By: Lakshmi Varma
Sundara Kandam comprises of 2885 verses & is fifth in order. Sundara', as we all know in the literary sense means 'beautiful'. 'Kandam' means 'section'. It is also interpreted beautiful because it is the recovery of something precious that is lost, and that is a very unique experience. According to the belief of Hindus, Sundara Kandam is a mine where we can draw powers to support us in worldly situations. This is the core of Ramayana and provides all values for overall welfare of mankind.
This Kandam is very sacred & most important as it unfolds the touching story of how `HANUMAN' who was assigned probably the most sacred task of searching 'SITA DEVI' and conveying Sri Rama's message to her and thereby establishing a contact with 'SRI RAM' & 'SITA DEVI'. Hence one could conclude the essence of this chapter as the achievements of HANUMAN in his search for SITA DEVI who was deceitfully abducted by Ravana.
The story in brief goes like this :
HANUMAN at the suggestion of JAMBAVAN got ready to go on the formidable task of searching SITADEVI. In an instant he was prepared for it with all earnestness without any hesitation or doubt in his mind on whether he will be able to accomplish the task. Like a lion, the courageous & intelligent HANUMAN leisurely paced up towards the south and started on his journey to Lanka through the ocean in search of Sita Devi after seeking the blessings of SRI RAMA & LAKSHMANA with utmost sincerity and devotion. At this point I would like to mention the importance of taking blessings from our elders. Taking the blessings of elders is one of the auspicious ways for anyone to starts any venture or undertaking at any time of our life. Because the key for success lies not only in our ability or hard work but on the good wishes and blessings of our MATA - PITA & GURU.
The entire journey comprises of one night's experience of Hanuman. As his journey to cross hundreds of Yojanas to reach Lanka began he came across multiple obstacles en route in the form of Surasa, Simhika, Mainaaka and finally Lankini the Guardian Goddess of Lanka.
Might is very often considered as right. This is something which we generally hear. But if we actually read through Hanuman's victory over his obstacles we would realize that Anjaneya though capable of using his strength used his wisdom instead ,at the appropriate time to overcome the obstacles. Hence it can be said that might is not the only tool necessary to conquer an enemy; it needs to be supplemented with strategy and intelligence.
In his single minded pursuit to reach Lanka and bring Sita Devi back to Rama, no obstacle was too great, no fight was difficult and no hardship was unbearable. In the service of his master, Hanuman's dedication was complete, unconditional and fearless, and he never concerned himself about the hardships involved or about his personal safety.
He started his search of SITA DEVI in the beautiful city of Lanka by assuming many forms and going around the different splendourous palaces of Ravana. In his anxiety to see Sita Devi he even mistook Mandodari as Sita but overruled that when he saw her sleeping very peacefully and knew for sure that someone like Sita Devi would never be able to sleep in a relaxed manner under such circumstances.
Finally , he comes across the widespread Ashoka trees under which he found Sita Devi seated, looking lean and wearing worn out clothes totally absorbed in the thoughts of SriRama. When he looked around he saw that she was surrounded by Rakshasa women in terrifying conditions . Though overcome with his curiosity and anxiety to meet Sita Devi he very calmly waited for the right time and hid himself behind a tree .
As he waited he saw Ravana approaching Sita Devi and conveying his love for her and persuading her to marry him. Though Sita Devi was in a tragic and helpless situation she spurns his advances warning him that his entire clan will be destroyed if he plays with the chastity of a woman solely devoted to her husband. This characteristic of female heroism is depicted by SitaDevi 's faithfulness and courage. She has proved that women who are generally considered timid can be strong willed, fearless and loyal even at the most difficult times.
This gesture enrages Ravana and finally he leaves her giving her an ultimatum to surrender to his wishes or to face the dire consequences.
HANUMAN meanwhile who has been a silent witness to the entire scene, on seeing the Rakshasa women dozing , quietly seats himself on the branch of the tree under which Sita Devi is sitting. Not to chance upon her suddenly he starts by narrating the story of Sri Rama from his early life till Kishkinda days . Sita devi who was in a desperate mood of committing suicide after her encounter with Ravana regains her confidence when she sees the ring of SriRama given to her by HANUMAN. Hanuman tells her as to how eager SriRama was to see her and rescue her. Sita Devi finally convinced gives Hanuman her crest jewel to be given to Rama. Hanuman relented only after accomplishing his mission of meeting Sita Devi and convincing her the purpose of his mission.
Now, Hanuman in his desire to meet Ravana provokes him by burning and destroying all the trees and forests . He is captured and brought in the court of Ravana and his tail set to fire to humiliate him. Taking this as an opportunity he sets Lanka on fire and leaps back to the shores to reach back to Sri Rama and convey the message of Sita Devi thus enabling Sri Rama to plan and take back Sita Devi.
There is one point which deserves to be mentioned here and that is the presence of Vibhishana the brother of Ravana, a devotee of SriRama in the company of Ravana the un righteous. It only goes to prove that a man may not be always judged by the company he keeps , but by his thoughts and deeds.
The relevance we see which will help us in our day to day life by the experiences of HANUMAN is thus :
Hanuman is described as one for whom nothing is impossible and who is the embodiment of faith, devotion, loyalty to the master, fearlessness and self confidence. Success is the outcome of an attitude like this. If we want to be successful in life we have to combine the above qualities
Now when we talk of success I would like to quote a famous example of Hellen Keller. As you all know she was a deaf and blind lady who with her sole determination and persistence learnt to read, write and speak and eventually she became well known for her dedicated work for the welfare of the blind . She once said `I thank GOD for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work and my GOD'.
The teachings of rishis, and learned persons advise us that so long as we have faith in GOD, trust in ourselves, capacity for hard work, nothing is unattainable. A person can never lose unless of course he quits trying.
This particular Kandam is very important for each one of us because it really enlightens us in our spiritual quest. Hanuman is the awakened soul, Jambavan is the enlightened teacher, the vast ocean is the samasara which each one of us wishes to cross. We have to struggle to overcome the worldly sorrows which form the obstacles.
We may not be always successful in this effort; but if we are undaunted and we have faith in GOD then we will at the end discover divinity which is manifested in Sita Devi.