Sundara Kalpa Vriksha - 2

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The Kavisamrat is an inspired poet and as such displays Bhaavithaantahkaranatwa, the gift of intuitive imaginative perception. Kapeeswara is the one who sees many and in the many sees the one. He is the master of poets. Kapeeswara is the master of the monkey which the manas is. Only those that are masters of their vision stand on par with the masters who have firm control over their minds. Hence the saintly Tulsidas pays homage to both the poet and Hanuman on a common ground:

Seetaraama gunagraama punyaranya vihaarinau.
Vande vijnaana sampannau kaveeswara kapeeswarau.

The Kavisamrat passes through light and shade amidst the palaces of Lanka. There are streams of moonlight. In the shades he gropes and in the moonlit parts goes about quickly. He sees women of all kinds in various palaces, in various moods in a variety of emellishments and attitudes. He is quite practised in going about unmoved. He is adopt at moving with the akasa, the ever shining and the limitless. He is “Vanavihari”.

Sage Valimiki takes three sargas to describe the search and this in itself reveals to us as to how arduous and delicate it is to search for the “maha saadhwi”.
Saundarya is in the unity of Sriraama and Sita. The capacity and the good fortune to see them in unisen reflecting each other draws us to saundaraya in its absolute sense.

Hanuman looks at all, sees youthful women tired of making love, women inebriated to the point of unconsciousness and various stages of drunkenness, being dishabille, being undressed and so on. Saga Valmiki as well as the Kavisamrat make an elaborate description of these very earthly and sensual things with a deliberate purpose. They have a firm grip on the real.

The Kavisamrat intersperses his narrative with a bit of prose. Hanuman being “Mahaanubhaava” looks within for a moment to see how the external appearance which he has seen has influenced him. Seeing that he is as unbending and as upright as ever he goes about his search. His own manas in the mirror into which he sees. The women he has seen did not affect his composure.

Sage Valmiki describes Hanuman going into Ravana's palace alone. But the Kavisamrat describes various other places too. The surya sishya that he is. Hanuman enters the palaces with grace and ease. The sleeping palace is Kumbhakarna's. It looked like a volcano fast asleep. Its waking would mean destruction. Hanuman decides that it would not be the place to find Sita, she being ever vigilant and full of wisdom.

Vibhishana's palace gets a description with its conch-white radiance and its humility. Its soft colours and gentle appearance tell. Hanuman that he need not search for Sita there, for such a building would not make Sita captive.

After the descriptions of the palace, the Kavisamrat concludes that just as the figure and face reveal, even the construction and the furnishing of the house reveals the atma lakshana, the inner quality of the jeevi, the person who lives inside the house.
April 20, 1987


While searching for Sita, Hanuman comes to Pushpaka which be jam-packed with females of human, sidha and saadhya species. Finding that there is no space to move around to continue his search. Hanuman reduces himself to the size of a four-inch creature. He goes on mentally calculating as to how Sita would look. His imagination is both poetic and extremely devotional.

He looks for her, among the devoted wives, blessed with the sublime quality of purest paativratya.

Sita is not a mere human female. She is divine ; unborn of a human. She would perhaps look like a shape carved in gold. At this juncture, the Kavisamrat gives elaborate descriptions.

The lalita sahasranama describes the devi as koorma purshta jayishnu prapadaanvita. Her hands would be like lotuses bearing the signs of Rama holding the bow.

Anguished by pangs of separation ; Hanuman imagines most beautifully, the wiping of tears might have erased those marks. The Divine Mother has a form that is both expressed and unexpressed - “Vyaktaavyakta roopa”.

With myriad thoughts and pictures in his mind Hanuman at last concentrates. With his eyes closed first and then opening his left eye he imagines the figure of Sri Rama. Suddenly a light flashes. It is like stable lightning flashing its radiance on a blossoming lotus.

The Kavisamrat has suggested in his description of “Sthira saudamini” (stable lightning) the experience of a yogi while he attains to manipura from the anaahata in the shatchakras.

The flash is very symbolic. The radiance disappearing. Hanuman realises that Sri Rama in Kishkindha Kaanda is different from this Rama realised through upasana. This is He who

would bless devotees with aihika moksha, worldly liberation. Hanuman realises that that is the reason why Sri Rama seeks the help of the Kapi. This makes Hanuman more a determined than ever to go about the quest with a new vigour.
May 4, 1987


Sri Rama is a unique personality both in worldy (laukika) and supra worldly (alaukika) terms. He combines in his beatific eminence the greatest and the noblest of human qualities besides the divine.

