Hanumaan - Part 3

மரபு விக்கி இருந்து

தாவிச் செல்ல: வழிசெலுத்தல், தேடுக

பொருளடக்கம்

The Tail of Vali

‘Don’t be afraid. Vali is dead and his tail went with him.’ Hanuman’s special way of putting things across…

As we saw earlier the name Vali made Ravana shudder. Just two verses earlier, his eyes were spewing fire. Now they mellow. An uneasy smile appears on his countenance. ‘Ah...I see… are you a messenger sent by Vali’s son? How is Vali? Is he well?’ Hanuman enjoyed this uneasiness. He slips more information in pieces and pokes at the shaken ego of Ravana.
anjalai arakka Fear not O demon. Paar vittu andharam adaindhan. He left this world and reached the heaven. 'வெஞ்சின வாலி மீளான்'  He will never return. 'வாலும் போய் விளிந்ததன்றே !' Nor will his tail. Don’t worry sire. Vali is dead and gone. He will not come back and his tail was also dispatched with him. It won’t return either.


Hanuman told Ravana that the most powerful Vali was killed by a single arrow shot from the bow of Sri Rama, thus giving him the message that Rama was not to be underestimated. But that information helped to pacify Ravana’s troubled heart. Vali is dead. He was able to see only up to that and no more. His passion, folly and ego were too thick to be penetrated. He could not see the fact that if Rama killed Vali, who had overpowered him, it would not be difficult for Rama to put him to such an end.


Ravana’s reaction

‘Ah I see. Your king is so meek as to worship the one that killed his elder brother. Your team leader Angada is brave enough to serve a person that slew his father. What a glorious way to follow! It seems you serve him because you are all afraid of him. Don’t be afraid of me. I won’t kill you. You may convey to me what you are supposed to.’


Putting up a brave face when the heart is confused. Few moments before, this same Ravana was fretting and fuming. Ravana was a person who could not tolerate the slightest protest. Here, he had lost a sizeable portion of his army and even his own son, Aksha Kumara in an attempt to capture this monkey. He could not contain his grief, anguish and anger. He was very particular to kill this monkey in revenge. Look at the words that he utters now. He reassures Hanuman – who is supposed to be afraid of Rama and serves him because of the fear he has for a person who killed his leader – that he won’t kill him as he was an emissary.


He so magnanimously adds. ‘You came with the message of someone. But you caused untold damage by destroying my land and engaging in a battle with my army needlessly. Now that you are caught, you must be afraid. Don’t be afraid. I won’t kill you, as you are a messenger.’


That must have been the bravest of speeches! Imagine this Ravana. He was so angry moments ago. And he had valid reasons too. Loss of a handsome son in the most gruesome way would anger anyone. The proportion of anger in the case of a person like Ravana, with such power over the worlds, need not be emphasised. Now he tries to reassure the monkey that killed his army and his own son.


The folly does not stop with that.

Nothing kills passion faster…

The greatest of maladies is not wrongdoing alone. But the inability to realise what one is doing is wrong…

‘I am saying these words by the order of Sugriva,’ said Hanuman. ‘You have violated Dharma. You are blindly rushing towards your death. The effects of penance you undertook – by conquering the baser desires of the senses five – are on the wane by what you have done now. The glory that you earned by your victories over the three worlds has diminished already by your misdeeds. A portion of whatever remained was wiped by me today. You are going to see your glory, your power and the strength of your boons moving away from you if you persist in what you are doing.’

‘What you have done is not worthy of a person, who has mastered the Vedas. The learned, the wise would never think of treading the path of destruction, like what you do. You have taken another man’s wife stealthily, by force and against her wish. Nothing can stop your destruction Ravana! Even if you have thousands of strong arms that can devastate the worlds, even if you are endowed with thousands of heads, that is not going to stop your end. They would just turn to ashes, just as a small flame of a lamp turning bales and bales of cloth to ashes. (kadung kanal ut podhi seerai jnuuru avai sEmam seluthumO’) Return Sita and live long, sparing your kith and kin of gory death.’

Nothing of the long peroration of Hanuman appealed to Ravana. All his twenty ears turned a deaf ear! He listened to only one sentence, however. That Hanuman says so by the order of Sugriva. He laughed like thunder. ‘A puny monkey existing on fruits and roots has advised me! And another monkey dared to enter my country and is standing before me!’ His anger surfaced again.
That’s the trouble with all thick heads. They can never see what is really wrong with them. Just look at this Ravana. He performed great penance to gain power. He waged gory wars to reach this position. He established himself as the greatest in all the three worlds. He had the Devas, and even the elements, to serve him. He had the richest wealth in the universe that even Hanuman, at the time of his search for Sita, acknowledges as the result of unrelenting effort and his penance. He had the most beautiful damsels to serve on him. But to what avail? He could not see what was wrong with him! He could not realise that it was against all virtues to covet another man’s wife and retain her against her wish. He could not see the warnings written on the wall. He was deaf to all the good-intentioned advice. The greatest of maladies is not wrongdoing alone. But the inability to realise what one is doing is wrong.
Valluvar says:

ஓதி உணர்ந்தும் பிறர்க்குரைத்தும் தானடங்காப்
பேதையின் பேதையார் இல். (குறள் 834)

There is a man that is learned and subtle and a teacher of others, and yet continues to be the slave of his passions himself; there is no greater fool than he. (Tr. by Sri V V S Aiyar).

