|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Other Scriptures by Acharyas > Valmiki Ramayana > Sundara Kanda|
First of all, the virtuous Hanuman offered his obeisances to Surya, Indra, Vayu, Brahma and Lord Rama, at the foot of Mount Mahendra. Then, after climbing to the peak, he expanded his body to gigantic proportions and grabbed onto the mountain with his hands and feet. For several moments, Hanuman remained poised, while composing his mind in preparation for the great leap.
Due to the weight of his huge body, the entire mountain began to tremble. Large snakes, vomiting fire from their mouths, bit into the rocks, making them shatter into flaming fragments. The Vidyadharas flew up into the sky to witness the spectacular jump, and in reply to their exclamations of wonder, Hanuman roared like a huge cloud and stretched out his tail.
Then, when Hanuman crouched down in order to summon all his strength, the mountain peak began to crumble and spurts of water gushed forth because of the tremendous pressure. Gandharva couples that had been enjoying in that heavenly region, as well as the numerous rishis that resided there, quickly fled out of fear. Hanuman then declared to the monkeys, “Either I will bring back Sita, or the entire city of Lanka, along with Ravana, after uprooting it!”
Hanuman took a deep breath and tensed his muscles. Then, all of a sudden, he sprang into the air, like an arrow shot from Lord Rama’s bow. Due to the force of Hanuman’s jump, all the trees on the peak of Mount Mahendra were uprooted and thrown into the sky. As Hanuman soared through the air, these trees followed in his wake for some time and then fell into the ocean. The variously colored flowers that were blown off the branches fluttered down and became scattered over the surface of the water, creating a particularly beautiful sight.
The hurricane-strength winds caused by Hanuman’s motion agitated the ocean, making waves as tall as mountains crash against his chest. Hanuman’s shadow, projected upon the surface of the water, was huge, and the suction created as he passed through the air drew the nearby clouds to him. Hanuman thus resembled the moon as he alternately became hidden while passing through the clouds and then visible as he emerged from them. Out of paternal affection, Vayu blew cooling breezes so that the sunshine did not scorch Hanuman.
As Hanuman soared through the air, all classes of beings applauded him. The presiding deity of the ocean also wanted to assist him, just to show respect for Lord Rama. Rama had appeared in the dynasty of Ikshvaku, and His forefather, King Sagara, had extended the ocean’s boundaries. There was a great, submerged mountain named Mainaka, which Indra had placed in the middle of the ocean to block the passage from Patala to the earth so that the demons would be obstructed. The Ocean ordered Mainaka to rise up out of the water to provide a resting-place for Hanuman. But, when Hanuman saw the great mountain peak rising from the sea, he considered it to be an impediment and so thrust it down with his chest.
Appreciating Hanuman’s prowess, Mainaka took a human form, and while appearing on his own summit, he said, “Son of Vayu, you can rest here for awhile and then continue your journey. Please accept this humble service, for I desire to worship your father by helping you in this way.”
“In Satya-yuga, all mountains had wings and so we flew through the sky like so many Garudas. But, the demigods and rishis became fearful of the possibility of our falling to the ground and smashing everything. Finally, Indra took his thunderbolt, and in an angry mood he cut off the wings of thousands of mountains. I was also attacked in this way, but Vayu came to my rescue by throwing me into the ocean. My wings were thus spared, and now, just to repay that favor, I request you to stop for awhile and accept my hospitality.”
Hanuman replied, “Please excuse me, for I dare not stop. My time is limited and I promised the other monkeys that I would not tarry on my journey.” Saying this, Hanuman touched the top of the mountain, as a token of respect, and then soared upwards, continuing his flight. Being pleased, Indra came and told Mainaka, “You need fear no more that I will cut off your wings. From now on, you are free to travel as you like.”
Meanwhile, the demigods and celestial rishis approached Surasa, the mother of the Nagas, and requested, “We would like to ascertain Hanuman’s actual strength. For this purpose, we request you to assume the form of a huge Rakshasi and try to impede him. Either Hanuman will quickly defeat you, or else, being unable to do so, he will become despondent.”
Surasa took the form of a disfigured Rakshasa woman and emerged from the ocean, blocking Hanuman’s path. She announced, “By the benediction of Lord Brahma, it has been ordained that I can eat whatever food comes before me. O best of the monkeys, by the will of Destiny you have crossed my path, and so I invite you to kindly enter my mouth.”
Hanuman replied, “I am trying to render service to Lord Rama by locating His kidnapped wife, Sita. Therefore, you should help me. But, if you are determined to devour me, then I promise to return here after finding Sita and reporting back to Rama. At that time, I will enter your mouth without fail.”
Surasa retorted, “Because of Lord Brahma’s boon, you will be forced to enter my mouth this very moment!” She then opened her mouth wide, but the enraged Hanuman expanded his body and challenged, “You will have to make your mouth bigger if you want me to enter it.”
At this, Surasa expanded her mouth to double the size, and so Hanuman increased his size even more. Surasa countered by enlarging her mouth further, but in response, Hanuman grew bigger than that. Surasa made her mouth still larger, and so Hanuman continued to expand. Surasa quickly opened her mouth to engulf him, and so Hanuman grew even bigger. At last, when Surasa enlarged her mouth to its maximum limit, in the twinkling of an eye, Hanuman contracted his body to become the size of a thumb, darted into her mouth, and immediately came out. Hanuman then said, “O daughter of Daksha, the condition of your benediction has now been fulfilled and so I shall resume my journey.”
Surasa was delighted with the clever Hanuman. Appearing before him in her original form, she said, “Well done, foremost of Vanaras! Go now and accomplish your mission. May you soon reunite Sita with Lord Rama!”
As Hanuman continued on his way, soaring through the sky, a Rakshasa woman named Simhika suddenly grabbed his shadow. Being unaware of this, Hanuman thought that his strength was waning. But then, as he looked around, Hanuman spotted a huge and ghastly creature emerging from the sea. As Simhika madly rushed at him with wide-open mouth, Hanuman began to expand his body. But, the sharp-witted Hanuman quickly realized that, in spite his best efforts, the onrushing Rakshasi’s mouth was big enough to swallow him.
Reversing his strategy, Hanuman quickly shrank to tiny proportions. After entering Simhika’s mouth, Hanuman went inside her hideous body, and then, using his claws, he tore the Rakshasi’s heart to shreds. As Simhika fell down dead into the water, Hanuman emerged from her body and assumed his expanded form, while the Siddhas, Charanas and Vidyadharas glorified him for his victory.
Soon thereafter, the distant shore, its beaches bounded by forests, came into view. Thinking that the Rakshasas could easily spot him, Hanuman resumed his normal size and then descended upon the Trikuta Mountain. Even after jumping 100 yojanas, Hanuman did not feel the least bit tired, nor did he gasp for breath.
Gazing upward, Hanuman beheld the wonderful city of Lanka, perched atop the Trikuta Mountain and surrounded by moats that were filled with lotus flowers. A high golden wall circled the entire city, and ever since the abduction of Sita it was being heavily guarded by fierce-looking Rakshasas. Hanuman approached the northern gate and from there he could see inside the city. There were towering white palaces and broad avenues that were adorned with golden arches and crowded with innumerable Rakshasas.
Hanuman thought to himself, “This city appears to be unconquerable, even by the demigods, and so what to speak of an army of monkeys. How can Rama hope to vanquish the Rakshasas? Only Sugriva, Nila, Angada, and I can cross over the ocean to come here. Anyway, I will think about that later on, for my first duty is to find out whether Sita is still alive or not. Let me carefully consider how I can meet her, for an incapable messenger can spoil even the best of plans. The guards appear to be very vigilant and so I had better not try to sneak into the city in my natural form. It appears as if even the wind cannot enter Lanka undetected! Therefore, I had better assume some inconspicuous guise, and then enter the city at night.”
Hanuman eagerly awaited the setting of the sun. At last, when it grew dark, he contracted his body to become as small as a cat and entered the city by jumping over the high wall. Awestruck, Hanuman saw that the city was beyond his imagination, being filled with seven and eight storied palaces that were lavishly decorated with gold and jewels.
At this time, the moon rose over the horizon, helping Hanuman by spreading its silvery illumination. But, just then, Lanka personified, in the form of a hideous Rakshasa woman, came before Hanuman and challenged, “How did you enter this city unchecked? What is a monkey like you doing in the kingdom of the Rakshasas?”
Hanuman countered, “I will answer your questions only if you identify yourself first.”
The Rakshasi angrily replied, “I am the presiding deity of Lanka, and I carefully guard the city for Ravana. Because you have entered without permission, you shall meet your death at my hands this very day.”
Hanuman then said, “I have come here to take a tour of the city because I want to see all the magnificent palaces and gardens.”
Lanka defiantly replied, “This city is only for Rakshasas, and no stray monkeys are allowed to wander the streets. If you want to see Lanka’s opulence, you will have to vanquish me first!”
Hanuman boldly declared, “I will look at the city as much as I like and then depart the same way that I came.”
At this, the enraged Lanka shouted, “You will not!” and smacked Hanuman with the palm of her left hand. Hanuman roared loudly with indignation and then struck Lanka with his left fist, although not violently, in consideration of her being a woman. Still, the blow made Lanka fall to the ground while moaning with pain.
