Guhan - Part 2

மரபு விக்கி இருந்து

தாவிச் செல்ல: வழிசெலுத்தல், தேடுக

பொருளடக்கம்

The language of love


Guha spoke the language of love and Rama knew that the only way to make him understand is to speak to him in the same language…

Rama was tongue-tied when the persisting Guha changed the line of argument soon after he ferried the former across the Ganges. ‘It is all right sir, if you do not stay with me. Take me along with you. I will be useful to you. Sir, you are going through forests and will be living there for a long time. I belong to the jungle and know the topography like I know the lines on my palm.’

‘neRi idu neRi vallEn.’ I know all the paths and those that branch from them, in the jungle. ‘nEdinEn vazhuvaamal naRiyana kani kaayum naRavu ivai thara vallEn.’ I know where good fruits, vegetables and honey could be obtained. I would look for them and bring them to you. ‘uRaividam amaivippEn.’ I will build the hut for you to stay. ‘oru nodi varai ummaip pirigilEn.’ I will not leave your side for as long a time as a second. ‘udan Egap peruguven enin naayEn.’ If this dog is blessed to accompany you. (In the prose order, the last phrase would be read first.)

This was a place where no reason, no logic, no excuse could work. ‘Take me along with you. If you do not stay with us, I will stay with you. I will not be a burden on you. I will be very useful to you. In fact, you need a person like me, because you are going to spend a long number of years in the deep jungle, of which I am familiar with. If you so order, I will come with all my army with you.’

What could one do when love persists? Guha was a chieftain who was never educated. He did not know the ways of the erudite. His system had place only for passions, emotions and strong feelings. It was untouched – unadulterated – by knowledge. He could not be called wise by any standards. He was guided by his instincts and no more. The task becomes harder for Rama to convince him, without hurting him the least. Rama knew that he was running the risk of hurting Guha if he said ‘no’ to him. We saw in contrast how easy it was for him to say so to Sugriva and Vibishana.

Guha spoke the language of love and Rama knew that the only way to make him understand is to speak to him in the language of love, the only language he understood. ‘annavan urai kElaa amalanum urai nErvaan.’ Rama listened to Guha and replied. ‘en uyir anayaai nee.’ You are like my very soul. ‘iLaval un ilayaan.’ This, my younger brother is your younger brother. ‘nannudhal nin kEL.’ Sita is your relative. ‘naLir kadal nilam ellaam unnudayadhu.’ This entire world surrounded by the sea is yours. ‘naan nin thozhil urimayin uLLEn.’ And I am here, by your skills. In other words, I am here, protected by your chivalry, served by your devotion and my heart bound by your love.

Rama prepared Guha’s mind with these sweet words, uttered with all sincerity, to listen to him. Let’s see how this untamed savage of a hunter is made to listen now and also how he comes out brilliantly in his meeting with Bharata.

Be like Bharata

‘When you become my brother, your people become mine. If you come with us, our people would have none to lead or protect them,’ Rama told Guha.

‘Do not feel bad about having to live in separation now,’ Rama continued. I know how agonising it must be for you to live away from us. But consider this. ‘thunbu uLadhu enin andrO sugam uLadhu?’ There is happiness only if there is sorrow. That is, one can know and enjoy the feeling of happiness surging from within, only if one knows what sorrow is. How would one be able to distinguish it otherwise? ‘adhu andri pinbu uLadhu idai mannum pirivu uLadhu ena unnEl.’ We are going to be together for a long time to come (after I come back). Do not think of the estrangement that we have to go through now. ‘munbu uLem oru naalvEm.’ We were four brothers until now. ‘mudivu uLadhu ena unnaa anbu uLa.’ Now there is an endless love running in our hearts. ‘ini naam Or aiyvargal uLar aayinOm.’ We become five (brothers) from today.

‘You are not my friend any more, my dear Guha. You are my brother.’ Before completing the sentence, Rama realised that he is asking for trouble now! Guha, for the very same reason of becoming his brother would want to follow him! ‘If I am your brother, let me follow you then, for Lakshmana accompanies you. If that brother can come with you, why not this brother?’ he might ask!