Does it not remind one of what Ben Elton, the British comedian, said? “Nothing kills passion faster than an exploding harpoon in the guts”. That was true in the case of Ravana. His lust for Sita did not die until Indrajit, his eldest son was killed and until he lost almost all of his army in the pursuit of a vain and vexatious desire.

Goal setting and preparing

The three important rules of working towards the goal of Jose Silva and Burt Goldman demonstrated by Hanuman…

Just two words are sufficient to infuriate Ravana and to make him lose his head. ‘Return Sita’. We see this happen whenever these words are uttered, whether by Malyavan, the grandfather of Ravana, Vibishana, Kumbhakarna or Indrajit himself. It may be surprising. Even Kumbhakarna advised him against the retention of Sita. Indrajit realised this much later, just a day before his death. Nothing changed Ravana’s heart, excepting the death of Indrajit. That desire for Sita died with the death of Indrajit.
You may recall the embarrassed state in which Ravana was when he heard the name of Vali and how he mellowed. The information that Vali was dead rejuvenated his spirits. His ego was thick enough to obscure him from the other information that it was Rama who killed Vali. He ordered the killing of Hanuman. ‘He should be left alive,’ reasoned Vibishana, ‘at least to go back to those humans and inform them of what happened here. If you put him to death, you are losing the opportunity of letting them informed of our might.’

Hanuman’s humility

Hanuman’s tail was ordered to be set on fire and when it was done, he set fire to entire Lanka and after ensuring Sita was safe in the island, jumped back to join Angada and his team. The moment they saw him, they understood that he comes back with the good news. They jumped in glee, were jubilant and the air was filled with their joyous shouts. The poet says that they were as noisy as the fledglings in the nest, on the arrival of the mother bird.

They were overjoyed at the news of Sita’s safety and her message to all of them. The point is, while he gave an elaborate account of what Sita asked him to convey, he did not speak a word about his encounters, his victory over thousands of rakshasas, his meeting with Ravana, and his setting fire to Lanka. thaan than vendriyai uraippa velgi says Kamban. ‘He could not speak of his glory himself.’

In killing thousands of rakshasas, meeting Ravana and setting fire to Lanka, Hanuman gave a clear message. The humans are not puny. They have a very powerful ally. They can sieve the entire globe and find out Sita within a very short time. Just one monkey killed so many thousands of valiant rakshasas and set fire to Lanka, an incursion into which even Yama was afraid of. Therefore, when an army of monkeys comes to Lanka, it would not be easy to wage a war against them.
What Hanuman did is an important beginning in goal setting and achieving. Jose Silva and Burt Goldman have this to say on Setting and Achieving Goals, in the Silva Mind Control Method of Mental Dynamics.
“The seeding of cause for desired effect is quite simple and can be summed up with five rules:

1. Decide what you want to plant and acquire the seeds. (If you purchase carrot seeds you will be disappointed if you expect turnips to sprout.)
2. Prepare the ground. (Professionals take more time in preparation than they do in actual work. The amateur looks to cut corners and skip preparation. You must break up the soil, plough the ground, hoe it, scatter nutrition and water it if you expect a bountiful crop.)
3. Plant the seed. (Begin. The seeds will not sprout in their envelope or in your pocket. There is no need to concern yourself with whether or not they will germinate and grow, for if you do not plant them, they will surely not grow.)”
The fourth and fifth rules, Tending and Harvesting are too premature to speak of now.

The entire episode is before you to go into it once again, and see how these rules have already been enacted in the epic.

Communicator par excellence

Hanuman, the Child of Eloquent Tongue (Sollin Selvan) shows his skills in non-verbal communication too…

On the other side, Rama’s distress was increasing. He had already received reports from the other three teams that went on the East, West and North sides. They could not find Sita anywhere. We see him in a depressed state of mind. ‘The allotted number of days has expired. Three teams have reported back. They could not find Sita. The fourth team has not yet arrived. What could be the reason Sugriva? What do you think? Would they be safe and alive?


Or would it be that Sita is dead and they have come to the conclusion that it would be better to give up their lives rather than informing me of her death? Would they have been imprisoned by Ravana? Or are they afraid of returning because their timeframe has expired in futility? Are we doing the right thing Sugriva? Is this the right direction to move? Or are we going to end up in a mess?


While Rama was thus speaking to Sugriva, they saw the search team that went south returning. It was not led by its original leader, Angada. Instead Hanuman was spearheading the Vanaras. It was Angada and other monkeys that asked Hanuman to lead them, as he had the happy message with him.


Just visualise this scene. Rama and Sugriva are seated on some high rocks. Hanuman and the team are coming at a distance. A long distance. The Vanara warriors are in sight but are not within a distance that could make verbal communication possible. Hanuman gauged the situation quickly. His sharp intellect told him the state of mind in which Rama would be. He knew for certain that all the other three teams would have returned. He knew it beyond doubt that the other teams have returned with empty hands – for it is he who has seen Sita. He knew intuitively that a report of failure by three teams would have caused tremendous agony in the mind of Rama. He also knew that Rama was eagerly waiting for the fourth team to report. He would have been under great mental stress since the timeframe set for them has already elapsed.
Hanuman is a brilliant observer. His instincts and intellect are sharp beyond our perception. As he was walking towards Rama, he envisioned the thoughts that would have been running in his Lord’s mind. The time that would take for him to come within earshot of Rama was considerable. Hanuman knew that these last minutes of suspense are too much for anyone to bear.


