Sundara Kandam by Sri Sridharan Lakshmanan

Sundara Kandam by Sri Sridharan Lakshmanan


(1) Hanuman ascends
(2) Lanka guarded by ogres
(3) Sentinel ogress, the Lanka
(4) Inside the conurbation of Lanka
(5) Hanuman despondent
(6) The residence and the citadel:
(7) Pen-picture of Ravana’s palace
(8) The alluring chariot, the Pushpak
(9) The bower
(10) Glimpse of slumbering Ravana
(11) Sustained search for Sita in the gynaeceum and the banquet hall
(12) After the despair the search resumes
(13) Despondency and optimism
(14) Hanuman enters the Asoka grove
(15) Hanuman catches sight of Sita
(16) Hanuman’s grief
(17) The ogres guarding Sita
(18) Ravana and his retinue
(19) Petrified Sita
(20) Ravana pleads
(21) Sita admonishes Ravana
(22) Nettled Ravana bullies
(23) Insults taunts and threats by the ogresses:
(24) Sita proclaims her resolve
(25) Bewail of Videhan princess
(26) Sita unyielding even on pain of death
(27) Trijata’s reverie
(28) Despair and propitious omens
(29) Omens bring joy to Sita
(30) Hanuman’s contemplation
(31) Hanuman’s communication
(32) Sita’s misgivings
(33) The discussion
(34) Sri Rama’s emissary Hanuman
(35) Hanuman’s response to Sita
(36) Signet ring
(37) Sita implores Hanuman
(38) Sita narrates an episode and gives a jewel
(39) Sita’s misgivings and Hanuman’s reassurance
(40) Sita grants Hanuman leave
(41) Pleasure garden wrecked
(42) The ogres provoked
(43) Chaityaprasada the sanctuary sacred to the ogre deity destroyed
(44) Prahasta’s son Jambumali killed
(45) Seven sons of Ravana’s chief minister exterminated
(46) The five generals
(47) Ravana’s son; Prince Aksha killed
(48) Hanuman taken captive by Indrajit
(49) Ravana as seen
(50) Ravana instructs, Prahasta inquires
(51) Hanuman’s salutary answer
(52) Vibhishana pleads
(53) The vengeance
(54) Lanka set ablaze
(55) Concern for Sita; self reproach
(56) Adieu to Sita
(57) Hanuman’s rapturous return
(58) Hanuman’s narration at length
(59) Hanuman provokes
(60) Angada resolves; astute Jambavan unenthusiastic
(61) The Honey Grove—Madhuvana
(62) Remonstrating Dadhimukha thrashed
(63) Sugriva concludes Sita has been traced comforts Dadhimukha:
(64) Dadhimukha’s submission to Angada
(65) Hanuman informs Sri. Rama
(66) Sri Rama urges Hanuman to repeat Sita’s message
(67) Hanuman narrates the incident connected with a crow
(68) Hanuman’s narration continued

Sundara Kandam

(This Kandam is called Sundara or the beautiful)

Hanuman ascends: Antagonist of Ravana, Hanuman capable at all times of taking any appearance, firm in his determination to trace Sita, striding like a lion he stood prepared for the gallant task he set for himself. His thunderous strides crushed the tall trees, aroused the beasts that fled for cover, he terrified every bird there. With glee he rambled on the woodland mountains where there were fresh flowers, clean green grass, the lakes that were visited by numerous demigods, now standing on the florid neighborhood he paid obeisance to the saints, Gods, the Brahma the self existent, he prayed to the Sun God, the Wind God, and Indra the lord of the skies, to approve his tough endeavour. The pure minded Rishis, the celestial bards, the divine demigods mentioned, ‘Hanuman possessed of extraordinary verve eager to execute the cause of Sri Rama, seeks to land on the other side of the shore.’ From the mountain crest the son of the wind god spoke to the assembled vanaras, “Swiftly I fly to Lanka and look for Sita there, if she is not found there I will search for her in the heavens, yet if I do not find her I will bring here the giant Ravana bound in chains else I shall bring here the uprooted Lanka with Ravana, at all events I will be successful.” Saying so, exerting pressure with his feet on the mountain below, with impetuosity he leapt from the mountain crest, shattering the mountains, uprooting the trees, and air borne; on course, he flew like a ship before a nor'easter, he was coursing above with his body propelled by wind, and the reflection of his image in the water was like a vessel sailing in the sea. The raging sea beneath was riotous, the Gods in the heavens and the celestials, the saints praised and gently showered flowerets on the Vanara who has undertaken with passion the task for the sake of Sri Rama, they preferred the Sea to befriend and aid the friend of Raghu’s noble son. While Hanuman was moving through the space, the presiding deity of the ocean righteously resolved to speak thus to Mainaka (the son of the Himalaya and Menaka) the foremost of the mountains, submerged in water, and consisting mainly of gold, “You stretch yourself on the sea-bed guarding the nethermost subterranean region, you have the power to grow horizontally and vertically as well. Best of the noble mountains I direct you to elevate yourself, to enable weary Hanuman who is now engaged in a wondrous deed, enable him to rest himself on your crest.” Directed by the deity presiding over the ocean, the glorious Mainaka, crowned with plant and trees, emerged roaring from his soggy cloak; with raised lofty peaks burnished with gold; dazzling as the sun. Considering the sudden emergence of the mountain in the midst of the sea, as inimical in purpose Hanuman overthrew the glittering mountain as he flew onwards. Mainaka glad at heart standing atop in human form on one of the hill spoke to the flying Vanara who was air-borne. (The spirit of the mountain is separable from the mountain. Himalaya has also been represented as standing human on one of his own peaks) “Best of the Vanaras, O noble one, you have embarked on a mighty task, I request you to rest for a while on my breezy summit, consume the fragrant and delicious mountain fruits. The ocean was completed by the sons of Sagara, of Raghu’s ancestry; the presiding deity seeks to offer respect to you, and you are now engaged in the service of Sri. Rama, I have been charged by Sagara to offer repose to you. O chieftain, your virtues are well known in all the three worlds, there is none who can contend with you in nobility and admiration, I cannot disregard your presence, O son of the Wind-God, please accept my service, honouring you I am privileged. In the first of the four ages of the world the Kritta Yuga the golden age, also called the Satya age, the mountains were endowed with wings and they used to range all the four quarters of the world swifter than the feathered king, Garuda. The multitude of Gods, Rishis, and saints, terror stricken, fearing their collapse, approached the eminent Indra, who in fury, rendered all the mountains pinionless with his thunder bolt, I due to the kindness of the great soul, Wind, was put down on the ocean bed, thus I retain my wings. It is for this reason, I am obliged to you the son of the Wind God, now come do receive my support, rest for a while on my summit and relieve your tedium.” Hanuman countered, ‘O most noble mountain, homage has been done, I accept your thoughts, I have to hasten,’ saying so touching the mountain as a gesture of respect and friendship, the foremost of the monkeys, rejoicing in his might, launched upward to the height, the path his father flew. The Gods, saints, and celestial bards, beheld that unparalled flight. Astute spouse of Sachi, Indra spoke to Mainaka, the following, “Exceptional help has been rendered by you to Hanuman, who now has the psychological satisfaction of having rested, I now grant you immunity from all fears of your wings being shorn by me.” Without more ado the Gods and the other celestials, spoke to Surasa, the mother of mighty many headed serpents, traversing the sky, “Come Surasa, assume monstrous shape and with all your guile impede the glorious vanara prince’s itinerary, test his power and strength.” Assuming hideous form, she leapt from the middle of the sea, ferociously screaming she called Hanuman, ‘Lord Brahma’s boon deems you to be my food for this day, and you are doomed.’ Not petrified, by the threat and shape of Surasa, Vayuputra replied, ‘I truthfully tell you I am going as willing messenger to Lanka the kingdom of Ravana, to trace Sita the joy of Sri Rama’s soul. You should not cause hindrance to one who toils for Dasaratha’s son, if you are bent on devouring me, let me first spot the captive Sita, inform Sri. Rama of her whereabouts, after that I earnestly promise you that I will return, to enter your mouth.’ Surasa retorted thus, ‘This is no way to save your life, such is the boon granted by Brahma, enter my mouth and then hastily proceed.’ Hanuman’s indignation being roused, he exclaimed, ‘widen your jaws so that you may be able to sustain me’ and as the Rakshasa drew near him, with jaws wide open, Hanuman’s stature grew to ten yojanas, the threatening jaws of Surasa gulfed to twenty yojanas, progressively the stature of Hanuman increased and so did the width of Surasa’s mouth, Hanuman enlarged his stature to ninety yojanas and Surasa widened her jaws to hundred yojanas. Hanuman by his power shrunk to the size smaller than a thumb, he entered and exited Surasa’s mouth, in joy he exclaimed, “Goodbye to you, O daughter of Daksha, I have passed through your mouth, the boon granted to you by Brahma has been honoured, I now go in search of the Videhan princess”. Assuming her former form she said, ‘May success and joy be yours, accomplish the task of uniting Sita with the scion of Raghu.’ Escaping alive from the mouth of Surasa those living beings who observed this feat of Hanuman applauded his audacity/impudence. Hanuman resembling Garuda was coursing through the path of the wind, like the Sun, he was entering into and escaping the clouds, he was shining like a host of wandering stars as he flashed past the God’s celestial cars. Seeing, Sumeru like Hanuman speed through the sky fierce ogress Simhika marked the airborne Vanara for her victim (Simhika is the mother of Rahu the dragon head or ascending node, the chief agent in eclipses). Simhika, the ogress of weird appearance, ominous to view, could change her form at will, had the ability of securing her prey by capture of its shadow, delighted herself with the cheering thought, ‘ today my hunger will be satisfied’ saying so, she held him clutching the shadow. Hanuman, on his shadow being seized, felt he was clutched by some one, he looked in all directions, and from the brackish deep sea he saw the hideous monster emerge. He remembered Vanara monarch Sugriva’s account of this ogress; he dilated himself, his form distended beyond visualization so too the ogress enlarged herself opened her jaws; in a fleeting moment Hanuman compressed his form, soared into her monstrous mouth, and with his ravening jaws shred and cleft the demon; from the mangled carcass he came out liberated. After slaying the demon skillfully, he assumed his wonted stature and resumed his onward path. The beings who ranged the skies hailed the vanara in these words, “In this incredible fight, you have slain the fiend of terrible might, your valour, thought and skill jell, success is ever yours go ahead to perform the blameless deed undertaken with rigorous endeavor” These praises enthused him, now his task of crossing the shore almost accomplished, he could sight the shoreline, tall trees, and an amazing island, where stood Lanka the splendid town burnished like a coronet stood.

Lanka guarded by ogres: Whilst standing at ease on a slope of Trikuta Mountain Hanuman the foremost of the powerful beings for a while viewed the glorious sight of Lanka; not fatigued he said to himself, “I am able to journey many hundreds of miles; having negotiated the vast sea of one hundred yojanas should cause no strain on me; I am full of energy.” Next he perused his way to the town; he glanced through the woodland full of scented flowers, fruits, honey, and soft grass farther from the mountain top he saw trees like the Priyalas and Muchulindas, (species of oranges) Pine trees, Palm trees, amongst others, also trees decked with loads of flowers and buds which were crowded with birds. There were lakes carpeted with lotuses, joyous birds like swan and species of duck thriving therein. Arriving at Lanka the seat of Ravana’s influence, he saw the city was encircled with golden boundary wall, crowded with lofty buildings, stately mansions, the pathway was displayed in white and the roads elevated, the city was well guarded with terribly armed Rakshasas. Lanka distinguished by stately dazzling mansions, the gleaming water in the moats, the bright blooming lilies in the meadows, the streets were expansive and bright, the banners fluttered on every summit, the gates to the city were glistening with gold. Hanuman considered the city to be designed by Viswakarma, the architect of the Gods for Ravana to reign. Reaching the northern gate which looked like the gateway of Alaka the capital of the God of riches, Kubera; despondent Hanuman reflected within himself, ‘Conquest of this well armed, well guarded city even in contemplation is futile, however mighty be Sri Rama, the Raghu’s best son. There is no hope of sowing dissension in the opposition ranks, nor can guile be a path to success, nor by might, no possibility of winning over the ogres through inducement. No more than four sprightly monkeys can in reality reach this place, viz. Angada, the son of Vali, Nila, the astute king Sugriva and me. Undertakings which are almost consummated are completely lost when the actions are set in opposition to time and place at the hands of timid thoughtless messengers who consider themselves analytical. I should guard myself against tactless deeds; I should make sure that my leaping across the sea does not go in vain. Right now my thought, my principal focus is to find Maithili queen and then think of everything else. The Rakshasa, their guards, their spies guard the fiend race with sleepless, vicious watchful eyes, my first task is to elude this fiercely watchful multitude in a form that mock their sight and blind their eyes, and come face to face with the captive queen when none is besides her; thus achieve my endeavour.’ The foremost thought in his mind was to guard himself such that he is undetected by ogres, for he perceived it was not possible in that place even for the wind to circulate undetected. After sunset the mighty Vanara delighted at the prospect of finding out Sita, dwarfed himself; assumed the size of a cat and proceeded to penetrate deep into the lovely city,.

Sentinel ogress, the Lanka: Delighted Hanuman reached the city, which was ever cloudy, served by the host of luminaries, like the planets and stars, illumined with flashes of lightning, the city ever resounded with the blasts like the sound of thunder; and was surrounded with a defensive wall of gold, decorated with pennons fluttering with jingling of tiny bells attached to them, it very much looked to him like the Amaravati the city of Gods. From the ramparts of the gyrating boundary walls the Vanara lord gazed upon the wondrous sight of the city with charming golden entrances, embellished with floors of gems, the stairs and porticoes gleaming with silver, gems and crystals. Gazing the splendid city of the suzerain lord of the ogres, the conurbation was full of opulence, unsurpassed in beauty, guarded by the forces of Ravana. Hanuman for a moment thought that this city Lanka was incapable of being subdued by another by force. He said to himself, “This land is accessible only to Kumuda, Angada, Susena, Mainda Dwivida Sugriva, Jambavan and me.” The guardian ogress, Lanka, saw Hanuman, the foe, at the city’s entrance, a fierce ogress in appearance she roared, ‘How did you defy the might of fierce Ravana’s warriors and come here, why did you come here?’ Undeterred by her shape and scowl the vanara lord in his turn retorted, “Who are you? Why do you reproach me at the entrance to the gate of this city, and thus infuriate me?” The giantess Lanka replied, ‘Ordained by the rakshasa monarch I guard this city, for your transgression I shall this very hour send you to unending sleep.’ Hanuman replied, “Notwithstanding your presence I will see this magnificent city, her gates, her towers, I will freely meander wherever I please on the streets, into the groves, on to the meadows and fully satiated I will return to where I came from the manner I came.” Roaring ogress angrily smote on the Vanara’s throat with her huge hands, impelled by rage Hanuman felled the Guardian dame with the fury of his fists. Ogress Lanka with terror in her voice spoke, ‘you strong armed one spare me, forgive me, and never transgress the law, spare a helpless woman. O! The best, the brave amongst the vanaras hear from me what I heard from Brahma, Beware of the fatal hour when you have to acknowledge a Vanara’s muscle, truly that is the Giant’s day of fear, from then on his days of terror and defeat are near. I accept the truth decreed by heaven, for the sake of Maithili queen ruin will fall on Ravana, ruin will fall on all the ogres and this town trounced by you.”

Inside the conurbation of Lanka: The sentinel character Lanka restrained by dint of his (the vanara’s) prowess, Hanuman gifted with great virility and extraordinary energy leapt over the defensive wall of the city without passing through the gate during the night. (Works on Hindu military recommend entry into a hostile city without passing through the gate, to ensure the overthrow of the enemy.) The expansive magnificent street were strewn with bright fragranced flowers, that looked charming with its excellent imposing apartment buildings, from whence came the soft sounds of tabor, merry laughter and joyous shouts. The vanara went from house to house; he observed every building of various shapes and sizes, dexterously embroidered with wonderful wreaths and leaves; the soft, sweet, clear songs blending with the dulcet tones of the women charmed his ears. He heard the Rakshasa minstrel’s anklets clang, the tinkling of their ornaments, songs in the praise of their peerless king, as also the footfalls of the high minded ogres going upstairs and downstairs., He heard the sound of the clapping arms, the roar of heroes competing in duels, the muttering of sacred formulas in the dwellings of the ogres, a class of ogres Yatudhanas, studying sacred texts, he saw too ogres united for the purpose of roaring and glorifying Ravana. In the central zone of the city he perceived spies of the ogre Ravana some disguised as priests with tonsured heads, some as mendicants, some as hermits. Savage warriors, wielding maces and clubs, bows and arrows in their hands, the fiends of all shapes and hue, some foul, some fair to view, some dwarfish and others huge were walking on the streets. He saw the horrific legions guard Ravana’s towering palace, keeping strict vigil. Unhindered Hanuman found a quick means of access into the wonderful and well protected gynaceum of Ravana which was resonant with awe-inspiring sounds, rendered noisy with neighing of the steeds; he witnessed the aerial cars, palanquins and the like; chariots were located in the midst of elephants of noblest breed.

Hanuman despondent: When the city of Lanka was illumined by the dazzling moon, as if to lend his light to guide the Vanara chieftain, through the wealth of his effulgence, the sagacious Hanuman gazed at the mansions when the arrogant and intoxicated ogres were in gauche repose. Besides the ogres the Vanara lord rejoiced to see in that city, virtuous and distinguished Yatudhanas bearing charismatic names, which were predominantly intellectual, pious, possessed sweet expression, were fully clad in various attires. The astute Hanuman saw womenfolk remarkably dignified and pure-hearted of admirable temperament worthy of superb clothing and ornaments. Hanuman on not finding Sita even after striving for a long time was afflicted with sorrow, he turned unenergetic, despondent and was tormented with anguish.

The residence and the citadel: Unrivalled in strength and courage Hanuman ranged at will over Lanka, here the gates to the palace were fortified by rakshasas. Deep inside the palaces were the exceptionally charming joyous belles, the noises from their tinkling armlets were like the roar from the far-away sea. Vayuputra reckoned the residences and establishments to be the very ornament of Lanka, undaunted he moved all over the place from house to house, through the chambers, groves, gardens, glancing on the terrace, dome, and battlement. He entered the houses of Prahasta, Mahaprasrava, and the other rakshasa lords; he then rapidly squeezed into the courtyards of Kumbhakarna and Vibhishana the brothers of Ravana. He wandered over the hill, he surveyed every building, meandered through every grove of each Rakshasa lord, finally he entered Ravana’s palace, which was guarded by fierce warrior fiends of all hues, a strange and fearful retinue, designed to strike terror in any foe. He entered Ravana’s festooned bed-chamber made for supple enchantment, whose walls had been clothed in gay bloomy creepers, which was guarded by hideous eyed ogresses.

