Adverse comments on Dalits and women in Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas were most probably added later by someone else and should be removed, says a scholar who has been studying and analysing for more than 50 years the manuscript of the Hindu epic poem written by the 17th century saint-poet.
"Adverse reference to or remarks against Dalits and women should be removed and not be allowed to continue," Vijay Shankar Dubey, a retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and vice chancellor of Patna-based Nalanda Open University, told IANS in an interview.
In his research paper on 'Relevance of Ramcharitmanas in the Present Environment', Dubey said that Ramcharitmanas had 27 lines that were either controversial or simply out of context. Eight lines were derogatory to Dalits or women.
"I strongly believe that these lines were added later by someone. We have no proof to say that these lines were originally written by Tulsidas," Dubey said, stressing that the adverse references and out of context lines were not in the original Ramcharitmanas.
"I can say this after studying Ramcharitmanas for over five decades and analysing it daily," he said.
Dubey said the hand-written manuscripts of Ramcharitmanas was completed in 1598 but the earliest hand-written copy found today of its first canto, the Bal Kand, dates from 1661.
Lala Chakkanji came out with a version in 1704 and Udhoram released his own version 131 years after Tulsidas had written his epic, he added.
With the printing press arriving in India in 1660, lines and words of Ramcharitmanas kept on changing over the years. "I have observed 4,000 lines out of total 13,000 and 15,000 words out of total 86,000 that have been interpolated," he added.