Sunday, June 8, 2014

Reading Guide Week 3: Buck. Ramayana.

READING E (go to Reading F)

This portion of Buck's Ramayana covers pp. 219-270 (page numbers may vary by edition). You will see a lot of heroic action from Hanuman in this week of reading.

p. 219. The vulture Sampati. 

As Hanuman tells Jambavan about Sita's abduction, he is overheard by Sampati, the brother of Jatayu. Sampati is grieved to hear about his brother's death, and he explains that he had seen Ravana flying overhead, taking Sita with him to Lanka. The monkeys and bears decide that Hanuman must be the one to make the hundred-league jump to Lanka.

p. 225. The mountain Mainaka. 

As Hanuman leaps to Lanka, the mountain Mainaka, who had been hiding under the waves, rises up to give Hanuman a chance to rest. Mainaka had been hiding under the ocean in fear of Indra, who had cut off the wings of all the other mountains.

p. 226. The rakshasi Sinhika. 

As Hanuman nears Lanka, the demon Sinhika rises up out of the waters and swallows Hanuman. Inside Sinhika, Hanuman crushes her heart and escapes through her ear.

p. 227. Hanuman the cat. 

When Hanuman arrives at Lanka, he changes his shape into that of a cat so that he can roam freely. Lanka herself appears to Hanuman in human form. She kicks Hanuman, but he punches her back, and Lanka realizes that the coming of the monkey is the fulfillment of a curse. Hanuman enters Lanka and sees the rakshasas there. He also sees Pushpaka, the flying chariot. Hanuman enters Ravana's bedroom and sees his wives there, asleep. He is not able to find Sita, although he briefly thinks Mandodari might be Sita. Hanuman realizes he will not find Sita by looking in Ravana's bedroom. Hanuman begins to despair when he does not find Sita, but his father, Vayu, the god of the wind, leads him towards the ashoka grove.

p. 242. Ravana and Sita. 

In the morning, Ravana comes to Sita in the ashoka grove. Ravana speaks sweetly to Sita, trying to seduce her, but Sita defies him. Finally Ravana grows angry and leaves. The rakshasi guards talk as if they are going to kill Sita and eat her. The friendly rakshasi Trijata intervenes. She has had a dream about Rama in which she saw the destruction of Lanka.

p. 249. Hanuman and Sita.

When Sita is alone, Hanuman calls out to her. Sita at first thinks Hanuman is an illusion. She weeps when she hears him speak Rama's name. Hanuman tells Sita about Rama's alliance with the monkeys and bears and gives her Rama's ring. Sita gives Hanuman a message to take back to Rama.

p. 253. Hanuman runs wild. 

After leaving Sita, Hanuman decides to make some trouble in Lanka. He uproots Ravana's lawns and gardens, and he makes the horses and elephants stampede. He kills the royal bodyguard and destroys a temple. Jambumali, the son of Ravana's general Prahasta, finds Hanuman in the ruins of the temple, but he is killed by a falling stone. Ravana goes to his son Indrajit for help, but Indrajit is engaged in meditation. Indrajit captures Hanuman using the spell of Shiva's noose.

p. 258. Hanuman and Ravana. 

Ravana is enraged at Hanuman and orders his brother Vibhishana to chop off his head, but Vibhishana refuses. Ravana orders that Hanuman's tail be set on fire, but when Hanuman breaks free this means that he is able to set all of Lanka on fire. Hanuman is worried that Sita might have been harmed, but she is safe in the ashoka grove. Hanuman tells Sita that Rama will soon come for her, and Sita gives Hanuman a pearl to take back to Rama.

p. 265. The Honey Park. 

Prince Angada is delighted when Hanuman returns with news of Sita. The monkeys and bears go back to Kishkindha with their news. On the way, they pass through the Honey Park, where they all get riotously drunk on Sugriva's honey wine. The keeper of the park, Dadhimukha, is outraged. He goes to tell Sugriva what is happening, but Sugriva is not angry. Instead, he is happy that they have found Sita. Hanuman tells Rama that Sita remains faithful to him. He gives Rama the pearl entrusted to him by Sita and urges Rama to rescue her and kill Ravana.

READING F (go to Reading E)

This portion of Buck's Ramayana covers pp. 270-324 (page numbers may vary by edition).

p. 270. The bridge to Lanka. 

After Hanuman's report, Rama and his allies leave Kishkindha, heading south towards the ocean. Rama grows angry at the ocean and curses it. Samudra, the Water King, rises up and speaks to Rama. He explains that the monkey Nala is able to make rocks float on water. Using Nala's skill, they build a bridge to Lanka. Even the squirrels help.

p. 278. Vibhishana.

Vibhishana urges Ravana to relent and give Sita back. Ravana is enraged and accuses Vibhishana of having betrayed him. Vibhishana leaves Ravana and seeks shelter with Rama. Hanuman is grateful to Vibhishana and welcomes him. Sugriva does not trust Vibhishana and quarrels with Hanuman. Rama decides to trust Vibhishana. Vibhishana agrees to help Rama and his allies, but he will not fight his own people.

p. 282. Spies.