Pen-picture of Ravana’s palace: Ravana’s palace occupied the whole extent of ground, and contained within its outer walls the mansions of all the great Rakshasa chiefs. The mighty Hanuman passed within the walls of the palace; which were fitted with lattices of gold decorated with gems, the windows with grilled lazulite shone bright. He passed through the portal, ante-rooms found each one of them more captivating than the previous one, besides the spacious halls stored with lances, bows, shells and conches,. The vanara lord beheld flawless mansions held in veneration by demons and Gods, enriched with various kinds of treasures which had been acquired by dint of Ravana’s might, from the possession of the God of riches Kubera. Next he saw the soul-captivating, excellent the palace of Ravana, of unmatched exquisiteness, having the appearance of a towering cloud, possessing the effulgence of gold, blazing with splendor, full of numerous precious stones, lit up by jewel-like women, that looked like a beautifully made aerial car; drawn in the skies by excellent swans. Ravana’s own dwelling seemed to have been situated within the enchanted chariot the Pushpak (Pushpak from Pushpa a flower). The description of Ravana’s palace by the sage Valmiki is involved; it is difficult to say whether the chariot was inside the palace or the palace inside the chariot. A splendid palace, tall trees with blooming boughs, spraying the region with fragrance, near the tall palace shone water filled lakes with gleaming lilies and lotuses. The marvelous, gracious Pushpak with carvings of wondrous pompous birds, serpents twisted coiled, and rolled in glittery gold. Also there were seen the artificial steeds with flying feet and elephants deftly sculptured in silver, carrying on his trunk garland of lilies, in addition on the pool stood a skillfully sculpted Goddess of Beauty, Lakshmi the wife of Vishnu, holding a lotus in her hand standing beside the flower clad puddle. The supremely disciplined in mind, high souled Hanuman when he could not detect Sita even though having traversed extensively became distressed.

The alluring chariot, the Pushpak: The son of the wind god gawked at the enchanting Pushpak the splendid flawless work of Viswakarma (the architect of the Gods), gleaming with precious gems, glistening with gold, the specialties therein not found even in the abode of the Gods. The heavenly aerial car was constructed by Viswakarma, the architect of god for the creator Brahma, was embellished with all kinds of precious stones, had stairways of gold, excellent platforms radiant with sapphires and emeralds, the floors inlaid with lovely corals, precious gems and pearls, this chariot Kubera secured as a reward for his dire penance from Brahma the creator. It sped over forests, over towering hills, it flew through the air, impervious to the fury of the rushing wind, it moved according to the thoughts of the master. There were mansions inside with excellent chambers adorned with soul captivating collections of curios, all pure delight for the sight. This aerial car was won by Ravana by dint of his superior physical strength as booty; he had taken this from his brother Kubera the god of riches.

The bower: The mighty vanara, Hanuman leapt on to the aerial car, Pushpaka, he gazed upon the pompous mansions around, he reached Ravana’s abode which was guarded by his fully armed chosen band. The abode was resplendent with the brilliance of the lights and glory of the ogre lord. Vanara lord gazed at Ravana’s abode in astonishment, he said, “It is Indra’s dreamland, it is the home of all the Gods, it is the mansion of eternal bliss” While Ravana lay comfortably asleep, inside the bower were women of varying splendour, while some had fallen prey to lust, there were also unmarried daughters of royal sages, Brahmans, demons, celestial musicians and ogres who had chosen to become his wives. Many women were borne away by him, because he thought their relatives would offer resistance, while yet others who were intoxicated with passion, besotted, and had come of their own free will. Even though Ravana was full of prowess, no women among them with the exception of Janaka’s daughter had been forcibly carried away by him; they had been won through in valour, power, prowess, comeliness and so on. None of his wives longed for another, nor had belonged to another in the past; no consort was of low caste, or devoid of beauty, nor repulsive to her husband. Inside the bower, where many a lovely woman fatigued with play after revelry had ceased, with careless grace lay overcome with sleep, Hanuman tread gently, with wondering eyes viewed each graceful form and amorous attitude. Hanuman thought that surely Sita was superior to all those in point of excellences, this mighty ruler of the ogres Ravana having assumed a deceptive form perpetrated a difficult and ignoble deed in the shape of Sita’s abduction.

Glimpse of slumbering Ravana: Hanuman observed in that chamber a prominent dais made of crystal, decked with gold and precious stones, furnished with couches covered with beds worthy for the celestial gods. In a portion of that podium Hanuman saw a bright white canopy over an exceptionally excellent couch, and women fanning those asleep. (Here though the sage Valmiki says women, commentators say mechanical figures are only meant, for women would have raised an alarm on seeing Hanuman). On a splendid couch covered with supple skins of deer and sheep, he saw the gallant, mighty, monarch of the giants, Ravana, resembling the clouds in complexion, his body smeared with precious perfumes and adorned with various ornaments, asleep. Ravana has been spoken of as having only one head and two arms, by implication in ordinary circumstances the ogre lord was endowed with only one head and two arms; only in conflicts he voluntarily assumed as many as ten heads and twenty arms. The vanara lord found the sinful monster mighty as the Mount Mandara, attired in glittering robes, his fiery eyes now closed in slumber, he saw him fatigued with play and drunk with wine, in his supine posture his breath sounded like a hissing serpent shaking his monstrous frame and the scars of wounds were found in his person. Ravana had fought against Indra and the Gods, and his body was still scarred by the wounds inflicted by the tusks of Indra’s elephant, as also the fiery thunder bolts of Indra, and by the discus of Lord Vishnu. Around the slumbering king were seen asleep the merrily excited spouses in their sparkling ornaments all beautiful to look upon. By the side of Ravana was seen Mandodari the favourite queen, the beauty of her youthful face beamed grandeur, she was more stunning than the rest and the vanara lord thought within himself he found Sita, he said to himself, ‘these rarest beauties peerless in grace and majesty (in Mandodari) tell me this must surely be the Maithili queen the matchless dame I come to seek,’ demonstrating his simian nature he rejoiced and frolicked.

Sustained search for Sita in the gynaeceum and the banquet hall: (Gods have only three stages in life, viz. childhood, adolescence and youth, the fourth stage that is the old age is absent in them). Soon Hanuman rejected the baseless thought of his having sighted Sita, he reasoned, “Even if wooed by Indra, the lord of the sky, to Sita her only lord, whom none even in the heavens can match is Raghu’s son. She can never live at ease, her heart will not care for the dress, sleep or exquisite food, and she would never lie near this sinful monster.” Keen to find out Sita, Hanuman launched the challenging search, in the banquet hall, where he found women plausibly fatigued with singing, wanton dance, drunk, all sleeping in careless postures. Soon he fell a victim to grave misgiving, seized with the apprehension on his part concerning the infringement of the moral code, quickly another thought cropped up in his mind, he consoled himself with the words, ‘True all the consorts of Ravana were seen by me in dishabille, nevertheless no foulness of purpose entered my mind, my mind is firmly established in righteousness. Surely one looks for the being amongst the variety which comprises it, a lost woman cannot be sought for among the deer.’ The spacious dining hall was crammed with meat of all daintiness, of many a beast and bird, and vessels of gold as well as gems were filled with excellent beverages and wine. The vanara lord rummaged around the patio, the bower and the dining hall but could not find the Maithili queen.

After the despair the search resumes: The overwhelmed vanara chief, thought glumly, ‘The ever true and free from strain, the Videhan princess, having denied the fiend’s entreaty was she slain by his wicked hands, or has she sunk in dread, in terror, when she first saw the palace full of female monsters of evil deportment who linger around this robber fiend, and is now dead? As such my search is in vain, having failed to find the dame I am mortified, I searched every bower, I have seen all the dames of Ravana, my painful toil in the search of Sri Rama’s spouse has been futile, and for this lapse my lord King Sugriva will swiftly penalize me. How shall I look on Angada’s eyes, what words will Jambavan reply, how shall I meet the vanara band on the ocean shores and proclaim the message of defeat and ignominy? I will not proclaim the tidings of defeat and shame. I will now subdue this sorrow, dauntless minds will never fail to win success, indefatigability constitutes supreme happiness, it is the root of prosperity, it constantly propels one to pursue all objects, it rewards with success the action the living beings perform.’ He resolved to search the palace through and through, cautiously he tread every chamber, hall, corridor, the cottage, the compartment and the picture gallery and found many women in deep slumber and not the Mithila queen.

Despondency and optimism: Without any clue on the whereabouts of the Videhan princess, swift as a lightning Hanuman cautiously ranged through the chambers of Ravana, he said to himself, ‘I have toiled in vain for long, however I am unaware of the location of Mithila queen, possibly when the giant flew over the sea struggling from the mugger’s hold, the captive queen fell into the raging sea, or did she perish under the pressure of that gruesome encircled fiend’s hands, or when she despised the fiend’s entreaty was she slaughtered and consumed? Whether I conceal or reveal the results of my efforts, calamitous consequences lie ahead, nor can I face my king’s livid questions, nor can I greet my friends on the shore and put up with their scornful looks and muttered taunts. My return without the account of Sri Rama’s consort, will kill the hope and joy of all, and usher desperate desolation, unless I find the Videhan princess I will not return, instead I will dwell a life of a hermit here. I will be living on fruits and berries in some distant dell or I will fast till I perish but will never bring catastrophe on my race and my king. There are numerous evils attending self destruction, instead preserving life and attainment of happiness is certain if one continue to live.’ Having reflected a while he concluded that he will search the city of Lanka till he found the illustrious Sita. ‘I see an unsearched grove with many bright Asoka trees; I will renew afresh my search’. Enfeebled through anxiety; invoking the blessings of the Gods to shower success praying thus, “Salutation to Rama, together with Lakshmana, Salutation to that Sita, the divine lady. Salutations to Rudra the god of destruction, Indra the lord of celestials, Yama the lord of Death and the wind-god. Salutations to Chandra the moon-god, Arka the sun-god and all the hosts of Maruts, the storm gods."(Sloka 59 0f this sarga is a treasure; it is recited even today when one is in total despair) Hanuman the son of the wind God proceeded towards the Asoka grove wondering how and when will the pitiable and helpless Maithili queen overpowered by the mean and vile noxious Ravana will be sighted by him and he return triumphing.

Hanuman enters the Asoka grove: Reflecting awhile Hanuman leapt from the boundary wall of the palace on to the enclosure of the Asoka grove, delighted at the prospect of finding the Mithila queen, he surveyed the various trees which were in full blossom, knotted with creepers. Penetrating deep into the grove, he found the fabulous coppice rendered noisy by birds, it was surrounded on all sides with golden and silvery trees, lovely thickets with reddish flowers, speckled with birds of every species and herds of deer; inhabited by cuckoos, king bees, and peacocks in heat. While he strayed inside that copse, the startled birds and peacocks flew, the trees shaken with his movement in diverse ways shed their bloom and fruits, causing merrily coloured branches shed their florid rain that clung around the vanara till he presented the image of a blossom covered hill and the Asoka grove presented a picture of a glorious maid dressed in her bright robes. Straying through that enchanted ground the vanara lord found ponds of different shapes, provided with crystal steps inlaid with gems. Later Hanuman sighted a mountain resembling a cloud, surrounded on all sides with charming crests, sprinkled with caves, covered with trees of every kind, easily the loveliest mountain on the earth. Through the rocks and trees a tumultuous rill leapt from the bosom of the hill. He climbed up a Simsapa tree, behind the leafy cover of that tree, the vanara lord thought, ‘these lovely trees, this cool retreat will surely tempt the sad queen, she will be wandering here if she be here in this grove. This enchanting grove is ornamented with sandal-wood Champaka and Bakula trees. Intent on the dedication pertaining to the morning and evening twilights, (Sandhya) Sita will surely seek this stream of translucent water for the sake of her ablutions.’ Thinking thus and expecting Sita, Hanuman examined that tree in full blossom while remaining concealed.

Hanuman catches sight of Sita: While remaining perched atop the Simsapa tree Hanuman in the quest of Sita surveyed the entire Asoka grove. Inside the Asoka grove he saw the dazzling palace, its crystal pavements, the steps made of coral, the glittering towers and the high-rise colonnade whose magnificence enamored the eyes. There he caught sight of a pallid, gaunt, woman in unkempt attire, and stream of tears constantly flowing down her face worn with woe, she was being closely watched by fiend and giantess. Seeing her exhausted, plunged in distress, she appeared like a she dove disunited from her herd and surrounded by a pack of hounds, that large eyed, untidy looking, emaciated woman, gave the impression of one never known to calamities and deserving of all comforts. She was a tender woman, her mournful bearing, her glorious eyes, her sobs, her sighs, all were enough to convince Vayuputra and affirm, ‘this, this is she, she is the same, light-colored as the moon, lotus eyed, captive dame I saw Ravana bear through the aerial route. Such was the beauty of the dame I then saw, her appearance, her lips, her eyes are the same, she is the peerless queen, worthy consort of best of the men and she is worthy of that lord. Viewing that large eyed and impeccable princess Hanuman concluded her to be Sita perceiving the same ornaments casting their charm on her limbs as well as ornaments on her hands; as Sri Rama had mentioned at the time of his leaving Kishkinda as existing on the person of his Sita. Although the existing garment on her person is exceedingly worn out having used for a long time, its tint is not blanched; the piece is as bright as the one she dropped with the ornaments. The mind of this god like lady is set on Him while his mind is set on her. Here is the one for whom Sri Rama is suffering ordeal through pity, tenderness, grief and love. The exquisiteness and grace of Sri Rama is comparable to those of this God like lady. The mind of this lady is set on Sri Rama while his mind is set on her. Lord Sri Rama has done what was tough to achieve in that he has been able to preserve his life even though separated from her and does not perish through grief.” Hanuman sought Sri Rama with his mind and admired the Lord.

Hanuman’s grief: Reflecting awhile on Sita, with tearful eyes Hanuman pondered, ‘if the consort of Sri Rama, who is also revered by pious Lakshmana, lies here a sad, desolate, and captive, it indeed is the fury of fate, and none can strive to overcome the adverse fate. She fearlessly bears the tempest of woes; she is fully aware of the might of her lord and his valiant brother. Sita’s age, disposition, demeanor, ancestry, and auspicious bodily marks are well matched with Sri Rama’s. It is for her, her lord slew Khara, Trisira, Dusana, the fourteen thousand ogres in the Janasthana, overthrew the mighty monstrous Viradha, and Kabandha; eliminated the mighty Vali and Sugriva attained the lordship of vanaras. For the sake of this large eyed lady the mighty sea has been crossed by me, if for her sake even if the scion of the Ikshwaku were to destroy this world it indeed would be a righteous deed. Sita is not born to a woman; Sita is well-known as the one who sprang out from the furrowed ground, acknowledged as the child of the high souled Mithila king, the glorious lady the daughter-in-law of the emperor Dasaratha and the wife of the well-known Sri. Rama This, this is the fair Sita, whose limbs are bright as the burnished gold, led by duty, unmindful of a wanderer’s wretchedness, devoted to wifely love, she ignored bliss, homely comforts, preferred a lonely life in the forests is now held a prisoner guarded by hideous fiends. O! what a misery is Sri Rama’s; he is separated from his spouse whose (Sita’s )voice is soft and mild, spoke and smiled sweetly, he Sri Rama is yearning for her fond looks. Absorbed in woes Sita is as forbearing as the earth, her large eyes resemble a pair of lotuses, she who was once guarded by Sri Rama, is now being guarded on the foot of trees by deformed eyed ogresses. She sees no rakshasas, no blooming trees; her eyes with her thoughts are on the now far away from her, Sri Rama. Impetuous Hanuman felt convinced that she was the Sita he was looking for; he remained firmly seated on the tree.

The ogres guarding Sita: With moist eyes the vanara lord noticed the weeping queen guarded by the dreadful demon squad. He saw the hideous ogresses guarding the Videhan princess, some of them earless, some with extensive ears that swung languidly, some ferocious with single ears and eyes, some of monstrous size, some dwarfish, some with long, dark necks with hair upon the gnarled skin. Some were bald and bare, some with wild tresses, some covered over with bristly hair, some tall and straight, some curved, all had fierce, black eyes, and were merciless, severe, and quick to fury. Some were with jackal’s jaw and nose, some had faces of boars, and buffaloes, some with heads of goats, kines, of elephants, dogs and swine, with lion’s lips, and the forehead of the horse, and they walked with the feet of mules and cows. In that breathtaking grove were such awful guards who stood round the Janaka’s daughter, their hideous hands had swords, maces, clubs, and spears, they had their bodies smeared with meat and blood and constantly consumed bowls of wine. Hanuman watched the forlorn and distressed spouse of Sri Rama at the foot of the tree, though bereft of jewels she was adorned with her love of her lord. Beholding that irreproachable lady, Hanuman paid his salutations to Sri Rama and Lakshmana and went into hiding again behind the boughs.

Ravana and his retinue: (The subordinate branches of Vedas are (a) the science of articulation and pronunciation. (b)Chandas or metre. (c) Linguistic analysis or grammar. (d) Explanation of difficult Vedic words. (e) Astronomy or the Vedic calendar, (f) Ceremonial.) The vanara lord hiding behind the boughs was looking at the Videhan princess. Towards the close of the night he heard the giants resonate the solemn hymns of prayer and praise of their fiend monarch; also he heard the chanting of the Vedas, including the six auxiliary sciences, in the dwellings of priests (Brahman ogres) who were all skilled in ceremony and formal procedure. The amorous fiend woke from his sleep, arrayed in all his bright costumes and ornaments, irresistibly swayed and unable to subdue the passion, his thoughts on the Mithila queen, with a retinue of a hundred belles, he hastened to the lovely Asoka grove that was flush with abundant fruits and flowers, rendered charming with the din of birds in heat, herds of deer, the landscape ravishing the eyes and mind. The dames matching the beauties of the skies, with lovely faces were staggering under the surviving trace of intoxication and sleep, all aware of the assigned scepter to her care, gleamed around their monarch; each made music with tinkling ornaments. The pathway illumined with gold and silver torches fed with perfumed oil shed a soft light, the proud monster monarch in immaculate attire, in royal state; seemed love incarnate, prompted by fierce passion he reached the garden gate. Ravana is one of those beings who can assume the loveliest form to please human eyes as well as the terrific shape that suits the king of Rakshasas. Sagacious vanara lord, Hanuman, stood concealed behind a bough with thick leaves and viewed the suzerain lord of the ogres surrounded by his sparkling retinue.