‘Lakshmana, your brother is with me to protect me always. What or who can dare harm me when he stands guard? I will not go back on my words. I will come to you when I return after serving what has been ordained to me. More over, my dear brother, you have a duty to perform.’

‘angu uLa kiLai kaavarkku amaidhiyin uLan umbi.’ Your brother (Bharata) is there (in Ayodhya) to protect our kith and kin (subjects). ‘ingu uLa kiLai kaavarkku yaar uLar isayaai nee?’ Just tell me, who is there to protect our people here? ‘un kiLai enadhu andrO? Are not your people mine? ‘uRu thuyar uRal aamO?’ What is the need to go gloomy? ‘en kiLai idhu kaa en Evalin inidhu endraan.’ Remain here to protect my subjects here, under my orders.

‘When you become my brother, your people become mine. If you come with us, our people would have none to lead or protect them. These are my people. Protect them with my nod of approval, as does Bharata in Ayodhya!’ Before Guha could cite the example of Lakshmana, Rama is quick enough to cite the example of Bharata!

What else Guha could do except to listen to these words? Who else could sound so very convincing? And who else could be so ready to sense the love radiating from his heart and be empathetic with this hunter? Guha’s heart was heavy. But there is no doubt that while it was heavy, it was also floating high up in the air, with the love that Rama showered on him.

Though Guha appears in a very few scenes, the Poet works up the character so very well that the reader is able to identify him with Lakshmana. His love for Rama was as immense as that of Lakshmana. We are going to see him react to Bharata’s arrival, in the same manner as Lakshmana did. We are going to see a common purpose, a common perception and a common urge to protect the interests of Rama running in both these hearts.


He is here to harm


Guha concluded that Bharata was here to cause harm to Rama, so typically like Lakshmana…


In our discussions on Bharata, we saw elaborately how he was agitated over the fact that Rama had undertaken an exile just to make Bharata the king. (See: Determined and steadfast) He was determined to bring Rama back. If that was not possible, he had decided to live in the forest, in place of Rama so that the latter could come back to Ayodhya as the king. After all, it was one of the sons of Dasaratha who had to undertake the exile. Why can’t he exchange positions with his brother!

We know that Bharata could not succeed in his effort. But nevertheless, he did succeed in making Rama accept the kingship at least in absentia, making him to tell Bharata to rule Ayodhya as his representative, bringing his sandals and ruling the country as their deputy. We discussed all these under Bharata.

When Bharata started on his journey to Citrakuta, the large army of Ayodhya naturally accompanied him. The people of Ayodhya, who heard the effort that Bharata has undertaken to bring Rama back were overjoyed and joined the retinue. That formed a very big crowd. With the movement of such a large body consisting of people, elephants, chariots, horses and infantry, dust naturally rose up so high in the air, that it could be seen from a very long distance.

In the unpolluted atmosphere of those days, dust rising up in the air was the first warning signal of an incursion. Who else but an enemy would march in such large numbers towards a particular territory? That put people on their alert always. In fact that was one of the ways in which people used nature to deduce or infer an oncoming event.

Bharata reached the banks of Ganges at Srngaverapura, where Guha was ruling. Says Valmiki: “Having covered a long distance from Ayodhya in chariots, on palanquins and on the back of horses and elephants, they reached (the bank of) the (holy) Ganga in the precincts of Srngaverapura, where dwelt the valiant Guha, a friend of Sri Rama, surrounded by hosts of his kinsmen and ruling that area with vigilance. Having arrived at the bank of the Ganga, adorned by Carkrawaka birds, that army following in the wake of Bharata halted.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda, Canto LXXXIII, Sloka 19-21)

On the other bank of Ganges, the watchful eyes of Guha did not fail to notice the dust from a distance and as a king he immediately became alert. Now that Bharata’s army had reached and camped on the other bank, he could see who has come there for it was the flag with Kovidara tree that was flying high from the chariot. The presence of Bharata – as could be seen from the flag – with a large number of people around him, with all the animals around, led Guha to conclude that Bharata was here to cause harm to Rama, so typically like Lakshmana.

