Book 5: Sundara Kanda

Hanuman’s Adventure
Angela Fischer

Hanuman continued to pace on the mountaintops, readying himself for the big leap to Lanka. The earth began to crack beneath his feet, animals scurried, trying to hide from the gigantic ape, while leaves and flowers fell from treetops to the ground. He could feel the winds from his father, Vayu, encircle him, encouraging him to make the jump. Hanuman then took the time to salute his father, the wind god, as well as Surya, Indra, Varuna, Kubera, and the Lokapalas. He thought about Rama and Laksmana and how much they were relying on him to succeed. With that, Hanuman stood still on one of the mountaintops and gathered himself trying to forget all doubt. He let out a loud roar, crouched down, coiled his tail and yelled, “Like an arrow from Rama’s bow I fly to Lanka!” All the vanaras below began to cheer. Hanuman leapt into the air with such great force that flowering trees were ripped from the ground, leaving a trail of colorful flowers behind him.
Hanuman continued to rise up higher and faster into the sky. The devas gathered around to watch the monkey’s great leap. To help Hanuman reach Lanka, the sun god dampened his rays to prevent from burning him. Vayu held his son in his arms and blew the winds strongly around him so he would reach Lanka even faster. Varuna, the ocean god, lifted a mountain named Mainaka from beneath the waves. Mainaka explained to Hanuman, “Varuna bade me rise to be a resting place for you. The Lord of the waves would like to be of use to you. Come Hanuman, rest a while upon me. Then you can fly to Lanka from my summit.” But Hanuman gratefully replied, “I am moved by your love and by the ocean’s kindness. But my time is short and I have none to rest. Farewell, good mountain, we shall meet again someday.” And with that, Hanuman continued on his journey to Lanka while Mainaka sank beneath the waves once again. Nearby, the light gods were watching Hanuman. They wanted to test his abilities because they felt the leap was too easy a task for him. One of the devas of light, Surasa, turned herself into a raksasi and blocked Hanuman’s path. The raksasi was as big as Hanuman and she told him “By Brahma’s boon no one can pass me without going through my mouth!” Hanuman knew he could outsmart Surasa and replied “raksasi, your mouth is too small to contain me. Open wider, so I may fit in.” And with that, Surasa opened her mouth as wide as she could. Hanuman, being the quick thinking monkey he was, shrunk in size until he was no bigger than a human’s thumb and quickly flew in and out of the raksasi’s mouth without her even noticing. Surasa was amused by the monkey and said to him “Pass in peace Hanuman; it was only the devas testing you. May your journey be fruitful; may all your missions succeed.”

Still pressing on, Hanuman soon found himself unable to move forward. It was as if some sort of force was holding him back. He looked around to see what the problem was. It wasn’t long before he realized it was the work of another raksasi, named Simhika. Simhika had emerged hungrily from the water. She charged at Hanuman with her mouth wide-open, fangs exposed. By now Hanuman had lost all of his patience. He flew as quickly as he could into Simhika’s mouth, down her throat and into her belly. He grabbed her intestines in his hand and flew back out her mouth dragging her innards with him. Leaving Simhika’s remains behind, Hanuman continued on his journey.

Soon, Hanuman reached an island covered in groves and shrubs and flora of all kinds. Streams trickled and waterfalls fell with a beauty and glory that Hanuman could not have even imagined before this moment. It contained the most glorious streams and waterfalls he had ever seen. He knew this must be Lanka. Relieved that he had made it this far, he knew there was still a larger task ahead. Hanuman again shrunk in size, this time becoming three feet tall. He wandered further into the island until he saw Ravana’s city. A deep moat surrounded the city, with only a single bridge acting as a crossing. Across the bridge was an army of raksasas (demons). They were fiercer than any raksasas he had ever seen before. Behind the raksasa army was a towering wall that appeared impossible to climb. Hanuman began to doubt his abilities after seeing the well-guarded city so he sat up in a tree for a while, trying to shed all uncertainties that he had. He knew Rama, Laksmana, and Sita were relying on him now more than ever.

