Sundara Kalpa Vriksha - 3

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In the 19th sarga sage Valmiki describes how Hanuman takes great care to hide himself. Like Sri Rama's hridays he condenses himself into a small ball.

With the arrival of Ravana, Sita too shrinks. Ravana refuses the seat proffered to him by a servant. Sri Sita sits here with all her lustre. To express this, echoing the understanding of Valmiki the Kavisamrat piles simile upon simile. She is like a star-woman trembling at the sight of the moon at the root of a tree on the see-shore. She is like Vishnubhakti that has been struck aghast by Hiranya-kasipa's braggart declarations of superiority over God. She is like the weakened swargalakshi after the rule of emperor Bali. She is like the sad and stricken deity of Adithya when Kaartaveeryarjuna took away the Kamadhenu from his host. She is like a lake about to burst in breeches.

To top all these the Kavisamrat uses “alankaras”. In a single quartrain which could easily be a sample of his poetic glory.

Sri Sita appears like the shape of Sri Rama's Viraha (pangs of separation for the Lady-love). Her eye-brows are like his bow and eyes like his grace, her black hair like Sri Rama's complexion and in all her person she is like the shape of dharma of the crown jewel of the most distinguished king of Raghuvamsa. In all and in every thing. Sri Sita appears like Sri Rama's pratijna symbol, a vow and an oath.

Having made his entry into Vana, Ravana goes on addressing Sri Sita. He makes Sabda-Sabda means veda also. It is one of the four pramaanaas (standards). But the sounds that Ravana utters are not in accord with dharma.

Dharma, artha, kaama and moksha are the four purusharthas. Ravana illustrates how he stands for kaama and kaama alone. As such he is a rakshsa a demon. Kaama for the wedded one is acceptable by dharma. It is natural, necessary and approved. The four purusharthas are in varying degrees combined in the personae of the Ramayana.

Sri Rama, the “Poorna purusha” stands for dharma and makes everything else subsidiary. Vaali and sugriva make artha, material wealth, their goal and object of pursuit and make kaam and dharma subservient to it. Ravana rejects dharma for artha and mostly kaama.

Ravana's words addressed to Sita are charged with a deeper meaning on the metaphysical plane. At one level, the conscious, arrogant plane, they sound as the blubberings of a delirous passion, Kaamuka Bhaashana.

But we can also see in his words the “jeevi” yearning (unaware and unknown to Ravana himself) for the Supreme mother.

The Kaamuka's words and the Jeevi's words have to be carefully distinguished. The samskara and the yearning of the jeevi are replete with a devout fervour for the divine. She is called suvigraha, sarvaanga gunasampanna. He dare not touch her and he tells her that he would not touch her against her will. She is tree ratna. Ratna is mantra and she is stree (sri) Vidya. The jeevabhaashana brings out the jeevi's vedana. Lala lalana, Ravana says, Lala is the root of Lalita, the Supreme Mother who makes and keeps jeevi happy.

June 27th 1987


Ravana's words to Sri Sita are replete with his unconscious awareness of the suplendour of the Supreme Mother. Without his knowing he compares her glory with that of the moonlight. He tells her that she is like the clouded moon. But a clouded moon would never remain so. The Yogasikha upanishad has it that the sun emerges as soon as the clouds pass. Ravana's words reveal the unconscious yearning of the jeeva for unification with the Supreme.

While appealing to Sri Sita he asks her to verify whether he has ever disappointed any one of his beloved mistresses. Sri Sita is the jyotsna which runs through the ila, pingala and sushumna naadis. The durga stawa describes her as viswa naaveva sindhum.

Sri Sita holds a blade of grass while addressing Ravana. This is to show his worthlessness as also to reflect her own paativratya. Ravana listens to her spell-bound. He is angry and at the same time enthralled. In her words we find three stages first of sweet and soft persuasion, second a preaching of dharma and finally the unworthiness and impossility of his heinous desire.

Ravana, however pleads that if he were a blade of grass. Sri sita should be a butterfly. At one level he utters the blackest of black blasphemies. At another, unknown to himself, he calls her panjara sukee bringing to our mind the quality of the Supreme Mother who is omkaara panjara sukee.

Sri Sita contains herself listening to his kaamuka bhashana and then cautions him that if only she cose, he would be rendered a heap of ashes. She had the power of the wrath of imprecation rightly the possession of pativrata, a devout wife.

But she does not want to punish him. It is for her Lord to punish the evil one. She is her Lord's and it is for her Lord to obtain the crest of glory of Raghuvamsa by killing Ravana.

