Sunday, June 8, 2014

Reading Guides for Part C and Part D: Narayan. Ramayana.

Reading C for Narayan's Ramayana, pp. 89-131 (page numbers may vary by edition). You will also find the notes for Reading D below.

p. 89. Ravana abducts Sita.

Sita is terrified when she hears Rama's call for help and makes Lakshmana go help him. When Sita is alone, Ravana comes to her disguised as a poor old hermit, and Sita receives him kindly, but when he reveals his true identity, Sita tells him to go away before Rama returns. Ravana picks up the ground Sita is standing on and flies away with her.

p. 94. Jatayu and Ravana.

Jatayu tries to rescue Sita from Ravana, but Ravana defeats and kills him. Rama and Lakshmana return and find Jatayu dying. Jatayu speaks to them but dies before he can say which way Ravana had gone.

p. 97. Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman.

Rama and Lakshmana head south to the monkey kingdom of Kishkinda. The monkey Hanuman sees Rama and Lakshmana when they arrive. He presents himself to them disguised as a scholar, but Rama sees through his disguise. Hanuman is loyal to Sugriva, the younger brother of Vali, who is the king of Kishkinda.

p. 99. The story of Vali and Sugriva.

Vali had helped churn nectar from the ocean and so earned the gratitude of the gods, who gave him awesome fighting powers. The demon Mayavi challenged Vali, and Vali chased Mayavi into a cave. When Vali did not emerge from the cave, Sugriva's advisors persuaded him to block up the cave to trap Mayavi inside. Vali finally emerged from the cave, however, and was enraged at Sugriva. He beat Sugriva, who fled to Mount Matanga to escape Vali. Vali took Sugriva's wife.

p. 101. Rama's sympathy for Sugriva.

Rama feels sorry for Sugriva, who has lost his wife and is in exile. Hanuman thinks Rama could help them to defeat Vali. Hanuman recognizes that Rama is Vishnu incarnate. The reason Vali could not come to Mount Matanga is because he has been cursed by the sage Matanga. This happened when Vali fought the demon Dundubhi who had taken the shape of a buffalo. Vali had killed Dundubhi and hurled its carcass so that it fell near the sage Matanga and angered him. Matanga cursed Vali so that he would die if he came to Mount Matanga.

p. 104. Sita's jewelry.

Sita had thrown down her jewelry when she was being carried off by Ravana, and the monkeys found it on the ground. Sugriva now gives Sita's jewelry to Rama and agrees to help find her.

p. 104. Sugriva battles Vali.

Assured of Rama's help, Sugriva challenges Vali. Vali laughs at this challenge, but his wife Tara urges him to not fight. Rama hides and shoots an arrow at Vali during his fight with Sugriva. Vali sees Rama's mark on the arrow. He argues with Rama about whether Rama acted rightly or not. In the end, Vali agrees that Rama had not acted wrongly. He dies and is mourned by Tara and by his son Angada. Sugriva becomes king after Vali's death, with Angada as his second-in-command. Rama gives Sugriva advice about how to rule.

p. 116. The rainy season.

Rama and Lakshmana spend the rainy season in the forest. After the rainy season, Sugriva is supposed to gather an army to help them, but Sugriva is lost in debauchery and forgets his promise. Rama sends Lakshmana to remind Sugriva of his promise.

p. 119. Lakshmana visits Sugriva.

Angada tells Sugriva that Lakshmana is coming, but in his drunken state Sugriva does not react. Lakshmana kicks down the gates of the city. Tara greets Lakshmana and placates him. Hanuman invites Lakshmana to go see Sugriva. Sugriva vows he will not get drunk again and goes to see Rama. Rama greets Sugriva gladly.

p. 124. Search parties are sent out.

Sugriva amasses a huge army to help Rama. Hanuman and Angada lead the search party that heads south. Rama tells Hanuman how to recognize Sita and gives him his ring as a sign to show to Sita.

p. 127. Hanuman and Angada head south.

As they head south, Hanuman and Angada are trapped in a tunnel and find themselves in a deserted underground kingdom. The only person they find there is a mysterious nymph (her name is Swayamprabha) who had once been a goddess. They break out of the underground kingdom and the mysterious nymph returns to heaven. Hanuman and Angada reach the ocean's edge without having found Sita.

p. 128. Sampathi.

