During this meditation, Hanuman became aware of tremendous physical, mental, and spiritual powers bestowed upon him by the grace of the Lord. He became conscious about his ability to fly, become as big as the mountain, or as small as an atom. If he willed he could become invisible or carry out such unusual physical feats which were not possible for an ordinary mortal.
Waking from his deep state of introspection or meditation, the humble, but brave and powerful Hanuman mentally saluted Rama with firm resolve to conquer Lanka and seek release of Sita from her mental and physical sufferings.
“Jai Sri Rama” became the inspiring slogan for everyone to fill themselves with freshness and courage. The dullness and despondency, the anxiety, apprehension, and depression gave way to hope of victory. Hanuman said, “Dear brothers, Sri Rama has infused special powers in my life. I am sure I shall be able to cross this ocean in one jump.”
Hanuman Leaps to Lanka
Everyone was delighted and shouted “Jai Sri Rama”. Hanuman made himself big and tall and flew off to the distant Lanka across the ocean. He landed at the closed doors of the capital city that were guarded by the terrifying and vicious demons. He killed them one by one and entered Lankan kingdom. He made himself small and roamed in the city for further information on the whereabouts of Mother Sita. He searched for the way to Ashokvan where Sita was held hostage.
Everywhere Hanuman saw people deeply engrossed in sense enjoyment. Physical pleasure was all that people cared for – a tamasik indulgence, hedonistic preoccupation! Temples and places of worship were deserted or filled with blood of sacrificed animals whose meat was enjoyed by noisy demons.
Hanuman Meets Vibhishana
Hanuman could not tolerate this all. He was purity personified, being sattvika by nature. He could not find any food of his taste. He started searching for someone who would be of pious, simple, and religious by nature. Then as he was passing by a palace building, Hanuman heard a faint repetitive name of Rama — Rama, Rama, Rama!
Who could be one in this Lanka taking the holy name of Rama! Hanuman wondered. With caution and care, he opened the gate of that palace-like building to find a demon couple worshipping the Lord and singing praise in the name of Rama. Hanuman saluted them in the name of Rama. It was surprising, but true, that this great devotee of Rama was none other than the younger brother of Ravana called as Vibhishana! Hanuman was accorded a very warm welcome by Vibhishana and his wife.
The talk went on to the ungainly and self-destructive height of “pride and ambitions” Ravana harbored. He did not approve of his brother Ravana lifting Sita from Panchavati. It was sure to lead to the downfall of the person as well as the people of his kingdom. Vibhishana had tried to persuade Ravana to see reason and set Sita free. It was improper and selfish to act this way. A mighty king should not have thus kidnapped a noble queen, already married to someone else.
Moreover, despite threats, Sita was firm not to marry Ravana. And if at all Ravana forced any such move, Sita could and would immolate herself in self created FIRE OF PURITY. This fire of purity would never allow Ravana even to come near Sita or touch her. Thus all attempts of Ravana to convince Sita for marriage were futile. In addition to the opposition from Vibhishana, Mandodari, wife of Ravana was dead against Ravana’s intention of taking Sita as his best wife. But all this had made Ravana angry; and as is well known anger makes the person blind to see reason and rationality.
Vibhishana told Hanuman every detail about Sita. He told that Sita at that time was kept under the care of lady servants at gardens of Ashokvan. Ravana had disallowed Vibhishana to enter that garden where Sita was kept in custody.
It was left for Hanuman to try his own way without any help from within Lanka. But he was pleased to find a wonderful ‘brother devotee’ Vibhishana, as his friend and informer who would prove very useful for Rama to enter and conquer Lanka, and free Sita.
Hanuman In Lanka ; Finds Sita
Vibhishana detailed Hanuman about the whereabouts of Sita. He showed the way to Ashokvan where Sita was kept captive. He also warned Hanuman to remain vigilant and cautious as Sita was guarded by police-women loyal to Ravana. Moreover, whole Ashokvan was surrounded by armed guards who would not hesitate to kill any intruder.
