Rama's Ballad - Sundara Kãnda

Continued from Dream of a Nightmare - Sundara Kãnda 

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 31 - Rama’s Ballad
For Seetha’s ears then Rama’s tale
Sang in sonorous tone Hanuman. 
In lineage old of Ikshvaakus
Known to all for his valour
Dasarath was the reigning king.
Noble as he was the king
Valued was he like a saint
Power he had to rival gods.
Generous was he by nature
Took he care of his subjects
Ruled he like a god on earth. 
For his righteous reign Dasarath
Earned he fame the world over.
Esteemed he his eldest son
Known to all as Lord Rama,
Prowess his to target well
Arrows at his enemies awe.
Wavers not he from dharma
Adheres he to human rights
Keeps his word at every turn
Gives no quarter to enemies.
Stepmother of Ram, Kaikeyi
Wanted who crown for her son
Coerced as she Dasarath then
Gave up Ram thus his birthright
So led Seetha with Lakshman
To the thick woods of Dandak.
Demons that ruled roost in Dandak
Menaced they folk lived all there
Killed them all Ram at one go
Restored he thus righteous reign.
At the news of kindred’s death
Thought of settling scores Ravan,
So he summoned Maareecha
Turned who into golden deer
Tempting Seetha to seek him,
Sent then Seetha Ram to fetch
Magic deer that stole her heart,
Arrow when Ram’s hit Maareech
Rent he cries then mimicking him
Made which Seetha fear for Ram,
Goaded Rama’s wife Lakshman 
To go in search of his sibling,
With none there to stand by her
Kidnapped Ravan Seetha then.
Set as he on search for spouse 
Came Ram in touch with Sugreev
Stole whose wife his own sibling.
To uphold dharma then Rama 
Slew he Vali that mighty
Helping Sugreev ascend throne.
In time as per pact he made
Sent Sugreev his vanar force
In search of Seetha thus missing. 
It’s my fortune that I came
Place to this in search of her. 
Picture have I of Seetha
Painted for me by Rama.
Won’t this lady well tally
Picture with that Ram gave me? 
Spake as he with all his warmth
Looked up Rama’s wife in hope.
Found though she no soul in sight
What she heard then made her glad.
Sensing Seetha’s upbeat mood 
From hideout then came out Hanuman.
Canto 32 - Is it True?
Aura Hanuman’s made Seetha
Think in terms of sun at dawn
Peeping out of branching trees. 
Stared then Seetha in wonder
Hanuman sighted in splendour.
Wondered in awe then Seetha 
Who that wondrous vanar was.
As she was at loss to know
What to make of that visitor
Prayed she then Ram for guidance.
Stared as Hanuman at her long
In her awe then swooned Seetha. 
Seetha at length pulled herself
Wondered whether she had a dream.
Looked then Seetha all over
Waking up though from her sleep.
Finding Hanuman staring her
Lost she consciousness at once.
Regained sense as she in time
Recalled she then that proverb 
Portend simians ill in dreams.
Felt then Seetha to start with
Wink with none in lovelorn state
How she could have had a dream!
Since I tend to think of Ram
All the time with never a pause
What I heard that simian sing
Product could be of my mind.
Song as it’s that my heart sings
Seems my ears have probed inside.
But then it’s no illusion
Him I see in flesh and blood.
May god bless that what he said
Would come true to bring me cheer.
Canto 33 - Genesis of Exile 