“(Even) from this place this huge army appears like a sea. Though pondering deeply, I do not perceive its end even with the mind. If Bharata – who has surely come in person because here is seen that towering banner bearing the device of Kovidara tree on the chariot – has evil intent, he will either cause us to be bound with chains or kill us, who are devoted to Sri Rama, (the eldest) son of Dasaratha, exiled from his kingdom by his father. Seeking to possess the entire fortune of that monarch (Sri Rama) which is (otherwise) most difficult to get, Bharata, the son of Kaikeyi, has taken it into his head to kill him.” (Ibid, Canto LXXXIV, Sloka 2-5)

This Bharata would harm us as well as Rama.


The preparation

‘Bharata has not realised one thing. He has to cross this Ganges before he could reach my Lord. And he needs our service to do so.’


‘Bharata has come with a large army with only one intention. He is greedy. He wants to ensure that he continues to remain in the throne even after the passage of fourteen years. He has planned to eliminate Rama so that he owns the throne forever. But he has not realised one thing. He has to cross this Ganges before he could reach my Lord. And he needs our service to do so.’

“(Therefore) seeking to advance his interests remain stationed on this bank of the Ganga, clothed with mail. Let all (my) ferrymen, accompanied by troops, remain rooted to the bank of the river Ganga, guarding (access to) the river and living on meat, roots and fruits (stored in the boats). And let one hundred youthful fishermen clothed with mail occupy each of the five hundred boats,” so did Guha issue his commands.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda, Canto LXXXIV, Sloka 6-8)

Be properly armed, wear your armour (clothed in mail) and guard the boats. Do not get down from them. There is a stock of food in all the boats and remain there, for however long a time it may be, eating them. Ensure that this army does not cross the river. Guard the boats fiercely.

Guha wore his sword immediately around his waist, says Kamban. He paints a similar picture when showing Lakshmana’s reaction. ‘thudi eRi’ he ordered his men. ‘Beat the drums.’ Let it be known that we are in war. ‘thuRayum suttrura odi eRi.’ Break and destroy all the landing platforms that are used for getting into the boats. ‘ambigaL yaarum Ottalir.’ Do not provide them with your ferry service. Do not row the boats for them. ‘kadi eRi gangayin karai vandhOrkaLai pidi eRi pada.’ Catch hold of all of them who have reached the banks of Ganges and kill them all.

Kamban then renders the speech of Guha charged with high emotions, in verses that ripple with rhythm and convey the anger that bubbles forth in the heart of Guha. These verses are to be read in the original to get a feel of what the Poet designs, how he weaves his magical web with a metre appropriate to capture the passion that is pouring forth from the heart of one who utters them. Just one reading – reading aloud – would put the reader in the very presence of a chieftain who is scurrying amongst thousands of his henchmen, shouting, roaring and raving uncontrollably. Contrary to popular belief, Kamban’s Tamil is quite modern, though he lived around 1000 years back. His vocabulary, though rich, reads as fresh as that of a twentieth century writer.

‘anjana vaNNan en aaruyir naayagan aaLaamE
vanjanayaal araseidhiya mannarum vandhaarE
senjaram enbana thee umizhgindrana sellaavO
vunju ivar pOi vidin naaik kugan endrenai OdhaarO?’

‘These kings who have schemed against my Lord, who owns my very life (to whom I have dedicated my life), depriving him of his kingdom and coveting it from him, have arrived here. Won’t the sharpest of arrows fly from our bows, spitting fire? If they are allowed to cross this river, won’t I be called Guha the dog? Guha the lowliest cur, who could not prevent them?’

Though Guha has lost his temperament, it is noteworthy that his mind is still dwelling on the first word by which his Lord called him. We will see that.


