[Advaita-l] Sundara Khanda
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 11 00:30:05 EDT 2017
SundaraKhanda of Ramayana
This write-up is somewhat based on the discourses by Swami Advaitananda, at 2017 Chinmaya Maha Samadhi Camp held in Chicago July 29 – Aug. 3rd.
Talk 1-part 1
We will be covering Ramayana sundara KhanDa. Sundara khanda can be thought of two parts that deals with Lord Shiva called Shiva kaachi (essentially as Rama bhakta Hanuman, and his journey to find Sita and return). The second part deals with Vishnu, called Vishnu kaachi that involves Rama’s journey to Lanka that includes Vibheshana Saranagati.
Ramayana is Ramasya ayanam - ayanam has many meanings. One meaning is House; hence Ramayana is where Rama dwells. We can find out in Ramayana where and how Rama lived. That includes his external path as well as his internal journey. Ayanam also means Life. In Ramayana we will find the entire life history of Rama.
‘Home’ is a place where we can definitely meet a person, whether formally or informally. To start with, if we have not met him already, we can see how owner looks like or what is his nature – that includes all his naama, ruupa, guNa, leela, (name, form, attributes, and his glories), etc. Rama is considered as sakala kalyana guNa aashrya or ayanam. That is he is the home of all auspicious qualities. Home is his dhaama or where he dwells or where he did his leelas. Hence Ramayana we can see his form with all his auspicious qualities since technically ‘form’ represents all his attributes. Naama or name is considered even more powerful than the form. It was said that Hanuman became invincible by the protection of Rama-naama, and even Rama could not defeat him. The name remains even when the form is not seen. In Vishnusahasra naamavali – Lord Shiva says chanting the name of Rama is equivalent to chanting the whole naamavali.
Shree rama rama rameti rame rame manorame|
Sahasra naama tat tulyam rama naama varanane||
Ayanam also means path. Here Rama’s path involves first Ayodhya then going to forest with Sage Vishvamitra, then Janaka puri to marry Seeta, and back to Ayodhya only to go to the forest, to kishkindha to meet Hanuman, then to Lanka to rescue mother Sita, and back to Ayodhya. That is his external path. The internal path is the Dhaarmic-path or path of dharma that is to establish Dharma by first following and next by enforcing it. ‘Ramo vigrahavan dharmaH’ – Rama is the embodiment of Dharma, says Maricha Raakshasa, while praising Rama. It is said that Rama teaches us how one should follow Dharma – Do what I do – says Rama. While Krishna says – ‘do what I say’ (since you cannot do what I do)- as the times or yugas have changed from tretayuga to dwarpa yoga, with kaliyoga in the horizon.
Sundara khanda is so-called since it is sundaram or full of beauty. The word sundaram itself gets repeated many times in the khanda. Sundara kanda is not the name of a place as in Ayodhya kanda, aryanya kanda or ksikindha kanda or leela of Rama as in bala kanda. Sundaram means beautiful. There is a famous sloka that says -
sundare sundaro ramah sundare sundari katha
sundare sundari sita sundare sundaram vanam,
sundare sundaram kaavyam sundare sundarah kapiH
sundare sundaram mantram sundare kim na sundaram?
It says, in the Sundara Kanda, or the beautiful chapter, beautiful is Rama, beautiful is the story; Beautiful is Sita Devi, beautiful is the Asoka Vanam; Beautiful is the poem; beautiful is the kapi, Hanuman; Beautiful is the mantra; what is not beautiful in Sundara Kandam?
