A Bird’s eye view of Sundara Kandam of Srimad Valmiki Ramayan

hanumanMrs. Mallika Ganesan’s notes made on the daily reading of the Sundara Kandam.

 

Acknowlegements:  Swami Tapasyanada (English translantion), Shri M.K. Venkatraman (Tamil translation)

 

Jambavan the bear awakens the dormant power lying within Hanuman and decides that Hanuman will cross the ocean to Lanka and search for Sita. Accordingly Hanuman embarks on this mission through the “aakash marg” or the skies which is the route followed by heavenly beings.

Chapter 1: The obstacles faced by Hanuman enroute to Lanka and how he overcomes it:

Mynaka a mount suddenly crops up from under the sea at the prompting of the sea god to offer Hanuman rest on his surface. Hanuman on being obstructed by a mountain on his way pushes with his chest and thrusts it aside from his path.

The Mynaka mountain marvels at the strength and determination of Hanuman to achieve his goal. He now appears in a human form atop the mount and respectfully offers Hanuman food from plants on the mount and requests him to rest on his peak. He explains that it is his duty to do so to the one who has embarked on a noble mission and he is also obliged to so because the Wind God who is the father of Hanuman, saved him from Lord Indra who was cutting the wings of the mountains.

In those days, mountains used to have wings and they could fly. In the process the rishis and sages meditating on the mountains were at a risk of falling off. So Lord Indra began to cut the wings of the mountains.

The wind God, Hanuman’s father rescued the Mynaka mountain and hid him under the sea. Therefore he is now available to serve Hanuman. Hanuman is in no mood to break his journey and he thanks Mynaka and moves on purposefully.

Lord Indra is watching the scene from his heavenly abode that Mynaka who escaped him earlier has now popped for a good cause, offering hospitality to Hanuman who is on a mission of Sri Rama.

Lord Indra assures Mynaka that he may no longer fear Indra and is free to take his position on land.

After Hanuman takes leave of the Mynaka Parvat, he soars in the sky with a purposeful mind, while the Devas from Heaven watch him with pride and reverence. They however, want to test his skills and so they ask Surasa, a snake to go and obstruct Hanuman. Even as he is speeding his way through the sky, Surasa in a mountain form appears before Hanuman and obstructs him, stating that he is her “food” for the day. Hanuman humbly states his background and his mission and tells her that he would fulfill her desire after completing his mission. Surasa is adamant and insists that he should enter her mouth. She then expands her mouth as if to devour Hanuman.  In turn Hanuman expands himself to double her size. They then compete with each other in expanding and enlarging their respective bodies.  In the end Hanuman tricks Surasa by reducing his size to thumb like, even as Surasa has expanded her mouth to a 100 yojanas (1yojana = 10 miles) He quickly enters her mouth in his thumb size form and slips out of her tongue in a moment and claims that he has fulfilled her wish. He then moves on.

Simhika an ogre(rakshas – feminine, large hideous beings) tries to pull Hanuman’s shadow. The monkey god starts feeling the weakness in energy because of being pulled. Soon he realizes that it is Simhika the Rakshashi who is waiting to devour him. She opens her mouth wide. Hanuman reduces his size and enters her mouth, tears her apart and moves on at full speed. Simhika falls dead. Brahma had given her a boon that she was to attain Mukti through Hanuman.

Slowly and finally Hanuman reaches the shores of Lanka. He is able to see from the top of the mountain, a beautiful place that is Lanka. He realizes that if he would appear in a huge form, he would be spotted by the rakhasas over there, and so he reduces to his normal size and gauges the city from atop the hill.

Chapter 2:  Entry into Lanka at Night-  Lanka ratri praveshavam.

Hanuman reaches the shores of Lanka and views the city from the mount Trikuta. It is well guarded by the rakshasas. The city itself is well planned and beautiful. It is a creation of Vishwakarma. It has broad roads and beautiful trees and flowers. Hanuman notices Lanka has big buildings and luxurious living.

Even as he views this, his mind is set on worrying about how to enter the city unnoticed, how to locate Sita. He wonders even if he does find Sita, how would the whole army reach this place? Only few like Sugreev, Angad, Bali and him could cross the ocean and reach here. Even as such thoughts cross his mind, he wonders how to get in. He decides that he would make himself the size of a cat and enter at night. Suddenly as if to help him, the moon shines bright and clear to lead him.

Chapter 3:  Confrontation with Lankini

Hanuman crosses over to Lanka and enters the city. Lankini a rakshasi is guarding the city. She stops Hanuman from going inside the city and asks him for the purpose. Hanuman says that he is only viewing the city. When she insists on knowing the real purpose and Hanuman does not give her a convincing answer, she addresses him as “monkey” and punches him and starts attacking him. The Monkey god punches her back but considering that she is a female he reduces the impact. But she falls flat on the ground. It is then that Lankini understands that the curse of Brahma has started taking effect. Brahma has said that the day a monkey would defeat you, know that it is time for Lanka’s destruction. She now humbly allows Hanuman to go inside Lanka and find Sita who is held captive by Ravana.

Chapter 4:  Hanuman’s Search in Lanka

Hanuman after defeating Lankini, enters Lanka instead of the through the gates, he jumps over the walls. He sees the beautiful city of Lanka, decorated in gemstone, well laid roads lined with trees. Birds of different hues, the rakshasis and rakhasas intoxicated with wine. The place was heavily guarded anticipating attacks after Sita was abducted and kept captive there. After a while, the monkey God spots atop a hill the palace of Ravana. It has steps lined with emeralds, pillars of gold and silver and engraved with gemstones. This is heavily guarded. Stealthily he manages to get into his bed room “ Anthapuram of Ravana”.

Chapter 5: Hanuman Seeing  Rakshasas and Rakshasis

Hanuman notices how the rakshas and rakshasis are enjoying themselves. Some of them are inebriated, some are decorating themselves. But alas he is unable to see Sita which makes him sad.

