Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mahavira Vaibhavam Aranya Kaandam

In these 13 churnikas of Aranya Kaandam, Vedanta Desikar praises Rama's valour and sets the stage for the sad phase in his life of being separated from Sita 
Sees Jatayu as his 2nd father, performs obsequies for the valiant battle that the Eagle bird fought
Demon Kabhandha's directs Rama to seek Sugriva's friendship - a turning point in this episode

விராத ஹரிண ஷார்துல 
விளுளித பஹுபல மக களம ரஜனிகர 
ம்றக மர்கயாரம்ப சம்ப்ருத சீற ப்ருதநுரோத 

Having promised Sage Atri to protect all the sages in the forest from the demons, Rama began his task starting with Viraatha (Tumburu), who was earlier an assistant of Kubera. Once he was lost in thoughts with damsel Rambha, thus angering his boss Kubera, who cursed him along with Rambha to become a demon (Celestials Tumburu and Rambha are referred in Periyazhvaar’s Thirumozhi as well as well as in Kulasekara  Azhvaar’s Perumal Thirumozhi ).

One day in the Dhandaka forest, Rama was intercepted by this ugly figure. Lured by the beautiful looking Sita, he picked her up and flew away only to be knocked down by Rama’s arrows. He then turned his attention on the two brothers whom he lifted with his two hands. After a long tussle, Rama chopped off his two arms and the huge demon fell down on the ground. He then gained his original form of Tumburu and flew skywards praising Rama as a ‘Tiger’.

It is in this context that Desikar refers to Rama as the Tiger who laid low the deer (Viraatha). Rama thus killed many demons that disturbed the peace of the Sages.

த்ரிஷிரஷிஷிரஸ்ட்ரிதய திமிர நிராச வாஸர கர 

Having protected Sage Sutikshana, Rama moved on in the forest to another location where he met Agastya. From there, he moved to Panchavati.  It was here that demoness Surpanaka set her sights on the handsome Rama. Turning herself into a beautiful maiden, she approached him. When he rejected her offer, she struck at Sita seeing her as the stumbling block. And immediately Lakshmana, on instruction from Rama, lashed out at her.  She rushed to her brother Khara for help. He assigned the task of taking on Rama to the three headed Trisaras.

Desikar refers to this asura as an embodiment of darkness that could only be dispelled by the rays of the Sun. Thus he refers to Rama as the bright Sun who brought back light by killing the asura.

தூஷண ஜலநிதி ஷோஷண தோஷித
ருசி கண கோஷித விஜய கோஷண  
Following the death of Trisaras, Desikar moved on to the episode relating to the death of Dooshana who was assigned the task of killing Rama. He came with a large army, but Rama deprived him of the chariot, bow, arrows and then while on the ground chopped off his arms. And finally killed him much to the delight of Agastya. Desikar refers to this approach as that of an ocean.

கரதர கரதரு கண்டன சண்ட பவன 

Khara himself came forward to try and fulfil his promise to Surpanaka. And he too fell down in a trance unable to match the strength of the arrows that came in his direction.

 த்விசப்த ரக்சஸ்சாஹர நலவன விலோலன மஹாகலப 
அஸஹாய ஷூர ....... அநபாய சாஹச 

Along with the three asuras, he also destroyed their contingent of 14000 demons. Swami Desikar compares this episode to a young elephant that would crush the sticks on the ground.

This seemed like a battle of unequals. Rama directed Lakshmana to take care of Sita and ventured out to take on the army of 14000 demons leaving the celestials anxious of the likely outcome. Desikar praises Rama as one who could vanquish the opponent without any support. Unmindful of the size of the opposition, Rama went to the battlefield with confidence as he was determined to fulfil his promise to the Sages. Desikar attributed this confidence to his commitment to protect those that had approached him for help.

Desikar specifically refers to 'Saahasa' thus bringing to one’s attention the situation around Rama as he faced 14000 fierce warriors and this scenario of taking them on single handedly was fraught with risk and there was a likelihood of a failure.

மஹித மஹாம்ருத தர்ஷன முதித மைதிலி 
ட்ருட தர பறிறம்பன  விபவ விரோபித விகட வீர வ்ருந  
When Rama came back victorious Sita held him in a tight embrace that relieved him of all the pains of and injuries from the battle. 