The innermost self of Guha

Going by the final word of Rama, Guha should have actually said ‘sagOdharan endru avar solliya sol oru sol andrO?’ Did he not call me his brother?

Kamban captures the picture of Guha’s anger in eleven verses. He talks of insolent might coming after the life of his generous hearted Lord, he frets, fumes and feverishly shouts about the warrior that he is, though a simple hunter, not being a coward and would not allow himself to be cowed down by the vast army of Bharata. Among other things, that we will see presently, there is something curious that Guha mentions twice in these eleven verses, that captures a facet of his character so very clearly.

‘aazha nedum thirai aaRu kadandhu ivar pOvaarO?’ Will they dare crossing the deep waters of Ganges? ‘vEzha nedum padai kaNdu vilangidum villaaLO?’ Am I an archer who is afraid of the large numbers of elephants in his army? Did he think that I, being a hunter, would be afraid of his elephants, horses and chariots and would take him across the river? ‘thOzhamai endru avar solliya sol oru sol andrO?’ Did Rama not call me a ‘friend’? Is that not a word born of generosity? He called this mere hunter his friend! Does it not show that my Lord is so kind hearted? ‘Ezhamai vEdan irandhilan endru enai EsaarO?’ Will people not ridicule me if I allow them to cross over? Would they not say, ‘Guha, the lowliest, let Bharata cross the Ganges, when he could have stopped him. He should have died instead. He should not have let Bharata to the other side.’

Rama did call Guha his friend. There is no doubt about that. ‘yaadhinum iniya naNba iruththi eeNdu emmodu endraan.’ ‘My friend who is dearer than anything to me! Stay here as you please, along with us,’ was what Rama said when Guha met him in the hermitage, before he crossed over to reach Citrakuta. But Guha became more than a friend soon. He was included in the family and Rama declared that Guha was his brother and that they become ‘five’ with Guha. Going by the final word of Rama, Guha should have actually said ‘sagOdharan endru avar solliya sol oru sol andrO?’ Did he not call me his brother? Am I not one among them? Should I not do all in my power and beyond to stop this incursion?

After all, it was Kamban who modified the version of Valmiki and created this relationship between Rama and Guha, to emphasise the love that develops between the devotee and the devoted. It would not be without reason that Guha stops with what Rama said at an initial stage and does not mention what he said finally. At least Kamban would have taken care to put that word into Guha’s mouth! Or was it dictated by the golden rules of prosody? The word ‘thozhamai’ is placed in the beginning of the line, where the rhyme scheme of all Tamil verses (known as ‘edhukai’) fall. Is that phrase ‘one who called me a friend’ a result of an unthinking obedience to rules of prosody, rather than emphasising the truth, while still playing the game well within the rules? Was Kamban not capable of doing so?

Then it becomes necessary for us to look for more evidence. We should find another verse from Guha’s speech, where the same word or a synonym falls from his mouth, in a place, which enables one to safely conclude that the Poet intended Guha to use the word ‘friend’ instead of ‘brother’. To put it differently, the word should occur somewhere in the middle of the line, instead of at the beginning, where it may appear as an attempt to appease the demands of versification.

The innermost self of Guha II

The words that slip out when a person is excited may be unintended. But very often they do hold a clue to his personality…

Indeed we come across such a verse where the very same word occurs in the middle of the, where it may be safely concluded that it has been used neither for the purpose of rhyme or alliteration, but with the sole purpose of showing the heart of Guha. It is nothing short of a heinous sin even to think that a giant like Kamban would have used a word just for the sake of meeting the demands of prosody. But by way of abundant precaution to establish a point, which has hitherto not been seen or debated, we have to be extra careful. When the character of Guha himself has not been studied properly, where is the question of this point being observed?

