[ Transcribed from lectures given by Sri Atmatattva Das ]

All these stories were going through Hanuman’s mind as he stood there before Sri Lanka, how Ravana got cursed in many places, and how he is so foolish. Hanuman actually felt very compassionate, and he was thinking, “If I see Ravana, by any method, I will give him good advice. I will tell him that he is very intelligent, and that maybe he could use his intelligence. Just give back Sita, and everything will be alright.”

Hanuman went into the city, and it was just before midnight. The moon was present, and he could smell wine all over the city. Practically 99.9% of the population was drunk. Everyone was in the enjoying mode, and in Sri Lanka there was plenty of enjoyment to be had. These demons went all over the world, and brought women from all over the world. Ravana had more than 12,000 wives. All of them liked him, although he was a demon. He had a brownish colour, but the form of his body was next to the beauty of Upendra (the brother of Indra, not the dwarf incarnation of Visnu). He had a very broad chest and a beautiful face. Sometimes he is depicted as very ugly, but actually he was not ugly. When he got angry or lusty, he could produce such ugly forms, but Ravana’s true form looks very beautiful. Visnu Purana, Valmiki and all the narrators describe as a person of great granduer. When Hanuman and Sugriva, or anyone for that matter saw him for the first time, they would think, “This cannot be Ravana, because his body is so beautifully designed. This man must be full of good qualities. He cannot be a demon. We must have made a mistake.” He was so beautiful. He had this hole in his chest which was from the tusk of Airavata. He had other holes in his body from Sampati, but he covered these with his silk cloth. He had a beautiful hairstyle. His speech of course was so excellent that he could speak and make day look like night.

These are the glories of Ravana. Amongst his queens were nagas, and there were princesses from Satyaloka, Siddhaloka, Caranaloka, Gandharvikas, every species of life was present in his palace as queens. They all liked him and respected him. Ravana’s country was so good. There was plenty of fruit and food, and they had dharma which was followed. Ravana was ruling wonderfully, and no-one had any fear in Sri Lanka. They had no fear even from Indra, Candra or Agni, because Ravana was so respected.

So Hanuman was going from room to room. “Is Sita here? Is Sita there?” In every room he found about ten beds and so many queens sleeping. Hanuman was a naisthika brahmacari, and he was thinking, “Oh God, I have to do this. All these queens of Ravana are sleeping here, and most of them are drunk.” It is not good for a brahmacari to see a woman while she is sleeping, and Hanuman had to do this. At first he thought, “Should I do this?” And then he concluded, “I am serving Rama, and if I don’t look at all of them, Sita may be somewhere in between, and I will miss her.” So he made up his mind, “I’m not going to be attracted. How will I not be attracted? I won’t stop chanting Rama’s name.” So he was chanting, “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama,” and he was looking everywhere. When Hanuman saw so many queens, their make-up and dress, their beds and their silk, he was completely shocked. “What kind of place is this? It is like a heavenly planet.” They had false eyelashes, they had shaven their eyebrows, and they had coloured in 12 tones from the eyelash up to the eyebrows. Hanuman actually saw this. He got scared by looking at them. He said, “If they are so beautiful, why do they have to put false eyelashes on?” Hanuman saw all this, and he was very happy. “This man, whatever he has done, is enjoying his senses very nicely. At least he is good at that.” And then he came and saw in the middle of a room a wonderful bed made of coral and diamonds, and on top of it was white silk covering the bed. There was a brown figure lying there with big shoulders and wonderful bodily beauty, and he was snoring. Hanuman said, “So beautiful, but he is snoring and his mouth is wide open. He must be very ignorant person.” Although Ravana has so much knowledge, still there is ignorance.” Then Hanuman looked around and saw that there was a white umbrella on the side of the bed. That means he is the king. So Hanuman looked at him, and then he walked backwards to get a better look. And then closer and closer. He looked from all angles. “Oh! What a great fighter.” Then he saw the hole, and he said, “I have heard about this hole. This man would have fought with Airavata.” Hanuman was getting fired up, and he thought, “I would like to fight with him. But if I wake him up everything will be spoiled.”