It was nighttime before Hanuman regained the courage he needed to press forward. He was slowly approaching the bridge when he decided to shrink in size even more. This time he was no bigger than a kitten. Hanuman crept along the underside of the bridge, trying to avoid the site of the raksasa army. Suddenly, he felt a strong hand grab him by the scruff of his neck; it was Lankini, the spirit and guardian of Lanka. She picked Hanuman up and said, “What have we here? It seems to be no warrior, but only a little monkey. But not everything is what it seems to be, and you are very heavy for one so little. Who are you, and why are you trying to creep into Lanka?” Hanuman responded, “I saw the beauty of Lanka from yonder peak, and I was so enchanted that I came to see it nearer. I will admire the sights of Lanka and go away as I came. I mean no harm to anyone.” Lankini knew Hanuman was not telling the truth so she slapped him across the face. Hanuman retaliated and punched her in the jaw. The blow caused Lankini to topple over. Instead of fighting back, Lankini folded her hands to Hanuman and said, “So the prophecy is true! Brahma gave me a boon and said I would be invincible at these gates. But he also said that one day a little monkey would come along, and when he struck me down I would know the end of the raksasas was at hand. And I know what brings you here. It is she; it is Sita who brings doom to Lanka. It is no use my standing guard here any longer. Lankini does not bar your way any more; you are free to enter as you please.” Hanuman then crossed the bridge and as he did Lankini melted into the night and left the gates of Lanka forever.

Hanuman carefully leapt onto the wall that protected Lanka and slid down the other side. He marveled at the sight of Lanka but knew he had no time to spare and quickly set forth to find Sita. To prevent himself from being spotted by the raksasas, Hanuman ran across the rooftops until he reached Ravana’s palace. Inside the palace the hunt for Sita really began. He spotted many beautiful raksasis but knew none of them were Sita. Ravana’s palace had many rooms and Hanuman was determined to search each one. Inside numerous bedchambers Hanuman saw beautiful, sleeping women but none of them were Rama’s Sita. Still he pressed on. After much searching, Hanuman reached a door that appeared to be even more magnificent than the others. He slowly opened it and crept in. Inside, he saw a sleeping raksasa who could only have been Ravana. He had long arms that hung down to his knees and dark skin. He wore white silk and he was covered in fancy jewelry. Hanuman looked past Ravana’s bed and saw another bed in the room. He slowly tiptoed over to the other bed, thinking Sita might be asleep inside of it. As he got closer, he noticed a woman was fast asleep inside the soft bed. She was more beautiful than anyone he had ever seen before. He said quietly to himself “By her beauty she must be Sita. But how does she sleep so contentedly in Ravana’s bedchamber, with a smile curving her perfect lips?” He then thought to himself that Sita would rather die than spend the night with Ravana so he looked closer at the sleeping woman and realized that it was Mayaa’s daughter, Mandodari.

He had searched hundreds of rooms and still found no trace of Sita anywhere. Feeling dejected, Hanuman thought to himself “Sampati the eagle said he saw her here from across the sea. Then where is she? Ravana must have killed her between then and now, and cremated her body. Or perhaps there are dungeons below the palace where he holds her. But I have looked everywhere and found no sign of such a prison, or a stairway leading down to one.” He knew that if he returned to Kiskindha with no news of Sita Rama would surely kill himself and the others would follow suite shortly. He believed he had failed Rama. Feeling sorry for himself once more, Hanuman left the palace and sat atop a tree and watched moonbeams strike the earth. Suddenly he noticed a copse that became illuminated by the moon. The copse was hidden by the shadow of Ravana’s palace and could not be seen in the darkness of night. A slight glimmer of hope spread through Hanuman as he realized that this thicket had not yet been searched. Maybe this is where Sita was hidden away. He found his way to the asokavana and slowly entered it. Inside he found a beautiful garden. Hanuman remembered Rama telling him that Sita loved flowers, trees, and all wild things. This must be where Ravana is keeping Sita! He peered through the trees and saw a little temple hidden in the asokavana. Slowly, he crept up to the little temple and looked inside one of the windows. Inside he saw a woman dressed in dirty silk, her face stained with tears, and she was surrounded by sleeping raksasis. There was no doubt in his mind this was Sita. Unfortunately, morning was near and Hanuman decided to hide in a nearby tree to prevent any of the waking raksasis from seeing him.

