Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life Saviour Sundara Kanda










From Editors Desk


The Ramayana written by Sage Valmiki is one of the greatest and matchless epics of India which was, is being and will be, recited to eternity. Such is the greatness of the epic that it not only elevates one’s level of Bhakti but also saves one’s very life. Life is not always a smooth journey whoever he may be or however great he may be. However there is one exception to this rule i.e. for those who surrender unto the holy feet of the Lord this rule just doesn’t touch them. The bhakta can effortlessly cross the perilous tides of samsara by merely holding onto His feet. It is said if a Bhakta or Devotee chants His holy name by lying in the bed Bhagavan listens to him sitting next to him, if that Bhakta sits and chants Bhagavan stands and listens, and if the Bhakta stands and chants Bhagavan starts dancing and if the Bhakta starts dancing Bhagavan surrenders to that Bhakta and enters in his heart. One such epic which enables one to cross the difficult times of the world is the sacred Ramayana.

Among all the episodes of Ramayana recitation of Sundara Kanda has been recommended by Rishis and our forefathers for the simple reason that it eradicates the evil effects, gives strength and generates hope. Being in touch with Sundara Kanda either through chanting, hearing or merely placing a copy in the puja altar would remove all hurdles and usher in good tidings to everyone.

I used to read Sundara Kanda (LIFCO publication) regularly and have experienced a lot of miracles by the grace of Hanuman who has helped me overcome many hindrances and obstacles in my life. I strongly urge my readers to get a copy of Sundara Kanda, read, experience the effect and see their problems melting away as if by miracle.

I hereby sincerely thank Sri (Major) V. Venkata Narayanan who painstakingly did the job of proof reading the article.

Please read on to know more about importance of Sundara Kanda and how it can become one’s life saviour.

Happy Reading!

Warm Regards

A.V. Devan
Chennai - 28/12/2010


Life saviour “Sundara Kanda”


Valmiki in his early life was a hunter and for maintaining his family became a robber. However by the grace of Sage Narada the hunter started chanting “MARA MARA” as he could not pronounce RAMA and later became a great devotee of Rama and wrote the epic nonpareil. The sacred Gayathri Mantra contains 24 syllables. Sage Valmiki set the Gayathri letters one by one as the starting letter of slokas in a uniform interval of 1000 verses. Thus Ramayana has 24,000 verses or slokas spread across seven Kandas or episodes namely Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkinda Kanda, Sundara Kanda, Yuddha Kanda and Uttara Kanda.

Bala Kanda describes the birth of Rama, His childhood and marriage to Sita. The Ayodhya Kanda describes the preparations for Rama’s coronation and His exile into the forest. The Aranya Kanda describes the forest life of Rama and kidnapping of Sita by the demon King Ravana. The Kishkinda Kanda describes the meeting of Hanuman with Rama, the destruction of Vanara King Vali and coronation of his younger brother Sugriva to the throne of the Kingdom of Kishkindha. The Sundara Kanda narrates the heroism of Hanuman, his flight to lanka and meeting with Sita. The Yuddha Kanda describes the battle between Rama’s and Ravana’s armies. The last episode Uttara Kanda describes the birth of Lava and Kusha and their coronation to the throne of Ayodhya.

The Sundara Kanda forms the heart of Valimiki’s Ramayana. You will be surprised to find that the naming of this episode by Valmiki was a special one as he has named it as the Beautiful One (Sundara meaning beautiful). It needs mention that he has not given this title even to Rama, who is the hero of the epic. The Sundara Kanda narrates in vivid detail the exploits and adventures of Hanuman’s wherein he plays a crucial role in finding the whereabouts of Sita by employing his valor and wisdom.

Sundara Kanda – A brief summary

Sugriva deputed his army in search of Sita. While on their search they could not find Sita and finally Hanuman along with Jambavan (King of Bear) met Sambathi the elder brother of Jatayu (Garuda, The Eagle). Sambathi then told them the location of Lanka where Sita was captivated. To reach Lanka one has to cross the ocean. Jambavan then told the assembled army that only Hanuman can cross the ocean. Jambavan further told them it was Hanuman who as a young boy mistook the Sun to be a ball and darted to catch it and only Hanuman can execute this mighty task. Hanuman does not even know his infinite strength and latent power. Upon Jambavan’s narration, he readily ventured to the task of finding Sita by attempting to cross the Ocean.