Petrified Sita: When the princess of Mithila saw the fiend monarch, glowing in his childish conceit by her side, a sudden tremulous fear prevailed in her; she sat weeping silently concealing her belly with her thighs and the breasts with her arms, protecting herself from the fiend’s unholy gaze. She was guarded in turns by the feral female demons, in dismay she lay on the bare earth struggling with her gloom, pain, affliction, and desolation, her thoughts resolutely on her lord, the best of the kings. A gracious, fair, delicate, lady that she was, now condemned to heartache, and ignominy she lay among the fiends, forlorn, hopeless wan and worn. She was in wild despair, in misery, pain and affliction, doomed to grief and low realm in stark contrast to her noble lineage and marriage in a pious family of good conduct. Withered through fasting and fear, she lives a life rich in austerity; emotionally at all times praying for the discomfiture of the ogre monarch at the hands of her Lord.

Ravana pleads : Amorous Ravana spoke softly to the now bereft of joy, the miserable, princess of Mithila, “O lotus eyed lady having stunning features, do not spurn my offer of love, no giant nor man is near, have no fear. We giants grab with our might the woman who captivate us, but I will not violate you by force, show me a little favour, dear queen, truthfully make love to me, don’t get swayed by grief There is no circumstance for you to have those tresses into a single plait, (Indian women twisted their long hair in a single braid as a sign of mourning for their absent husbands). O beauteous dame, do not lie in the ground grieving and fasting, adorn yourself with the finest wreath, enjoy diverse sandal pastes and aloes, put on the fine vestures, celestial ornaments, be fed on the dainty cates, relax upon a luxurious bed, the accompanying music dance and song and all the bliss are yours. O lady endowed with lovely form, you are a jewel among women, adorn your neck and limbs with gems and chains, appear before me, your lover, clad in costume worthy of a queen, I deem the wise Creator who designed your form, could never thereafter design a beauty to rival you in charm. Come cast away your grief, be my principal queen, youth is ephemeral, charm decays, be my love, I offer you all the gems and jewels which been brought by me by way of booty from various worlds, and at your feet I lay down my kingdom, having subjugated the entire globe I will offer it to the king of Mithila (Sita’s father) for your sake. In the entire universe you will not find my equal in gallantry and might, the gods as well as demons were routed in battle, I pounded and trampled on their flags, come accept me, with me your slave, taste the bliss, do not think of the wretched Sri Rama, who is stripped of his glory, is now leading the life of an ascetic, dwelling in the forests, dethroned and disowned wanderer who rests on the cold earth. By chance even if HE is alive he will not be able to see you, nor will he be able to get you back from my hold. Neither in point of asceticism, nor in might, nor in prowess, nor in wealth, nor in glory, nor even in renown is Sri Rama equal to me. Could the mighty demon monarch Hiranyakasipu win back glory from Indra? (Hiranyakasipu the Daitya king, was renowned for his blasphemous impieties, when his pious son Prahlada praised Vishnu the Daitya tried to kill him, it is then the God appeared in the incarnation of man-lion (Narasimha) and tore the tyrant to pieces.) O lady of lovely smile, even when clad in soiled, worn garb and unadorned you are fascinating, get yourself adorned in burnished gold ornaments, hold sway over all the women who dwell in my gynaceum make use according to your pleasure all my riches, come my glorious love be my principal queen.’

Sita admonishes Ravana: Grumbling Videhan princess reacted in gentle tones, “O King I am born in a righteous ancestry and by virtue of matrimony, am united in a royal race, it is licentious of you, to woo a married woman who is true to her husband. A shameful deed, an unworthy act can never be done by me, which is denounced by a devoted wife,” she then turned her back on the king snubbing his entreaty and retorted, “O prowler of the night, other’s wives too deserve to be protected by you in the same way as your own, eschew sin, tread the virtuous path, abstain from immoral actions. Be on your guard, this unruly love of yours will ruin you and your race, Lanka will perish for your sins. O Ravana all beings rejoice over the destruction of the short sighted fellow who is given to sinful deeds, in the same way people tormented by you will rejoice and say, ‘Luckily enough has the terrible being met this reverse.’ Lured by wealth and power, I cannot stray from the path of duty; I am linked to my Sri Rama like the daylight and the Sun. Be wise, gain the friendship of Sri. Rama, unite me with Sri. Rama, repent for your impious deeds, preserve your life and fortress. When the vengeful Sri Rama’s arms bend the bow, you shall hear the clang that heralds your woes, his furious shafts each like a snake with blazing head, in their flight shall hiss and flame, in that deluge you and all the giants around you will fall. Indra’s thunderbolt when released may spare a wrongdoer like you, the lord of Death too may ignore a reprobate like you for a long time, and you will certainly be deprived of your life, when that scion of Raghu and the protector of the people is enraged. You will soon hear the twang of Sri Rama’s bow, well jointed arrows marked by the names of Sri Rama and Lakshmana will rapidly rain on the city like serpents with flaming jaws (It was the custom of Indian warriors to mark their arrows with their names and it seems to have been regarded as a point of etiquette to give an enemy the satisfaction of knowing who shot at him). My husband will soon recover me from you; remember the destruction of host of ogres stationed at Janasthana and your loss of foothold therein. The sin in the form of my abduction was committed by you, an impotent vile wretch to avenge yourself on the destruction of the army in the Janasthana; it is not possible for you to stand within the sight of Sri Rama and Lakshmana soon you shall forfeit your life killed as you are by Time-spirit.

Nettled Ravana bullies: The sharp rebuff of the princess of Mithila, enraged the fiend monarch, ‘It is always so, the more considerate a man is to a woman whom he seeks to woo, her errant spirit propels her to rebel. It is only my infatuation for you that checks my anger which is the only reason I have borne your harsh ridicule, your rebuke, and therefore you preserve your life. O Sita you brag of your warm love for that pitiable rootless anchorite, I grant you two months time to change your mind and submit to my pleasures, in case of negation on your part to share my bed, after the two months and you do not wish to have me your husband, my cooks will mince you for my morning feast.’ With troubled eyes, the minstrel daughters of the skies and the children of the Gods calmed Janaka’s daughter with grin and jiggle to restore confidence in the Videhan princess. (Ravana carried off and kept in his palace not only earthly princesses but also the daughters of Gods and Gandharvas). Relieved Sita addressed the ogre, “O impious King, in this land mass, you have none interested on your welfare, since no one discourages you to shun this reproachful crime that is leading you to your ruin. O contemptible wretch, in all the three worlds there is not a soul other than you who will even with his mind think to have me the consort. How can you brashly hope to escape the consequences following your words and deeds? Without doubt my abduction is only a device ordained by Providence for bringing about your destruction. My lord Sri Rama is the lion and you are a pathetic hare, away from his sight you rail, you cannot survive his very presence. Even after your impious glances at the spouse of Dasaratha’s heir, how it is your eyes are still in place, and your tongue has not withered. I do not reduce you to ashes because I do not have the mandate of Sri. Rama to do so, also I seek to preserve the power of my asceticism.” Provoked, the furious fiend responded, ‘reckless are you, to my threats and appeals, you are loyal to your absurd vow, I will give you no respite for your scathe and disdain, I will slay you, you shall cease to live.’ Speedily approaching the ten headed monster and embracing him, with a view to prevent him from striking Sita, Mandodari as well as Dhanyamalini, the consorts of Ravana spoke as follows, ‘O lord of the ogres, the foremost of the immortals, (Brahma and Indra) have not assigned to her lot the exquisite luxuries which you offer, what purpose of yours will be achieved by this pale and wretched human, sport with me O great king. The body of one who loves a woman not loving him in return reaps suffering alone.’ Ravana, who was distracted by passion, commanded the rakshasa guards, to tame the stubborn Sita to submission, by threat, coercion or blandishment and thereafter proceeded to his queens’ abode.

Insults taunts and threats by the ogresses: After Ravana’s return to the gynaeceum, the fiery eyed, hideous in appearance ogresses drew around the helpless princess of Mithila, all of them, assailed her with menacing speech, insults and taunts. Addressing Sita an ogress named Ekajata, her eyes bloodshot with anger spoke as follows, ‘the six lords of created beings (Prajapatis) entrusted with the work of creation by Brahma are Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu. The glorious mind born son of Pulastya, is an eminent Rishi named Visravas, O large eyed lady, the son of Visravas is our mighty Ravana, do not disrespect the words we tell you, this happy chance, this glorious lot, to be the chosen consort of the glorious king Ravana is yours, you acquiesce in this proposal of mine.’ Another terrible demon Harijata dilating her eyes standing besides the Maithili queen angrily spoke thus, ‘In the past your lover, in a furious battle smote the sovereign of the skies, he never ever fled from the battlefield, he has now fallen for you forsaking his beloved wife, Mandodari, you be the proud darling consort of that full of valour, heroic mighty Ravana.’ Another ogress Vikata addressed the following words, ‘The king who dealt savage blows to Nagas and Gandhavars (heavenly singers) has come to you and humbly enticed you do not be foolish to ridicule this offer, accept the offer of wifehood.’ Another ogress Durmukhi said, ‘ Scared of Ravana Sun does not scorch, the wind blows gently, the trees rain flowers, demons heed his command with fright, O charming lady be counselled comply with his request, preserve your life.’

Sita proclaims her resolve: With uncouth and forceful rebukes individual fiends trailed the gentle Mithila queen with exhortations, ‘O lady of stunning countenance, obey or perish, clad in silk and adorned in burnished ornaments, dwell in celebratory comforts in the bowers of Ravana, and spend life in comfort with our mighty lord forget that desolate rootless anchoret Sri.Rama.’ Eyes bedewed with tears, the hapless Videhan princess made her counter, “Destitute or deprived of his kingdom, I see in him my lord, till my last breath I will cling to that great son of Ikshvaku. She mentioned Suvarchala, Sachi, Arundhati, Rohini, Lopamudra, Sukanya, and Savitri, the respective consorts of the Sun-god, Indra, Sage Vasistha, Moon-god, Sage Agastya, Sage Chavanya and Satyavan amongst others as the well-known she prefers to follow. I detest, the shameful sinful advice you jointly suggest, you may gobble me, but this reprehensible path will never be mine.” Enraged on hearing the reply of Sita, the unsightly shaped ogresses as ordered by Ravana, began to hurl insults, taunts, and threatening abuses at Sita. They also with menacing gesticulations waved the axes, spears and murderous knives to intimidate the gentle lady, Hanuman temporarily hidden in the Asoka tree listened mutely. An ogress grim in countenance, Vinata, addressed the princess of Mithila, ‘you have shown sufficient fondness for your spouse; O good lady everything taken to excess leads to harsh conditions; the rule of conduct enjoined on human beings has been followed by you. Now take for your husband the comely, munificent, valiant, ruler of the ogres, Ravana, and from this day become the sovereign of the three worlds like Swaha, (the consort of the god of fire), leave now the wretched mortal Rama whose life has now faded, else we shall this very day devour you.’ Another ogress Vikata angrily uttered, ‘O grossly stupid princess of Videhan territory, you have been transported to the other shore of the sea, you have been detained in the abode of Ravana, and you are incapable of being rescued even by the destroyer of strongholds (Indra). Youth is ephemeral, embrace cheerfulness, sport with Ravana, experience excessive delight. In case you do not follow my wholesome advice, tearing you apart I will feast on your flesh and limbs.’ Chandodari, an ogress of ferocious look muttered, ‘At the very sight of this woman a great longing sprang up in my heart that I should feed on her liver, spleen, her swollen breasts, her heart and all her limbs and head too, my mind is such even now.’ Praghasa another ogress spoke, ‘why do we linger, devour her and report to the king.’ Ajamukhi an ogress, ‘debate does not find favour with me hack her, in equal measure let us eat her, let drinks and garlands be brought without delay, let us start our revelries in the western part of Lanka known by the name Nikumbila.’ Harassed Sita thus threatened by the monstrous ogresses began to weep.

Bewail of Videhan princess: Stricken with grief due to her having been reproached by Ravana, and now in the midst of the repellent ogresses uttering cruel remarks, Janaka’s daughter trembling like a strayed fawn surrounded by hungry barking wolves, dropped on the ground. Oppressed by affliction, with no respite from her woes seen at that moment, she thought upon her lord, in sorrow she wept bitterly, the incessant flow of the tears bathed her beautiful frame. Horrified with terror and misery, she cried out, ‘O Rama, O Lakshmana, O dear Kausalya, O sweet Sumitra, listen to my groan, away from the sight of Sri Rama, tormented by the cruel ogresses, unable to give up this living, in despair, in sorrow, I lead a wretched existence. Disunited from the heroic Sri Rama death is preferable to life for me, again as that adage sets out death does not come to relieve despair, nor does death schedule its arrival before the appointed date, in despair I mourn my fate, I am not able to set my eyes on my Sri Rama, who walks with the gait of a lion, whose eyes resemble the petals of a lotus, whose gentle talk charms every ear. Surely a major sin was actually perpetrated by me in another body, (previous birth) that explains this load of my present misery.

Sita unyielding even on pain of death: The Mithila queen in pitiable tones lamented, “On that sad day, I, Sri Rama’s consort a helpless victim, was apprehended and borne away by the ogre Ravana who changes his appearance at his pleasure, left me here forlorn to weep and sigh for my lord, and to bear the demons threats, scorn, and taunts., I am away from my lord Sri Rama and tattered with gloom, the robber fiend the demon whom I loathe, in his felony, hopes in vain to win his captive’s love. Ravana the senseless fool does not know me, as long as I am living separately from Sri Rama; I have no use for life, or riches, or jewels. The despicable Ravana seeks to win me over, he does not heed my refusal, I will never consent to his entreaty, I will not touch him with my left foot, even if am transfixed, hacked to pieces, torn limb from limb, baked in fire or burnt. I fear Sri Rama a scion of Raghu, a brave hearted, strong man, he was well known as a wise man, ever grateful, ever merciful, a man of excellent morals, he is a great warrior, alone he slew Viradha the foremost of the ogres, alone in Janasthana fourteen thousand ores were slain by him, due to my loss of good fortune I am detained a captive by Ravana here, and HE does not pity his incarcerated wife. True love sticks to one remaining in one’s sight; it ceases to exist when out of view; but in the case of Sri Rama it will never be so, perhaps there were shortcomings in me, or it is loss of fortune. Indeed the holy hermits have subdued their self and for them the pleasant and the unpleasant do not exist nor does sorrow follow them. If Sri Rama knew me to be present here he would reduce the city of Lanka to ashes, rid the world of ogres, and splotch out the name as well as the fame of the despicable Ravana, therefore I should not blame my lord in futile guess. The omens I now see in Lanka leads me to conclude that in the near future, Lanka will be dissipated of its grandeur; its sinful sovereign, Ravana will be slain, and from each ruined Rakshasa home would come widow’s groans and cries.”

Trijata’s reverie: (Treatise on dreams Svapnadhyaya describes dreams like mounting on the back of a cow, a bull, or an elephant, to climb up a mansion, the top of a mountain or a tree, to get bedaubed with excrement, weeping and death as well as copulation with a woman not fit for intercourse in dreams are looked upon as auspicious. Further in a dream whoever touches with one’s hand the orb of the sun or that of a moon it is a reasonable suggestion that they will conquer a large dominion) As Janaka’s daughter detested their counsel, and was not intimidated by the threats, daunts, and insults of the ogresses, some amongst them proceeded to communicate their despair to the evil minded Ravana, whilst others renewed their threats and taunts. Moved with pity for the captive Sita, a mature, prudent, Rakshasa matron named Trijata, who had just risen from sleep, reprimanded the fiends in such comparable words, ‘O despicable ogresses, I had last night a ghastly dream, where I saw the annihilation of the ogres and the wellbeing of Dasaratha’s heir and that trepidation is terrifying me even now, devour me, but spare the daughter-in-law of Dasaratha, in that dream I was foreshown our race overthrown by Sri Rama. In the skies I saw Raghu’s sons glowing in their own grandeur, clad in white raiment, wearing sparkling garlands riding the ivory chariot swiftly drawn by hundreds of steeds, Clad in sparkling white attire I saw perched atop a snow white hill located in the midst of the boisterous sea, Janaka’s daughter and her Lord Sri Rama meet, in magnificence they were indissoluble like the daylight and the Sun. Again I saw them seated side by side and together with Lakshmana they ascended the aerial car, Puspaka, and were seen by me proceeding to the northern territory beyond the Lankan seacoast. In that dream I saw fierce eyed Ravana, his head tonsured, his body from head to foot, dirtied in oil, attired in red robes, he was deeply drunk, he fumed; he was fallen off the aerial chariot and was rolling in the dust. Once more I saw in that dream our incapacitated monarch, robed in black smeared with red sandal paste, dragged away by a woman and thrown into a chariot drawn by asses. I saw our wild eyed monarch standing upright, dancing, laughing, and quenching his thirst with the oil, speed on this chariot to the region of gloom, the abode of the departed spirits. Like-wise I saw Kumbakarna of extraordinary might mounted on the back of a camel treading the southern region and all the sons of Ravana followed Ravana in the southerly regions disappearing in the pool of cow dung. The gates, tower, and citadel of this ancient renowned royal Lanka reeled and fell shattered; this enchanting city of horses, elephants, chariots and the life within was drowned, fallen as it were into the sea. Youngest brother of Ravana, Vibhishana alone was seen by me dressed in white attire wearing a white wreath, roofed by a white canopy, smeared by white sandal paste, mounted on a four tusked celestial elephant, hailed with tumultuous, conch shells, beating of the kettle drums, as well as dances and songs. In a different dream was seen by me the well protected Lanka was burnt by an agile monkey acting as an envoy of Lord Sri Rama. Warned by these forebodings, I advise you all, to at once stop your harsh boos, threats and insults, go comfort the spouse of Rama, humbly pray for forgiveness, seek to save your lives for none can escape the vengeful wrath of enraged Sri Rama, I for my part visualize the destruction of the Lord of Ogres, Ravana, and the triumph of the scion of Raghu. I for my part infer that adversity has befallen this god like lady who does not merit hardship; I envisage the success of the purpose of the Videhan princess; the triumph of Sri Rama to be at hand as also the annihilation of the lord of the ogre. As a sure prognosis of her hearing fulfilling information I see her left arm palpitating and her left eye is seen throbbing. A delighted bird is continually urging Sita to rejoice and the shy lady responded,’ “If that comes true, I shall be your protector.”