Seeing Seetha’s demeanour change
Gladdened Hanuman’s heart no end.
Folding his hands in reverence
Approached he then Rama’s wife.
Find thee grieving for some time
What doth make thee feel so sad? 
Thy eyes that are all welled up
Make they clear that thou are hurt.
From thy bearing one can see
Come that thou from noble stock.
Tend I think that thou are none
But an angel strayed to earth.
Wonder thou could be North Star
Came down here from those high skies.
Pray thee tell me who art thou
Have thee left thy man in huff?
Seen thee grieving for some time
Have thee lost some dear soul then?
The more I see thee lovely one
All the more I hold thee high.
O thy bearing ’n demeanour 
No less empress make thee look.
Are thee hapless Seetha then
Snared by Ravan from thy man? 
Making two plus two as four
Take I thee for Rama’s wife.
Spoke as Hanuman to her thus
Seetha thought it fit to speak.
Dasarath was the king of kings
Daughter in-law am his near
Treated me he daughter like.
Seetha am king Janaka’s dear
Given in marriage to Rama
Son of Kausalya the Queen
In that palace of Koshal
What a life I led with Ram
For the best of twelve summers.
Heavenly rule to bring on earth
Came then time to crown Rama.
Thought it fit then Kaikeyi
Dasarath’s favoured number three
To see her son then ascend throne.
Made she clear then to Dasarath
Surely she would starve to death
Were he to crown Ram instead.
Pressed as she her suit to hilt
Cited she then that caveat
Cater would the king to her 
Wishes three all when expressed.
Pulled as by his love for Ram
Stressed as Dasarath to the core
Wanted she that Ram may spend
From then fourteen years in woods.
Bound as Dasarath to his word
Sounded he then his first-born.
Gladly my man gave up then
Birthright his to rule his land.
Ordained thus by Kaikeyi
Set to Dandak woods then Ram. 
Wanting hassles none for me
Wanted Ram that I stayed back. 
What was there for me to cling
On to Dasarath’s palace then
When my man was not at home?
Not the one to forego Ram
Lakshman too then joined us.
That’s how three of us entered
Those thick jungles of Dandak.
Neared as end of our exile
Snared me Ravan from my man.
Intends Ravan to kill me
Were I to fail to take his hand
No more than in two more months,
Who is there to tell my man
Made up my mind to die now
For none I would have of Ravan.
Canto 34 - Swings in Mood
Moved as Hanuman to the core
Made he move to soothe Seetha. 
Know am Hanuman Rama’s man 
Came in search of thee his spouse.
Rama is so scholarly
Well versed he with four Vedas 
Possesses as well Brahmastra
Spares that none in combat zone.
Know Lakshman is no less sad
That he made thee hapless then.
Having heard all what he said
Joyous turned then Rama’s wife. 
Hoping for the best in life
How well said that one should live.
Felt all at ease then Seetha  
With the simian her man sent.
Seeing change in Seetha thus
Moved he then to reach her close.
What if Ravan came disguised
Developed Seetha thus second thought.
Opened my mind to Ravan
What a fool all I made myself!
Taking Hanuman for Ravan
Sank in sorrow then Seetha.
Saddened as her change of stance
Bent then Hanuman in reverence. 
Sighed then Seetha at her fate
She at length thus addressed him. 
In thy disguise as vanar
Won’t I know thee vile Ravan?
How come thou think I forgot
Saintly garb donned by thee then?
What a shame on thee Ravan
Stalk thou dame so unwilling?
Sensing Hanuman in distress
Looked she into his eyes then,
Feelings what she saw in him
Made her sing a different tune:
Make as thou me feel easy
And that Ravan puts me off
Think my fears are but liars
Seems thou art but Rama’s man. 
If thou are by Rama sent
Won’t thee tell me his welfare?
Flood waters as wear river-banks   
Rama’s name so weans sorrows.
Is it true and not a dream
That Rama’s Hanuman is with me?
Making nights for me wink-less
That Ram can’t sooth me in dreams
Seems dream-god is jealous of me!
Sights as ’n when man vanar
Said to bring all good tidings,
Came I face-to-face with thee
Won’t it then all portend well?
How come at the drop of hat
Changing am I my thinking?
Time I kept my doubts at bay
Lest Ravan should gain leeway.
In spite of her averments thus
Failed Seetha to trust Hanuman.
Having into shell withdrawn
Kept she then her own counsel. 
Having gauged her state of mind
Addressed Hanuman her sweetly.
It’s but sun-like shines thy Ram
Nears him when moon turns all pale. 
Him none equals in learning
Rivals gods in kindness Ram.
Sight at his all vile turn pale
Next to him looks Cupid but plain.
Using his man Maareecha
Turned who into golden deer
Contrived Ravan to make Ram
Chase it leaving thee his spouse.
Ram in time would let Ravan
Pay the price for snaring thee.
To make thee privy his intent
Sent I was by thine own Lord.
Lovelorn Ram is crestfallen
Lakshman too is ever eager
To set thee free from evil Ravan. 
Pledged his force all Lord Sugreev 
That Lord Ram could fight Ravan.
Back home all but think of thee
Know they sent me to trace thee. 
Take it won’t thee long to meet
Ram and Lakshman in this spot. 
Treats me equal as Sugreev 
Servant like I serve thy Ram. 
Crossed I know the sea this vast
Bade by Ram to reach thee now. 
Know it none of Ravan’s tricks
But am Hanuman Rama’s man.