Hanuman instantly assumes a gigantic form and makes a colossal leap across the ocean towards Lanka. On his way he was requested by Mount Mainaka to take rest and proceed as a token of gratitude towards his father Vayu, the wind God who helped the mountains find their place in the Ocean. However Hanuman rejected to rest as he was proceeding on Rama’s mission which needs to be accomplished soon. Hanuman then was intercepted by Surasa, mother of Nagas who told that she will not let anyone go past her without passing through her mouth. Hanuman then started growing big and Surasa also proportionately opened her mouth wide. Intelligently Hanuman reduced himself to a smaller size, and in a jiffy, entered and came out of her big mouth in a fraction of a second. Later he was accosted by another demon by name Simhika who can catch people from their shadow. Hanuman then entered her mouth and tore her heart and kills the demon. After crossing the ocean Hanuman landed in Lanka in darkness. The guardian demoness of lanka called Lankini prevented Hanuman from entering the city but he overcame Langini by giving her a punch with his left arm and entered the city of Lanka.

Hanuman then reduced himself to a smaller size and searched everywhere. He scoured the imperial palace and every nook and corner of the city of Lanka but could not find Sita. He then remembered that he had not paid his obeisance to Lord Rama, Sita, Devathas, Marut Ganas and other celestial beings. He then offered prayers to them. While looking around suddenly he saw a small forest which was full of Asoka trees. He entered the Asoka forest and finds a lady under a Simsubha tree with luster but her clothes were torn and her face was dim. Then Hanuman saw a person advance menacingly towards Sita and asking her to marry him. Sita took a dried grass (darba) placed it in front of him and by looking at the darba told him that his end is nearing. The person was none other than the demon King Ravana who gave her an ultimatum to marry her within a month otherwise she will be killed. Sita was in tears and was about to end her life by hanging her long hair to the tree.

Hanuman sensing danger did not know how to convey the message to Sita that he was the messenger from Ram, as she may suspect him being a Vanara. Hanuman then started chanting the Ramayana and narrated the episode till the point of abduction of Sita. He futher said that Rama had taken the help of Vanara King Sugriva and his minister Hanuman has come to Lanka to save her. Sita’s left eye started blinking fast which is a sign of good omen for ladies. Sita then looked around from where the voice was coming and found a monkey sitting above the same very tree where whe was resting. She got frightened and suspected whether Ravan himself had come in the form of a Monkey. Hanuman then told Sita that he is the minister of King Sugriva whose help Rama had taken and as a token of evidence hands over the Ring of Rama (Kanaiyazhi). Sita upon seeing the ring believes in Hanuman and her joy found no bounds. Hanuman then told Sita that he is ready to take her to Rama but Sita told she would prefer to get rescued by Rama after defeating Ravan.

Hanuman then decided to feel the pulse of his enemy and started destroying the Asoka forest where Sita was imprisoned. The news of destruction by a monkey reached the court of Ravana who deputed his warriors to attack and capture Hanuman. The furious Hanuman then killed all the warriors one by one. Later Indrajit son of Ravan deploys Brahma Astra which alone can make Hanuman to abide and that too for a brief while. However the Brahmastra’s powers were nullified by the soldiers of Indarajit as they tied rope above the Brahmastra which released Hanuman. However Hanuman decided to see Ravana and kept silent and did not move his limbs. He was then taken to Ravana’s court and was made to stand in front of Ravan like a prisoner. Hanuman then made a big coiled seat out of his own tail and sat higher than Ravana. Hanuman then informed Ravana that he was the messenger of Rama and advised him to release Sita otherwise he will be killed by Rama. Ravana being impervious and unreceptive, ordered asuras to kill Hanuman.