Rama and his animal allies cross the bridge over to Lanka, and they assemble at Trikuta Hill. Meanwhile, Shuka, the hawk who is Ravana's minister, is spying on their activities. Angada grabs Shuka and is prepared to strangle him, but Sugriva tells Angada to release him. Sugriva then gives Shuka a defiant message to take back to Ravana. When he hears what is happening, Ravana sends two demons, Sardula and Sarana, to spy on Rama's army. They take the form of monkeys, but Vibhishana is able to detect them. He captures the spies to bring to Rama. Sarana vanishes into thin air. Rama speaks with Sardula and sends him back to Ravana.

p. 285. Magicians.

Lightning-Tongue and Thunder-Tooth are Ravana's magicians. The Sanskrit name for "Lightning-Tongue" is Vidyuj-jihva. The Sanskrit name for "Thunder-Tooth" is Vajra-danshtra. Thunder-Tooth creates an illusion that looks like Rama's bow. Lightning-Tongue creates an illusion that looks like Rama's bloody head. Ravana goes to Sita and breaks the bow into pieces. He tells her that Prahasta has killed Rama, and Lightning-Tongue throws the bloody head at her feet. Sita begins to weep when she recognizes Rama's features. Prahasta bursts in, ignorant of what is happening, and announces Rama's arrival in Lanka. The illusions vanish. Trijata consoles Sita and agrees to spy on Ravana so that Sita knows what he is planning.

p. 289. Visitors.

The old demon Malyavan, who fought with Vishnu in Lanka long ago, comes to give Ravana an important message. But when he enters into Ravana's presence, he becomes confused and forgets what he had wanted to say. Meanwhile, Rama sends Angada as an ambassador to Ravana. Ravana receives him politely, but Ravana is defiant and boastful. He wants war.

p. 294. Prahasta.

Prahasta leads an attack in the daylight hours, but Rama and his allies overpower the demons and they retreat, defeated. The demons realize their strength is best in the dark. Prahasta and the demons attack at night. Nala stands up to Prahasta and manages to topple him from his chariot. He then attacks Prahasta with a wheel from the chariot. Prahasta is killed.

p. 298. Kumbhakarna.

After Prahasta's death, Ravana decides to awaken his brother, the giant Kumbhakarna. Kumbhakarna urges Ravana to simply give Sita back to Rama because it is wrong to take another man's wife. Ravana refuses to listen to Kumbhakarna, and Kumbhakarna finally agrees to meet Rama in battle. Kumbhakarna's attack is fierce, but Rama's arrows are able to slice off his arms, and then his legs. Kumbhakarna keeps on attacking until Rama finally cuts off his head.

p. 307. Indrajit attacks.

Ravana now seeks the help of his son Indrajit. Indrajit had won boons from Brahma in the past (Brahma had made promises to Indrajit to obtain Indra's freedom after Indrajit had captured him in battle). Indrajit rides out, invisible, in his tiger-drawn chariot. Indrajit launches a fierce attack. He kills Sugriva, Angada, Nala, Rama and Lakshmana. He wounds Vibhishana and Jambavan and Hanuman. After the slaughter, Indrajit goes and meditates under the banyan tree.

p. 312. Medicine Hill. 

Vibhishana revives and uses a mantra to heal his wound. He finds Hanuman alive, along with the wounded Jambavan. Jambavan sends Hanuman to fetch medicinal herbs from Medicine Hill in the Himalaya mountains. Hanuman brings back the whole hill, and as he flies the hill heats up, which causes the medicines to steam and diffuse through the air. The medicines revive Rama and his allies. Rama regrets the danger facing his friends and orders Sugriva to go back to Kishkindha. Sugriva refuses, and the allies remain by Rama's side.

p. 316. Trijata and Sita.

Trijata hears the rumor that Indrajit has killed Rama and his allies. She suspects that this is not really the case and tries to assure Sita. The rakshasis take Sita out in Pushpaka to view the battlefield, and Sita is ready to despair. Trijata remembers that the Pushpaka chariot cannot carry a widow, so she concludes that they are seeing only an illusion on the battlefield: Trijata is convinced that Rama cannot be dead. Trijata sees Hanuman bearing the mountain, and Sita smells the medicines. Sita explains that it is Hanuman's love for Rama that allows him to accomplish such great feats.

p. 317. Indrajit and the phantom Sita.

Ravana asks Indrajit for his help again. Indrajit says that Dharma is on Rama's side, but he agrees to help his father. This time he creates a phantom Sita and pretends to kill her in front of Hanuman. Hanuman despairs, but Vibhishana is sure that this is only another of Indrajit's illusions.

p. 320. Indrajit and Lakshmana. 

Vibhishana uses his powers to reveal Indrajit's hiding place, and Lakshmana attacks him there. Indrajit challenges Lakshmana to single combat and, after a long fight, Lakshmana uses Agastya's arrow to slay Indrajit. Shuka tells Ravana that Indrajit is dead, and Ravana weeps for his son. It is now time for Ravana to go to war himself.

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