The Kavisamrat describes the looks of Sri Sita having heard Ravana's pleas and threats. Her brow is “pavi theekshna bhru” the power packed brow of vajrayudha. She is called kadaarekshana, the angry red-eyed one. The Lalita Sahasranaama describes her as krodhaakaaramkusojjwala.

In his kaamuka bhaavna Ravana speaks like a boor and talks of what no one except the Supreme Lord knows. This is in a bid to equal the Supreme.

With a tear-stained face Sri Sita feels sorry for the blasphemer and tells him that it is stupidity to try to separate with a sword the moon and her radiance and the sun and his splendour. While Sri Rama is the sky, she is the song. The holy writ tells us “Aakasam sabda gunakam” while he is the water she is the flow, she is the sthayeebhaava and he the rasa.

Hanuman goes into a kind of samadhi being able to see in her words the unity of Sri Rama and Sita. The way she controls herself lays down a guideline for our conduct in daily life. Herein lies the relevance of the epic to our lives to find the joy of living by restraint compassion and recognition of our dependence on the Supreme.

July 8th 1987


However hard she tries, Sita finds no means of stoppaing the ten-headed demon using every threat and every persuassion to entice her.

The demon king tells Sita that perhaps Rama has been killed by lions, tigers or serpents. A creeper as she describes herself, She would perhaps meet Rama in the entrails of a beast of prey. He tells the tear-shedding lady that her body is full of youth meant to be enjoyed and preaches her the principle of life. While the holy writ lays down restraint and adherence to principles (niyamas) he pleads to her to use the body as an instrument of pleasure. His words are graamyoktulu-base and vulgar words of a boor.

Sita answers him, a red radiance leaping forth from her eyes like powerful horses. She is both grief-stricken and wrath-roused.

At one stage she resorts to the most powerful irony to sting him into consciousness. “You, a grandson of Brahma”. She pooh poohs him. She asks him to go and tell her lord that he has been her disciple which would earn him everlasting happiness.

She warns him that when out of cleverness he cut off his heads as an offering to Shiva, they sprouted again but they would be chopped off by Rama never to grow again.

She tells him that she would reveal a secret out of pity for him. A single arrow from Rama's bow would render him and his entire progeny a heap of ashes. Having told this she warns him not to blame her that she has not cautioned him.

The whole purport of Sita is to talk to the Jeevi inside the demon. The implied suggestion is that if he went then he need not have another birth to get unification with the Supreme.

The loftier aim of life is to sek janma raahitya. She tells him that she is parabhaarya-other's wife. Para also refers to paramatma.

Listening to all this Ravana flies into a rage and delivers a final threat giving her two months time to yield. Sita is shaken like a platain tree by the side of a fire.

July 20, 1987


At the end of every yuga there is a deluge (pralaya) and 25 such occuring in a hundred yugas is a day for the creator, Brahma. The poet Valmiki's purport is to propagate the divinity of Rama though he is depicted as a human behing.

Different personae in the epic have had different kinds of Rama darsana. Ravana's bhaavana-feeling-is that Rama is an ordinary human being who does not deserve such a splendid wife. Hence his blasphemous talk.

Shedding tears in helplessness, Sita knits her brow in wrath and frowns on him formidably. Dhaanyamalini, a demon-woman, tactfully leads Ravana away.

Sita is surrounded by a holy circle of fire. Vahnimandala madyastha, the Lalitasahasranama describes her.

Rama katha bhavana, the conception of the divine figure, is a source of Supreme bliss directly proportionate to the devotee's capacity for bhavana, imagination.

Sita's paativrathya is debunked by the demon-women. Every one of them jeers at her and her virtue. Vikata, for example, sees Sita as one who brought misfortune to every one around to her father, to Raghuvamsa, to her husband, to the demon king and finally to themselves. Ravana may punish them by asking them to feed on Sita's emaciated body for failing to win her over. According to the Kavi-samrat. Vikata calls Sita parama dukhamaya vichitra lokeswari, the empress of utter wretchedness and grief.

It all depends on how one looks at others according to one's own samskara and disposition.

Sita is sad that Rama is desolate in a vana like himself, like the moon unable to shed her rays, like the mother earth unable to fill the clouds with water and like a lake where the hamsas (swans) never come.

Put Sita is as soft as the Supreme Mother alone could be. She tells the demon-women that she and her Rama are as holy and inseparable as the devoutly pure and pristine douples ; Suvarchala and Surya Sachi and Devendra, Arundhati and Vasishtha, Rohini and Sadi, Lopamudra and Agastnye and Sukanya and Chyavana. These spiritual and legendary couples are unities of Rishiprakritis, models of marital devotion.