Let us think of a situation. A close relative of ours is in the army, fighting in the warfront. Think of the moments between the telephone ringing and our picking the receiver up. Think of the moment of the ringing of the doorbell, with the postman with what looks like a telegram in his hand standing outside, and the time that takes for us to sign and receive the telegram and open it. Don’t these moments expand themselves into tension filled aeons and aeons of time? Are we able to stand that stress? The tension of the moment?


The wonderful thing about Hanuman is that he understood the condition in which Rama was and he did a brilliant thing. Rama and Sugriva were sitting, facing south, as it was the direction from which the team was coming. If Hanuman had to prostrate before them, he has to face north and prostrate. Instead, he turned around, faced south and fell on the ground, flat in obeisance. It was against convention. One should not prostrate facing south, as that direction is ruled by Yama. But that conveyed the entire message to Rama! He understood why Hanuman did so! He was delighted. ‘கண்டதும் உண்டு, அவள் கற்பும் நன்று’ he told himself. ‘He has seen her. Since he is prostrating, she is respectable. Her chastity has not been violated. She is unblemished.


A small act. Thoughtful act. Done in time. With deep understanding, empathy, love and innovation. Hanuman shines out here as communicator par excellence.

The art of report making

A report should start with the result first. Elaboration comes later. Maruti shows the best way of reporting…

Precise reporting is a skill that many people lack. Senior Managers know this and would acknowledge it immediately. For, how many times they would have yawned through tour reports of say sales personnel. It would start with the difficulties that the person encountered – right from the time he boarded a bus, train or aircraft – would emphasise the trying circumstances in which so-and-so was met, how the market conditions dog the efforts to sell and all blah blah blah… After three pages the person would state the result. ‘I could not get any orders this time. The conditions are improving and we hope to do better…’
A report should start with the result first. Elaboration comes later. Maruti shows the best way of reporting.

He reached the spot where Rama and Sugriva were waiting, after communicating the most important message by body language. Rama was eagerly waiting for the words to fall from the mouth of Maruti who was wisdom incarnate. ‘kandanen karpinukku aNiyaik kaNgaLAl’. The very opening word starts with the result. ‘Saw I the very jewel of purity, with my own eyes.’ It does not make one to wait even for a trice. The sentence is pregnant with information. The first word starts with the action and not the subject, ‘I’. The words ‘jewel of purity’ put Rama’s mind to peace. Rama knew his Sita. He was positive beyond any doubt Sita would prefer death to amoral ways. But the assurance was most important nevertheless.

‘If Rama was so sure, why then,’ one may wonder ‘did he subject her to agni pravesa?’ A careful reader of the epic would notice the mental turmoil that Rama went through when he uttered those words, and without difficulty see the two different roles that Rama was playing at that moment. The role of a husband and that of a king. He had to establish the purity of Sita in the eyes of the world. Ravana was no Publius Clodius and Sita was not Pompeia. Yet, ‘Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.’ That is a discussion for another day. Let us come back to Hanuman.

By the words ‘jewel of purity’ Hanuman conveyed the unswerving loyalty of Sita. And he affirms ‘with my own eyes.’ I have seen her. Don’t think I am reporting on hearsay. I met her and I know it. A long narration follows. Hanuman tells his Lord how Sita is imprisoned and the miserable condition in which she has been spending her days, with Rama in her heart. He informed how Ravana has been tormenting her, though he could not touch her. ‘umbi pullinaal thoduththa thooya saalayil irundhaaL aiya’. She is living in the hut made by your brother.

Kamban differs from Valmiki’s version here. When Ravana took Sita to Lanka, he did not touch her. But he took her with the hut that she was living in. ‘She lives there like a sage, my mother, my goddess’ Hanuman continues in twenty-one enthralling verses. He gives out the final message. ‘She has set a timeframe of just one month, beyond which she would give up her life.’

Did you observe that Hanuman did not mention a single word about his exploits, his stunning victories, his glorious deeds and his dare-devilry in Lanka? Rama in fact did not know of any of these deeds, until Vibhishana told him at the time of his taking refuge in him. Great men do not speak about their accomplishments.

Exploits of Hanuman heard through Vibhishana

Hanuman did not inform Rama of his own successes and the way he has created terror in the minds of the Rakshasas. It was not in his nature to do so.

We saw Hanuman giving a graphic account of Sita and the conditions under which she was waiting for the arrival of her Lord. He clearly mentioned that she had laid a time limit of a month. Immediately Rama’s mind went on the preparations of reaching Lanka. They started working on that and Hanuman did not inform Rama of his own successes and the way he has created terror in the minds of the Rakshasas. It was not in his nature to do so.

Speaking of one’s own achievements

It is not possible for the great of mind to speak about themselves. For them action is the most important thing in life. What is to be done next is more important than what has already been done. They cannot even think of bragging. Actually when the mind is under control and wisdom rules supreme, a person does not feel the necessity to do so. Of course, there are times when a person has to give an account of what he has achieved. At the time of an interview, for instance. He or she cannot remain silent on his or her achievements because it is said in the books that great people do not speak about themselves. The same great books insist that a person should about himself or herself under specific circumstances.


