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A scene from sundara kanda of valmiki ramayana describing Hanuman visit to lanka

Updated on April 15, 2016
Venkatachari M profile image

Venkat loves arts and literature and keeps reading books of all genre and developed an interest in writing literary and fictional articles.

Lord Hanuman (the monkey king)

Hanuman ji
Hanuman ji

Introduction to the chapter of valmiki's sundara kanda

Sundara Kanda is the 5th part or section of the great Indian epic Valmiki Ramayana composed by the great sage Valmiki in its original Sanskrit language. Ramayana is the story of Rama and Sita describing their birth, childhood, marriage, their 14-year exile to the forest, Sita's kidnap to Lanka by Ravana, the war between Rama and Ravana, Sita's union with Rama and their return to Ayodhya, etc.

This particular section of Sundara Kanda narrates the story after the kidnap of Sita by a demon king Ravana; starting from Hanuman's flight over the ocean to Lanka till he meets Sita and delivers Rama's message and gets her message back again to Rama including his meeting with Ravana and the burning of Lanka. Sundara Kanda has 68 sub-sections in it and each section is known as a 'sarga'. Each sarga is made up of hundreds of slokas or verses.

The first sarga (sub-section) of Sundara Kanda narrates this beautiful scene of the monkey lord Hanuman crossing the huge ocean till Lanka is visible to him. This sub-section is made up of 210 verses.

I got fascinated by the wonderful description of this journey and wanted to share the same with you, here in English text for your enjoyment.

The whole section of Sundara Kanda (with all its 68 chapters) has been named as "Sundara Kanda" as it is the most beautiful part of the whole Ramayana. 'Sundar' means beautiful and 'Kanda' means part or section.

There is another belief that Hanuman's original name was "Sundara" and his parents used to call him as 'Sundara' only. As Sundara Kanda narrates the heroism of hanuman in crossing the ocean, this episode has been named after his name.

Valmiki sage, sundara kanda author

Valmiki is author of original Ramayana in sanskrit and also teacher for Rama's sons Luv and Kush.
Valmiki is author of original Ramayana in sanskrit and also teacher for Rama's sons Luv and Kush.

Hanuman prepares for his giant leap

Hanuman got reminded of his powers by Jambavan and he recollected the self-confidence regarding his innate abilities. He decided to begin his search for Sita by taking the sky route. He was standing on the tall mountain Mahendragiri enlarging his body with a stretched neck and raised head.

The great Hanuman was glowing like 'an elephant in a lake' as the green lawns of the hill seemed like large stretches of still water. He paid his reverence to the Sun God, the Lord of Heaven 'Indra', the Wind God and Lord Brahma. Thereafter, once again saluted to his father, the Wind God, and decided to go in the south direction over the ocean and accordingly grew his body further.

Hanuman pressed his feet and hands heavily on the mountain top before leaping. His strength was so powerful that the whole mountain shook with his pressure. The trees also moved violently due to the shake and shred all their flowers. Covered by flowers, the whole mountain shone like a flower-mountain. Water began emerging from the mountain forming into lakes just like an excited elephant in a rut releasing the rut juice. Mineral rocks in the mountain also burst due to the heavy pressure emitting streaks of gold, silver and other colours of the minerals in all directions and the whole mountain glowed like burning flames.

The caves resounded with the shrieks of creatures running out frightened due to the heavy jolt. The hidden snakes began biting the rocks furiously turning them black with the effect of their poison whereby they split into thousands of pieces. The frightening sounds filled the whole atmosphere causing panic even among the ascetics and vidyadharas (semi-gods) prompting them to flee from that place leaving their belongings behind, in the fear that some demons were destroying the mountain. The vidyadhara women wearing garlands, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, anklets gathered in a corner of the sky with surprise and excitement to know what is going on. Just then, they heard the sages, wanderers, and enlightened souls speaking among themselves about Hanuman getting determined to trace Sita by crossing the ocean in his giant form and just then, they noticed Hanuman standing there on the mountain top in his giant form; ready to take his leap.

Sundarakanda Book Cover

Easy to read book of Sundara kanda available in English and Hindi languages at Geeta Press, Gorakhpur, India
Easy to read book of Sundara kanda available in English and Hindi languages at Geeta Press, Gorakhpur, India

Hanuman takes his path in the sky

Hanuman shook his body shouting loudly and flew into the air, jolting his long tail. Many trees uprooted due to the violent jerk and sound. He began increasing his speed jolting the tail repeatedly. He seemed like Garuda, the king of birds, carrying a great serpent. He narrowed his body shrinking the neck and shoulders, to maintain a steady speed. He compared his speed with that of an arrow released from the bow of Rama and his flight with that of Garuda.