And then he looked around on the other side, and he saw a very beautiful woman laying down on the bed. The smell of wine was coming from her mouth. Hanuman had never seen Sita. He inspected the woman and said, “Oh! A heavenly body. This person must be Sita. No, how can it be Sita? She is the chaste wife of Ramacandra. Here she is brought by the demon, and she is dressing herself nicely with silk and ornaments, and she’s laying there with wine on her breath. I am a monkey, but I do have some discrimination. How can this be Sita? Sita would be lean and skinny and crying with demonesses around her. That is Sita, not this. This is not Sita.” Then he looked everywhere but he couldn’t find Sita. So he came out of the palace, and he was thinking, “What should I do? I was preaching to Angada, `Don’t give up your body. And don’t try for some security.’ But now it looks like I will have to do that, jump in the ocean and die. How can I go back and tell them, `Yes, I went across the ocean, I saw Ravana, but no Sita’. What will they do to me? If I go to Sugriva he will kill me. Even Angada himself may kill me. And If I see Ramacandra’s dissatisfied face I will die myself. What is the use of my existence? Let me die.” And then he was walking and crossing the gardens and coming to the ocean. He thought, “Let me check once more.”

He looked at the garden. It was Ashoka-vana, Ashoka trees. Very thick garden. He thought, “Sita must be in this forest. Why? Because Ravana would have kept her in a nice garden, but she will be thinking of these Ashoka trees. In Pancavati where Ravana lifted Sita from, there were Ashoka trees. I remember Ramacandra telling me that he was going to the Ashoka trees and crying, “Oh Ashoka trees, please tell me where is my wife?” So she must be remembering that when she sees these Ashoka trees. She must have walked in here. At least she must have been through here at some stage. Let me ask the Ashoka trees, they may tell me”

In this way, Hanuman, with some little glimmer of hope came into the Ashoka forest. There was a very tall tree which he climbed up, and when he got to the top he looked down. To his surprise, under the same tree was Mother Sita. She was sitting there with Vibhisana’s daughter, Trijata. Trijata was consoling her. “I had dreams that Ravana was smearing oil all over his body and drinking oil with his two hands, and he was sitting on a chariot driven by monkeys. This chariot was being driven through the southern side. This means he will die. I also saw that Sri Lanka was burning, and a monkey was flying over. I also saw that Ramacandra was sitting in the coronation ceremony with you. So don’t lose faith. Don’t give up your body. One day or other Ramacandra will come here.” Hanuman was listening to all this and he was so happy.

Then Ravana came and gave so much preaching to Mother Sita. “You must marry me!” She refused and he said to the demonesses, “You kill her if she won’t listen to your advice.” The demonesses were preaching to her, and then when she wouldn’t listen they decided, “We will kill her.” Exactly at that point, Hanuman jumped. As soon as they saw this monkey jumping, they all fled this way and that. Sita looked at him and she said, “Ravana, you can take any form, but I’m not going to be attracted. Why did you think that if you took a monkey form I would be attracted?” Hanuman said, “Wait wait, I am not Ravana! I am the servant of Rama, and I have come here to serve you.” So she said, “I don’t believe it. If you are from Rama, then how did you cross the ocean?” Hanuman said, “Oh, that is very interesting. I grew big.” “You grew big? How can monkeys grow big?” Hanuman said, “I will show you,” and then he grew, and he touched the skies. Sita got so scared, she said, “Maybe this is another demon.” While he was growing he was chanting, “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama,” and she thought, “Ravana would not chant so many Rama-namas. It is not possible. He can’t be a demon.” Then Hanuman reduced this form, and said, “Here I have the sakshi, the evidence that I am coming from Ramacandra. This is his ring.” Hanuman talked with Mother Sita and she gave him the hair ornament. Hanuman took it, and after taking it he said, “I am a monkey. I cannot just come like a saintly person and go, I want to do some naughtiness here in this forest. You won’t be affected, don’t worry. Some nonsense must be there. You just watch.”

So he put the cudamani hair ornament somewhere safe, and then he started uprooting the Ashoka trees, throwing them here and there. There was a rock waterfall, and he destroyed it, and the water flooded all over the place. He took the creepers and threw them this way and that. Then he took the demonesses and put them in his mouth, biting them and spitting them out. He was shouting and slapping his shoulders. He was yelling, “I am the servant of Rama! Who will stop me? I will destroy Sri Lanka! I will swallow Ravana! Anyone who is as powerful as me should come for a fight! Challenge! Challenge!” And then he jumped up on the entrance of Ashoka-vana, and he was eating fruits and spitting everywhere. The minister for Ravana in charge of the Ashoka forest came in front of Hanuman. It had been a long time since he had landed in Sri Lanka, gotten in the gate, checked everyone, seen and spoken to Sita, but he had not passed water the whole time. It had been six or seven hours. When the minister came and opened his mouth yelling, “What are you doing?” he got Hanuman’s blessing. The minister said, “Hey! Hey! Stop!” Hanuman said, “I am a monkey, what do you expect?”