She then begged, “Please spare me, for a true hero will never strike a woman. Once, long ago, Lord Brahma had informed me, ‘At the time when you will be overpowered by a monkey, the destruction of your city and all the Rakshasas will be immanent.’ I admit defeat, for I can understand that Ravana’s death is at hand. Vanara, you have my permission to enter Lanka to accomplish whatever purpose you desire.”
Thereafter, Hanuman hurriedly wandered throughout the city, jumping from one rooftop to another. He saw numerous spies in various disguises, and in front of Ravana’s palace, which was encircled by walls made of pure gold from the Jambu River, he saw an army of 100,000 Rakshasas protecting it.
As Hanuman searched for Sita throughout the city, he saw great palaces having doors inlaid with jewels. The walls within the palaces were free of all dust and were crystal clear, and the floors were laid out in wonderful designs that fascinated the eyes and mind of the beholder. Intricately constructed stairways lead to balconies that were inlaid with gold and silver, and above them were magnificent domes and ceilings. Musical instruments played while the wives of the Rakshasas came and reclined in the arms of their amorous husbands.
As he entered one residence after another, Hanuman saw someone caressing her lover and someone else applying sandalwood paste all over her body. Someone slept, someone laughed and someone else was engaged in the affairs of love with her mate. Someone was sprawled out naked, having been left aside by her husband, and someone else, decorated with flowers and ornaments, was just welcoming her lover. In this way, Hanuman observed thousands of beautiful women having moon-like faces, their lotus-petal eyes casting sidelong glances that beguiled the hearts of their loved ones. But, there was no trace of Sita and so Hanuman became somewhat disheartened.
Hanuman next decided to look throughout the palaces belonging to Ravana’s relatives and consorts, which, from a distance, appeared like enormous clusters of monsoon clouds, illuminated by streaks of lightning. Finally, after searching through the residences of Kumbhakarna, Indrajit and others, Hanuman hopefully entered Ravana’s palace, which was filled with the sight of beautiful women and the sound of tinkling ornaments. Being at the very peak of Trikuta Mountain, Hanuman felt as if he were being carried across the skies in a celestial chariot pulled by white swans.
In fact, the interior of Ravana’s palace appeared to be a ravishing paradise with wish-fulfilling trees surrounded by jewel-like flowers. As Hanuman roamed about he saw many pleasure-rooms, their floors always wet with wine and liquor. There were rooms filled with all kinds of treasure, and rooms used to store weapons. But, Sita was nowhere to be seen and so Hanuman became disappointed. Still, there remained Ravana’s personal quarters, which were vast.
While wandering about, trying to find the way into Ravana’s inner apartments, Hanuman came to where the Pushpaka chariot was being stored. This chariot, which had been constructed by Vishvakarma for Lord Brahma, traveled in the sky by following the mental indications of the driver. The Pushpaka chariot was decorated with birds made from jewels that flapped their wings mechanically, as well as snakes made of gold and silver. Inside were elephants with shapely trunks that showered scented water onto a statue of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, standing elegantly within a pool of water, a lotus flower in each of her four lovely hands.
To get a good look inside Ravana’s apartments, Hanuman jumped onto the Pushpaka chariot. From that vantage point, he could see a great hall having a crystal floor inlaid with pearls, diamonds and gold, and which was covered by a great carpet having a map of the earth with all of its mountains and seas as its design. Stairways of gems led to the upper levels. Golden lamps provided soft illumination, their light reflecting from countless valuable jewels.
Everything about this spacious hall was so gratifying to the five senses that Hanuman began to wonder, “Where am I? Is this heaven? This could very well be the supreme realm of Lord Brahma!”
When Hanuman went inside the inner apartments to continue his search, he saw thousands of beautiful and colorfully dressed women sprawled upon the expansive carpet. With half of the night gone, they were fast asleep under the influence of intoxication, as well as the exhaustion caused by their amorous revels. The women’s’ jeweled bracelets, belts and ankle-bells were now silent, although sparkling, making the scene appear something like a lotus-lake, serene with silent swans.
Hanuman gazed upon the ladies, who lay with eyes closed and lips shut tight, like fragrant lotuses that close their petals upon the arrival of evening. In their stupor, the ladies’ hair had become disheveled and their jewelry scattered. While dancing and drinking, their anklets had been misplaced, their marks of tilak erased, and their necklaces broken. Their belts were loosened, their dresses were wrinkled, and their garlands trampled. Thus the ladies lay like flowering creepers that had been crushed by wild elephants.
While sleeping, some of the ladies used their arms as pillows, while others rested their heads upon the breasts of their co-wives. Others lay with their heads upon someone’s lap, stomach or buttocks, and some, under the influence of love’s intoxication, slept with arms intertwined, embracing one another. Whose arms? Whose legs? Whose garlands? Whose jewelry? The consorts of Ravana were so intimately united in sleep, that it was difficult to make out.
Under the influence of lust, innumerable daughters of kings, brahmanas, Daityas and Gandharvas had become the wives of Ravana. Some he had kidnapped after defeating their relatives, but all of them had accepted him willingly, being infatuated with desire. None were lowborn, ugly, crude or stupid, and none were neglected by Ravana, the lord of Lanka.
In the midst of all these women, Hanuman saw Ravana, lying upon an elegant couch that had been placed upon a special platform and covered by a white canopy. Ravana was seen to possess one head and two arms, for it was only in battle that he assumed his gigantic form, having ten heads and twenty arms. Hanuman observed the numerous wounds on Ravana’s body that had been caused by such illustrious weapons as the thunderbolt of Indra and the chakra of Lord Vishnu.
Ravana’s dark-complexioned body was smeared with sandalwood paste, and he lay exhausted after a night of feasting, drinking and erotic enjoyment. Hanuman stared at Ravana respectfully, and he recoiled slightly, in awe of his powerful and majestic appearance.
Hanuman then once again turned his attention to Ravana’s consorts, who surrounded him like so many glittering stars encircling the full moon. Several women were sleeping in the arms of their beloved lord, while others caressed the musical instruments that they had played earlier that evening. Like a lotus clinging to a floating tree-branch in mid-stream, one beauty with a slender waist embraced her vina. Another held her madduka drum in her lap, as if it were her infant child. Another full-breasted woman tightly hugged her tambourine as if it were a loved one who had returned after a long absence.
Lying a bit apart from the others, on a lavishly decorated couch, was the fair-complexioned Mandodari, Ravana’s favorite queen. When Hanuman saw how young, beautiful and dignified she appeared, he thought, “This must be Sita!”
Being thrilled at his discovery, Hanuman began to rejoice like a monkey by slapping his arms, jumping for joy, kissing his tail, and climbing up and down the palace pillars.
But, after a moment’s consideration, he thought, “This cannot be Sita. It must be someone else. In separation from Rama, Sita would not even be able to eat or sleep, I am sure. Nor would she dress so nicely, and she would never accept the association of another male, even if he were the King of heaven! After all, in comparison to Rama, what are the demigods, and so what to speak of a wicked Rakshasa like Ravana?”
Hanuman continued his search, wandering from room to room, throughout the rest of Ravana’s palace. He saw thousands of moon-faced women, sleeping amidst vessels containing huge quantities of meat and wine, as well as drinking glasses that had been scattered here and there. Hanuman had to look at these women very closely while searching for Sita, and because of this he had some misgivings.
Hanuman thought, “Perhaps I have violated the principles of religion by gazing upon the wives of others while they are sleeping naked. What will be my destination?”
But, after due consideration, Hanuman concluded, “It is the motive which determines whether an act is virtuous or sinful. While gazing upon these women, I remained pure in mind, for my only thought was to find Sita. Because I am looking for a woman, where else can I search, except among women? I am only doing this for the service of Lord Rama, and so my looking at others’ wives cannot be considered sinful.”
As Hanuman continued to search, without finding any trace of Sita, he concluded that she must no longer be alive. Becoming very aggrieved at heart, he wondered what he would tell the other monkeys, who were anxiously awaiting his return. Hanuman fought his depression by reminding himself that indefatigability is the only cause of success. While hoping for the best, he continued to look in some places that he had previously neglected.
Finally, after having scoured Lanka again and again, Hanuman became completely depressed. Although Sampati had assured him of Sita’s presence in Lanka, Hanuman could not find her anywhere, and so he began to speculate in various ways. He thought, “Maybe Sita died out of fear while being carried through the air to Lanka, or maybe Ravana had dropped her out of fear of Rama. Sita might have wiggled herself free and then fallen into the ocean. Perhaps Ravana devoured her when she refused to become his consort.”
Hanuman’s thoughts then turned to the disastrous results of returning to Rama and reporting his failure. He thought, “Without Sita, Rama will surely give up His life, and Lakshman will follow suit. When They hear that Rama and Lakshman have given up their lives, Bharata and Shatrughna will also surely kill Themselves. Then, with all four sons gone, the three mothers will wither away and die. Because of their failure, Sugriva, Angada and the other monkeys will give up their lives out of shame. Therefore, I must not return to Kishkindha. Either I will commit suicide or else spend the rest of my life living as a recluse.”
Then, as Hanuman struggled to emerge from these gloomy thoughts, he considered, “Maybe I should kill Ravana, or drag him back to Rama, so that he can be offered as a human sacrifice to Lord Shiva.”
