SUNDARAKANDAM IN SRI LANKA…..


Sundare sundaro ramah ……

Sundare sundari katha……….

Sundare sundari sita …………

Sundare sundaram vanam,

Sundare sundaram kavyam…….

Sundare sundarah kapih ………

Sundare sundaram mantram…….

Sundare kim na sundaram…….

The beautiful  Sundara Kanda is the  chapter of the  Srimad Ramayana  which  speaks about the great devotee  Hanuman’s selflessness, strength, and devotion to  Lord Rama  ..

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 Hanuman was fondly called Sundara by his mother Anjani and Sage Valmiki chose this name over others as this kanda  deals mainly with Hanuman’jis journey to Lanka…………..

                     Everything  in this kanda is sunder ( beautiful) .

Rama is beautiful,  Sita is beautiful and the story is beautiful. 

             After  coronation of  Sugreeva as the King of Vaanaras,  Lord Srirama and Lakshmana spent four months during monsoon   in Maalyavan parvath in Hampi, Karnataka.

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  Lord  Srirama experienced unbearable pain due to separation from  our mother Sitadevi.  The Lord was worried about Sitadevi’s welfare and  used to lament uncontrollably. 

At the end of monsoon, Sugreeva deputed crores of vaanaras and bears in all directions in search of Sitadevi giving them one month’s  time to trace the whereabouts and inform for taking up next course of action. 

 Sugreeva explained geographical  particulars  about all the places  around  the world in detail .

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The vanaras headed by  Prince Angadha and supported by senior  Jambavan and Hanuman were assigned the task of searching in the southern direction.  Lord Srirama handed over HIS finger ring to Hanumanji  who was standing in a corner.

Our poorvacharyars give reason as to why Srirama selected Hanuman to give his  finger ring .  It was the time  at Kishkinda  when Lord Rama was in search of Mother Sita .   Hanumanji  was in thoughts  to see Srirama lamenting for a lady.

Hanumanji a brahmachari was wondering as to why a person of high stature like  Lord Srirama  tutored by rishis like Sage Vasishta, Vishwamitra was so emotional .

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Lord   Srirama  our antaryami   sensed Hanumanji’s  feelings .  To make Hanuman realise the greatness of    Sitadevi, Srirama selected Hanuman and handed over HIS finger ring with HIS holy name engraved on it. 

And it was also an indication that Paramatma  laments for all the  jivaatma in the same lines .

It was because of the  holy ring that Hanuman could cross the ocean and meet  Mother Sitadevi and obtain HER blessings.  When Hanumanji saw Sitadevi’s steadfast devotion towards   Lord Srirama, he regretted for his thoughts initially   .

Having understood HER greatness , Hanuman visualised both of them together in his heart and offered prayers.

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Hanumanjee introduced to  mother Sitadevi that he was “Rama dhoothan” whereas when he returned to Lord Rama as “Sitadevi’s messenger” to convey the good news about Sitadevi’s welfare, he addressed himself as “Raama daasan”. With Mother’s grace, our ego vanishes.  Our poorvacharyars comment that when Hanuman went as “rama dhootan”-, he was gifted with fire on the tail whereas when he returned as Sita dhootan, he was embraced by Lord Rama.  

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The vanaras who went in the southern direction explored all the places until they reached  SWayamprabha caves near Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu where they lost their way.

Swayamprabha a  advanced Sathwi  was the guardian for the caves owned by Mayasuran.  She transported the vanaras to the seashore after knowing about their devotion to Lord Rama .  Having reached the seashore, the vanaras were worried because the stipulated time  fixed by their King Sugreeva  was over and they could not trace Sitadevi. 

Angadha had lit a big pyre for them to sacrifice their lives.

He started lamenting about Sitadevi’s abduction, Jatayu sacrificing his life in Ramaseva after fighting with Ravana , their search expedition and failure in the assignment.

Sampaati-the eagle bird summoned Angadha and introduced himself as Jatayu’s elder brother , shared how he lost his wings while protecting Jatayu from the scorching heat of sun in the process loosing his wings and became immobile.

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Sampaati was informed about Jatayu’s Raama kainkaryam and he too resolved to do the same.  He informed the vanaras about Sitadevi’s whereabouts with his sharp vision in the far away land, Lanka.  Having done this Raama kainkaryam, Sampaati regained his lost wings and flew away.

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SAMPAATI CONVERSING WITH ANGADHA AND OTHER VANARAS NEAR SEASHORE

Now that the whereabouts of Sitadevi were known, the vanaras started contemplating as to who would cross the ocean which was measuring 100 yojanas (1000 miles) to meet   mother Sitadevi.  Each vanara  expressed their  ability to cross few yojanas . 

Angadha said that he could cross 100 yojanas but would not have the energy to return. 

The aged Jambavaan who knew Hanuman’s capabilities approached Hanuman and started enumerating his strength and skills.  Due to a  Sadhus curse Hanuman who had forgotten his capabilities now remembered them .

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He confidently proclaimed that he would finish the yeomen task of locating  mother Sitadevi saying that like Rama’s arrow which never failed to hit its target, he would accomplish the task.

