28.9.4 : THREE SUNDARAKANDAMS : VALMIKI, KAMBAN & TULSI --- P.4
The scene now changes. Ravana arrives in a state of mental torment that he has not been able to persuade Sita to even look at him and he continues to torment Sita by pungent words. After Ravana leaves the scene, the next major event is Hanuman’s announcement of himself to attract Sita’s attention. This is done by the three poets in three different ways. But before we come to that, we shall see how the three poets describe this worst moment of desperation in Sita’s earthly existence. Tulsi makes Sita ask for fire from Trijata , but the latter says no fire can had at night; so Sita pleads with the Ashoka tree to supply her with fire and put an end to her agony. Hanuman watches this and the ‘moment seems like a whole kalpa to Hanuman as he beheld Sita extremely distressed due to Her separation from the Lord
’ (T.R.V-12) dEkhi parama virahAkul sItA sOchhan kapi hi kalpa-sam bItA
and he thought within himself -- ‘ kapi kari hRday vichAr’ . And he dropped the ring! This is all what Tulsi says. This ‘thinking within himself’ is the debate that Hanuman has within himself for a whole chapter in Valmiki. Kamban also passes over this ‘hRday vichAr’ in one stanza by making Hanuman debate a little before he appears in front of Sita announcing himself. But now let us see how Valmiki handles this scene elaborately. And that is probably the reason why Kamban and Tulsi decided not to elaborate it! In Valmiki Hanuman debates quite a lot and finally decides to narrate Rama’s story sitting on the tree itself. This attracts her attention.
The debate of Hanuman within himself is a masterly soliloquy going over a whole chapter (Sarga 30 in V.R. Sundara kanda) consisting of 44 shlokas. Here are a few glimpses of this soliloquy:
“….I should console this Sita. If I don’t console her and go my way, she might take away her life and all the efforts taken by all the monkeys would be a wasted effort. And I should console her within this night. There is no doubt that she has decided to take away her life. If Rama asks me ‘What did Sita say?’ what reply would I give him? …… Without a proper message from her I should not go back. …..If in this small monkey body of mine I go to her and speak in a human voice, she might think I am Ravana in disguise and be totally frightened. But I do have to talk to her in a human voice. But in fright if she raises an alarm then all the Rakshasis would be on me. ….And then the Rakshasa army may be alerted and there might be a fight. … I am not afraid of them … I have come all the way crossing the ocean. … I am confident of overcoming any obstacle from the Rakshasas …. But the meeting with Sita would have been disturbed and would have become impossible … How does a wise man do all this with certainty that everything is correctly done?
कश्च निस्सम्शयं कार्यं कुर्यात्-प्राज्ञः ससम्शयं॥
kaSca nissamshayaM kAryaM kuryAt-prAjnas-sasamshayaM (V.R. V – 30 – 35).
Thus there is great danger in my trying to talk to her. If I don’t talk to her also there is danger. How do I do all this without making the crossing of the ocean a wasted effort. How do I talk to her so that she is not afraid of me? Hey, Ram! …’ And finally he decided to sing the story of Rama from the beginning in the most gentle way from the tree top itself in a human voice, so that she may hear it, prick her ears and be ready to receive good news. And he decided to show his presence to her at that time.!
And thus he begins:
‘There was a king Dasaratha by name in the line of the famous Ikshvaku. He was greatly respected …… And he had a beloved gem of a son by name Rama who was most loved by his people because of his dharmic tendencies nd actions…..In order to preserve the truthfulness of the words of his father he proceeded to the forest along with his wife and brother. ….In the forest he was duped by Ravana by a strategy through a fake deer and Sita was abducted by Ravana. ….Rama and Lakshmana went on searching for her, made friends with monkey king Sugriva. …. After killing Sugriva’s enemy Vali, Sugriva was made king of the monkey kingdom. The king sent armies of monkeys in all directions to look for Sita. I have come here after crossing the ocean ….’
Sita heard all this and looked up to see the source of the voice which seemed to be bringing news about her beloved Rama. Hanuman came down from the tree. And keeping his hands raised above his head in the ‘anjali’ pose, he approached her and asked her who she was, and whether she was not the Sita who was abducted by Ravana from the forest in the absence of Rama and Lakshmana. And then the conversation starts. Seven chapters (about 450 shlokas) of the ensuing scene of Sita-Hanuman interaction is a magnificent treat to readers of Valmiki. These chapters have great religious value for millions of believers in the spiritual sanctity of the V.R. who read these chapters as an offering to the Lord in the hope of a redress for their grievances.
Kamban does not lag behind. About 190 four-line stanzas of scintillating poetry take us to the Ashokavana itself to see the drama. There is no comparison possible or necessary between Valmiki and Kamban in this scene. Each is great in a unique way.