However it was Vibishana who informed Ravana that it is a practice of dharma that a King should not kill a messenger of another King and requested him to release Hanuman. However Ravana decided to punish Hanuman and asked his soldiers to set his tail ablaze. Heat and fire did nothing to Hanuman who used the same fire in his tail to set ablaze the entire Lanka into flames. He then extinguished the fire but feared whether the Asoka forest where Sita was staying would have also caught fire and went there to find Sita. Despite the fire Sita was safe. He then realized it was the power of prayer and the pativratatva of Sita which saved Him from getting engulfed by fire. He then receives an ornament (Soodamani) from Sita as a token of meeting Her and promises that he will return along with Rama to save Her and returns to the base camp where Sugriva's warriors were staying. Later the entire team celebrated the good news by treating themselves by entering the Madhuvan of Sugriva. Hanuman then met Rama and told that he saw Sita (Kanden Seethayai) in Lanka and narrated all the incidents and gave the Sita’s ornament (Soodamani) to Him. Rama was delighted on seeing the ornament of Sita and was reduced to tears. Here ends the Sundara Kanda.

Significance of Sundara Kanda

In Sundara Kanda Hanuman paves the way for reunion of the divine couple Rama and Sita. Similarly if we worship Hanuman by reciting the Sundara Kanda he helps a devotee by taking him near the Lord. Kanchi Mahaperiyava used to tell that Lord Hanuman or Anjaneya is an embodiment of all auspicious qualities which are very rare to find. He excelled in Intellect, Valor, Courage, Wisdom, Fearlessness and Bhakti. It is very rare to find such great trength in one person. Hanuman is also a very learned one and is referred as Nava Vyakarna Panditha. He is very very humble to Lord Rama and at the same time showed his prowess to demon Ravana by setting ablaze the entire Lanka. When Rama returned to Ayodhya along with Sita there was the coronation ceremony and while parting, Rama gave gifts to all attendees. When it was Hanuman’s turn Rama told him that He cannot give him anything better than Himself and thus gave himself to Hanuman and hugged him. Hanuman also said he is interested in receiving nothing but kainkaryam, i.e. doing service to Him. Even when Rama had departed from this mortal world to his heavenly abode Hanuman refused to accompany Him since he cannot hear Ramayana in Vaikunta and decided to stay back in this world to hear Ramayana. He told Rama that wherever and whenever Ramayana is recited (Yatra Yatra raghu natha keerthanam, tatra tatra krida masta kanchalim, pashpavari pari poorna lochanam) he will be there to listen and dance in ecstacy with tears flowing. Hence a devotee can feel the presence of Hanuman if he recites Ramayana even in his house.

Miracles experienced on reciting Sundara Kanda

I am quoting an incident which I heard in an audio CD as told by Brahmashri Senkalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar. Once Anantharama Dikshitar was in Calcutta and completed writing a book on Sundara Kanda. An old man came to Dikshitar and asked for blessings. Dikshitar blessed and gave a copy of Sundara Kanda and the old man returned home happily. Within a few days an incident took place in his home. His grandson who was a small boy was alone in his home when his parents and the old man had gone out for a brief period.

A stranger entered their house and told the boy that he is the friend of his father and asked the boy to take out the cash from the almirah and come along with him so that together they can go and meet his father. The boy who was so innocent took the cash from the almirah and followed the stranger. The stranger then snatched the cash from the boy and cunningly took him to the railway station. He then boarded a train along with the boy and vanished. The parents returned and found their son and cash were missing and were collapsed. The old man also returned home to find his son and daughter in law were in tears. He then consoled them and asked them not to worry and started chanting Sundara Kanda (the book given by Anantharama Dikshitar) the whole night.

The next day early morning somebody was knocking at the door and they were surprised to find the boy with the cash bag standing along with a railway official. The boy then narrated what happened and said while in the train in the midnight he sensed something wrong. The stranger was sleeping in the train and when the train stopped in a station the boy took the cash bag from the sleeping man, came out of the coach, went to the station master and informed what had happened. The Station Master then alerted the railway police who caught the stranger who was fast asleep and arrested him. The railway authorities then brought the boy to their house based on the address given by him. The parents were in joy and tears to see their son back and felt the prayers of their father (old man) who read the entire Sundara Kanda the whole night were answered by bringing back their lost son and money.