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All the vanaras vowed to observe fast until Sitadevi was found.  Reposing confidence to the vaanaras,  Hanuman stood on Mahendragiri parvatham near Thirukurungudi in Tamilnadu and after offering prayers to Suryan, Indran, Vayu, Rama , He increased in size and leapt on the sky to cross the ocean.

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HANUMAN LEAPING FROM MAHENDRAGIRI

MAHENDRAGIRI MOUNTAIN

Thus starts Sundarakandam,-the most beautiful kaandam as everything is beautiful in it.  EVery household in India has a copy of Sundarakanda .  It is a normal practice in Srivaishnava wedding to present Sundarakandam to the groom as it is considered very auspicious. 

Our poorvacharyars have clearly indicated that

Lord Rama is the Paramatma

MOther Sita is the Jivatma suffering in this material world for reunion with Paramatma

Lanka is the samsara(material world)

ten headed Ravana is our ten senses

Hanuman is the acharya(gurudeva) who extols Paramatma’s qualities to Jivatma, gives the holy name to Jivatma,

submits Jivatma’s plea to Paramatma, 

destroys Lanka(samsaara) with the fire of knowledge

reunites Jivatma with Paramatma.

The jivatma who gets illusioned with material world leaves Paramatma and ends up in trouble loitering in the material world until an acharya intervenes and imparts supreme knowledge about the Lord, gives us the mantra to attain  HIM, submits our plea to the Lord and ensures our union with the Supreme Lord by destroying our desires (samasara)

 

                              And our journey to SriLanka to have the darshan of all the holy places begun last month and an attempt is being made to reproduce the divine bliss to millions of Hari bhaktha .

Hanumanjee  faced the first hurdle which was a friendly gesture by Mynaaka parvatham who was  a close  friend of Vayu bhagavan ( Hanumanjee’s father )

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He offered fruits and asked Hanuman to take rest but Hanuman refused politely by embracing the mountain for its gesture saying that he intended to reach Lanka by evening and was lacking time.

Hanuman won Mynaakam  with his friendly gesture. He didn’t succumb to any temptation.

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The second hurdle came in the form of Surasa who was a Naagamaatha( mother of snakes).  The devas prompted her to test Hanuman’s capabilities.  Surasa obstructed Hanuman’s way saying that she wanted to swallow Hanuman to satiate her hunger.

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Hanuman replied that he would fulfil her wish after completing  Lord Srirama’s mission. Surasa refused.

  Hanuman displayed his intelligence in tackling this hurdle.  He asked Surasa to open her mouth to such an extent so that he could enter into her mouth.  Hanuman started increasing his size and Surasa also widened her mouth.  When Surasa had opened her mouth widely, Hanuman suddenly decreased his size,entered into her mouth and before she could close her mouth, he came out of her mouth swiftly. 

Surasa  was pleased with Hanuman .She blessed him assuming her true form.

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 Nagadeepa also known as Nayanateevu,  is an island near the North-western part of Srilanka is now identified as the place where this incident took place.

  There is a big temple for Naagamaatha known as Nagapooshani temple. This is also considered as one of the eighteen shakti peetams.

To reach this place, one has to drive from Jaffna for about 38 kms upto Pungudutheevu .  From Pungudutheevu drive for about 15 kms on a bridge to reach jetty. 

Our journey to this wonderful place is recorded in this video

                   Regular boat services at an interval of one hour is available to go to Nagadeepa.  The fare for the boat ride is LKR 50/- and will take about 20 minutes .

It is one way-the boat stops near the buddhist monastery and the return would be pick up from Nagapooshani temple or vice-versa .  Autos ply between these two places for a nominal charge of Rs.10/- LKR. 

In Nagadeepa, there are two places to be visited- the first one is the Buddhist monastery as Buddha had visited this place and changed the factionist Naagas into pious people and made them follow Buddhism. Nagapooshani amman temple  can be reached by auto.   Devotees perform  milk abhishekam to the naagas in the temple. 

The third hurdle for Hanumanjee  was   a rakshasi  named Simhika.    Lying on the ocean  she had the power to pull the shadow of anyone flying over her.   She  used her strength to deaccelerate Hanuman’jis  speed by pulling his shadow. 

Hanumanji realised the gravity and the unexpected hurdle .Breathing  Lord Rama’s name he waited for the right opportunity.     The moment  she opened her mouth wide to swallow him, Hanumanjee  entered into her mouth  like a bee  and piercing her stomach came out of her thus killing her.  Simhika was in a pool of blood.   Hanumanjee thus  encountered the third hurdle with his strength.

This place is identified as Thiruketeeswaram on the North-western part of Srilanka (between Jaffna and Anuradhapura) about 116 kms  north-west  of  Anuradhapura-a famous site for Buddhists

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Also, Kethu-one of the navagrahas who is Simhika’s son prayed to Shiva at this place.  Hence this place is known as Thiruketeeswaram.

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  Mandodari’s father built this temple.  Presently the Shiva temple is undergoing renovation.

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Hanumanji landed on Suvela parvatham in Srilanka . 