Chapter 6: Entering Ravana’s palace

Description of Ravana’s palace – the campus, the houses of Vibishan, Kumbakarana and other rakshasas., the beautification around the houses surrounded by peacocks and different birds, horses, elephants and chariots, gemstones studded stairs resembling Kubera’s palace.

Chapter  7: Hanuman Seeing the Pushpak Viman – Pushpak Viman Darshanam

Hanuman spots the Pushpak Vimana and marvels at its opulence

Chapter 8: Description of the Pushpak Viman- Pushpaka Viman Varnam

Hanuman traverses the Pushpak Viman. The pushpak vimana is an arial palace which can fly in any direction as per the whim of its occupant/owner. Ravana captured it after defeating Kubera. It was highly opulent, studded with gems and diamonds, gold and silver.

Chapter 9 : Anthpura Darshanam

Hanuman enters the bedrooms of Ravana’s palace. He finds many Rakshasis all huddled together and sleeping blissfully.

The noble minded Hanuman thought to himself after seeing the women in the heirloom of Ravana, how fortunate it would have been if Sita was with her husband Rama, even as the wives of Ravana are with him.Again he thought of Sita, endowed with noble qualities was wrongly abducted by Ravana, the powerful Lord of Lanka.

Chapter 10: Mandodari Darshanam

While looking about in the anthapuram Hanuman saw the mighty Ravana in an opulent cot, studded by gems, a bed fit to be in heaven, sleeping amidst the beauties. He goes on to see various women sleeping in different postures after an amorous night. Finally he spots in a separate bed, a very beautiful woman bedecked in jewels of pearls, diamonds and emeralds. Mistaking her to be Sita, Hanuman performs a monkey dance thinking he has actually found Sita. The woman was actually Mandodari, the wife of Ravana.

Chapter 11: Pan bhumi vijayam: Search in the banquet hall

For a moment, Hanuman gets excited that he had found Sita mistaking Mandodari for Sita. However immediately, he realizes that Sita, the chaste wife of Rama, upon separation from her beloved husband would not be sleeping blissfully. She would not be wearing ornaments, in fact she would not even consume water and would be rather pale. He then proceeds in search of Sita in the banqueting hall of Ravana’s palace. Again he finds the wives of Ravana sleeping tired while Ravana himself was sleeping exhausted after a night of intoxication and women. There was on the table laid meats of various animals and birds, fruits and nuts, a rich spread of meat gruel and other eatables. Seeing the wives of Ravana in a disheveled state and some half clothed, Hanuman feels a sense of guilt on prying into another’s wives.  He feels ashamed that he is intruding into the privacy of another man’s wife, even though he is an enemy. Later however he consoles himself that a woman can be found only among other women even as a member of one species can be found in their own group or herd only. So Hanuman does not regret his intrusion, remembering the greater cause of finding the noble Sita.

Chapter 12: Hanuman’s grief

Inspite of searching everywhere inside the arial edifice (Pushpak Viman) and its surrounding palaces, Hanuman could not trace Sita. Now he started getting into self defeating and negative thoughts. One negative thought led to another and he started feeling depressed. At this point he suddenly arouses himself and thinks “The way to prosperity is never through despair. To be free from despair is real happiness. Only one who never despairs can show interest and enthusiasm in any work. This sloka is considered as one of the navratna gems of sundarakanda, attributed to Mangal, Mars and the gem coral. So Hanuman continues with renewed vigour to search for Sita but in vain. He cannot yet find her anywhere. Again he gets absorbed in anxious thoughts.

Chapter 13: Hanuman in a mood of despair.

Hanuman is in a mood of despair. Again Hanuman gets desparate on not being able to locate Sita.  He visualizes the scene if he returns to Kishkindha without finding Sita, one after another might die of grief and despondency on his failed mission. He himself thinks in terms of committing suicide. Then again he resolves that till he finds Sita he shall search Lanka again and again. He then spots the Ashoka Vatika. Thinking that he has not yet searched in the Ashoka Vatika, he saluted the Gods and moves further. He then peps himself up and prays to Rama, Lakshmana, Rudra, Indra, Yama, Chandra and other celestial beings.

This is an important sloka and is one of the navratna’s of Sundara kanda. It is effective for the planet Budh – Mercury and is like an emerald. Finally Hanuman finds the pathways leading to the Ashoka grove and decides to reduce his size to a small animal, so as not to be spotted by the guards there.

Chapter 14: Search in the Ashoka Grove

With renewed vigour and enthusiasm, Hanuman enters the Ashoka Vaatika. Hanuman observes that the garden is full of Ashoka trees, simsupa trees and other flower trees like Champaka and other fragrant flowers. It was extremely beautiful and was full of different birds and animals such as deer running about. In the midst there was a river flowing which looked pristine. Hanuman himself had transformed himself to a very small size and moved about unnoticed in the Ashoka forest. He felt confident that Sita would certainly come to this grove as she was used to living in the forest. Thus thinking he hid himself behind the thick foliage of a simsupa tree and surveyed the place.

Chapter 15:  Discovery of Sita:  Sita Dharsanam

In the Ashoka grove, Hanuman finds a woman in soiled clothes and lean through fasting. She was surrounded by rakshasis. He goes on to describe the beauty of Sita devi and wonders how Rama could be living separate from Sita. Finally the son of the Wind God was full of joy on recognizing that this was Sita.

Chapter 16:  Sorrowing on account of Sita

When Hanuman saw that sita was sitting under the Ashoka tree like an ascetic, he could not help feel sorrow for her. A high born maiden such as Sita who grew up in palace and who is the beloved of Rama, sitting here alone, surrounded by fierce looking Rakshasis made his heart sorrowful. But now he was sure that this is indeed the Sita he had come in search of.

Chapter 17: Rakshashidarsanam – The Ugly Rakshasa Women

Hanuman, the son of the wind god, perched on the simsupa tree saw the monstrous and hideous looking rakshasis surrounding Sita. He noticed that, some of them had large ears, some with no ears, and some with huge nostrils on their forehead, some with horns etc. Amidst them, Sita shone like a bright moon, though with soiled clothes, unkempt hair and dust laden body. Hanuman felt deep sorrow on seeing her pining away for her husband the noble Rama. Hanuman was however delighted to have found Sita and shed tears of joy and mentally prostrated to Rama and Lakshman while still being perched on the simsupa tree hidden by the thick foliage.

