Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam - Sundara Kandam

Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is an epic poem of India which narrates the journey of Virtue to annihilate vice. Sri  Rama is the Hero and aayana His journey. We in India believe that Sri Rama lived in Treta Yug, millennia BC and we are presently concerned with what Srimad Valmiki Ramayana tells us, rather than when it was told.
This epic poem Ramayana is a smriti which is translated as "from memory". Given the antiquity of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, there have been some interjected verses. Sometimes these verses can be contradicting. However, scholars, grammarians, historians have put lot of effort to standardize the original text, by verifying various manuscripts available from various parts of India, thus trying to stabilize and save the text from further contradictions. An example of this effort is the critical edition of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. This site aims to study various versions of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana and arrive at a version of Ramayana that is most relevant to modern times. 
Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is composed of verses called Sloka, in Sanskrit language, which is an ancient language from India and a complex meter called Anustup. These verses are grouped into individual chapters called Sargas, wherein a specific event or intent is told. These chapters or sargas are grouped into books called Kaandas where Kaanda means the inter-node stem of sugar cane, or also a particular phase of the story or an event in the course of story telling.
Thus the structure of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is arranged into six Kaandas or Books, and they are:
Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkindha Kanda, Sundara Kanda and Yuddha Kanda.
Sundara Kandam: Story
With this assurance Hanuman commences his attempts to search Sita. From here our Sundara Kandam begins. From Skandhamana Parvatham - a mountain - Hanuman successfully crosses the Bay of Bengal. Reaches Sri Lanka and there he meets Sita. He identifies himself as Lord Rama's envoy (Rama Dootha) and hands over his Lord's Ring as his identity. At the court of Ravana Hanuman was disrespected and ill-treated. The army of Ravana set fire over Hanuman's tail. Hanuman took revenge by setting fire to the entire city of Sri Lanka. He gets back to Rama and shared the entire story and about his meeting with Sita as well as her eagerness for reunion with Lord Rama.
This is the most blessed Kandam or section in the whole of Ramayana and therefore it gains this unique name 'Sundara Kandam'. 'Sundaram' means beauty. Lord Hanuman's other name is 'Sundara'. In Sundara Kandam, Sage Valmiki speaks about the achievements of Hanuman. For Hanuman nothing is impossible. His attitude always reminds us self-confidence, faith and devotion to Rama, fearlessness, and trustworthiness.
Benefits of Sundara Kanda Parayanam
The events in this chapter bring confidence and hope from all corners. Hanuman's indulgence in the destruction of evils has proved that Dharma alone will triumph. People started believing in Dharma (good virtues). Only Lord Rama could destroy Adharma (all evil virtues). The Kandam teaches us that, if we want to be successful in life we have to practice Dharma. The significance of reading Sundara Kandam will definitely result in prosperity and it will mitigate all problems you face in your daily life. Reading one chapter or sargam of Sundara Kandam is equal to chanting 1000 times Gayathri Japam.

Where to Recite? When to Recite? :
Recitation of Sundara Kandam of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is called 'Parayanam.' It can be read for any occasion like Rama Navami (Rama's birthday), Navarathri, Anniversary, Birthday, etc.
There are conventional methods for Sundara Kanda Parayanam. The Parayanam can be made either on a communal basis in temples, public mandapams (halls) or in your home. Parayana can either be made by a guru for the benefit of every listener to hear, or you yourself can recite the slokas in Sanskrit. To help people who don't know Sanskrit script, there are books comprising Sanskrit slokas along with English (or other Indian vernacular languages) transliteration.

How to Recite?
Though it is desirable to represent Rama either by Dasavarana Yanthra or statue, it would be sufficient if you worship your Ramayana Book. You may keep the Pattabhishekam image of Lord Rama. You must offer Naivedya (submit boiled milk added with Sugar) to God before and after the Parayana. If not at beginning at least offer Naivedya at the end of the Parayana. Lotus and Thulasi (Ocimum) flowers are the best to worship the Lord. If not available, any flower except Karavira (Arali) can be used. Offering to God Pomegranate would bring in immense benefits. You may commence with Chanting of Rama Gayathri or Shadakshari mantra before and after finishing you parayana. Find your Rama Gayathri and Shadakshari mantra below:
"Dasarathaya Vidhmahe, Sita vallabhata Dheemahi, Thanno Rama Prachodayath." - Rama Gayathri
Om Ram Ramaya Namaha (or Swaha) - Shadakshari mantra

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