Sundaram is that which is always fresh and beautiful, that which attracts your mind and feel like looking at again, that which is naturally beautiful (not after makeup or made-up), that which deals with Bhagavan( the one who has bhaga – the auspicious qualities), and that which invokes bhakti or devotion – sarvam ramate, that which everyone enjoys. For example, when we see a beautiful flower, along with our eyes our mind gets arrested. In those moments we become one with the natural beauty. Similarly is the story of Sundara kaanda. It is sundaram, since Hanuman keep chanting Rama-naama all the time. Rama naama is such that where one cannot stop chanting once. It is so enchanting that even if one pronounced backward, mara mara mara ..,it made a butcher into a sage. Ramayana everybody knows – it is not a history of Rama but contains His-Story that everybody wants to listen to again, again. If someone gives a photo album, we tried to turn the pages as quickly as possible, particularly when he/she is not watching. However, if it contains our pictures we like to look it again and again. We do not get tired of seeing ourselves again and again. Ramayana is not only His-Story, but it is the story of our own self; hence we do not get tired of listening to or telling our glories again and again. It fascinates a child as well as an old man. It is a story that brings a transformation of the mind by purifying it, by arresting the mind from external dissipating pursuits. Hence Rama’s story is sundaram, or beautiful.
In Sundarakaanda, the hero is Hanuman; it is primarily not the story of Bhagavan, but the story of Bhaagavata or the ideal disciple of Bhagavan. He is the Rama Bhakta. Most of us are only the devotees of the Lord so that we can get what we want for Him. Hence we go to the Lord with a big list of what we want. Hence our love is not for the Lord but for the goodies that we want. Hanuman does not want anything for him, other than the unending devotion to the Lord. He has no desire for any objects of pleasure. His bhakti is called nirmala bhakti or devotion without any impurity, where a desire for an object to get happiness is considered impurity since in the process, the mind gets entangled in the worldly desires. Happiness that one gets by fulfilling the sense-desires has three fundamental problems or doshas; a) duhkha misritatvam, b) asantRiptikaram and c) bandhakatvam. Duhkhaa misritatvam means it is mixed with unhappiness. Any happiness that one gets by fulfilling desire involves a) struggle to get it, b) struggle to preserve it what one got by effort, and c) suffering when one loses what he got after considerable effort. asantRiptikaram means the happiness that one gets in fulfilling the desire is not full and complete since there is still a longing mind, now desiring something else. For example, I was desperately looking for a hot cup of tea, but once I have a tea, I need some cookies to go with. The mind is not fully satisfied by just the tea, and there is still a mind that is longing for something more. I wanted a million dollars but once I got it, I needed more millions. The third problem is fulfilling the desires make the mind to depend more and more on external things for happiness, and these are called vaasanaas and contribute to bondage. The vaasanas become the cause for birth life after life. The only way to get rid of these vaasanas is to surrender the mind to the higher truth.
Coming back to our story, when all the monkeys have assembled and heard Jatayu’s brother Sampati informing them that he could see mother Seeta in Lanka, which is far away, the question came up in terms of who will go there by jumping across the ocean to land in Lanka. Every one of them said they do not have the strength to cross the ocean. Prince Angada said he can cross the ocean but not sure if he can return from Lanka. Since Angada is young and Lanka may be enchanting to the extent that he may not have the strength to come back. Hanuman was listening to all these talks, but he did not mention about his strength. When Jambavan asked Hanuman why he was quiet, he responded saying that he was quiet since he has no strength of his own, for anything. All his strength belongs to Shree Rama. Since the purpose to go to Lanka was for Rama’s sake, he went and came back. By invoking the presence of Rama in his heart, he expanded his size and felt all-powerful to do Rama’s job. He becomes a mountain-like person to do Rama’s job. When we are tuned to the totality, we can tap the strength from the totality. A puny man with a stick in his hand, and with a handful of salt could shake the whole British empire only because he has surrendered his will to the will of the nation – it is called samashTi sankalpam. Higher the goal and higher is the commitment to the goal, higher is the energy that one can draw from the goal itself – That is the secret of success discussed in the 3rd Ch. of Geeta. If one performs for the sake of yagna, then one is likely to succeed – ‘yagnaartham karma, anyatra lokaH ayam karma bandhanaH’. Otherwise, the action also becomes bondage. Yagna also means the Lord, and Lord involves totality. Hence action performed for the totality – that which benefits all – gives greater strength for performance of action.
to be continued. Hari Om!Sadananda
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