प्रभु भल कीन्ह मोहि सिख दीन्हीं।
मरजादा पुनि तुम्हरी कीन्हीं॥
ढोल गवाँर शूद्र पशु नारी।
सकल ताड़ना के अधिकारी॥

Drums, the illiterate, lower caste, animals and women deserve a beating to straighten up and get the acts together.

This is written in Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas. Similar post from Quora discusses, how this was said by Sea deity to Lord Rama before creating Ramsetu.

Without criticizing anyone, I would like to know how is this quote relevant in today's time and what could have lead an intellectual like Tulsidas to write such a verse?

[Note: From a source, I also heard that Chaanakya had approved this quote.]

  • 2
    Goswami Tulsidas did not know then, that one day he would become "World Famous" and that a simple quote of his, with respect to a small event, in a big narrative like Ramayana, would get pinpointed.He was a very simple/straightforward ,but, superlative devotee of Sri Rama. Oct 21 '16 at 18:18

This is one of the most misinterpreted verses of Ramcharitmanas. Tulsidas had no intention of showing women low by citing this verse.

We have to see the context of the verse: This verse isn't told by Ram or Tulsidas himself. This was told by "sea god" in fearful state begging his life. He can tell anything in life saving condition. Furthermore here he is shown as a villain. Ram tells him idiot. Kakbhusundi tells him नीच  . So there is no importance of citing this verse. One can't condemn the writer of a film by citing the verse of antagonist, this case is similar.

This happens in Sundara kanda of Ramcharitmanas as following:

विनय न मानत जलधि जड़ गए तीनि दिन बीती।
 बोले राम सकोप तब भय बिनु होई न प्रीति ।।

Three days had elapsed, the crass ocean would not answer the Lords prayer. Råma thereupon indignantly said "There can be no love without inspiring fear."

लछिमन बान सरासन आनू ।
सोषों बारिधि बिसिख कृसानू।।
 सठ सन बिनय कुटिल सन प्रीती
सहज कृपन सन सुंदर नीती।।
ममता रत सन ग्यान कहानी।
अति लोभी सन बिरति बखानी।।
क्रोधिहि सम कामिहि हरि कथा
ऊसर बीज बएं फल जथा।। २
 अस कहि रघुपति चाप चढावा ।
यह मत लछिमन के मन भावा।।
 संधानेउ प्रभु बिसिख कराला ।
उठी उदधि उर अंतर ज्वाला।।
मकर उरग झष गन अकुलाने ।
जात जंतु जलनिधि जब जाने ।।
 कनक आर भरि मनि गन नाना ।
बिप्र रूप धरी आयउ तजि माना।। ४

Lakshmana, bring Me My bow and arrows; I may as well dry up the ocean with a missile presided over by the god of fire. Supplication before an idiot , friendship with a rogue, inculcating liberality on a born miser, talking wisdom to one steeped in worldliness, glorifying dispassion before a man of excessive greed, a lecture on mindcontrol to an irascible man and a discourse on the exploits of Hari to a libidinous person are as futile as sowing seeds in a barren land. So saying, the Lord of theRaghus strung His bow and this stand (of the Lord) delighted Lakshmans heart. When the Lord fitted the terrible arrow to His bow, a blazing fire broke out in the heart of the ocean; the alligators, serpents and fishes felt distressed. When the god presiding over the ocean found the creatures burning, he gave up his pride and, assuming the form of a Brahmana, came with a gold plate filled with all kinds.
काटेहिं पइ कदरी फरइ कोटि जतन कोउ सींच।
बिनय न मान खगेस सुनु डाटेहिं पइ  नव नीच ।। ५८ ।।

Though one may take infinite pains in watering a plantain it will not bear fruit unless it is hewed. Similarly, mark me, O king of birds, (continues Kakbhusundi) a vile fellow heeds no prayer but yields only when reprimanded.