As dawn broke, Ravana woke up wanting nothing but to see Sita’s beautiful face. He walked from his bedchamber to the asokavana where he held her captive. Hanuman peered through the leaves of the tree he was hiding in and watched as Ravana entered Sita’s room. He was in awe at Ravana’s greatness. He had never seen a king so grand. As Ravana walked closer to Sita, she covered herself with her hands to avoid his gaze. He said softly to her “Whenever I come here, you try to hide your beauty with your hands. But for me any part of you I see is absolutely beautiful. You are the perfect woman; beauty begins with you. Honor my love, Sita, and you will discover how deep it is. My life began when I first saw you, but you treat me so cruelly.” She didn’t reply. Getting frustrated, Ravana decided to downplay Rama’s excellence and said to Sita “he is not my equal, in wealth or power, valor, or even tapasya. Forget your wandering hermit. By now he has lost his mind from sorrow. Be sensible, as your humankind always is. Just think there is no hope of Rama ever seeing you again, no hope that he can cross the ocean. Give up your stubbornness; it is all you have to lose.” Sita, angered at what Ravana had just said replied, “I am the wife of another man, Raksasa, and my husband is my life. How can you even think of me as becoming yours, when I am already given to Rama? I have always belonged to Rama and I always will.” Angered greatly by her words, Ravana threatened Sita, “Two months I give you, out of my great love. Remember to be in my bed before those sixty days are part. If you are not, my cooks will serve you to me in pieces for my morning meal.” And with that, he left. The raksasis who were guarding Sita followed Ravana closely, trying to console him.

One of the raksasis stayed behind with Sita. Her name was Trijata and she was older than the other raksasis. She softly said to Sita, “Come and hear what I dreamed!” Knowing that Trijata was kind and caring, Sita stepped close to Trijata so she could listen to her dream. In the dream, Trijata saw Rama and Laksmana reuniting with Sita while Ravana fell to the ground, screaming in pain. She saw Ravana’s brother Kumbhakarna sink beneath the waves, while Vibhisana wore the crown upon his head. Trijata also told Sita about the monkey she had dreamt about, who set Lanka on fire with his tail.

Sita was overjoyed when she heard the news and ran to a nearby asoka tree. She sat beneath it and sobbed for she knew Rama would rescue her soon. This was the same tree Hanuman was hiding in. Hanuman knew he had to talk to her but he was scared Sita would think he was a raksasi, or worse yet, Ravana in disguise, so he hid behind the tree’s leaves and softly spoke to her. He told her the story of King Dasaratha and how he was forced to banish Rama to the jungle. He told her about an evil emperor who abducted a woman named Sita. He then explained how Rama, the brave warrior needed help finding Sita so he made friends with two monkeys, Sugriva and Hanuman. He told Sita how only one monkey was able to make the leap to Lanka. Finally, he told her that he was that monkey, he was Hanuman. Sita was excited but hesitated slightly as she looked up into the tree’s branches for the varana. Hanuman climbed down the tree and prostrated himself at her feet. Hanuman talked about his journey before he gave Sita Rama’s ring. “Rama will be here sooner than you think. But if you like, I can take you out of here today upon my back,” offered Hanuman. But Sita replied, “Dear Hanuman, my heart insists that Rama must come to Lanka and slay its raksasa. Besides, I would rather die at once than try to escape and be captured again. Also, good Hanuman, you must forgive me, but I am Rama’s wife and it isn’t proper of me to cling to your back as we cross the sea.” Hanuman understood and agreed to fly back to Rama alone so he could tell him where she was so he could save her himself. Sita then took out the chudamani (hair ornament) that she wore in her hair and said to Hanuman, “Give this to Rama. He knows it well. When he sees it, he will think of my mother, of his father Dasaratha, and of me; memories of us three are upon its jewel. Everything depends on you Hanuman; my life is in your hands.” Hanuman bowed down at her feet. He gently took the chudamani from her hand and quietly left her side.

