Rāmāyana | Sundara Kaṇḍa | Chapter 14

Chapter: 14
Asoka Forest Search

[Graphic description of the Asoka forest as seen by Hanuman is given. Seeing the forest Hanuman decides that Sītā should definitely visit there because she likes the forest and also needs to do her morning ablations.]

The very powerful Hanuman after thinking for some more time and after meditating on Sītā, jumped immediately on to the wall of that palace of Rāvaṇa. 1

Enthused all over his body, by his self-confidence, that monkey climbed that boundary wall and saw many trees with flowers symbolic of spring season, several Sala trees, several pretty Asoka trees, several Champaka trees in full bloom, several Karṇikāra trees, several Naaka trees, several Mango trees and several Kapimuka (monkey face) trees. 2-3

In that orchard with many mango trees, which is surrounded by pretty climbing plants he rushed in side, like an arrow rushing to its aim from the string of the bow. 4

Then Hanuman entered that garden, which was full of sound made by birds, which was like a rising sun, which was made strange by silver and gold like trees, which was full of birds and deer on all sides, which had several small strange and pretty gardens, which was full of several trees with flowers and fruits, which was always full of nightingales and bees, which was full of sounds made by peacocks, which had a rich varieties of birds, which had people who are happy and in which birds and animals were playing. 5-8

Hanuman, who was searching for the very pretty lady Sītā, who was blemish less, woke up several birds, which were sound asleep. 9

The trees, which were shaken violently by the birds, which were flying above them, caused a multi coloured rain of flowers. 10

Hanuman, son of Wind God, covered completely by the shedding flowers looked like a mountain of flowers in the middle of that Asoka Forest. 11

All animals, seeing the monkey rushing in all directions, thought that he was the spring season itself. 12

The ground covered by the shedding flowers from the trees looked like a lady wearing ornaments. 13

The trees shaken vigorously by the strong monkey shed various types of flowers. 14

The trees having shed their leaves, branches, flowers and fruits looked like a losing gambler who has already pledged his cloths and ornaments. 15

Those bare stems of the trees looked like they have been destroyed by cyclone and consequently deserted by all birds and appeared as if they are of no use. 16

That Asoka forest, beat by the hands and tail of the monkey, was bereft of any noble trees and resembled a lady with dishevelled hair, with erased Sindūra (dots in the forehead), with ashen lips drunk by a tenacious lover and with marks all over the body made by his nails and teeth. 17-18

The monkey cut and fell the groups of twining climbers all over in the garden, which was similar to the scattering of clouds over Vindhya Mountain by the Wind God. 19

Travelling through the garden, that monkey chief saw places which were inlaid with precious stones, which were made of silver, which were made of gold streams (fountains) of various shapes, which were filled with very pure water, which had steps made of the nine types of precious stones here and there, which had pearls and corals as sand, which had the middle portion made of crystals, which glittered prettily by the very special type of golden trees, which was full of Lotus and Neelothphala flowers, which was filled with the cooing sound of Chakravāka birds, which was having the sound created by crabs, which had the sound created by the beaks of swans, which was filled with nectar like water, which was arranged in such a way that it was surrounded by small rivulets on all sides, gardens filled with several type of climbing plants, which had several wish giving trees, which had several Karavīra plants and which had orchards filled with dense ornamental shrubs. 20-25

Here the monkey chief saw many mountains with cloud like tall peaks, which had several very pretty sharp peaks, which was surrounded on all four sides by sentry stations, which was filled with houses made by granite stones, which was surrounded by different varieties of trees, which was the prettiest in the world and which had several pretty terraces. 26-27

He saw streams flowing from those mountains, which looked like the pretty loving ladies raising from the lap of their lovers and slowly going forward. 28

Not only that, but the monkey chief thought that the pretty streams, which were flowing back because of huge trees with a large sinking crowns were stopping them, were like the angry sweetheart, who is stopped by her relatives and coming back after giving up her anger and going near her darling 29-30

The monkey chief Hanuman, who was the son of wind God, saw near the river a lotus pond full of different varieties of birds and a lake which was filled with cold water, which had several steps inlaid with precious gems, which had sand strewn with pearls, which had several flocks of deer roaming here and there, which had very pretty and specialized orchards, which was constructed by Viśvakarma (the architect of Devas), which was surrounded by several flower beds and which was decorated by several well-crafted towers. 31-34

The trees in the garden were bearing fruits and flowers and were decorated. They also had platforms constructed all round which had golden steps. 35

Hanuman, the monkey, saw a golden Simshuba tree (called "Irumul "in Malayalam) with various climbers and leaves encircling it and which had a golden platform beneath it. 36

(These trees do exist in Kerala forests even now. They are mainly used for firewood.)

He saw springs in very low lying areas and also dry places and several mountains like golden tress. 37-38

That great monkey chief thought for a moment that he too is golden seeing the glitter similar to the Meru Mountain of those trees. 39

He was wonder struck on seeing the golden Simshuba tree with its seedlings around it and also with numerous bells like sound created by the pleasantly wafting wind. 40

Hanuman, who swiftly climbed another Simshuba tree, which had flowery tips, which had young leaf and flower buds and which had very dense leaves and thought, "I would be able to see from here Vaidehī (daughter of Videha) who is sad because of her sorrow, who always fervently wishes for seeing Rāma and who may have accidentally come over here." 41-42

"This Asoka forest belonging to the bad soul Rāvaṇa is very pretty and is decorated with Sandalwood trees, Champaka trees and Bakula trees." 43

"The royal lady, who is the daughter of Janaka, would certainly come over to this very pretty lotus pond, which is full of birds." 44

"That Janaki (Sītā), who is the queen, who has experience in living in forests, who is very talented and who is very innocent darling of Rāghava (Sri Rāma who is the descendent of King Raghu) would definitely come here." 45

(Raghu the ancestor of Rāma served the celestial cow Nandini and got a son called Dilipa.)

"Perhaps that daughter of Janaka, who has doe like eyes, who has become thin by constant thought of Sri Rāma and who has lot of experience in living in forests, would certainly come over here." 46

"That lady, who has wilted due to parting with Rāma, who has lotus like eyes and who is a traveller in the forest, is likely to come daily here as she is interested in seeing the forest." 47

"That Janaki, who is the very innocent wife of Sri Rāma, who is the daughter of Janaka, who is of good colour, who is in the middle of youth and who is great, is always interested in people, who travel in the forest and also taking in to account that the dawn is coming near, she would be coming to this river with clean waters to offer her Ablations of the dawn." 48-49

[The Brāhmaṇas and Kshatriyas offer oblations during dawn, noon and dusk (called Sandhya Vandanam) to the Sun God. But these are at present being done only by males. This stanza indicates that during those times even ladies used to offer it.]

"This holy Asoka forest is very suitable to the intelligent wife of Rāma, who is the daughter in law of the great King." 50

"If that moon faced lady is alive she would definitely come to this river with crystal clear water." 51

At that time, thinking thus, the great Hanuman hid himself among leaves of a profusely flowering tree expecting to see wife of the King of men and was staring down the tree and was watching everything. 52

Thus ends the fourteenth chapter of Sundara Kanda in the Rāmāyaṇa which is the first epic written by Vālmīki.