Tulsi, in view of the fact that his Sundarakand itself is far shorter than the other Sundarakandas, devotes 30 stanzas to this scene but includes shades of all the details in his own style of an avid devotee of Rama. And Hanuman’s method of consoling Sita is by appealing again and again to the Divinity of Lord Ram and his superhuman might. ‘Do not feel vexed at heart, mother’ says he, ‘Shri Rama loves you twice as much as You love him’: -- Jani jananI mAn jiya UnA; tum te prem rAm kE dUnA. Incidentally this particular statement is Tulsi’s own. Neither Valmiki nor Kamban say it this way.
Kamban narrates three wonderful stanzas of Rama’s three deep-felt messages to Sita: (K.R. V – 547 to 549):
நடத்தல் அரிது ஆகும் நெறி நாள்கள் சில தாயர்க்கு
அடுத்த பணி செய்து இவண் இருத்தீ எனஅச்சொற்கு
உடுத்த துகிலோடும் உயிர் உக்க உடலோடும்
எடுத்த முடிவோடும் அயல் நின்றதும் இசைப்பாய்
nadattal arithu Agum neRi nALkaL cila thAyarkku adutta paNi ceythu ivaN iruttI ena accoRku
udutta tukilodum uyir ukka udalOdum edutta mudivOdum ayal ninRathum icaippAy
‘I told her “it is very difficult to go through the forest. After all I am going to be in the forest only for a particular period of time. Till then, stay in Ayodhya itself, carrying on your usual services to the three mothers”. In reply to it she just went, put on the hermit’s robes, and with anger against me visible in her face but with a body as if life has left it, came back and stood before me. Go and tell her this as a proof that you are my messenger”.
எள் அரிய தேர் தரு சுமந்திரன் இசைப்பாய்
வள்ளல் மொழி வாசகம் மனத்துயர் மறந்தாள்
கிள்ளையொடு பூவைகள் கிளத்தல் கிள என்னும்
பிள்ளை உரையின் திறம் உணர்த்துதி பெயர்த்தும்
eL ariya tEr taru cumanthiran icaippAy allal mozhi vAcagam manattur maRanthAL
kiLLaiyodu pUvaigaL kiLattal kiLai ennum piLLai urayin tiRam uNarttuthi peyarttum
‘When we were taking leave of Minister Sumantra, who drove us till the outer limits of the city, she told him: “Go back and tell people at home that I have been relieved from my grief, by the good words of solace by Shri Rama. Please tell UrmiLA and others to take care of the pets and parrots that I have been nurturing all along”. Tell her that I vividly remmeber this child-like simplicity of hers’.
நீண்டமுடி வேந்தன் அருள் ஏந்தி நின்ற செல்வம்
பூண்டு அதனை நீங்கி நெறி போதலுறு நாளின்
ஆண்ட நகர் ஆரையொடு வாயில் அகலாமுன்
யாண்டையது கான் என இசைத்ததும் இசைப்பாய்
nINda mudiventhanaruL Enthi ninRa celvam pUNdu athanai nIngi neRipothaluRu nALin
Anda nagar Araiyodu vAyil akalAmun yANdaiyathu kAn ena icaithathum icaippAy
‘By the King Dasaratha’s orders first having been told of the prospect of the coronation, and then having been asked to go to the forest, when we finally left for the rest, before we even reached the walls of our fort in Ayodhya , Sita was asking “Have we reached the forest?” Tell her I remember this also’.
Kakasura’s story, recalled by Sita as a message back to Rama, occurs in all the three Sundarakandas. Valmiki does not give it in Aranya Kanda. It comes here as a surprise. And he crowns it by making Sita say at the end: “Ask him why he is not using that Brahmastra now against the Rakshasas”! This realistic presentation of pathos is Valmiki’s forte!
Kamban adds another informative story in Sita’s message. His poetic imagination shoots up to the sky here: (K.R. V- 687)
என் ஓர் இன் உயிர் மென் கிளிக்கு யார் பெயர் ஈகேன்
மன்ன என்றலும் மாசு அறு கேகயன் மாது என்
அன்னைதன் பெயர் ஆக என அன்பினொடு அந்நாள்
சொன்ன மெய்ம்மொழி சொல்லுதி மெய்ம்மை தொடர்ந்தோய்
En Or in uyir men kiLikku yAr peyar IkEn manna enRalum mAcu aRu kEkayan mAdu en annai tan peyar Aka en anpinoDu annAL conna meymmozhi solluthi meymmai thoDarnthOy
I (Sita) asked him, What shall I name this pet parrot of mine? Immediately he replied ‘Give the name of my faultless mother, the daughter of the Kekaya King’.Tell him this
GO TO 28.9.5