Chapter 18: Ravanagamanam – The coming of Ravana

Ravana awakened by the Vedic chanting of some of the rakshasis in the morning was overcome with lust on thinking of Vaidehi*. He accompanied by a number of his wives went to Ashoka grove to persuade Janaki*.  As Ravana enters the Ashoka grove, Hanuman watches from behind the leaves of the simsupa tree, the imposing and towering personality of Ravana. Though he himself very strong, Hanuman felt a little agitated at the mighty and grandeur of Ravana. Ravana approaches Sita with lustful intentions.

*Different names of Sita.

Chapter 19: Tapasvini Varnanam – Description of ascetic Sita

Hanuman watches from the top of the simsupa tree, Ravana approaching Sita.  The young and blemish less princess of Videha shivered and covered her abdomen and breasts with her thighs and hands. She was dust laden and looked like a Lotus in a pond covered by mud which looked beautiful and ugly.  Various metaphors are used to describe Sita, who lived like an ascetic in Ashoka Grove. Ravana was approaching her with evil desire, which was to lead to his death in the end.

Chapter 20: Ravanavuyam –   Ravana’s proposal to Sita

To that chaste lady, sorrow stricken, austere and oppressed by fear, Ravana began to speak in sweet words persuading her to be his Queen. He offers her gratification such as ornaments, land, servants who will serve her and the place of a Queen above all his other wives. He ridicules Rama saying that he is a wanderer in the forest observing vows and one does not know whether he is alive. He further says that Rama cannot fight him in a battle and has disappeared.

Chapter 21: Ravanatiraskaranam – Sita turns down Ravana’s proposal

Hearing these offensive words of the Rakshas king, Sita was overwhelmed with sorrow and fear. But slowly began to give him a piece of advice. Being a chaste woman she took a blade of grass and put it between her and Ravana, indicating that as a chaste and devoted wife she would not address Ravana directly. She tells him that he should observe the rules of right conduct and should not address the wife of another man in this way. His conduct would bring about destruction of himself and his clan.

Sita says that she cannot be enticed by wealth or the status of a queen and that she should be allowed to join Rama, her husband.”You will soon be able to hear the twang of Rama’s bow”, she said.

Chapter 22 : Ravana’s Ultimatum

On hearing sita’s reply showing him the right course that the king should follow, Ravana is enraged. He again offers her all comforts and finally gives her an ultimatum that before the lapse of two months if she does not accept his proposal to be his wife, she would be chopped to pieces. He then orders the rakshasis of hideous shapes and sizes to threaten cajole or coax Sita into accepting Ravana’s offer or else the consequences would not be good. So saying Ravana walks away with his other mistresses to his palace.

Chapter 23 & 24: Rakshasis threatening Sita

As instructed by Ravana, the rakshasis surrounded Sita who was alone and helpless and turn by turn first advised her to accept Ravan as her husband and enjoy blissful life in Lanka and to forget Rama. If she failed to do so, they threatened to cut her and eat her up. Sita entreats to them that as a human being she can only be faithful to Rama. She quotes examples of various rishis and their wives who are together like Arundhati and Vashista, Rohini and Chandra, Lopamudra and Agastya. But the rakshasis do not heed her. They praise the glory of Ravana, his noble birth, his valour, his achievements and tell her that it is an honour to be his wife who would be looked after his many maids and dressed in the best ornaments and clothes. Finally the rakshasis of terrific form threaten Sita that if she does not heed them, she would be cut to pieces and served as breakfast to Ravana. Hearing all this, Sita alone and helpless breaks into tears, even as Hanuman sitting on the simsupa tree is watching from his perch all that is going on below him.

Chapter 25: Sita’s sorrow

Hearing the cruel words of the rakshasis, Sita wept bitterly. She was agitated by distressing thoughts and sank deep in sorrow. Though threatened by the rakshasis, she was still firm in her mind about preserving her chastity. She told the rakshasis that they might eat her if they wished but she would never submit to their demands.

Chapter 26: Sita tries to commit suicide.C

Continuing her sorrowful mood, her mind sinks to negativity and starts wondering why the brave Rama has not yet come to her rescue. Has Ravana deceptively killed Rama and Lakshmana, has Rama died of sorrow and gone to heaven, or has he become an ascetic. She also wonders why she is still alive, even after undergoing so much torment by the rakshasis and separation from her beloved Rama.

Is her heart of stone, that she could not even die? Such were the thoughts that occurred in her mind. She then philosophises that “great indeed are those learned men, who are above happiness and sorrow. They are unaffected by happiness or unhappiness. They have conquered their senses. They are great sages and she salutes them. This sloka in this chapter is one of the navaratnas, attributed to the planet Jupiter and the gem yellow sapphire. Ultimately she surrenders to her depressing thoughts of giving up her life.

Chapter 27: The Dream of Trijata

While the fierce Rakshasis continued to threaten her, a wise rakshashi named Trijata seeing the terrified Sita, admonished the rakshasis that they were unaware of the ill fate hovering over them by treating the princess of Mithila thus. Trijata goes on to narrate a dream that she had the previous night, which spelt doom for the rakshas kingdom and victory and release for Sita who joins her husband. She elaborates that she has a vision of Rama and Lakshmana dressed in white coming in an Arial vehicle. Rama reveals that he himself is Vishnu, the Lord of the world.  Sita joins them in the Ariel vehicle. On the other hand, Trijata sees in her dream Ravana, his head shaven fall down in dirt, riding asses and moving in the southern direction. She sees Lanka being burnt by a monkey who is an emissary of Rama. Thus she explains what she saw was an ill omen for the Rakshas kingdom and soon the sorrowing Sita would be rescued by Rama.