The episode leading to the separation

மாரீச மாயா ம்ருக சர்ம பரிகர்மித நீர்பர தர்பாஸ்தரன 

Desikar moves on to the episode of Maaricha disguising himself as a golden deer and luring Sita with his rare never before seen look. When Rama earlier killed three demons one of the assistants Akampana escaped and reported the series of events to Ravana. Praising Rama’s strengths Akampana told Ravana that not even he could enter the forest and fight Rama and that the only way to lie him low was to take away his beautiful wife.

When Ravana approached his uncle Maricha, he was warned to let go off this idea, for Maricha had already experienced the might of Rama (earlier churnika

Ravana trusted his uncle’s words and went back to Lanka. However when his sister Soorpanaka came back disfigured, Ravana’s anger knew no bounds. Lured by her description of Sita’s beauty, the desire rose and he once again reached out to his uncle for help. When he threatened Maricha with death if he refused, the latter who knew his time had come believed that it was better to die killed by Rama than Ravana.

And when Maricha took the form of the deer, Sita, as expected, fell for this rare beauty and thus Maricha took Rama far away into the forest before finally falling to Rama’s arrow. 

In this churnika, Desikar hints at this killing by referring to Rama acquiring the skin of the deer to serve as his seat. (Sita had suggested to Rama that even if he is not able to catch the deer alive, Just the skin would do)

விக்ரம யஷோ லாப விக்ரித ஜீவித 
கிருதராஜா தேஹ திதஷா 
லக்ஷிதா பக்த ஜன தாக்ஷிண்ய 

Jatayu just stays alive to inform Rama

Desikar narrates the events surrounding the death of Jatayu and thus points to the abduction of Sita. When Maricha was struck by Rama’s arrow, he shouted ‘Sita, Lakshmana’ thus creating doubts in Sita’s mind about the safety of her husband. She ordered Lakshmana to track Rama. On his refusal she accused him and finally forced him to go in search of her husband.

Following this, Ravana appeared in an ascetic form. Sita welcomed him.  Once near, he cast off the disguise and snatched her away.

It was then that the old eagle bird, hearing the cries of Sita, fought a determined battle before his wings were cut off.  He kept himself alive just to inform Rama of the developments.

Away from this last battle of Jatayu, Rama rushed back to find that his worst fears had come true. Sita wasn’t to be found and it was during his search that he came across Jatayu. While recounting the tale of his last fight, Jatayu breathed his last.

As Jatayu had mentioned that he was an old friend of King Dasaratha, Rama who was unable to perform the final rites of his father performed obsequies for the eagle bird as if he was his second father.

Kabhandha directs Rama to seek Sugriva's help

கல்பித விபுத பாவ கபந்தாபிணந்தித 

They continued their search in the forest and encountered Demon Kabhandha, who with his long arms dragged both Rama and Lakshmana. When his arms were cut off, he requested Rama to dig a pit and burn him. He had once robbed Sage Sthulasiras of his daily provisions and was cursed to remain a demon till Rama was to relieve him from the curse.

And once relieved of the curse, he had the unique ability to foretell events. In a transformative event in the Ramayana, it was here that Kabhandha on his death bed directed Rama to go westwards and seek the friendship of Sugriva, who he suggested would help him locate Sita. Thus Rama moved on to the next phase with the single minded focus on attaining Sugriva's friendship. 

Though Kabhandha was not a celestial, he acquired the divine form on his death, thanks to Rama’s touch.

The episode of Sabari Moksham
அவந்த்ய மஹிம முநிஜந பஜண  முசித ஹ்ருதய 
கலுஷ சபரீ  மோக்ஷ சாட்சிபூத 

Rama proceeded west wards and reached Matanga’s ashrama. Every one there had reached the heavenly abode except a lady who even though was from a lower caste was taught yoga based on her committed service to her leader.  Sabari sought his help to rid her from this life and lit a pyre and gave her life by jumping into the sacrificial fire. 

With this ends Aranya Kaandam and Desikar then moves on to Kishkandha Kaandam in the next set of Churnikas

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