As Hanuman was leaving Lanka he decided to make his presence known; he wanted to destroy the beautiful garden of the asokavana. He had a feeling that it was Ravana’s favorite place. He uprooted many trees and stirred whirlpools so they spilt over their banks. He also trampled over exotic plants. Some nearby raksasis heard the commotion and went to see what was happening. They were shocked to see a monkey causing so much damage and decided to bring the news to Ravana. Ravana sent hundreds of his guards to capture the monkey, including his mighty son Aksa. It was a battle between monkey and raksasa. The guards were easily defeated but Hanuman enjoyed fighting Aksa; he thought he was a handsome and noble warrior. Eventually Hanuman knew the time had come to kill Aksa; he smashed down Aksa’s chariot with a stone pillar then proceeded to pick Ravana’s son up. He then smashed Aksa’s head against a stone wall, killing him instantly. Ravana was shocked to see the great power the monkey possessed so he called for his other son Indrajit to fight him. He said to Indrajit, “Your brother and your friends have died. It seems no legion can stand against this monkey, let alone take him. Go, my son, bring him to me. Bring him alive.” Indrajit followed his father’s orders and went up to the vanara. He drew a special arrow from his quiver, one that contained Brahma’s astra. He shot the arrow at Hanuman, causing him to fall to the ground immediately. Indrajit believed he had won the battle but Hanuman thought to himself, “The boy doesn’t know that by Brahma’s own boon to me, his astra can hold me only for a moment. But I want to see Ravana’s face before I fly out of Lanka, and this is my chance. I am not afraid!” Ravana’s men quickly approached the fallen varana, captured him and brought him to Ravana. Ravana ordered the vanara to tell him who he was. Hanuman told him that Rama had sent him and that the end of Lanka was near. This greatly angered Ravana and he ordered his guards to kill Hanuman. Ravana’s brother Vibhisana explained to Ravana “On no account should a messenger be killed; he is our enemy and he must pay for what he has done. Whip him, maim him, even; shave his head and scar his body with your wrath. But do not have him killed.” Taking this to heart, Ravana retorted, “Nothing is more precious to a monkey than his tail. Let this monkey’s fine tail be set on fire. Let him be sent back with a burnt stump behind him to show that he crossed my path. Yes, let the monkey’s tail be lit and let him be marched through the streets of Lanka. Let my people mock him for what he did today.”

The raksasis from the asokavana ran to tell Sita about the monkey and how his tail was about to be set on fire. This news brought tears to Sita’s eyes – Hanuman was her only hope. She knew she had to do something so she began to pray to Agni the God of fire, “If it is true that I have been faithful to Rama, true that I have kept my vows and that my mind has always been pure, then don’t let Hanuman, who leapt across the sea to find me, who braved every danger to bring Rama’s message to me, be burned by your flames. Let your touch be upon his tail be as cool as the caress of his father Vayu.” As soon as she finished praying, Hanuman’s tail was being wrapped in cloth, dipped in oil, and set aflame. However, Hanuman felt no pain because of Sita’s prayer. Instead, the quick thinking monkey decided to use the fire to his advantage. He grew in size until he was as tall as the tallest tower in Lanka and he ran about frantically, setting buildings on fire. Next, he shrunk in size until he was no larger than a cat and he hopped from rooftop to rooftop, setting all of Lanka on fire. After Hanuman felt he had made the strength of Rama’s army known, he flew back to Bharatavarsa.