Chapter 28: Sita’s attempt to commit suicide

The happenings of the past few days of Ravana’s cruel intentions, the rakhasis’ threatening words brought about a feeling of helplessness in Sita and her sorrowful mind was submerged deep in depressive thoughts. Thus she felt no hope of being rescued from her imprisonment, she felt that she was very unfortunate to go through what she was undergoing, felt regret for her own thoughtless action of sending Rama and Lakshmana away.

Finally she thinks that her only recourse is to commit suicide. She wishes well for her husband, the noble Rama and prays that at least he should be safe and looked after by his mothers. Even as she goes close to the simsupa tree to hang herself, she suddenly starts getting some positive signals capable of giving her mental strength as the signs were traditionally noted as portents of good fortune.

Chapter 29: The happy omens.

Sita who was sorrow stricken suddenly realized positive omens such as her left eye was throbbing so also her beautiful left arm once held by Rama was throbbing so also her left thigh. Joy sprouted in the mind of Sita as she knew from past experiences that such signs indicated that happy events were about to occur. Freed from grief, Sita now shone like the rising moon in the bright fortnight.

Chapter 30: Hanuman resolves to comfort Sita

The heroic Hanuman sitting atop the simsupa tree in the form of a small sized monkey was carefully hearing the threatening words of the rakhsasis, the dream of Trijata and other happenings below him. Now Hanuman starts wondering how to comfort and pacify Sita and assure her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. If he speaks in a noble language, Sita would think that it is Ravana in disguise. On the other hand if the rakshasis woke up and saw him talking to Sita they might try to kill him. Thus Hanuman was contemplating what would be the right way to approach Sita.

If he is not successful in conveying his message to Sita, what would be his reply to Rama when he goes back and Rama enquires about Sita? Such were the thoughts running in his mind. He thinks that any mission in the hands of emissaries who consider themselves infallible is likely to end in failure. Hanuman finally arrives at a satisfactory conclusion. He thought “By singing the praise of Rama who is capable of achieving any end and closest and dearest to her, I can save Sita from falling into fright and confusion.” He resolves to recite audible to her the praises of Rama. So sitting amidst the branches of the trees, he embarks on his mission.

Chapter 31: Narration of Rama’s story

After much thought Hanuman arrives at the conclusion of reciting the story of Rama.  He starts narrating the story of Rama, audible to Sita.

He starts with King Dasaratha who was very powerful and a descendant of Ikshvaku clan. He was pious, virtuous and noble. He had a large army and his fame was spread far and wide. His eldest son was Rama who was the protector of Dharma. At the command of his old father, devoted firmly to truth, the heroic Rama had to go to the forest in the garb of an ascetic with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman. There Ravan the evil minded Rakshas deceptively drew Rama away with the help of a Rakshasa in the guise of a deer, to which Sita was attracted. Taking advantage of this moment, Ravana abducted Sita. In search of Sita, Rama comes across the monkey king Sugriva, who resolves to help Rama. Directed by Sampati, the brother of Jatayu, Hanuman crossed the ocean to find Sita. And now he is convinced that he has discovered Sita.

Sita on hearing this treatise was astounded and wondered who could be reciting the story of Rama in Lanka. Thus thinking, she approaches the simsupa tree and spots the small monkey.

Chapter 32 :  Sita noticing Hanuman

Sita gets confused on seeing Hanuman hidden amidst the branches. She wonders to herself, who must be this? Seeing his monkey face she was at once frightened and surprised. She felt that it is a bad omen to see a monkey and was afraid for Rama and Lakshmana. Could this be a dream? But always thinking of Rama, she had not slept. But the monkey in front of her was real. She prayed to Brahma and Agni, may what this monkey had spoken be true.

Chapter 33:  Hanuman conversing with Sita

Then Hanuman addresses Sita and asks of her who she is? He concludes that she must be Sita, the wife of Rama, who was abducted by Ravana, as the description given by Rama matches with her. He assures her that he is the messenger of Rama. Upon hearing this, Sita gives an account of who she was and how she came to be here. She tells Hanuman that she had only two months lease of life left as given by Ravana.

Chapter 34: Report on the welfare of Rama and Lakshman

Hearing the distressing words of Sita, Hanuman replies in a way such as to console and pacify her. He says that he is the messenger of Rama sent by Rama to comfort Sita and also inform her about the welfare of Rama and Lakshmana. Hanuman assures her Rama and Lakshmana are well and safe but sorrowing on her account. They have enquired about Sita. Hearing this Sita is filled with joy, but again wonders whether it is indeed Ravana who has taken the form of a monkey. Hanuman again gives an account of how Sita was abducted and how Rama and Lakshmana in search of Sita came to meet Sugriva. He describes Rama’s personality and finally entreats her to believe that he is the messenger of Rama come to give her assurance that Rama with his brother Lakshmana and Sugriva the monkey king will soon slay Ravana and release her from his captivity.

Chapter 35: Describing the physical signs/appearance of Rama

The highlight of this chapter is the description of the physical attributes of Rama. Hanuman begins the description by saying that “Rama has got eyes like lotus petals. They attract the minds of all beings. He is the very embodiment of beauty and kindness. This is one of the navratna pertaining to the planet Venus and the gem diamond.

Further Hanuman gives a full treatise of the happenings after Sita was abducted. How Rama meets Sugriva, the monkey king, whose wife his brother Vali abducted. Sugriva takes the help of Rama who kills Vali in a battle in Kishkindha and restores Sugriva his kingdom. Sugriva in turn agrees to help Rama in finding Sita with the help of his monkey forces. They produce before Rama the ornaments thrown down by Sita while being carried away by Ravana in the Pushpak vimana. Rama and Lakshmana become emotional on seeing the ornaments belonging to Sita. Unable to trace Sita anywhere, the monkey forces are contemplating suicide, when Sampati the vulture, the elder brother of Jatayu, on hearing about his brother going down after heroically fighting Ravana, comes to their rescue by stating that Sita has been carried to Lanka and is held captive in Ravana’s palace.

