Date of Award

8-1975

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Religious Sciences

Supervisor

D. Kinsley

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to study Tulsi Dâs' views on the interaction of love of God and social duty as expressed in the Râmcaritmânas. In order to determine the distinctiveness of Tulsi Dâs' position on the subject under consideration, an effort is made at situating the Râmcaritmânas within the over-all context of the Hindu tradition, to which Tulsi Dâs repeatedly claimed his own indebtedness.

The typological approach is used in preferance to the historical survey in order to describe the place additionally recorded to both love of God and social duty within the Hindu tradition. On the basis of this approach, it is argued that as the tradition developed there emerged three different emphasis which by medieval times had become discernible as distinct types: "ordthodox theism" representing the middle or central stream where both social duty and love of God are kept in balance; "vedic orthodoxy" representing the position where social duty is considered the sulvific path par excellence while love of God plays a negligible rȏle; and finally "antinomian theism" representing a position where the emphasis is on love of God to the negligence of traditional duties.

The present thesis claims that the Râmcaritmânas represents an attempt to revive the first or "middle" position in medieval North India. This claim is substantial by a study of Tulsi Dâs' growinopus in the light of its socio-political, religious and literary background.

It is argued that the Râmcaritmânas can be considered as a reaffirmation of the Hindu tradition against the menacing impact of the Muslim political rule, which culminated in Akbar's universalist politicy; against the antinomian devotional trend, very much alive in medieval North India, which threatened traditional values, particularly those associated with social and domestic duties; against Vedic orthodox circles which tended to diminish the importance of love of God as an important constituent of Hinduism.

The attention given to the literary background of the Râmcaritmânas is aimed at determining the degree of distinctiveness in Tulsi Dâs own religious views. On the basis of a systematic comparison between the Râmcaritmânas and its main literary sources, the thesis establishes that while Tulsi Dâs reaffirmed the central position, he maintained a distinctiveness of his own. This he achieved by dealing with the tension between love of God and social duty as an important issue, and by relentlessly emphasizing love of God as the preeminent salvific path.

Finally, it is shown that Tulsi Dâs offered a way of resolving the growing tension between love of God and social duty by proposing the will of God as the ultimate criterion of decision and the supreme principle of integration. This solution enabled him both to encourage the devotee householder to fulfill his social and domestic duties, and at the same time justify the desire of certain enthusiasts to spend their whole life and time in the praise and worship of the Lord.

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