Sundara Kanda 3 - The Burning Tail
A fierce fight took place between Hanuman and the Lanka prince Aksha. Seeing his valour and the intensity of his attack, Hanuman attacked and killed him. Ravana was livid with rage and summoned his son Indrajit and commanded him to attack Hanuman.
Indrajit and Hanuman fought fiercely, but Hanuman managed to evade the mighty Indrajit’s weapons. Indrajit realised that the ape was powerful and could not be killed. So, he decided to capture him and used the brahmastra to bind Hanuman. The best among apes realised he could not counter the weapon of the creator.
Hanuman had been blessed by the creator, Indra, and other Gods as a child. He knew he was safe and could not be killed. So, he decided to allow himself to be captured by Indrajit. The rakshasas then tied up Hanuman with bark and ropes. When he was thus tied, the bondage of the weapon ceased to exist.
Hanuman was then taken to the court of Ravana. He saw the strong and radiant king of the demons seated on a huge throne. He thought that Ravana could have been the protector of the world, if only he followed dharma. Ravana commanded his ministers to talk to Hanuman and find out why he had come.
Hanuman then told them he was Sugriva’s messenger and had come on behalf of Rama. He told Ravana about Rama’s greatness and warned that Rama would destroy Lanka. An angry Ravana ordered that Hanuman be put to death. Ravana’s brother Vibhishana then said that it was not right to kill a messenger.
Ravana agreed and ordered that since an ape’s ornament was its tail; Hanuman’s tail should be burnt. The rakshasas then put oil on Hanuman’s tail and set it on fire. A rakshasi then conveyed this news to Sita, who prayed to Agni Deva to protect Hanuman.
Hanuman was surprised to see that the fire did not hurt him. Leaping high in the air, Hanuman left the palace and reached the gate. He then saw the houses of Lanka and decided to set it on fire. Moving at will, Hanuman used his tail to spread fire across Lanka, setting houses on fire. Within no time, the city of Lanka was on fire. Extinguishing the fire on his tail in the ocean, Hanuman was worried whether Sita was hurt in the fire.
A divine voice assured Hanuman that fire could not hurt her because of her austerities and devotion to her husband. To reassure himself, Hanuman went to meet Sita. He took her blessings, assured her that Rama would come to save her, and commenced his return journey. Climbing on to the mount Arishta, he increased in size and leapt across the ocean.
His power was so great that the mountain sunk into the earth and entered the rasatala region. He roared as he returned to Mount Mahendra. Hanuman happily informed Angada and the others that he had found Sita. He described his journey and his adventures in Lanka, even as the apes listened on in joy.
…. To be continued