Any attempt to depict the epic with the focus on a single aspect or a single rasa is fraught with the risk of its not being well received by the masses. This is so because the epic and its divine hero inhere in them the noblest and sublimest of every feeling, rasa and virtue.

Bhavabhuuti tried his hand at concentrating on veeera as the prime quality in Sri Rama in his Mahaveera Charitra. But it failed to make the impact it intended to produce. The poet's other attempt, Uttararamacharitra, was a greater success in which the readers found Bhavabhuuti unique. The poet held that the one and only rasa is karuna “eko rasah karuna yeva”.

The Kavisamrat with his deep insight into the nature of Kavya decided to write the epic keeping the balance of the rasas necessary for its enduring eminence.
Nature has in it a balance. Our Kavyaas and itihaasas seek to bring the balance necessary for joyful life on this earth. Even Westerners like Thomas Mann said that legends are meant to console man. The epic shows us the way to keep the balance ; to discriminate between the natural and the unnatural. To have one head is natural for ahuman. To have ten even for a rakshas is an aberration, both frightful and dangerous.

Hanuman sees in Ravana's palace the lady with the most exquisite beauty (Roopa sampanna) in the hue of golden yellow (gaureem kanaka varna). He is elated and shows his happiness in many ways. He mistakes Mandodari to be Sita. Sage Valmiki at that juncture calls him kapi. He realises that she could not be Sita for the simple reason that Rama's consort would not be able to eat, drink or sleep wear ornaments or look so happy and contented. From this point onwards kapi becomes Kapeeswara. He is projected as the most blessed one. Kapi suggests the higher, sublime nature (Oorthwa Prakriti).

The Kapi throws away the idea that (the lady he has seen could be Sita and becomes Mahakapi.

In the 11th sarga he wonders what could have happened to Sita. Iagining the worst for a short while he is in the dumps of despair. He thinks that the night which he thought would be fruitful (Sujaaata moola) has come to nothing.

But shortly afterwards, a yogi as he is, he realiss that aiswarya lies in “anirveda”. To be enthusiastic is to win half the battle.

With hope rejuvenated, he decides to become a taapasi. The determination revealed to him both an abode for his meditation and a mantra with which to realise the Supreme. The mantra is actualy a prayer : Namosthu raamaya salakshamnaaya a prayer to Rama with Lakshmana, to Sita to Indra, Yama and Vayu. It is also a prayer which every devotee can use day in and day out for the welfare of not only himself but also for everyone around him.
May 17, 1987


The Kapeeswara is a much transformed searcher after having sen Mandodari. He becomes more sober than ever. His resolve to become a taapasi is itself significant. He sends up an ardent prayer and does not forget his own king whom he does not want to offend.

At the beginning of the 14th sarga Hanuman's entry into Ashokavana is described.

“In the forest of poety, the lion of a poet, Valmiki, strolls. Listening to his song, whover would not get salvation ?”. This is the couplet we utter when we sit in meditation on the sage before reading the epic.

Naada is the result of the combination of praana and agni. Naada is the sage's accomplishment. Ripeness, in praana, life, is possible only by undergoing transformation by fire, agni. Ramakathaanaada is embedded in Devarshi Guna Sanghata. Devas stand for vowels, Rishis and ganas for the vargas of consonants and sanghaata are consonart compounds and clusters. All these in unison produce week which is naada.

The Ashokavana which Hanuman enters by divine grace is also sage Valmiki's poetic orchard. Even the Kapeeswara is a muni simha there. His entry is going to be the most momentous event in the progress of the quest, in the process of realisation.

While Hanuman see only the demon-women in the antahpura of Ravana, the Kapeeswara in the Ashokavana visualises the elements, the dikpalakas and the marudganas.

This is the progress of the saadhaka in winning the grace of the divine.
June 3rd, 1987


Once inside Asoka Vana Hanuman acquires the condition of vasitwa where one becomes vasi. The Taittereyopanishat describes Bhaargavi vidya where the saadhaka progressively moves forward to realisation. Annam is considered brahma first then praana, then manas and then vijnaana. The last step is the one where ananda is realised as brahma.

Anjaneya has sivamsa. The Supreme Mother is described as Siva-dooti, Sivapriya, Sivamoorti and Sivamkari. Anjaneya is Siva himself coming as a messenger from the parabrahma, the inclusive embodiment of the all-embracing one to accomplish the task and find sivasaktyatmaka swaroopa.

Hanuman is sakhamruga and now in the vana he is in his element. He shoots himself into Ashoka vana as an arrow. Omkara or pranaya is the chanus, the aatma the arrow and brahma the target.

He is the muni honoured by the trees which shower petals on him. The Kavisamrat described the happiness of the vana which welcomes the seer and the saadhaka with the sweet music of the wind blowing through the branches of the trees.

