This article is part of “Sundara Kandam of Sage Valmiki”

Seventeenth Chapter

Seeing of Rakshasis

(Graphic description of the Rakshasis surrounding Sita is given in this chapter. It also describes the sorry state of Sita and ends with the mention of happiness of Hanuman on seeing Sita)

Then in the clear sky the cream coloured moon , which is normally clear, rose like a swan appearing in blue water. 1

Shining with clarity that moon appeared to help by its light and by its cool moonlight served the son of wind God. 2

Because of that He saw the full moon faced Sita similar to the ship in ocean weighed down and about to sink by her sorrow.  3

Trying to see Sita (daughter of Videha) clearly ,that son of wind god saw near her ugly and terrible looking Rakshasis among whom some were one eyed, some one eared, some with closed ears, some without ears, some with stick like ears, some breathing through the nose in the head, some with very large head and body, some thin with elongated neck, some with brush like hair, some with no hair at all, some wearing her hairs  like a woolen rug, some with hanging ears and forehead, some with hanging breasts and belly, some with hanging lips, some with chin itself as lips, some with hanging faces, some with hanging knees, some hunch backed, some obese, similarly some who were dwarf, some handicapped, some with slanted mouth and some with yellow eyes.  4-9

(This description in these stanzas and the following one, by the poet of a group of grotesque looking figures, indicates to us the common perception of those times of the look of Rakshasis. There is a story that when Lord Brahma was reciting Vedas , due to excessive hunger, he became very angry and from his anger , the first two Rakshasas Hethi and Prahethi were born. They became a part of the Asuras and by their prowess became the pre dominant among them)

He also saw other Rakshasis, among whom some were very ugly, some yellow coloured, some with jet black colour, some who were very angry, some who were interested in fighting, some who were armed with big spear, swords and rods, some with faces of pig, deer, tiger, bison, sheep and fox, some with legs of elephant, camel and horse, some with heads fixed just over the body, some with one hand and one leg, some with ears of a donkey, some with ears of a dog, some with ears of a cow, some with ears of an elephant, some with ears of a lion, similarly some without nose, some with very big nose, some with nose like an elephant, some with ears on their forehead, some with legs of an elephant, some with very big legs, some with legs of a cow, some with profuse hairs on the legs, some with big neck and heads, some with big breasts and belly, some with big mouth and eye, some with long nails and tongue, some with face of a sheep, some with face of an elephant, some with face of a cow, some with face of a pig, some with faces of horse, camel and donkey, some holding spears and thorn sticks, some with ire, some interested in fighting, some with projected teeth., some with blond hairs, some with terrible looking mien, some always interested in alcohol and meat, some drinking spirits often, some with ugly faces, some who had rubbed meat and blood all over their body, some whose food was only meat and blood, some  who had a terrible stare which would make hairs stand upright, and all of them surrounding on all four sides  a huge forest tree with umpteen branches. 10-18

That Hanuman blessed by Goddess Lakshmi saw below that tree which was in the center of Asoka forest, that Lady Sita, who was a princess, who was innocent, who was the daughter of Janaka, who had lost her glitter, who had faded because of her sorrow, who was having flying dirty hair, who was like a star pushed down to earth when its good deeds are over, who was great because of her virtue, who was not knowing ways to see her husband, who was not wearing costly ornaments, who was wearing the ornament of her devotion to her husband, who was abducted by the king of rakshasas, who was separated from her relatives, who was like the she elephant who was in the custody of a lion after loosing her way, who was like the autumn crescent hidden by the clouds of the late rainy season, who was dirty looking because she had not washed herself, who was like a veena without strings, who was sunk in the sea of sorrow, who was earlier in the custody of her husband and who did not like  to be in the custody of Rakshasis. 19-24

Seeing the lady who was like a tender plant in flowering, surrounded by the Rakshasis, he felt that she was like the Rohini star surrounded by the nine planets. 25

(The Moon God has 27 wives , all of them daughters of Daksha. The moon God , it seems was very partial to Rohini, one of his wives. She is supposed to be the bright star traveling along with the moon)

Though by her natural beauty itself she was well made up, due to the dirt that she was having on her faded body , she was like the slush coated lotus plant which was shining as well as not shining, he thought. 26

The monkey chief Hanuman saw Sita who was only wearing a dirty and ruffled single cloth, who was having an eye similar to the young deer, who was not wilting away because she was remembering the greatness of her husband, who was being protected by her virtue, who was having black eyes and who was blessed by her youth. 27-28

Understanding her as Sita, that son of wind god ,looking at the princess of Mithila who was having eyes similar to an young deer, who was seeing in all directions like a fear struck deer, who was breathing heavily as if her breath will burn the well grown tress surrounding her, who was like a tidal wave of sorrow which always comes as a group, who was shining without any ornaments, who was having very perfect limbs and who was having great patience, attained limitless happiness for having completed his task. 29-31

Hanuman shed tears of happiness seeing her who was having eyes like wine and immediately Saluted Sri Rama.  32

That heroic Hanuman becoming happy because he saw Sita, saluted both Sri Rama and Lakshmana and continued to he in hiding.  33

Thus ends the Seventeenth chapter of Sundara Kanda which is in the Ramayana which is the first epic written by Valmiki.

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