Hanuman then gives an account of his own birth as the son of the wind god and that he is the messenger of Rama and how he crossed the ocean of 100 yojanas by himself, landed in Lanka. He spent the past day looking around for Sita. He saw the rakshasas, the king Ravana and finally had met Sita.

After listening to the entire story in detail narrated by Hanuman, Sita is convinced that this is indeed the messenger of Rama and feels greatly relieved.

Chapter 36:  Giving of the signet ring

Hanuman of great prowess, the son of wind god in order to create greater confidence in Sita that he is indeed the messenger of Sri Rama said with great humility, that in order to remove any doubt that may linger in the mind of Sita, he is producing the ring worn by Rama with his name engraved on it as a proof of his being Rama’s messenger. Upon seeing her beloved Rama’s signet ring, Sita feels extreme joy, as if she had seen Rama himself. Now she is all praise for Hanuman and appreciates how he has crossed over the ocean to meet and carry the message of Rama. Then Hanuman assures her that after he conveys Sita’s whereabouts to Rama and others who were stationed in Kishkindha, Rama will immobilize the ocean and all of them with the clan of monkeys and bears will cross over the ocean and rescue Sita. Hanuman also elaborates to Sita, how Rama is always thinking of her and is unable to sleep. Sita is at once happy and sad. Happy because of receiving the news of Rama and Lakshmana and sad to hear that Rama is sorrowing on account of separation from her.

Chapter 37: Hanuman reveals his Vishwarupa

Sita now confident that Hanuman is the messenger of Rama speaks freely to him. She expresses her anguish on hearing that Rama is sorrowing on her account. She thinks that is their karma that has brought about these adversities in the lives of Rama, Lakshmana and herself. She laments that her life will not last long as per the ultimatum given by Ravana. Out of the one year time 10 months had elapsed and only 2 months were left. Hanuman on hearing Sita’s worrisome thoughts now addresses her and says that, as soon as he reports about the location of Sita to Rama he will immediately come with Lakshmana and the army of monkeys and bears. Further Hanuman offers that if Sita wished to be rescued immediately, he could carry her on his shoulders and cross the ocean. Sita however has her doubts on Hanuman’s claims looking at his present small frame. At this juncture Hanuman reveals to Sita his true might by enlarging his form. This was the Vishwarupa of Hanuman – his true prowess – he was the size of a mountain Meru or Mandara, highly powerful, red in the face endowed with fangs and claws resembling the thunderbolt weapon.

Hanuman now tells Sita that he is capable of lifting the whole of Lanka. Sita has her reservations. She says that she is indeed convinced of his prowess but as a chaste woman she would not touch another man. Besides it will only be proper if Rama wages a war with Ravana and wins her back. So finally she advises Hanuman to carry her message to Rama and bring Rama and Lakshmana with their army to rescue her.

Chapter 38: Giving of the Crest Jewel

Hanuman the noble monkey understood the purpose of Sita’s speech which was based on the principles of dharma. Hanuman now asks Sita to give him some token by which Rama will be convinced of his having met Sita. Sita then narrates an episode that took place between her and Rama which he would recall. This happened when they were in Chitrkuta near the river Mandakini. Once Rama returned exhausted after a hunting sport and was resting on her lap. A crow came attacking trying to partake of the flesh kept for drying. When Sita tried to drive it away by throwing a lump of mud on the crow, it started pecking at her breast which started bleeding. Rama lying on Sita’s lap was awakened by the drops of blood falling from Sita’s breast. Rama was enraged at the sight. He took a blade of grass and breathed the Brahmastra mantra on it and flung it on the crow. The crow flew as far as it could and sought shelter from the Brahmastra but none could protect him. He ultimately surrendered to Rama and sought his forgiveness. Rama the noble heart forgave him but a Brahma astra could not go in vain, so the crow then agreed to let the missile destroy his right eye. It is therefore known that crows have only one eye.

Finally Sita takes her crest jewel – the chudamani called jatavalli and hands it over to Hanuman to give it to Rama as proof of his meeting Sita. Hanuman on receiving the jewel could hardly wait to see Rama. He was visualising Rama’s reaction on seeing the jewel.

Chapter 39: Hanuman assures Sita

After talking to each other and Sita being convinced that Hanuman is Rama’s messenger, Sita entrusts the crest jewel Chudamani to hanuman and says that upon seeing the jewel Rama will remember the three of them: Sita, his mother and king Dasharath. Now it is time for Hanuman to leave. Sita feels sad. His presence there was very assuaging to her. Now again she will be alone and have to wait for Rama to come. Sita conveys her good wishes to Rama and Lakshmana and is confident that after Hanuman gives information of her whereabouts he is bound to bring his army. Hanuman assures her that Rama will destroy the enemies in battle and rescue her from sorrow. He also assures Sita that the army of monkeys is very powerful and can cross over the ocean easily. He asks sita to be patient till he returns with the army.

Chapter 40: Hanuman being permitted to return:

Sita parts with the crest jewel and assures Hanuman that this jewel is proof to Rama that he met Sita. Though sorrowful on parting with Hanuman Sita felt that he must take the next step to her rescue and allows him to go. Hanuman again speaks consoling words to Sita, prostrates before her and takes leave. However his mind is working on what to do next.

Chapter 41: Destruction of the Ashoka Grove

After taking leave from Sita, Hanuman wonders what he should do next. He considers various options mentally and concludes that only force will work on the rakshas. In order to draw the attention of Ravana, he started destroying the lovely Ashoka grove by uprooting the trees, stampeding the grass and letting the birds and animals habiting the grove go helter skelter. He felt powerful enough to take on the rakshasas himself. He wanted to wage a battle with them so as to attract the attention of Ravana and be able to meet him. Thus he created havoc in the Ashoka vatika and then ascended the gate tower of Lanka shining in the glory of victory.

