Did I say to Rama, “I have seen her and returned” like Hanuman?
Our dear Thirukkolur friend goes on to describe the next story, “Did I selflessly and intelligently accomplish tasks like Siriya thiruvadi, Hanuman, who said, ‘I saw Mother Sita.’?''
We have previously learnt the story about Lord Garuda, also known as Periya Thiruvadi. Now we are going to know about Siriya thiruvadi, exclusive to the Ramayana. It is none other than Lord Anjaneya, who truly followed Lord Sri Rama.
If we were to imagine the entire Ramayana as a navaratna necklace, then the central bright and shining diamond is Hanuman. The meeting of Rama and Anjaneya is a beautiful and exceptional episode. As Rama and Lakshmana wandered in search of Sita, they arrived at the shore of Pampa river. They were spotted by Sugriva who sent Anjaneya to enquire who they were. Anjaneya set out, disguised as an old Brahmana.
As he approached Rama, he felt an unusual sense of happiness and joy in his heart, and thought to himself, “I have a strong feeling that I have met this person previously! I already feel so close to him! I wonder who he could be!”. Simultaneously, Rama said “Lakshmana, do you see that man over there? I am quite sure I have met him before. I feel a close connection with him.”
Hanuman introduced himself, and asked Rama and Lakshmana who they were which bloomed into a beautiful conversation. “Lakshmana, doesn’t Hanuman have a wonderful way with words?
Only one who is absolutely well-versed with all the four Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana vedas can speak in such a way. He must surely be a scholar of nava-vyakaranas (nine schools of grammar). He possesses the ability to conquer his enemies purely by his speech. He speaks with clarity and intelligence, with politeness and respect, with meaning and sense. He is a ‘prince of words’, ‘sollin selvan’!”, praised Rama, impressed with the scholarly words of Hanuman.
There began the eternal friendship and brotherhood between them and Sugriva, as a result of which Rama slew Vali, the evil elder brother of Sugriva, and then made him the successor of Vali’s rone of Kishkinda.
Sugriva returns the favour by sending the Vaanara army throughout the world in search of Sita. Those who proceeded to the South were headed by Vali’s son Angada, Jambavan, Nala, Neela and of course, Hanuman. They reached the edge of Bharat, the banks of the Indian Ocean, but did not find Sita.
Fortunately, they were guided by Sampathi the vulture, with exceptionally sharp eyes. He mentioned that Sita was held captive in Lanka which was a hundred yojanas away. Now who could cross the mighty ocean and reach a place that far away?
The wise old Jambavan came up with an answer. “I know exactly who would be perfect for this task. It is the one whose power, strength, courage and potential have been made to stay inactive through a curse.” he turned and pointed towards Anjaneya. He reminded Hanuman of all his abilities. Immediately Hanuman took off like an arrow from Rama’s bow and flew swiftly across the ocean.
On the way he encountered obstacles like Mainaka Mountain who insisted he take rest on his surface as a return of favour to Hanuman’s father Lord Vayu. Politely declining Mainaka’s hospitality, Hanuman said that he must complete his mission first. Further, he successfully conquered the snake-mother, Surasa and another deadly demoness, Simhika.
Finally, at the entry of Lanka, he deftly managed to escape the clutches of Lankini, the guardian of the city gates. Thereupon, he transformed into a tiny size, appropriate to search around the country for Sita, without raising any suspicions. At last, he was able to spot and identify Sita, seated under a Shimshupa tree in the Ashoka grove. At that very moment, Sita had decided to take her own life, completely exhausted with the loneliness and wait, of expecting her beloved husband Rama to rescue her.
Hanuman instantly began chanting Rama Nama and his praises, along with details about himself and his story of arriving at Lanka, and prevented Sita from committing suicide.
He gained her trust by showing the royal ring of Rama as proof that he was indeed his messenger. Not only this, he also consoled and gave her the reassurance that Lord Rama shall indeed fight Ravana and take her back safely. Sita felt much relieved as though a parched land was newly watered. Placing her trust in Hanuman, she gave him her hair ornament (choodamani) as proof for Rama that Hanuman had indeed met her.
Hanuman decided to meet Ravana one way or another. But it was not easy to get an audience with the King, especially for an uninvited stranger like Hanuman. He decided to create a ruckus at the Ashoka grove to attract the attention of Ravana’s guards. He destroyed the trees and laid waste to Ravana’s favorite Ashoka garden, and killed all the Rakshasa soldiers who opposed him. Ravana’s son Indrajit entered the fray, and tied Hanuman with a Brahmastra. Thus captured, Hanuman was brought to Ravana’s court.
Taking this opportunity, Hanuman advised Ravana to follow dharma, and return Sita to Rama. Hanuman warned that if Ravana did not, then Lanka and the entire Rakshasa clan would be ruined.
Enraged, Ravana ordered that Hanuman’s tail be set on fire. Being blessed by the demigod Agni himself that fire could not harm him, Hanuman set fire to the entire city of Lanka. He then took leave of Mother Sita, and conveyed to Lord Rama that he found her. Overwhelmed with joy and relief, Rama wholeheartedly embraced him. Everyone present marvelled at Hanuman’s prowess.
Ravana desired Sita and met his end; so did Surpanakha who desired Rama alone. But Hanuman, who brought the divya dampati (divine couple) together is still alive as a Chiranjeevi to this day in the age of Kali.
Pen Pillai asked, “I never went out of my way to help other people, like Hanuman selflessly did. What qualification do I have to remain in sacred Thirukkolur, O Swami?”
Ramanuja, who as Lakshmana had personally witnessed Hanuman’s wondrous deeds and qualities, said, “He accomplished feats which none could perform. Yet Hanuman offered all his great achievements at the lotus feet of Sri Sita-Rama with admirable humility. His self-control and humility are an inspiration for us all!”
Even today, in the temple, we always see Lord Hanuman with folded hands! He was the one who spread Rama Nama all over the world. What’s more, Hanuman is always present wherever Rama Nama and Ramayana are sung!
Ramanuja then enthusiastically enquired, “Whose story are we going to hear next, Child?”
Pen Pillai exclaimed, “Did I lift up both of my arms in surrender to Lord Krishna, like Draupadi, O Swami?”
Read our next post for this gripping tale!