Sundara Kanda 1 – Hanuman’s Quest for Sita
When Hanuman leapt in the air, the rishis, yakshasas, and Gods were astounded. They sang his praises and showered flowers on him. Seeing him travel this way, the ocean decided to help him. The ocean asked Mount Mainaka to rise high in the sky so Hanuman could rest on it for some time.
Seeing the mountain rise, Hanuman struck it with his chest. The mountain then took the form of a divine being and requested Hanuman to rest for some time. Hanuman embraced the mountain but continued his journey.
The Gods then asked Surasa, the mother of Nagas, to take the form of a demoness to stop Hanuman so he could rest. Surasa asked Hanuman to enter her mouth saying she had a boon that no one could pass her without entering her mouth. Hanuman then reduced himself to thumb size, entered her mouth quickly, and left. Surasa was pleased and blessed Hanuman with success.
The rakshasi Simhika then tried to swallow Hanuman, but the best among apes entered her mouth and tore her internal organs. Having killed her, Hanuman continued his journey. Finally, he reached Lanka and landed on a mountain. He saw a city well-protected by ramparts, moats, and soldiers.
Hanuman decided to wait till night to avoid being detected. When it turned dark, he reduced his size to that of a gnat and entered the city. He saw hundreds of mansions made of gold and decorated with gems. In the city, he saw grotesque rakshasas, soldiers, and beautiful women who were intoxicated. But he could not see Sita anywhere.
He then entered Ravana’s residence. It was like Kubera’s residence, filled with gold. There were elephants, beautiful women, and rakshasi guards. He then saw the Pushpaka Vimana and entered it. He saw thousands of beautiful women who were asleep and resplendent in their beauty. He then saw a large couch with an umbrella in it, and sleeping on the couch was Ravana.
He saw the mighty arms and powerful body of the king of Lanka, who was deep asleep. He also saw Ravana’s many wives sleeping. Hanuman then saw a beautiful lady asleep on a bed by herself. It was Ravana’s queen Mandodari. Hanuman did not know this and thought it to be Sita.
He then realised that without Rama, Sita would not be dressed so well and sleeping peacefully. He roamed all over the palace but could not find Sita anywhere. Hanuman was worried about Sita’s fate and wondered how he could return and face Sugriva and Rama.
Hanuman then saw the Ashokavana and entered the grove. He saw a variety of trees with an abundance of flowers and fruits. As he looked around, he saw a lady wearing a soiled garment, and surrounded by rakshasis. Seeing her grieve, he realised this must be Sita.
At that time Ravana woke up. He was filled with desire and came to see Sita. Hanuman hid behind leaves and observed everything. Seeing Ravana, Sita covered her body and wept, thinking of Rama. Ravana then addressed her and asked why she was sad. The king of Lanka told her even though he was filled with desire, he would not touch her.
Ravana asked Sita to accept him and become his chief queen. An angry Sita then placed a blade of grass between them and rebuked the demon king. She asked him to follow dharma, saying that Rama would come there and destroy him, and take her away.
…. To be continued