But it was not such an occasion and Hanuman was busy with the arrangements. It took them twelve days to reach the southernmost tip of the continent says the poet. Vibishana reached the spot when they were engaged in the task of building a bridge across the ocean. We saw the happenings in our earlier articles (Of Councils and Counsels). Rama granted the refuge to Vibishana and added him as a brother. When he met Guha, he said ‘we were four brothers till now and we become five now’. He added Sugriva as the sixth brother and Vibishana was added as the seventh.


Sri V V S Aiyar says this about the different ways in which this episode is treated in Valmiki and in Kamban.

‘Valmiki motives Rama’s acceptance of the rakshasa to a large extent on the tantra of Bheda – i.e., the policy of taking over to his side the person who has become the enemy of one’s enemy. For although – as Valmiki tells the story – Rama tells the war council that he will never turn out any person who comes to him as a friend even though he may have many faults, yet when Sugriva objects to him as a traitor to his brother, and therefore unworthy of faith, he says,
‘The Rakshasa desires sovereignty; and people of this stamp are usually very clever… He fears for his fate in his native country and that is why he takes refuge with me, giving up his brother.’

Sri Aiyar, quotes other places from Valmiki and says,

‘These words, taken along with Rama’s quoted before, make of Vibhishana little more than a common traitor who has had the good fortune of having foreseen in time the sure ultimate victory of Rama. And this should explain the bad odour that surrounds the name of Vibhishana among modern critics of Ramayana in Bengal’.

Kamban treats the scene differently and makes it flow naturally. It is not that one epic is superior to the other. The greatness of Valmiki’s work cannot be questioned. However, Kamban had the advantage of learning the criticisms on the epic too and had the opportunity to improve the drama. How Hanuman’s deeds came to be known to Rama? Let us see that in our next.

Exploits of Hanuman heard through Vibishana II

Hanuman – the great communicator – fumbled for words. He did not speak anything for he was too shy, says the poet.

The reader would recollect the Ravana Durbar and the way Hanuman portrayed the picture of Sri Rama there. ‘Why should he have taken so much pains,’ one might wonder, ‘to speak so high of Sri Rama in the Durbar of Ravana, knowing fully well that he would not listen!’

Hanuman knew that in the entire Durbar there was one heart that was listening to him. He had searched the houses of almost all the residents of Lanka. He had been to the palaces of Ravana, Kumbakarna, Indrajit and all others, including that of Vibishana. When he entered the palace of Vibishana, he sensed a difference. That place unlike all the other houses in Lanka was devoid of meat and liquor. Hanuman was so impressed by this fact that he recalls this fact when he speaks in favour of Vibishana, in the council of Rama. To him, Vibishana was ‘oLiththu vaazgindra dharumam annAn’. He was like the very Dharma itself, surviving in the hiding, unseen by others in Lanka. For there was no place for Dharma in Ravana rajya!
All his words were being listened to attentively by a single heart in that Sabha. Vibishana acknowledges this later. This happens when Vibishana gives Rama gives an elaborate account of Lanka and its defences, he tells Rama about how Hanuman killed armies and armies of Rakshasas, including the valiant son of Ravana and how he set fire to Lanka.

Why I sought you

‘I sought refuge in you, O glorious one, not only because I heard of your chivalry and that you killed Kara, Dhooshana, Vali et al; but also because I saw the way Hanuman fought with the mightiest of rakshasas and killed them,’ says Vibishana.

Rama was surprised to hear these words. ‘O you did so, did you? You never told me!’ He says. ‘You have killed more than half of the army of Ravana, Vibhishana says. What am I supposed to do on reaching Lanka, Maruti? Is there anyone left for me to fight with in Lanka? Now I understand. You have not brought Sita back by yourself, because you wanted to leave at least that job for me; because you wanted to show the might of my archery to the entire world!’ Remember when Rama came to know of this, a period of two weeks had already elapsed.

Hanuman – the great communicator – fumbled for words. He did not speak anything for he was too shy, says the poet.
As we have been emphasising time and again, humility was one of the greatest qualities of Maruti. It is really amazing to find that it was possible for someone not to feel the urge to speak of oneself, in the face of splendid achievement.

The sanjeevani parvatha episode stands out as another incident that shows out Maruti’s swift action, valour, strength and humility. We will move on to the incidents leading to that episode.

Brahmastra Padalam

The Brahmastra Padalam (Canto) is a very important juncture in the epic. It puts almost all chief characters of the epic under test

Hanuman saw Indrajit for the first time, in his search for Sita in Sundara Kanda, sleeping in his bedchamber. Indrajit was known to be the most handsome, the most brave, the most valorous of all rakshasas. When looking at the sleeping Indrajit Hanuman thinks, ‘ வளையும் வாள் எயிற்று அரக்கனோ?  ’ Is he a demon with teeth curved like the crescent moon ‘கணிச்சியான் மகனோ?  ’ or is he the son of Shiva (Lord Muruga). Indrajit was so handsome. The next moment Hanuman thinks ‘  இளைய வீரனும் ஏந்தலும் இருவரும் பலநாள் உளைய உள்ளபோர் இவனொடும் உளது '  Both Lakshmana and Rama have to wage a war that would last for many days with him. He was so valorous.

He was skilled at all the weapons of destruction and was an archer par excellence. His skill in the illusory techniques of warfare (maya Yudha) made him the most dreaded of all. It was he who for sometime stopped Hanuman in the Sundara Kanda though it has to be accepted that Hanuman willingly subjected himself to his assault so that he could have an opportunity to see Ravana.

