Rāmāyana | Sundara Kaṇḍa | Chapter 15

Chapter: 15
Hanuman's Seeing of Sītā

[This chapter initially gives a description of Asoka Vana and its one of the occupant, whom Hanuman suspects as Sītā. In the end using pure logic Hanuman concludes that she definitely is Sītā.]

Sitting on the Simshuba tree, Hanuman examined all areas down below, in the garden in search of Mythili (princess of Mithilā) and saw everything which was there in the Asoka forest. 1

Sitting there, he saw well the entire garden, which was full of shining climbers and trees, which was sweetly scented, which was decorated all over, which was similar to the ornamental parks, which was full of animals and birds, which had lot of great mansions, which was resounding with the sweet song of Koels, which had golden fruits and flowers, which had many ponds, which had several sofas and carpets, which had several underground chambers, which had trees with fruits and flowers in all seasons, which had several Asoka trees full of flowers from bottom to top and were touching the floor because of the heavy load of flowers, which had several Karṇikāra trees, which had several fully flowering Palasa trees, which was shining like a sun due to the dense flowers and glitter of Asoka trees, which appeared to shine because of various ornament like flowers and which had bare leaf trees so made by the very many birds which were often flying as a flock. 2-8

Because of their lustre that entire area appeared to be shining and the garden also shined with multi crowned pongamia trees, the seven leafed trees, Champaka trees and Uddālaka trees. 9

There were thousands of Asoka trees in the garden, some of which were golden, some like the flame of fire and some were jet black. 10

That forest with several parks and was as pretty as Indra's celebrated Nandana vana and Kubera's famous Chitrā vana and was pretty, holy, greatly attractive, with holy splendour, which cannot be compared to any other garden and which was much above the rest. 11

It was like a second sky full of star collections, which resembled flowers and with its flowers resembling the nine precious gems, it was like the fifth sea. 12

That pretty garden filled with desirable scents resembled the great Gandhamādana Mountain and was full of honey smelling trees which flower in all seasons and with various types of deer and birds which make different types of noises and was stealer of mind with wafting perfumes all around. 13-14

That monkey chief also saw a temple which was near the Asoka forest, which was tall, which was supported by thousand pillars in the middle. It was as white as Kailāśa, which had steps made of coral, which had floor made of molten gold, which had the glitter attracting the eyes, which was holy and which appeared to touch the sky in height. 15-17

(Possibly this is a very rare mention of temple in the entire Rāmāyaṇa. Taking in to account that nothing is mentioned about its presiding deity, the word Chaithya in the verse could be taken to mean as a remarkable building. The word 1000-pillared hall is perhaps mentioned first time in Hindu literature.)

He saw in the garden a lady, who was wearing dirty cloths, who was surrounded by several Rākṣasīs, who was thin because of starvation, who was again and again breathing hard and who was shining like the crescent of moon in the early waning period. After staring and seeing her with care, he saw that broad eyed lady, who was with glittering mien, who was like a flame of fire darkened by smoke, who was dressed in a single dishevelled great yellow cloth, who was laden with dust, who was not made up, who was like a pond without lotus, who was ashamed, who looked wilted due to sorrow, who was like a lady saint, who was like the star Rohiṇī affected by planet Mars, who was with face made wet by tears, who was dejected, who was thin because she was not taking food, who was full of sad thoughts and sorrow, who was full of fear, who was not seeing any of her dear relatives nearby, who was like a deer separated from her flock and surrounded by dogs, who was having singly made hair, which was hanging like a cobra behind her, who was like a black forest covered earth in the autumn, who needed good life, who was wilted by sorrow, who never knew the troubles caused by sorrow, who was very thin and who was covered with dirt. 18-25

He concluded that she was that lady, who was abducted by Rāvaṇa, the Rākṣasa, who could assume any desired form and that she was having the same appearance as she had, when abducted. 26

(Rāma had given Description of how she looked when she was abducted.)