This place is now known as Ramboda

After sunset, Hanumanji took a miniature form and was encountered by Lankini- a rakshasi when he was trying to enter into Lankapura.

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Lankapura is considered as the places around Sigiriya and Kandy.

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RAvana ruled from Sigiriya Fort

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Hanuman defeated Lankini and started searching for Sitadevi in all the places including the Pushpaka vimanam, palaces of RAvana’s queens, Ravana’s palace, Mandodari’s palace, kitchen etc.

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  He found heaps of food in the kitchen but didn’t have the slightest temptation to eat.  He searched every nook and corner of Lanka but could not trace  mother Sitadevi. Hanuman was worried that he  had to look  many ladies which was against his brahmachari vow. 

But he convinced himself that if you have to search for a deer, you will have to search amongst deer.  Likewise, a woman has to be searched amongst women.  AS he respected all women as his mother and sister, his mind was very clear and was only focused on our Mother’s ( Thayar’s ) welfare.

 

After searching for the second time, Hanumanji was worried .He  sat on a rock  and decided to end his life as he knew that if he returned without seeing Sitadevi, he would be the cause for destruction of Ishvaku race and the vaanaras. 

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Hanuman however regained his determination and realized his mistake. 

He understood that though he  prayed to all the gods  he  forgot to offer prayers to  Mother Sitadevi

Recollecting HER appearance as an ayonija,  

He immediately prayed to Sitadevi guarded by Rama and Lakshmana to disclose her whereabouts similar to the way SHE chose to appear to King Janaka.

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 By the grace of Sitadevi,  Hanumanji spotted Ashoka vanam- a beautiful garden which he had missed to explore

This place where Hanuman sat and contemplated on Mother Sita is identified as MANIKATUTHER located between Ramboda and Nuwara Eliya.

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It is about 20 kms from RAmboda hill and Nuwara Eliya is about 50 kms from Manikatuther. 

Manikatuther is located in Labbookelle Tea Estate in Kondakalai village on a hill.  WE need to take an auto to go up the hill which has a muddy path from the base. 

AFter reaching a certain point, we have to trek up the hill through Labbookelle Tea Estate .

The scenic beauty is inexplicable. When we visited this place, the whole area was engulfed in fog , it was drizzling and cool breeze was soothing .  Presently , there is only a small shiva linga under a tree. 

Sri.Kanakaraj, a disciple of Chinmaya Mission who accompanied us informed that on a clear day, we can view both Ramboda and Nuwara Eliya.

The village is named as Kondakalai because while Ravana was forcibly taking Sitadevi to Ashoka vanam, Sitadevi’s hair got deranged.

He also informed that the food given by RAvana to Sitadevi was thrown away by HER which fell scattered in the surrounding forests.  The remains became  fossils  known as “SITA GOOLI” have been certified by American researchers as vitaminised rice balls dating few   thousands of years . These balls are considered as symbol of auspiciousness.  We were fortunate to get them to be placed in our altar.

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SITA GOOLI AND LEAVES OF ASHOKA TREE

Near Manikatuther, there is a  temple for Sriman Narayana seated on Garuda with Sridevi and Bhudevi.  Mahavishnu is bluish in complexion .  But the locals address this temple as “Rama temple”. 

During Margazhi,(Dec-Jan), early morning Pooja is performed and bhajans are conducted in the nights during the whole month. Few rare beautiful pics from Ramayanam are hung on the walls inside the temple.

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When Hanumanji entered Ashoka Vanam (presently known as Hakgala Botanical Gardens in Nuwara Eliya), the flowers blossomed , birds chirped and the weather was very pleasant.  Some flowers dropped on Hanuman’s body which added to his beauty.

Hanuman jumped from one tree to the other in search of Sitadevi.  Finally, he found a sobbing lady under a tree and looking at her appearance, the colour of her sari  and the jewels which were hanging from the tree, Hanuman guessed that it was Sitadevi.  His joy knew no bounds.

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He was contemplating as to how he has to pick up a conversation with her. Meanwhile, RAvana arrived and started persuading  Sitadevi.  When Sitadevi rebuked him, he became so wild that he wanted to strangle her but was stopped by his wife Daanyamaalini. 

Mother Sita underwent all these troubles for our upliftment.!

He left after warning her that she would be killed and served as breakfast at the end of two months in case she doesn’t concede to his request.

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The rakshasis who were threatening her were chastised by Trijata-Vibhishana’s daughter who disclosed the dream she had. 

She dreamt about Rama’s victory, Sitadevi’s reunion  with Srirama, Ravana’s death, anhilation  of rakshasa clan, Vibhishana’s coronation and advised the rakshasis to stop  torturing Sitadevi as SHE alone could protect them from SRirama’s wrath. 

The rakshasis stopped harassing and slept.  Sitadevi who was totally devastated, decided to end her life by hanging HERSELF from Simshuka tree with her hair.