Hanuman was sitting on one of Lanka’s high defense walls, and while thinking in this way he happened to gaze at a large grove of Ashoka trees on the outskirts of town, which he had not yet explored. Making up his mind to continue the search, Hanuman first of all offered his obeisances to Rama, Lakshman and the principal demigods. Then, he leaped from the defense wall to the Ashoka grove.
After roaming about aimlessly for some time, Hanuman climbed a tall tree to get a better view. From the treetop he could see a mountain stream cascading down into a nearby lotus pond. Surrounded by flowering trees, this idyllic spot seemed to be a perfect place for Sita to spend her time. Because of this, Hanuman decided to remain stationed upon the treetop in the hopes that Sita would come there to take her morning bath and perform her devotional activities.
Turning his head, Hanuman saw a lofty temple, situated in a nearby garden, that was supported by 1000 pillars. In front of the temple, a woman sat, dressed in a single dirty, worn-out, yellow cloth. She appeared to be emaciated due to fasting, and on account of her anguish she sighed heavily, again and again. Although her face was wet with tears and displayed her great anxiety and exhaustion, she shone with a divine radiance that could not be obscured by her grief. She thus appeared like a smoke-covered fire, and many Rakshasa women surrounded her.
Hanuman recognized her to be the same woman whom he had seen being carried away by Ravana. He also saw that the ornaments that she wore, although tarnished, fit the description that Rama had given him.
Hanuman gazed upon the woman’s full-moon face, her graceful eyebrows, her full breasts, her bright red lips, her slender waist, her lotus-petal eyes, her delicate and symmetrical limbs, and concluded that she must be Sita. Although as lovely as the goddess of love, Sita sat upon the ground like a female ascetic practicing penance. Although most glorious, she suffered acute anguish so that she appeared like a sacred text misinterpreted, wealth squandered, faith shattered, hope frustrated, ideals impeded, intellect corrupted, or fame blackened.
Hanuman thought, “This is the woman whom Rama loves, and for whom He suffers, sometimes feeling pity, sometimes tenderness and sometimes grief. Pity for the dear one He failed to protect. Tenderness for the woman who is solely dependent upon Him. And, grief at suddenly losing His beloved wife. Sita’s grace and beauty resemble that of Rama, and she is certainly worth the trouble of jumping over to Lanka and killing all the Rakshasas. In fact, if Sita were placed on one side of a scale and the sovereignty of the three worlds on the other, the latter would not even measure up to a fraction of her worth. I am pained to see how she has to suffer at the hands of Ravana. Still, I know that due to her absorption in thought of Rama she probably cannot even perceive her external suffering.”
The moon rose to help Hanuman observe Sita and the numerous Rakshasa women that were guarding her. Some of the hideous Rakshasis had only one eye or one ear, and one of them had ears all over her body. Another had her nose placed in the middle of her forehead. Some Rakshasis were bald and some were dwarves. Some were hunchbacks and some had lips that hung down over their chins. Some had heads that resembled those of boars, deer, camels, tigers, or horses. Others had only a single hand or foot. Some Rakshasis had heads that were sunk into their bodies, like Kabandha, and most of them had meat and blood smeared all over their bodies.
Hanuman wept tears of joy at having found Sita, and as he remained concealed atop the Ashoka tree and watched her, the night gradually passed away.
Meanwhile, Ravana was awakened before dawn by the singing of the bards who praised him to the accompaniment of musical instruments. As soon as he got up, Ravana began to think of Sita, for he was irresistibly drawn to her by his passion. Unable to suppress his sensual longing for the princess of Videha, Ravana set out for the Ashoka grove, accompanied by one hundred beautiful women carrying golden lamps, chamaras, cushions, water, and other things. Still under the influence of the previous night’s intoxication, Ravana staggered along, followed by the lovely ladies, who thus appeared to be like flashes of lightning behind a dark cloud.
When Hanuman saw Ravana approaching, he prudently concealed himself behind a dense cluster of leafy branches. When Sita saw Ravana coming, she covered her body as best as she could, and then, while trembling violently, she sat down and wept. As Sita sat upon the bare ground, she swayed back and forth, like a frail boat tossing upon a stormy sea.
In her wretched condition, Sita appeared to be just like an understanding that had become dim, hope that had been frustrated, an order that had been flouted, or a sacred altar that had been desecrated. She was like a full moon in eclipse, an army that had been routed, or a stream that had dried up due to drought. She was like a pond whose lotuses had been uprooted, an extinguished flame, or birds that had fled due to fright. Sita’s body had become emaciated, and her mind was depressed, because of fasting, brooding, grief and fear.
Coming before Sita, Ravana spoke in the hopes of seducing her: “Most fair and beautiful lady, why do you cover your shapely breasts and thin waist? O large-eyed lovely one, I am afflicted with love for you, and so please give up your shyness. Favor me, my beloved, and fulfill my unbearable longing to have you. It has always been the custom of Rakshasas to carry away the wives of others or rape them. But, I will not touch you as long as you do not voluntarily agree to love me in return.”
“You are a goddess. Why are you lying upon the bare ground? Why should you wear dirty clothes and fast for no reason? Why do you tie your hair in a single braid and sit brooding all the time? This is not at all befitting a ravishing princess like you.”
“Become my queen and enjoy royal opulence that is beyond compare within the three worlds. You will use only the finest flower garlands, sandalwood paste, perfumes and jewelry. You will eat the most sumptuous food, drink the most ambrosial beverages and lie down upon the most luxurious couches. Enjoy yourself continually, with singing, dancing and music!”
“Lovely lady, youth quickly passes, and for this reason, your stubbornness is utter folly. You have the most beautiful face, fairer than the full moon, and your bodily features are the perfection of artistic craftsmanship.”
“Become my beloved wife, and in return I shall do anything for your pleasure. If you like, I will conquer the entire earth and present it as a gift to your father, King Janaka. Who can dare to defy me? Sita, after seeing you, I have become so enamored that I can no longer find pleasure in any of my wives, not even Mandodari. Why do you insist on remaining faithful to Rama, who is a mere human being and a straw in the street in comparison to me? I doubt whether Rama still lives, and even if He does, you can rest assured that you will never see Him again.”
Sita first placed a straw between herself and Ravana, as a symbol of her unwillingness to contact him directly. Then, she gently replied, “You should withdraw your mind from me, and remain contented with the numerous consorts that you already possess. You will never be able to have me, just as a sinful man fails to achieve perfection. I was born in a noble family and was married according to religious principles. I shall never do anything contrary to righteousness, and so there is no hope of your ever gaining my favor.”
Sita turned her back to Ravana, and continued, “Because you are acting perversely, directing yourself away from the path of virtue, you will soon become the cause of the destruction of your entire kingdom. Why don’t you follow the example of good men who protect their wives, as well as the wives of others? The fool who is dissatisfied with his own wife, and seeks pleasure with the wives of others, is doomed. Why do you ignore the advice of the wise, and reject that which is good? Why are you so determined to cause the destruction of all the Rakshasas? Don’t you know that all people rejoice upon the death of wicked persons?”
“I will never be tempted by your offers of insignificant opulence and royal comforts. I am as inseparable from Rama as sunlight is from the sun. The only way that you can save yourself from Rama’s wrath is to voluntarily deliver me back to Him. You should try to cultivate friendship with Rama, for He is very merciful to those who take shelter of Him. Otherwise, it will not be long before Rama and Lakshman come here and suck out your life-breath with Their arrows. You will never be able to escape Rama’s vengeance, even though you may be capable of saving yourself from Indra’s thunderbolt! It is only a matter of time before Rama finds you out and punishes you for your wickedness!”
Becoming agitated, Ravana retorted, “Generally, the more courteously a man treats a woman, the more agreeably she responds to him. But, in your case the opposite holds true. I should kill you for your harsh words! You are lucky that my love for you controls my anger, like a charioteer that curbs unruly horses. Love acts strangely, for the more a beloved mistreats her lover, the more he showers her with affection. It is for this reason alone that I do not kill you, although death and dishonor are what you deserve.”
“Already, ten months of your one-year time limit have passed. Therefore, I am going to wait just two months more. Then, if you still refuse to reciprocate my love, I will have you chopped into pieces by my cooks and served as my breakfast!”
Some of Ravana’s consorts, that had been forcibly abducted, were present there, and when they heard his threats, they felt sympathy for Sita. As Ravana prepared to depart, they began to comfort Sita, so that their compassionate words gave her some reassurance.
Becoming encouraged, Sita once again rebuked Ravana, saying, “You must not have even a single well-wisher in your kingdom, for no one deterred you from this ignoble act that is meant for your destruction. Rama is like a mighty elephant, and you are like a tiny rabbit. You can talk so boldly only because Rama is out of sight! I could reduce you to ashes by utilizing my own mystic power, but I refrain from doing so because I have not received Rama’s order. Actually, it is impossible for anyone to kidnap the wife of Lord Rama. You have only been able to do so because Destiny is making me the instrumental cause of your death.”
Struck by these sharp words, Ravana hissed like a serpent and gazed at Sita with angry, bloodshot eyes. “I will kill you this very day, “ Ravana bellowed. Then, turning to the Rakshasis that guarded Sita, Ravana said, “You must make Sita submit to me by any means possible, whether it be conciliation, gifts, disharmony with Rama, or force, if necessary.”
