Monday, August 20

Hanuman Leaps Across the Ocean

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Hanuman Leaps Across the Ocean

In order to find the location of Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana, Hanuman wanted to follow the path of the caranas across the sky.

Stretching his neck, Hanuman, like a bull amongst a herd of cows, prepared to perform without opposition a most difficult task.

Hanuman then strode as he liked through the meadows that were the color of vaidurya gems, frightening birds, brushing his chest against trees and subduing multitudes of creatures like an adult lion.

Stopping at the foot of Mount Mahendra, Hanuman looked like an elephant standing in a lake. The mountain was adorned with deposits of spotless natural minerals that were blue, red, yellow, pink, black and white.

It was frequented by yakshas, gandharvas, and nagas, all of whom could assume any form at will. They resembled demigods and were accompanied by their associates.

Hanuman joined his palms together to offer respects to the sun god, the wind god, Indra, Lord Brahma and sprites. Pointing his joined palms toward the east to offer respects to his progenitor the wind god, the dexterous Hanuman then grew in size to proceed toward the south. Before the eyes of those monkeys, Hanuman, who had made up his mind to jump across the ocean in order to complete Rama’s mission, continued growing like the ocean during a full moon. Desiring to jump across the ocean with his immeasurable body, he pressed down on the mountain with his hands and feet. Being squeezed by Hanuman, the mountain trembled, shaking off the flowers from the blossoming branches of trees. The mountain was covered all over with a shower of fragrant flowers dropped from trees, as if it were made of flowers. Being squashed by the tremendous might of Hanuman, the mountain was spurting water, as an elephant in rut exudes ichor from its temples. Because of the pressure, the mountain was releasing streams that were golden, black and silver. The mountain also shed big boulders containing red arsenic, just as a medium flame of fire would release a column of smoke. Due to the pressure which Hanuman was exerting on the mountain, all the creatures living in caves were being squeezed and were howling awefully. The loud wail of creatures occassioned by the crushing of the mountain filled the earth and all directions in the forests. Snakes with svastikas on the foreheads vomitted fire from their big heads and bit the rocks with their fangs. When the stones were pierced by the venemous fangs of those angry snakes, they burst into flames and exploded into thousands of pieces. Even the herbs capable of neutralizing venom which grew on that mountain could not counteract the effect of the poison of those snakes.

     Thinking that the mountain was being smashed by evil spirits, frightened ascetics and vidyadharas with their consorts fled from there. The vidyadharas left their gold jugs in their wine houses, along with their valuable gold plates, bowls and cups. They also left behind succulent eatables and sauces and various kinds of meat, shields made with ox leather and swords with golden hilts. The vidyadharas, whose eyes were as red as lotus flowers, wearing red flower garlands and red sandalwood paste, flew up into the sky. Wearing necklaces, ankle bells, arm bands and bracelets, the astonished women stood smiling with their husbands in the air. Exhibiting their extensive magical expertise by hovering in the air as if their were great sages, the vidyadharas gazed at the mountain. As they did so they heard the following exclamation from sages, caranas and perfected beings standing in the clear sky: “Resembling a mountain, Hanuman, the son of the wind, wishes to speedily cross the ocean which is the abode of Varuna. Desiring to accomplish a difficult task for the pleasure of Lord Rama and the monkeys, he wants to reach the other side of the ocean, which is not easy to achieve.”

     After hearing those remarks of the ascetics, the vidyadharas saw on the mountain that monkey whose powers were immeasurable. Shaking the hairs on his body, he looked like a flickering flame. He roared like a huge rain cloud. Preparing himself to jump, he rolled up his hairy tail, as Garuda would curl up a snake. Tightly curled up behind him, his tail looked like a snake being carried away by Garuda. The monkey clenched the mountain with his arms which were like huge clubs, crouched down and tightened his feet. Drawing in his arms and neck, he gathered up his force, strength and virility. Looking  upwards to see the long path he would have to take, he held his vital air in his heart. Placing his feet firmly and flattening his ears as he was about to jump, he spoke the following words to the other monkeys: “As an arrow shot by Rama would fly with great speed, so shall I cross over to Lanka, which is protected by Ravana. If I do not find Sita in Lanka, I shall proceed with the same speed to the heavenly planets wherein dwell the gods. If I do not find Sita there after a thorough search, then I shall bring Ravana, the king of the rakshasas, bound up. At any rate, I shall successful bring back Sita. Or else, uprooting the whole island of Lanka, I will bring it back with Ravana.”

