Araṇya-Kāṇḍa

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Ravana fights Jatayu as he carries off the kidnapped Sita. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

Araṇya-Kāṇḍa or The forest episode is the third chapter of the epic poem Rāmcaritmānas written by Tulsidas.

Background

Admonishing of Laxman

At the time of the Mughal Empire in Medieval India, Rāmcaritmānas(an epic poem) was written by Tulsidas in 1574.In verse 1.33.2 of Bālkānd, the first chapter of Rāmcaritmānas, Tulsidas mentions 1631 as the date according to Vikram Samvat calendar, which is 1574 in the Gregorian calendar or Common Era(CE). A composition of Avadhi dialect, the Rāmcaritmānas belonged to the saguna form of the Bhakti movement(also called Bhakti kāl or devotional period). Tulsidas, Kabir, Mirabai and Surdas are the greatest devotional poets of Bhakti kāl in Hindi literature.

Inspired by the Valmiki Rāmāyana, the Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsidas is a poem in vernacular Avadhi language, spoken throughout large parts of North India. The masterpiece of vernacular renaissance challenged the dominance of high-class Brahmanical Sanskrit, echoing the revolt of Buddha against Brahmanical elitism.

The Ninefold Devotion

Rama tells Shabari the Ninefold devotion, which he asks her to listen with caution and keep in mind. The first devotion is the company of righteous. The second is love for my legends. Serving Guru's lotus feet without ego is the third devotion. The fourth devotion is guileless singing of my qualities. Recitation of mantras and firm faith in me is the fifth devotion that is enlightened by the Vedas. The sixth devotion is being well-mannered, detachment from various Karma and conscientious persistence in goodness. The seventh devotion is seeing me pervading the whole world without prejudice and regarding righteous even above Me. The eighth devotion is contentment in what one gets and even in dreams not to see fault in others. The ninth devotion is simplicity, guileless behaviour towards all and trust in me without joy or sorrow in heart. Out of nine even one who has that woman or man is extremely dear to me.

Rama tells Shabari that all types of devotion are firm in you. Rare even to groups of Yogis that state today is available to you. The fruits of my visit are transcendental, a creature attains its natural state. Sita’s whereabouts, O dear! If you know, say to me, O beautiful! Go to river Pampa, Rama, there will happen Sugriva's friendship. He will say everything. Rama, you know but still ask, O omniscient! Again and Again she bowed before Rama. With love she narrated the entire story. After telling the entire story, seeing Rama’s face, she kept the lotus feet of Rama in her heart. Burning her body by the fire of Yoga, she became rapt in Rama's feet, a place of no return. O human! Various Karma, misdeeds and beliefs, are sorrowful, reject all. Having faith, says Tulsidas, adore Rama's feet. Belonging to lower caste, a birthplace of sins, Rama gave Moksha to even such woman. O stupid mind! You want happiness after leaving such lord?

Journey To Pampa River

A Great Blue Heron with tall legs immersed partially in water, standing with its prey in beak.
Herons are likened to camels of the Cupid's army.

Leaving even that forest, proceeded Rama. Incomparable in strength, both are lions in human form. Like a lover parted from his love, Rama regret, relating tales and many anecdotes. O Laxmana! Behold the beauty of forest. After seeing whose mind will not be charmed? With their females are all birds and animals. As if to taunt me. Seeing us all male deers fly. Female deers say you have nothing to fear. Being common you be glad. In search of golden deers they have come. Male elephants bring females closer to them. As if to advice. Scripture, though well-studied, should be reviewed again and again. King, though well-served, should not be considered under control. You may have woman in your heart. But young lady, scripture and king are under no control. See brother, the charming spring season. Without beloved it breeds fear in me. Knowing me in love agony, powerless, and all alone, as if, the Cupid attacked with forest, honey bees and birds. When his agent saw that I am with my brother, he then camped with his army.

A Skylark sitting on a branch with a speck of grass in its beak.
Skylarks are various bands singing praises.

Tall trees are tangled with creepers. Like various types of tents are tied. Banana and palm trees are like beautiful flags and banners. The sight doesn't enchant only a calm mind. In various ways are trees in blossom. Like archers are dressed in various uniforms. A lot of beautiful trees are spread. Like soldiers are spread apart. Calling cuckoos are like crying elephants. Herons and rooks are camels and mules. Peacocks, Chakoras and parrots are fine horses. Pigeons and swans are all Arabian horses. Partridges and quails are infantry. Beyond words is Cupid’s army. Hills are chariots. Chariots are hills and drums are falls. Skylarks are various bands singing praises. Hum of honey bees is trumpet and shehnai. Cool, faint and fragrant breeze is agent. Leading his mighty army the Cupid wanders challenging all. Laxmana seeing this Cupid's army who remain calm them the world honours. He has one greatest force – woman. Who recovers from that that warrior is greatest.

O Brother! Three are the most powerful devils – lust, anger and greed. They instantly delude the minds of even sages who are the seats of wisdom. Greed has the weapon of desire and arrogance. Lust has only woman. Anger has the weapon of harsh statements. Such is the opinion of great sages. Beyond nature, the lord of all, Rama, O Uma, is omniscient. To the lustful he showed humiliation. To the minds of the calm he made firm

Notes & References

Notes

References

Online Sources

  • Tulsidas, Goswami. "Aranyakand" (in Avadhi and Hindi). Indore, India: Webdunia.com. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 

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