Ravana then once again menacingly turned to Sita. Mandodari had come there along with Ravana’s youngest consort, Dhanyamalini. Seeing that Ravana might become violent, Dhanyamalini went and embraced her husband while saying, “Come back to your palace and enjoy yourself with us. Forget about this pale and emaciated Sita. When a man desires to enjoy a woman who does not love him, he only suffers. But, when a man wants a woman who loves him in return, he enjoys great delight.”
In this way, Ravana was dissuaded from abusing Sita any further. While laughing conceitedly, he returned to his palace. The hideous Rakshasi guards then approached Sita and began to threaten her in harsh, angry voices.
The Rakshasi, Ekajata, said, “You should give up your false pride and accept Ravana, for he is a very exalted personality. Pulastya was the mind-born son of Lord Brahma, and the fourth of six Prajapatis. Pulastya’s mind-born son was Vishrava Rishi, and his son is Ravana. Do not hesitate to accept the King of the Rakshasas, thinking him to be unworthy of you, for if you remain adamant it will certainly result in your destruction!”
Another Rakshasi named Durmukhi said, “You are a fool for refusing to become Ravana’s queen. Don’t you know that at his command the trees scatter flowers and the clouds release torrents of rain. The sun does not shine and the wind refuses to blow if it displeases Ravana. Sweet-smiling goddess, listen to our advice or else face a horrible death.”
Sita calmly replied, “You can devour me if you like, but I shall never submit to Ravana.”
Finding Sita to be adamant, the Rakshasis picked up spears, axes and knives and began to threaten her as they surrounded her. One of them shouted, “You are young, soft and tender. I will eat your heart, liver and spleen this very moment if you do not submit to Ravana.” Others exclaimed, “I will savor your succulent thighs!” “I will drink your hot blood!”
A Rakshasi named Ajamukhi then interrupted, “I hate squabbling. Let’s chop her up and divide her into equal morsels. Order wine to be brought. Let us feast upon human flesh and dance before the goddess Bhadrakali.”
Finally, Sita could no longer bear to hear these ghastly remarks and so she burst into tears. While violently trembling with fear she cried out, again and again, “O Rama! O Lakshman!”
While shedding incessant tears, Sita lamented, “Why doesn’t Rama come here and save me? Perhaps He does not know where I am. Maybe He has already died in separation from me and is now residing in heaven. Perhaps Ravana was able to kill Rama by means of some sinister trick. Oh, when will Rama come here and take me back to Ayodhya, after destroying all of the Rakshasas? Why am I so unfortunate that I cannot give up my life at once? If only I could die, because death would surely be better than this misery!”
While the Rakshasis were intimidating Sita, one elderly woman named Trijata suddenly awoke from a deep slumber. Approaching the other Rakshasis, Trijata prudently spoke to them as follows: “You wretches! How can you dare torment Sita like this? You shall never be able to devour her, and I will now tell you the reason why. I just had a vivid dream wherein I saw Rama come here and rescue Sita, after killing all the Rakshasas.”
When the other Rakshasis begged her to describe her dream in detail, Trijata said, “I saw Rama and Lakshman dressed in white and wearing white garlands. They were soaring through the sky in a white celestial chariot that was drawn by 1000 white horses.”
“Then, the scene changed, and I saw Rama seated upon a giant four-tusked elephant, and He was dressed all in white. Sita was also dressed in white, and she was standing upon a white mountain in the middle of the sea. When Rama came nearby, Sita mounted upon His elephant and thus became reunited with her husband. After this, I saw Rama, Sita and Lakshman flying through the sky toward the North, riding in the Pushpaka chariot.”
“Then, I saw Ravana in my dream. He had a shaved head and his body was smeared with red sandalwood paste. He was riding in a chariot that was drawn by asses, and while drinking oil, he laughed as if he had become mentally deranged. As the chariot rode off, I saw Ravana disappear into a gloomy hell that was full of filthy things and which emitted an obnoxious odor.”
“I saw Kumbhakarna and the sons of Ravana in the same way, but not Vibhishana. He was mounted upon a four-tusked elephant that was covered by a white canopy, and conch shells and drums were heralding him. Finally, I saw the whole of Lanka crumble and fall into the sea. I have therefore concluded that very soon Rama will come here and recover Sita, after killing the Rakshasas. You had better give up tormenting Sita, and instead, beg for her forgiveness.”
At that time, auspicious signs appeared in the faultless body of Sita, like servants eager to wait upon a wealthy man. Her lotus-like left eye began to twitch, and her left arm gently throbbed. Sita’s graceful left thigh also quivered, as if Rama Himself were standing before her.
Noticing all this, Trijata declared, “Because of these auspicious signs, I can understand that Sita will soon receive some very good news.”
Sita was very happy to hear this, and she said, “If all that you have described comes true, then I will make sure that you are given all protection from the wrath of my husband.”
But, Sita soon relapsed into her usual mood of hopelessness and despair as she gazed upon the hideous Rakshasis that surrounded her. Sita thought, “What if Ravana kills me before Rama is able to come and rescue me? Having fallen into this most miserable condition of life, I can no longer bear the torment.”
Desiring to end her life, Sita took the string that bound her hair, and after knotting it tightly around her neck she began to tie the other end to a branch of the Ashoka tree that she was sitting under. Just then, however, she once again experienced the auspicious trembling in her body, and so her mood brightened and she became more hopeful.
All the while, Hanuman had remained hidden, listening to Sita and the Rakshasis. Now, he considered the situation as follows: “I had better go and comfort Sita, for I can see that her intelligence has become clouded by her intense grief. If I return to Rama without having given her any hope it would certainly be a great fault on my part. At any time Sita may give up her life out of despair. But, all of these Rakshasa women are guarding Sita. How shall I talk to her? Never mind! Somehow or other I must do so! Rama will ask me if I have any message from Sita, and if I tell Him that I have none He might burn me to ashes with His anger. Yes, Rama and Sita both need to be consoled by receiving news of each other.”
“I will go and meet Sita when the guards are inattentive. If I speak to her in Sanskrit, she will surely have faith in my words. No, wait, if I talk like a brahmana, she may think that I am Ravana, disguised as a mendicant. I think that only if I speak to her in the dialect of Ayodhya will she believe me. No, that will not work! If Sita hears a monkey talking like a human being, she will still think that I am Ravana. After all, the Rakshasa King can assume any form he likes.”
“I had better be careful, for if Sita screams, the guards will be alerted and they will summon Ravana’s soldiers. If this happens, I might be captured. Even if I defeat all the Rakshasas, I might be too tired to jump back to the mainland. I had better consider very carefully how to best approach Sita, for a thoughtless messenger can ruin even the most perfect plan.”
After pondering over his dilemma in this way, Hanuman finally concluded, “First I will sing about the glories of Rama. Then, after gaining Sita’s confidence, I will deliver His message to her.” While remaining concealed within the tree’s branches, Hanuman recited as follows, loud enough for Sita to hear:
“Descendent of Ikshvaku
King Dasharatha was his name
Righteous and heroic
He ruled Ayodhya of great fame.
Finally receiving four sons
Rama the darling of his heart
Full of unlimited potencies
Vishnu playing a human part.
To give Kaikeyi her boons
Into exile Rama was sent
Upholder of His father’s vow
With Sita and Lakshman He went.
When Rama killed the Rakshasas
Who filled the rishis with fear
Ravana kidnapped Sita
With the help of Maricha, the deer.
Then while searching for Sita
Rama made Sugriva His friend
To look in the southern quarter
I, Hanuman, He did send.
After crossing many mountains
I jumped the ocean wavy
And thus I succeeded
In finding you, O devi.
Rama will come to save you
His dearly beloved wife
Now give me some message
To save your husband’s life.”
Sita was very surprised to hear this poem, and while looking upward to find the speaker, she spotted Hanuman. This frightened Sita terribly, and she began to weep, thinking, “It is very inauspicious to see a monkey in one’s dream!”
Being afraid and overwrought due to anguish, she fainted. After some time, when Sita regained her senses, she thought, “After seeing a monkey in my nightmare, I should pray for Rama and Lakshman’s welfare. Wait, how could I be dreaming? Because of my suffering in separation from Rama, I never sleep for even a moment! It must have been some kind of hallucination! The monkey could not have been real, for wherever I look, I only see Rama! My ears only hear Rama’s voice, and my mind can think of Rama and nothing else! Still, it’s hard for me to believe that the monkey was illusory, for he appeared so real!”
Hanuman then came down from the tree. While standing before Sita with folded hands, he inquired, “Who are you? You seem to be a goddess, and so I guess that you are the consort of Lord Rama.”
Sita was delighted to hear the name “Rama”, and in response, she narrated the entire story of her life. After all, Hanuman was the first friendly person she had talked to in such a long time. In conclusion, Sita explained, “Ravana has given me just two more months to live. If Rama does not come here before that, then I will voluntarily give up my life.”
Hanuman became more confident because Sita was talking to him. He said, “I am an envoy from Rama, and I can assure you that He is quite well. Rama has sent me here to locate you, and He inquires about your welfare.”