     Having said this, that best of monkeys Hanuman jumped into the air with great speed without noticing it. He considered himself to be like Garuda. While he lept into the air, the trees growing on the mountain drew in their branches and flew in all directions. As he traversed the cloudless sky, his rear draft sucked up the flowering trees with the birds perched on them. Pulled up by the trust of his legs, the trees followed him for a while, as relatives follow a traveller setting out on a long journey. In this way, sala and other kinds of trees followed Hanuman as an army follows a king. Followed by trees whose branches were laddened with flowers, Hanuman, who was as big as a mountain, looked amazing. The heavier trees soon fell into the the salty ocean, as mountains once fell in the ocean out of fear of Indra. Covered all over with many different flowers, shoots and buds, Hanuman shone brightly like a mountain covered with fireflies. When the trees became free from his flurry, their flowers fell off and the trees themselves fell into the ocean like returning friends. Having been dragged along by the wind created by Hanuman because of their light weight, the flowers of the different trees fell over the ocean so that it looked  like the sky spangled with stars.

     Covered with a shower of flowers of different colors, the monkey looked like a rising cloud illuminated by streaks of lightning. Covered with flowers dropped on it by Hanuman’s back wind, the ocean looked like the night sky speckled with lovely stars. His outstretched arms reaching into the sky looked like a pair of five-hooded snakes coming out of a mountain. When Hanuman looked down, he seemed to be drinking the wave-tossed ocean. And when Hanuman looked up, he seemed to be sucking in the sky. As Hanuman traversed the path of the wind, his eyes, which were as brilliant as lightning, shone like two fires burning on a mountain. His reddish eyes, which are large and round, glowed like the sun and moon. His whole face became reddened by the reflection of his red nose, just like when the sun sets on the horizon. Moreover, as he passed through the sky, his coiled tail looked like a flag raised in honor of Indra. With his coiled tail and white teeth, Hanuman looked like the sun encircled by a halo.

     That huge monkey shone brightly with his deep red buttocks, like a mountain with red metallic ore slit open. The wind passing through his armpits rumbled over the ocean like a thundercloud. That best of monkeys looked like a long-tailed comet falling from the northern part of the sky. Hanuman, who was as effulgent as the sun, resembled an adult elephant with a girth around its waist. With his body moving above and his shadow sunken below, he looked like a boat on the ocean being blown by the wind. Whichever part of the ocean he passed over became turbulent because of his body’s propulsion. Hanuman precipitously lurched forward, smashing the mountain-like waves of the ocean with his chest. The wind caused by the monkey and the wind caused by the clouds made the ocean quiver and roar. Dragging a mass of giant waves with him as he sped along, He seemed to be agitating both heaven and earth. As Hanuman dashed ahead with great speed, he seemed to be counting the waves on the great ocean that resembled the peaks of Mount Meru and Mount Mandara. The water sucked up into the air by his tailwind looked very beautiful like a mass of autumn clouds stretched across the sky. The hidden whales, cocodiles, alligators and tortoises became visible, like the limbs of a body when the cloth is drawn back. Carefully observing him passing through the sky, the ocean snakes concluded that he was Garuda.

     Hanuman’s shadow, which was eighty miles wide and two hundred and forty miles long, looked most lovely because of its speedy movement. The shadow cast on the sea appeared splendid like a row of white clouds in the sky as it followed the son of the wind god. Rushing along the path of the wind without any support, that gigantic monkey resembled a winged mountain. As Hanuman passed by, the ocean below the path he followed was forcefully spread apart like a trough. Travelling along the course of the birds like the king of birds, Garuda, Hanuman dragged a mass of clouds behind him, just like the wind. The white, red, blue or yellow clouds being dragged behind him were very brilliant. Entering into and coming out of the clouds, he looked like the hidden and shining moon respectively. Seeing that monkey jumping so rapidly, the gods, gandharvas and danavas showered flowers down on him. As he was jumping to fulfill the mission of Lord Rama, the sun did not scorch him and the wind god fanned with breezes. Sages praised him as he flew through the air and the gods and gandharvas sang his glories. When the nagas, yakshas and different kinds of rakshasas saw him unwearied, they glorified him.

     As Hanuman was flying overhead, the presiding deity of the ocean wanted to do something to honor the dynasty of Ikshvaku and thought as follows: “If I do not help Hanuman, I will be criticized by those who wish to talk. I was greatly extended by King Sagara, the protector of the Ikshvaku Dynasty. He is a friend of Lord Rama, a descendant of the Ikshvaku Dynasty, and therefore he should not suffer unnecessarily. I should make some arrangement for him to rest. After resting on me, he will easily cross the rest of the ocean.”