The verses that follow heighten the drama and show Guha letting his fury out. He is not able to bear the thought that Bharata has come for waging a war with Rama and in the process he (Bharata) has overlooked a very vital piece of resistance, that is, Guha himself. He feels slighted (because of his own misreading of the situation) and his anger reaches newer heights. ‘mannavar nenjinil vEdar vidum saram vayaavO’, he asks sarcastically. Admitted that I am a mere hunter and that he is a mighty king-of-kings. But does it matter to my arrows? Are the arrows of a hunter incapable of penetrating through the chest of kings? Arrow is an arrow. It will do its job. And here comes the verse that we are looking for.

‘paavamum nindra perum pazhiyum pagai naNbOdum Evamum enbavai maN ulagu aaLbavar eNNaarO?’ Won’t the rulers in this world not think of – and be afraid of – the sinful results of their misdeeds and the censure that it would attract? Are they not capable of distinguishing between what is good and what is bad, who is a friend and who is the enemy? ‘aavadhu pOga.’ Let it be on one side. ‘en aaruyir thOzhamai thandhaan mEl pOvadhu,’ If at all he can reach (the other side of the river) for a war with Rama, who made me his dear friend, ‘sEnayum aar uyirum kodu pOi andrE’ it can be only after he destroys my army and kills me, first. The same word occurs here. Just in the right place that we want. It is in the middle of a line, away from the demands of rhyme as well as alliteration.

Anger is a peculiar kind of tool that can be used to gain an insight into the heart of the person. It no doubt makes that person to speak both intended and unintended things. It makes him repent later for uttering sheer nonsense, which he would have shuddered even to think of, were he in his proper senses. But here is an anger, which is not of the usual kind. This is born out of love and devotion, guided by the warrior instinct, to put oneself on guard against a possible attack. Possible attack not on himself; but on his Lord. There is not a single phrase or word in all the eleven verses that capture Guha’s feelings in direct speech, that show him in suspicion of the intentions of Bharata to harm him (Guha). This is a deviation from the original. What Guha is worried about is the safety of his Lord and full stop. Nothing more than that.

The words that slip out when a person is excited may be unintended. But very often some of them come from the innermost recesses of the heart and they do hold a clue to his personality.

The innermost self of Guha III

Even when such a beautiful relationship has developed between Sri Rama and himself, Guha is not able to see it. His modesty is preventing him…

It is not uncommon to find people who are fond of and are quite adept at the art of ‘name dropping.’ There are people who come in a somewhat close touch with some VIP and that would set their personality at a much higher level, in their own estimation. They would elevate themselves in their own assessment and would always like to exhibit their ‘connections’ even in innocent social situations. ‘I know this so-and-so,’ ‘so-and-so called me,’ ‘so-and-so told me…’ We have seen hundreds of them. They try to impress on us the fact that they have won the ‘enviable’ status and often bask in the reflected glory.

There may or may not be a purpose behind such exhibitions. It is not our purpose to go into that question. Compare such a person with Guha, the humble hunter, who was embraced by Sri Rama and affirmed in no uncertain terms, ‘you are my brother.’ Rama did not stop with that. He went on to add, ‘This Lakshmana is your brother too. Sita is your sister-in-law and the world belongs to you.’ (See: The language of love)

Even when such a beautiful relationship has developed between Sri Rama and himself, Guha is not able to see it. His modesty is preventing him from listening to the words of Sri Rama, let alone understanding them and using them to one’s advantage or not. ‘He called me a friend!’ There stops his thought stream. ‘Am I worthy of being called a friend by Rama? How magnanimous he must be to call me a ‘friend’! His mind is set on that particular word and what Rama uttered during their first meeting is the only refrain that is running in his mind ever since. He is so humble and self-effacing that he feels that it is a bit too much for him to be given the status of a ‘friend’ of Rama and his mind is frozen there.

It is not that easy to hide one’s true feelings especially when the mind is disturbed. Now, Guha is in an agitated state of mind. If at all his mind recollects the relationship between Rama and himself, it would (in the case of any other person) try to project it on a higher plane and would contrive newer reasons for being so protective about Rama.