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Hanumanji who was sitting on the Simshuka tree became worried at HER approach.  To save HER from this disaster, Hanuman softly sang Srirama’s story  starting from HIS appearance,wedding, banishment , Ravana’s foul play in kidnapping Sitadevi, Jatayu’s death, Sugreeva’s friendship, their search operation etc. When Sitadevi got convinced that he was Rama’s messenger, Hanuman presented the holy ring given by Srirama to her and pacified HER that SRirama would kill Ravana ,resuce HER and return to Ayodhya to rule the world.

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Thus , the entire Ramayana was sung by Hanuman. This place is known famously known as “SITA ELIYA-SITA AMMAN TEMPLE” located about 4 kms from Nuwara Eliya on a lower altitude. Nuwara Eliya,also known as “Little England” located in the Central highlands of Srilanka  is one of the coldest regions in Srilanka .

The thought that Sitadevi sitting under the tree in the cool Ashoka gardens without any protection against the harsh weather conditions made us feel depressed.

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Hanuman convinced Sitadevi that Srirama would come at the earliest and rescue HER.  Unable to tolerate Sitadevi’s distress, Hanumanji offered to carry HER on his shoulders and unite HER with Srirama. 

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He expanded his form to convince about his capabilities.  So, we can see  two sets of footprints in Sita Amman temple-one small and the other one huge .  Sitadevi shared few incidents with Hanuman to be conveyed to Srirama so that HE would believe Hanuman and also gave HER choodamani to be handed over to Srirama.

After taking Sitadevi’s blessings, Hanuman decided to meet Ravana and convey Rama’s message.  So, he uprooted the trees in Ashoka vanam .  He defeated the rakshasas who came to fight, destroyed one-fourth of Ravana’s army including 80000 kinnaras, five army chiefs, Ravana’s son-Akshakumara and finally voluntarily got bound by Indrajit’s brahmastra as Hanuman wanted an audience with Ravana.

All these incidents took place at Hakgala Botanical Gardens.

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Hanuman was taken to RAvana’s assembly in Sigiriya Fort.  Hanuman introduced himself as Sugreeva’s minister and Srirama’s messenger , informed the killing of Vali who had humbled RAvana earlier ,  advised Ravana to return Sitadevi and save his clan from Srirama’s wrath. 

Ravana ordered Hanuman to be killed but was intercepted by Vibhishana who said that a messenger should not be killed but could be punished. 

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Ravana ordered that Hanuman’s tail be burnt.  Hanuman’s tail was wound with cloth dipped in oil and fire was lit.  When Sitadevi learnt about this, having faith in HER CHASTITY, SHE prayed to Agnideva to protect Hanuman from burning. 

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Hanuman realised that though his tail was burning, he didn’t feel any burning sensation or pain. Hanuman wanted to express his gratitude to firegod by offering the tall mansions to agni. Hanuman freed himself from rakshasas’ clutches and jumping from one building to the other including RAvana’s palace and assembly , he lit fire in all the places. 

AS Lankapura  was furnished with gold, the fire spread immediately . Fire spread within no time to  Ravana’s assembly on Sigiriya fort due to the strong winds that blow there.

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Hanuman burnt the whole Lanka including Ravana’s airports at WEragantota , Ussangoda (the southern tip of Lanka).  Hanuman cooled his burning tail in the waters near Ussangoda.

The sand in Ussangoda is red in colour.  Usually red sand would be wet whereas here it is as hard as rock.  No vegetation grows here. This is a protected site.  It is advisable to visit this place in daytime . 

Ussangoda near Hambantota, 83 kms east of Galle, is a sea coast on the southern part of Srilanka.

 Hanuman became worried about Sitadevi’s welfare as the entire Lanka was burning.  But he heard from celestial beings about Sitadevi’s safety and Vibhishana’s house not burnt.  The pleased Hanuman returned to Ashoka vanam and after personally seeing Sitadevi assured her about Rama’s arrival and returned to Kishkinda after taking Mother Sita’s blessings.

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Hanuman returned to the vanara camp and shared with them Sitadevi’s welfare.  He informed them in detail about his entire journey.  They started the return journey to Kishkinda to inform the good news to SRiraram, Enroute  stopped for a while at Madhuban near Hampi to satisfy their hunger. While all the vanaras were satiating their hunger by drinking honey and eating fruits, Our Hanuman was engrossed in Rama kirtana which was his food.

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HANUMAN’S IMAGE AT MADHUVAN NEAR HAMPI

Hanuman and other vanaras headed by Angadha returned to Maalyavan parvath and informed about Sitadevi’s welfare and presented the choodamani to Srirama.  A beautiful temple for the Lordships at the place where this incident took place can be seen in Hampi.  Srirama praised Hanuman and  embraced him for completing the mission thus emphasising that HE COULD BE ATTAINED ONLY WITH HANUMAN’S GRACE.

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The place where Hanumanji conveyed Sitamata’s welfare and offered Choodamani to Srirama-Hampi,Karnataka

Our poorvacharyas say that  when Hanuman submittd to Srirama without Sitadevi, his tail got burnt but when he got Sitadevi’s blessings, he was blessed with Rama’s hug.  

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This emphasizes  Thayar’s intervention as PUrushakaaram in our Srivaishnava sampradayam.   Thus ends Sundarakandam.