Thus forewarned, Hanuman saluted his newly formed friend and left for the garden for his first meeting with Mother Sita. It was easy for Hanuman to jump and climb the trees, to hide himself in the bushes or the leafy branches. He could, in addition, at his will, become very small and thus escape the attention of the guards. At last Hanuman entered the garden. He could see assembly of women around one Aryan lady whom Hanuman immediately recognized as Sita.
Condition of Sita In Ashokvana
The question vexed Hanuman’s mind as to how to present himself before Sita. The problem had two dimensions: (1) Sita was surrounded by many attendants, and (2) Sita might take him to be a demon in form of an impostor monkey! She would refuse to accept him as a friend and devotee of Rama. Hanuman was sure that the second problem would be solved as he had brought the ring from Rama which Sita was sure to recognize as authentic.
Just then Hanuman heard shouts of ‘Lankapati Ki Jai Ho -Victory to King Ravana’. Hanuman saw Ravana approaching the garden. Immediately he jumped up the tree under which Sita was seated. He hid himself nicely on one of the branches and decided to observe the proceedings below from there.
Ravana came towards Sita. His wife, Queen Mandodari, and a few other maid servants were accompanying the King. Ravana addressed Sita thus: “O beautiful lady, why do you persistently refuse my proposal of marriage? I will treat you as the first honorable queen of this vast empire. However, if you still think that Rama would come and seek your release, I am afraid, you are sadly mistaken. Nobody ever has dared to attack my kingdom, and if anyone does dare so, he and his army will be destroyed within days.”
“Probably you are unaware of my power. Therefore, for the last time, I modestly ask you to become my wife. It would be an honour to you and joy for me.” So saying, Ravana gave three day’s time for her to finally make her decision. The negative answer would call for Ravana’s wrath. The thin and emaciated Sita did not answer. How can she utter a single word when her whole mind and heart was engaged in constant prayer and Japa of Rama!
The scene below aggrieved Hanuman very much. For him Sita was embodiment of purity, simplicity, and tolerance. Impulsively, he wanted to jump and attack Ravana, but better sense prevailed. He knew that it would be counterproductive to act in haste. With heart full of mixed feelings of anger, pity, and helplessness, Hanuman started praying to Rama to give him courage to fulfill his mission of rescuing Sita from the clutches of Ravana.
Just then Mandodari, the queen of Ravana, intervened and told Ravana not to trouble a noble married woman with his hard words and ungainly demands. He told her husband to return Sita to Rama without delay, and with full honor and grace. But Ravana called Mandodari fussy and lacking faith in the prowess of her husband. It was not unusual for a king to have two (or three or more) wives; and secondly Rama had insulted his sister Shurpanakha which required to be avenged.
Hanuman Meets Sita
Hanuman listened to all these arguments but kept quiet. When Ravana left with his troupe, Hanuman decided to present himself before Sita. He silently dropped the ring bearing the name and seal of Rama in the lap of Sita. Surprised, Sita looked up to find a mighty monkey staring at her! But her surprise turned into emotion of joy when she found the ring to be genuine: of her Master Rama.
She therefore, beckoned Hanuman to come down. With folded hands, Hanuman presented himself before Mother Sita, tears pouring down his eyes. His voice was choked with emotion. He described how Rama was also suffering the pangs of separation. He assured Sita that soon Rama would come, conquer Ravana and take her back.
It would be logical here to think that Hanuman should lift Sita and fly across the ocean to reach his friends, and thence to Rama, and the story would have a pleasant end! But, no. Three factors are to be considered here.
1) That Hanuman was celibate from birth and had vowed to remain so throughout his life. Therefore, it was impossible for him to touch a woman without the permission and in absence of her husband;
2) That Sita also had vowed to remain loyal – faithful – to one man as her husband, and sitting over the shoulder of another person without permission and in absence of her husband would break her vow.
3) And to end the story at this juncture would be meaningless as the mission of Rama to end evil and wickedness and reestablish the rule of righteousness – the purpose of Divine Incarnation – would be incomplete.