All of the vanaras at Bharatavarsa cheered when they saw Hanuman again, they knew he had found Sita safe and sound. They all then walked to Sugriva’s palace together and celebrated Hanuman’s victory by drinking the king’s finest wine. Once Rama and Laksmana heard the news of Hanuman’s return, they quickly went to him to find out anything they could about Sita. Hanuman told Rama of his adventures in Lanka. He told him how beautiful Lanka was and how he set it on fire. He told him about Ravana and his raksasa armies. He then finally told him about Sita, how she was alive but very sad all the time. He described her tear stained face, her matted hair and her torn dress. Finally, Hanuman gave Rama Sita’s chudamani and Rama said with tears in his eyes, “Laksmana, I see her face when I hold this golden ring. She weeps for me my brother.” Rama was happy to hear that Sita was alive and waiting for his arrival.Hanuman continued to rise up higher and faster into the sky. The devas gathered around to watch the monkey’s great leap. To help Hanuman reach Lanka, the sun god dampened his rays to prevent from burning him. Vayu held his son in his arms and blew the winds strongly around him so he would reach Lanka even faster. Varuna, the ocean god, lifted a mountain named Mainaka from beneath the waves. Mainaka explained to Hanuman, “Varuna bade me rise to be a resting place for you. The Lord of the waves would like to be of use to you. Come Hanuman, rest a while upon me. Then you can fly to Lanka from my summit.” But Hanuman gratefully replied, “I am moved by your love and by the ocean’s kindness. But my time is short and I have none to rest. Farewell, good mountain, we shall meet again someday.” And with that, Hanuman continued on his journey to Lanka while Mainaka sank beneath the waves once again. Nearby, the light gods were watching Hanuman. They wanted to test his abilities because they felt the leap was too easy a task for him. One of the devas of light, Surasa, turned herself into a raksasi and blocked Hanuman’s path. The raksasi was as big as Hanuman and she told him “By Brahma’s boon no one can pass me without going through my mouth!” Hanuman knew he could outsmart Surasa and replied “raksasi, your mouth is too small to contain me. Open wider, so I may fit in.” And with that, Surasa opened her mouth as wide as she could. Hanuman, being the quick thinking monkey he was, shrunk in size until he was no bigger than a human’s thumb and quickly flew in and out of the raksasi’s mouth without her even noticing. Surasa was amused by the monkey and said to him “Pass in peace Hanuman; it was only the devas testing you. May your journey be fruitful; may all your missions succeed.”

Still pressing on, Hanuman soon found himself unable to move forward. It was as if some sort of force was holding him back. He looked around to see what the problem was. It wasn’t long before he realized it was the work of another raksasi, named Simhika. Simhika had emerged hungrily from the water. She charged at Hanuman with her mouth wide-open, fangs exposed. By now Hanuman had lost all of his patience. He flew as quickly as he could into Simhika’s mouth, down her throat and into her belly. He grabbed her intestines in his hand and flew back out her mouth dragging her innards with him. Leaving Simhika’s remains behind, Hanuman continued on his journey.

Soon, Hanuman reached an island covered in groves and shrubs and flora of all kinds. Streams trickled and waterfalls fell with a beauty and glory that Hanuman could not have even imagined before this moment. It contained the most glorious streams and waterfalls he had ever seen. He knew this must be Lanka. Relieved that he had made it this far, he knew there was still a larger task ahead. Hanuman again shrunk in size, this time becoming three feet tall. He wandered further into the island until he saw Ravana’s city. A deep moat surrounded the city, with only a single bridge acting as a crossing. Across the bridge was an army of raksasas (demons). They were fiercer than any raksasas he had ever seen before. Behind the raksasa army was a towering wall that appeared impossible to climb. Hanuman began to doubt his abilities after seeing the well-guarded city so he sat up in a tree for a while, trying to shed all uncertainties that he had. He knew Rama, Laksmana, and Sita were relying on him now more than ever.