Chapter 42: Slaughter of Kinkaras

The powerful and courageous Hanuman adopted a form of mighty proportion which was capable of producing fear in the minds of the rakshashis . On hearing the loud noise of birds screeching, trees falling and animals howling the inhabitants of Lanka were frightened . The ugly faced rakshasis were roused from their sleep and seeing the mountain like size of the monkey before them, they questioned Sita as to who this was. Sita feigned ignorance and said that he could be one of them –  a rakshasa. The rakshsis carried the tale to Ravana and reported to him about the destruction of  ashoka grove. Ravana appointed a group of fierce rakshasas called kinkaras to confront Hanuman and to punish him. The kinkaras surrounded hanuman who was sitting on the gate tower as if expecting the retaliation. They carried various weapons with them but Hanuman was unfazed. He assumed a gigantic proportion and pounded the earth with loud roars such that the whole of Lanka shook from its foundation. Hanuman then proclaimed “Glory to Sri Rama of invincible might, glory to powerful Lakshmana and to King Sugriva. I am Hanuman the servant of Rama the son of wind god and here  to accomplish a task”. This shloka is a navratna in sundara kandam pertaining to Shani bhagwan and the gem blue sapphire.

Hanuman defeats the Kinkaras with the help of a big iron pestle kept at the gate tower. The rakshasas standing at a distance and watching this scene inform Ravana about their defeat. Ravana now orders the son of his Minister Prahasta who was known for his power.

Chapter 43: Announcement of Sugriva’s Victory

The son of wind God Hanuman had inherent powers to assume huge proportions. Thus with a giant like form he pounded the ground shaking Lanka and proclaiming that “May Rama and Lakshmana rule, May Sugriva the king protected by Rama rule. He shouted slogans and war cries threatening the rakshasas that any number of Ravana would be no match for him. In another show of strength Hanuman who attacked the mansion on the mount sat on the top of the pavilion roaring. The rakshasha guards attacked him with various missiles but to no avail. Hanuman uprooted a huge pillar with golden designs and whirled it thereby emitting flames with which the mansion was set on fire. He then declared that thousands of Sugriva forces like him will be arriving soon to destroy Lanka .

Chapter 44:  The Destruction of Jambumali

Ordered by King Ravana, Prahasta’s son Jambumali who was very powerful started with bow and arrow. Seeing the mount Trikuta on fire he challenges Hanuman to a fight. Hanuman is injured by Jambumali’s arrows at which Hanuman lifts the pestle he used earlier and throws it on Jambumali. By the impact of the pestle the chariot of Jambumali is scattered and he is killed. This is a wakeup call for Ravana who now orders other powerful sons for battle.

Chapter 45: Destruction of the seven sons of ministers

At the command of their king, the powerful sons of the ministers seven in number started with huge chariots and equipments to attack Hanuman. But Hanuman rose above the volley of arrows in high speed. He finished his attackers with his hands, legs, fists and nails. He then went back to the gate tower expecting more confrontation.

Chapter 46: Destruction of five army commanders

The destruction of the sons of the ministers by the powerful monkey created grave concern in the mind of Ravana. He then ordered five of his powerful commanders to start with force consisting of cavalry, chariot, regiments and elephant regiments. They managed to cause grave injury to Hanuman with theirs arrows. However Hanuman over powers them one by one and then the whole regiment consisting of horses, elephants and rakshasas. The whole place was strewn with corpses. He then goes back to the gate tower expecting more attacks.

Chapter 47: The Killing of Akshakumara

Next Ravana calls up the young and eager prince Aksha. Aksha kumara was a highly proficient warrior. His speed and accuracy in archery was admired even by Hanuman. Hanuman felt deep appreciation for the young Aksha for his talent and youthfulness. However in war he could not be condescending. Without wasting time he attacked Aksha and killed him too, thereby sending shock waves to Ravana.

Chapter 48: Hanuman being bound by Brahma Missile

After the killing of Akshakumara, Ravana composed himself and called upon his son who was well known for his warfare skills. He was proficient in the science of archery and the use of various divine astras. He had in the past by his prowess caused distress to devas and asuras. Indrajit was advised by his father to face the enemy monkey. Indrajit tried all his archery skills on hanuman but hanuman rose up in the sky and was no match for him. Inderjit being intelligent realised nothing could contain him but the Bramha astra. Indrajit the great warrior knew that Hanuman could not be killed even by the Brahma missile and therefore bound him with the divine weapon. Hanuman now found himself incapable of movements and fell on the ground. In fact he subjected himself to being bound by the missile as a mark of respect for the same. He knew that he could release himself from the bondage as he had Brahma’s blessing to do so. But for the time being he should subject himself to the missile. The rakshasas seeing him bound and fallen, brought ropes and tree barks to tie him up. They did not know that the Brahma astra would be released in the presence of binding of any other kind. Only Indrajit knew that. They took the captive hanuman to Ravana’s durbar. Hanuman himself wanted an audience with Ravana and so he pretended to be bound by the missile. Upon being questioned he said that he was messenger sent by the king of the monkeys.

Chapter 49: Seeing the Majestic persona of Ravana

Hanuman bound by ropes now gazed at the mighty raksha king whose personality was awe inspiring. Ravana was dressed befitting a king and his body was smeared with red sandalwood paste. Hanuman seeing the majesty of Ravana thought to himself but for his misdeeds h e could have been a protector of heaven and its master Indra.

Chapter 50: Prahasta questioning Hanuman

Ravana looked into the eyes of Hanuman standing before him bound by ropes. At once he felt trepidations in the heart and thought “This must be Nandikeshwara himself who has come here”. He recollected that when he shook the Mount Kailasa, Nandi had cursed him that a monkey would destroy him. On Ravana’s instructions, his minister questioned Hanuman ‘Who are you? Who has sent you?” To which Hanuman replied that he belonged to the monkey tribe and since he wanted an audience with Ravana he destroyed the ashoka grove. As the rakshasas attacked him he defended himself against them. He also let them know that the Brahma missile could not really bind him as he had a boon from Brahma. He just pretended to be bound in order to meet the rakshasha king. Finally he says that he is the messenger from Rama.

