Rāmāyana | Sundara Kaṇḍa | Chapter 9

9 Harem Visit

[In this chapter the search of Hanuman for Sītā in the harem of Rāvaṇa and the first impressions of him about Rāvaṇa's harem is described.]

Hanuman, the son of Wind God, saw in the middle of the great Pushpaka Vimāna a very big and great building. 1

That was the house of Rāvaṇa, which was many yojanas (two and a half miles) broad, one yojana long and with many decorated platforms. 2

The killer of the enemy Hanuman searched everywhere for the long eyed Sītā, who was the Princess of Videha. 3

Inspecting the houses of many great Rākṣasas, Hanuman, who was graced by the Goddess Lakshmi, reached the house of the King of Rākṣasas. 4

The very extensive dwelling of Rāvaṇa was protected by many with top pointing arms, surrounded by four tusked elephants as well as three tusked elephants and also full of Rākṣasa ladies, who were his wives and also some forcefully abducted Ladies from Royal families. 5-6

(This is contrary to what is expressed in śloka 76 of this chapter.)

That house was like an ocean tumultuously moved by a tempest, which was full of crocodiles, sharks, whales, fishes and snakes. 7

His house was full of all riches, which were in the house of Kubera (God of Riches), Indra (King of Devas) and Sun God. 8

The treasures in the House of Rākṣasa King Rāvaṇa was similar and much more than the riches of Indra, Kubera, Varuṇa (Rain God), Yama (God of Death). 9

The Son of God of Wind saw another mansion in the centre of that house, which was beautifully built and in which several artistic works were done. 10

That Pushpaka Vimāna, which was prettily made for Brahma by Viśvakarma (Architect of Devas), could be used for travel as one pleases. 11

Kubera by doing very great penance got that Vimāna, which was fully decorated by jewels and which was venerated by beings of all the three worlds, from Brahma. 12

The King of Rākṣasa won Kubera by his prowess and got it from him. 13

Not only that but that Vimāna was decorated by life like statues of deer, decorated all over by gold, had many very beautiful pillars and appeared as if it was shining by its own light. 14

That Vimāna was decorated on all the four sides by several towers, which appeared as if they were touching the sky like the Meru and Mandāra mountains. 15

That plane, which was built by Viśvakarma, had golden steps and was charming, great and had the lustre of the fire and the Sun. 16

It had platforms made of precious gems like Sapphire and windows and shelves decorated by gold and crystal. 17

It appeared pretty as it had floors decorated by corals, very costly gems, incomparable pearls and also several pretty drawings. 18

It was similar to the Sun at dawn and had gold like saffron and sweet scented sandal. 19

That monkey chief climbed the sacred and well decorated Pushpaka Vimāna which had different type of pretty halls. 20

Then Hanuman, who stood there, smelled the sweet perfume from the eatables and drinks spread out there which looked like the air personified. (i. e. spread in all places.) 21

It appeared as if the scents called the very strong Hanuman, "come here, come here", like a relation calling another very close relation. 22

He saw a great stage in the middle, which being firmly there attracted the mind of Rāvaṇa, which like a pretty lady was causing only good, which had steps made out of pearls and diamonds, which shined because of its golden windows with ivory inlaid here and there, which had floors made of crystal stones, which had very tall decorated pillars built using gold, silver, pearls and corals, which was decorated by different type of pillars, which had very tall and wing like sky touching perfect pillars which were straight, which was as broad as the earth itself with its cities and houses, which was covered by a very big carpet on which the different parts of earth were drawn, which was filled with sounds of songs by energetic birds, which had beautiful incense wafting about, which had special seats with the presence of the King of Rākṣasas, which was made dark by the incense and myrrh, which was very clear, which was white like the swan, which was peculiar because of the flowers used for worship, which gave happiness to the mind like the glittering Kāmadhenu (sacred wish granting cow of heaven), which was decorated so that it will get fame, which looked like the mother of all treasures, which could destroy sorrow and which was famous and divine. 23-30

That stage, which was protected by Rāvaṇa, like a mother satisfied the five sense organs by its pretty form, taste, smell, touch and voice. 31

Hanuman doubted and wondered whether it was heaven, the city of Indra himself, or the city of Gandharvas. 32

He also saw the big golden lights, which were still like those defeated gamblers by the deceit of other gamblers. 33

He felt as if the entire area was burning because of the strong light from those lamps and also by the glitter of the ornaments and power emanating from Rāvaṇa. 34

There he saw thousands of ladies lying on the jewelled carpet dressed in cloths of varied colours, wearing several types of ornaments and with varied appearances. 35

Those ladies after long love play and being drunk were sleeping soundly because it was already midnight. 36