At the ocean's edge, they meet Sampathi, the brother of Jatayu, who had fallen to earth there when his wings had been burned. When Sampathi hears the name Rama, his wings grow back. Sampathi had seen Ravana bearing Sita away to Lanka. The bear Jambavan tells Hanuman he needs to cross the ocean. Hanuman grows to a gigantic size so that he can step across the ocean to Lanka.


Reading D for Week 2 is Narayan's Ramayana, pp. 131-171 (page numbers may vary by edition).

p. 131 Hanuman finds Sita.

Hanuman takes on a giant size to cross the ocean to Lanka and then shrinks to a smaller size. At first, Hanuman thinks Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, is Sita, but he realizes his mistake. He finds Sita in the Ashoka Vana, where she is being guarded by demons. Sita is wearing a simple sari, covered with dust. She feels so desperate that she is ready to commit suicide, but Hanuman appears before her and gives her Rama's ring. Sita has one piece of jewelry which she saved and gives it to Hanuman. Hanuman makes himself large again and destroys the Ashoka Vana.

p. 133. Hanuman and Ravana.

Hanuman lets Indrajit, Ravana's son, capture him and bring him to Ravana. Hanuman tells Ravana about Rama and advises him to surrender. Vibhishana, Ravana's brother, tries to persuade Ravana not to kill Hanuman. Ravana sets Hanuman's tail on fire and Hanuman then burns Lanka to the ground. Maya, the architect of the gods, rebuilds the city.

p. 135. Ravana's council.

Ravana is outraged by the monkey's attack. Mahodara the giant offers to defeat the monkeys. Indrajit offers to bring back the heads of Rama and Lakshmana. Vibhishana insists that the humans were a dangerous threat, and he reminds Ravana that he had been cursed by Nandi, the bull of Shiva, to be destroyed by a monkey. He also invokes Vedavati, whom Ravana had tried to take by force and who had vowed to come back in a future life to get her revenge on him. Vibhishana also reminds Ravana that he is not protected against humans, and he advises him to release Sita. Ravana rejects Vibhishana's good advice because he believes no curse can harm him, and he tells Vibhishana that he must leave or be killed.

p. 141. Vibhishana goes to Rama.

Vibhishana crosses the ocean to seek asylum with Rama. Sugriva and Jambavan are suspicious, but Hanuman is inclined to trust him. Rama says that he cannot refuse Vibhishana's request for asylum. Rama mentions his ancestor, King Shibi, who had been prepared to give up his life to give a pigeon asylum from a falcon. Rama treats Vibhishana as the ruler of Lanka in exile, and Vibhishana gives Rama advice about how to attack Lanka.

p. 144. The bridge to Lanka.

Rama orders the sea god to help his armies cross the water to Lanka, threatening to evaporate all the water in the sea. The sea agrees to let Rama build a bridge, which he does with the help of men, monkeys and all kinds of animals, including a squirrel.

p. 145. Ravana tries to trick Sita.

Ravana sends out spies disguised as monkeys. He shows Sita what looks like Rama's decapitated head. At first, Sita is alarmed, but in the end she is not fooled by Ravana's trick. Angada goes to Ravana as an envoy. When the demons try to capture him, he destroys the palace tower. Rama then orders the attack on Lanka. Indrajit uses poison darts that make Rama and Lakshmana faint on the battlefield. Riding with Sita in his Pushpaka Vimana chariot, Ravana shows her their bodies lying there. At first Sita thinks they are dead, but Trijata, who has befriended Sita, tells her that they are just stunned. Garuda, the great bird who is the vehicle of the god Vishnu, breaks the power of the poison darts. Hanuman carries Rama on his shoulders to confront Ravana. Rama wounds Ravana and shatters his crown. The day is over, and Rama tells Ravana to return the next day with fresh weapons.

p. 147. The battle continues.