When the war started, Indrajit entered the arena after the death of his paternal uncle, the valiant Kumbhakarna. At the end of his first war with Lakshmana, he disappeared in the skies, making Lakshmana believe that he went away from the battlefield. Lakshmana was preparing for his return to Rama at the end of the day, when Indrajit let loose the serpent-noose (naga paasa) and bound Lakshmana and the entire army of Vanaras by the powerful serpents. Finally Garuda appeared in the scene, making the snakes slither away. We have discussed this scene in an earlier instalment too. (When the very purpose of the war is nullified I)

On the resuscitation of Lakshmana, the war continues. Indrajit comes back to the scene after the death of their commanders in chief. The Brahmastra Padalam ensues.

The Brahmastra Padalam (Canto) is a very important juncture in the epic. It puts almost all chief characters of the epic under test. Test of physical strength; test of moral strength test of intellectual strength; and test of loyalty. We see Lakshmana restraining himself from using the Brahmastra against the order of Rama. We see Rama, untouched by the Brahmastra, crestfallen over Lakshmana who is unconscious and in a near-dead condition. We see Ravana indulging in a peculiar kind of design that puts him at a disadvantage later. We see Vibhishana in a battlefield where every single one of the 70-vahini strong vanara host was lying motionless, alone in a battlefield, away from his kith and kin, none to speak to and none to share his sorrow with. We see Sita who was shown the battlefield from the pushpaka vimana, looking at the motionless forms of her husband and his brother.

We also see Vibhishana initiating action. Jambavan giving a solution and Maruti once again swinging into action to bring the mountain of panacea (Sanjivi Parvata) and emerging as the mountain of faith; mountain of strength and above all as the very reincarnation of humility.

We will see the events that pushed Lakshmana into a stupor.

Brahmastra Padalam II

Rama restrains Lakshmana from using the Brahmastra against Indrajit. As is wont of him, he would not swerve from the path of rectitude…

Indrajit was ordered by Ravana to go to the battlefield once again. Rama asked the entire army to stand at the back while he and Lakshmana occupied the foreground. When they showered their arrows, even Indrajit was taken aback for a moment. ‘Choose your death the way you want!’ he roared. ‘Are you both going to fight with me together or do you prefer to be killed one by one?’ That was a clever way indeed to stop at least one of them for some time! Lakshmana insisted that Indrajit must be left to him and that made Rama move aside.

Within a short time, Indrajit lost his chariot. Lakshmana soon broke the locks that held the breastplates of Indrajit in place, leaving him unprotected, exposed and vulnerable. In a trice Indrajit vanished from the war-field and hid behind the clouds. The Vanara army once again misconstrued that he backed out from the field. Lakshmana’s experience told him that he would not have left the place and he should be around somewhere, to continue his fight from his hiding. He immediately sensed that Indrajit would be making preparations to launch the Brahmastra.

Scholars who have studied the intricate details of asthras (these are different from arrows) as narrated in the epics have opined that the descriptions, to a very large extent remind one of the modern day missiles. Erich Van Daniken, (who wrote Chariots of Gods) in his ‘Return to the Stars’ gives a vivid account of the Narayana asthra as described in Mahabaratha and compares it with the hydrogen bomb. The epic says that the asthra would not harm anyone who falls supine on the ground and pays obeisance to it. Erich Van Daniken feels that this must be due to the fact that the effect of the asthra – as in the case of hydrogen bomb – would not be so intense within a space of two or three feet above ground level, as the gas tends to move upwards.

Intricacies apart. The fact remains that whenever an asthra is launched there is a mention that whoever proposed to shoot it ‘started making preparations for it’.

Lakshmana felt that Indrajit would be getting ready to shoot the Brahmastra. He knew how to parry it. He was also equipped with the Brahmastra to counter it. But, you know Lakshmana. He would not act on his own in such matters. He would need the ‘go ahead’ of Rama. Therefore he turned to Rama and said ‘The fellow vanished into skies before I could wink. I am unable to find him anywhere. If he were surviving my arrows he sure would come back with the mightiest of weapons and destroy the entire army. 'eNNam matru ilai ayan padai thoduppen endru isaindhaan' I want to use the Brahmastra. I don’t see any other option.’

‘No,’ said Rama. Being the very embodiment of Dharma, it was so very natural of him. He would not think of using such superpowers unless driven to the extremes. Actually, he was to be coaxed, cajoled and forced by Madhali, the charioteer of Indra, to use Brahmastra against Ravana.

‘Do not use the Brahmastra, Lakshmana, for its use would annihilate all the three worlds. Nobody can stop its destructive force.’
That was the test for Rama’s moral strength, just one of many. As is wont of him, he would not swerve from the path of rectitude. Now the test of Lakshmana’s loyalty begins.

Brahmastra Padalam III

For Lakshmana, the order of his brother was supreme. He accepted the word of Rama not to use the asthra. And he did not use it, at the cost of his very life.

Indrajit went to Ravana, immediately after his disappearance from the battlefield. As the evening had already set in, Rama, Lakshmana and the entire Vanara army were moving away from the field. Indrajit told Ravana of his intention to use the Brahmastra. ‘I need time to perform the necessary rites before the asthra could be used. Send a large army and engage them in battle till I return.’ Ravana ordered Mahodara to march with an army. He did so, with a multitude of them to continue the battle during the night.