Even after Seeing Sītā, who had a face like full moon, who had pretty eyebrows, who had pretty chest, who by her lustre was removing darkness from all directions, who had very black hair, who had lips like the red guava fruit, who had very beautiful hips, who had eyes like petals of lotus, who is born in a great family, who was born in the channel created by plough, who is darling of all the world like Rati (wife of God of love), who had the shine of the full moon, who had extremely pretty body, who was sitting on the floor as if meditating with full control over all her organs, who was like the serpent maiden hissing with fear, who was not shining because of the hard and long sorrow, who was like the flame of fire hidden by the smoke, who was like the poem which praises but which was not clear, who was like the assets which had vanished, who was like the hope which is reduced, who was like the desire which is stopped, who was like the fulfilment of desires, which were dangerous, who was like the confused wisdom, who was like the fame darkened by gossips which were not true, who was sad because she was not able to attain Rāma, who had grown thin because she was abducted by Rākṣasas, who was having eyes like a doe, who was seeing here and there with fear because of her weakness, who was breathing heavily again and again with a lustreless face with black curved eyes and eye brows, who was coated with dust and dirt, who should wear makeup but who did not wear it, who should be pitied, who was like the moon light hidden by black clouds and who was like the corrupted Vedic knowledge which was not repeated and practiced, Hanuman's brain was full of suspicions. 27-36

Hanuman recognized Sītā with great difficulty, which was similar to understanding of an ungrammatical sentence, without any figure of speech and which indicated a wrong meaning. 37

He understood her as Sītā who was a princess, who was blameless and who had wide eyes after looking at her carefully due to the following reasons. 38

"He saw those ornaments (which could be easily removed and are not a symbol of a married woman) which were pointed out to be worn by her by Sri Rāma as an identification hanging and shining on a nearby branch of a tree." 39

(This stanza indicates that there were some ornaments even during those times which should always worn by married women and there were others, which were optional and could be removed. Here it is mentioned that Sītā only wore such ornaments that were compulsory. She threw some of them over the Kiṣkindha Mountain when she was being abducted by Rāvaṇa and were collected by the monkeys.)

"He thought that some of those ornaments which were worn by her permanently were fixed strongly and were coated with dirt and were definitely those pointed by Sri Rāma as identification like those ornaments made of coral and other jewels being worn on her fingers and hands, like the well-crafted ear drops and like the well tied ear ornament called Swadamshtram". 40-41

(It is interesting to note that he does not mention the mangalyam, which must have been introduced after this time.)

"He did not see on her those ornaments which were thrown by her from the Pushpaka Vimāna on Rishya Mookha Mountains and all those which she was having were those listed but not thrown out." 42-43

(Sugreeva and his friends were hiding in Rishya Mookha Mountain, afraid of Vali, who could not enter there due to a curse.)

"At that time the monkey chief saw her golden yellow pretty upper cloth had fallen down and was hanging on the tree." 44

(This stanza indicates that she was not wearing a sari but a two pieced cloth and the upper cloth must have been similar to Uthariyam worn by males.)

"Whatever ornaments she has thrown away were definitely the one seen by the monkeys", he thought. 45

"Though whatever cloth she was wearing was crumpled and dirty because they were worn for a long time, they were definitely having the lustre and colour of the cloth befitting her status, without doubt", he thought. 46

"Though this golden darling of Sri Rāma was now in the custody of someone else, She who is faultless was definitely in his mind and this is definitely her". He thought. 47

"This is the one for whom Sri Rāma was sad, due to mercy, affection, sorrow and love; mercy because a helpless one has fallen in others hands, affection because he had the responsibility of protecting the one who has come to him for protection, sorrow because his wife was missing and love because she was the wife who was acting according to his wishes." 48-49

"The beauty of each part of her body and its shape were similar to that of the beauty of Sri Rāma and the personality of his was also similar to hers, and so this black eyed beauty must be her". He thought. 50

"This ladies mind lives within his and his mind lives within her and that must be the reason why she and he are staying alive at least for this short time". He thought. 51-52

"Sri Rāma in spite of parting from this lady is still keeping his body intact and his body is not breaking to pieces and so it is clear that Lord Sri Rāma is doing things which were impossible to others". He thought. 53

"By living away from this wonderful beauty Sītā at least for some time, the great Śrī Rāma was doing something which is impossible for others", he again thought. 54

Like this becoming happy on seeing Sītā, he thought in his mind of Sri Rāma and thought of him as his Lord. 55

(He felt that she was keeping her virtue intact and became happy.)

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