Despair and propitious omens: Trijata continued to rebuke the ogresses in words, ‘let us implore the Videhan princess’s forgiveness, for the scion of Raghu would never tolerate his spouse who followed him in his exile to be rebuked, insulted or threatened. I for my part visualize the destruction of the lord of the ogres, Ravana, the triumph of Sri Rama and accomplishment of purpose of the God like lady. I see the amiable Sita’s left eye throbbing, her left arm palpitating without any reason, her left thigh is also pulsating, which surely are prognostications announcing to her the beginning of encouraging times.’ Timid Mithilan queen wailed , “Wise affirm that death does not come before the appointed hour, bereft of ecstasy and full of suffering my heart is strong and it does not break into smithereens Even before the arrival of Sri Rama here, I will be killed, for I stand condemned to death at the hands of this detestable ogre, O Sri Rama, O Lakshmana, O Sri Rama’s mother Kausalya, O Sumitra, O my own mother, I am a woman of adverse fate, surely no blame will attach to me if I throw away my life; O Sri Rama of unfailing prowess, you do not know me to be sentenced to death. It was unfavorable doom that fascinated me a stupid wretch who dispatched my Lord and my brother-in-law in pursuit of that deer. In vain I have practiced virtue; for long I did not see you, as a result I am pale and shrunken. O! Sri Rama my mortal agony is too long to suffer, blessed with meager luck I will now part with my life.” Sita now thought of means to proceed to the abode of Yama. Even as she was contemplating thus, many happy omens, recognized as dispellers of grief, omens seen as predictive of success and restoring confidence presently appeared on her person.

Omens bring joy to Sita: Having determined to give up the ghost, the beyond reproach, the distraught, blessed Mithilan queen, proceeded to the Simsapa tree for tying her neck with the string that united her hair and press forward to the abode of Yama. She experienced, her left eye throb repeatedly, palpitations in her left arm, her left thigh visibly quivering, her soiled covering slipped a bit from her person in a way which augured well for her, reassured by all these and other omens she was rid of her grief, her mind filled with joy, the noble lady’s exhaustion was mitigated.

Hanuman’s contemplation: Although in hiding Hanuman watched and heard every word spoken by the Maithili queen and the fiends, his mind was in a labyrinth of speculations, he said to himself, “After lengthy exploration by the vanara multitudes, my observant eyes have sighted the spouse of Sri Rama, the Videhan princess. As a vigilant emissary I have surveyed the palace of the lord of the Rakshasas, I thoroughly discovered the might and power of the giant monarch. Now my unfinished task is to comfort and cheer the royal lady, for if I fail to soothe her, weighed down with distress she may possibly give up the ghost. If I return to Kishkinda without comforting this upright lady my departure would be a blunder; to speak to her within the sight of the ogresses is not prudent; I should return to Kishkinda with a message from Sri Rama’s darling, else I stand exposed to Sri Rama’s wrath. Without meeting the Videhan princess, if I am able to convince my lord to quickly lead the Vanara multitude in battle array here, the intensity, the pain, the toil, and the menace of our efforts will be ineffective, if in the meanwhile the Videhan princess gives up the ghost; I am really in a predicament. Yes I a puny vanara must seize the occasion when the ogresses are asleep or when they are inattentive. Sita has now crept to a tree at distance from them, I should address the lady in dire distress, in soft whispers console her with the tidings on Sri Rama. I must console this irreproachable lady; the choice of the Sanskrit language I now speak should not be the language spoken by the Brahmans but the language as spoken by the ordinary man. The reason for not addressing Sita in Sanskrit language commonly spoken by men of the priestly class and other educated class, is not that Sita would not understand it, but it would distress her, she may assume me to be Ravana, hence the language as spoken by an ordinary man staying near about Ayodhya which will convey my meaning to her; needs to be used by me. My language should not induce scare in her, for startled in terror if she cries then the alarmed and armed demon gang will strive to take me captive or kill me, and in my death or my capture Sita will remain unacquainted with my mission, also the hope of Sri Rama’s mission too terminates. It is a lapse in me if I remain silent and let Janaka’s daughter die. Conforming to righteous actions I will utter Sri Rama’s name, sing the praises of Sri Rama of unwearied action, I shall make my presentation intelligible, truthful and credible.”

Hanuman’s communication: In low, mild and sweet accents, Hanuman gifted with amazing intellect spoke to the daughter of Janaka thus, “In the line of the distinguished Ikshwakus, there was the mighty blameless, sinless, magnanimous, compassionate, sovereign, Dasaratha of unfailing prowess, who enhanced the glory of the race. Ever blissful Dasaratha of exceptional grandeur, conferred bliss on others as well. His darling, brave and strong, the scourge of his foes, duteous eldest son, was Rama whose countenance resembled the lord of the stars, who never swerved from the stately duty, Rama, the defender of righteousness, and he detested the wrong. In deference to the plighted word of his aged father, given to his step-mother, Rama the hero accompanied by his consort and his younger brother Lakshmana proceeded in exile to the forest. Rama and his brother Lakshmana roamed the woods in the guise of an ascetic, accompanied by Rama’s consort Sita, where he slew bravest of the Rakshasa troop. On hearing of the destruction of the ogres and his kin as well, the Rakshasa king by guile stole Rama’s consort, the Videhan princess Sita. While searching in the forests for his irreproachable consort Rama found a firm friend in the Lord of Vanara race, Sugriva. To Sugriva who was expelled from his realm by his brother Vali, Sugriva’s rightful kingdom was restored to him by Rama. Commanded by Sugriva the vanara legions set out searching for that God like consort of Rama in all the corners of the world, I on the directions of Sampati, the king of the birds and the elder brother of Jatuyu, leapt a distance of one hundred leagues and my blissful eyes have at long last have seen the Maithili queen endowed with the grace, beauty, and eyes similar to those I heard from the mouth of the Sri Rama.” After this speech Hanuman was silent, the Videhan princess experienced ecstasy, was trembling in surprise, screened the Simsapa tree on which the vanara was perched, there she noticed Hanuman of inconceivable intelligence.

Sita’s misgivings: The Maithili queen gazed on the tree; beheld the meek monkey; that was kind in speech, with eyes bright as refined gold concealed under the cover of the boughs. She suspected the sight to be illusory, and regarding the monkey as difficult to approach, and hideous to look at, overcome with foreboding she wept bitterly, fell to the ground fainting. After a while she thought again, “If it were to be a dream and my eyes have seen this tainted creature, the vision of a monkey in the dream has been condemned in the scriptures, O Gods may all be well with Rama, Lakshmana and my father, the Janakan King” Sita fell motionless, sobbing in weak brogue. Regaining her composure she again said, “Surely this cannot be a dream, incapacitated by woe, I have not slept, nothing alleviates my feral distress. Lost in thought my mind at all times I think of my lord Sri Rama and my lips chant Rama. Everything I see or hear brings Rama to mine eyes or ears, so it was the apparition of my mind and the wish in my heart hence it is that sweet fantasy that derides my senses. While this monkey before me has a distinct form, he is talking to me in a soft and kind voice, my salutations to the master of speech, (Sage Brihaspathi), to the self born creator, (Brahma), to the wielder of the thunderbolt (Indra) as well as to the God of fire (the deity presiding over the organ of speech). May all of you grant my prayer, May all that which has been uttered now in my presence by this monkey, the words that startled me, prove true.”

The discussion: Descending the Simsapa tree, humble Hanuman his joined palms held on his head, as a mark of reverence, stood before Videhan princess, addressed her these words of solace in gentle tones, ‘O immaculate lady, who are you who stand holding the branch of the Simsapa tree, why should your lovely eyes brim over with tears of sorrow? Are you among the celestial race, or Asurs the fierce enemies of the gods, or did the Naga mother give birth to you? Who are you amongst the Rudras the manifestations of Siva, or the Maruts the Storm Gods, or Rohini, the daughter of Daksha and the favourite wife of the Moon, who are doomed to dwell on earth for a while? To me you appear to be a goddess, O charming lady, are you the blessed Arundhati plummeted from the heavenly world on having angered your husband sage Vasistha through bitterness or pride? O most lovely lady for whom are you grieving, who is it the son, the brother, husband or father for whom you shed tears? The Gods do not shed tears nor do their feet touch the earth when they walk, hence you are no goddess but a royal queen, are you the stolen queen Sita whom Ravana forcibly brought you here from Janasthana? Indeed the cheerless predicament, the ethereal looks, the ascetic garb, leads me to conclude that you are the Videhan princess and the Sri Rama’s consort.’ Delighted at the mention of Sri Rama’s name by the monkey, the Videhan princess replied as follows, “Indeed I am that Sita, the consort of the noblest of Ikshwaku emperor Dasaratha’s son, Sri Rama. I enjoyed every earthly joy till Lord Rama, his brother Lakshmana and me left the royal home, to roam in the wild Dandaka woods. We lived a saintly life when the giant Ravana by wiliness brought me to the island of Lanka. The fiend Ravana has allowed Sri Rama’s spouse two months to live and thereafter I, the captive, will be slain.”

Sri Rama’s emissary Hanuman: After having heard Sita’s doleful saga, Hanuman began his reassuring reply, ‘O lady by your lord’s pronouncement I come to you as his emissary, Sri Rama is secure with his dedicated friends, he sends his good wishes to you, and the ever faithful Lakshmana offers his obeisance to Sri Rama’s spouse.’ Tickled with rapture all over her frame Sita made her response, “True in my case is the maxim that joy comes to a surviving individual even though it is at the end of a hundred years.” Hanuman marked the bliss in Sita’s countenance; he ventured to get closer to her, every forward movement of his alarmed the Maithili queen, scared she cried, “Alas, it is the fiend Ravana in a new disguise, Sri Rama’s tale I loved to hear was a sham” she continued, “If you are Ravana, O night ranger, it is not correct on your part to beguile a hapless woman with your deeds so vile. O! no you cannot be that fiend Ravana, for I experience delight in my heart at your sight. Your are Sri Rama’s envoy, for if you were Ravana in disguise you would avoid the praise of Sri Rama, now please repeat the fame/virtues of Sri Rama for these words sound sweet to my ears I am conscious of my own self as well of this monkey.” Coming to know of Sita’s conclusion the vanara gave the answer, ‘Effulgent as the Sun, sporting the countenance of the Moon, strong, un-subdued, unmatched in might and fortitude like Lord Vishnu, Sri Rama brings delight by bestowing riches on all like son of Visrava, Kubera. Like Sage Brihaspapati he speaks the words of wisdom and the truth, in comeliness grace and splendor he is (Kandarpa) Love incarnate, he crushes effortlessly the foes fury, he punishes only when the ends of justice needs to be met, the world is kept free from scathe and harm due to the might of his arms. Ravana will soon lament his thievery; O Maithili Queen the day is near when Sri Rama and Lakshmana supported by the Vanara Lord Sugriva and his numerous vanara hosts will ensure the fall of the ogre race, the death of the fiend king Ravana and the fall of his realm. I am a monkey named Hanuman, a minister of Sugriva, in search of you I leapt across the vast sea and penetrated deep into the isle of Lanka, O God like lady I am no traitor you can faithfully rely upon my word.”

Hanuman’s response to Sita: Sita heard Hanuman tell of the great Lord she loved enormously, disregarding her affliction she spoke in sweet, soft and low accents, “How did you contact Sri Rama, how do you know Lakshmana, how did the meeting between monkeys and humans take place on terms of brotherhood, how come an alliance between my Lord and you take place? Portray to me the distinctive marks which exist on the person of Sri Rama and Lakshmana, tell me of Sri Rama’s appearance, speech, and bearing, so that I may overcome my grief. Sita of course knows nothing of what has happened to Sri Rama since the time she was carried away by Ravana. Hanuman responded saying, ‘O God like lady dispel your doubts and fear; hear me narrate the distinctive marks which have been actually noticed by me on the person of Sri Rama as well as that of Lakshmana. Sri Rama has eyes resembling a lotus petal; he has a voice deep like the sound of the kettledrum, a glossy skin, well proportioned limbs is endowed with dark brown complexion, his countenance resembles the full moon, and he contends with the sun in his effulgence, in forbearance with the earth, in astuteness with sage Brihaspathi the preceptor of the Gods, in prominence with Indra. He is the protector of all the living beings, he is a guardian of virtues, scourge of his foes, he is a protector of the human race, and he has fixed the limits of propriety to be observed by the people. He is well versed in Yajurveda, he is keenly alive to the services of holy men, he is full of wisdom, richly endowed with amiability, has controlled his passions, he is proficient in the science of archery and also in the sciences auxiliary to the Vedas. He is graceful in appearance, gifted with superior intellect, and all the virtues that adorn the sovereign of human kind. His brother Lakshmana is a replica of Sri Rama in friendliness, charm, grandeur and excellences, though in hue Sri Rama is dark brown and Lakshmana is endowed with a golden luster. In search of you they rambled in vain over all territories, until they wearily strode into our feral shelter and it is there that they got integrated with us. The two princes clad in tatters, carried the most excellent bows in their hands, sought the lovely region of mount Risyamukha, for their part they saw the lord of the monkeys, Sugriva of pleasant features sitting at the foot of this mountain. Our Lord Sugriva, who was dethroned by his elder brother Vali, was distracted with fear to behold the aforementioned tigers among men, leapt to the peak of the mountain. Settled comfortably on that peak, at Sugriva’s command I respectfully approached the two mighty men, and led them to my monarch; and as a sequel to their discussions, the lord of the monkeys and the ruler of the men felt mutually comforted by recounting their respective past history. Hearing Lakshmana , the leader of the monkey hordes showed the royal brothers all those sets of jewels which previously adorned your limbs, and which have been dropped on the earth’s surface by you while being carried away by the ogre Ravana, however your whereabouts were not known to the us. Having examined the jewels that scion of Raghu experienced grief, O princess unable to see you, Sri Rama finds no delight even while wandering by the side of streams and cascades and the highly charming woodlands, sleeplessness, heartache, and apprehension consume the high souled Sri Rama. United thus Sugriva and Sri Rama arrived at a mutual understanding to get rid of Vali, and to commence search for you. Vali, the ruler of the monkeys was killed in combat by the gallant Sri. Rama, and Sugriva was crowned the monarch of the hordes of monkeys and bears, in this way O god like lady, the alliance of Sri Rama and Sugriva came about. Commanded by the lord of monkeys Sugriva, vanaras possessed of extraordinary vigour, looking like lordly mountains, ventured out in all directions on the earth in search of you. I set out under the command of Angada, the glorious son of Vali, accompanied by one third of the vanara army, a number of days and nights rolled past us we got lost on Vindhyan range, due to despondency in the matter of accomplishing our purpose and in fear of our lord we got ready to give up the ghost. There appeared on that spot a gigantic and powerful, the king of the vultures Sampati, the elder brother of Jatayu, he spoke of your dwelling in the abode of ogre Ravana; feeling happy and strong all the monkeys headed by Angada arrived near the sea shore resolved as they were to discover you. O god like lady I forthwith leapt across a distance of one hundred yojanas I duly penetrated Lanka the ogre Ravana as well as grief stricken you were beheld by, know me to be Hanuman arrived here as the envoy of Sri Rama and Sugriva. O princess of Videhan territory everything I wished to say on the excellences of your lord been described by me, without doubt very soon Sri Rama will take you from this place. O god like lady, my father the monkey Kesari was enjoined by the celestials when he shifted his abode from the Malyavan Mountains to Gokarna Mountain, to kill a demon named Sambasadana, the giant who oppressed people living on the seaside. Begotten by the wind god I am known world over for my exploits; I am known by the name Hanuman.” Reassured with cogent proofs Sita was convinced that Hanuman was the messenger of her lord and experienced immense joy.

Signet ring: In order to gain her confidence, Hanuman once more spoke, ‘receive this token from your lord, this precious ring with Rama’s name engraved, which is normally worn by him.’ As she took the dearly valued ornament from him, she seemed to touch the hand that sent, her heart was now at ease, and the tears of joy flowed, she paid tribute to the vanara in gentle words like these, “Surely Sri Rama will not without ascertaining your prowess send you as his envoy to me, O jewel among monkeys there exists no apprehension nor dread for Ravana in your mind. Crossing without trepidation the sea the abode of alligators and which extends a distance of one hundred yojanas; you are praiseworthy for your adeptness, I find in you a true messenger, O noblest of the vanara kind, sent by Sri Rama you must be valiant, wise and a faithful lead, may we converse here as friends. Tell me whether all is well with Sri Rama, as also Lakshmana who is endowed with extraordinary energy, I hope Sri Rama has not sunk into gloom and grief stricken on meeting with the greatest misfortune in the form of my loss, will he rescue me, I hope he has not grown indifferent to me? Will Bharata who is fond of Sri Rama send out for my sake a formidable army; will the glorious Sugriva lend his legions to assist his friend? I hope I shall see Ravana with his near and dear killed in combat by Sri Rama, I wish to survive only as long as I continue to hear the news of my darling lord.” The charming lady ceased so that she can hear more of Vayuputra’s delightful version on Sri Rama. The vanara of fearsome ability, with his hands upon his head as a mark of deference, began his answer thus, ‘Sri Rama will soon hear my account, and then provoked by revenge, the lord of men will lead to this island inhabited by the ogres race; myriads of fierce woodland breed (monkeys bears and the like) will bring Lanka to ruins and destroy the giant race all this for you. Full of grief occasioned by your absence, Sri Rama is restless, I swear to you by the Mandara, Malaya, Vindya, Sumeru, Dardura mountains, these mountains symbolize the habitat of the monkeys, as well as roots and fruits which serve as our food, you will soon see your lord, though now he is in the Prasravana hills near Kishkinda. O princess of Videhan territory, Sri Rama eagerly desires to see you, for you he has forsaken meat and wine, he consumes scanty food, your image is ever in his mind’s eye, even in his brief sleep he in anguish mutters the name Sita, Sita. When he sees the lovely flowers and fruits or whatever else is likely to captivate the mind of the women, he says Ah darling O Sita.’