The above incident is only a tip of the ice berg and there are many many such real life incidents which have taken place in the lives of innumerable devotees who have been saved miraculously by reading Sundara Kanda. In the preface to Sundara Kanda one can find what chapter one has to read for various material and spiritual pursuits. All the needs of a human being are achieved by reading respecitive chapters of Sundara Kanda. Mere keeping a copy of the Sundara Kanda in our home will ward off all the problems and give immense benefits. Such is the greatness of Sundara Kanda.

Sundara Kanda a spiritual solace

If the Bhagavad Gita is taken as a philosophical guide, the Sundara Kanda in the Ramayana is often sought for spiritual solace. The mere contact of Sundara Kanda either through chanting, hearing or by merely placing a copy would remove all the hurdles and bring in good tidings to everyone. The LIFCO has published a good book on Sundara Kanda. Sundara Kanda of Brahmasri Anantharama Dikshitar and by other leading publications is also available aplenty in leading bookstores. Please get a copy and keep it in your puja room. One will be immensely fortunate even he or she reads atleast one sloka a day from Sundara Kanda. Miracles apart, the very nature of Sundara Kanda inculcates fortitude and generates hope in one and all. Mother Sita who was on the verge of death overcame Her despair to see life in a new light because of Hanuman.

It was the Hanuman’s Odyssey which paved the way for Rama to resue His kidnapped wife. Hanuman is Chiranjeevi i.e. an eternally living person. Wherever someone is singing the glory of Sri Rama, there Hanuman is said to be present with folded palms, and eyes profusely shedding tears of joy. He is said to live at the bottom of the celestial Paarijaatha tree. He is Vaayu puthra (son of Wind God). He is the son of glorious Anjana Devi. He removed the grief of Seetha by handing over the ring from Rama as a symbol of hope. It is said that if one constantly prays to Hanuman, he gives boons such as - Intelligence, strength, name & fame, courage, good health, longevity, skill in speech, absence from laziness, wards off sluggishness and gets blissful and contented.

Let us all worship Hanuman by reading Sundara Kanda and get His blessings.

Jai Hanuman / Jai Maruti / Jai Sita Ram

Acknowledgements

I hereby thank Sri (Major) V. Venkata Narayanan who painstakily did the proof reading of the article.

Bibliography/Reference

Sundara Kandam – Lifco Publications, Chennai
Sundara Kandam & Ramayana – Wikipedia
Sundara Kanda – Hanuman’s Odyssey – Sri B.S. Murthy

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bhagavad Gita - Issue # 2












Dear Readers


Am happy to present the Bhagavad Gita – Issue # 2.



Adisankara says in his “Bajagovindam”






Bhagavad Gita Kinchita Theertha Ganga Jalalapi Kanika Peetha
Sakruthapi Yena Murari Samarcha Kriyathe Thasya Yamenana Charcha

If a person reads a little from Bhagavad Gita, Drinks a sip of water from Ganges. Worships Murari (Krishna) for a little moment, for them there is no arguments with Yama, [the lord of death]. Adisankara further says:

Geyam Gita Nama Sahasram
Dhyeyam Shripati Rupamajashram

One should read Bhagavad Gita and Chant Vishnu Sahasranamam
One should meditate upon Shripati i.e. Lord Vishnu

The Baja Govindam further states

Mayamayam Idam akilam hitva
Brahmapadam tvam pravisha vidhitva

Leaving this world which is illusory and by knowing the state of Brahman enter into it.

This state of Brahman is explained in Chapter 2 , Verses 11 to 20 of Bhagavad Gita. The same was explained by Krishna when Arjuna said he cannot fight as by engaging in the war he needs to kill all his kin.