July 21st 1987


The demon women find themselves really at a loss to know as to why Sita does not yield to the entreaties of their king. They in their dismal ignorance, think that she is foolish.

They plead with Sita once again that she should become their king's Mandodari and that he would make it a moonshine world of delectable amorousness for them both.

In this context the Kavisamrat describes the mental illumination of Sita. She feels that it is avaidika-unacceptable to the spirit of the holy writ-to try to preach and enlighten the unworthy and the uncultured.

The Gautama smriti lays it down ; naaprushtah kasyachi nabrooyaat without being entreated do not reveal knowledge and wisdom thus enjoining the enlightened one to ensure the seeker's desert.

The demon women resort to dread-inspiring threats and surround her with sharpened swords. They tell Sita that her emaciated body would repel her husband.

But the paativrathyabhaava parameswari tells them of the boon, she was given by Sati Anasooya. As an effect of the boon Sita would always appear to her Lord, no matter how she is, as the most lovely.

Anasooya, the name makes it clear is the one who does not know jealousy. She is the wife of Atri-the one who is not the three-satwa rajas and tamas. Transcending three gunas. Atri is the highest of the evolved.

The arguments between the demons and Sita toss back and forth till in their thick-headedness the demon women surround her to kill her in desperation. The din of their warlike preparation wakes up the old demon woman, Trijata.

Trijata stops them saying that she has had a terrible dream. She offers to be killed first. She tells them of a wonderful dread in which she sees. Sri Rama approaching followed by Lakshmana with a white ivory chariot.

The episode of Trijata is pregnant with very significant meaning.

July 22nd 1987


when asked by the demon women Trijata narrates to them the scenes from her dream. The episode is a source of enlightement. Trijata's five senses (indriyas) are awake while she is dreaming and she experiences with all her senses wide awake.

She sees the sun, the moon and fire all symbols of punctuated time (khanda kaala) which are parts of the Supreme who is akhanda kaala-unbroken and endless time as described in the Seetopanishad.

Trijata in her dream, a beautiful vision, literally sees the body of the Supreme as a Khadga maala described in khadga maala mantra. At one level it is a vision beatific, at another a polychromatic phatasmagoria and yet another a polytonous sonority.

The Sibika, small tent-like ivory seat on the elephant, brings us to our mind Trikuta. Trikuta suggests the knot of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra grandhis.

Sita is seen in white apparel, surrounded by white all around her. In the great epic, poetry inheres philophy and philosophy is encapsulated in poetry. Trijata describes her vision in a series of images. She sees Sita's Rama's and the Lakshmana's. Rama and Lakshamana descend from the elephant and Rama extends his hand and lifts up sita on to his side. Rama appears like a black cloud encricled by lightning. He breaks into a declicate sensuous sweat. Sita appears as paalana kalaanetra with eyes that mastered the art of paalana, caring, blessing and gracing.

The Kavisamrat comes up here with four lines which he has used again in his other works too.

The light on Sita's lower lip was like the moonshine on the sky. From a sidelong glance of Sita are born millions of Manmadhas each with a power of enchanting with a sugarcane bow.

8th August 1987


Trijata's dream serves several useful purposes in the epic. Her narration inspires Hanuman who listens intensely to Trijata. If Trijata has been blessed with the appearance of Sri Rama in his perennial union with his consort and his follower, Anjaneya the yogi comes nearer to his goal.

Trijata sees Aakasa in her dream. Chandogya Upanishad says : Aakasa iti ho vacha. Chelavatya explained that Aakasa is the symbol of the most high, the Supreme. It is the highest of the elements, Prithvi (earth). Jala (water) Agni (fire) and Vayu (air).

Then Trijata describes how she saw Ravana in her dream ; he looked dark, faded, lustreless and older ched. Though an inhabitant of the earth, he looked as one from the underworld-the world of oil. He wore a red-flowered garland which decks one going to be beheaded. He looked drunken and mad. He lay face downwards on the earth, like one thrown down from an airborne vehicle.

The Kavisamrat did not make Rama ride Pushpaka at this stage. The poetic justification is that Rama is above small things . What had been a prized possession to Ravana the Pushpaka, is a mere trifle to Rama.

Another significant point is that Trijata refers to her king. The ten-headed demon, merely as Ravana.

He is already shorn of all his eminence. He is seen in her dream as one overthrown by a woman. He appears with a shaven head and pounded into clay by her.

Valmiki shows his deep -seated harted for Ravana but the Kavisamrat goes one better in his transcreation.

The Supreme is referred to as Kaali aso reminding us of Adi Sankara's description of the Supreme inhering is her Lakshmi Saraswati and Parvati.