     Having made this pious decision, the lord of the ocean said to Mainaka Mountain, whose core is gold: “You were placed here by the great soul Indra as a barrier against the demons from the netherworld. You stand here blocking the exit from the immeasurable netherworld so that the demons whose strength is well-known and who wish to come up, cannot do so. You are capable of growing sideways, downwards, as well as upwards, O mountain. Therefore, I command you to rise upwards, O best of peaks. Here is the mighty Hanuman, a tiger among monkeys, flying in the sky to perform a strenuous deed for the service of Lord Rama. I must help Hanuman, a servant of the Ikshvaku Dynasty. I am bound to honor the descendants of the Ikshvaku Dynasty, and they are your highest objects of worship. Please maintain our friendship. Our duty should not be neglected. Rise up from the waters and allow the monkey to rest on you. Hanuman is our guest and worthy of our respect. After resting on your lofty peak of gold frequented by gods and Gandharvas, Hanuman will then cross the remaining distance. Considering the mercifulness of Rama, the abduction of Sita and the effort of Hanuman, you should rise up.”

     When Mount Mainaka, whose core was gold, heard this request made by the lord of the ocean, he quickly rose up from out of the water, covered with tall trees with vines. It split the seawater when it rose up, as the shining sun splits a rain cloud. That great mountain, which had been covered and restrained by the ocean’s water, at once revealed its peaks. The mountain seemed to be scraping the sky with its golden peaks as brilliant as the newly risen sun that was inhabited by kinnaras and giant serpents. Because of the rising gold peaks of the mountain, the sky became golden and shone like a sword. With its golden peaks shining brightly, that best of mountains was as effulgent as one hundred suns. Hanuman actually considered that mountain which had suddenly risen up in the midst of the salty ocean to be an obstacle. The exceedingly sturdy Hanuman knocked over the lofty mountain with a puff of breath, as the wind pushes away a cloud. When that excellent mountain was overcome by Hanuman and recognized his might, he rejoiced and roared loudly. Assuming a human form and standing on his own summit, the jubilant mountain addressed the monkey, who was standing in the sky:

     “You have undertaken this difficult task, O best of monkeys. After landing on my peaks and resting for some time, continue on your way. The ocean was extended by those born in the Raghu Dynasty. The lord of the ocean wishes to honor you who are engaged in the service of Rama. And one must return a favor, this is an eternal law. Seeking to repay his obligation, he wishes to render you some service. He has therefore respectfully commanded me to assist you in some way. He said: ‘This monkey has jumped into the sky in order to cover a distance of at least eight hundred miles. After resting on your peaks, he can cover the remaining distance.’ O best of monkeys, stay and rest on me for some time, then you may go. Here are many fragrant and tasty roots, tubers and fruits. After enjoying them and resting, you may continue. Actually, we have some connection with you. You are renowned in the three worlds and are a store of immense qualities. I consider you the chief of those monkeys who can jump, O son of the wind god. A discerning man who is keen to know what is duty should offer respect to even an ordinary guest, what to speak of someone like you. Indeed, you are the best of the gods and the son of the glorious wind god, being equal to him in vigor. By offering you hospitality I will have honored the wind god. Listen to another reason why I must offer you respect.

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     “Previously, in the Golden Age, mountains had wings. With great speed, they used to fly in all directions like eagles. Therefore, when they flew, the hosts of gods, sages, and living beings became afraid that they would fall off the mountains. This angered Lord Indra, who then cut off with his thunderbolt the wings of the mountains by the hundreds of thousands. Lifting up his thunderbolt, Lord Indra approached me. Then I was suddenly thrown into the air by the wind god and tossed down into this salty ocean. Thus my wings and all my paraphernalia were saved by your father. I, therefore, respect you and consider you worthy of my homage, O son of the wind. My relationship with you is very efficacious. Since this opportunity has arisen, you ought to oblige the ocean and me, O highly intelligent one. Relieve your fatigue and accept my hospitality, O best of monkeys. I am very pleased by our meeting, worthy as you are of my affection.”

     Having been addressed in this way by Mount Mainaka, Hanuman replied as follows: “I am pleased with the hospitality you have offered me. Do not think that I have not accepted it. The time for accomplishing my task is hastening me and the day is also slipping by. Moreover, I have promised that I would not stop here midway.” Saying this, Hanuman touched the mountain with his hand and then flew off into the sky while seemingly laughing. Meanwhile, both the ocean and the mountain esteemed, adored and heartened Hanuman with suitable blessings. Then, rising upward, leaving the mountain and ocean far below, he reached the path of the wind and traveled across the immaculate sky. Going still higher and looking down at the mountain, the son of the wind god continued on his way. Seeing this second difficult accomplishment of Hanuman, the reaching of Mount Mainaka and the refusal of its hospitality, all the gods, perfected beings and topmost sages glorified him. The gods who happened to be present there, including Lord Indra, were pleased with the intentions of that golden mountain.