The trees have the origin in the earth as Sita does. Hanuman is impressed with the extent of the vana as extensive as the place and as extensive as the fort. A Kapi, he sees the kapimukha trees. The sage brings out the beauty of the vana and its delectable mental state.

The many lotus-ponds in the vana, the trees and the birds fill Hanuman with radiant hope. The object of his quest could not be far away. From the top of a simsupa tree he looks around and finds golden seats under trees. He hopes to see the grief-stricken Sita there for the vana and the holy waters in the river would definitely draw her there for offering her morning prayers. She is called taaarakaadhipanibhaanana. She is rama darsana laalasa.

The lalita rahasya sahasranaama describes the Supreme Mother as wearing the four disas in her hari-bun and four types of the flowers : Champaka (east). Asoka (south), Punnaga (west) and saugandhika (north).

A poet himself and a devotee Ravana gives the name of Asoka Vana to his garden.

One having her abode in the many-treed vana-kadamba vanvaasini and the one adopt at traversing it-vana sancharakusala-Sita would come to see her reflection in the water.

It is necessary here to bear in mind the concept of prakaasa bindu and vimarasa bindu. The Supreme Mother and her indivisible consort are always in unison-only changing their positions. If one is prakaasa the other is vimarsa. If one the bimba the other is the pratibimba.

The agnisomeeya vidya tells us the samasakti-equilibrium effecte and maintained by Siva and Sakti in their union. The slokas towards the end of the 14th sarga of Valmiki's epic are in consonance with the descriptions of the Mother in Saundaryalahari and Lalitasahasram. The Mother is both dwija sangha nishevita and dwija brinda nishevita. She is worshipped by holy men as well as holy birds.

Janaki comes from the lunar dynasty and Sri Rama from the solar. The sun and the moon are inseparable and both together keep the creation eternally going.
May 9th 1987


PAARAYANA – the repetitive reading-of the Ramayana is believed to produce blessings and other salutary effects. Paarayana yields ever-widening vistas of meaning, experience and endless enlightenment by providing deeper and deeper understanding. As literature of the highest order the epics are nectars of thought while music is sweet from beginning to end. Literature is alochanamruta and music is aapaata madhura.

Sarga 15 takes Hanuman to para raatra. It is soon going to be dawn. The description of Asoka vana is the sweetest one can come across in the entire range of literature.
It is full of divine fragrance-divyagandha rasopeta. It is raised by Ravana to excel Devendra's Nandanavana and Kubera's Chaitra Radha. It is a replica of the earth and the sky made by Ravana in abid to outshine the creations of the Almighty.

Sita sits in the vana. The whole vana is radiant and at the centre is the most radiant one. She is there like Surya mandala madhyastha being tejasamapi tejaswi the most brilliant among the brilliant.

The most significant of the descriptions which escaped the attention of commentators has been that of chaitya-praasada

Sa dadarse vidurasthaam
Chaitya praasada muchchritam
Madhyae stambha sahasrena
Sthithan Kailasa Paanduram

The thousand pillared topless pavilion white and high as the silver mountain-Kailasa is a wonderful symbol of sivatatwa. Chaitya is usually glossed as a Buddhist construction. But here it is not so. Lalita Sahasranaama describes the Supreme Mother as “chitistatpada lakshyardha”. Chit signifies jnana jnana sakti sat chit and ananda-om tat sat-that is Brahma. “Chaityam” has its root in chit. “Chitesh idam chaityam”. It is a temple meant for the Supreme Mother constructed by the most imaginative and poetic mind out of the true saadhaka's devotion.

Adi Sankara makes it clear in sloka 97 of Saundaryalahari that the Supreme Mother is parabrahma mahishee and explains how she is variously construed as Lakshmi. Saraswati and Parvati though she excels and inheres all the three in her.

Hanuman is the son of Punjakasthala, a representative of Agnisena in union with Vayu Son of fire and air hanuman is blessed with the inner eye of a saadhaka.
Valmiki describes what the naked eye can see of Sita as also what the saadhaka can see with his inner eye. It is ultimately the flame of the grief in Sita that Hanuman uses to set fire to Lanka.

In the concluding sloka of the 15th sarga, the consummate poetic artist tells us that Hanuman sees Sita with his eyes open and Rama with his eyes closed.
June 16th, 1987


The Supreme Mother symbolised in the moon has shodasa kalas, 16 kinds of radiance. The 16th can be perceived only by a yogeeswara : it is pratiroopa of para-brahma which can be heard by the saadhaka in the dhamaruk of Shiva.