It was nighttime before Hanuman regained the courage he needed to press forward. He was slowly approaching the bridge when he decided to shrink in size even more. This time he was no bigger than a kitten. Hanuman crept along the underside of the bridge, trying to avoid the site of the raksasa army. Suddenly, he felt a strong hand grab him by the scruff of his neck; it was Lankini, the spirit and guardian of Lanka. She picked Hanuman up and said, “What have we here? It seems to be no warrior, but only a little monkey. But not everything is what it seems to be, and you are very heavy for one so little. Who are you, and why are you trying to creep into Lanka?” Hanuman responded, “I saw the beauty of Lanka from yonder peak, and I was so enchanted that I came to see it nearer. I will admire the sights of Lanka and go away as I came. I mean no harm to anyone.” Lankini knew Hanuman was not telling the truth so she slapped him across the face. Hanuman retaliated and punched her in the jaw. The blow caused Lankini to topple over. Instead of fighting back, Lankini folded her hands to Hanuman and said, “So the prophecy is true! Brahma gave me a boon and said I would be invincible at these gates. But he also said that one day a little monkey would come along, and when he struck me down I would know the end of the raksasas was at hand. And I know what brings you here. It is she; it is Sita who brings doom to Lanka. It is no use my standing guard here any longer. Lankini does not bar your way any more; you are free to enter as you please.” Hanuman then crossed the bridge and as he did Lankini melted into the night and left the gates of Lanka forever.

Hanuman carefully leapt onto the wall that protected Lanka and slid down the other side. He marveled at the sight of Lanka but knew he had no time to spare and quickly set forth to find Sita. To prevent himself from being spotted by the raksasas, Hanuman ran across the rooftops until he reached Ravana’s palace. Inside the palace the hunt for Sita really began. He spotted many beautiful raksasis but knew none of them were Sita. Ravana’s palace had many rooms and Hanuman was determined to search each one. Inside numerous bedchambers Hanuman saw beautiful, sleeping women but none of them were Rama’s Sita. Still he pressed on. After much searching, Hanuman reached a door that appeared to be even more magnificent than the others. He slowly opened it and crept in. Inside, he saw a sleeping raksasa who could only have been Ravana. He had long arms that hung down to his knees and dark skin. He wore white silk and he was covered in fancy jewelry. Hanuman looked past Ravana’s bed and saw another bed in the room. He slowly tiptoed over to the other bed, thinking Sita might be asleep inside of it. As he got closer, he noticed a woman was fast asleep inside the soft bed. She was more beautiful than anyone he had ever seen before. He said quietly to himself “By her beauty she must be Sita. But how does she sleep so contentedly in Ravana’s bedchamber, with a smile curving her perfect lips?” He then thought to himself that Sita would rather die than spend the night with Ravana so he looked closer at the sleeping woman and realized that it was Mayaa’s daughter, Mandodari.

He had searched hundreds of rooms and still found no trace of Sita anywhere. Feeling dejected, Hanuman thought to himself “Sampati the eagle said he saw her here from across the sea. Then where is she? Ravana must have killed her between then and now, and cremated her body. Or perhaps there are dungeons below the palace where he holds her. But I have looked everywhere and found no sign of such a prison, or a stairway leading down to one.” He knew that if he returned to Kiskindha with no news of Sita Rama would surely kill himself and the others would follow suite shortly. He believed he had failed Rama. Feeling sorry for himself once more, Hanuman left the palace and sat atop a tree and watched moonbeams strike the earth. Suddenly he noticed a copse that became illuminated by the moon. The copse was hidden by the shadow of Ravana’s palace and could not be seen in the darkness of night. A slight glimmer of hope spread through Hanuman as he realized that this thicket had not yet been searched. Maybe this is where Sita was hidden away. He found his way to the asokavana and slowly entered it. Inside he found a beautiful garden. Hanuman remembered Rama telling him that Sita loved flowers, trees, and all wild things. This must be where Ravana is keeping Sita! He peered through the trees and saw a little temple hidden in the asokavana. Slowly, he crept up to the little temple and looked inside one of the windows. Inside he saw a woman dressed in dirty silk, her face stained with tears, and she was surrounded by sleeping raksasis. There was no doubt in his mind this was Sita. Unfortunately, morning was near and Hanuman decided to hide in a nearby tree to prevent any of the waking raksasis from seeing him.

