So far we’ve witnessed that the Vaanara camp headed by Jaambhavaan and Angada heads towards the southern direction and have reached until the shores of the southern ocean. After Sampaathi’s directions and guidance, the Vaanaras debate among themselves as to who should cross the ocean and go to Lanka and undertake the search mission. Finally with Jaambhavaan’s motivation, it was decided that Hanuman will be that person who would undertake this challenging mission! Accordingly Hanuman prepares himself to cross the ocean. From this point, we commence the all-important “Sundara Kaanda” of the Valmiki Ramayana. Why do I say that this “Sundara Kaanda” is all-important? Does that mean other “Kaandas” of the Ramayana are not very important? Let’s see the answer today!
For the past 192 episodes we’ve witnessed and experienced the beauty of the first four “Kaandas” (Parts) of the Ramayana – “Baala Kaanda”, “Ayodhya Kaanda”, “Aaranya Kaanda” and “Kishkinta Kaanda”. It might be easy for all of us to decipher why the respective “Kaandas” obtained their names. For instance, in “Baala Kaanda” we witnessed all the happenings when Lord Rama was a child (“Baala” means Child). Next, in the “Ayodhya Kaanda” we witnessed what happened when Rama was getting married to Sita and all the other happenings in Ayodhya. Subsequently in “Aaranya Kaanda” we witnessed the various events that took place when Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were in the Dhandakaaranya forest (“Aranyam” means forest). Finally, in the “Kishkinta Kaanda” we witnessed the main events that happened in Kishkinta as Rama and Lakshmana search for Sita. Thus we can see from the above nomenclature that each of the Kaanda (Part) got its name from a set of events that happened in that particular part. However, we might wonder why is this “Kaanda” named “Sundara Kaanda”. In Sanskrit, “Sundara” means “Beautiful”! What is so beautiful in this Kaanda?
“Sundare sundaro raamaha; Sundare sundari kathaa!
Sundare sundari sita; sundare sundaram vanam!
Sundare sundaram kaavyam; Sundare sundaro kapihi!
Sundarae sundaram manthram; Sundare kim na sundaram??”
This is a beautiful sloka that brings out the significance of the “Sundara Kaanda”. It says at the end that in Sundara Kaanda, which is one thing that is not beautiful? (“Sundare kim na sundaram??”) In the “Sundara Kaanda”, Rama is beautiful; In the “Sundara Kaanda”, Sita is beautiful! In the “Sundara Kaanda”, the story itself is so beautiful! In the “Sundara Kaanda”, the forest is beautiful! In the “Sundara Kaanda” the entire Ramayana is so beautiful! In the “Sundara Kaanda”, Hanuman is beautiful! Finally, in the “Sundara Kaanda” each and every sloka is beautiful! Thus, this Kaanda talks about the beautiful Rama, the ever-beautiful Sita, and the beautiful “Raama-Thoodha” called Hanuman, who leaped across the ocean and gave Rama’s ring to Sita with all his devotion and surrender! Thus, the “Sundara Kaanda” is considered to be the gem in the entire Ramayana story.
It is not only because of this beauty that “Sundara Kaanda” is considered to be very significant. There is an internal and an in-depth meaning to it as well. I had mentioned a very important point with respect to Hanuman in the previous “Kishkinta Kaanda” – In the entire Ramayana epic, Hanuman is considered to be in the highest status of an “Aachaarya” or the “Spiritual Master” or the “Guru”. The “Sundara Kaanda” brings out the significance of Hanuman as the “Supreme Aachaarya”. From the subsequent epsiodes we are going to witness a very special duty of a “Guru” called “Govinda Raajeeyam”, wherein the Guru goes in search of his disciple to enlighten him/her with the supreme knowledge! Valmiki Maharishi in this Kaanda explains the important duties of a “Guru” in detail and hence this “Sundara Kaanda” is deemed to be extremely important in the entire Ramayana!
The “Sundara Kaanda” begins with a beautiful explanation as to how Hanuman leaps forward and crosses the ocean! How did he do that? Was his journey smooth? Did he face any obstacles in his way? Let’s find out all the answers in the subsequent episodes of the “Sundara Kaanda”! 🙂