Hanuman leaps over jala which is also the symbol of jada when solidified to search for Sita. The 16th sarga has 32 slokas which symbolically refer to kala mentioned twice.

Satchidananda-sat. Chit and ananda-are branches of the tree that is Rama and of the tree that is Sita. Kalpavruksha is the tree of the devas and it is also brahma vruksha. The veda tells us that if harmed it would rain blood and sin. Kalpavruksha is the tree of our imagination.

Hanuman identifies Sita through the qualities of her mother, father and her husband he finds in her.

She is called the deer-eyed suggesting her eye for golden deer. She is the daughter of the King of Mithala, the Videha. She is Vydehi, one without the illusion and the trammels of the body. She has quality of “sthira saudamini” and not the quality of the ordinary body. Hanuman the saadhaka sees her as the 16th Kala of the shodasa Kalas of the Supreme Mother.

By close reasoning he concludes that she must be the beloved one of Rama. Sita, Vydehi and Kadamba-vana-vasini. But before his naked eye She appears debilitated, worn out and begrimed.

The Kavisamrat with his typical modern consicousness goes a step further to elaborate how she appeared to Hanuman. Perched on the thick boughs with a lightning-like body, with his eyes closed concentrating on visualising in meditation, Hanuman finds Sita like Rohini eclipsed by Angaraka, like Smriti (scripture) in the hands of evil men like Shraddha upset, like achievement marred like renown affected by slander, like learning forgotten and shorn of culture, like power that does harm to good men, like a social fabric which has given up other worldly thought and like the goddess dharma attended on by Kali.

This makes Hanuman sure that she could not be anyone but Sita.
June 17th 1987


In the invocation to Goddess Gayatri, the “saadhaka” endeavours to arouse and develop his consciousness with the prayer Yadahnaatkurutepaapam tadahnat pratimuchyate, Yad raatriyatkurute paapam tad raatriyat pratimuchayate. This attempt to save oneself from sins of various kinds is necessary for the individual to charge himself with divinity again and again. It is going to be time for the morning “sandhya” soon. Hanuman feels every movement of Sri Sita. The blackness and evil around are absorbed by the divine.

Asokavana is beautiful but the demons around Sri Sita are the most hideous. She is surrounded by deformed demon women with abnormal faces, ears and mouths. The hideous monstrosities of their faces and looks are described in slokas. The purpose is to make us look at ourselves and beautify ourselves by removing the scum-maalinya.

The Kavisamrat describes the hardships Sri Sita is exposed to, the sordidness and the dqualor of these female specis of the demons. As opposed to the twisted and deformed noses of those surrounding Her, Sita is Champakanaasaa who can dispel foulness.

Hanuman is happy in a way to see Sri Sita in that state. It is the same state which he has seen Sri Rama in. He notices the same quality of pain and yearining in both. Asokavana, which ends one's griefs, enhances Sri Sita's relief.

But Hanuman is happy, for he finds Sri Sita adorned with the affection of Her lord. She is Bhartruvaatsalya Bhushita, Suvibhaktangi. She does not need any ornaments at all. The very symmetry of body is enchantingly divine. At the end of the 17th sarga, Hanuman is Harsha Santushtha-happily contented.

At the beginning of the 18th Sarga Sage Valmiki indicated the time again. A little of the night is left in the early predawn hour, the Brahmarakshasas wake up chanting hymns. The ideal messenger with his capacity to cisualise Hanuman waits observing and looking around.

Ravana wakes up and the first thing he does in the morning is to see Sri Sita.

His coming has a metaphysical significance. There is something in him of the earlier births (bhaava sthirani janmaantara sahrudaani as Kalidasa puts it) and Ravana cannot restrain him self from seeing her and She does not see him. She is the divine force that controls him. As the Devistawam says. Yaadevi Sarwa Bhuteshu Nidra Rupena Samsthita.

It is significant that Ravana should allow so many of his wives and retinue to follow him when he comes to the vana with what he has in mind.

Hanuman, the Mahaabaahu, is taken aback. He receives the jerk of a shock of fear on seeing the demon king.

The kavisamrat describes in a beautiful quatrain how the fear that Hanuman experienced has been the first of its kind and the last too. Hanuman is filled with a revulsion for Ravana, the one who has inspired fear in a “parama yogi”. “Bhaya” is “maaya” pradhama swaroopa”. A yogi is aware of “maaya” but still conquers it and fear is the sequel of maaya. That a yogi should be hocked into fear makes Hanuman feel a revulsion for Ravana. But an ideal doota with Abhyoohakatwa, Hanuman carefully hides himself, his eyes, and his tail lest his anger should betray his presence and defeat his purpose.

June 26th 1987

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More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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