As dawn broke, Ravana woke up wanting nothing but to see Sita’s beautiful face. He walked from his bedchamber to the asokavana where he held her captive. Hanuman peered through the leaves of the tree he was hiding in and watched as Ravana entered Sita’s room. He was in awe at Ravana’s greatness. He had never seen a king so grand. As Ravana walked closer to Sita, she covered herself with her hands to avoid his gaze. He said softly to her “Whenever I come here, you try to hide your beauty with your hands. But for me any part of you I see is absolutely beautiful. You are the perfect woman; beauty begins with you. Honor my love, Sita, and you will discover how deep it is. My life began when I first saw you, but you treat me so cruelly.” She didn’t reply. Getting frustrated, Ravana decided to downplay Rama’s excellence and said to Sita “he is not my equal, in wealth or power, valor, or even tapasya. Forget your wandering hermit. By now he has lost his mind from sorrow. Be sensible, as your humankind always is. Just think there is no hope of Rama ever seeing you again, no hope that he can cross the ocean. Give up your stubbornness; it is all you have to lose.” Sita, angered at what Ravana had just said replied, “I am the wife of another man, Raksasa, and my husband is my life. How can you even think of me as becoming yours, when I am already given to Rama? I have always belonged to Rama and I always will.” Angered greatly by her words, Ravana threatened Sita, “Two months I give you, out of my great love. Remember to be in my bed before those sixty days are part. If you are not, my cooks will serve you to me in pieces for my morning meal.” And with that, he left. The raksasis who were guarding Sita followed Ravana closely, trying to console him.

One of the raksasis stayed behind with Sita. Her name was Trijata and she was older than the other raksasis. She softly said to Sita, “Come and hear what I dreamed!” Knowing that Trijata was kind and caring, Sita stepped close to Trijata so she could listen to her dream. In the dream, Trijata saw Rama and Laksmana reuniting with Sita while Ravana fell to the ground, screaming in pain. She saw Ravana’s brother Kumbhakarna sink beneath the waves, while Vibhisana wore the crown upon his head. Trijata also told Sita about the monkey she had dreamt about, who set Lanka on fire with his tail.

Sita was overjoyed when she heard the news and ran to a nearby asoka tree. She sat beneath it and sobbed for she knew Rama would rescue her soon. This was the same tree Hanuman was hiding in. Hanuman knew he had to talk to her but he was scared Sita would think he was a raksasi, or worse yet, Ravana in disguise, so he hid behind the tree’s leaves and softly spoke to her. He told her the story of King Dasaratha and how he was forced to banish Rama to the jungle. He told her about an evil emperor who abducted a woman named Sita. He then explained how Rama, the brave warrior needed help finding Sita so he made friends with two monkeys, Sugriva and Hanuman. He told Sita how only one monkey was able to make the leap to Lanka. Finally, he told her that he was that monkey, he was Hanuman. Sita was excited but hesitated slightly as she looked up into the tree’s branches for the varana. Hanuman climbed down the tree and prostrated himself at her feet. Hanuman talked about his journey before he gave Sita Rama’s ring. “Rama will be here sooner than you think. But if you like, I can take you out of here today upon my back,” offered Hanuman. But Sita replied, “Dear Hanuman, my heart insists that Rama must come to Lanka and slay its raksasa. Besides, I would rather die at once than try to escape and be captured again. Also, good Hanuman, you must forgive me, but I am Rama’s wife and it isn’t proper of me to cling to your back as we cross the sea.” Hanuman understood and agreed to fly back to Rama alone so he could tell him where she was so he could save her himself. Sita then took out the chudamani (hair ornament) that she wore in her hair and said to Hanuman, “Give this to Rama. He knows it well. When he sees it, he will think of my mother, of his father Dasaratha, and of me; memories of us three are upon its jewel. Everything depends on you Hanuman; my life is in your hands.” Hanuman bowed down at her feet. He gently took the chudamani from her hand and quietly left her side.

