Shri Ram Charit Manas
(also known as sapt sopan) consists of seven parts,
of which the first two, titled Bālkāṇḍ (Childhood Episode) and Ayodhyākāṇḍ (Ayodhya Episode), make up more than half of the work. The later parts are Araṇyakāṇḍ (Forest Episode), Kiṣkindhākāṇḍ (Kishkindha Episode), Sundarkāṇḍ (Pleasant Episode), Laṅkākāṇḍ (Lanka Episode) and Uttarkāṇḍ (uttar=answer Episode),in this you find answers to many questions. The work is primarily composed in the Chaupai metre (four-line quatrains), separated by the Doha metre (two-line couplets), with occasional Soratha and various Chhand metres.
Tulsidas writes, “Ramayan is the sublime shadow of the tree of Divinity. One who seeks it, or comes near it, leaves his miseries far and behind.”
Invocations at the beginning of each episode:
Tulsidas began every chapter with an invocation because he believed that reading, and indeed the writing, of the story of Ram, required the right frame of mind, and also the divine assistance of God. Typically the first three or four verses of each chapter are invocations.
The beginning of Bālakāṇḍa has invocations to deities such as Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh and Hanuman.
Ayodhya Kānd begins with the following verse: May He in whose lap shines forth the Daughter of the mountain king, who carries the celestial stream on His head, on whose brow rests the crescent moon, whose throat holds poison and whose breast is support of a huge serpent, and who is adorned by the ashes on His body, may that chief of gods, the of all, the Destroyer of the universe, the omnipresent Shiv, the moon-like Shankar, ever protect me.
The first Doha of Ayodhya Kānd is the famous two line couplet: Cleansing the mirror of my mind with the dust from the lotus feet of the revered Guru, I sing Sri Ram’s untarnished glory, that bestows the four rewards of human life. This is the same couplet that begins the great poem of Hanuman, the Hanuman Chalisa.
Aranya Kānd’s first shlok is: I reverence Bhagavan Shankar, the progeny of Brahma, the very root of the tree of piety, the beloved, devotee of King Shri Ram, the full moon that brings joy to the ocean of wisdom, the sun that opens the lotus of dispassion, the wind that disperses the clouds of ignorance, who dispels the thick darkness of sin and eradicates the threefold agony and who wipes off obloquy.
Kishkindha Kānd commences with: Lovely as a jasmine and a blue lotus, of surpassing strength, repositories of wisdom, endowed with natural gracem excellent bowmen, hymned by the vedas, and lovers of the cow and Brahmans, who appeared in the form of mortal men through their own Maya as the two noble scions of Raghu, the armours of true religion, friendly to all and journeying in quest for Sita, may they both grant us Devotion.
Sundar Kānd begins with: I adore the of the universe bearing the name of Ram, the chief of the Raghu’s line and the crest-jewel of kings, the mine of compassion, the dispeller of all sins, appearing in human form through His Maya, the greatest of all gods, knowable through Vedanta, constantly worshipped by Brahma, Shambhu, and Shesh, the bestower of supreme peace in the form of final beatitude, placid, eternal, beyond the ordinary means of cognition, sinless and all-pervading.
Lanka Kānd begins: I adore Shri Ram, the supreme deity, the object of worship even of Shiv, the Dispeller of the fear of rebirth, the lion to quell the mad elephant in the form of Death, the Master of Yogis, attainable through immediate knowledge the storehouse of good qualities, unconquerable, attributeless immutable, beyond the realm of Maya, the of celestials, intent on killing the evil-doers, the only protector of the Brahmanas, beautiful as a cloud laden with moisture, who has lotus like eyes and appeared in the form of an earthly king.
Finally Uttar Kānd’s first Shlok is: I unceasingly extol Shri Ram, the praiseworthy of Sita the chief of Raghu’s line, possessed of a form greenish blue as the neck of a peacock and adorned with a print of the Brahman’s lotus-foot, which testifies to His being the greatest of all gods-rich in splendour, clad in yellow robes, lotus-eyed, ever-propitious, holding a bow and arrow in His hands, mounted on the aerial car named Pushpak, accompanied by a host of monkeys and waited upon by His own brother Lakshman.
Goswami Tulsidas similarly ends every chapter in the same manner.
Every Kānd is formally concluded by Goswami Tulsidas. The example below is an example of the ending of Kishkindha kānd.
Iti Srimad ramacharitamanase sakala kali kalusavi dhvamsane caturthah sopanah samaptah.
Translation: Thus ends the fourth descent into the Manas lake of Sri Rama‘s exploits, that eradicates all the impurities of the kali age. All the other kānds are concluded in the same way where the word caturthah is substituted, according to the kānd being concluded.