Happy Reading!
Warm Regards
A.V. Devan
Chennai-12/12/2010



Srimad Bhagavat Gita



Chapter – 2 // Verses 11 to 20


After Arjuna tells Krishna that he could not fight against his relatives Lord Krishna spoke the following words to Arjuna :






Chapter 2 Text 11



asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah






Meaning



“While speaking wisely you are grieving for what is not worthy of grief. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead.”






Chapter 2 Text 12



na tv evaham jatu nasam na tvam neme janadhipah na caiva na bhavisyamah sarve vayam atah param






Meaning



“Never was a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these Kings, nor in the future shall any of will cease to be.”






Chapter 2 Text 13



dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati



Meaning



“Just as the embodied soul passes through childhood, youth and old age in this body, so does it pass into another body; the wise person is not grieved by such a change.”






Chapter 2 Text 14

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah agamapayino 'nityas tams titiksasva bharata



Meaning






“Happiness and distress are similar to winter and summer seasons which come and go. They arise from sense perception which one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”



Chapter 2 Text 15






yam hi na vyathayanty ete purusam purusarsabha sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram so 'mrtatvaya kalpate



Meaning






The person who is not disturbed by sorrow and happiness and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.”

Chapter 2 Text 16



nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah ubhayor api drsto 'ntas tv anayos tattva-darsibhih



Meaning



“The unreal has no existence and for the eternal there is no change. The truth about these indeed has been seen by the seers of the truth.”



Chapter 2 Text 17






avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam vinasam avyayasyasya na kascit kartum arhati



Meaning






“Know indeed that which pervades everywhere is indestructible and no one can cause the destruction of this imperishable.”



Chapter 2 Text 18






antavanta ime deha nityasyoktah saririnah anasino 'prameyasya tasmad yudhyasva bharata



Meaning






“The material bodies of the embodied which is eternal, indestructible and immeasurable are said to have an end. Therefore fight O Arujna.” [2.18]



Chapter 2 Text 19






ya enam vetti hantaram yas cainam manyate hatam ubhau tau na vijanito nayam hanti na hanyate



Meaning






“He who regards this as a slayer and he who thinks this is slain, both of them are ignorant. This neither slays nor is slain.”



Chapter 2 Text 20






na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire



Meaning






“For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. The soul has not come into being nor will it ever again cease to be, It is unborn, eternal, changeless, ancient. It is not killed when the body is killed.”


Explanation / Purport [Chapter 2 Texts 11 to 20]



The qualities of the soul or atman were explained by Krishna. The soul is eternal and it migrates from one body to another like we change our dress. The material body passes through from child hood to old age while the soul remains the same. The atman is nothing but the all pervading Brahman. The Brahman exists as the substratum of the world. The worlds of waking, dream and deep sleep arise out of Brahman they exist in Brahman and finally merge with Brahman. The worlds come and go but Brahman is imperishable and nothing can cause the destruction of the Brahman.






The atman or Brahman lies beyond the limitations of the language. Words can only define some aspects of the atman. The characteristics of the soul or atman or Brahman whichever way we try to interpret have the following qualities:



Ajah : Unborn






Atman is not born when we are born. It does not die when we die. It always was, it is now and it will ever be. Any being that has been born must necessarily die. It is therefore finite. Atman, unborn and not subject to death is infinite.



Nityah : Eternal






Atman is everlasting. It may be compared to the ocean and living beings to waves in the ocean. Waves are born, they exist for a while and they die. But the ocean never ceases to exist. Similarly beings are born they exist for a while and they die. But Atman exists eternally.

Sasvatah : Changeless



Atman is the one changeless entity, with reference to which all changes take place. Birth and death bring about change. The man passes through from childhood to youth then to manhood and then moves to old age and then dies. In this chain of birth and death the body undergoes the change however the atman remains the same.






Thus Krishna advises Arjuna that the Atman never dies when the body dies and hence Arjuna should not grieve for the same and he has to fight which is a duty to a Kshatriya.



Bibliography/Reference

Bhagavad Gita As It is – Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Bhagavad Gita – Swami A. Parthasarathy (Vedanta Cultural Foundation)
http://www.asitis.com/
http://www.vedantaworld.org/