Rāmāyana | Sundara K| Chapter 54

Chapter: 54
Hanuman’s Burning of Lanka

[Hanuman decided to inflict more misery to the city of Lanka by setting fire to it. He systematically set fire to all the houses, places and forests. He was praised by all Gods for such a great achievement. He put out the fire of his tail by dipping it in to the sea.]

That monkey having succeeded in his mind's wish, facing Lanka with lot of enthusiasm thought as to what has to be done. 1

"What is remaining undone in this place to me? What action of mine would increase the sorrow of these Rākṣasas?" 2

"Asoka forest has been destroyed. Several strong Rākṣasas have been killed. A part of their army has been broken asunder. Now only destruction of their fort remains." 3

"If I can destroy the fort with very little effort, my action would be well done and the result would be proper to the effort done." 4

"This fire burns with cold on my tail and so it would be proper if these great houses are given to it and it be satisfied." 5

Then that great monkey with his burning tail, which was like the cloud with lightning travelled above the tops of the buildings. 6

Fearlessly that monkey travelled from one house to another, staring at the Rākṣasas and travelled catching hold of gardens and houses. 7

That valorous and very strong Hanuman, with enthusiasm similar to the wind God, jumped into the house of Prahasta and set fire to it. From there he jumped and set fire to the house of Mahaparswa similar to the fire during deluge. 8-9

That monkey chief and resplendent great monkey similarly, jumped entered, set fire and destroyed the palaces of Vajra Damṣṭrā, Śuka, the intelligent Śarana and Indrajit. 10

Afterwards he burnt the houses of Jambumali and Sumali. 11

That greatly resplendent monkey chief then one by one set fire to the houses of Rasmi Ketu, Surya Sathru, Hruswa Karna, Damṣṭrā, Romesa, Yudhonmatha, Matha, Dwajagreeva, the horrible Vidyujihwa, Hasthimukkha, Karāla, Piśācha, Sonithaksha, Kumbhakarṇa, Makaraksha, Yagna Shatru, Brahma Shatru, the very bad Nikumbha, Naranthaka and Kumbha but did not set fire to the house of Vibhīṣaṇa. 12-16

That very famous monkey chief destroyed all the wealth contained in respective houses palaces suitable for the rich. 17

That very courageous warrior after destroying everybody's houses reached the house of Rāvaṇa, who was the King of Rākṣasas. 18

That valorous Hanuman after placing the fire, which was on the tip of his tail, which was burning wildly on that house, which was similar to the Meru and Mandāra mountains, which was full of all good materials, which was decorated by several type of gems and which was the best among all the houses, roared like the clouds at the time of deluge. 19-20

That fire burnt like the fire at the time of deluge joined with the wind and increased strongly and many fold. 21

Because the wind spread that fire and mixed with air, the fire burnt wildly. 22

Those houses, which had spires, made of gold, which were inlaid with pearls and gems and which were full of costly luxurious materials broke in to pieces. 23

Those broken palaces fell to the ground similar to the houses of saintly people which fell back to earth once the effect of their good deeds were over. 24

(It was believed in Hinduism that till the effect of good deeds last, people will be in heaven and fall down to earth once the effect is over.)

That time huge sound of lament arose from the Rākṣasas, who were running to protect their own houses and those who have lost their courage and wealth, "Ahoy, this is the real fire God and it has come taking the shape of a monkey." 2.

Some ladies carrying their babies terribly scared and with dishevelled hair jumped out of those houses were completely upset. 26

They, who were falling from the sky, appeared as if they were streaks of lightning falling from the clouds. 27

That Hanuman saw those great houses made of diamond, coral, topaz, pearls and silver as if they were melted minerals. 28

The fire was not satisfied by the grasses and pieces of wood. And similarly Hanuman was not at all satisfied by killing of Rākṣasas. 29

And the earth also did not appear to be satisfied by the Rākṣasas whom Hanuman has killed. 30

The flames burnt in some places like the red flowers of Palāśa trees, in some places like the flowers of silk cotton trees and is some places like that of Saffron. 31

That great Hanuman, who was extremely capable, turned the entire city of Lanka in to ash similar to Lord Rudra who burnt the three cities. 32

That fire placed by the very capable Hanuman, spread horribly, burnt further and by spreading its flames arose from the top of the mountain on which the city of Lanka was built. 33

That fire fanned by wind after spreading from the houses, seemed to burn without smoke and applied with the Ghee of the bodies of Rākṣasas spread further like the fire at the time of deluge and seemed to touch the sky. 34

That fire which had spread throughout the city of Lanka, which shined like crores of suns, shined greatly and appeared with great sounds to break the planet earth itself. 35

That time greatly spread fire shined with horrible light and appeared as if it was flowers of the Palāśa tree and the smoke emanating from the fire which was about to be put off looked like the bluish thick clouds of the sky. 36

Various crowds of Rākṣasas and the many animal groups of the city seeing that the houses and trees were burning, conversed together as follows, "Is it the Devendra with his Vajra? Is he Varuṇa? Is he the God of Wind? Is he the Sun God? Is he the God of fire? Is he Kubera, the God of wealth? Is he the moon God? Is he the God of death in person? Is it the anger of the four-faced Brahma who is the creator of all beings and who is the grandfather of all taking the shape of a monkey? Or is it the Power of Vishnu, which is immeasurable, which is invisible, which is beyond thought and the greatest among all which has come for the destruction of Rākṣasas taking the shape of a monkey using its power of illusion which has come here?" 37-40

Then at that time the entire city of Lanka where Rākṣasas, horses, chariots, elephants, crowds of birds, animals and trees were burning and getting destroyed, cried loudly with open mouth and arousing great pity. 41

"Hey father, hey son, hey lover, hey friend, how much sorrow and what a well grown, pleasure filled life has been destroyed", Thus shouted the crowd of Rākṣasas horribly making great sound. 42

That city of Lanka which became the target of the anger of Hanuman was completely engulfed by fire and with its heroes destroyed as also full of warriors torn in to pieces became like a city under curse. 43

That great hearted Hanuman saw Lanka which was full of Rākṣasas, who were running here and there out of nervousness, which was marked by the flames of raging fire and appeared as if it was earth, which was destroyed by the curse of God. 44

After destroying the city, which had forests full of valuable trees and which had several such forests, which were like a garland and after killing warriors who were very great in war, that Hanuman, who was the son of wind God, rested happily for some time. 45

That monkey warrior chief standing firmly on the top of Trikūṭa Mountain with raging flame in his tail shone like the Sun with its bevy of rays. 46

That great Hanuman after destroying the forest which was full of many trees, after killing those huge Rākṣasas and after setting fire to many houses of Rākṣasas meditated on Rāma for a moment. 47

At that time all the crowds of Devas praised that son of wind God, who was very strong, who had similar speed as the wind God, who was very intelligent and who was chief among monkey warriors. 48

That great monkey after destroying the forest, after killing several Rākṣasas in war and after burning the very pretty city of Lanka appeared greatly resplendent. 49

That very strong monkey chief after setting fire to the whole city of Lanka dipped his tail into sea and put out the fire on it. 50

All beings seeing the great monkey, who was the chief among monkeys, trembled thinking him as the fire of hell. 51

All devas, great sages, Gandharvas, Vidyādharas, Yakṣas and all great beings became endlessly happy. 52

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