Canto 35 - Winning the Trust

Spoke as Hanuman in that vein
Developed Seetha trust in him.
She then said in sonorous tone -
How come Rama came in touch
With thee and thy Lord Sugreev? 
How can thou be so certain
Ram ’n Lakshman that thou met. 
Tell O Hanuman for my sake
Facial features of those two.
Gladdened as she opened up
Spoke thus Hanuman to Seetha:
Talking no end of thy man
It’s a pleasure of its own kind.
Recall as I his features
Solace it would thy sad heart.
Whether it’s godly frame of his
Or his kindly heart therein
None can ever know which scores more.
While frame his is mid-sun like
Hath he patience of mother earth. 
Gives he shelter who might seek
Blemish he hath none in conduct.
Lays he store on noble thoughts
Goads his folk to think likewise. 
Leads he life of celibate now
Fate as thee thus weaned from him.
None he slights as come to seek
Given not Ram to spare who dare.
Hath he Vedas all by heart
Excels he ever in warfare.
Second to none he in valour
None there equals him in grace.
Whoso submit tone his soothes 
Terse it turns to those oppose.
While at ease he seems vigorous 
Looks he strong from head to foot.
Frame his seven-foot is well built
Face his oblong ever looks good. 
Lips his rosy slip like glove
Rows teeth over of snow white. 
Eyes his wide both compelling
Strike so dark and deep as well. 
Manner as well demeanour his
Holds good adage of old thus
Handsome is as handsome doth.
Worthy no less than thy man
Lakshman the brother-in-law thine.
If thy Ram is blue diamond
Lakshman is all golden-hued.
It’s the search for thee Seetha
Brought them both to Kishkindha.
Banished as by his sibling
Met them Sugreev in hiding.
Sugreev as was good to us
Followed we his loyal band.
It was thus we came to meet
Ram ’n Lakshman dressed all coarse.
But Ram had that bow on him
Make which would all bow to him.
Sighted as he them in arms
Shivered but Sugreev in his pants.
Sent me my Lord on errand
So that I could befriend them.
Made I thus thy man privy
Plight of our own Lord so good.
Having heard that story Ram
Thought it fit to meet Sugreev.
Realized as they both of them 
Sail they thus in same boat then
Lords those both came ever so close. 
Consoled Rama vanar Lord 
Lost who wife to his sibling.
Said then Lakshman to Sugreev
Seems Ram’s spouse was snared by some.
That Ram had to lose his wife
Made Sugreev grieve all the more.
Flew as Ravan thee by force
Recall how thee threw jewels
From the skies of Kishkindha.
Showed we them all to thy man
Told we know not who snared thee.
How the sound of that landing 
Still rings fresh in Kishkindha? 
Sighted  as he thy jewels 
Fainted Ram in Lakshman’s lap. 
Compelled as if by thy thought
Woke up Ram and tapped them all.
As if to dust them all then
Shed Ram tears on all of them.
Left with no more drop to drop
Seemed he drained his heart for thee.
For safe keeping of them all
Gave them Ram to Sugreeva.
Having thus lost thee consort 
There none is to console Ram.
Had he no wink all these days
Pines he ever to sleep with thee
Having lost the trace of thee
Know thy man is truly lost.
Lost as he his lovely spouse
Pleases him none spring even.
It’s for certain that Rama 
Would kill Ravan in Lanka.
Know vanars all bound by oath
Take thee back soon to thy Lord.
For he slew the vile Vali
Oath we took to help thy Lord.
Having crowned our Sugreeva 
As the king of Kishkindha
Won’t we all owe to thy man?
Grateful Sugreev vow then took
To help thy man to get thee back. 
It’s in thy search Sugreeva 
Sent all simians to scan earth.
Bade us Sugreev not to leave
Stone unturned to search Seetha.
Vanars are on global hunt
To nail the vile who snared thee thus.
Angad son of slain Vali
Marched with some of us southward.
Lost we way in vast Vindhyas 
Groped in dark for several weeks.
Not to go sans breaking news
To our Lord who owed thy man
Thought we all to end our lives. 
If ever it came to the crunch
Felt we should die exhausted
In search of Rama’s dear Seetha.
Haunted by our own failure 
Lost we hope of finding thee.
Low then we all felt to core
Lay we flat on mountain peak
Flew in then Sampaathi
Sibling of slain Jataayu.
Having heard his sibling’s death
Spaketh thus the agonized bird.
Pray thee tell me O vanars
Who did kill my good sibling?
Angad then told Sampaathi
Trying to save Rama’s spouse
Lost his sibling his own life. 
Having heard the story thus
Sampaathi then told Angad 
With the bird’s-eye view of his 
Sensed he Ram’s spouse in Lanka.
Having got the clue from him
Led us southward then Angad.
At the prospect of success
Enthused were then all of us.
Sea vast in time as we reached
Poured that water on our hopes. 
In that Angad and the rest
Saw the mission as ending there.
But the urge to find out thee
Made me lunge that sea across.
Chance I had to see Ravan
Glad I met my Rama’s wife.
It’s me Rama’s own Hanuman
Treat me as thine own servant. 
Know am none but Vayu’s son
Trust that Rama yearns for thee.
Lakshman as is wont of his
Is at Rama’s beck and call.
Sent me Sugreev to Lanka
In the service of thy Lord.
At the news of thy kidnap
Sunk our vanar folk in grief.
Break I when the news to them
Know they all would jump for joy.
Hears as Rama thou are sad
Won’t he itch to take thee soon?
Know am but the son born to
Anjana Devi queen of queens.
Married though she king Kesar
Womb hers was by Vayu blessed. 
Valour of mine ’n conduct
Spread far ’n wide fame of mine.
Brought I thee as good tidings
Time thee look for happy times. 
Ardour that she found in him
Made then Seetha trust Hanuman.
With the change of her mind thus
Rolled on her cheeks tears of joy.
With that bright look on her face
Shone she like a full moon then 
Freshly out of grand eclipse.
Knowing that he won her trust
Spoke then Hanuman to her thus: 
It’s time that I now start moving
Pray tell whatever in thy mind
Treat I would as Rama’s word.
Being none but Wind God’s son
Strength I have to fly all worlds.

Continued to "More of the Same" - Sundara Kãnda 


More by :  BS Murthy

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