Sita was delighted to hear this, and in great happiness the two continued conversing for some time. But, as he became engrossed in her talk, Hanuman gradually inched closer to Sita. When she saw this, Sita became seized with the idea that the monkey might actually be Ravana in disguise. Sita suddenly exclaimed, “Oh! How disgusting it is that I have been tricked into talking to you!”
While sinking to the ground, being exhausted by grief, Sita’s mind took another turn. She considered, “I do feel some kind of delight by seeing this monkey. Perhaps my suspicions are false. Maybe he really is a messenger from Rama.”
After composing herself, Sita once again spoke respectfully, saying, “Please tell me more about Rama. Your descriptions of Him are very pleasing to my ears and heart.”
Factually, Sita was absorbed in intense emotional ecstasy brought about by separation from Rama. As a result, her talks were manifestations of transcendental madness.
Like a deranged person, Sita continued to speculate as follows: “Maybe this monkey is a ghost. Perhaps I am just imagining him, having become mentally unbalanced due to my agony. No! I should not think like this! Why should I allow myself to be carried away by my disturbed mind? From the nature of his speech, it definitely appears as if this monkey has come as an envoy of Rama. Then again, how can I believe that a mere monkey could jump across the ocean to Lanka? Surely this is Ravana in disguise!”
Hanuman could understand Sita’s doubts and so he continued to glorify Rama in various ways, just to reassure her. Then, to test Hanuman, Sita said, “Please tell me the story of how you met Rama. Also, describe to me in detail both Rama and Lakshman’s bodily features.”
In reply, Hanuman very nicely described Rama and Lakshman. Then he said, “I met the two brothers at the Rishyamukha Mountain. When Rama saw the jewels that you had dropped in the midst of monkeys while being carried away by Ravana, He became overjoyed so that tears fell from His eyes. In order to establish an alliance of friendship with Sugriva, Rama killed Vali. To repay this favor, Sugriva initiated a great search for you all over the world by sending out millions of monkeys. Now, by good fortune, I have located you in this remote place.”
“My name is Hanuman. I was begotten by the wind-god, Vayu, through the womb of the mighty monkey Keshari’s consort.”
By hearing Hanuman’s description of Rama, Sita became fully convinced that he was a messenger sent by her husband. While Sita shed tears of joy, Hanuman took the opportunity to give her Rama’s ring that had His name inscribed on the inside of the band. While taking the ring in her hand, Sita’s face blossomed with happiness, as if she were experiencing the arrival of Rama Himself. She said, “Hanuman, I am eternally indebted to you for this gift. You are so magnanimous to have come here for my sake. Please tell me more about Rama.”
With folded hands, Hanuman replied, “It is only because Rama does not know where you are that He does not come here and rescue you. Without you, Rama does not have even a moment’s peace of mind. Rest assured that as soon as I return and inform Rama of your presence here, He will immediately come and kill Ravana.”
Sita urged, “You must make Rama understand how urgent it is that He come here quickly, for after two months, Ravana will kill me. Ravana’s younger brother, Vibhishana, has repeatedly pleaded with him to return me to Rama. Vibhishana’s eldest daughter, Kala, has told me how an old and wise minister named Avindhya had warned Ravana of the immanent destruction of the Rakshasas by Rama. Still, Ravana does not listen to this kind of advice.”
Hanuman suggested, “If you like, I can immediately bring you to Rama by carrying you to Kishkindha on my back. I am sure that the Rakshasas could not keep up with me as I fly across the ocean.”
Sita was thrilled with the prospect, but still she replied, “Your proposal seems to be perfectly in line with the frivolous character of monkeys. How can someone so small even think of carrying me across the ocean?”
Hanuman was a little offended by this remark. He thought, “How little Sita thinks of me!” To convince Sita of his prowess, Hanuman revealed his gigantic form and boasted, “If I like, I can uproot the entire city of Lanka, with Ravana, and carry it back to Rama! Give up your doubts!”
Sita admitted, “You are certainly strong enough to carry me across the ocean, but still, I do not think that it is a good idea. What if I become faint as you dash through the sky, and fall from your back into the shark and crocodile-infested water? What if the Rakshasas rally and attack you? You will be fully engaged in fighting with them, and so what will happen to me? Even if you kill all the Rakshasas, this would diminish Rama’s reputation.”
“Hanuman, I am completely devoted to my husband, and so I do not want to touch the body of anyone but Him. When Ravana kidnapped me, I was helpless. I had no choice. Rama must come here personally and rescue me after killing the wicked Ravana. This act alone would be worthy of enhancing His glorious reputation.”
Hanuman replied, “I appreciate your sentiments, which are just befitting the chaste and righteous wife of Lord Rama. I shall now return to Him, and so please give me something that will convince Rama that I have actually met you.”
As tears filled her eyes, Sita spoke in a faint voice as follows: “Hanuman, just to convince Rama that you have met me, you can relate to Him the following incident. While residing at Chitrakoot, one day, after playing in the water, Rama rested on my lap, dripping wet.”
“At that time, a crow came and began pecking at me, as if wanting to eat my flesh. I picked up a lump of dirt to scare the crow away, but it was determined and so remained hidden nearby. Becoming angry, I accidentally pulled the string that was holding up my slip, causing it to loosen and fall down. Rama laughed heartily to see how flustered I became and meanwhile, the crow once again started pecking at me. I took shelter of Rama by sitting on His lap, and He comforted me while wiping away the tears from my eyes.”
“Due to exhaustion I soon fell asleep in Rama’s arms, and a short while later, He also dozed off. Taking advantage of this, the crow suddenly swooped down and clawed at my breasts, waking me up with a start. After flying upwards, the crow swooped down and clawed me once more. As a result, Rama also awoke, feeling the drops of blood that fell on Him from my wounds. When Rama saw the cuts on both my breasts, He became enraged and asked me to identify the culprit. Before I could reply, Rama saw the crow standing at a distance, his claws dripping with blood.”
“Being very angry, Rama took a blade of kusha grass from His mat and empowered it with the brahmastra. After the straw burst into flames, Rama hurled it at the crow, and as it flew up into the sky, the kusha-grass weapon followed it. This crow was actually the son of Indra. As the brahmastra chased him, he tried to obtain shelter all over the universe, but even his father could not help him. At last, the crow came and surrendered to Rama.”
“Out of compassion, Rama forgave the exhausted bird, but then said, ‘This brahmastra cannot be ineffective, so it must be directed somewhere.’ After saying this, Rama used the weapon to destroy the crow’s right eye. Thereafter, Indra’s son departed, after offering Rama obeisances.”
Sita became very sad while relating this pastime. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Hanuman, Rama invoked the brahmastra against an insignificant crow, so why doesn’t He attack Ravana now? Does Rama no longer care for me? In a former life I must have committed some abominable sin so that Rama is now disregarding me.”
To encourage Sita, Hanuman said, “I can personally attest to the fact that, due to separation from you, Rama is completely merged into the depths of the ocean of sorrow. Now, please give me some object that I can show Him.”
Sita sighed and replied, “At least I now have some real hope of being rescued. But, you must impress upon Rama that if, after one month, I still have not seen Him, I will surely die out of grief.”
After saying this, Sita untied from her cloth a bright jewel that she had formerly used to decorate her head. While handing it to Hanuman, Sita said, “When He sees this jewel, Rama will remember three persons because it was given to me by my mother as dowry, in the presence of His father and mine. Hanuman, please act in such a way that Rama and Lakshman will come here as quickly as possible to terminate my terrible suffering.”
Hanuman then circumambulated Sita, and was just about to depart when she once again spoke with a voice that was choked up with tears. Sita said, “Please speak to Rama about me in such a way that He will become very eager to rescue me.”
Hanuman replied, “Do not worry. Very soon you will see Rama, Lakshman, and all the heroic monkeys come here to kill Ravana.”
Sita then requested, “Just stay here for one more day so that, by your association, I can have a little relief from my intolerable misery. Oh! Why do I even get my hopes up? How will all the monkeys be able to cross the ocean? I think that even Rama and Lakshman will not be able to do so- only Garuda, Vayu or you have the capacity. Hanuman, I know that you could rescue me single-handedly. But, I request you to somehow enable Rama to kill all the Rakshasas and save me, for that will eternally enhance His glorious reputation.”
Hanuman replied, “All the monkeys in Sugriva’s army are equal to or superior to me, and so you can rest assured that they will easily reach Lanka. You must know that only insignificant persons like me are sent on errands, so give up your doubts once and for all. If need be, I will cross the ocean carrying Rama and Lakshman on my back.”
Sita said, “Hanuman, try to see that my rescue is expedited, for I do not know how much longer I can survive under these conditions. Here is one more message for Rama. Remind Him of the time He painted my cheeks with a red mineral to replace the decorations that had worn off.”
As Hanuman once again prepared to depart, Sita repeatedly implored him to act in such a way that would benefit her. Hanuman then thought as follows: “My mission would not be complete without ascertaining the true strength of the Rakshasas. I will destroy this Ashoka grove, which is one of Ravana’s pleasure gardens, just to invoke his anger. When the King of the Rakshasas sends his army to attack me, I will destroy it and then return to Rama.”
Having made up his mind, Hanuman began to create havoc by knocking down some trees and uprooting others. He stirred up the ponds, shattered the hilltops, and after practically destroying the garden, he made his stand at the entrance.