On the other side, Rama, unaware of the arrangements of Ravana ordered Lakshmana to stand in guard to defend the Vanara army and went aside to perform the rites for the evening. Before moving out, he assigned Vibhishana the task of fetching food for the army. ‘  அருந்துதற்கு உணவு வரவு தாழ்த்தது, வீடண! வல்லையின் ஏகி, தரவு வேண்டினென் ’ ‘The arrival of food is getting delayed. You go personally to make arrangements.’ Vibishana moved away from the scene with his team. Rama and Vibhishana were away from the field at the time of Mahodara and his army sweeping in.

The launching of Brahmastra

Lakshmana was manoeuvring his army and was fighting back when Mahodara switched over to the illusory techniques. He marched in, masqueraded as Indra and his army as the battalions of Devas and rishis. That caused confusion for a while and Lakshmana was pondering the reason why the Devas should be up in arms against them.

Indrajit was waiting for this opportune moment. He took advantage of this moment of inaction of Lakshmana. He fired the Brahmastra from his hiding. Millions and millions of sub-missiles showered out from that mightiest of weapons. ‘kOdi kOdi nooraayiram kodung kanaik kuzangal moodi meniyai mutrura chutrina’ Countless nooses flew and wrapped up the entire area, covering all the Vanara host and Lakshmana. Lakshmana fell down unconscious. Hanuman, who had the boon from Brahma – the creator – who was also the creator of the mighty weapon, protecting him from its effects, swooned on a massive heap of the mortal remains of elephants. Should one elaborate the condition of the army, when the two of the most powerful heroes of the epic were lying on the ground? Lakshmana was most affected of the lot, as he was the target of the asthra. My hands tremble as I attempt to write that he was breathless. But that was the fact.

The entire scene, as painted by the poet, is gruesome with millions of Vanaras lying on the ground, blood just flooding the area. Rama returned to the field after performing his puja, only to find the pathetic situation. His grief was beyond words. He lifted the body of Lakshmana in his hands, put him in his laps and wept. He could not control his agony. He decides to give up his life, for what is life to him, without Lakshmana? Overcome by grief, he fainted and fell down by the side of Lakshmana.

And for Lakshmana, the order of his brother was supreme. He sensed Indrajit’s intention to use the asthra. He was equipped to defend it. He need not have sought the permission of Rama to use the weapon. He accepted the word of Rama not to use it. And he did not use it, at the cost of his very life. You may recall his words when Rama was asked to leave for the forest. Lakshmana with a bent and drawn bow was getting ready to fight Dasaratha when Rama stopped him saying he should not do so against his own father. Lakshmana said

‘You are my father (நல் தாதையும் நீ). You are my master (தனி நாயகன் நீ). You are the mother that bore me (வயிற்றில் பெற்றாயும் நீயே).’

And that was Lakshmana. Never disobeying the word of Rama – even in the face of death.

Power in the hands of those void of wisdom leads to a bloated ego. A bloated ego leads to lust. Lust leads to anger. Anger leads to…

Brahmastra Padalam is a Canto, as you may recall, that is full of moving scenes surcharging the atmosphere with high emotions and high drama, leading to action and solution. You must have heard of the saying. There is none in the world who faced suffering, dejection, despair and driven to the extremes than Sri Rama. He faced all these problems. He went through all these emotions; all these tough situations and reacted how we react. He was overpowered by feelings at times. And, he came out successful from every single one of them setting an example to any of us. He shone like a beacon, wiping all the darkness that surrounded him in the end. By the word ‘end’ I do not mean the end of the epic. I mean the end of each incident.

Now it was one such occasion. Rama was aggrieved for it was Sugriva, Nala, Nila and the entire lot of the army that had been rendered lifeless. And, it was Lakshmana, his alter ego – the poet says ‘the mind of Rama functioning outside his body’ – which was lying motionless. He feels that he should have been there to save them; take it upon himself and faced the brute, instead of leaving them alone. But it was not fault of his. He was not aware of it. In his dejection, he is unable to see this. For a person like him who had the deepest faith in Dharma, was it possible to conduct the war any more at such a loss and regain his Sita? ‘No. I cannot!’ wails Rama to himself. By that moment, he could not take it any further, lost his consciousness and fell by the side of Lakshmana.

Ravana’s game plan

Power in the hands of those void of wisdom leads to a bloated ego. A bloated ego leads to lust. Lust leads to anger. Anger leads to…
Brahmastra Padalam is a Canto, as you may recall, that is full of moving scenes surcharging the atmosphere with high emotions and high drama, leading to action and solution. You must have heard of the saying. There is none in the world who faced suffering, dejection, despair and driven to the extremes than Sri Rama. He faced all these problems. He went through all these emotions; all these tough situations and reacted how we react. He was overpowered by feelings at times. And, he came out successful from every single one of them setting an example to any of us. He shone like a beacon, wiping all the darkness that surrounded him in the end. By the word ‘end’ I do not mean the end of the epic. I mean the end of each incident.
Now it was one such occasion. Rama was aggrieved for it was Sugriva, Nala, Nila and the entire lot of the army that had been rendered lifeless. And, it was Lakshmana, his alter ego – the poet says ‘the mind of Rama functioning outside his body’ – which was lying motionless. He feels that he should have been there to save them; take it upon himself and faced the brute, instead of leaving them alone. But it was not fault of his. He was not aware of it. In his dejection, he is unable to see this. For a person like him who had the deepest faith in Dharma, was it possible to conduct the war any more at such a loss and regain his Sita? ‘No. I cannot!’ wails Rama to himself. By that moment, he could not take it any further, lost his consciousness and fell by the side of Lakshmana.