Sita implores Hanuman: Sita replied to Hanuman thus, “Your message to me is a mixture of pleasure and twinge, the pleasant part is my lord thinks of me always, the twinge is at all times he grieves for me. No matter whether one is rolling in very extensive fortune or sunk in terrible adversity, inevitable is the cord of destiny, it is the monarch of all, at this instant it lifts us high, at anther moment shoves us low down, none can escape the Fate’s stern decree, be he the base slave or the proud lord. Inevitable indeed is the destiny of living beings, look at Lakshmana, my lord and myself we are distracted by wretchedness and struck by grief, tell me when my lord now drowned in the ocean of sorrow, how shall he reach the shore? When will my lord smite the demons, bring destruction to Lanka and after the glorious victory meet his long lost Sita? The monster Ravana has given me only two months to live, after the end of two months Sri Rama’s captive consort will be slain by the fiend, hasten to Sri Rama, ask him to act with swiftness. Wicked Ravana’s excellent brother Vibishana often pleaded with him to restore me to Sri Rama, but senseless Ravana will not heed his wise brother’s counsel. Kala the eldest daughter of Vibhishana, told me that the prudent, just and old, Avindhya; one of Ravana’s chief councilors, has predicted the imminent destruction of the ogres race if the fiend did not restore me to Sri Rama. Though the amiable Avindhya’s opinion is respected and relied by Ravana, impelled by Fate he despises his (Avindhya’s) most salutary advice in this event. The virtues existing in Sri Rama are numerous; he cannot be overcome by affliction, he is in courage, strength, and supremacy absolute, my heart is pure and true, I deem that my lord will reclaim me soon,” her face was bathed in tears as she was speaking. To Sita who was speaking verbosely the vanara chief answered, ‘yes Sri Rama will surely when he listens to my report, hasten to Lanka leading a huge army of monkeys and bears. O Queen with your consent, I this very day will take you in my arms and escape beyond the sea, away from the fiends and place you on the Prasravana hills, where your refuge, your protector and your lord the Raghu’s son is waiting. Carrying you on my back, O princess of Videhan territory I shall without a doubt return precisely through that space as I came.’ Rapturous Sita having regard to Hanuman when he entered the city had in order to escape detection condensed himself to the size of a cat, she now said, “The course is long the sea is wide, you are diminutive, you cannot bear my weight and this is too stiff a task for you, your proposal is monkey-like O leader of the monkeys.” The Vayuputra thought it to be the first affront of its kind offered to him, and in order to instill confidence in the Maithili queen, Hanuman came down from that tree and began to grow in size he looked like the Mount Meru or Mount Mandara and stood in front of Sita encircled with a blaze of light. He whispered, ‘dismiss your fears nor entertain any doubt that I can carry you safely, O, come have faith in my strength, there is capacity in me to carry this entire Lanka with its very lord Ravana, O God like lady be done with hesitation rid Sri Rama and Lakshmana of grief and you soon sit joyous by the side of Sri Rama.’ Sita spoke again, “I now know you as the heroic, unwavering, and physically powerful, you are like the Lord of fire in Glory, in fleetness you are Maruti, the storm god, and nothing may exhaust you. However my going with you is not proper, for borne so swiftly through the sky, my unsteady brain may wobble and whirl, my arms would relax their hold, in hysterical terror I will be rendered unconscious, I may actually tumble down from your back and fall into the raging sea where hungry sharks would feed on me. For other reasons too I shall not be able to go with you, suspicion of the ogres will surely fall on you as you go with a lady, on your back, surrounded by the heroic armed ogres you will fall into peril. I may even die when intimidated by ogres, and your endeavour to take me to the presence of Sri Rama may prove utterly futile. You may even kill all the ogres; in that occurrence the fame of Sri Rama may suffer attenuation. On my own free volition I cannot touch any person other than my lord, O Vanara no blame was mine when I the helpless dame embraced, laid forcefully in giant’s arms. O jewel among monkeys swiftly bring here my lord Sri Rama along with Lakshmana the vanara leaders and their legions and end my long despair.”

Sita narrates an episode and gives a jewel: Appreciative of Sita’s reply, the vanara chief replied, ‘O divine lady of charming aspect what has been spoken by you is appropriate and is in accordance with your modesty, your virtues and your feminine nature also your dread of the rushing wind, ocean wave is in keeping with woman’s personality. Your fear of touching any male other than the cherished lord Sri Rama, is worthy of you, when I sought to carry you, I spoke in innocence, impelled to set you free and unite you with your lord. Now that you have decided not to try the safe exit through the windy sky, give me some token to let your venerable lord know that I have certainly met you.’ Requested by Hanuman thus, in faint voices choked with tears, Sita spoke, “You please unfailingly deliver to my darling this token in the form of the message, ‘Remember the green edge of the rill that flows besides the pleasant Chitrakoota mountain, where you and I strayed together overjoyed in the matted hermitage, there on the grass I sat with you and laid my head on your knee. There came a greedy crow desirous of food began to peck me, picking up lump of earth, I kept the crow back, however the said crow remained in hiding, heedless of the clod I threw, the crow flew in circles over my head. Pushed by hunger, the crow boldly pecked me on my breasts; I ran to you in pain, in rage, and prayed for retribution on the rogue crow. Infuriated to see me gashed on both my breasts, Sri Rama risen from his slumber, smiled with pity on my afflictions, he saw the scratches made by the beak and claw, he laid an arrow endued with magic power, on his bow and launched it at the shameless crow. The shaft charged with the potency of a mystic missile presided over by Brahma, pursued the bird wherever he flew. Seeking protection when given chase to by the missile the crow sought various asylums, he was deserted by his father Indra (the crow was the son of Indra in disguise), and all the great Rishis, it is said he ranged the whole universe; finally he sought Sri Rama alone as his refuge. Out of compassion for the bird, Sri Rama spared the crow who had sought shelter with him, since the missile presided over by Brahma cannot be rendered ineffectual Sri Rama only destroyed the right eye of the crow and spared his life. The son of Indra made obeisance mentally to Sri Rama and Sri Rama’s father the emperor Dasaratha and thereafter returned to his abode. (Sloka 35) From you alone I heard motiveless compassion is the highest virtue, she who has her lord in you, O Lord, actually looks like one without a protector. I know you are endowed with extraordinary nerve, might and strength, you are my darling of my heart and soul, motivated with anger you launched an ominous shaft against a bird, O you the bravest of the brave come with all your might to save me and overwhelm the Raksha enemy. Some major sin of mine alone comes in the way in that the twin scourges (Sri Rama and Lakshmana) of their antagonist, though they are able to; do not take care of me.” Forthwith replied Hanuman, ‘O God like lady, somehow you have been discovered by me, this is not the time for grieving, from this very hour you will see the end of your afflictions drawing near. The said Sri Rama and Lakshmana are determined to see you, will reduce all the ogres to ashes, after killing Ravana along with his kinsfolk; Sri. Rama will take you back to his own city. Now please communicate what message is to be delivered by me on your behalf to the scion of Raghu as well as to Lakshmana or even to Sugriva.’ Sita without delay spoke thus, “I am going to survive only a month and not beyond, I am confined in Lanka by sinful Ravana and subjected to persecution by the ogresses, O heroic prince you ought to rescue me”. From her glorious hair, loosened from her diadem she took out a sparkling gem, a token which her loving husband would recognize, she gave it Hanuman saying that it be delivered to Sri Rama. Hanuman bent his head low in reverence, he placed the gem in his finger, as a mark of respect he went clock-wise around Sita, mentally sought the presence of Sri Rama and Lakshmana and prepared to set out on his return journey.

Sita’s misgivings and Hanuman’s reassurance: Sita again spoke to Hanuman, “O Hanuman, please contemplate, what concrete effort might bring my adversity to an end, you alone are capable of bringing this mission to a conclusion. Reap the high merit of rendering help to me in such a way that Sri Rama may find me alive.” The vanara chief responded. ‘Sri Rama a scion of Kakutstha will soon make his appearance here, he will completely drive away your grief, O daughter of Janaka, for you sake Sri Rama would be able to withstand in combat even the Sun god, Indra (the rain god), and Yama the god of retribution.’ Hearing the beautifully worded reply of Hanuman, Sita proceeded to speak, “You are the foremost of those who know how to accomplish a task, and you act in such a way that Sri. Rama, the exalted soul gallant in warfare, returns victorious after overrunning Lanka; and take me back to his own capital that alone would be worthy of him if there is any doubt about your return there is uncertainty on my survival too” Hanuman now made the following final reply, ‘O princess of Videhan territory, ‘Monkeys who are richly endowed with gallantry, full of audacity, and extremely powerful, who can soar any distance according to their mental resolve, and are endowed with astonishing vitality are ever at Sugriva’s call. Endowed as they are with extraordinary energy they have circumambulated clock-wise the earth including the mountains and the oceans, following the airborne course more than once, and surely these superior ones are not sent on errands, only the inferior ones(like me) are so sent. O God like lady please bide your time, soon you shall see the end of your grief; you will see Ravana eliminated by the superior might of Sri Rama. Let there be no trepidation from misery to your mind, you shall not stay long in this land populated by ogres; have fortitude only till the time of my meeting with Sri Rama, the arrival of your darling will not take long.’

Sita grants Hanuman leave: Videhan princess made this reply to Maruthi, which was calculated to advance her own happiness, “O Vanara chief, I feel thrilled to hear you speak, show concern to me, by maneuvering things in such a way that I may be able to embrace the mighty Sri Rama soon. Further say to him. ‘You ought to recall the decoration which was painted by you on my cheek with realgar, when the earlier embellishment got obliterated. Immersed in .grief I shall no longer be able to survive beyond this month, I tolerated excruciating misery living in the company of ogres only in the fond hope that I will one day see you, the attitude of this ogre Ravana is hostile and dreadful as well.” Hanuman submitted, ‘O charming lady! Somehow you have been discovered by me, after killing in the battle the ogre Ravana along with his kinsfolk, the two scions of Raghu will take you back to their own capital.’ The Maithili queen in a voice choked with sobs and face bathed in tears implored, “Let your return journey be happy, O great hero among the monkeys, and speak to Sri Rama of the acute vehemence of my grief as well as the threats of these ogres.” Greatly delighted on his purpose of visit having been accomplished and thinking of only a small fraction to be executed, Hanuman mentally sought the northern direction.

Pleasure garden wrecked: Fittingly flattered by Sita with praiseworthy words, while departing from that spot, joyous Vayuputra thought within himself, ‘the principal object of my visit to this place is very nearly finished, I have seen the dark eyed princess of Mithila, only a small portion of my present duty remains to be performed. Surely there cannot be an exclusive means of accomplishing a purpose in this world, however insignificant that task may be, he alone can successfully accomplish his purpose, who comprehends numerous secondary tasks even after the main objective has been carried through, without marring the previous achievement; he alone is gifted of comprehending a purpose who knows to do a thing in many ways. I must return to the abode of Sugriva after having ascertained the truth as to who will prevail in an encounter between the enemy and ourselves, and also having determined the future course of action, in this very expedition, only then I will be deemed to have carried out the command of my master. The expedients to vanquish an enemy or make him come to terms are said to be conciliation/negotiation, gifts, dissension/confusion and force or punishment. People who are inebriated with power can be tamed only with a show of heroism; except for show of impudence no dependable means of ascertaining the strength of the ogres finds support with me. The ogres can adopt a meek attitude in the ensuing conflict only if their principal heroes are somehow killed at the present moment. Hanuman considers it useless to employ the first three expedients and resolves to punish Ravana by destroying his pleasure-grounds. This gorgeous grove which is the pride and joy of the cruel Ravana, this garden affords shelter to the women folk of Ravana is dear to the tyrant, I will desecrate it. When held a captive I will be meeting Ravana, his ministers, troops, and charioteers, and conveniently reading his mind and ascertaining his strength I shall return from this place.’ Hanuman at once proceeded to fell every lovely tree; he laid waste the pleasance attached to the gynaceum, he overthrew the wilderness, shattered and defaced the fountains, he brought down to the ground every seat in the shadow, he leveled the delightful knoll to the ground. Every arbor, grotto, cell, lawn, picture galleries, were demolished and or destroyed, a place that was so flaxen, was now as if overcome with the fury of blast or raging fire a picture of ruin. Sizzling with belligerent grandeur eager to contend with the ogres single handed Hanuman took up his position at the entrance of the treasure grove.

The ogres provoked: The reverberation of the tall trees falling ferociously to the ground, the howl of the distressed birds, left the fiends flabbergasted and a spontaneous fear swathed the land mass. Rudely awakened the ogresses saw the threatening Vanara of colossal bulk standing in the middle of the ravaged grove. The terrified warder fiends rushed to the Maithili queen seeking answers, ‘O lovely lady let not trepidation mask your joy, whose emissary is he, why has he come to talk to you?’ The noble Videhan princess replied, “It is only the fiends who can change their appearance at will, you alone can know who he is and what he is about, his very sight has filled me with dread, I do not at all know who he really is; indeed a serpent alone knows serpent‘s feet.” Some of the she fiends stood around Sita, some fled to convey the tale to their ogre monarch; ‘A mighty creature in the form of a monkey, has arrived in the Asoka grove, had talk with Sita, he may be an emissary of Indra, or an envoy of Kubera, or an infiltrator sent by Sri Rama, to seek his consort. He has disfigured and wrecked the pleasure grove which is very dear to you, only the Simsapa tree where the God like lady lives is spared by him. It is not known whether that tree was spared with a view to saving Sita or it was due to his fatigue. You ought to inflict severe punishment on that monkey of frightful appearance by whom Sita has been spoken to.’ Hearing the ogresses report, Ravana’s ire was roused, he ordered his valiant ogres named Kinkaras (Kinkara means special servant of a sovereign who receives his orders immediately from his master) to capture Hanuman. Immediately eighty thousand strong, fierce, energetic Kinkaras impatient for the battle, set out with swords to pierce and clubs to crush, rushed on the foe. The monkey was positioned on the archway ready for the combat all of them surrounded Hanuman armed with mace, club and battle axe. The incredible monkey waved his tail to and fro, he roared aloud, at the loud and resonant sound, the birds fell somersaulting from the sky. He loudly asserted, ‘Long life to the ever glorious pair, Dasaratha’s heir Sri Rama, and his brother Lakshmana, long life to Sugriva who rules our race, and is protected by Sri Rama’s grace, I am Hanuman, Vayuputra the destroyer of enemies, I am a slave of the Kosala king, whose marvelous deeds celestial minstrels sing. Not even a thousand Ravanas can stand my might in combat, I am fearless, I can overwhelm my foes with innumerable rocks and trees, after destroying the city of Lanka and greeting Sita, I will chastise the Rakshasa monarch; thereafter triumphantly I will depart from this place.’ Mention of his master by Vayuputra rid the Kinkaras of all doubts as to who he was, stricken with panic at Hanuman’s yell, overwhelming fright of their lord propelled them to the combat, they darted at him with great vehemence like moths rushing towards a flame. Hanuman gifted with extraordinary might seized a formidable iron bar lying on the archway, and swayed the weapon round his head and slaughtered vast majority of the Kinkara multitude, he then sprang on to the porch and proclaimed his triumph aloud. A few ogres who survived fled to their monarch with their tale; roused to frenzy Ravana duly commanded the mighty, unrivalled in prowess Jambumali, Prahasta’s son to fight Hanuman.

Chaityaprasada the sanctuary sacred to the ogre deity destroyed: (Chaityaprasada is explained as the place where the Gods of the Rakshasas were kept.)Hanuman having killed the Kinkaras thought to himself, ‘the grove has been devastated by me, but the edifice of the sanctuary sacred to the guardian deity of the ogres has not been demolished.’ Assuming huge size Hanuman took a leap, climbed up the edifice of the sanctuary, and began to demolish the sanctuary, the crash filled Lanka with the deafening sound. Furious Hanuman thundered out his battle scream, ‘I am entirely under the influence of the Kosala king, (Sri Rama is the de jure king of the Kosala of which Ayodhya was the capital) whose extraordinary deeds the celestial bards resonate.’ At the sound of his actions the birds as well as the guards were alarmed, the custodians of the temple armed with every weapon like shaft, axe, club and pike, surrounded him on all sides, they strove to pierce and strike him. Infuriated Hanuman at once tore a pillar, decked with gold and bristling with hundred edges and began to spin it around, due to its attrition with other pillars fire was generated from it and the edifice was set ablaze. The Vanara chief whirled the pillar round his head and struck a hundred foes dead. The glorious leader of the monkey hordes then proclaimed, ‘Thousands of colossal and mighty Vanara chiefs unconquered in battle, respectful to Sugriva’s directions, roam over land and sea, our speed is limitless. Surrounded by Sugriva’s myriad hordes our warrior lord will cross the sea, neither will this city of Lanka endure the fury of our might, nor you ogres nor Ravana who has contracted enmity with the hero of the House of Ikswakus, can escape slaughter.’