Pics credits  :  Few from Social media 

                  The Yudhakanda post to follow which will cover all the places in Srilanka

Adiyen Ramanuja dasan

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PLACES RELATED TO MOTHER SITADEVI IN SRILANKA ———- Seetha Kotuwa,Divurumpola,Ashoka Vanam,Ravana Caves ………………. the places which brings tears to Sri Sita Rama devotees


 

                              With the blessings of Asmath Acharyar and Elders we could have darshan of all the holy places  related to Srimad Ramayana , in India  during 2010 which is briefed as “SriRama  Anu yatra” travelogue

Part (1)
https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/piligrim-diary-to-sri-rama-holy-abodes/

Part (2)
https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/sri-rama-anu-yatirai-part-2/

The inert desire of visiting the holy places in Srilanka fructified this August 2018. Our Thirumaligai deities accompanied us all through ..

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After obtaining Asmath acharyar’s blessings ,and with the grace of our Kula deivam-Kazhiyur  Adikesava  Perumal and Lord Srinivasa, we undertook this yatra overseas ..

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our Altar

The Introduction is appended in the below URL 

https://kazhiyurvaradanblog.in/2018/08/26/an-introduction-to-sri-ramayana-sites-in-sri-lanka-curtain-raiser/

                             Srimad Ramayana sites in Srilanka can be classified as

  • Places where  Lord Rama  purified  Sri Lanka located in the Northern,North-Western and Central Srilanka-namely, Thalaimannar ,Ramasethu, Nilavarai Bottomless well , Ramboda, Rattota, Dunvuila, Divurumpola
  • Places  where  Mother Sita  was   held captive .  Seetha Kotuwa, Sita Eliya, Divurumpola and  RAvana Caves .
  • Places   visited by  Hanumanji    -almost the whole of Lanka especially Sigiriya, Ramboda, Manikatuther, Hakgala Botanical gardens, Sita Eliya, Ussangoda, sanjeevini drops at Rumasalla, Ritigala, Thalladi, Kacchiteevu, Dolukonda.

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Lord Srirama along with Sitadevi and Lakshmana were living in the paransaala (hermitage) constructed by Lakshmana in Panchavati near Nasik. 

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SRI SITA RAMA LAKSHMANA RESIDING IN KAMADGIRI MOUNTAIN IN CHITRAKOOT

 As the hermitage was surrounded by five banyan trees, it is known as Panchavati about 12 kms from Nashik.   The demon  Ravana deceitfully  kidnapped Mother Sita  in the absence of Lord Rama and Lakshmana at the end of thirteenth year of  exile  and flew towards Lanka in  Pushpaka Vimanam.   

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SRIRAMA EMBRACING JATAY WHILE LAKSHMANA LOOKS ON -AT TAKET NEAR NASIK

Jatayu-the eagle bird  fought valiantly with the demon RAvana sacrificing his life for  Lord Rama  and attained salvation. This place is known as Taket located about 60 kms from Nashik.

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SRIRAMA EMBRACING WOUNDED JATAYU

 Jaganmatha  Sita  became inconsolable over the death of the aged Jatayu whom Srirama addressed as “FATHER” .  When the pushpaka vimana  was flying  over Kishkinda ,  Sitadevi bundled her jewels and  dropped it in the midst 5 vanaras  at Kishkinda (Hampi)   which is located in Karnataka . These jewels were presented to Srirama  by the vanara Sugreeva while Lord was  searching for Sitadevi.

RIVER TUNGABHADRA IN KISHKINDHA (HAMPI)

Our poorvacharyas  expressed in their teachings  that Mother Sita  an incarnation of Mahalakshmi Thayar could not be kidnapped by an insignificant asura named RAvana.   Ravana after  acquiring  invincible powers by performing severe tapas was tormenting the whole universe. Puffed with arrogance , pride and lust  he had kidnapped and imprisoned many celestial girls.  To free the innocent  girls from the clutches of the cruel RAvana , the divine mother Sita  allowed RAvana to kidnap HER so that SHE could free all of  them from Ravana’s captive  .

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WAY TO SEETHA KOTUWA

This act of Mahalakshmi can be compared to a parent’s  attempt  whose child had fallen into the river.  Instead of standing at the shore and lamenting, the parent would immediately dive into the river to rescue the child.  The parent and child are related only in this life whereas we Jivatmas have relationship with Paramatma from time immemorial.

From the day we  took this  human body  due to our desires ,  Paramatma  anxious and worried makes all attempts in seeing that we recognize our original nature and  initiates all plans to make us understand our true identity .

HE sends Acharyar for our upliftment. Lord Sri Rama the Paramatma sent Hanumanji -the acharyar who glorified Paramatma and gave the holy name (ring ) to Sitadevi.

           As  Srirama had pledged to annihilate the entire asura clan, Mother Sita out of compassion wanted to save RAvana by advising him . Such was Mother’s compassion.  Whenever Sitadevi encountered RAvana, SHE advised him to extend friendship gesture as both of them were kings and Lord would be pleased to accept Ravana as his friend even though he had committed the gravest sin of separating HER from the Lord.  She enumerated  Lord Srirama’s qualities and advised  him to surrender and thus protect his wealth and clan.

