What is so great about ?Sundara KhaaNDam?? Does it mean that other six KhaaNDams are not ?Sundaram? (beautiful)?
Srimad RamayaNam has 7 KhaaNDams and each one of them is indeed beautiful. But. there are several reasons to call this KhaaNDam as ?Sundara KhaaNDam?
1. The other KhaaNdams are location oriented -
1. Baala khaaNDam and AyOdhya KhaaNDam describe the events that happened in and around AyOdhya.
2. AaraNya KhaaNDam deals with the happenings in the forest
3. Kishkinda KhaaNDam deals with the Sugriva Sakhyam, Vali Vadam etc that took place in Kishkinda.
4. Yuddha KhaaNDam deals with the Great War between Sri Rama and RavaNa.
5. Uttara KhaaNdam deals with the backgrounds in which several incidents have been described in the whole of the epic.
But, ?Sundara KhaaNDam? stands apart in the sense that the hero of the KhaaNDam is the great Rama bhakta Sri Hanuman, even as Sri Rama is the hero for the whole RamayaNa.
2. What has the word ?Sundara? to do with Hanuman?
To answer this question, we have to go into the story as to how this KhaaNDam came to be written.
HANUMAN'S OTHER NAME WHICH HE HIMSELF DID NOT KNOW!
Anjaneya has several names. He is known as `Hanuman' in Tamil, `Hanumanthaiah' and `Mukhya Praana Devaru' in Kannada and `Hanumanthudu' in Telugu. As one moves North beyond the Vindyas,
he is called `Maruti' and in Maharashtra, they call him `Mahaveer'.
Do you know that besides being called `Vayuputran', `Anjaneya' and `Siriya Tiruvadi' (Periya Tiruvadi being Garudalwar), he had another name, which he himself did not know?
The story goes that Sage Valmiki wrote the epic after Sri Rama's Coronation. After completing Aaranya Khandam, he desired to name the
next Canto after Anjaneya. But, Anjaneya appeared before him pleading that he need not be given such an importance, for after all he was only a Rama Dasan - a servant of Sri Rama. The sage took his assent to name the Canto as "Sundara KhaaNDam". Thereafter, Anjaneya went to his mother to narrate the incident. Even as he was approaching, Anjana greeted him calling him by his pet name "Sundara", for that was the name she had given him at birth.
Anjaneya rushed back to the Sage to request him to drop this title also. But, the Sage said that it was too late as the Chapter had already been completed with " Sundara" as the hero. Thus, the name ?Sundara? got attached to this KhaaNDam.
3. The descriptions in this KhaaNDam are especial, exceptional and exquisite with unsurpassed lyrical beauty (e.g.) the descriptions of
(i) Lanka by moonlight (Bhavana Vichaya: Sargam 5)
(ii) RavaNa?s palace (RavaNa gruhaavEkshaNam: Sargam 6)
(iii) Viewing the aircraft (Pushpaka Darsanam:Sargam 7)
(iv) The Aircraft itself ( Pushpaka VarNanam: Sargam 8)
(v) The liquor bar (Paana bhoomi vichaya: Sargam11)
(vi) The destruction of the honey grove (Madhuvana PravEsa: Sargam 61)
4. There is an allegorical significance in this KhaaNDa:
It represents allegorically how Paramaatma (represented by Sri Rama) sends an Acharya (represented by Hanuman) to the Jivaatma (represented by Sri Sita). The Acharya dispels the sorrow of the Jiva, redeems it from the shackles of samsaaram and unites it with Paramaatma. This is a great Tattva that this KhaaNdam is said to reveal.
5. Scholars who have practically experienced aver that the ?Phala? or the benefits accruing (even at the mundane level) from the ?PaaraayaNam? of this KhaaNDam are many. The PaaraayaNam of individual Sargas are said to bestow the following benefits viz.,
(i) Sargam 3: Lanka Devata Vijaya: To ward off the mischief of evil spirits.
(ii) Sargam 7: Pushpaka Darsanam, Sargam 8: PushpakaaNu VarNanam, Sargam 9: Sankulaanta: puram, Sargam 10: MaNDOdari Darsnam and Sargam 11: Paana bhoomi Vichaya: - All these are said to dispel any dosham arising out of sexual misbehavior like extra marital sexual indiscretions.
(iii) Sargam 13; Hanumat NirvEda: is believed to cure the condition of mentally challenged persons. (To cure insanity)
(iv) Sargam 15: SitOpalamba: is said to repair any losses suffered (Daridram neenga) ? (Stock market crash?)
(v) Sargam 27: TrijaTaa Swapna: neutralizing the effects of bad dreams (Dur Swapna dOsha nivaaraNam)
(vi) Sargam 36: Anguleeyaka Pradaanam: Sure to bring together couples separated for whatever reason. (ViTTup pirindavar onru sera)
(vii) Sargam 38: Vaayasa Vrittanta Kathanam To save one from any hurt to Sri Rama or his Bhaktas in thought, word or action (Rama aparaada Dosham)
6. The similes employed by Aadikavi in this KhaaNdam are so unique that in the matter of ?Upama?, it can be confidently asserted that it is Valmiki who set the trend for other poets and writers to emulate.
We will deal with this in our next posting.