Chapter 51: Hanuman’s Advice

Hanuman further states that he has come there at the command of Sugriva the monkey king. He gives an account of how Rama met Sugriva, killed Vali and restored him as king of Kishkinda and finally the pact between Sugriva and Rama to help find Sita. Hanuman advises Ravana that his adharma(unrighteous action) is catching up with him. The benefit of his dharmic(righteous) acts will soon be over and he will suffer the consequence of his adharmic action. Rama being a righteous and powerful king could at once destroy him in a battle. Ravana’s adharmic act has put to danger the whole of Lanka and all his rakshasa relatives. Enraged by the monkey’s counsel Ravana order’s the execution of Hanuman.

Chapter 52: Prevention of Execution of a Messenger

Vibhishana the younger brother of Ravana realised that it was improper to execute a messenger. Ravana in anger was going to commit an act not sanctioned by the laws of dharma for a king. Vibhishana known for his persuasive speech and righteous conduct entreated with Ravana. He pleaded that the shastras do not permit the execution of a messenger. Granted that the monkey had performed many evil deeds, but then too he is performing the same at the behest of someone. It would only be proper to execute those princes Rama and Lakshmana whom he represents. There are many punishments lesser in nature which are permitted for a dhoot(messenger) who has misbehaved such as inflicting injury to his legs, shaving his head etc. But death sentence is not allowed. Therefore Ravana should control his anger and desist from the same. Ravana decides to accept Vibhishana’s advice.

Chapter 53: Setting fire to Hanuman’s tail

The ten headed Ravana accepted that it would be dishonourable to kill a messenger. A grave punishment should however be meted out to the monkey who was the cause of great destruction. Ravana thought ‘the tail of the monkey is its pride and also dear to him’ so as a punishment he ordered the tail of Hanuman to be set fire to. The rakshasas carried out the instructions with great enthusiasm. They surrounded Hanuman and wound his tail with worn out rags and soaked it in oil and set it afire. Hanuman thought to himself he could have easily killed the rakshasas but it would not be in the interest of his mission and Rama. For the sake of Rama he should bear with all the persecutions. As the rakshasas dragged Hanuman in the streets of Lanka with his burning tail he was making use of this opportunity to survey the town and find out about the secret fortifications. Meanwhile Sita hears of Hanuman’s fate through the rakshasis. Sita is distraught. She invokes the power of her chastity and implores on the fire god to be cool on Hanuman. The wind god who is the father of Hanuman also helps him by fanning the flame. Hanuman realises that the fire is not burning him but is actually cool. He takes a great leap to the top of the mountain leaving behind the rakshasas, reduces the size of his body and breaks free from the rope bondage. He then enlarges his body size to be mountain like.

Chapter 54: The Burning of Lanka

Hanuman wondered what he should do next with his tail still on fire. He decided that after the damage he had already done to the Asoka grove and the rakshasa army he should now destroy the fort and mansions of Lanka. He leaped atop the mansions and started setting them on fire with his tail. He jumped from mansion to mansion setting on fire the houses of prominent rakshasas except the house of Vibhishana. The whole Lanka was burning now. It looked like one big fire ball. All the rakshasas began to run helter skelter. It felt like a dooms day to them.

Chapter 55: Hanuman’s Predicament

Hanuman now dipped his tail in the ocean and extinguished the fire. He was satisfied that he had done his job of creating havoc in the land of the rakshasas. At once he remembered that by setting fire to the whole of Lanka he must have also killed Sita who was sitting in the Ashoka vatika. He starts blaming himself for his thoughtlessness and his monkey brain. At once he consoles himself that Sita being a noble and virtuous woman fire will not burn her. However he is still not satisfied. At this point the Charanas from heaven passing from above in the sky are heard by him saying ‘what a wonder that Hanuman has destroyed the whole of Lanka by fire but Sita is unaffected.’  This gave confidence to Hanuman that Sita must indeed be safe but he still wanted to meet her once again and make sure that she is safe and then take leave from her.

Chapter 56: Hanuman taking leap from Lanka

Hanuman meets Sita and prostrates her. Satisfied that she is safe under the simsupa tree he departs from there. He goes up the Trikuta Mountain and leaps in the air to go back to his master.

Chapter 57: Hanuman reaching the northern side of the ocean

Hanuman swam across the sky with great ease. He passed through the ocean he had come through before. He touched the Mynak Mountain. He presented a picture of grace splitting the clouds and coming out. He looked like garuda.  As soon as he spotted the great mountain  Mahendra he gave a thunder like roar. The monkeys waiting atop the mountain looking out for Hanuman among them Jambavan said that ‘Hanuman had succeeded in his mission hence the loud roar’. Hanuman then reached and descended on the peak of the Mahendra Mountain. All the monkeys with joyous hearts surrounded him and offered him roots and fruits. Hanuman saluted his elders Jambavan and the monkey prince Angada. In order to put to rest their anxiety Hanuman said the two words “Discovered is Sita – Drishta Sita”. They all sat with Jambavan and Angada taking the podium to hear the full story of Hanuman.

Chapter 58: Hanuman narrating the affair connected with Lanka

Hanuman gives an account of his flight across the ocean, the episode of Mynak Mountain, of Surasa the snake demon, of Simhika another demon, his arrival at Lanka, the killing of Lankini and finally finding Sita in the Ashoka grove. He describes how the rakshasis threatened Sita and how Ravana persuaded her to be his wife. Further how he approached Sita by reciting the story and praises of Rama and gave her the signet ring of Rama. Sita gave him the Chudamani to give to Rama as a proof of having met her. He then went about causing destruction to the Ashoka grove and killing his assailant rakashasas until he was bound by the Brahma missile and brought before Ravana. His execution was prevented but his tail was set on fire. He enflamed Lanka with his tail, ensured that Sita was safe and finally took a leap back to the Mahendra mountain.

Chapter 59: The Plan of action for future

Hanuman recounts how Sita the chaste wife of Rama is confined under the simsupa tree in the Ashoka grove. She is lean and separation from her husband has made her all the more so. She is immersed in sorrow and therefore everything that is required to be done to rescue her from the situation has to be attempted.

