardiac death

Octogenarian Raja Dasarath died supposedly due to an acute heart attack after listening to tragic news from his minister Sumantra that Rama declined to return to Ayodhya even after persistent persuasion. This was too much a shock for aged Maharaja and he suddenly collapsed crying his name– I råma råma kahi råma kahi råma råma kahi råma, tanu parihari raghubara biraha råu gayau suradhåma. 155. Crying ìRåma, Råmaî and again ìRåmaî and yet again ìRåma, Råma, Råmaî, the king cast off his body in his agony of separation from the Chief of Raghuís line and ascended to the abode of gods (Ayodhya-Kand, doha 155). Obviously, this was the end result of old age, acute depression, and sudden cardiac death.

Depression and Suicidal thoughts

Rama's young wife Sita was kidnapped by devil Ravana in the deep forest of Parnkuti near present-day Nasik. Ravana kept her in captivity at Ashoka Garden in Lanka. Sita was threatened by him to submit to the devil's wishes or death and given 1 month time to surrender herself to devil's wish. Lonely and dejected Sita thought of committing suicide by putting herself on fire at Ashoka Garden. She asked for pyre wood and fire to her companion Trijata– “åni kå′ha racu citå banå∂, måtu anala puni dehi lagå∂ Bring some wood and put up a pyre; and then, my mother, set fire to it (Sundar-Kand, doha 11, couplet 2).

Sudden roar and Abortion

Mighty Hanuman after setting the Lanka on fire goes to Sita and begs for leave to go to Rama and pass on the message about her well-being and safety. Sita gives her bracelets to give it to Rama as a mark of her identity and asks Hanuman to request Rama to come early to Lanka to rescue her from the clutches of Ravana. Hanuman then proceeds for the return flight to Kishkindha and roars so loudly that many pregnant devil-women aborted- calata mahådhuni garjesi bhår∂, garbha sravahiÚ suni nisicara når∂. While leaving he roared aloud with such a terrible noise that the wives of the demons miscarried. (Sundar Kand, doha 27, couplet (1). The ill-effects of noise pollution in pregnancy need no overemphasis.

Medical ethics and statesmanship

Ethical advice to physicians for tendering appropriate advice to King and to the patients has been emphatically mentioned by poet Tulsidas in a very crisp manner in the court of egoistic Ravana who used to refuse any genuine advice- saciva baida gura t∂ni jau priya bolahi Ú bhaya åsa, råja dharma tana t∂ni kara hoi begih∂° nåsa. 37. When a minister, a physician and a religious preceptoró these three use pleasing words from fear or hope of reward, the result is that dominion, health, and faithóall the three forthwith go to the dogs (Sundar-Kand doha-37). It is the bounden duty of every physician to give correct advice to his patients irrespective of the status, caste, or race, religion or nationality. Further at another place, the highest standard of ethical practice was exhibited by Ravana's state Vaidya (State physician), Sushen while attending mortally wounded Lakshmana in the battlefield while fighting with Meghnad, son of Ravana. Sushen suggested to bring the herb Sanjivani for saving the life of mortally wounded Lakshmana in a stipulated time, the present-day concept of “Golden Hour.” Hanuman brought the same from the Himalayas and handed over to Sushen who then administered it to Lakshmana- “turata baida taba k∂nhi upå∂, u′hi bai′he lachimana hara¶å∂.1. The physician (Su¶eƒa) then immediately applied the mediceni and Lak¶maƒa cheerfully rose and sat up.”(Lanka-Kand, doha 61, couplet 2).

Physiological phenomenon of spontaneous lactation

This is an outstanding observation of poet Tulsidas when he describes the spontaneous milk discharge from the breast of queen mother Kaushilya after seeing Rama in her room on the day of his proposed coronation. She becomes overwhelmed and there is overflowing of milk from her both breasts. This is a classical physiological response to extreme affection. The same phenomenon happened when Bharata returned from his maternal home to Ayodhya soon after the death of Maharaja Dasarath. Bharat came to meet his mother Kaushilya. This was a very emotional time for Kaushilya as her son Rama had gone to the forest, husband Dasarath had died, and Bharat was in her room consoling and grieving- “asa kahi måtu bharatu hiya° låe, thana paya sravahiÚ nayana jala chåe.(Ayodhya-Kaand, doha 168, couplet 3). Kaushilya became intensely emotional, and it was a physiological response that her both breasts became engorged with milk and started flowing spontaneously. This is a marvelous description of such an intense emotional moment.

Tears during extreme pleasure and grief (crying)

There are umpteen events associated with extreme joy or grief where Rama, Sita, Hanuman, Bharat, Nishad, Shabri, Vibhishan, and others cry and tears start rolling down. This is again a physiological response of the body in most adverse or joyous situations. For example, listening to the queen mother Kaushilya's affectionate statement Bharat became intensely emotional and started crying– sån ∂ sarala rasa måtu bån ∂ suni bharatu byåkula bhae, locana saroruha sravata s∂° cata biraha ura a ≈ kura nae. so daså dekhata samaya tehi bisar ∂ sabahi sudhi deha k∂, tulas ∂ saråhata sakala sådara s ∂ va sahaja saneha k∂ (Ayodhya-Kaand, doha 175, verse 1–4)). Tulsidas has described the above events so brilliantly that it all looks as if happening to us.

The masterpiece

The masterpiece lines in entire Sri Ramcharitmanasa for healing profession are: “para hita sarisa dharma nahiÚ bhå∂, para p∂Rå sama nahiÚ adhamå∂. Rama says to his brothers and court men there is no virtue like benevolence, and no meanness like oppressing others” (Uttara-Kaand, doha40/couplet 1). This couplet underlines the core value of the medical profession, that is, compassion and sharing the grief.[5] It is because of this unique quality of medicine that this profession is called the noblest of all professions and Tulsidas has brought this point so elaborately through Lord Rama's narration to all His courtmen. This very spirit of helping everyone who is in grief in the medical profession prompted our ancient sages to proclaim– there is no greater holy act than treating someone who is suffering.[6]

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Tulsidas G. Sri Ramacaritamanasa. (A Romanized Edition). Gorakhpur, India: Gita Press; 2020.  Back to cited text no. 1
Dwivedi S. Goswami Tulsidas in the Book-Mai Banaras Hoon (I am Banaras). Noida, India: P Dwivedi; 2019.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tripathi M, Tripathi AK, Deora H, Yagnick NS. Indian health care from the Ramayana era to the modern times: Looking backwards, moving forwards. Int J Neurooncol 2021;4:175-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
  [Full text]  
Dwivedi S, Pathak R, Agarwalla R, Ali W. The intergenerational transmission of tobacco habit: Role of parents and the family. J Family Med Prim Care 2016;5:373-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Chinnaiyan KM, Revankar R, Shapiro MD, Kalra A. Heart, mind, and soul: Spirituality in cardiovascular medicine. Eur Heart J 2021;42:2965-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Dwivedi S. Chikitsa Kary: Suryody se Navody Tak Practising medicine: Sunrise to another sunrise Prerana Bharati. Available from: http://www.preranabharati.com/archive30.5.2022/page2. [Last accessed on 2022 Jul 11].  Back to cited text no. 6


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