सभय सिंधु गहि पद प्रभु केरे ।
छमहु नाश सब अवगुन मेरे।।
गगन समीर अनल जल धरनी ।
इन्ह कइ नाथ सहज जड़ करनी।।
तब प्रेरित मायाॅ उपजाए।
सृष्टि हेतु सब ग्रंथनि गाए।।
प्रभु आयसु जेहि कहं अस कहई ।
सो तेहि भाॅति रहें सुख लहई।। २ ।।
प्रभु भल कीन्ह मोहि सिख दीन्ही।
 मरजादा पुनि तुम्हरी कीन्ही।।
 ढोल गवांर सूद्र पसु नारी ।
 सकल ताड़ना के अधिकारी।। ३ ।।

 प्रभु प्रताप मैं जाब सुखाई ।
 उर्तारेहि कटकु न मोरि बडाई।।
 प्रभु अग्या अपेल श्रुति गाईं ।
करौं सो बेगि जो तुम्हहि सोहाई।। ४।।

The god presiding over the ocean clasped the Lordís feet in dismay. Forgive, my lord, all my faults. Ether, air, fire, water and earth all these, my lord, are inert by nature. It is Måyå (Cosmic Nature) which brought them forth for the purpose of creation under an inspiration from You; so declare all the scriptures. One would attain happiness in life only by remaining where he has been placed by the Lord. My Lord has done well in giving me a lesson; but You have fixed certain innate treat for everyone. A drum, a rustic, a sudra, a beast and a woman all these deserve instructions. ll be dried up and the army will cross over; but this will bring no credit to me. Your command, however is inviolable; thus declare the Vedas, I shall do at once what pleases You.

Further the verse can be taken as positively also :  

ढोल गवाॅर =  ignorant who is like dhol (without intellect)

  सूद्र पशु नारी = women with low animal character

Similarly there are other dialogues too spoken by others. In Chaupai of 4th Doha of Aryanya kanda Anusuya tells Sita 

धीरज धरम मित्र अरु नारी  ।
 आपद काल परखिये चारी ।।

  Patience, Religion, Friend and Women are tested in difficult times.

  Here 'women' are compared with 'religion', 'friend', i.e. with good qualities.

Hence these are all due to the context or person who is telling.


What could have led an intellectual like Tulsidas to write such a verse?

Mahatma Gandhi in his book Hinduism According to Gandhi: Thoughts, Writings and Critical Interpretation responds to the criticism toward Tulsidas' disparaging remarks about women.

He's basically saying: Don't shoot the messenger.

I admit that Tulsidas has, unintentionally as I think, done injustice to womankind. In this, as in several other respects also, he has failed to rise above the prevailing notions of his age. In other words Tulsidas was not a reformer; he was only a prince among devotees. The faults of the Ramayana are less a reflection on Tulsidas than a reflection on the age in which he lived.

What should be the attitude of the reformer regarding the position of women or towards Tulsidas under such circumstances? Can he derive no help whatever from Tulsidas? The reply is emphatically 'he can.' In spite of disparaging remarks about women in the Ramayana it should not be forgotten that in it Tulsidas has presented to the world his matchless picture of Sita. Where would be Rama without Sita? We find a host of other ennobling figures like Kausalya, Sumitra, etc., in the Ramayana. We bow our head in the reverence before faith and devotion of Shabari and Ahalya. Ravana was a monster but Mandodari was a sati.

In my opinion these instances go to prove that Tulsidasji was no reviler of women by conviction. On the contrary, as far as his convictions went, he had only reverence for them. So much for Tulsidasji's attitude towards women.

  • Nice to have another perspective. However, why should Gandhiji pinpoint Tulsidas for this verse, when the latter is just describing it on behalf of sea-god (other answer)? In any case, Tulsidas appears less harsh compared to Manusmruti verses. May be those eras were different.
    – iammilind
    Oct 21 '16 at 0:40
  • 1
    In the other answer you can see Rama also saying things like "Supplication before an idiot, friendship with a rogue, inculcating liberality on a born miser, talking wisdom to one steeped in worldliness, glorifying dispassion before a man of excessive greed, a lecture on mindcontrol to an irascible man and a discourse on the exploits of Hari to a libidinous person are as futile as sowing seeds in a barren land." -- so it might be Tulsidas speaking thru Rama. Tulsidas might be reflecting upon then times thru his poetry and characters. Oct 21 '16 at 4:31

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