Hearing the screams of the frightened birds and animals, as well as the sounds created by Hanuman’s mischief, the Rakshasi guards woke up with a start. When they spotted him stationed at the garden’s entrance, Hanuman assumed a gigantic form, filling their hearts with terror. Surrounding Sita, the Rakshasis asked, “Who is this creature? What were you talking to him about?”
Sita denied knowing about Hanuman. She said, “He must be a Rakshasa. Since you are all Rakshasas, it is you that should know about him and not I. I am also terrified to see his huge and frightening appearance.”
While some Rakshasis remained to guard Sita, others went to report the matter to Ravana. After bowing down to their king, they said, “There is a giant monkey who first of all talked to Sita and then devastated the entire Ashoka grove, except the small portion where she stays. When we asked Sita about his identity, she claimed that she did not know him.”
Excited and angry, Ravana immediately dispatched 80,000 fierce Rakshasas, known as Kinkaras, to go and capture Hanuman. When Hanuman saw the Rakshasas coming, brandishing their weapons, he further expanded his body while lashing his tail about so violently that the sound of it reverberated throughout Lanka.
Hanuman then challenged, “I am a servant of Lord Rama. If I like, I can kill 1000 Ravanas!” After saying this, Hanuman loudly roared, and although the Kinkaras were terrified they attacked him from all sides. Hanuman grabbed an iron bar that he found nearby, and while flying through the air he slaughtered the Rakshasas within a short time. A few surviving Kinkaras hurried back to Ravana and informed him of the massacre. Upon hearing the news, Ravana’s eyes began to roll with rage, and next, he ordered the powerful son of Prahasta, named Jambumali, to fight.
Meanwhile, Hanuman was engaged in destroying the immense temple of the Rakshasas’ guardian deity that was located in the Ashoka grove. As he climbed up the building, which was as large as a big hill, Hanuman tore it to pieces with his claws. The noise made the debris crashing to the ground could be heard all over Lanka. Hanuman then shouted, “May there be victory for Rama and Lakshman! My name is Hanuman, and I will destroy Lanka within the very sight of the Rakshasas!”
Although the sound of Hanuman’s voice struck terror into their hearts, the one hundred temple guards took up their weapons and surrounded him. Enraged, Hanuman broke off one of the temple’s columns, and while assuming a terrifying aspect, he whirled it around so that fire was generated as it struck the other pillars. While Hanuman proceeded to kill the guards with that blazing pillar, the entire temple became engulfed in flames. Again and again, Hanuman shouted, “Let there be victory for Rama, Lakshman, and all the monkeys!”
Jambumali then came on the scene, riding upon a chariot driven by donkeys, and the twanging of his bow filled the sky with its vibrations. Without wasting time, Jambumali struck Hanuman in the mouth with an arrow and in the arms with ten more. As blood covered his entire face, the infuriated Hanuman tore up a huge rock and hurled it with great force. Jambumali smashed it to bits with ten arrows, and so Hanuman uprooted a big tree and whirled it around. Jambumali broke that tree to pieces with four arrows before it even left Hanuman’s hands. The Rakshasa then pierced Hanuman’s arms with five arrows and his chest with ten more.
Hanuman was undaunted, however, and he once again picked up his iron bar. After whirling it around impetuously, Hanuman threw it with great force. The iron bar struck Jambumali so violently that his head, legs, chariot and donkeys could no longer be distinguished from one another.
Ravana became very agitated when he heard about Jambumali’s death. Next, he ordered seven more sons of his chief minister to attack Hanuman, along with a large army. When the Rakshasas approached the Ashoka grove, riding upon their chariots, they saw Hanuman stationed at the garden’s arched gate.
In the shower of arrows that followed, Hanuman became momentarily obscured from view but by leaping into the sky he avoided the onslaught. After roaring loudly, Hanuman charged. Within moments, his hands and feet smashed innumerable Rakshasas, while others were torn to pieces by his nails. Still others were crushed by the impact of Hanuman’s chest and thighs, and some simply fell to the ground, having been stunned by Hanuman’s roar. When all seven sons of the chief minister were killed, the remaining warriors panicked and ran away. Hanuman then returned to the archway to await further combat.
Next, Ravana sent five of his leading generals, along with a large army, saying, “I want you to capture this Hanuman, for he could not be a mere monkey. He must be some kind of super-powerful being.”
Soon after, as the Rakshasas surrounded Hanuman, the general, Durdhara, released five arrows that pierced him in the forehead. Infuriated, Hanuman swelled up immensely in size, leaped into the sky, and then fell on Durdhara’s chariot like lightning striking a mountain. Due to the impact, the chariot was smashed to pieces and Durdhara and the horses fell down, crushed to death. Enraged at the death of their comrade, two other generals, named Virupaksha and Yupaksha suddenly sprang into the air and struck Hanuman in the chest with their clubs. Undaunted, Hanuman swooped down and uprooted a tall Sal tree and then struck the two generals dead.
The two remaining generals, Praghasa and Bhasakarna, then came before Hanuman, piercing him with their spear and dart. Although covered with blood, the enraged Hanuman tore off the peak of a nearby mountain, along with all its animals and trees, and pounded the two Rakshasas to pulp.
With the five generals out of the way, Hanuman effortlessly began destroying the rest of the army. He killed the horses by wielding other dead horses and he crushed the elephants with the help of other elephants. Hanuman struck dead the warriors with other slain soldiers and he smashed their chariots by brandishing pieces of broken chariots. After covering the ground with innumerable mutilated bodies, Hanuman once again stationed himself at the garden archway.
When Ravana heard of this massacre, he simply glanced at his son, Aksha, who was seated close by. Being eager to fight, the prince understood his father’s indication and jumped up from his seat in the assembly. After mounting his chariot, which was drawn by eight horses and could travel through the sky, Aksha went to the Ashoka grove. At a distance he showered arrows upon Hanuman, and then, after coming close, a fierce duel took place.
Aksha was very powerful, and while witnessing the encounter, the earth began to quake, the sun became dim, and the wind ceased to blow.
When Aksha managed to pierce his head with three arrows, Hanuman began to expand his body. The young prince was childishly proud of his strength and so he fearlessly came before Hanuman like an elephant approaching a well that had become covered by grass. After being struck with Aksha’s arrows, Hanuman assumed an awesome feature and leaped into the air. Aksha closely followed him while constantly releasing his arrows, but Hanuman dodged them while soaring through the sky.
Then, when an arrow pierced his chest, Hanuman mentally praised the skill of his enemy, and thought, “Although just a young boy, this Rakshasa is fighting very heroically, and so I do not wish to kill him. On the other hand, as the battle progresses, I can see that his prowess goes on increasing. If I neglect him I may end up being defeated. Therefore, I had better kill him at once, just as a fire that is spreading should be extinguished as quickly as possible.”
While increasing his speed, Hanuman killed Aksha’s horses with a slap of his hand, and when the disabled chariot fell to the ground, it smashed into pieces. Taking up his bow and sword, Aksha jumped out of the broken chariot and ascended to the sky like a rishi on his way to heaven after quitting his material body by the power of mystic yoga. Hanuman dexterously caught Aksha by his legs, however, and after spinning him around and around, he dashed him violently to the ground. With all his limbs broken and his chest crushed, the son of Ravana gave up his life while vomiting blood.
The rishis watching from the sky gazed upon Hanuman with wonder, while Ravana’s heart became filled with terror. As Hanuman waited at the gateway, the infuriated Ravana checked his anger and summoned his eldest son, Indrajit.
The King of the Rakshasas then said, “In warfare, you are unparalleled, for you are my equal. You conquered the King of heaven, along with all the demigods, and you received weapons from Lord Brahma. Now, please go and do whatever is necessary to subdue this mysterious enemy.”
Hanuman felt very happy to hear the twang of Indrajit’s bow as he came before him riding upon his chariot. As Indrajit showered his arrows, Hanuman roared loudly and expanded himself while ascending to the sky to avoid the onslaught. In the battle that followed, Indrajit could not find any opportunity to pierce Hanuman with his arrows, nor could Hanuman get the chance to strike Indrajit.
After witnessing the futility of his weapons, Indrajit considered Hanuman incapable of being killed and so he began to think of how to capture him instead. With this in mind, Indrajit employed a special brahmastra that immediately bound up Hanuman and made him fall to the ground, practically unconscious.
Hanuman could understand that he was being bound by the power of Lord Brahma, in the form of a weapon. At the same time, he could remember how he had received a benediction from Lord Brahma that such a weapon would lose its effectiveness a short while after being invoked. Because of this, Hanuman thought, “I cannot free myself just now, but still, I have nothing to fear. Instead of considering this to be a setback, I should take it to be a good opportunity to see Ravana first-hand. Even though I have been captured, I am confident that by the benediction of Lord Brahma I will be able to free myself before long.”
Some Rakshasas then came and tied Hanuman with strong ropes and while doing so they abused him with very harsh words. But, as soon as Hanuman was tied, the effects of the brahmastra became nullified, for that weapon could not tolerate co-existing with another means of bondage. Thus, Hanuman actually allowed himself to be tied up by the Rakshasas, and he pretended to feel great pain, just so he would have the chance of meeting Ravana.