Kumbakarna, famous for his deep sleep, is awakened. Kumbakarna promises to defeat Rama, but he rebukes Ravana for having been driven by lust. Kumbakarna kills and swallows thousands of the monkeys. Rama finally dismembers and kills Kumbakarna. Ravana despairs when he hears of Kumbakarna's defeat. Indrajit creates a phantom version of Sita and then kills her. The monkeys despair when they think Sita has been killed. Lakshmana finally manages to kill Indrajit. Ravana is stricken with grief when Indrajit is killed and wants to kill Sita. Ravana's advisors urge him to attack Rama and Lakshmana. Ravana says prayers to Shiva before his battle with Rama. Indra sends his own divine chariot for Rama to use in battle, driven by his charioteer Matali. Rama suspects that the chariot could be an illusion, but Hanuman and Lakshmana are convinced it is real. Ravana, meanwhile, tells the giant Mahodara to attack Lakshmana, but Mahodara attacks Rama instead and is destroyed.

p. 154. Ravana battles Rama.

Before his battle with Rama, Ravana sees ominous signs but he still scorns Rama because Rama is a mere mortal. Rama destroys Ravana's armies, hoping he can persuade Ravana to surrender. Rama is able to repel Ravana's arrows with his own arrows, but Ravana pierces Matali's heart. Rama and Ravana circle the earth in pursuit of each other, and they launch their supernatural weapons against each other. Rama is able to revive Matali and he uses a mantra to destroy Ravana's trident, his most dangerous weapon. Each time Rama chops off one of Ravana's heads, it grows back. Ravana finally faints from weakness, and Matali urges Rama to finish him off but Rama will not attack an opponent who is in a faint. Ravana revives and renews his attack on Rama. Finally Rama sends his Brahma-astra into Ravana's heart and he dies. Rama is shocked when he sees a scar on Ravana's back, but Vibhishana explains that this was an old scar, not the result of Rama shooting Ravana in the back. Rama orders a grand funeral for Ravana.

p. 161 Rama tests Sita.

Rama sends Hanuman to fetch Sita after Ravana's death and receives her in the presence of a large crowd. Rama refuses to bring Sita back into his house. She builds a fire and jumps into the fire, declaring that she was untouched by Ravana. Agni, the god of fire, vindicates Sita and returns her to Rama from out of the fire. Rama says that the test was needed to show Sita's purity. The gods are puzzled by Rama putting Sita to the test and Brahma comes to remind Rama of his divine nature. Shiva sends Dasharatha down to earth to see Rama and he offers to grant any wish of Rama. Rama asks Dasharatha to acknowledge Kaikeyi and Bharata. At first Dasharatha refuses to forgive Kaikeyi, but finally he does, and Rama feels a great sense of peace.

p. 166. Rama returns as king to Ayodhya.

After fourteen years of exile, Rama can now return to Ayodhya. Bharata is awaiting him at Nandigram, prepared to kill himself if Rama does not return. Rama takes Sita and many others with him in the Pushpaka Vimana chariot so that he can reach Ayodhya on the appointed day. Rama sends Hanuman to Bharata to announce his arrival. When Hanuman arrives at Nandigram, he puts out Bharata's fire. Rama casts aside his forest clothes and puts on royal garments. Hanuman and Sugriva come to Rama's coronation in human form, as do the gods. Kamban's version of the story (as retold by Narayan) ends with the return of Rama to Ayodhya.


  1. Miss Laura, in the Semester Overview you refer to the Ramayana readings as Weeks 2 and 3 but in the Reading Guide you refer to them as Weeks 1 and 2. I thought this might be a little confusing for some people. :)

  2. Aha, that is where this class is going to be so complicated compared to Myth-Folklore. There were not any multiweek units in the Myth-Folklore UnTextbook, but there will be some two-week and even three- or four-week reading options in this class. I'm hoping people will get used to that... and some people might choose to read Narayan in the second half of the semester too, if they don't opt for it now (so they will be doing this in Week 9 and Week 10, for example). The epics are just so darn big, which is what has made designing this class in a choice-driven way really hard. I guess I could call it "Part One" and "Part Two"... but they are not really parts (I tried to make the break logical, but it's really just determined by amount of reading). Hmmm. I will ponder!
    Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy the reading: have you decide which you will do? The Narayan book SHOULD be at the Library, either ebook or print. If you run into any troubles there, let me know! We have some great people helping us in the Library, so I am sure they will be able to handle anything that comes up.