The minister felt very bad, and he went into the forest and asked the demonesses, “What are you doing? A monkey is doing so much harm.” They said, “What are you doing? The monkey is doing so much harm, but why are you telling us?” “Yes, what am I doing?” the minister said, and then he went to Ravana. He said, “A monkey has passed urine in my mouth.” Ravana said, “You came to report this?” And he gave him a slap. “What kind of a caretaker are you? You come and tell me that a monkey passed water in your mouth.” The minister said, “What was I supposed to do? I was speaking to him.” Ravana said, “Don’t you know that you never open your mouth when monkeys are around?” The minister said, “Well you have to do something, he has destroyed the whole Ashoka forest.” Ravana said, “What? One single monkey?” Vibhisana closed his eyes and he was thinking, “Hm, monkey. Monkey. Monkey smashing Ashoka forest. I remember this.” Then he left the palace, and went to his place and he was sitting and thinking. “Monkey, Ashoka forest. Monkey, Ashoka forest. I heard it somewhere.” And he was trying to figure it out. It took him two days to understand it. He understood it.

Ravana said, “You call Prahasta’s son Jambumali. He is the first card.” This Jambumali is in a big lake of wine. He is sleeping there, and whenever he wakes up he drinks a little bit. And then again he sleeps, and he wakes up and drinks more. He can’t wait to go fill up the cup and drink, it takes too much time. So he is in a lake of wine, and he is kept like that so that whenever war comes he can be used. Jambumali was woken up. They had some anti-liquor medicine, so they gave him that and he woke up. He asked, “Why are you calling me? You want to change the lake or put me in another one?” They said, “No, a fight!” Jambumali said, “Fight? Aargh! Yes, I am going!” He came to Ravana and said, “With whom should I fight? With Indra, with Agni?” Ravana said, “No no, with a monkey.” “I’m going back,” Jambumali said. “No no, it’s not an ordinary monkey. It’s a very great monkey. He has finished our Ashoka-vana, so we must finish him. Take 80,000 soldiers and go.” So 80,000 demon soldiers and Jambumali walked up. He was a very young demon, Jambumali.

Hanuman was still sitting on top of the arch, and he was saying, “I am the servant of Rama. Who is there to fight with me? I can swallow Ravana. Come on, challenge! Challenge!” Jambumali said, “Hey monkey, you are talking too much! Do you understand that Ravana’s son has tied Indra to a flagpost here? Do you know that the nine planets are serving in the kitchen cutting subji? What do you know? You don’t know the power of Ravana. You don’t know the power of my father Prahasta. He has eaten mountains and digested them.” So then Hanuman said, “All past. What about now? This has happened, that has happened. But now you look, I can also tell you that the whole Ashoka-vana has been destroyed. That has happened, and now something else is going to happen. Don’t waste time.” Jambumali said, “What? You think you can fight with me?” Hanuman said, “Why are you talking?” and he began to pick up rocks and throw them at him. The rocks were coming so fast and furious, and he couldn’t fight them. Then he got on the chariot and started shooting arrows. Hanuman said, “Oh, these demons are very cultured. He is sitting on the chariot doing acaman, chanting mantras and firing astras.” All these astras were coming, and Hanuman was holding them, breaking them and giving them back. No astra can affect Hanuman, that is a benediction. Jambumali saw this and said, “Now I will have to do some magic,” and he started growing, and he became so big. Hanuman was only up to his ankle. That is what Jambumali was thinking. He was thinking, “That big? All right, I will grow more.” He closed his eyes and grew more. Then he thought, “Now I have grown so much, Hanuman will be this big.” And then he opened his eyes. He saw some big round thing in front of him. He looked at it, and he thought, “What is this? It is not Hanuman’s face. There is no mouth and no teeth. It’s just a big round thing.” He looked to the other side, and it was just another round thing. “What is this one?” he thought. He was looking, and he was so confused. Then he heard a sound from way way above, “They’re my knees Jambumali!” He looked up, and Hanuman was way up there. Jambumali thought, “My God, what a growth! This is the topmost I can do, and I am only up to his knees.” So then Jambumali looked back, because he didn’t want to discourage the soldiers. Hanuman said, “What are you looking at? I finished them all.” He had finished the 80,000 soldiers already. There was a beautiful parliament hall called Caitya, belonging to Ravana. This hall had very huge marble and diamond pillars. Ravana took one of the pillars, and he just put it on top of the army. They were nicely organized so that simply by a little work Hanuman could finish them all. This happened while Jambumali was growing. Jambumali was alone. His chariot had been smashed and his horses killed. Jambumali was standing there alone. Hanuman said, “What are you going to do? If you want to take shelter of my feet, they are way down there. You will have to look for them.” So Jambumali was very insulted, and he said, “No! This is maya! You come before me in your original form!” Hanuman said, “What are you doing then? That is also maya. You come in your original form.” So he came down, and then Hanuman came down also.

