Reading the verses of Sundarakandam, I began to wonder how I would be able to even select from among the 2,885 verses for my solo production on this most beautiful section of the Ramayana. Choreographing and getting music composed seemed highly formidable tasks. My spiritual Guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati had suggested that I work on ‘Sundarakandam.’ I realised that unless I undertook it as a Parayana (a dedicated daily recitation), I would not be able to give it a form in Natya. I spent days reading and contemplating on the verses and began to discover the timeless value of the journey of Hanuman to Lanka. When Mount Mainaka, the greatest among the mountains, rises from the ocean to request Hanuman to rest on its peak, Hanuman says that he will not rest until he reaches Lanka. This undivided focus gives him the strength to reach his destination.
On gaining entry, Hanuman is awestruck by the city of Lanka, the opulence of Ravana’s palace, the retinue, and the magnificent Pushpaka Vimana. He enters the private chambers of the mansion but lust does not touch Hanuman’s heart, where Rama is enshrined.
Not to scare Mother Sita with his sudden appearance, He first sings the glory of Lord Rama and gradually earns her trust. The sense and sensibility with which he approaches Sita reassures her of reuniting with Lord Rama. Hanuman’s strategy is in full play in this Canto — he ascertains the strength of Ravana’s army, by engaging in a battle after destroying the spectacular Ashoka Vana, allows himself to be tied by Indrajit, invokes fear by burning Lanka with his tail set on fire and so on.
With the wise words “Drishta Sita” (Seen Sita), he brings joy and relief to a distraught Rama. None on earth, even in thought, can achieve this feat says Rama, who through an embrace conveys his gratitude and blessing for protecting the Dharma of the Raghu clan!
My first presentation of Sundarakandam was in the presence of Guruji in Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (2009) in Saylorsburg. He was so happy that he called me ‘Hanumani’ in front of the audience. With his blessings, I have presented Hanuman’s journey at several venues in Chennai and across the country and abroad.
‘Sundarakandam’ is a mine of spiritual knowledge, reading of which assures success in all endeavours along with the spiritual strength to face life’s difficulties. Sundara means not only beautiful but also regaining what is lost. It is said that to regain the Self is real Sundaram!
Ramayana is the Adikavya — the very first poem, Itihaasa (epic) in Sanskrit literature — of the ancient Indian civilization. The entire culture of India is embodied in this Itihaasa. It has a very deep influence on the ethos and ethics of people through the millennia. The power it has in moulding the minds cannot be described.Rama resides eternally in Hanuman’s heart. As a Naishtika Brahmachari, he is an embodiment of devotion and fearlessness. To me, he is the real hero, who adorns my Facebook page.
(The author is a Bharatanatyam artiste and founder-teacher, Arsha Kala Bharati)