City in Clouds - Sundara Kãnda

Continued from Sundara Kãnda: Hanuman’s Odyssey

If Mahabharata's Bhagvad-Gita is taken as a philosophical guide, Ramayana's Sundara Kãnda is sought for spiritual solace. What is more, many believe that reading Sundara Kãnda or hearing it recited would remove all hurdles and usher in good tidings!

Canto 2 - City in Clouds 
On the landmass of Lanka
Chitrakoot was the king mountain 
Kissed its peaks all clouds in skies
Reigned Ravan from peak foremost.

Climbed as Hanuman that mountain
Rained all trees then flowers on him.

Such was stamina of Hanuman
Fresh he looked from that short rest.

Felt he had still left in him
Strength to circle earth itself. 

Flying wonder that Hanuman
Powerful soldier none the less. 

Green all yonder found Hanuman
Reached as he that mountain range.

Valleys all of that hill range
Had thick trees ’n wide gardens.

Had he thus a full measure of
Land of Ravan that was green.

Bore all trees there fruits varied
Besides date palms and santras. 

Thick were bushes on those hills
Fragrant flowers all bloomed therein.

Birds well nestled on trees all there
Rustled leaves were by southern breeze.

Graced flowers lotus tanks all those
Swans in them swam with rare grace.

Grew fruits well in all seasons
Well-grown farms in scores there lay.

Itching to search Ravan’s town
Hanuman in time reached its gates.

Lest Rama should sneak in there
On high alert were Ravan’s troops.

Bricks of gold made Lanka’s wall 
Kissed its castles clouds in skies.

Mansions it had in millions
Wide ’n well laid were there roads.

Climbed creepers green gold arches
Looked like Lanka heaven on earth.

Seemed as Lanka city in clouds
Lay dwellings on mountain peaks.

Built it was by gods’ builder
Earned it fame in Ravan’s reign. 

Lankan fort in that sea then
Seemed like saree clad maiden,
Compound wall its laid in gold  
Looked like virgin’s narrow waist,
Long-range guns its plaits parted
Seemed as gables gold ear-rings.

Moved as Hanuman languidly
Thought he thus in wonderment:

Sky scrappers these of Lanka
Won’t they lead to heaven itself!

None but Kubera owned it once
But vile Ravan grabbed from him.

Demons then came to own this place 
Teeth that protrude seem them fiends.

Such as reside in Lanka
Circled by seas as it were 
Foe to fear made king Ravan.

Came as cropper demigods all
Of what avail Rama’s vanar force!

Maginot line that Ravan built
Find would Rama hard to breach.

Rich as Lankans ’n powerful
Bribe ’n bravery might not work.

But for Angad, Neel ’n Sugreev
Rest might get stuck at these gates.

Place why horse before the cart
Makes it sense to strive my best.

So felt Hanuman it’s proper
Handled he better task on hand. 

With my normal simian form
Won’t I hoodwink Ravan’s men?

Big and powerful they are all
How to throw wool in their eyes!

Why not I turn tinier
And wait till the sun goes down.

Lying in wait Hanuman then
Weighed all options on his hand.

Not by letting Ravan’s men
Smell a rat of my spying 
How am I to find Seetha! 

Without muddling my errand
How to find here Seetha soon? 

Towel in throws as night at dawn
Confronted by unforeseen
Mid-course dullards leave their jobs.

Mission one’s awry goes for sure
Meddles if one in half knowledge.

Thus for having come so far
Why not carry Seetha’s word
For the waiting ears of Ram. 

Stop me if these in my tracks
Derailed gets then Seetha’s search.

How to look for Rama’s spouse
Unseen by these guards in scores!

Given the strength of their network
None the disguise might well work.

Were I to surface as it were
Might I as well get captured.

Makes it eminent if I move
With darkness to aid me well.

It’s night that makes conducive
To search Ravan’s own premises.

Having worked out his plan thus
Waited Hanuman moon to come.

When the sun went out of scene
Cat-like instinct showed Hanuman.

Airborne was he soon over
Lanka’s well-laid avenues all.

Pillars silver had buildings
Windows whose wore golden frames.

Built were mansions eight-storied
Set on gold floors were cat’s eyes.

Stuccoes precious gems had walls
Adorned pearls their wide doors all.

Domes there were all gold plated
Bright they were by day and night.

Having had a bird’s- eye view
Flustered Hanuman Lanka’s wealth.

Land that was of king Ravan
Domicile of those demons varied.

As if to show him the way
Moon  came out in full bloom then. 

In the moon rays of full moon
Seen Hanuman the green signal. 


Canto 3 -  Prelude to Entry

Having hovered in the skies
Landed Hanuman in Lanka.  

Bypassed Hanuman those sentries
Manned who Lanka’s gates all there.

Such was mirth of Lankans then
Matched in decibels roars of seas
Graced that place with soothing breeze.

Lived there people strong ’n stout
Carved were elephants on main gates.

Of the star-filled bluish skies
Mirror image so Lanka seemed. 

Unfurled sea breeze Lankan flags
Unleashed tinkles their trinkets.

Onto Lankan wall he jumped
Got he then a bird’s-eye view. 

Doors there all were gold plated 
Paved were verandahs with corals.