Our acharyar’s ancestor- Sri Mudaliandan swamy also  glorified  as “Dasarathy” who is considered as  the reincarnation of Lord Rama HIMSELF ,and  the foremost disciple of Swamy RAmanujar  used to compare our lives with  Srimad Ramayana ….

Sita is the suffering Jivatma,

Lanka surrounded by sea on all sides can be compared to our body entangled in this samsara saagaram,

RAvana is the mind,

the ten heads of Ravana can be compared to the ten senses ,

Lord Rama is the Paramatma..

 

Hanumanjee  is the Acharya who unites Jivatma and Paramatma by conveying Paramatma’s intentions to Jivatma and doing samasrayanam.  Acharya conveys our plea to Paramatma and ensures that the Jivatma rejoins Paramatma.

 

 In Lankapura,  RAvana’s palace along with many palaces for his many queens made of pure gold once stood here majestically until Hanumanjee  burnt it down. 

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Mother Sitadevi was first brought to Mandodari Palace after alighting from Pushpaka Vimanam at Weragantota. 

Sitadevi resolved not to drink even water in Ravana’s palace until she was rescued by  Lord Srirama.

RAvana alighted from Pushpaka vimana at Weragantota near Mandodari’s palace in Lanka now known as “Seetha Kotuwa” meaning Sita’s Fort and house arrested mother sita.   

 Seetha Kotuwa  in SriLanka is about 10 kms from Weragantota  located 70 kms east of Kandy near Mahiyangana-( a famous Buddhist site and would take about 1hr 45 minutes to reach).

 

Weragantota was the runway for Ravana’s aircraft popularly known as “Pushpaka Vimanam”

SEETHA KOTUWA

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SEETHA KOTUWA

            The devas  prompted Indra to  offer payasam to  Sitadevi for HER sustenance as it was very important for Ravana’s defeat  and for the welfare of the world  . Only if Sitadevi was alive, Lord Rama would come to Lanka and kill RAvana.  So , Indra submitted their plea to  Sitadevi requesting to have the heavenly food . After making offering to Lord Rama , Sitadevi just took a morsel of it .   

It may be noted that Sitadevi discarded the food given by RAvana which was scattered around  the hilly regions .  These morsels known as “SITA GOOLI” can be traced in the forests even now to the lucky ones  around Ramboda in Kandy district.

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SITA GOOLI AND ASHOKA LEAVES

We were fortunate to get SITA GOOLI we visited Manikatuther.

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STEPS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF SEETHA KOTUWA

 

 

The archeological site  is maintained by Srilankan Government.  They have guest house facility and a restaurant . From this office ,  one needs to walk downwards in the terrains  to approach this place.The thick vegetation and forest like atmosphere with wild  shrubs on either sides makes one wonder how tough it was for mother facing this demon .

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Due to rains, the path we walked  was bit slippery.  At some places, some small rocks have been placed  to  easily step down.  Though the distance from the archeological office to the actual site is only 800 metres, it would take roughly one hour to and fro to traverse the area.  We were accompanied by a guide from the archeological department.  Our cab driver and guide helped us in all ways.  There is no temple.  Only 2 platforms on either sides which are marked as the place occupied by Mother Sita can be seen . On the other side ,we can find steep steps going further down which must have been used by the residents to reach other palaces!!

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Fearing Lord Rama’s reaction ,  RAvana escalated the security and sent spies to Dhandakaranyam to inform him about Srirama’s moves.  He persuaded Mother Sita to fulfill his wish. 

As Sitadevi was reluctant, the  egoistic Ravana who had the habit of always boasting about his achievements and wealth wanted to win Sitadevi by showing the wealth and beauty of his kingdom.

   He  relocated her from Seetha Kotuwa to Ashoka vanam on his chariot.  Sitadevi was crying inconsolably while being taken in the chariot.  This route taken by RAvana is now known as Chariot Path .  Presently this place is located between RAmboda and Nuwara Eliya. 

At the junction near Blue Field Tea Factory, we have to take an auto and drive for about 10 kms and then start trekking the hilly are for about 10 kms to reach Chariot Path.  There is  no vegetation  in this path .  We have short trees on either sides.  There is a small pond known as “sita Tear Pond”.  As the name implies, Sita’s tears got collected in this pond and this never dries up even during famine as per locals . 

Sita Flowers in the form of Rama’s bow grow only in this place.  It would take one full day to visit this place. 

Mother  was  relocated  to Ashoka vanam now known as Hakgala Botanical Gardens.  Hanumanjee  met  mother sita  under Simshuka tree now known as Sita Eliya  after crossing the ocean  while  winning the rakshasas

 

 Ashoka vanam was a pleasure garden on a hill station .  RAvana thought that Sitadevi who was used to live in forests would feel pleased being in Ashoka vanam .  As RAvana had a curse that he could not touch any woman without her consent, he was very careful in approaching Sitadevi.   Due to his tamasic nature ,he used to think  Lord Srirama as an inferior person who was exiled and hence  tried to allure  mother Sitadevi  with all the worldly comforts and riches. 