The blessed and the broadminded see Lakshmi as part of the Supreme Being.

Trijata concludes her narration saying how the great deon heroes went on wouthward on their peculier mounts, one on an ass, another on a pig and so on.

However there is only on clad in white that goes northward, he is Vibheeshana.

While Rama is seen is a 'Sibika' Ravana is seen on a pig. Finally Trijata sees in her dream a monkey who appears to her in several shapes suggesting Panchamuka Anjaneya.

9th August 1987


In the Ushakhanda Anjaneya is envisioned as a huge tree in its seed and a seed of the tree in which he hides himself thinking of the next course of action.

Hanuman finds Sita as a ray of fortune-”Bhaagya-rekha”. Nothing can harm her. A yogi as he is, he thinks that it is impossible to foretell what would happen next. He learns patience from the mother. None else but Sita could have shown such patience.

To withstand the pangs of such separation is possible for Rama alone. At this juncture Hanuman thinks of a strategy and words with which he should communicate his feeling. He with his wisdom concludes that Sita could not easily believe him, if he makes a sudden appearance. She would not be able to believe even if Sri Rama himself were to appear there with Lakshmana. But still she may quite possibly be waiting for some kind of a messenger from her Lord.

Hanuman is the only one capable of searching for Sita, he having seen Rama at Kishkindha. To attract Sita's attention, he sings the glorious history of his Lord Sri Rama Satcharitra. He thinks of a suitable language in which to sing. Sanskrit would be intelligble to the demons, it being the lingua franca in Lanka.

He chooses Maithli Praakruta where Sita is absolutely at home and it is also the language known to the people around Ayodhya. He begins to sing Rama Katha from behind the foliage like Valmiki Kokila himself. He makes the sound appear to be coming from far away. The quality ot the tune is one which has a soporific effect on the ones incapable of getting enlightenment. The tune would be thought-provoking to the one ever-wakeful and enlightened like Sita. He intones the story in such a way which reveals the presence of an elevated soul around. The tune and the content of the song make Sita very happy. The carefully chosen incident of Vaali being punished by Rama for snatching away another's wife uttered by Hanuman would suggest to Sita Rama's wrath at such misdemeanours.

Hanuman feels elated and blissful like Garuda at discovering nectar obeying his mothers's command to liberate her. He vies with Vinate's son and succeeds in that he has already found the mother. He thinks that he is happy like the holy men finding Gayatri. He feels that his existence has proved accomplished his end being fulfilled.

6th September 1987


Upaasana has Suparna Lakshmana, the quality of soaring upward. Hanuman has understood “amruta tattwa” as well as 'Gayatri tattwa'. The Taittreya Upanishad says : “Adharaahnuh Poorva Roopam Uttar Hanuh Uttara Roopam Vaksandhih Jihwa Sandhanam”.

Sabda is the product of the Hanus and Vaak is the product of Sabda. The Brahmas utra says : Aakaasa Tallingath. Aakasa is the symbol of Paramatma, it is all pervading. The scriptures say : Antar Bahiseha Tatsarvam Vyapya Narayana Sthitah. Aakasa inheres in it the four types of sound Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vykhari.

Hanuman concludes his brief narration of Rama Charita mentioning Sugreeva. As one coming from Kishkinda and Sugreeva, in arriving in Lanka, into Sita's presence. Hanuman has performed the great journey. There is a leap from the Vykharinaada to Paraanaada. He is the one who knows the Vaak Swaroopa being a Vedavid, the one who knows the Vedas. To know and express Para Tattwa the Vedas are the only means.

It is not the story alone that is important. Kuntaka, the aesthetician says that only words imbed with beauty remain for ever.

After Hanuman mentions Sugreeva. Sita looks up into the foliage of the Simsupa. At first she is frightened. His teeth appear frightful. His jaw struck by Indra's Vajrayuda has a dent on it. But the next moment she recognises him as Parama Buddhimanta and embodiment of Sattwa. He is the most valiant, the most talkative and yet the most silent one. Hanuman is described as Monojavam and Maruta Tulyavegam. Manojavam is the Seventh of the seven flames of fire and is aided by the fastness of wind in Anjaneya. He is Jitendriya too, the one who has conquered the senses.

Sita finds him as fire that does not sings or burn the Simsupa. He is Vaanara. Vaana, according to Kenopanishad, is the one who finds perpetual union with Brahma. He has Rudramasa but still he holds the power to destroy firmly under control.

Sita wonders whether she is awake or asleep. She thinks that perhaps she is indulging hereself in wishful thinking.
26th August 1987

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

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