The plan takes shape

The news of both the brothers and the vanara host lying on the field reached Ravana. Needless to say, he was so happy. Any good father in the position of Ravana would have first called Indrajit who earned this victory – a victory that even he himself could not gain – exchanged pleasantries with him, congratulated him, thanked him if he were magnanimous enough, celebrated it with his son who was at the root of all this. Not so for Ravana. He ordered drummers to go around the island to make announcements asking the people to celebrate it. Immediately, his mind saw the opportunity. Sita must be taken to the battlefield and shown how her husband and the entire army were lying dead. But there was another thing in the way. There were too many carcasses of rakshasas lying in the battlefield. When Sita surveys the battlefield, she should not be able to spot a dead rakshasa anywhere. That would add to the jolly good feeling. ‘See how I defeated your folk without losing even a single one of my warriors.’

Arakkan maruththanaik koovi – He called a rakshasa by name Maruththan. mundha nee poy arakkar udal muzudhum kadalil mudukkidu – you go first and throw all the dead bodies of rakshasas into the sea. nin sindhai oziyap pirar aRiyin siramum varamum sindhuvEn – if anybody else, other than your mind, comes to know of this, I will behead you besides nullifying all your boons.
That is the problem with people. They do not know what they lose when they adopt underhand methods. And it was a loss that Ravana did not realise when he passed the order in glee and in haste.

Power in the hands of those void of wisdom leads to a bloated ego. A bloated ego leads to lust. Lust leads to anger. Anger leads to hasty decisions. Hasty decisions complicate the situation. And that leads to hell. Ravana is an example. Or call him ‘a warning written on the wall’. For what is not right cannot be called an example.

The Divine Design

Sita was ordered to be taken in the pushpaka vimana for an aerial survey of the field. She was unable to see the sight of both Rama and Lakshmana lying motionless on the ground. A closer look would have made her understand that Rama was still breathing. But it was from a flight that she saw them – a long shot, as our cameramen would call it. ‘All because I wanted to have a deer. And I did not have the wisdom to listen to Lakshmana’s words,’ wailed Sita. The shock that the scene would have caused on her mind could well be imagined. The scene is brimming with pathos, intense and immense.

Trijata, who was by the side of Sita, points out the fact that there were no arrows embedded in Sri Rama’s body and that he is uninjured and unharmed. That pacifies Sita. Trijada adds, ‘Maruti is siranjeevi. He could not be harmed. He is unconscious because of the effect of Brahmastra.’ Sita regains here composure by the soothing words of Trijada.

The plan of Ravana did not bear any fruit. He planned to impress her with his victory. Poor thing, he did not know that that was not possible. He could not create a feeling of loneliness in her. That was diffused by Trijada. Above all, his efforts in throwing the corpses of rakshasas into the sea did not make its mark. Apart from this, the attempt denied him of a golden opportunity of reviving the dead. We will see that presently.

In the meantime, Vibishana came back from his errand of organising food for the army. When the Brahmastra was fired, he was not in the scene. That left him unaffected by the asthra. Apart from that, Vibishana is also a Siranjeevi like Hanuman. He could not believe it. He was filled with grief. The scene was beyond comprehension. All these friends were so alive and he was supposed to feed them on his return. None is left now to inform him of what had happened in the meantime.

Earlier in the Naga Pasa episode, he was filled with feelings of guilt. Rama had sent him along with Lakshmana. He remained unaffected while the entire army together with Lakshmana was bound up as if by ropes of death. He could not face Rama. The situation was not that bad for him now. He started looking for evidences and understood what had actually happened. He found Rama and Lakshmana. He reasoned that Rama was untouched by the asthra and is only unconscious.

On seeing Rama, though in an unconscious condition, he regained his composure. He knew what is to be done now. He has to find Hanuman somehow. Maruti would not have been affected by this asthra or if it had affected him, the effect would not lost long. Who else other than an immortal like Vibishana could reason this out that Hanuman, another immortal would remain safe!

Vibishana soon spotted him on a pile of dead elephants, just waking up. Vibishana fetched water for Maruti and helped him to regain his self.

The divine design is present everywhere. It sure will send timely help and assistance, somehow and from somewhere. Why should Vibishana be sent to fetch food just moments before the episode! Who knew what would happen and how was it that he was sent away and was left untouched, to initiate action! What happened in Ramayana happens in the life of everyone. This is a universal fact. That’s why Robert Browning wrote in Rabbi Ben Ezra -

Should not the heart beat once “How good to live and learn”?
Not once beat “Praise be Thine!
I see the whole design
I, who saw power, see now love perfect too:
Perfect I call Thy plan:
Thanks that I was a man!
Maker, remake, complete – I trust what Thou shalt do!”

The Divine Design II

It is amazing that the epic refers to time zones when describing the flight of Hanuman in search of the herbs…

It was so very typical of Maruti, when he regained his composure to enquire about the welfare of Rama. His second question was about the condition of Jambavan, for only he knew the names of the herbs that would remedy the situation. Both Vibishana and Hanuman search him and find him soon, in a semiconscious state.