Mother Sitadevi considered RAvana and his wealth as mere grass and chastised Ravana for his action.  Angered by  mothers words , He ordered the rakshasis who were guarding her to convince her in succumbing to his wishes or else die in their hands.

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  In  Srimad Ramayanam, it is mentioned that RAvana gave one year time to Sitadevi to succumb to his wishes.  But our poorvacharyas opine that it was the other way as Mother  Sitadevi extended his life span by one year with the hope that he would change for the better and patiently bore all the afflictions on HER.  Such is the compassion of Mother Sita.

 

In Valmiki Ramayanam, it is mentioned that RAvana moved Sitadevi from Mandodari’s palace to Ashoka vanam where 700 rakshasis were deputed to take care of her. It doesn’t mention about Sitadevi staying in some other place .

 

 

 

 

 

But in Srilanka, few places  like  RAvana caves, Istreepura etc. have been identified as places where Sitadevi  used to be re located by Ravana . As per the locals , after Hanumanjis adventure and attack, Ravana ensured that Sitadevi was shifted from Ashokavanam to various other places so that HER whereabouts were not known to anyone.

 

 

 

 

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ASHOKA VANAM

Presently, Hakgala Botanical Gardens in Nuwara Eliya is identified as Ashoka Vanam. 

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The Simshuka tree under which Hanuman happened to meet Sitadevi, converse with HER is known as Sita Eliya

This is about 4 kms down the hill from Nuwara Eliya.  There is a beautiful temple known as “SITA AMMAN TEMPLE” which houses 2 sets of Sita,Rama,Lakshmana and Hanuman idols.

 

 

 

 

 

In and around the temple precints we can find the altars, Sita stream, Hanuman’s foot prints and the rock on which Sitadevi used to contemplate on Sriram.

 Nuwara Eliya being a hill station is a very cool place and it rains almost every day.

 

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We can find many  vanaras   at this place minding their own business and not troubling the devotees.  We felt that the lucky vanaras continue to relish the divine pastimes of  Hanumanji here .

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The temple administration  provides a carved picture of Sita Rama Lakshmana and Hanuman in gold plated frames for LKR 2000 (INR 1000). Devotees place these in the altar and take it to their homes as remembrance.

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THIS BOARD IS DISPLAYED IN SITA AMMAN TEMPLE

The  temple priest informed that one set of deities in the temple was installed by the devotees for which regular worship is being done.  ON the right side of this sannidhi , we can find another set of  Lord Sita,Ramar deities along with Lakshmana and Hanuman. 

These deities  reappeared  in the nearby stream known as “SITA STREAM” two hundred years back.  The  deities  of Lord  Rama and Sita are almost of the same size whereas Lakshmana is smaller.

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THE HOLY SITA STREAM BEHIND SITA AMMAN TEMPLE
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200 YEARS OLD VIGRAHAMS WHICH WERE FOUND IN SITA STREAM
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HANUMAN’S FOOTPRINTS

SITA STREAM   AND HANUMAN FOOT PRINTS

  As per Srirama’s orders, Sitadevi had purificatory bath in the nearby stream which is right behind the altar.    Also, when Sitadevi heard about the punishment vented on Hanumanjee by the demon Ravana , she purified HERSELF with the water from the stream and invoked Agni by saying that if she was chaste, the fire lit on Hanumanji’s tail should not harm him. So, this stream is considered very sacred . 

Next to the stream, we can find a small rock where a sculpted figure of Sitadevi sitting under Simshuka vruksham is seen accepting Srirama’s ring from Hanuman .  Hanuman is greenish in colour and Sitadevi is of golden complexion.  In front of this, we can find two foot prints of Hanumanji- one is very small and the other one very big.  As Hanuman introduced himself to Sitadevi in a miniature form  and later convinced her about his capabilities by taking a huge form, we can find here the two different footprints of Hanuman.  The rain water gets collected in these footprints.

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SITADEVI GIVING CHOODAMANI TO HANUMAN IN SITA AMMAN TEMPLE

IN Balakandam, it is mentioned that Sitadevi was such a delicate personality that even if someone stared at her for few minutes, her complexion would become reddish.  She was so tender. The thought that such a tender princess who was affectionately brought up by King Janaka and taken care by Dasaratha Chakravarthy and  Lord Srirama had to withstand the harsh weather conditions along with the pungent words of the demon  RAvana is heart piercing.

During the war between Lord RAma and RAvana, Ravana had cast a Nagastram which made SRirama and Lakshmana unconscious.  RAvana who thought that he had killed SRirama, summoned the rakshasis in Ashoka vanam to take Sitadevi to the battlefield on Pushpaka vimanam and show Srirama to Sitadevi.  The cruel minded RAvana thought that if he produced an evidence that Srirama was killed, Sitadevi would succumb to his wishes. RAvana’s cruel selfish nature can be assessed by this.  He was not bothered about Sitadevi’s plight.  Sitadevi was totally shattered when SHE saw Srirama lying on the battlefield.  SHE cried inconsolably until Vibhishana’s wife consoled HER pointing to Srirama’s face which was lively adding that only a sumangali can get into Pushpaka vimanam.  in another instance, she advised Sitadevi to offer prayers to SunGod who was their kula deivam.  It may be noted that AGastya rishi advised Srirama to invoke Sun God and taught him “ADITYA HRUDAYAM”.  