Those ladies looked as if no sound coming from the shaking of their ornaments and were like a lotus pond full of silent and bees. 37

He saw the faces of those great ladies, who were sleeping with open mouth, closed eyes and with the smell of lotus flowers. 38

Their faces looked like the lotus flowers, which opened during daytime and had closed during night. 39

The honey drunk bees, without any doubt, had faces like the fully opened lotus flowers. 40

Because of that and because of other valid reasons that great monkey chief thought their faces equivalent to lotus flowers. 41

Because of the glitter produced by the bevy of ladies that stage looked like the star filled clear sky of the autumn. 42

That King of Rākṣasas surrounded by them looked like the moon surrounded by the stars. 43

Seeing them Hanuman thought that they looked like a collection of stars fallen from the sky, after they have enjoyed the benefit of all their good deeds. 44

In that place the shine, colour and presence of the ladies glittered, very much like the great shine of the big stars. 45

They were almost in deep sleep because of their love play and intoxication by drink and their garlands and ornaments were very much displaced. 46

Some of them were great ladies, in case of some, their Tilaka (Sindūra) was erased, in case of some their anklets were broken and in case of some their chain of pearls was lying by their side. 47

Like the mare which carried lot of burden was rolling in the ground to recoup its strength, some of them had broken their pearl chains, some had undressed and in case of some, the anklets were completely broken. 48

Some appeared with good ear studs but with broken garlands due to their exertions like the flowering climber in a deep forest was crushed by an elephant. 49

In other cases the broken pearl necklaces were lying in the chest of some and appeared as if some swans were sleeping there. 50

In case of others their diamonds looked like the King fisher birds and the broken golden chains looked similar to the Chakravāka* birds. 51 * Mythical Holy Bird.

With hips similar to the sandy shores some of them looked like the shores of river with many swans, King fisher and Chakravāka birds. 52

With glittering belled anklets, with lotus faces and with nail marks in many places of their body, they looked like rivers with beauty as their shores. 53

In case of some ladies, the pressure marks made by ornaments on their busts and other soft parts appeared as if they themselves were ornaments. 54

The cloth corners which were flying hither and thither by their breaths again and again fell on the top of their chest. 55

Those edges of the very pretty and shining cloths of various colours with various ornaments when shaken over their foreheads appeared as if they were waving victory flags. 56

In case of some women with lustre even the ear studs were slightly moving hither and thither by their breath. 57

Their naturally sweet scented breath along with the smell of wine wafted towards Rāvaṇa, with pleasure. 58

Not only that some of Rāvaṇa's wives mistook the other wives faces as that of Rāvaṇa's and kissed them several times. 59

Because those ladies loved Rāvaṇa very much, they behaved with those other wives with love even though they did not like them. 60

Some other ladies were sleeping using their bangle clad arms and their cloths as a pillow. 61

With one lady attaching herself to the chest of another, one attaching to her hands, one sleeping on her lap, and another on the same lady's arms, and embracing each other tightly with their thighs, hind parts, hips touching each other, all of them slept together because of their love towards Rāvaṇa. 62- 63

As the ladies with very ample hips were tightly embracing each other, they were happy and with linked hands were sleeping soundly. 64

That bevy of ladies linking themselves together appeared as if they were a garland which had attracted several big tipsy bees. 65

The harem of Rāvaṇa looked like a flower garden in the month of May-June in which the climbing tendrils with full of flowers are intertwined, in which the bees fly from one place to another, in which the heads of the plants are attached here and there and in which the flowers shake in the wind. 66-67

Though their ornaments, cloths and various parts of the body were in places where they should be, they were not knowing whose is where and which. 68

The well-lit golden lamps appeared as if they were staring at the sleeping Rāvaṇa along with his multi coloured collection of women. 69

Lasses from the families of Kings, sages, Pitṛi devas, Rākṣasas and Gandharvas appeared as if they were there attracted by their passion to Rāvaṇa. 70

Most of the ladies who were there, were the ones who were abducted by the war thirsty Rāvaṇa and some of those voluptuous ones came there because of their passion to him. 71

Except the noble daughter of Janaka, all of them were there because of his great valour and none of them have been abducted and brought, none who came against their wish and none were there who had accepted anyone else. 72

None of them were born in a baser family or not pretty or not intelligent or not suitable to be served upon or none without wealth or none who is not suitable to be loved by their husbands. 73

That good-natured Hanuman thought, "If the wife of Sri Rāma also attains this state of Rāvaṇa's wives towards Rāma, my birth in this world would be a blessed one." 74

With sorrow that Hanuman thought, "Sītā is the storehouse of all good qualities and this King of Lanka has done acts which should not be done towards her, alas!". 75

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