Chapter 60: Angada’s  speech

After hearing the detailed account given by Hanuman, Angada the son of Vali rose to address the monkeys. He spoke at length about his prowess in warfare, in archery and the use of astras and its defence his capacity to overpower the rakshasas on his own so also the powers of Jambavan, Hanuman and other renowned monkeys present. His decision was that they should fight the rakshasas as all of them were capable of taking great leaps across the ocean and bring Sita with them. However Jambavan the wise said that though he agreed with Angad regarding the ability of the monkey clan, they should refer the matter to Rama and know his mind.

Chapter 61: The destruction of Madhuvana (Honey grove)

Hanuman, Angad and other monkeys accepted the view of Jambavan.  The monkeys were very excited and proud of their achievement. They were eager to announce the success of their mission to their king Sugriva. Thus they marched down the Mahendra mountain letting Hanuman lead them. On the way to meet King Sugriva and Rama there was a private garden of Sugriva which was a honey grove – Madhuvana In a celebratory mood the monkeys took the permission of Angada and plundered the garden. They climbed the trees to partake the honey. The garden in charge, Dadhimuka a monkey of great prowess, seeing the destruction of the grove began to beat up the monkeys. In retaliation they attacked and dragged Dadhimuka.

Chapter 62:  Attack on the garden keepers

A frenzied mood was prevailing among the monkey army, Hanuman addressed his comrades and said that they could have all the honey they wanted. Even Angada supported his grant. The garden keepers with Dadhimukha in lead were very angry about the havoc created by the monkeys. The Madhuvana was very dear to Sugriva. Dadhimukha had to protect it. He armed himself with a bark and attacked the monkeys who had spread all over the forest destroying honey combs and abusing the garden keepers. Angada hit back at Dadhimukha not realising that he was an elderly uncle of Sugriva and deserved to be respected. Dadhimukha and his garden keepers decide to take the matter to Sugriva.

Chapter 63: Conveying the news of the destruction of Madhuvana

Dadhimukha reports to Sugriva that the monkeys at the behest of Angada have destroyed the Madhuvana and have drunk the honey from the honey combs. They have injured the guards and teased them when they tried to control the monkeys. Sugriva an intelligent king infers correctly that they must be celebrating the success of their mission. On hearing this Rama and Lakshmana are delighted.

Chapter 64: The return of Hanuman and others

Dadhimukha returned to the Madhuvana where the monkeys who were under intoxication had sobered down. He conveyed to them that Sugriva was eager to see them. He also apologized for having reprimanded them without realising the exceptional circumstances for the revelry. Upon hearing Dadimukha, Angada instructed the army of monkeys to leave for Kishkinda without delay. At this all of them took to the sky led by Hanuman and Angada. Meanwhile Sugriva assures Rama that surely there is good news. Soon the monkeys  descended on Kishkinda mount.  Hanuman prostrated Rama and uttered the words ‘Discovered is Devi Sita. Sita devi is unhurt and chaste.’  Rama and Lakshmana were delighted to hear the news and looked at Hanuman with great admiration and respect.

Chapter 65: The presentation of the crest Jewel

Hanuman is asked to narrate in detail how he met Sita and what is her condition. Accordingly Hanuman began his narration of how he crossed hundred yojanas of the ocean to Lanka where King Ravana had held Sita captive. She was confined in the gardens of the inner palace of Ravana but she was constantly thinking of Rama. She was living the life of an ascetic, chaste and meditating on Rama. She was closely guarded by Rakshasis and was given an ultimatum by Ravana to either subject to him or be killed. Desperate due to separation from her husband and being threatened by the rakashasis Sita even contemplated suicide when Hanuman came to give her hope. He then narrated the story of the crow as told by Sita, which was privy to her and Rama to infuse credibility to his story. Finally he handed over the crest jewel given by Sita to Rama. Rama and Lakshmana listened intently to Hanuman.

Chapter 66:  Question about Sita’s message

At the sight of the chudamani Rama shed tears. Rama recalled that the jewel was special. It had its origin in water and was gifted by her father King Janaka at the time of her marriage to Rama. When it adorned her head it was even more beautiful. Rama felt sorrowful and felt the urgent need to go and rescue her lest she died of the pangs of separation from him. He urged Hanuman to tell him in detail what transpired between him and Sita.

Chapter 67: Report of Sita’s speech

Rama wanted to hear in detail what Sita said.  Hanuman recounts in detail the whole episode of the crow how it attacked Sita and how in anger Rama took a blade of grass and breathed the brahma astra mantra into it.  The evil crow, the son of Indra at last with nowhere to go surrenders to Rama who forgives him but the Brahma missile once evoked cannot go in vain so the crow offers his right eye to be hurt.  Hanuman further narrates how Sita had expressed anguish that Rama a skilled archer, known for his bravery and who no enemy could withstand had not yet come to rescue her. Later she detached the Chudamani from her locks and gave it to Hanuman in exchange for Rama’s signet ring as proof of his having met Sita. When the time came for Hanuman to leave she wept disconsolately and advised Hanuman that he should help Rama in every way to reach Lanka and rescue her from the evil Ravana. She wanted that Rama himself should rescue her which would be befitting his honour.

Hanuman then urges Rama to take the next step in the matter.

Chapter 68:  An account of consolation offered to Sita

Hanuman continued the narration. Sita out of love Rama told Hanuman that he should speak to Rama in such a way that he takes immediate steps to destroy Ravana in a battle and take her back. It will not befit the heroic Rama to take her away without defeating the enemies. She however wondered how all of them would cross the ocean and reach the shores of Lanka. Hanuman dispels this worry of Sita by giving her an account of the prowess of the monkeys Angada, Sugriva and others who were much more powerful than he. Rama and Lakshmana could be carried by Hanuman on his shoulders. He then raises her hopes by his positive speech assuring her that soon she would have the blissful experience of Rama being crowned along with her in Ayodhya after he has destroyed the enemies and the period of forest life being completed. At this thought Sita felt great consolation.

Thus ends the Sundara Kandh of Valmiki Ramayan

 

 

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