It therefore is made crystal clear where Guha placed Rama and where he placed himself in his own mind. Rama was his Lord and he was nothing more than a humble devotee. Even ‘devotee’ would have been considered as a rather high-sounding word by Guha. We see him referring to himself as ‘dog’ when speaking to Rama. ‘uththama! Adi naayEn Odhuvadhu uLadhu,’ he says. O Virtuous! This lowly dog has a thing to say. And again, ‘pirigilen udan Egap peruguven naayEn.’ If this dog is allowed to come with you, it won’t move away from your side.

And remember. Guha was a chieftain. He was a ruler. He had an army at his command. He was illiterate. He was a ruffian. He didn’t have the capacity to understand the finer points of human nature. It was Rama’s character, his personality glowing with grace, empathy and love, his penchant for rectitude and his quality of remaining the kindred and protector of the poorest that melted Guha’s heart. If Rama embraced Guha as his own brother, the latter deserved it. And if Guha wished to be seen as nothing more than a devotee, it was because of his humility and also because of the gem that Rama was.

As one perceives

The world is what one perceives to be. The situation and the perception may not match!

Well, Guha was seething with rage and was preparing and motivating his army on this side of the river, for a war with Bharata to stop him before he could take another step in the direction of his Lord. He has a couple of other plans too – like obliterating the ‘greedy’ Bharata and his army, and putting his dear Lord on the throne back again! ‘Let all of us, hunters, join together to make our Lord the king again!’ Here is that most popular and well-known verse from Guha’s speech in Kamba Ramayanam. Any discussion on Guha would be incomplete without a mention of this verse.

‘aadu kodip padai saadi,’ Destroying the army whose flag is flying high ‘arathavarE aaLa’ (let us enable) Rama to rule this world. ‘vedu koduthadhu ip paar enum ip padham mEvIrO?’ Won’t you accept the high honour that this world was given to the Lord, by hunters? Collect, join and surge ahead. Let us destroy that evil-minded Bharata and put our Lord back on throne. You should be happy that you have been given this opportunity to fight and make Rama the king again. For when you do so, you will be praised by one and all. They would say that this world was offered to Sri Rama by huntsmen. It is an honour to our entire race. More over, look at this. What a pity!

‘naadu kodutha en naayaganukku,’ My Lord gave them the throne so readily. ‘ivar naam aaLum kaadu kodukkilar aagi eduthadhu kaNeerO?’ They are not able to allow him to remain in this jungle that we rule and have swarmed here with a large army.

He gave them the throne happily and came to our forest. And they are not able to allow him remain in peace even in this place that we rule. Let’s fight this injustice. ‘Ezhu kadaR padai endraalum,’ Even if their army is as large as the seven seas put together, ‘aa munayin siru koozh ena ippouzhudhu aagaadhO?’ won’t it become the grassland completely grazed by cattle!

While this was going on, the scene on the other side of the river was quite different. Sumantra, the minister, charioteer, commander-in-chief all rolled into one, saw Guha from the other bank of the river. ‘Guha should have come with all his army to greet and honour him,’ he thought. That is to say, even the great minister of Dasaratha could not read what was going on in the mind of Guha, for the Guha he knew was such a humble and devoted person. He could by no means be thought of as preparing himself for a battle with Bharata! The magic of the situation is quite fascinating. Here is what Valmiki says.

“Vividly perceiving him coming, the glorious Sumantra (the son of a charioteer) for his part, who knew what is called for at a particular time, forthwith spoke to Bharata (as follows) like an humble servant: - “Attended by a thousand of his kinsmen, here comes Guha, the sovereign lord of the Nishaadas, who is a senior friend of your (elder) brother (Sri Rama), and is closely acquainted with the Dandaka forest. Therefore, allow him to see you, O scion of Kakutstha! Doubtless he knows well where the celebrated Sri Rama and Lakshmana may be.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda, Canto LXXXIV, Sloka 11-13)

Misreading again. But quite a harmless one. The world is what one perceives to be. The situation and the perception may not match!


Hari Krishnan


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Hariki, Dev மற்றும் 122.164.248.145

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