Indrajit could see how Hanuman was feigning bondage after being freed form the influence of the brahmastra. Indrajit thought to himself, “Hanuman’s capture has been rendered useless by these thoughtless Rakshasas. Now that the brahmastra has been nullified it cannot be invoked again against the same adversary.”
While Indrajit was pondering the matter in this way, the Rakshasas dragged Hanuman into the presence of Ravana, while excitedly speaking amongst themselves. “Who is this monkey-like creature? Someone questioned, while others angrily shouted, “Kill him at once!” “Eat him up!” “Let’s roast him!”
Seeing Hanuman tied up, in front of him, Ravana asked his ministers to do the interrogation. In reply to their questions, Hanuman said, “I am a messenger from Sugriva, the King of the Vanaras, who sends you his best wishes for your welfare. The noble-minded Sugriva hopes that you are conducting yourself according to religious principles, and that, as a result, your kingdom is prospering.”
Hanuman was certainly angry at having been captured, and the knowledge that Ravana had kidnapped Sita surely inflamed his rage. And yet, as he gazed upon the King of the Rakshasas, seated upon his crystal throne, Hanuman thought, “With Ravana’s charm, presence of mind, courage, splendor and auspicious bodily characteristics, he would have surpassed even Indra in glory if he had not become averse to righteousness.”
Ravana was also agitated and angry, but at the same time, he felt apprehensive while looking at Hanuman. He anxiously wondered, “Is this Nandi, the bull carrier of Lord Shiva, who previously cursed me when I mocked him? Or, is this Bana, the King of the asuras, disguised as a monkey?”
Prahasta, Ravana’s chief minister, then assured Hanuman, “If you simply tell us the real reason why you have come here, we will let you go.”
Hanuman replied, “As a curious monkey, I came here to meet Ravana. But, I knew that an insignificant creature like me would have a very hard time getting the King’s audience. So, I destroyed the pleasure garden, hoping to be captured and brought into the royal assembly. I never wanted to harm anyone, but when the Rakshasa soldiers attacked, I was forced to kill them in self-defense.”
“Long ago, I received a benediction from Lord Brahma that I cannot be bound up by any weapon or ropes. Because of this, you should understand that I purposely allowed myself to be captured, and that the power of Indrajit’s brahmastra has already been nullified.”
“Now, please listen as I disclose to you the real reason for my coming here. My name is Hanuman, and I have come as the envoy of Lord Rama, the son of Maharaja Dasharatha. I had been searching a long time for his abducted wife, Sita, and it is my good fortune that I have found her here. King of the Rakshasas, you should know for certain that there is no one who is immune to the arrows of Rama and Lakshman. Not even the self-born Brahma, Lord Shiva, or Indra would dare face Lord Rama on the battlefield.”
“Ravana, you are conversant with religious principles. One who is actually wise would never court disaster by giving up the path of virtue. Please take my good advice and give Sita back to Rama before it is too late. Previously, you had become immune to death at the hands of demigods and asuras, by virtue of your severe austerities. Cannot you see that, in the same way, your unrighteous act of kidnapping Sita will bring about disastrous results? Even I could annihilate Lanka, and so, what to speak of Rama, who can dissolve the entire universe and then recreate it as before.”
Hanuman’s speech made Ravana furious. As his reddish eyes rolled in anger, He commanded, “Kill this monkey at once!”
But, in a gentle voice, Vibhishana advised, “My dear elder brother, it is not proper to kill a messenger. You are certainly well aware of religious texts, but all such knowledge will be made null and void if you let yourself become swayed by uncontrolled anger.”
Ravana did not like such free advice, and so he replied, “There is no sin incurred for killing an evil-doer. Let Hanuman die!”
Vibhishana argued, “In shastra there is no injunction that a messenger can be killed. Such a thing is unheard of! Only mutilation of the limbs, flogging, shaving the head, and branding are punishments that can be administered.”
“My dear Ravana, great heroes like you never fall prey to the influence of uncontrolled anger. I suggest that you try to kill the enemy who has sent Hanuman and not Hanuman himself. Why don’t you send your army to fight with Rama and Lakshman, for it is They who seek revenge?”
Becoming a little influenced by his pious brother, Ravana finally relented, saying, “Monkeys always prize their tails very highly. Therefore, set fire to his tail and parade him through the streets so that the people can see what kind of hero he is. After that, release Hanuman so that he can return to his relatives with a burnt tail and thus suffer great humiliation.”
Being so commanded, the Rakshasas first of all wrapped cotton rags around Hanuman’s tail and then soaked the cloth in oil. When the rags were set ablaze, Hanuman expanded himself in a fit of rage and began beating the Rakshasas by lashing his tail about. The Rakshasas managed to grab hold of Hanuman and tie him more tightly, because he let them do so, desiring to tour Lanka by day just to get a good look at its fortifications.
Soon after, the Rakshasas joyfully dragged Hanuman through the streets, announcing to the people that they had captured a spy. As all of the women, children and aged curiously came out to see the prisoner, the Rakshasi guards informed Sita of Hanuman’s plight. Sita became very aggrieved upon receiving this news, and so she meditated upon Agni and prayed, “If there is any pious credit earned by me as a result of my devotion and austerities, let it be utilized so that the fire will seem cool to Hanuman.”
Just then, the sacrificial fire maintained by Sita began to burn mildly, and at the same time, the fire on Hanuman’s tail burned coolly while Vayu blew ice-cold winds. Hanuman wondered, “Why am I not being burned, even though the flames are blazing brightly. It feels as if the Rakshasas have wrapped ice around my tail! This must be due to the mercy of either Lord Rama or Sita!”
Hanuman then considered, “It is not at all befitting for a great warrior or a servant of Lord Rama to be bound up and made a laughing-stock by these Rakshasas! Enough of this humiliation!”
In the twinkling of an eye, Hanuman slipped out of his bonds by diminishing his size. Then, jumping into the air with a shout, Hanuman instantly assumed his gigantic form and picked up an iron bar that he found lying nearby. In a moment, he killed the guards, and then he thought, “What else can I do to torment Ravana and the Rakshasas before returning to Rama? Since my tail is ablaze, why not use it to engulf Lanka in a great conflagration?”
Having thus made up his mind, Hanuman jumped onto the roof of Prahasta’s palace and set fire there. Then, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, he ignited a great fire all over Lanka, avoiding only the palace of the pious Vibhishana. Hanuman went inside the palaces as well, including Ravana’s, and because of the raging wind, the fire soon blazed out of control. As the upper stories of the palaces crumbled and crashed to the ground, the intense heat melted the gold and silver, which then mixed with pearls and jewels and flowed out into the streets like lava.
There was a great uproar amongst the Rakshasas as they tried in vain to save themselves and their possessions. Anguished cries grew louder as multitudes of Rakshasas, horses and elephants were burnt. Due to the fat from the burning bodies, the fire blazed up higher and higher, so that it appeared to be the time of universal devastation. In a state of panic, the inhabitants of Lanka exclaimed, “Is this Agni himself ravaging our city, in the form of a monkey? Or, is it Indra, Brahma, Time personified, or the unlimited energy of Lord Vishnu who has come here to destroy us all?”
Finally, after circumambulating the entire city, Hanuman paused for a moment, and as he gazed upon the ravaging fire he felt great satisfaction. Hanuman then began to think about returning to Rama, and so he first of all went to put out the fire on his tail by dipping it into the ocean. But, as he once again turned to look at the fire that consumed Lanka, Hanuman suddenly became filled with a terrible apprehension while listening to the screams of the dying Rakshasas.
“What a fool I have been to set fire to Lanka!” Hanuman thought. “What if Sita has also been burnt? Oh, just see the result of uncontrolled anger, which is the most sinful condition of the living entity because it causes him to act indiscriminately. What is there that an enraged man will not do, or refrain from saying? A person under the sway of anger can murder his own guru or parents, and insult the great souls. Only one who has learned to control his anger actually deserves to be called a human being.”
“If I have caused Sita’s death, then I have killed my master as well, and so I shall have to give up my life as atonement. To hell with the foolish nature of monkeys that produces actions born of passion and anger. Passionate acts always give uncertain results, and in this case I may have become the cause of mass destruction.”
“If Sita has died, Rama and Lakshman will no longer be able to live. Then, one after another, Bharata, Shatrughna, Sugriva and many others will also give up their lives. Without the shelter of these exalted personalities, all other living entities will gradually become disinterested in life. Thus, it may be that I have unwittingly caused the destruction of the entire world!”
But as Hanuman lamented in this way, he saw some auspicious omens and so concluded, “The virtuous Sita could not have been harmed. After all, by the mercy of Lord Rama, even I was not burnt by the fire, and so, what to speak of His beloved consort. The purity of Sita’s character alone is sufficient to protect her. The strength of her austerities, her devotion to truth, and her dedication to Lord Rama are more powerful than fire itself.”
The Siddhas, Charanas and other celestial beings had been praising Hanuman for his heroic exploits. Now, to reassure him, they informed him that Sita was safe and sound. Overjoyed and relieved, Hanuman rushed to where Sita was staying, and, upon seeing her, he shed tears of happiness.