The uprooted trees also flew along with him for some moments folding back their branches just like relatives would follow their beloved ones, due to the force of his speed. After following for some time, they fell down losing the force. Some other light weighted trees flew for some more time with him like soldiers following their king.The flowers from the trees showered down due to the forceful winds like a rain of flowers. Hanuman's body glittered like a mountain shining with fireflies due to the colourful flowers, buds and leaves sticking to his body. Hanuma shone like the cloud filled with lightning due to the colourful shining flowers. The sea below also glittered like the sky glittering with stars.

Hanuman was flying with his arms stretched forward and the arms looked like five-headed snakes coming out of a mountain peak. While on the surface of ocean, he seemed to be drinking the whole waters of the ocean and while above in the sky, he seemed to swallow the whole sky. His eyes with a glow of lightning resembled two fireballs and he himself resembled a mountain with fires. Both eyes were shining like sun and moon. Whenever he lifted his tail it appeared like the flag of Indra. Whenever he circled his tail, Hanuman with his glowing white teeth, looked like the sun encircled in a ring.

Due to the force of his flight, the waves from the ocean rose as high as if they seemed to touch the sky. His gigantic shadow in the waters seemed as if white clouds are following him. The air passing through his armpits sounded like thundering clouds.

Hanuman's encounter with Mainaka mountain

The ocean god thought that he should help Hanuman by providing some rest to him as he might have been tired much. So, he asked the mountain Mainaka hidden in the ocean to come up and provide shelter to Hanuman for a while. Mt.Mainaka was already indebted to the Wind God who is the father to Hanuman. So, he pleasantly accepted the request and came out of the waters just like the sun emerging from clouds. He stood high up in the ocean so that all his peaks are visible. The whole sky began glittering with his golden lights. ( Mt.Mainaka is believed to be a mountain with rich treasures of gold). Seeing the mountain, Hanuman thought it as an obstacle in his path. So, he touched the mountain with his chest in a great speed. The impact was so strong that the peaks of the mountain shattered all around immediately. Mt.Mainaka got pleased at the speed and strength of Hanuman. He immediately took the human form and paid his respects to him and welcomed him to take rest for a while on him as per the ocean god's instructions and then go again on his work. Hanuman was happy at his hospitality. But, he did not want to take rest till his job got fully accomplished. So, he touched Mt.Mainaka gently and told him that hospitality has already been performed by him through his gentle words and that was sufficient for him.

Hanuman flew again into the sky after thanking Mt.Mainaka. All the angels watching this scene praised Hanuman's devotion and determination and were happy at the hospitality of Mt.Mainaka also.

Hanuman's encounter with Surasa, Mother of snakes

The Devas (angels) were happy at Hanuman but wanted to test him more. So, they requested the Mother of Snakes, Surasa to take a fearful demon-like form and obstruct Hanuman for a while to test whether he wins her with his strength, courage, and wisdom. Accordingly, Surasa took a fearful, ugly shape and stood in the path of Hanuman telling him that he cannot escape from her without entering into her mouth as she has been blessed by devas accordingly. Hanuman promises to enter her mouth after the accomplishment of his job and requests her to let him go as of now. But, Surasa did not agree and stood in front of him with her mouth wide open. Getting angry, Hanuman increased his form whereby Surasa also increased her form with a larger mouth. Hanuman went on enlarging his form but Surasa was also not tired. She kept on enlarging her mouth. Realising that she will not leave him, Hanuman suddenly entered her mouth taking a tiny form and quickly came out. Then, he told her that he had fulfilled her desire and so let him go. Surasa got stunned at his smartness and speed. She was much pleased and blessed him to achieve success in his mission. The angels also appreciated his cleverness and courage.

A demoness Simhika attacks Hanuman

After obtaining the blessings of Surasa, Hanuman again climbed up into the sky taking his original path. He was flying like a king of birds, Garuda, in the path tread by birds, clouds, and falling rains. It was the path of great musicians like tumbura and other vidyadharas singing their musical notes; the abode of great pious souls like sages, Gandharvas, nagas, and yakshas. It is the place where sun, moon and stars always glow; and the abode of Indra's diamond weapon and white elephant. Hanuman was travelling like a huge mountain with long wings.