     Because of his being pleased by the mountain’s behavior, the wise Lord Indra himself addressed the mountain with a faltering voice: “I am extremely pleased with you, O golden mountain. I grant you protection. Go in peace, O gentle one. You have offered assistance to Hanuman, who, being untired, is attempting to jump a distance of eight hundred miles, even though it is very dangerous. The monkey is trying to do something beneficial for Rama, the son of King Dasharatha. I am very pleased with your having offered assistance according to your capability.” Seeing that Indra, the lord of the gods, was pleased with him, that foremost of mountains felt most delighted. Having received the boon of protection from Indra, the mountain again took his position below the ocean as Hanuman continued flying over the ocean.

     After this, the gods, gandharvas, siddhas and topmost sages said the following to Surasa, the mother of the nagas, who was as effulgent as the sun: “This glorious son of the wind god named Hanuman is leaping across the ocean. Assuming the form of a frightening rakshasi as big as a mountain with a head touching the sky, bloodshot eyes and fearsome fangs, obstruct him for a while. We want to ascertain his strength, and furthermore his prowess. Either he will defeat you by some means or he will give way to despondency.” When instructed in this way by the gods, Surasa assumed the form of a rakshasi in the midst of the ocean. Her appearance was deformed, hideous and terrifying for everyone. Blocking Hanuman’s path, she spoke to him the following words, so it is said: “You have been designated as my food by the controlling deities, O best of monkeys! I shall devour you. Enter into my mouth! In the past, I received this boon from Lord Brahma that I would be able to devour anyone who came before me.” Opening her huge mouth, She stood in front of Hanuman.

     When spoken to in this way by Surasa, Hanuman’s face light up with joy and replied: “Rama, the son of King Dasharatha, entred the Dandaka Forest with His brother Lakshmana and His consort Sita. The glorious Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, who harbored enmity toward Rama, while Rama was engaged in some other affair. On the order of Rama I am going to Sita as a messenger. You ought to do something to assist Lord Rama, for you are one of his subjects. Or else, after I have seen Sita and then Rama, I shall enter your mouth. I promise you.” Hearing this, Surasa replied: “No one can get past me. That is my boon.” Seeing that Hanuman continued travelling, that mother of snakes Surasa, desiring to test his strength, said: “You can only proceed after entering my mouth right now. Such is the boon granted to me in the past by Lord Brahma.” After saying this, she opened her huge mouth and again stood in front of Hanuman. Angered by what Surasa said, Hanuman commanded her: “Open your mouth so that you can swallow me.”

     Having said this to Surasa, whose mouth was eighty miles wide, Hanuman angrily grew to a height of eighty miles. Seeing him eighty miles tall and resembling a cloud, she made her mouth one hundred and sixty miles wide. [Angered by this, Hanuman became two hundred and forty miles high. Surasa then stretched her mouth three hundred and twenty miles wide. Hanuman then became four hundred miles high. Surasa stretched her mouth four hundred and eighty miles wide. Just then Hanuman grew to five hundred and sixty miles high. Surasa stretched her mouth six hundred and forty miles wide. Hanuman, who was blazing like fire, grew to a height of seven hundred and twenty miles.] Seeing Surasa’s open mouth with a long tongue and how it resembled hell, Hanuman contracted his body like a cloud and in a moment became the size of a thumb. After entering her mouth and coming out, the mighty Hanuman said the following as he stood in the air: “I have in fact entered your mouth and thus your boon as been upheld, O descendent of Daksha. I offer my respects to you. I shall now proceed to where Sita is.” Seeing him escaped from her mouth as the moon frees itself from an eclipse, the goddess Surasa assumed her original form and said: “Go as you wish to complete your mission, O best of monkeys, and reunite Sita with Rama.”