As Hanuman was leaving Lanka he decided to make his presence known; he wanted to destroy the beautiful garden of the asokavana. He had a feeling that it was Ravana’s favorite place. He uprooted many trees and stirred whirlpools so they spilt over their banks. He also trampled over exotic plants. Some nearby raksasis heard the commotion and went to see what was happening. They were shocked to see a monkey causing so much damage and decided to bring the news to Ravana. Ravana sent hundreds of his guards to capture the monkey, including his mighty son Aksa. It was a battle between monkey and raksasa. The guards were easily defeated but Hanuman enjoyed fighting Aksa; he thought he was a handsome and noble warrior. Eventually Hanuman knew the time had come to kill Aksa; he smashed down Aksa’s chariot with a stone pillar then proceeded to pick Ravana’s son up. He then smashed Aksa’s head against a stone wall, killing him instantly. Ravana was shocked to see the great power the monkey possessed so he called for his other son Indrajit to fight him. He said to Indrajit, “Your brother and your friends have died. It seems no legion can stand against this monkey, let alone take him. Go, my son, bring him to me. Bring him alive.” Indrajit followed his father’s orders and went up to the vanara. He drew a special arrow from his quiver, one that contained Brahma’s astra. He shot the arrow at Hanuman, causing him to fall to the ground immediately. Indrajit believed he had won the battle but Hanuman thought to himself, “The boy doesn’t know that by Brahma’s own boon to me, his astra can hold me only for a moment. But I want to see Ravana’s face before I fly out of Lanka, and this is my chance. I am not afraid!” Ravana’s men quickly approached the fallen varana, captured him and brought him to Ravana. Ravana ordered the vanara to tell him who he was. Hanuman told him that Rama had sent him and that the end of Lanka was near. This greatly angered Ravana and he ordered his guards to kill Hanuman. Ravana’s brother Vibhisana explained to Ravana “On no account should a messenger be killed; he is our enemy and he must pay for what he has done. Whip him, maim him, even; shave his head and scar his body with your wrath. But do not have him killed.” Taking this to heart, Ravana retorted, “Nothing is more precious to a monkey than his tail. Let this monkey’s fine tail be set on fire. Let him be sent back with a burnt stump behind him to show that he crossed my path. Yes, let the monkey’s tail be lit and let him be marched through the streets of Lanka. Let my people mock him for what he did today.”

The raksasis from the asokavana ran to tell Sita about the monkey and how his tail was about to be set on fire. This news brought tears to Sita’s eyes – Hanuman was her only hope. She knew she had to do something so she began to pray to Agni the God of fire, “If it is true that I have been faithful to Rama, true that I have kept my vows and that my mind has always been pure, then don’t let Hanuman, who leapt across the sea to find me, who braved every danger to bring Rama’s message to me, be burned by your flames. Let your touch be upon his tail be as cool as the caress of his father Vayu.” As soon as she finished praying, Hanuman’s tail was being wrapped in cloth, dipped in oil, and set aflame. However, Hanuman felt no pain because of Sita’s prayer. Instead, the quick thinking monkey decided to use the fire to his advantage. He grew in size until he was as tall as the tallest tower in Lanka and he ran about frantically, setting buildings on fire. Next, he shrunk in size until he was no larger than a cat and he hopped from rooftop to rooftop, setting all of Lanka on fire. After Hanuman felt he had made the strength of Rama’s army known, he flew back to Bharatavarsa.

All of the vanaras at Bharatavarsa cheered when they saw Hanuman again, they knew he had found Sita safe and sound. They all then walked to Sugriva’s palace together and celebrated Hanuman’s victory by drinking the king’s finest wine. Once Rama and Laksmana heard the news of Hanuman’s return, they quickly went to him to find out anything they could about Sita. Hanuman told Rama of his adventures in Lanka. He told him how beautiful Lanka was and how he set it on fire. He told him about Ravana and his raksasa armies. He then finally told him about Sita, how she was alive but very sad all the time. He described her tear stained face, her matted hair and her torn dress. Finally, Hanuman gave Rama Sita’s chudamani and Rama said with tears in his eyes, “Laksmana, I see her face when I hold this golden ring. She weeps for me my brother.” Rama was happy to hear that Sita was alive and waiting for his arrival.

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