WHY DID VALMIKI NAME ‘MONKEY CANTO’ AS ‘BEAUTY CANTO’? (Post No.7904)

Compiled  BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No.7904

Date uploaded in London – 30 April 2020   

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

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Valmiki’s Ramayana, consisting of 24,000 verses, is one of the most famous epics in the world’s literature. Apart from its literary grandeur, it is also looked upon by the Hindus as a holy text.

Of the six sections or cantos or Kandas of the Ramayana , Sundara Kanda is the fifth section. It has 2885 verses. It deals with the heroic exploits of Hanuman in one day and night, during which he crossed over to Lanka, discovered Sita, inflicted crushing defeat on Rakshasa forces, set fire to Lanka and returned to the southern shore of India to convey the news of Sita’s discovery to Rama. Rama was in Kishkindha at that time.

This section deals with Hanuman, the chief of the Vanaras, the monkeys. Other five cantos are named after the places where the events took place or the occasions to which the subject matter refers. Following the pattern of these earlier kandas or cantos this section should have been called Hanumat Kanda. But why the word ‘Sundara’ which means ‘Beautiful’ is applied to this Kanda?

xxx

Swami Tapasyananda writes in the introduction to his book Sundarakanda and gives eight points:—

1.The direct meaning that comes to one’s mind is that it refers to the literary excellence of the Kanda.it marks the acme of Valmiki s literary and poetical excellence and so it is Sundara or beautiful.

2.It is suggested that it is Sundara because it relieved Sita of her sorrow .

3.Sundara can mean a messenger, and this Kanda includes the message sent by Rama to Sita.

4.Sundara is also a name for an intermediary who establishes a mutual contact between a hero and a heroine as Hanuman did in the case of Rama and Sita.

5.Sundara is the name of a monkey and this chapter is so called because it deals with the achievements of the monkey Hanuman.

6.The recovery of something lost is sometimes described as Sundara, and in this section the topic dealt with is the discovery of Sita who had been lost.

7.It can also be indicative of the great spiritual importance attached to this chapter. The study of this is considered as equivalent to the study of the whole of Ramayana as far as spiritual merit is concerned. Ramayana is Vedas and Sundara Kanda is Upanishads.

8.Here is an allegorical meaning. An ordinary reader sees a great literary work in it. Other readers find spiritual meaning in it. Philosopher devotees have found a hidden allegorical meaning in the whole narrative. It is represented as the quest of the awakened spiritual aspirant to cross over the ocean of Samsara and seek the divine spirit within through an analogy of the various layers of human personality .

Hanuman is the awakened soul. Jambavan is the enlightened spiritual teacher. The vast ocean between India and Sri Lanka is the ocean of Samsara which the aspirant wants to cross. Surasa, Simhika, Mainaka Parvatam and Lanka Lakshmi are the obstacles. Finding Sita is finding divinity in himself.

A word must be said here about the literary merit of this great text. Valmiki’s poetry is characterised throughout by sublimity, felicity and naturalness of expression and epic grandeur.

Sundara Kanda brings out two great characters Hanuman and Sita. Hanuman stands for the ideal masculine strength. Sita stands for the feminine expression of courage. Hanuman is vividly described as one who never considers anything impossible. He is the very embodiment of strength and self -confidence. No danger or difficulty can thwart him from his purpose. Fear is a sentiment that doesn’t come anywhere near Hanuman.

The other character, typifying female heroism , is Sita . In India, Sita is always held as the ideal of woman hood. Generally, woman is considered the weaker sex, timid and dependent on men. But in Sita we get a character that is unparalleled in faithfulness, in courage and in undaunted heroism. They are as great as those of Hanuman, but the main difference is that these qualities are displayed in a passive way.

According to the belief of pious Hindus Sundara Kanda is not merely a narrative of events or allegory, but also a mine of power on which a devotee can draw for spiritual support in difficult worldly situations. Its recital with faith is considered a panacea for all ailments and difficulties of man.

Anyone who reads the introduction of Swami Tapasyananda will definitely read the full Sundara Kanda with faith and devotion and get all the benefits.

I have only summarised his introduction.

Source

Sundara Kandam

Swami Tapasyananda

Sri Ramakrishna Math

Mylapore, Madras

600 004

—subham–

Tags — Sundara Kanda, Beuty canto, Swami Tapasyananda, Hanuman,

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