[Advaita-l] Sundera Khanda - IIIrd Talk - Part 2

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 23 05:48:07 EDT 2017

IIIrd Talk – Part II

Sundara Khanda  of Ramayan

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.


Hanuman is the symbolic representation of the supreme intellect – buddhi mataam variShTam. Hanuman was directed to Ashoka vaatika by VibhishaNa. There he finds Seeta very sad. Sad because she is away from her Lord. Her mind went after the Golden deer and wanted to possess it at any cost. Mind got trapped by moha or delusion. In the process, it gets kidnapped by Ravana since it loses its discrimination and accuses the sincere servant of the Lord, Lakshman. She crossed the line of demarcation of right from wrong, and thus becomes a victim to it. Now, she is full of repentance and wants to get back to the Lord. The story of Seeta is a reminder for us. If one falls back from the highest meditation by losing the discriminative intellect, then the fall is more severe and takes lot more effort to get back to the original situation. Hence scripture says, it is a razor edge path and difficult to cross –

‘kshurasya dhaaraa nishitaa duratyayaa durgam pathasta kavayo vadanti’  says Kathopanishat.

 Seeta felt dejected when Ravana gave her ultimatum. She felt like committing suicide, as she could not see an end in sight. At that time Hanuman drops the ring that he brought from Rama.

That Ring is not an ordinary ring. Rama’s name was engrained on it. It is, therefore, ati sundaram, or very beautiful. Anything becomes beautiful once it is associated with the name of the Lord. The fruits that we buy in the store become prasaad once we do naivedayam  or offer them to the Lord. A devotee partakes it with reverential attitude, since it comes from the Lord. Prasad also means happiness since it gives happiness – prasaade sarva bhuutanaam – says Geeta. Anything + God becomes Holy. Even in church they give holy water. Lord says I am there in the heart of everyone. If we recognize this as a fact, then we cannot but treat everyone with respect. Ring is mudrika or a symbol of Rama.

 Mudra even in dance means a sign. Seeing the mudra, the audience grasps the essence. Using chin-mudra Dakshinamurthy teaches the whole Vedanta to the Rishees.  Chin mudra involves bending the index finger to meet the thumb, which is needed to grip any object. Thumb stands for Brahman, and the index finger is called ego, since it is used for accusing others. Chin mudra involves, therefore, surrendering the ego at the altar of Brahman. When the index finger bends to meet the thumb, the thumb also bends towards the index finger so that the whole circle is completed to becomes purnam or full. Thus if we make some effort to reach God, the Lord also bends towards us. Mudra forms the symbol of the highest truth.

 Hanuman had the mudra (ring) in high mouth as he was traveling across the ocean. Essentially he had Rama naama in his mouth all the time as he was facing all the obstacles on his path. Thus chanting the name of the Lord all the time helps in keeping the mind’s attention on the Lord. nama japa is considered as very powerful since name comes before the form. Jagat or the world is nothing but naama and ruupa. In essence, rupam or form keeps changing. With changing form, the name also is changed.  Since Lord himself became many, as the Upanishads declare, it is the only name of the Lord while forms keep changing depending on the need. Kathopanishad says:

  ruupam ruupam pratiruupam babhuuva|

Ekastathaa sarva bhuutaantaraatmaa,

ruupam ruupam pratiruupo bahischa|| 

 Essentially it is only the same consciousness that pervades all forms. Jagat, therefore, is nothing but all-pervading consciousness expressing ‘as though’ through various forms.  Chanting the name of the Lord continuously helps to recognize this fact, and prevents the mind to get carried away by the differences in the ruupam and ruupam, one from to the other. Hanuman shows us how to do the Lord’s work while keeping his name in our mouth (or mind).  Even if we do not know Rama, by chanting his name he cannot but respond. If there are many people and we shout Oh! Ramaswami! please come here, even if we do not know who is Ramaswami.  All Ramaswami-s will come forward not knowing which Ramaswami was called. Hence where ever Rama is called, He goes thinking that he was called. Thus, name is very powerful. Hence Krishna says, ‘yagnaanam japa yagnosmi’ – Of all the yagnas-s ‘I am the japa jagna’ – yagna involves yoking the mind to the supreme. Since Rama naama is enchanting (ati sunder), the ring that has Rama nama is also ati sunder.

 Seeta saw the ring and was surprised to the see Rama naama there and immediately recognized that it was Rama’s ring and wondering how it got there. At that time Hanuman started singing Rama katha or story of Rama.  Someone said that it was the first overseas singing of Rama-katha. Sage Anandamayi maa says that Katha is such that the all vyatha-s will go away. In essence, by listening to the story of Rama all suffering will go away. After listening to the story, Seeta was desperate and at the same time started feeling some hope. She wanted to know who is singing and wanted to make sure it is not a deception by the Rakshasas. At that time Hanuman jumped in front of Seeta and called her Oh! Mother Janakee, I was sent by KaruNaanidhi, Shree Ram. First, he calls her as a mother and referring to her as the daughter of King Janaka who is the very embodiment of Knowledge. He says, ‘I was sent by ‘karaNaanidhi’’ one who is the ocean of compassion. He knew that Seeta used to call Rama with that name, and he told the whole story of what happened after Ravana had kidnapped Jaanaki maata.

 He showed his real form or size, and how he could cross the ocean with the strength of Rama and assured her that Rama will come, destroy Ravana, and rescue mother Seeta. With her permission, he enjoys the fruits of the Ashoka Garden, and in the process kills few Rakshasas including one of the sons of Ravana, who were trying to disturb him. He wanted to make sure that he will meet Ravana and covey a strong message. He allows himself to get captured by Indrajit, the powerful son of Ravana when he used Brahmaastra, that too, out of respect for Brahmaji.

To be continued

 Hari Om!


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