Suddenly, Hanuman experienced some hindrance in his speed. A demoness named Simhika caught his shadow and began dragging it towards her. She was pleased to have some great food after a very long time. She was dragging his shadow further and further and Hanuman could not understand why he was losing speed. He looked around and then looked down. There he witnessed a very giant and strange creature raised up from the ocean. Quickly he recollected Sugriva telling him about an animal's presence in the salty ocean named Simhika. He became confident that it must be Simhika approaching towards him with mouth wide open. He quickly enlarged his body. Simhika also began enlarging her mouth. She ran behind him with her wide-open mouth and Hanuman was smart enough to notice her internal organs. He quickly narrowed his body and decreased his size drastically and fell into her mouth with great speed. Before she was able to close her mouth, hanuman caught hold of her internal organs and tore them off with his sharp nails and quickly emerged out from her mouth with equal speed. Simhika fell dead with her torn heart into the waters of the ocean. The angels, sages, and others watching all this praised hanuman for his cleverness, skill and courage and blessed him for success in his mission.

Hanuman visit to Lanka

A painting of 18th century showing Hanuman's flight to lanka, meeting Sita and burning of Lanka
A painting of 18th century showing Hanuman's flight to lanka, meeting Sita and burning of Lanka | Source

Hanuman reaches lanka

After the death of Simhika, Hanuman has almost cleared all his obstacles in his flight to Lanka. He again regained his full speed and completed the remaining distance of the full 100 yojanas of the sea journey.( One yojana may be equal to anywhere between 3 to 8 km as it is completely disputed among scholars).

He was able to visualise the other side of the ocean. Gradually everything became visible to him. He looked around and was able to see the mountain named Malaya, the forests, the bay and the rivers flowing into the ocean which seemed like wives going to meet their husband. He considered it to be an auspicious sign to be welcomed by married women.

Hanuma decreased his speed and reduced his body also to its normal size so as to avoid curiosity among viewers and hide from their sight. He reached a peak of the Malaya mountain and descended on it. He sat on the mountain, looked around at the beautiful trees, frightened the birds and animals. The City of Lanka was visible to him with its glowing lights resembling Amaravati, the capital city of Indra.

Thus, Hanuman, the great monkey king, achieved a very great and difficult task of crossing the ocean to reach Lanka which was, otherwise, unachievable to anybody else.

Valmiki Ramayana

About Valmiki Ramayan and Hanuman

Are you aware of Ramayana epic and role of Hanuman in it?

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About below linked sundarakanda video

This video is in Telugu lyrical form sung by a famous singer. The whole story of sub-section 1 as detailed in the above capsules is condensed into a short from in this video; showcasing the main points of this whole scene of Hanuman leaping from Mahendragiri mountain, his long journey over the ocean, his encounter with the Mainaka mountain, his encounter with Mother of Snakes, Surasa and his killing of the demoness Simhika.

Sundara kanda complete 1st sarga in short form

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    • Venkatachari M profile image
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      Venkatachari M 8 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very nice to learn your reciting Sundarakanda on Tuesdays. I admire Hanumanji very much and am reciting Hanuman Chalisa daily since 4 or 5 years. My wife used to recite Sundarakanda often. But, I am unable to devote so much time. It already consumes more than one hour daily in my regular puja and Hanuman Chalisa recitation.

      I got very much impressed by the beautiful description of Hanuman's journey towards Lanka and wanted to share this joy with all of you.

      Thanks for appreciating this effort. My blessings.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 8 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent hub about Sundarkand and glorification of Shri Hanumanji!

      I recite Sundarkaand very frequently, almost on every Tuesday but never thought of writing a hub about it.

      Very nice presentation and a brilliant informative hub!

      Thank you!

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 14 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Yes, it is true. There is an unending treasure of mysteries. The more you read our epic stories, the more you come across amazing wonders. There is no stop at all. Every time, something new strikes to the mind. Thanks for visiting and giving your feedback.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 14 months ago from Bangalore

      Venkatachari sir. Excellent hub about sundara kanda. Though we have been introduced to all the gods from childhood, their stories never stop amazing us. Every god has a great story and a place in our heart.

      Jai Hanuman.

      - hari

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      That's too much pleasing, Missy. A lot of memories and thoughts poured out from your heart and mind reading this hub! I am very glad at such a deep and touching feedback.