     Seeing this third feat of Hanuman, which was very difficult to accomplish, all living beings praised him by exclaiming: “Well done! Well done!” Drawing near  the invincible ocean, he went past it, flying speedily into the sky like Garuda. Hanuman traversed the path of the wind, which is drenched by torrents of rain and followed by birds. This path is the same one which is followed by gandharvas expert in singing and dancing, as well as by Indra’s elephant Airavata. It is adorned with spotless, fast-moving vehicles drawn by lions, elephants, tigers, birds and serpents. It is blessed with the presence of highly fortunate persons who have earned residence in heaven through the performance of pious deeds, who shine like fire and who are as hard to touch as a diamond or a bolt of lightning. It is frequented by the god of fire carrying abundant offerings to the other gods and is beautified by the sun, moon, stars, planets and constellations. It was crowded with great sages, gandharvas, nagas and yakshas. The clear, cloudless sky was frequented by Vishvavasu, chief of the gandharvas. This is the path followed by Lord Indra’s elephants and is the peaceful path of the sun and moon. It is a canopy spread by Lord Brahma for the world of living beings. It is the path taken by many warriors who die valorously in battle and is guarded by vidyadharas.

     Like the wind, Hanuman dragged behind him a mass of clouds that were black, red, yellow and white. Being drag by Hanuman, the clouds looked wonderful. Entering and exiting those masses of clouds again and again, he shone like the moon coming in and out of clouds during the rainy season. Being watched from all sides, Hanuman, the son of the wind god, sped through the sky without any support, like Mount Meru with wings. Seeing him flying by, a gigantic rakshasi named Simhika, who could assume any form at will, thought to herself: “Now I shall be satisfied for a long time. After quite some time, this huge creature has come into my grasp. Thinking in this way, she grabbed hold of his shadow. When his shadow was grabbed, Hanuman began thinking: “Being seized all of a sudden, my motion is halted as if I am a lame man, as when a contrary wind stalls a large sail boat on the ocean.” Looking sideways, as well as up and down, he then saw a gigantic creature risen out of the ocean. Seeing her hideous face, Hanuman began thinking: “This is undoubtedly the same bizarre-looking beast described by Sugriva that is capable of capturing its victims’ shadows.”

     Understanding from Sugriva’s description that she was Simhika, Hanuman expanded himself into a gigantic form like a storm cloud during the monsoon. Seeing his body growing, she stretched her mouth as wide as the space of the nether world and rushed toward Hanuman like a thundering mass of clouds. He then noticed her huge and grotesque mouth, the same size as his own body, as well as her vulnerable areas. Instantly contracting his body again, Hanuman, whose body was as hard as a diamond, flew into her grotesque mouth. The siddhas and caranas saw his vanishing into her mouth, like the full moon being devoured by an eclipse. Then, tearing out here vital organs with his sharp nails, Hanuman came out of there with the speed of the mind. Having defeated her by good fortune, firmness and ingenuity, Hanuman again rapidly increased his size. With her heart torn out by Hanuman, she fell dead into the water. Hanuman had been created for her destruction by Lord Brahma. Seeing Simhika so quickly killed by Hanuman and fallen into the ocean, the beings who were floating in the sky said to Hanuman: “Just now you performed a fearful task by killing a gigantic creature. Accomplish your purpose without hindrance, O best of monkeys! He who, like you, possesses the four qualities of firmness, foresight, intelligence and adroitness is successful in all activities.”

          After being honored by those beings who had now achieved their goal, the venerable Hanuman flew up into the sky like Garuda. Upon reaching the opposite shore of the ocean after travelling eight hundred miles, he looked all around and saw a row of trees. While hovering in the air, he also saw an island adorned with many kinds of trees, as well as the forest groves on Mount Malaya. He also beheld the ocean, the coastal swamps, the trees growing there and the mouths of rivers. Looking at himself with a form resembling a large cloud and which seemed to block the sky, Hanuman began to contemplate how the rakshasi became curious about him when she saw his huge body and speed. After contracting his form which was a big as a mountain, he later resumed his natural size, just as a self-realized soul conquers infatuation. Hanuman made himself very small to defeat the rakshasi, and then resumed his original size, just as Lord Vishnu in His incarnation as Trivikrama assumed a gigantic form for crossing the universe in three steps to defeat Vali Maharaja’s power. Having reached the opposite shore of the ocean, which could not be reached by anyone else, Hanuman, who was capable of assumining many different amazing forms, thought about his mission and assumed his original form. Then the great soul Hanuman, landed on Lamba Mountain, which had many peaks covered with trees such as ketaka, uddalaka and coconut. From the coast where he had arrived he could see the city of Lanka situated on Trikuta Mountain and abandoned his huge form which was frightening the forest animals and birds. Having crossed the wave-tossed ocean infested with danavas and snakes by dint of his strength and landing on the shore of the great ocean, Hanuman saw the city of Lanka, which resembled Lord Indra’s capital of Amaravati. Lamba is another name for Trikuta Mountain, which means a three-peaked mountain.

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