Jambavan right at the outset, even without verification, says ‘The asthra would not have had any effect on Rama, who is the Veda of all Vedas. I know he would be safe.’ Indrajit would acknowledge this later, in aghast. ‘dhala malark kizavan thandha padaikkalam’ the weapon that was given by the one who rules the lotus (Brahma) ‘thazalin saarthi’ was ignited (or was honoured with the burning of camphor) ‘alavu iladhu amaya vittadhu’ and launched with unlimited energy ‘iraamanai neeki andru’ not excluding Rama. ‘vilaivu iladhu’ It had no effect on him. ‘mEni theeNdila meendadhu’ did not touch his body and returned.

Jambavan then mentions three herbs – to resuscitate the dead, to restore severed limbs and to extricate the pieces of weapons that are embedded in the body – and elaborately gives the location. Hanuman was to bring the herbs before sunrise to use the herbs for good. ‘These herbs’, said Jambavan ‘came out of the ocean of milk when it was churned for elixir and are preserved in a mountain beyond the Kailash.’

Hanuman flew to the mountain. One important verse that deserves attention has not been discussed much to this date. It says Hanuman, when he reached Uttaraguru felt so bad, when he saw the sun above him in the sky. And then he pacifies himself saying ‘kadhirin selvan mEtrisai ezuvaan allan’ The sun never rises in the West. ‘vidindhadhum andru’ This is not sunrise (this must be sunset). ‘mEru maatrinan vadapaal thOndrum enbadhu maraigaL vallOr saatrinar’ Those well versed in the holy books have remarked that the Sun would appear on the Western sky to those who are on the north of Meru. This reference is obviously to the time zone. This deserves to be studied by deeply by scholars as this may hold a clue to the location of the hills that were mentioned in the epics.

This observation that the sun would be setting on the one side of the world while it is still night on the other side needs to be examined, if we remember that this fact was written by Valmiki thousands of years ago and by Kamban, a thousand years ago, much before the West realised this fact.

When he reached the mountain of herbs, Hanuman was in such a hurry that he was impatient to look for them. Many interpret the verse to mean that he forgot the description of the herbs. It was not so. He says to himself ‘ingu nindru innana marundhu endru eNNinnAl singumaal kaalam’ If I look for those three herbs (in this forest of shrubs, bushes, trees and other forms of vegetation) I will lose considerable time. Better lift this mountain and take it there. Let Jambavan identify them.

Humility, the other name for Maruti

Maruti’s character is beyond compare. He symbolises wisdom, strength, valour and above all, humility.

With the appearance of Maruti in the sky with the mountain of herbs, the air was filled with the good effects of the herbs and the army rose up again. Lakshmana stood up as fresh as he was before the battle started. All the Vanaras breathed again, all their wounds healed and limbs restored. Happiness filled the air, as the army became so euphoric. Shouts of joy were heard everywhere. Rama was once again his own old self. His gratitude towards

Maruti was just immeasurable.

Rama was extending his brotherhood to Guha, Sugriva and Vibishana. Hear what he says to Hanuman. ‘ennin thOndriya thuyarin eeru sEr mannin thondrinOm’ We were born to the King (Dasaratha) who died because of the sorrow caused by me. ‘munnam maaNdulOm’ We died anon. ‘ninnin thOndrinOm neriyin thOndrinai!’ Now we are born to you, the very embodiment of virtues.’ Rama is so moved, that he includes himself in the multitude that fell on the ground by the effect of Brahmastra, though he was untouched by it.

And once again we see Hanuman standing there, touching the feet of Rama and giving only such information that is relevant and no more. While the entire army is ecstatic, Hanuman is not in any way affected. He is the same old calm and composed self. Neither his attitude nor his activities show him in a frame of mind that feels so high about his achievement, though it was no small feat. His mind is preoccupied with the next step – that of putting the mountain back in its place!

Have you seen what Ravana lost in the bargain? When I think of this incident, I am reminded of the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, (in his address in Panjim, Goa on May 22, 1963) ‘There can be no victory or defeat in a nuclear war. It brings common destruction for all’. If nuclear war would bring common destruction for all, the reverse is true of the mountain of herbs. It brings common welfare for all.

Remember that Ravana ordered that the dead bodies of all rakshasas should be thrown in the sea, before Sita was brought to the scene? Had he left those bodies on the field as they were, the rakshasas would have also regained their lives! The fact that those were dumped in the sea stopped the effect of the herbs bringing about the common good!

Maruti’s character is beyond compare. He symbolises wisdom, strength, valour and above all, humility.

He was privileged to bear the throne of Rama, on his coronation - ’அரியணை அனுமன் தாங்க’

The throne was borne by Hanuman. ‘அங்கதன் உடை வாள் ஏந்த’ Angada bore the sword of Rama…

and thus was Rama crowned, goes the verse  -

அரியணை அனுமன் தாங்க அங்கதன் உடை வாள் ஏந்த
பரதன் வெண் குடை கவிக்க இருவரும் கவரி பற்ற
விரி கடல் உலகம் ஏத்தும் வெண்ணெய் மன் சடையன் வண்மை
மரபுளோன் கொடுக்க வாங்கி வசிட்டனே புனைந்தான் மௌலி.

பங்களிப்பாளர்கள்

Dev மற்றும் Hariki

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இப்பக்கம் கடைசியாக 13 ஏப்ரல் 2010, 22:15 மணிக்குத் திருத்தப்பட்டது. இப்பக்கம் 22,437 முறைகள் அணுகப்பட்டது.