Prahasta’s son Jambumali killed: Ravana commanded the heroic Jambumali, the fierce warrior and son of Prahasta to capture Hanuman. Jambumali of terrific teeth attired in sanguine robes, adorned with brilliant ear-rings, wreath, a chaplet, ventured with bow and stockpile of dazzling shafts. Hanuman observed Jambumali arrive in a chariot drawn by asses, his (Jambumali’s) eyes rolling through anger, when he twanged his bow it produced a sound like that of thunder, and all the four quarters as well as the intermediate points as also the sky was filled all of a sudden with the sonorous twang of that bow. Of the shafts released from Jambumali, one smote the vanara in his face, another quivered in his throat, and further ten pierced his brawny arms and shoulders, each galling shot provoked fierce rage in the vanara chief, the vanara’s limbs were red with gore. The vanara flung a huge mass of stone at Jambumali which the ogre broke it asunder with his arrows; likewise the huge sal tree hurled with impetuosity by the vanara was shunned by the ogre; the arrows launched by the ogre slashed his arms, thigh, side and chest and he was bathed with streams of blood rushing from the wounds. Incensed Hanuman though very much wounded nonetheless not restrained, he held the same pillar, whirling it with rapidity hurled it on Jambumali’s broad chest. Crushed Jambumali now lay on the trampled grass an undistinguished mass, the information of Jambumali’s death stirred the rage in the notorious lord of ogres, he now promptly commanded the sons of his chief minister to march against Vayuputra

Seven sons of Ravana’s chief minister exterminated: The seven valiant, magnificent, impulsive, and bright, emulous sons of the minister, skilled in martial wisdom, the destroyer of their foes, armed with huge bows, rushed on Hanuman who was perched motionless on the archway. From their ponderous bows they rained a shower of deadly arrows and enveloped Hanuman in the blizzard of arrows. Not in the least distraught, the Vanara eluded the shafts that were rained on him by the foes from the onrushing chariots of the enemy; by agile twirl, and by rapid leap in the air. The fighter in him now afire, he sent out a mighty roar and a yell that kindled dread in the enemy ranks, some fell senseless to the ground and breathed no more. With wrath he rushed upon the foe, some with his hand he beat them to death, some with his fierce nails he slashed and butchered, some he trampled to death with his feet, some he killed with his fists and legs, and some he crushed with his bulky chest, the remainder seized with abrupt trepidation, and fled outrageously. The earth was strewn with the shattered seats, pennants, canopies from the chariot, horses fell dead to the ground, and elephants trumpeted shrilly, streams of blood from the slaughtered fiends surged on the ground. After having disposed off the arrogant ogres heroic Hanuman once more sought the same archway

The five generals:(The five generals are Virupaksha, Yupaksha, Durdhara, Praghasa, and Bhasakarna) King Ravana imprudent with frenzy, his vanity wounded, commanded his five valiant levelheaded generals, ‘Go take a large army with you, be vigilant and every action of yours must be in harmony with occasion and situation, seize this thing of sylvan race, let the monkey be punished, he must be taken captive by force. From his incredible exploits, he is no ordinary monkey roaming the forest, but some creature sent by Indra to inflict misery on us. In the past I have seen the monkeys of enormous might, like Vali, Sugriva, as also generals Nila, Dwivida, and others such as Jambavan the bear, but none of them was half so dreadful and tough. Triumph in combat is uncertain, therefore put forth astounding endeavor, secure yourselves, conduct yourself discreetly, and look for success in conflict. Respectful to their monarch’s terms, the generals hastened to take on the enemy, with sword, mace, axe, spear, and their other gleaming weapons. When they saw the vanara chief, they charged riotously at him; Durdhara released five arrows that quivered in the vanara’s head. Tormented by Durdhara’s arrows Hanuman grew massive in size, created a fearful roar that resonated in all directions, he soared upwards, and with recklessness fell precipitately on Durdhara’s chariot. The heaviness with which he came down on Durdhara’s chariot was like a mass of lightning on a mountain, it crushed the pole, axle, chariot, the steed, and it also shattered Durdhara’s head and neck and left him dead amidst the ruin. Enraged to see Durdhara dead, Yupaksha and Virupaksha, mad for vengeance advanced fiercely at the vanara opponent, in vain they struck his iron frame, they smote him on his chest, the vanara chief with a swoop on the ground uprooted a huge tree and with that tree as his missile massacred the demons. Finding the three ogre generals killed, the mighty Praghasa gifted with extraordinary fleetness pierced Hanuman with a pointed spear and the highly incensed and dominant Bhasakarna attacked him with a dart. From his wounds torrents of blood streamed, however undaunted, the vanara chief seized a mountain crest, with all its snakes, beasts and trees and hurled that on the ogre pair, reducing the pair to smithereens. They lay underneath the peak crushed and overwhelmed; with all the five generals killed valiant Vayuputra began to destroy the army which remained after them. Having killed the intrepid generals along with their forces the heroic vanara again went back to the archway, to the ogre race he was like the Time Spirit.

Ravana’s son; Prince Aksha killed: The valiant generals along with their forces having been killed in the conflict, their vehicles too destroyed by Hanuman, furious Ravana now looked pryingly on youthful Prince Aksha. The impulsive Aksha, armed with his bow and lance, mounted a glorious chariot that was effulgent as the rising sun, decorated with small flags distinguished by ornamented ensign. The celebrated chariot has been his as a consequence of severe austerities, was unassailable both by Gods and demons, had rows of weapons stored therein, was yoked to eight horses, in speed it was swift as lightning; without any support it coursed through the air when preferred. Aksha along with the collected forces approached the powerful monkey stationed on the archway, provoked Hanuman to an encounter by piercing him with three sharpened shafts. Aksha of fiery temperament met the Vanara chief at close quarters; a fierce and fearful combat ensued, the astonished Gods and the Asuras gawked on the incredible combat. The earth screeched in agony under their footfalls, the wind was muted, the sun developed nippiness, the thunder bellowed from the sky; the ocean shuddered. Aksha strained his dreadful bow, and he thrice smote his foe with his arrows, streams of blood flowed from the three gashes on the Vanara’s person, soon the pursuing ogre began spraying arrows rapidly on the Vanara chief. Hanuman of dreadful aspect began to range the path of the air, darted like the wind between the shafts, he reflected on the prowess of the ogre in the battle field, said he to himself, ‘gifted with astonishing strength this boy is accomplishing enormous deeds very distinct from a youngster; I do not feel inclined to kill him. Surely the bravery of this ogre, would shake the mind of the of gods and demons, a spreading fire is not worth neglecting if disregarded he would get the better of me, putting a hasty end to him finds support with me,’ Thinking thus the vanara chief increased his thrust, coursing through the air, killed the eight horses with the blows of his palm, he then crushed the huge chariot of the ogre, which fell crashing on the ground together with the dead horses. Meeting the ogre prince ranging through the space, the pursuing vanara lord caught him firmly by the legs, swiveled him in the air dashed him violently on the battle ground. Aksha with his neck, breast, arms and back broken fell dead on the earth. Having killed the notorious Aksha in the battle Hanuman again sought the archway biding his time.

Hanuman taken captive by Indrajit: (Ravana’s son Meghanada captures Indra by employing conjuring tricks, the lord of the created beings Brahma informs Ravana henceforth Meghanada will be widely known by the name Indrajit the conqueror of Indra) Filled with rage on prince Aksha’s death at the hands of Hanuman, Ravana directed the courageous Indrajit, ‘the Kinkaras, Jambumali, the seven heroic sons of my chief minister, the five generals, as well as your beloved brother Prince Aksha, and indeed the forces fully equipped with armaments, chariots, horses, elephants and all have been destroyed by the monkey, and now lay crushed and scattered on the ground. O darling son of excellent judgment, you are my bravest and the best; the power of your asceticism, your competence, the might of your missiles in combat is equal to mine, finding you in the thick of the battle, I am assured in my mind of your victory. Reflect on the clout and the ability of the monkey; evaluate your own strength as well as of the enemy bring to bear your might in such a way that more annihilation of our army may stop. Forces should not be led by you against this enemy for they may take flight en masse or by and large perish. Hanuman’s strength is infinite he cannot be ruined by means of any weapon, go and tame the enemy. O darling of exceptional judgment I should not send you to face this danger. However this decision of mine is in harmony with the duties of the king for expertise in the fields of ethics, economics political sciences triumph in combat, should be acquired by the kings.’ Indrajit heard the exhortation of his father, in reverence he bent his head, taking his bow and sharp pointed arrows, he duly ascended his chariot yoked to four sharp toothed tigers, and drove rapidly to where the celebrated Hanuman was. Perceiving the chariot bearing the ensign of Indra coming rapidly towards him, Hanuman grew to mammoth proportions; the two warriors who had definite hostility to each other were engaged in fierce encounter. Indrajit began to discharge continuously, at lightning pace long and sharp pointed arrows at the vanara lord, and Hanuman swerved through the air and evaded the extraordinary vehemence of the shafts hurled at him. Though the shafts were well aimed at the vanara, the frustrated Indrajit saw, nothing killed his marvelous opponent, and his skill was mocked at. Indrajit realized that the monkey was incapable of being killed and he began to consider the question of capturing that monkey. Indrajit at once fitted to his bow and launched the missile presided over by Brahma to bind his foe, the shaft jammed Hanuman’s swift feet, and numbed his frame, his clout neutralized, motionless he fell on the ground. Hanuman recalled a boon got by him from the grandfather of the entire creation, Brahma, to the effect that he would be freed from the effect of that mystic missile soon; hence the bondage imposed by the missile must be borne by him. He said to himself, “No fear is experienced by me though I am bound by a missile as I am protected by Brahma, Indra and my own procreator Vayu. I discern a great opportunity from my capture at the hands of the ogres, it provides me with an opportunity of a talk with Ravana, the ruler of the ogres, let my foes take hold of me” The giants gathered around him, bound him with plaited ropes of hemp and bark around his wrists and feet, chiding him, beating him with their hands and fists, shouting victory of their lord they dragged him to their suzerain lord. Recognizing that Vayuputra had now been bound with a rope made of trees as having freed by the missile Indrajit became pensive. He said to himself , “My great exploit in the form of taking Vayuputra captive has been rendered ineffective when the ogres bound Hanuman with ropes; hence Vayuputra cannot be assailed another time with a missile presided over by Brahma.” Indrajit presented the vanara before the king, Ravana, the other ogres inquired whose servant is he, where has he come from, what is his mission and who is/are his supporter/s? Ravana saw the hideous ogres dragging; the foremost of the vanaras all over the place, Hanuman too beheld the mighty, energetic and effulgent Ravana. Enraged ruler of the ogres race, Ravana, commanded his chief counselors to grill Hanuman on his motives and aims, the vanara lord responded, “I am a messenger of the lord of the monkeys Sugriva”

Ravana as seen: Dazed was Hanuman at the accomplishment of Indrajit resulting in his own capture and his being dragged in the presence of Ravana. The thought of Ravana’s inexcusable action in the form of abduction of Sita, enraged Hanuman, his livid bloodshot eyes turned on the suzerain lord of the ogre. He noticed Ravana was gifted with amazing opulence, his sparkling diadem was decorated with diamonds, pearls, precious gems and gold, his exquisite gold chains inlaid with diamonds, studded with costly gems adorned his neck; he was attired in silken robe strung with pearls. Ravana looked breathtaking, with his ten heads, twenty horrifying reddish yet well-formed eyes, had sparkling sharp terrible teeth, he was distinguished by powerfully built arms of incredible size smeared with perfumed coloring, and his fingers were looking like five hooded serpents. He sat on a crystal throne, completely covered with exquisite covering, behind the monarch were sumptuously dressed beauteous women who fanned the monarch with the whisk in hand. He had four noble, wise, and good courtiers, Durdhara, Prahasta, Mahaprasrava and Nikumba all of them of ogre race, wishing their master well and were well versed in the secret of good counsel.. The vanara lord seething with rage within, marveled and admired the fiend Ravana, he thought within himself, ‘what an unusual and fabulous spectacle, what magnificence, dignity, and strength, all imperial pageantry combines to grace this ruler of the ogre race. If this lord of the ogres had been on the righteous path, he would have established himself to be a protector of the realm of Gods, yes including Indra.’

Ravana instructs, Prahasta inquires: Roaring in fury, wild in trepidation, gazing on Hanuman, Ravana spoke, ‘Is it the revered Nandi the chief aide of Shiva, who pronounced a curse on me, is he the woodland mortal of asura race, or is he Bana son of Bali who in the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu usurped the three worlds?’ Turning to Prahasta he said with probing questions find out from this despicable person, as to who is he, why has he destroyed the grove and what is his motive in coming here? Prahasta at his lord’s behest, addressed the vanara chief thus, ‘O monkey let you not be troubled by fear, boldly speak the truth, have you been sent to the territory of Ravana by Indra, or are you sent as a mole of Vishnu, or by Yama, or the lord of riches Kubera, or the god of water, Varuna? You are a monkey only in form, speak the truth and you will be unchained and released unharmed, false communication will bring your swift death.’ Hanuman thus began his reply, “I am not an envoy of Indra, nor of Yama, nor of Varuna, nor have I come here to fulfill any command of Kubera, nor have I been dispatched here by Vishnu, I am a vanara as I appear before you. I longed to see the king of the ogres, so to achieve my craving, I devastated the treasure grove, and in self defense I killed the ogres for it was tough for me to come through the well fortified gate. The lord of all the created beings, the eternal sire has conferred a boon on me to the effect neither fiends nor celestial Gods can bind nor chain my limbs nor can I be bound by Brahma’s magic shafts. Though completely set free by the missile, spurred by the urge to see the lord of the ogres I made no attempt to free myself. Recognize the fact that I am an envoy of Sri Rama, O lord let my salutary advice be heeded to.’

Hanuman’s salutary answer: To the notorious Ravana, serene Hanuman made the following submission, ‘O lord of the ogres, my king Sugriva your well-wisher communicates his compliments to you, I am the son of the Wind God, identified by the name Hanuman, I sought your presence on my lord’s instructions and am carrying an advice to you from the lord of the monkeys which is conformable to piety, earthly gain, and conducive to good in this as well as in the other world. Sri Rama accompanied by his younger brother Laksmana, looking for his lost consort Sita, reached the Rishyamukha Mountains and contacted Sugriva. As a sequel to the friendship, Sri Rama killed Vali with a single arrow in the battle and re-installed Sugriva the king and Sri Rama was promised a search for Sita by Sugriva. In the search of that God-like lady, countless monkeys were dispatched in all the directions including the heavens and the bottomless regions. In search of the God like lady I crossed the oceanic obstacle; I found her weeping in that lovely Asoka grove. You are distinguished and trained in the lore’s; by stern austerities you have gained this incredible wealth, power and fame, you should shudder violating another’s spouse. O supreme Giant, be wise, be apologetic for your felony, hear my warning, be sensible, while still there is time, restore unharmed the Videhan princess to her sorrowing lord, for neither the fiends nor the celestials can stand Lakshmana’s shafts or Sri Rama’s wrath, or soon you will rue your terrible blunder. Recognize Sita as a five hooded serpent in your dwelling whose deadly nibble will ruin you and your house, let not your pride and thoughts lead you astray, she won’t be captivated by your might. The fruit of virtue does not follow one who has reached the height of unrighteousness; you will soon reap the fruit of unrighteousness in the form of abduction and detention of Maithili queen, Think how Vali fell subdued, think of your ogres slaughtered in huge numbers at Jasnasthana, do not fancy immunity from death, be prudent, ensure your safety, for Sugriva is neither Yaksha, nor God nor fiend, he is a vanara monarch, and Sri Rama is a human being born to a woman, do have awe to those strong allies. O suzerain lord, listen to me the envoy of Sri Rama, the Maithili queen is the Kalarathri, (the Goddess responsible for universal dissolution) be done with the noose of death in the form of Sita, which you have placed yourself about your neck, please do not lead to extinction your own allies, your counselors, your kin, your opulence, and Lanka too, therefore listen to my advice, which is beneficial to your good in all the three divisions of time viz. the past, present and future and leads to material gains as well. Though I alone am capable of destroying Lanka, yet I refrain, for Raghu’s son swore before the Vanara monarch to destroy the robber fiend who stole his darling wife. O Ravana do not see Lanka perish on account of your senseless sins, for Sri Rama is capable of extinguishing the world and is capable of creating them all over again.’ Hearing the intrepid and distasteful speech of Hanuman enraged Ravana damned death to the monkey

Vibhishana pleads: On hearing Anjaneya’s reply, furious Ravana decreed, ‘Let the vanara die in this very place’, hearing the harsh diktat of the king of the ogres, troubled Vibhishana, skilled in lexis appealed to him thus, ‘rescind your harsh proclamation, wise and noble kings do not invite contempt by breaking the primordial commandment, they never condemn to death the envoys sent to them. {Vishnu Purana mentions “One who murders an emissary (Raja Bhata) goes to Taptakumba, meaning the hell of the heated cauldrons.”} Let not your actions be the consequence of your anger, in that event your mastery of scriptures is sheer futile effort, let the punishment meet the ends of justice, chastise him but spare his life.’ The tyrant spoke the following angry words, ‘O enthusiast, there is neither sin nor shame in killing this wicked vanara for his odious fault.’ To the unrighteous Ravana, Vibhishana again made this answer, ‘O ruler of the ogres, O lord of Lanka, the great on no account give way to fury; you are incomparable in the discussion and the worldly usage of virtues; in grasping the importance of scriptures by means of your intellect; your are supreme in valor, neither fiends nor celestials can overpower you in combat. Listen, to my advice exemplifying the core of morality and destiny, the enemy’s envoy at all times and all places are undeserving of death. It is true this monkey is a dreadful foe, he has done immense destruction to us, it is true he has created affliction yet killing of the messenger is not sanctioned in the teachings, you are permitted to inflict suitable punishment on him proportionate to his guilt. Punishments recommended in the scriptures with regard to an envoy are, mutilation of his limbs, shaving of his head, branding, cause a mark of shame in his person, curse, and in no event killing of an envoy is to be meted out, as the envoy is the respectful promoter of the interests of those who sent him, because he is dependent on them. O belligerent king, if this monkey is put to death, I do not recognize any other created beings can incite your doomed to death the two audacious human princes who are antagonistic to fight against you. O belligerent king in order to make known your greatness let a few gallant, loyal men be sent with a section of your army proceed to the mainland and return after they capture the two princes.’ Ravana the lord of the ogres accepted the sound and pleasant advice of his brother Vibhishana.