Facades were all filled with gems
Rooftops there had gold elephants.

Cat’s eyes inlaid staircases 
Furnished well were drawing rooms.

In tandem with those tinkles
Emanated from women’s jewels
Bird calls rent air from courtyards.

Wide-eyed he then stared for long 
At such splendour never equalled.

Marveled as he at such wealth
Thoughts his turned to Ravan’s might.

Guarded as well Lanka thus
Is there scope for entry then? 

But Kumud, Angad, Sushena too
Might stand chance as Maind and Dwivid. 

Not to speak of Lord Sugreev
Kusaparv, Jambavan, Ketumal, and I no less.

Be that as it may Lanka
Stands no chance with Ram Lakshman.

Won’t look Lanka like a dame
With these dwellings as ear-rings
And its workshops her huge boobs?

Lights with its on won’t Lanka
Look like woman in white saree?

Got wind of him Lankin then
Deity Lanka’s that huge fiend.

Came she forthwith in his way
Hideous with her frame so large.

Lost she no time to confront
Him in her tone that was harsh. 

Value if thou life thy now
Make a clean breast of thyself.

How it entered thy little head
Sneak thou might in Ravan’s land?

Undaunted said thus Hanuman:
Dared as thee to address thus
May I know now who art thou?

With thy hideous looks and all
Why thee stand guard at this time?

Then the deity in response
Spoke to Hanuman in disdain.

Guard I Lanka day ’n night
Serve I Ravan in good faith.

Tuck thy tail and run for life
Lest thy soul should rest in peace.

That thou realized who I am 
Make haste now ’n beat retreat.

Hanuman at this grew so huge
Matching Lankin pound for pound.

Having come thus face to face
Hanuman then her thus addressed.

As I heard of thy Lanka
Know I came as just tourist.

All I want is to saunter
All through Lanka in leisure.

With that Lankin lost her cool
Flared she thus at Hanuman then.

Enough of cunning O simian
Dare if thou cross swords with me.

Acting then all innocent
Addressed Hanuman thus Lankin:
Seek as I to see thy place
Wonder why thou make big fuss?

Lankin at that turned physical 
With her fist on Hanuman’s frame.

Roused as Hanuman in anger
Roared he loud like lion hungry. 

Then a left hook he landed
On her huge frame bare fisted. 

Yet he did no more than that
Out of respect for women folk. 

With the power of his punch then
On all fours the fiend fell down. 

Writhed  as she in such great pain
Pitied Hanuman the woman in her.

Scared no end was wounded fiend
Begged she mercy from Hanuman.

Hurt not women valorous men
Know am Lankin, Lanka’s deity.

As I was by thee matted 
Think I time to tell thee all.

Signalled Brahma to Lanka 
Nadir as I lose my fight 
At the hands of some simian.

Lost as I the fight to thee
End I see of Ravan’s reign. 

How can Brahma ever go wrong?
Seetha’s kidnap proves him right.

Thus O Hanuman get thee set
On thy mission in Lanka straight.

Seizes us as Brahma’s curse
Go in search of Seetha now
Snared who Ravan to this land. 


Canto 4 - Foray into Fort

Lankin as thus gave visa
Set then Hanuman on his course.     

Having Lanka’s bird’s eye view 
Through its back door he entered.

So to bring it bad tidings
Put forth he then his left foot.

In time he went to King’s Way
Had that flowering trees on sides.

Dwellings in all either side
Saw he mirth ’n merry then.

Glow of Lanka seemed to him
As cloud of silver in the skies.

Light as creaked out from houses
Swastiks in their scores rays made.

Roamed as he then Ravan’s town
Well-pleased Hanuman with himself.

Houses he passed one by one
Each was shaped a different one.

Sang as dames in those dwellings
The sound of music pleased Hanuman.

Wore as women waist-bands all
Trinkets theirs made music scores.

Breathed in roars who exercised
Rhapsodic too were Vedic chants.

Saw he demons all there gathered
Sang they hymns in Ravan’s praise.

For men in arms and spies on rolls
In Lanka’s heart lay large barracks.

Tonsured men in penance he saw
Magical powers all seemed to have.

Weird men he found single-eyed
With lone ear some left him dumb.

Hideous many such fiends he found
Well armed with their arms varied,
Maces some had furrows-long
Discs rest held that covered acres.

Medium built they by and large
Frames theirs neither long nor short.

Fair were some and others darkish
Lookers were there in both groups.

Turns took sentries to hold high
Ravan’s standards of conquests.

Flowers men garlands wore pastel
Frames their glowed with sandal paste.

Men all dressed in ways varied
Myriad all they arms carried.

To guard Ravan’s gynoecium
In midst garrison was that laid.

Archways wide of solid gold
Adorned Ravan’s famed palace.

Moats it had of lotus white
Wide-eyed Hanuman witnessed them.

Chamber music rent then air
Neighed white horses in courtyards.

Lined as chariots in deep files
Lay in hangers airplanes large,
Languid while in move elephants 
Scores were horses with long manes.

Strolled all over deer in heat
So the sentries on their beat. 

In spite of the vigil they kept
Threw Hanuman wool in their eyes.

Continued to Life in Lanka - Sundara Kãnda 


More by :  BS Murthy

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