Sita said, “Dear Hanuman, please remain here for just one day. I get relief from my burning grief by your association. After all, your return is uncertain, and so is my survival, due to my intense unhappiness. It seems to me that Rama, Lakshman and the monkeys will never be able to cross the ocean. Still, you must urge Rama to come here quickly and rescue me, for I do not feel that I can survive much longer under these conditions.”
Hanuman tried to comfort Sita by assuring her that Rama would rescue her. Then, having made up his mind to depart, Hanuman went to the top of Mount Arista. Being very eager to return to Rama after the successful completion of his mission, Hanuman began crushing the mountain with the pressure of his feet. As Hanuman expanded his size, the mountain began to crumble, so that the Gandharvas, as well as the animals residing there fled in fear.
When Hanuman took his mighty leap, the lofty mountain sank down to become level with the earth. Thereafter, while sailing through the air, Hanuman once again touched the Mainaka Mountain as a token of respect. At last, as he approached Mount Mahendra, Hanuman began roaring in jubilation while waving his tail, for he was very anxious to meet his monkey friends.
As they heard Hanuman roaring, all the monkeys waiting on the shore became very eager to catch a glimpse of their hero. Jambavan then said, “Judging from his exuberance, Hanuman must have been successful in his mission.”
All the monkeys excitedly jumped from tree to tree and mountain peak to mountain peak, waving their cloths. Then, when Hanuman finally came into view, they stood up with folded hands, in order to watch him descend upon Mount Mahendra.
Within a short while, the monkeys surrounded Hanuman, shouting with delight as they presented him with fruit and roots. Hanuman first offered respect to his elders, and then to prince Angada. In answer to their excited inquiries, Hanuman confirmed that he had found Sita. The monkeys were overjoyed and so they embraced Hanuman again and again. While praising him for his heroic deed, Angada sat down to talk with Hanuman.
At that time, Jambavan begged Hanuman to narrate the whole story of his jump to Lanka, and so all the monkeys crowded around to hear, waiting with folded hands. Hanuman first mentally offered his obeisances to Sita, and then described all that had happened in great detail. Hanuman assured the monkeys that Sita was alright, and told them how she had rebuked Ravana by telling him that he was not even fit to become Rama’s slave.
Hanuman concluded by saying, “Let us attack Lanka at once, and bring Sita back to Rama at Kishkindha. I know that I can defeat all of the Rakshasas single-handedly, and so can Angada. Think of how pleased Rama would be if we not only found Sita, but rescued her as well! I could have brought Sita back here with me, but because I did not have your permission, I restrained myself.”
Angada then said, “Once, out of respect for the Ashvini-kumaras, Lord Brahma gave their sons, Mainda and Dvivida, a benediction, making them incapable of being killed in battle. Because of this, these proud monkeys were able to defeat an entire army of demigods and forcibly drink nectar (amrita). Because they are with us, I think we can easily defeat Ravana. So, let us attack Lanka without delay, and return to Rama only after rescuing Sita.”
But, Jambavan said, “O prince, your plan lacks wisdom. You have forgotten that we were only ordered to find Sita and not fight for her recovery. Even if we were successful, I think Rama would be displeased, for He vowed in front of all the monkeys that He would kill Ravana and rescue Sita.”
Angada, Hanuman and the others accepted Jambavan’s advice, and so, without further ado, they left for Kishkindha. On the way, the monkeys came to Madhuvan, a heavenly forest belonging to Sugriva. Being eager to drink honey, they begged Angada to let them stop for awhile. The monkeys then partook of fruit, roots and honey to their full satisfaction, so that, within a short time, they all became intoxicated. While laughing, dancing and singing, the monkeys sported in a very boisterous manner, and as a result, the nice garden became a shambles.
Dadhimukha, the superintendent of the garden, became very angry, and when he came and told the monkeys to stop, they insulted him with harsh words. Just to save the garden from destruction, Dadhimukha tried to chastise some of the monkeys, pacify others, and even strike some with his hand. But, this only made the intoxicated monkeys more infuriated, and they responded by kicking him, biting him and scratching him with their claws.
Hanuman encouraged the monkeys, saying, “Enjoy yourselves as you like. I will stop anyone who tries to check you.”
Angada echoed this sentiment, and so the emboldened monkeys fearlessly thrashed all the guards that came to stop them from stripping the garden of its edibles. Thus, the monkeys continued to act in various ways that are characteristic of those who become intoxicated. Some lay down lethargically, while others of a coarser nature became very boisterous and insulting.
In the scuffle that ensued, Angada threw Dadhimukha (who happened to be his grand uncle) to the ground and beat him mercilessly. At last, Dadhimukha and the guards went to complain to Sugriva, thinking that the King would severely punish the monkeys for their misconduct.
When Dadhimukha arrived at Kishkindha, Sugriva could see that he was very agitated. Then, in reply to the King’s inquires, Dadhimukha described the misbehavior of Angada and his followers.
Just at this time, Lakshman came to see what was the matter, and so Sugriva told Him, “Angada and his party are now at Madhuvan, and from the description of their raucous behavior, is appears that their mission was successful. I am sure that Hanuman has found Sita, otherwise, the monkeys would never dare to act with such abandon.”
Rama and Lakshman both felt exited to hear this, and Sugriva was also very happy. He told Dadhhimukha, “Actually, your complaint conveys good news, and so the mischief of the monkeys must be tolerated. Please return to Madhuvana and tell Angada and the others that I want to see them right away.”
Taking this order upon his head, Dadhimukha sprang into the air. When he arrived at Madhuvana, he found that all the monkeys were sober and discharging the transformed honey as urine. Dadhimukha went to Angada and sweetly said, “Please forgive me for having tried to forbid you from enjoying this garden. O Prince, your uncle was exceedingly pleased to learn of your arrival, and he wants you to return to Kishkindha at once.”
Turning to his followers, Angada humbly said, “I suggest that we return to Kishkindha without delay. Of course, even though I am the prince, I do not consider myself superior to any of you. On the contrary, I fell completely dependent upon you. Therefore, I shall do whatever you recommend. I am standing here, simply awaiting your order.”
Being very pleased by this statement, the monkeys replied, “O Prince, your humility is just befitting an exalted personality, and it indicates your eligibility to receive further good fortune. Let us not waste another moment, for Rama and Sugriva await our arrival.”
Soon after, the monkeys sprang into the air like so many stones shot from a catapult. Sugriva saw them approaching in the distance and so he went to Rama and said, “Angada has come! I know that he would never have dared return to Kishkindha if he had not found Sita. And, he certainly would never have dared to devastate Madhuvana. That celestially beautiful garden was given to my father, Riksharaja, by my grandfather, Lord Brahma.”
Angada’s party descended upon the slopes of Mount Prashravana. As they eagerly came before Rama, Hanuman excitedly declared, “Sita is safe and sound. She has remained fixed in her vows of chastity by never once accepting Ravana’s advances.”
After hearing this, Rama looked at Hanuman with glances that were laden with great love and respect. The monkeys offered their obeisances to Sugriva, Rama and Lakshman, and, being unable to contain themselves, they each repeated whatever they had heard from Hanuman about Sita. Then, when the monkeys at last fell silent, Rama said, “Describe to Me the exact location of Ravana’s abode, and tell Me more about Sita. How does she really feel about Me now?”
The monkeys pushed Hanuman forward so that he could give the authoritative reply. Hanuman first of all bowed toward the South, and then he narrated the events leading up to his discovery of Sita.
Hanuman gave Rama the jewel from Sita’s head and said, “The devotion of Maharaja Janaka’s daughter is completely fixed upon You without deviation. Because of this, in separation from You, she can hardly maintain her life.”
At last, Hanuman related Sita’s three messages. The first one described how Indra’s son, in the form of a crow, had scratched her breasts. The second described how Rama had decorated her face with red oxide. The third was Sita’s conviction that, being tortured by the Rakshasis, she would surely give up her life if Rama did not come to rescue her within a month’s time.
As He listened, Rama pressed Sita’s jewel to His heart, while both He and Lakshman shed incessant tears. Rama then expressed His grief by saying, “This jewel was presented to Sita by her father at the time of our marriage. Long ago, King Indra had given it to Maharaja Janaka, being pleased by his performance of sacrifices. O Hanuman, I have become practically unconscious due to intense grief. Please repeat to Me Sita’s messages, for they are just like cool water sprinkled on My head.”
Hanuman once again related Sita’s messages and concluded by saying, “I had offered to carry her back to You, but she refused, for she was unwilling to voluntarily touch another male. Then, again and again Sita told me, ‘You must act in such a way that Rama will quickly come and rescue me. My grief is practically unbearable, and so I do not know how much longer I will be able to go on living.’ ”
“ ‘O Hanuman, how will Rama, Lakshman and the monkeys be able to cross the ocean to come here? I know that you are able to kill Ravana and bring me back to Rama. But, it is my desire that Rama will come here personally to rescue me, so that His spotless reputation will be further enhanced. I do not want to be returned to Rama the way I was brought to Lanka- carried by another!’ ”
“I assured Sita that the other monkeys are superior to me, and can easily jump over the ocean to Lanka. I also promised her, that, if need be, I would carry You and Lakshman on my back. In this way, I was able to pacify Sita somewhat, but in consideration of her precarious condition, I urge You to quickly devise some means whereby we can all attack Lanka without further delay.”