Mother Sita had all the powers to protect HERSELF and curse Ravana.  But the only reason that SHE had surrendered to Srirama and it was HIS duty to protect HER, she endured everything silently .Hanumanjee  lamented when he  saw Sitadevi in the most pitiable condition –having become lean due to lack of food and wearing soiled clothes (he recognised it because Sitadevi had torn a piece of her sari and bundled the jewels in it before throwing.

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RAMAYANA SITES IN SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL SRILANKA

DIVURUMPOLA

  The place where Sitadevi underwent the ordeal of proving HER chastity to the world is located about 15 kms from Sita Eliya on the way to Ella.

After winning the battle,  Lord Srirama  advised  brother  Lakshmana to coronate Vibhishana . 

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LAKSHMANA PERFORMING VIBHISHANA PATABHISHEKAM AT KELANIYA

Srirama ordered Vibhishana to  inform Sitadevi  about his arrival . Accordingly, King Vibhishana submitted  Lord Rama’s wish to Sitadevi for which she replied that she was anxiously waiting to see HER Lord immediately without wasting time.  Mother Sita devi after having a purificatory bath ,  adorning new clothes and jewels was taken in a palanquin.  As the assembled vanaras wanted to have darshan of Sitadevi for whom they had defeated the asuras  ,  our compassionate mother  got down from the palanquin and walked amidst the vanaras so that HER cool grace fell on them. Lord Rama was pleased with the gesture .

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SITADEVI’S AGNI PARIKSHA AT DIVURUMPOLA

Lord Rama  as people’s  representative , being an emperor it was HIS duty to establish dharma and not set a bad example to the subjects  as she was in enemy’s place for a year for no fault . Though the Lord was the Emperor of the entire land, He considered HIMSELF to be “people’s representative” and acted accordingly.

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SITADEVI’S AGNI PRAVESAM WHILE SRIRAMA AND OTHERS SEEN LAMENTING

Sitadevi  ordered Lakshmana to lit a pyre as she decided to end her life for the happenings .   As the fire was lit, Mother Sitadevi  offered obeisances  to Fire God-Agni bhagavan and  always meditating on  Lord Rama,  walked on the pyre.   The moment Sitadevi  walked  into fire, all the 33 crore devas appeared on the scene along with Agnideva and offered their obeisances to the divine Lordships.   

 

King DAsaratha also appeared and thanked Srirama for fulfilling his  vanavasa wish.  Dasaratha requested Sitadevi to forgive  Srirama for HIS act and asked Rama to seek any boon.  Srirama requested that Dasaratha should accept back Kaikeyi and Bharata. 

When Indra bestowed a boon, Srirama requested that all the vanaras who lost their lives in the war should be alive. After granting Rama’s wishes, DAsaratha and all the devas disappeared from the place.   All these incidents took place at Divurumpola.

Our acharyas have commented on this incident that Agni-the firegod wanted to purify himself as Ravana had polluted agni by offering flesh and other abominable things.  Agnideva wanted to get purified with Sitadevi’s contact and hence this incident took place.  Agnideva who was controlled by Ravana didn’t have the guts to burn Lanka.  It was Sitadevi’s chastity which was used as fire for burning Lanka.

 

Sitadevi’s life incident can be compared to prapannas.  The jivatma who is loitering in the material world gets to know about Paramatma through Acharya who glorifies the Paramatma and gets samasrayanam done for Jivatma. 

The Acharya submits the Jivatma’s plea for reunion with Paramatma . 

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For having a darshan  entrance fee is charged.  There is a Buddhist pagoda at this place.  WE can find 28 buddha statues which is of significance.  The caretaker showed us paintings from RamayAna.

 

  A small shrine for Sita,Rama,Lakshmana brought from India by a great  Sri Rama bhaktha  is beside the Hanuman statue. 

A diety  of a confident Sitadevi measuring about 7 feet entering into flames is kept in the room and a painting of Rama,Lakshmana,Vibhishana, Hanuman and all the assembled vanaras lamenting over this ordeal will definitely make a person cry.

At the actual place of Agnipariksha which is behind the shrine, a Bodhi tree (Banyan tree) from Gaya has been planted here. 

 

Devotees do parikrama around this with reverence.  We can also find a small Ashoka tree planted in the temple premises. 

RAVANA CAVES:- Ravana cave is located in Ella between Nuwara Eliya and Kataragama.  It is about  60 kms from Nuwara Eliya and about 90 kms before Kataragama. 

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It takes about one hour to reach the caves on top of a hillock ascending through steep narrow steps.  There are three caves which have been identified as Sitadevi’s captivity.

 

 

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Istreepura is a tunnel network  that connects to several places and we didn’t visit this place due to lack of time. 

 

Shall be updating about the places Lord Rama  and Hanumanjee  purified Sri lanka .

Adiyen Ramanuja dasan