      It is true that we have so many Gods with so many stories. If you can go through Ramayana and Mahabharata epics, translations are available in English, you may come across so many sub-stories in it with all details of various prayers and worships offered to numerous Gods and demigods.

      I have seen only clips from "The Life of Pie". But, I know the full story and enjoyed most of those scenes as mentioned by you. It is very fascinating and exciting, that too for small children. It is natural that your son felt so much sad for the tiger.

      Thanks for the visit and such a beautiful comment. My blessings to you and your nice son.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 16 months ago from Florida

      Very interesting. I get very excited when I am able to learn something new about a different culture and the beliefs and stories of that culture.

      I remember talking to a friend of mine from India that I don't have contact with anymore sadly, and I remember asking him about the Hindu beliefs, and the God that his people believed in. I'm very interested in these type things. Anyway, I remember him giggling and saying, "Dear Missy, I would love to explain these things to you, but we have many Gods, and many stories, and I'm afraid it would be hard to explain them all to you." I felt a little disappointed, but I knew our time to speak was limited, so I accepted his answer. lol.

      I really remembered that conversation when I started reading your story, and I realized all the characters there was to explain, and wow, 210 verses. I understood his hesitance in trying to explain things to me. I'm happy to have come across this story, which I felt really had a magical feel. I will probably need to read it again though, just so I can absorb the story better. It's very complex, but nonetheless, very interesting.

      You know what these stories remind me of? Have you ever seen the movie "The Life of Pi?" The animals, the visuals, and the meaning of that movie were just breathtaking; it reminds me of these sacred tales you tell here. My favorite part of that movie was when the ocean lit up with all those jellyfish, then the whale jumping; very mystical and magical theme. My son was six years old when our family went to see this movie. It was the first movie he sat still all the way through, and he cried so much at the end when the tiger left. I didn't think I could console him. It was sweet. Anyway, the stories you tell, and this movie I mention, remind me of a similar magical and meaningful beauty.

      I just now saw this hub, Venkat, so I apologize for my tardiness in commenting on it. I look forward to more like this. :)

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Devika. I am glad it was helpful to you. Thanks for the nice comment.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 16 months ago from london

      Welcome back. Hope that all went well, my Friend.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 16 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Wow! Incredible hub! I had an idea but you informed me of the rest. Thank you for useful and informative hub. Don't know how I missed this one.

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Dear Surabhi,

      I am fine and thanks for your good wishes. I have been off-line these 5 days. I explained the same above, in my reply to our dear Manatita.

      Thanks for your visit and nice comment. My blessings to you.

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you Vasantha, for the visit and nice comment.

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Manatita, for your visit and nice comment.

      I just returned after a five day tour to my elder brother's home after a long gap of 6 years. It was our native place during my grandfather's days. So, I have been out of touch with all of you here. Sorry for this late response.

      Yes, Hanuman was an unparalleled personality for his great devotion, faith and humbleness towards Lord Rama.

    • profile image

      Surabhi Kaura 16 months ago

      Venkatachari ji,

      How are you doing, Sir? I hope that all is well. Hanuman ji's devotion sets as a doctrine for many to follow and obey. Pertinent hub! Thank you for writing. I appreciate your input. Love in abundance.

    • vasantha  T k profile image

      vasantha T k 16 months ago from Bangalore

      Beautiful description.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 16 months ago from london

      Brilliant Hub on the adventures of Hanuman. He was perhaps unparalelled in devotion as a disciple. I like the singing too. Peace Bro.

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Jackie, for your visit and nice comment. It sure looks like science fiction. But, it is our mythological beliefs that Gods, demi-gods and angels and even demons have many supernatural powers. The above is from our epic Ramayana.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 16 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I enjoyed the beauty of the story and language. Much like science fiction where I am from but and enchanted feel of fantasy. Thank you for sharing.

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      That's very kind of you, Bill. I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    • Venkatachari M profile image
      Author

      Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Tim Mitchell. I am very glad at your visit and such a nice opinion. Thanks a lot.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I always love learning about new cultures, beliefs, etc, so articles like this one greatly help me. Thank you for sharing this story, lesson, art and beliefs. Blessings to you always.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 16 months ago from Escondido, CA

      Thank you much for sharing this wonderful journey of teaching. I easily appreciate the telling of this story and thankful for the translation of it presented with care. I discover great interest with the culture and through the art also seen with the video too. I learned great value seen with a story you know well.

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