It required putting an end to Ravana and his associates, and rewarding Vibhishana for taking side of Truth
Hanuman Plays Havoc In Lanka
It was decided that Hanuman should return and inform Rama about Sita’s captivity so that he would come with his army and seek her release by defeating Ravana. Thus, taking leave of Sita, Hanuman wanted permission of Sita to eat some fruits from the trees around. He was very hungry. Sita permitted Hanuman to satisfy himself. Hanuman uprooted many trees so that he need not jump to pluck the fruits high up. The noise brought many guards to the scene. They tried to arrest this big mischievous monkey which was causing damage to their beautiful garden. But powerful Hanuman overpowered everyone of them and beat them up severely.
Someone ran to the royal chamber of Ravana and described how ‘a monkey was causing havoc in Ashokvan’. Ravana was surprised to listen that an ordinary monkey could single handedly beat up his powerful men! He, therefore, sent his son Indrajeet to arrest the monkey and bring him to the royal court.
As ordered, Indrajeet, the powerful and obedient son of Ravana, reached Ashokvan to find the place in the most chaotic state. The trees were uprooted and the demon guards were running here and there to save their lives. Hanuman was as if making fun of them. Full of anger, Indrajeet challenged Hanuman to fight with him instead of his servants, saying,
“O monkey, you have done a great harm and insult to the kingdom of Ravana. I have come to arrest you and if resisted, I would send you to hell by killing you.” Thus saying they both were engaged in fierce fight.
Soon Hanuman appeared to tire out and was arrested by Indrajeet and his subordinates. He was tied with ropes and brought to the court of Ravana. The secret of this arrest was that Hanuman deliberately got himself arrested so that he could reach the court of Ravana.
Hanuman wanted to assess the character, strength, and weaknesses of Rama’s opponent which would be useful for them to plan their strategy to defeat Ravana. Thus tied and escorted by cruel looking army men, Hanuman was brought in presence of Ravana.
Hanuman Meets Ravana
On seeing him Ravana was furious with rage: “O insignificant monkey, who are you? And what business brings you here to get killed! Don’t you know that this is the kingdom of Ravana where people like you have no place to live?”
Hanuman replied: “O proud King, how false is your claim! Till I am protected by Rama no one on this earth can injure me in the least, let alone kill me. But I will tell you who I am. Sri Rama has sent me here. He had told me to give this message to save your life by releasing Sita without any delay. It will be beneficial to you and your people. Otherwise the punishment Rama would bestow upon you will be of total annihilation! Be warned and heed this warning.”
On hearing these arrogant words, Ravana was hurt to the core. He was furious that this monkey in the name of Rama had audacity to threaten him. Hence he ordered his minister to kill Hanuman on the spot. At this juncture, Vibhishana rose from his seat and politely said to Ravana:
“O mighty brother, have you forgotten the rules of treating the ambassador? What has happened to your intellect and reason that such a simple custom of honouring a messenger is lost on you. I request you to release Hanuman at most with a warning to leave Lanka and never to come back. Next time, if he is caught he may be punished more severely.”
“And O mighty King”, continued Vibhishana “It does not befit you to keep defenseless Sita under arrest. I support Hanuman’s appeal to release her instantly with honour and dignity.” At this, Ravana called Vibhishana a traitor and injured him by hitting him with his foot. Thus Vibhishana was gravely insulted by Ravana; and therefore, mentally Vibhishana resolved to join Rama in the war against his own brother.
Ravana meanwhile turned to his ministers and said, “Ok. Do not kill this monkey, but teach him a lesson for creating the nuisance in Lanka. Tie a long cloth to his most lovable tail and put it to fire.”
Hanuman Burns Lanka
As ordered, the servants brought huge length of cotton cloth and tied it to the tail of Hanuman. Fire was applied to it. Hanuman by his special power increased the length of his tail by many many yards and started jumping here and there! He ran all around Lanka and in this process set most of the houses on fire! Hanuman was not hurt at all. Rama was there to take his care! At last Hanuman jumped in the waters of ocean and decided to return to his friends on the other side of the sea.