The vengeance: Accepting the salutary advice of his brother Vibhishana, Ravana responded, ‘Your words are thoughtful, we must not kill an emissary, nevertheless for his crime we must formulate a fitting punishment. I construe in the case of monkeys the tail is a treasured decoration, set his tail aflame, disfigured and mortified let him leave us, and proceed in haste to his king and his community.’ Ruthless giants began to strap up the dilating monkey’s tail with cotton tatters; drenched the tail now in the form of twisted coil in oil, and set it ablaze, much to the delight of the cruel fiends, their women folks and the aged. Hanuman resolved within him, ‘Even though apparently I stand bound, the ogres can in no event prevail against me, I am strong enough for all the ogres taken together in combat. I shall for the sake of Sri Rama suffer this humiliation, for it provides me an opportunity to glimpse Lanka from the point of view of its fortification. I will allow the ogres to cause pain to me by setting my tail on fire, but my mind will be free of tension.’ Hanuman was paraded through the crowded streets of Lanka to the accompaniment of the loud drum beats, blaring of the shells and triumphant shouts of joy echoing the words: The spy! The spy! For his part Hanuman was unmindful to the noise around, he observed with dutiful care, every rich and extraordinary structure there. Desirous of having a glance of the distinguished vanara now with his tail set ablaze, inquisitive fiends, the aged and the womenfolk came out at every place. Some amongst the jubilant ogresses hastened to the God like queen Sita to convey, ‘that monkey bearing a coppery countenance who talked with you in this garden is now put on show on the streets of Lanka with his tail set ablaze.’ Tormented with grief to hear the cruel description, the Maithili queen spiritually approached the god of fire, (the consumer of oblations) with this prayer, “If one has been true to ascetic vows, if services rendered to one’s husband has any value, or if there is still any residual good luck in me, if Sri Rama fully knows me to be endowed with morality and is passionately keen on me, if the noble Sugriva is true to his promise and be able to take me across this ocean of agony, O! Please spare the vanara, please give chill comfort to Hanuman, and please do not harm him.” Immediately thereafter the fire burst into leaping flames and ice-cold wind began to blow, no longer Hanuman felt the heat, all this as if in answer to the god-like lady’s prayers. Hanuman thought to himself, ‘This chilly touch of fire has come to be felt by me due to the inscrutable power of Sri Rama, because of Sita’s mercy and those depending on her, and the camaraderie of my father with the God of Fire. The retaliation for this outrage should be necessary on my part as long as there is prowess in me.’ Vayuputra reduced himself to the minutest size thus released the bonds that bound his limbs, freed/ unchained himself from the bonds, resumed his indigenous size again, with impetuosity he seized a club studded with iron lying at the gate, rushed at the fiends that hemmed around him made them lifeless; he once more destroyed all those fiends who guarded the gate, the flames around him now blazing harmless, he strode through the town of Lanka viewing each street, each square and each road.

Lanka set ablaze: While surveying Lanka, Hanuman mused thus, ‘the beautiful grove of his is disfigured, eminent ogres have been killed, a part of his army has been destroyed, the demolition of every citadel, every palace, every mansion of the foe alone remains to be laid to waste, after that I can conclude this effort of mine in the search of Sita is comprehensive.’ Hanuman with his tail ablaze; undaunted and with impetuosity, with the furious fire in trail, he spread the conflagration as he began to dart atop each palace, house, mansion, of the foe. The scattering fire brought ruin to the mansions of Prahasta, Mahaparswa, Vajradamstra, Suka, Sarana, Indrajit, Jambumali, Rasmiketu, Suryasatru, Kumbhakarna amongst others, only the palace of Vibhishana was avoided bearing in mind it was Vibhishana who averted his death sentence. He thundered triumphantly like a cloud appearing at the time of universal destruction, he spread the fire over the houses of all, and he reached the palace of Ravana too. The friendly wind conspiring to fan the hungry leaping spreading flames ensured each palace with gilded walls decorated with pearls reeled and fell with great rapidity and the blaze was like the fire of universal destruction. The fire all of a sudden consumed the ogres, horses, chariots, elephants, flocks of birds, beasts and trees, a terrific violent scream was raised by the ogres in various ways. Humbled by the vehemence of Hanuman’s wrath Lanka appeared as though visited by a curse, Maruti heard the loud roar raised by the demons, he saw their hopeless efforts to stall the spreading fire, he viewed the women with disheveled hair shrieking in wild despair, and from the curling ascending flames he saw the flowing molten floods of gold, silver and other precious jewels. All the numerous hosts of eminent ogres on perceiving the city of Lanka burnt they said, “He is surely the mighty Indra, or Yama or Varuna or Vayu or Agni, or Rudra or Kubera or Kala the time spirit or some other celestial arrived here in the guise of a monkey. Having subjected Lanka to extreme suffering Hanuman emotionally sought the presence of Sri Rama, he quenched the fire on his tail in the sea. Beholding the Lanka reduced to ashes the Gods including the Gandharvas, Siddhas and eminent Rishis were wonder-struck whilst the ogres, the hapless and dismayed Lankans fancied him to be the fire of universal dissolution.

Concern for Sita; self reproach: When Hanuman saw blazing Lanka in ruins, soon the thought of safety of Sita came to haunt him. A sense of shame swathed him, he reflected thus, “With the intimidating flame I destroyed the town of Lanka with it I destroyed the Videhan princess. I came to save, not destroy Sita, by my own reckless, shameless, senseless, anger I set the town on fire but spared no thought for her safety. Besieged with rage the very success in the form of discovery of the Videhan princess has been shattered by me with my fury, I see no part of Lanka to have escaped unhurt Blessed indeed are the great souls who in their wisdom curb anger, he alone is a great man who by virtue of forbearance drives away the mad rage within. Overwhelmed with anger I destroyed my achievements thus far, the flames that brought havoc to the town of Lanka have consumed the Maithili queen too, I am devastated by my own folly. In my wild rage, I reduced Lanka and caused Sita to perish; I now cannot stand before the tiger among men Sri Rama and his valiant brother Lakshmana, to convey this tiding for they too will perish, likewise their noble brothers Bharata and Shatrugna and also Sugriva and the vanara race, will give up the ghost thus I am guilty of having caused the destruction of the world, indeed through the blameworthiness of my anger, my well known simian character has been on exhibition.” He again deliberated, “Sita is a peerless Godlike lady, she is likened to the fire which is a sign of purity, she is the faithful wife of that high souled Sri Rama, hence fire will not consent to consume her, also the very fire had compassion on me, saved me, why should I fear, She lives! She lives! Cared by Raghu’s son she is unharmed. By virtue of her asceticism, candid language and her exclusive devotion to her spouse she can consume fire but fire cannot consume her.” As he was brooding thus fears within him began to fade, he heard the heavenly voices sing his praise, “O Vayuputra a glorious feat has been accomplished by you, the fires ruined Lanka, yet Janaka’s daughter is unharmed.” Sighting good omens, as also the pleasant tidings borne by the celestial voices Hanuman concluded Sita was unharmed, he decided to see her once more and thereafter return to the presence of Sri Rama

Goodbye to Sita: Hanuman looked upon the smoldering remains and then he proceeded excitedly to greet the queen ensconced at the foot of the Simsapa tree, ‘fortuitously I find you here unscathed,’ Sita responded, “If at all you believe suitable O sinless one halt here for a day, because of your closeness there will be an end to my grief for a brief while, your departure from this place will torture me. O hero this doubt ever assails me, the capacity to cross the sea exists only in Vayu (the wind god) Garuda (the son of Vinata) and yourself, and then how the hordes of monkeys and the glorious two princes will be able to leap across the sea. What means you perceive for the execution of this task, although you yourself are equal to this task single-handed that attainment will redound on your glory rather than that of Sri Rama. Therefore you act in such a way that the scion of Kakutstha, Sri Rama defeats decisively the Lankan forces and takes me back from Lanka.” Hanuman responded with these words, ‘O lady be fully confident, bide your time, you shall soon see Ravana together with his kin-folk killed by Sri Rama in combat, your grief shall be comprehensively dispelled and you shall be united with Sri Rama;’ thereafter he made up his mind to seek the presence of Sri Rama across the sea. Eager to see his master Sri Rama, Hanuman ascended the celebrated Arista Mountain. The Arista Mountains were embellished with tall trees, covered with hanging clouds of various hues, when the first rays of the sun fell it was a splendid sight to behold, its mineral wealth glittered, it bristled with numerous peaks, was bejeweled with several caverns occupied by carnivorous beasts, was graced with extensive canopies of climbing plants overloaded with flowers, abounded in luscious roots; trees yielding delicious fruits and crowded with herds of deer and frequented by eminent sages, Yaksas, Kinnaras and others. Prompted by joy on the successful execution of the search for Videhan princess, impatient to convey the tidings to his master soon, he sprang from the crest and advanced northwards. Pressed under his soles, the mountains quaked, trees were crushed, as the rocking shook each cave, lions roared from out of their caverns, out came fierce serpents with their fiery tongues and in dread Yaksha Kinnaras and others fled.

Hanuman’s rapturous return: Looking like a winged mountain, ever impetuous and never fatigued Hanuman sailed unwearied across the firmament. The vast expanse of the sky with the solar orb appeared radiant with celestial azure, resembling the blue expanse of water, covered with lotus blossoms, furrowed by wild ducks blanketed hither and thither with flowers and water weeds. Penetrating deep into the masses of clouds and emerging from them again and again, now concealed, now revealed Hanuman looked like Garuda tearing asunder the masses of clouds. Having greeted the princess of Videhan territory, and caused agony to Ravana thereby having made himself extensively known in the city of Lanka Hanuman once again reached the middle of the sea, he passed the Sunabha (Mainaka) {Sunabha is the mountain that rose from the sea when Hanuman proceeded to Lanka}mountain and was now in close proximity to the Mahendra Mountain on the northern shore of the sea, there the vanara host were waiting for him They heard his wild triumphant shout that grew louder, they lifted up their wonderful eyes skyward, and heard Jambavan’s joyous exclamation, ‘Triumphant is the melodious shout of Vayuputra, indicative is the success of his toils.’ On hearing the wondrous sound of movement of thighs and arms as well as the roar of that exalted Hanuman, the vanaras on the ground in their crazy delight sprang from tree top to tree top, from crag to crag and from peak to peak. When Hanuman descended on top of the Mahendra Mountain, they gathered around him in reverence, in their glee they laughed and shouted, and welcomed him with the choicest woodland roots and fruits. Hanuman for his part paid his obeisance to sage Jambavan, he conveyed his salutations to Angada and others in the order of their merit, and briefly submitted to them who were seated beneath the trees, ‘I have seen and talked to the Maithili Queen.’ Questioned further he continued, ‘Janaka’s daughter is dwelling in the Asoka grove, guarded by dreadful ogresses was seen by me. Sita a god like lady, is beyond reproach, was thoroughly worn out, was emaciated and stained with dust and was ever sighing for Sri Rama.’ Prince Angada for his part praised Hanuman in these words, ‘O noblest Vanara, we salute you for your valour, for your might, for your supremacy, for your triumph over the foe. To you we all owe our lives and our hopes, only through your grace our purpose in the form of discovery of Sita has been accomplished and we shall be united with Sri Rama. The God like lady Sita has been seen by you and soon Sri Rama will shed his grief born of separation from Sita.’

Hanuman’s narration at length: Jambavan quizzed Hanuman thus, ‘Please narrate to us precisely as to how was the God-like lady revealed to you, how does she appear, how does the monster Ravana behave towards her, what discussion did she have with you? On hearing the truth from you we shall consider our future course of action.’ Hanuman at first mentally made obeisance to Janaka’s daughter and then made his reply, ‘I took a leap from the summit of Mahendra Mountain seeking to reach the southern shore. As I was advancing I beheld an alluring Mainaka mountain who made known to me he was the friend of my father the Wind-God. The mountain said, ‘I was saved from the thunderbolts of Indra by your father, I must come to the help of Sri Rama the foremost of those who uphold the cause of virtue and is equal in prowess to Indra.’ On hearing the submission of Mount Mainaka I confided my purpose, and I continued on my course for a sufficiently long time. In the mid ocean I observed goddess Surasa, who spoke to me as follows, ‘You are fated by the Gods to be my food, and I will devour you.’ With folded hands I submitted to her, ‘ I am a messenger of Sri Rama, and at his command I seek his consort Sita, who was borne away by evil minded ogre Ravana and you Surasa living in the dominion of Sri Rama ought to render assistance to Sri Rama.’ Surasa who was able to change her form at will declared that none can dare escape her. Threatened by Surasa I for my part who was ten yojanas in size assumed a dwarfish image, further I reduced myself to the size of a human thumb; I entered her excessively inflated mouth and instantly came out of it. Pleased with my effort Surasa said to me, ‘Accomplish your purpose, reunite the princess of Videhan territory with the high souled Sri Rama, I am pleased with you.’ I proceeded onwards with the agility of Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu. Then suddenly my shadow was held and my speed was arrested, I looked around and found nothing, and when I looked downward I spotted a terrible ogress Simhika lying in the water who confronted me with these contemptible words, ‘I have remained without sustenance for a long while, O, monkey where are you going, you are my coveted food.’ She opened her huge and dreadful mouth to devour me, I contracted my form entered her huge mouth and sliced her heart through. At that moment I heard celestials exclaim ‘dreaded ogress Simhika has been killed in no time.’ Continuing my task and after having navigated a long distance I sighted the southern shore of the sea, where stood the city of Lanka graced with mountains. After sunset, unnoticed by the ogres possessing horrifying ability I penetrated deep into city, while I was making good my entry a woman dark in appearance burst into a boisterous laughter, she sought to kill me, I vanquished that woman with a stroke of my left fist. That petrified woman exclaimed, ‘I will conquer the ogres in their entirety.’ I wandered all over Lanka, even I penetrated into the gynaeceum as also the abode of Ravana, not finding Sita I was overwhelmed with grief. Enfeebled through anxiety I said, ‘Salutations to Sri Rama, escorted by Lakshmana as well to the God like lady, the off spring of Janaka! Greetings to Rudra, Indra, Yama, Vayu, Moon, the God of fire and all the wind gods’ and I was brooding awhile then I leapt from the boundary wall of the palace on to the enclosure of the Asoka grove. There while remaining perched atop the Simsapa tree in the quest of Sita I surveyed the entire Asoka grove. There I caught sight of a pallid, gaunt, woman in unkempt attire, and stream of tears constantly flowing down her face worn with woe, she was being closely watched by fiend and giantess and this was the Mithila queen. Ravana is one of those beings who can assume the loveliest form to please human eyes as well as the terrific shape that suits the king of Rakshasas. The amorous fiend inebriated irresistibly swayed and unable to subdue the passion, his thoughts on the Mithila queen, he hastened to the lovely Asoka grove accompanied by the dames matching the beauties of the skies; I stood concealed behind a bough with thick leaves and viewed the suzerain lord of the ogres surrounded by his sparkling retinue. Kowtowing before Sita Ravana submitted, ‘O lady endowed with lovely form, come cast away your grief, be my principal queen, youth is ephemeral, charm decays, be my love, at your feet I lay down my kingdom, having subjugated the entire globe I will offer it to the king of Mithila (Sita’s father) for your sake’. Sita then turned her back on the fiend king and retorted, “Eschew sin, tread the virtuous path, abstain from immoral actions, this unruly love of yours will ruin you and your race you will certainly be deprived of your life, when that scion of Raghu and the protector of the people is enraged, Lanka will perish for your sins. I cannot be lured by wealth and power nor will I stray from the path of duty I am linked to my Sri Rama like the daylight and the Sun.” The sharp rebuff of the princess of Mithila, enraged the fiend monarch, he proclaimed, ‘reckless are you, to my threats and appeals, you are loyal to your absurd vow, I will give you no respite, for your scathe and disdain, I will slay you, you shall cease to live; I grant you two months time to change your mind and submit to my pleasures, in case of negation on your part after the two months you do not wish to have me your husband, my cooks will mince you for my morning feast.’ Restrained by Mandodari as well as Dhanyamalini, the consorts of Ravana, the fiend monarch who was possessed of extraordinary energy was conducted back to his residence. With uncouth and forceful rebukes individual fiends trailed the gentle Mithila queen, the unsightly shaped ogresses as ordered by Ravana, began to hurl insults, taunts, and threatening abuses at Sita, they also with menacing gesticulations waved the axes, spears and murderous knives to intimidate the gentle lady, and Sita for her part was miserable. Moved with pity for the captive Sita, a mature, prudent, Rakshasa matron named Trijata, who had just risen from sleep, reprimanded the fiends, narrated her fearful dreams, warned ogres of the forebodings, and advised them all, to at once stop the harsh boos, threats and insults, approach the spouse of Rama, humbly pray for forgiveness, seek to save their lives and concluded none can escape the vengeful wrath of enraged Sri Rama. For her part she visualized the destruction of the Lord of Ogres, Ravana, and the triumph of the scion of Raghu. Sita now thought of means to proceed to the abode of Yama, and even as she was contemplating thus, many happy omens, recognized as dispellers of grief, omens seen as predictive of success and restoring confidence presently appeared on her person. Although in hiding I watched and heard every word spoken by the Maithili queen and the fiends, my mind was in a labyrinth of speculations, I said to myself, I should address the lady in dire distress, in soft whispers console her with the tidings on Sri Rama and I should make my presentation intelligible, truthful and credible, I spoke in low, mild and sweet accents, I extolled the pedigree of the Ikshvaku race. The Maithili queen gazed on the tree; beheld me, the meek monkey; she suspected the sight to be illusory, she questioned me thus, “What kind of love is treasured by you for Sri Rama? Portray to me the distinctive marks which exist on the person of Sri Rama and Lakshmana, tell me of Sri Rama’s appearance, speech, and bearing, so that I may overcome my grief.” I made the following reply ‘O lady, I am Hanuman by your lord’s pronouncement I come to you as his emissary, Sri Rama is secure with his dedicated friends, he sends his good wishes to you, and the ever faithful Lakshmana offers his obeisance to Sri Rama’s spouse.’ In order to gain her confidence, I once more spoke, ‘receive this token from your lord, this precious ring with Sri Rama’s name engraved, which is normally worn by him,’ As she took the dearly valued ornament from him, she seemed to touch the hand that sent. I told her, ‘dismiss fears, do have faith in my strength, there is capacity in me to carry this entire Lanka with its very lord Ravana, O God like lady be done with hesitation rid Sri Rama and Lakshmana of grief and you soon sit joyous by the side of Sri Rama.’ She replied to me, ‘swiftly bring here my lord Sri Rama along with Lakshmana the vanara leaders and their legions, let my lord take me back after destroying Ravana and end my long despair.’ I asked her a message for her lord and she said, “I am confined in Lanka by sinful Ravana and subjected to persecution by the ogresses, O heroic prince you ought to rescue me I am going to survive only a month”. She loosened from her glorious hair the diadem she took out a sparkling gem, a token which her loving husband would recognize, she gave it me saying that it be delivered to Sri Rama, she also recited to me episodes known to Sri Rama only. I decided that I must return to the abode of Sugriva after having ascertained as to who will prevail in an encounter between the enemy (the ogre lord Ravana)and ourselves, and also having determined the future course of action, in this very expedition, for only then I will be deemed to have carried out the command of my master. I resolved to punish Ravana by destroying his pleasure-grounds which was the pride and joy of the cruel Ravana. The garden that afforded shelter to the women folk of Ravana, I desecrated it. The ugly faced fiends who saw the grove laid waste reported to their lord and his ire was roused, he ordered his valiant ogres to capture me. I crushed in combat the spirit of the ogre force who was impudent with egotism. Filled with rage, Ravana directed his courageous son Indrajit, to eliminate me. Indrajit made me captive by means of a missile presided by the creator and handed me over to the evil minded Ravana who queried me about my motive. To the notorious Ravana, I made the following submission, ‘I am called Hanuman, I sought your presence in my capacity as a messenger of Sri Rama, and I am carrying a communication to you from the lord of the monkeys Sugriva. Sugriva’s message to you is; ‘as sequel to the friendship between Sri Rama and Sugriva Sri Rama killed Vali with a single arrow in the battle and re-installed Sugriva the king and Sri Rama was promised the search for Sita by Sugriva. In the search of that God-like lady, countless monkeys were dispatched in all the directions. O supreme Giant, be wise, be apologetic for your felony, hear my warning, be sensible, while still there is time, restore unharmed the Videhan princess to her sorrowing lord, for neither the fiends nor the celestials can stand Lakshmana’s shafts or Sri Rama’s wrath, or soon you will rue your terrible blunder.’ When spoken to in these words furious Ravana decreed, ‘Let the vanara die in this very place’, hearing the harsh diktat of the king of the ogres, troubled Vibhishana pleaded with his brother Ravana, saying the enemy’s envoy at all times and all places are undeserving of death, this monkey has done immense destruction to us, he has created affliction yet killing of the messenger is not sanctioned in the teachings, you are permitted to inflict suitable punishment on him proportionate to his guilt like mutilation of his person. Accepting the salutary advice of his brother Vibhishana, Ravana responded, ‘ I construe in the case of monkeys the tail is a treasured decoration, set his tail aflame, disfigured and mortified let him leave us, and proceed in haste to his king and his community. Ruthless giants began to strap up my dilating tail with cotton tatters; drenched the tail in oil, and set it ablaze, much to the delight of the cruel fiends, their women folks and the aged and I was paraded through crowded streets of Lanka to the accompaniment of the loud drum beats, blaring of the shells and triumphant shouts of joy. I resolved within myself to suffer this humiliation, for it provided me an opportunity to glimpse Lanka from the point of view of its fortification. Arrived at the city gate, I contracted my massive form I unchained myself form the bonds, resumed my indigenous size again, with impetuosity I seized a club studded with iron lying at the gate, destroyed the fiends whom hemmed me with chains, destroyed all those fiends who guarded the gate, the flames around me now blazing harmless, I strode through the town of Lanka viewing each street, each square and each road. With the furious fire in trail, I spread the conflagration as I began to dart atop each palace, house, mansion, of the foe and the scattering fire brought ruin to the mansions as well as the wealth of Lanka. When I saw blazing Lanka in ruins soon the thought of safety of Sita came to haunt me, even as I was brooding thus fears within me began to fade, I heard the heavenly voices sing my praise, “O Vayuputra a glorious feat has been accomplished by you, the fires ruined Lanka, yet Janaka’s daughter is unharmed.” I concluded Sita was unharmed, I decided to see her once more and thereafter return to the presence of Sri Rama. I proceeded excitedly to greet the queen ensconced at the foot of the Simsapa tree and I was granted leave by her again. I have thus achieved the purpose of Sugriva and all this have been duly carried out by me, let all that which could not be cone and still remains to be done be accomplished by you.

Hanuman provokes: Once more Hanuman proceeded to recount, ‘O jewels among monkeys, Sita can preserve all the worlds by virtue of her asceticism alone, and the ruler of the ogres Ravana too is rich in asceticism for he was not reduced to ashes when he laid his hands on the Maithili queen. Before we proceed to see the royal brothers it is imperative for us to effectively recover Sita from the clutches of Ravana and restore her to Sri Rama and the valiant Lakshmana. If approved by you, I shall destroy in an encounter on the field of battle Ravana with his army, his brothers and his sons. The heroic Angada the son of Vali alone is capable of annihilating all the Rakshasa hosts, and there is no warrior among the demons and Yaksas who can challenge as an equal with Mainda and Dwivida, the foremost among the monkeys. Alone I laid low the ogres presiding over Lanka. While reducing the city of Lanka to ashes, I proclaimed everywhere prowess of Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sugriva. The virtuous lady Sita, is ever absorbed in the thought of Sri Rama, she was seen by me in a wretched condition she stretches herself on the bare ground and has grown pale of body. Somehow the God like lady was inspired with confidence and apprised of the alliance between Sri Rama and Sugriva. Howsoever powerful may Ravana be, the great sin incurred by him in the abduction of Sita has filled his cup of sin to the brim, thus Sri Rama will only be an instrument for the death of Ravana. Let us all devise an approach which requires to be done by way of remedy in this behalf.’

Angada resolves; astute Jambavan unenthusiastic: After hearing Hanuman speak, Angada now spoke his mind, ‘On an earlier occasion Brahma the creator of the universe; conferred on the two monkeys Mainda and Dwivida, a boon in the shape of incapability of being slain by anyone, in fact these two valiant monkeys alone are capable enough to destroy Lanka. Even single handed, I can carry out the destruction of the demon king Ravana and Lanka with its hosts of ogres. I do not believe it fit to report at Kishkinda that the Godlike lady has been discovered but not recovered. We shall now conquer Lanka with its hosts of ogres, kill the notorious Ravana in an encounter; accomplished of purpose and rejoiced at heart we shall all return to Kishkinda with Sita.’ To Angada, Jambavan, the foremost, made this reply, ‘this suggestion of yours O prince we are surely capable of execution, but we have to devise means to accomplish our purpose according to the decision arrived at by Sri Rama. The scion of Raghu, Sri Rama has taken a vow before us that he would himself win back Sita. Also we were only directed by our ruler Sugriva and the sagacious Sri Rama only to explore the southern quarter, and not to somehow bring back Sita. Therefore let us all return to Kishkinda and report this achievement of Hanuman.’

The Honey Grove—Madhuvana: The gigantic monkeys headed by Angada and Hanuman accepted advice tendered by Jamabavan, they all leapt forward in the direction of Kishkinda. All of them were keen to break the pleasant tidings, they soared in the air, the region grew dark with their shadow, and soon they came to the lovely Madhuvan that rivaled Indra’s elysium. This well fenced pleasance belonging to Vanara lord, Sugriva, uninfringeable for all created beings, was guarded by the lofty souled vanara, Dadhimukha, the maternal uncle of Sugriva, and in this grove inestimable bees stored their honey. The vanaras at their bidding were permitted by Angada to devour the honey in that grove, they hunted the trees thronged with bees, they ransacked the trees, ate the fruits the branches bore, and prolonged their merriment. Drunk with sweets, excited they sang wildly, sprang from tree to tree; they climbed the trees, and rained the branches to the ground. Furious Dadhimukha viewed the devastation caused by the intoxicated multitude, in angry voice he struggled to save the remnants of the orchard, his warnings, threats and taunts were snubbed. His blows on them were returned by the inebriated monkeys using their claws, teeth, hands and feet.

Remonstrating Dadhimukha thrashed: Hanuman spoke to the monkeys, ‘unhindered and with a free mind O monkeys you enjoy the honey.’ Angada thought aloud, ‘Hanuman has accomplished this task; his advice even if it is not worth following has to be followed by me too.’ Delighted to hear the kind word from Angada the monkeys once more the penetrated deep into Madhuvana overwhelmed the strong guards, drank honey and gathered the delicious fruits. Having quaffed the honey from the heavy honeycombs, feeling languid and inebriated they used the honey combs to pelt one another. The servants of Dadhimukha guarding the grove, hindered in their duties by the terrible monkeys fled to their master with this submission. ‘Hanuman granted the privilege to the mighty monkeys to enjoy the honey; fruits etc of the grove, and the monkeys on their part have forcibly laid waste to the Madhuvana. We were dragged by the knees, seized by the feet and tossed in the air’. Enraged Dadhimukha whose duty it was to guard the honey grove, proceeded with his retinue to confront the recalcitrant vanaras, instead he was thrashed and bloodied by his intoxicated grandnephew Angada. Dadhimukha managed to escape from the clutches of the infuriated monkeys, and with his followers he hastened to Sugriva to report the wrongdoing of Hanuman, Angada and other vanaras. In a trice Dadhimukha collectively with the guards descended to the level ground where Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sugriva were positioned, wearing a miserable aspect he fell prostrate at the feet of vanara lord

Sugriva concludes Sita has been traced comforts Dadhimukha: Sugriva spoke to Dadhimukha as follows, ‘Hope all is well with Madhuvana, speak out the whole truth, I grant you protection from fear.’ Dadhimukha responded to his lord, ‘Madhuvana which was never violated before either by Rksaraja or by yourself or by your brother Vali has now been laid waste by the monkeys loyal to you. They have plundered Madhuvana, they disregarded the resistance offered by me and the other guards and instead all of us have been battered viciously the grove is in ruins now.’ To Lakshmana’s inquiry on Dadhimukha’s concern Sugriva made this submission, which delighted both Sri Rama and Lakshmana, ‘O noble Lakshmana, this monkey Dadhimukha by name was posted as a guardian of the heavenly grove, Madhuvana, which was bestowed upon our ancestors as a boon by the Gods and this grove cannot be laid violent hands by anyone. He was complaining that Madhuvana has been devastated by the heroic monkeys with Angada as their leader and the crowd comprises Jambavan of extraordinary might, and Hanuman the bull among the monkeys. The monkeys guarding the copse were knocked down by them when resistance was offered. Since having reached Madhuvana, the monkeys are all drinking honey, O mighty armed son of Sumitra, know it from me that the Godlike lady Sita has been discovered. There is no doubt in me that the Videhan princess has been seen by Hanuman alone, since the capacity to achieve the deed, as well as the intelligence, the ability for demanding exertion, virility and learning are firmly established in Hanuman and I have no doubt on that.’ Sugriva once more addressed Dadhimukha, ‘you alone must guard the coppice as before; violence as well as the vagaries of those who have done their duty must be tolerated by us, return swiftly to Madhuvana and dispatch instantly all those monkeys with Hanuman as their leader, with the two scions of Raghu I wish to interrogate them and hear of their endeavours in the cause of finding out the Maithili queen.’ Beholding the two princes absolutely delighted Sugriva too experienced great happiness.

Dadhimukha’s submission to Angada: As commanded by Sugriva, Dadhimukha along with the other monkeys quickly sought the presence of Angada in the Madhuvana grove; made this submission; ‘O prince gifted with astounding strength, pardon us for the rage vented by us due to our imprudence. Your uncle Sugriva felt greatly rejoiced to hear of your arrival here with all these monkeys and he commanded me as follows, ‘without delays send all of them to me.’ In his turn Angada spoke to his followers, ‘O leaders of the monkey hordes! You have performed your duty, it will unjust on my part to lord over you, I presume from Dadhimukha’s blissful narration that the news of our arrival has been heard by Sri Rama. I consider it as prudent to proceed to Kishkinda where Sugriva is.’ The monkeys were greatly delighted to hear the unassuming words of Angada made their assent, they said; ‘O king this communication of yours is quite appropriate of you, as a rule the ruler is self conceited; your extreme humility indicates your fitness for further good fortune; we truthfully tell you that we too are eager to proceed to where our lord Sugriva is.’ Saying ‘let us move’ Angada as also Hanuman at the head they proceeded to where Sugriva was. On seeing Angada having arrived in close proximity Sugriva spoke to Sri. Rama who was tormented by grief, ‘O prince of immense prowess, do not be despondent any longer, since the elated monkeys are coming after having destroyed Madhuvana, I conclude they are successful in the search of the Videhan princess and the god like lady has been discovered. In an army that includes Jambavan, Angada and Hanuman, failure is out of question.’ Soon in the vicinity of Kishkinda was heard the expressions of joy, roar proclaiming the triumph of Hanuman and almost immediately there arrived the monkeys trailing Angada and Hanuman and they descended close to Sugriva and to Sri Rama as well. Full of affection Sri Rama looked on Hanuman who reported the nectar like news that the God like lady Sita has been seen; she was constant in her devotion to Sri Rama and sound in body.

Hanuman informs Sri. Rama: The vanaras led by the crown prince Angada hastened to the exquisite Prasravana hills full of trees in blossom, where they offered their reverent salutations to the sons of Raghu and also to Sugriva, thereafter proceeded to give the tidings on the Videhan princess. Sri Rama questioned, “O monkeys tell me where does the Godlike lady Sita live, and how is she disposed towards me?” Replying to the command of Sri Rama, Vayuputra first placed in Sri Rama’s hands the splendid gem that graced the person of Sita, and then began his narration; ‘I crossed the sea, reached the southern shore of the southern sea where located in the isle is the town of Lanka ruled by the evil minded giant Ravana. I searched for a while for Sita, I found her weeping in the pleasure grove in the midst of evil minded ogresses relentlessly taunting and threatening her. She was pale, her tresses were twined in a single braid, her eyes were sad, she was forlorn, her thoughts were ever on you and she stretched on the bare floor she absolutely refuses to have anything to do with Ravana. I went by her side, gradually narrated the glory of the Ikshvakus, by recourse to cheerful words I consoled her, I told her of the alliance with Sugriva, and thus instilled optimism in her. By way of token she narrated the incident of the crow that took place in your presence at the Chitrakoot; she gave me this jewel to be handed to you which has been carefully preserved. I gave her the signet ring which she wore saying it will to an extent dampen her affliction. She said “O sinless prince I will be alive only for a month, thereafter I will surely die, the prey of the giants” This has been narrated by me exhaustively and correctly and a means has to be evolved to cross the sea liberate the Godlike lady and destroy the giants

Sri Rama urges Hanuman to repeat Sita’s message: After Hanuman finished, Sri Rama who was buried in grief, with copious tears now drenching his face, pressed the jewel to his bosom, and spoke to Sugriva these words, “Like an affectionate cow that at the sight of her calf distils milk from her teats, my heart likewise melts at the sight of this jewel that adorned Sita’s head. This jewel was found in the ocean by the ruler of Gods Indra, and was adored by him; it was bestowed on the Janakan King as an appreciation for his sacrificial performance intended to propitiate Indra. This exceptional jewel was given to Sita when we were wedded, which when fastened to her head it was charming. As I see this jewel I see in my mind’s eyes my father, my father-in-law, the Janakan king and I imagine my arms around the Videhan princess, indeed Lakshmana it is painful when I see this jewel without Sita. O friend Hanuman tell me again tell me where is she? If my darling is alive for a month then she indeed is long lived. Having received information of her, I cannot delay any longer the rescue actions. How can my gentle darling who is timid, delicate and pure endure the fierce, vile and dreadful demons? O Hanuman please tell me each word she spoke, her words and her words alone heal my aching heart, it prolongs my life.”

Hanuman narrates the incident connected with a crow: Urged by Sri Rama, Hanuman repeated all that was said by Sita, ‘The God like lady related an incident at Chitrakoot. This was when she was asleep by your side, then a crow tore the flesh on her breast, and was repeatedly tormenting her. Ceaselessly tormented by the crow she woke you from your sleep, seeing her bathed in blood, you for your part were enraged and inquired, “By whom was this laceration caused, who is playing with the enraged five-hooded serpent. You suddenly observed a crow with its sharp talons stained with blood, perched in front of Sita, indeed this crow was Jayanta son of Indra. Seething with anger you snatched a blade of Kusa grass and charged it with a potency of a mystic missile presided by Brahma, and hurled the blazing missile at the bird. The flaming missile followed the bird, who was forsaken by all the Gods, he did not find a protector even after ranging the heaven, the earth and the intermediate region. The crow at long last sought your protection at Chitrakoot. For your part, in your mercy to the crow, who sought your protection, even though he merited death, you spared him his life and destroyed the right eye of the crow only because it was not possible to render the missile ineffectual. The crow for his part saluted you as well as emperor Dasaratha, who obviously has sent him to you to seek your protection, thereafter he returned to his abode. Sita says you are the foremost of those skilled in the use of mystic missiles, neither the giants nor the Gandharvas, nor the troops of the Gods are able to withstand you in combat, let Ravana be killed in the battle field and you rescue me.’ Hearing the gently worded invocation of Sita I addressed the noble lady, ‘I swear to you by my truthfulness Sri Rama is overwhelmed with agony and Lakshmana is afflicted, now that you are discovered, the two princes who are the scourge of their foes will reduce Lanka to ashes and take you back to Ayodhya.’ After untying from the end of her garment she handed over this excellent jewel to be handed over to you. Perceiving me eager to depart, obsessed with the intensity of grief, anxious at the thought of my springing up to cross the ocean she said to me, “You are fortunate, you will be able to see the mighty armed Sri Rama as well as Lakshmana,” for my part I said, ‘O highly blessed lady get on my back I will this very day restore you to Sri Rama.’ The God-like lady responded, “It will not be virtuous on my part, O Great Monkey, to get on your back when I am in control of myself when I was touched all over my limbs by the ogre I could not help it. Sri Rama ought to take me back after having overrun Lanka with his forces, therefore direct things in such a way that the valour worthy of the scion of Kakutsa comes into play Inquire on my behalf the welfare of the Ayodhyan Princes, Sugriva and his ministers too. You ought to convey my distressing grief, my being threatened by the ogres, in such a way that the mighty Sri Rama rescues me from my ocean of grief.” This is the message the noble and self restrained Sita gave to you O protector of men.

Hanuman’s narration continued: Sita having shown her regard to me out of her innate righteousness continued, “If you deem fit O monkey, you may after resting in this place for the night leave this place on the morrow, for the grief arising on account of your departure (disappearance) will torment me. O valiant monkey, the capacity to cross the sea lies only in three created beings namely, Garuda, the Wind-God and you, the achievement of this task is difficult for others; therefore speak out how you intend to accomplish this? Sri Rama ought to take me back after having overrun Lanka with his forces, therefore direct things in such a way that the valour worthy of the scion of Kakutsa come into play.” Hearing Sita’s appeal I made this final answer, ‘Sugriva the lord of the monkeys and bears has resolved to rescue you, there are monkeys at his command who are equal and superior in strength to me, under all circumstances only juniors alone are sent out on errand. O highly blessed lady be done with your despondency, you will soon see Sri Rama the scion of Raghu, Lakshmana, as well as the gallant monkeys arrived at the very gates of Lanka. After having annihilated the ogre race, you will soon return with Sri Rama to Ayodhya, for his term of exile has ended and he will be crowned at Ayodhya. Cheered by me in these words, the afflicted princess of Mithila derived solace in my presence.

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