Hanuman said, “All right Jambumali, there are three minutes for you. There is one nice mantra I will teach you. If you chant this mantra while dying you will attain the Supreme Lord. There is only two syllables in it. Ra-ma. Chant.” Jambumali said, “What? I didn’t come here to learn mantras. I am here to fight with you. I want to finish you.” Hanuman said, “You cannot do that, so you might as well do this. You cannot finish me, so why don’t you do something within your means. Just chant Rama, and then go back home.” Jambumali screamed, “Aaarghh!” and jumped on Hanuman. Hanuman put his index finger in his navel and lifted him up, and then he circled and threw him. All his liver and everything came out of his mouth, and then he died.

When the news came that Jambumali was finished, immediately Ravana’s son Indrajit got up and said, “This must be a demigod, so he must be fought nicely.” So Indrajit came. With Indrajit there were some scenes, and then Indrajit said, “I am going to use Brahmastra on you.” So he threw the Brahma rope. Hanuman thought, “I have done enough harm now, so I must see Ravana. If I get bound by this rope, I can see Ravana.” He looked at the rope and thought, “I will respect Brahma.” Then the rope came and tied him. Indrajit was pulling the rope, and he pulled Hanuman to the court of Ravana. As they entered there, Ravana said, “Hey, you mischievous monkey! Who are you?” Hanuman said, “I am a servant of Rama, and a messenger. You please give me a seat.” Ravana scoffed, “A seat for a monkey? You can climb up in the tree if you want.” Hanuman said, “No, that is not proper. I have come here to talk politics, and I have come here to give you a message. You must give me a seat.” Ravana said, “In my assembly, I don’t give a seat to animals.” Hanuman said, “You mean that to get a seat in your assembly I have to be less than an animal?” Ravana said, “Hey, you are talking too much.”

By that time Hanuman had extended his tail and made a big big seat. It was above Ravana’s head, and he jumped up and sat on that. Then he said, “So Ravana, I think this is a good seat for me.” So then Ravana was looking up. Then they had a discussion, and Hanuman gave a very good piece of advice. “You please give up Sita. I saw your palace. You have so many beautiful queens. Why do you want to take Sita? I can tell you, Sita is not that beautiful.” Hanuman was using some sama dhana bheda danda. He said, “Sita is not that beautiful. Vandudari is a much more beautiful dancer. Surely you must satisfied with that. You can have so many others. I will myself procure women for you if you want. Just give up this Sita, for your own benefit.” Ravana said, “No, I won’t listen to this. I will keep Sita, and not only that, I will finish you.” Hanuman said, “Finish me? How can you finish me?” And Ravana said, “You are tied up.” Hanuman said, “I am not tied up, I am just holding myself. And then he lifted his hands and Brahma’s rope broke. Indrajit’s jaw dropped. “What is this? This monkey has broken Brahma’s rope.” So then Hanuman said, “If you want you can use ordinary rope and tie me. Only if I want to be tied can you tie me. Now I allow you, tie me. Let me see what sort of punishment you will give me.” So then they tied him with ropes, and great demons were pushing him on both sides with tridents. He made no objection. Ravana said, “Put fire to his tail.” So they set his tail on fire, and Hanuman said, “Wonderful, you gave me an idea. I was just wondering what to do. I wanted to do so many things, but I didn’t want to do it myself, because Ramacandra will say, `Why did you do it?’ Now I have no problem. They put fire, and I was just jumping around and things happened to catch on fire. I didn’t want to burn Lanka. Why should I? I am just a messenger. A messenger cannot attack the opponent. But what can I do? They put fire on my tail, and I am a monkey so when I jump the tail goes this way and that way.” So in this way Hanuman was jumping from roof to roof, window to window, and everywhere he put fire. Even in Ashoka-vana he put fire. Everything was burning.

Hanuman was jumping up and down. “Aah, wonderful! Wonderful!” And then suddenly he thought, “Maybe Mother Sita is also burnt! What have I done? Oh no!” So he went into the Ashoka forest and he was looking, and he saw Mother Sita sitting in the Ashoka forest under a tree. No harm was there. So then he told her, “Why should you wait? Just climb on my shoulder. You know I crossed the ocean here, so I can also cross the ocean back. You sit on me, and I will take you. Before I fly from here, I will kill Ravana.” So Sita said, “No! What are you doing? You already told me that Ramacandra promised He will kill Ravana and take me back. If you do this, my husband’s promise will go in vain. Ramacandra has one word, one wife and one arrow. He uses only one arrow, he has only one wife, and if he says a word, he keeps it. So don’t do this, you are not supposed to do it. Even if you are supposed to do it, I’m not going to sit on your shoulder. On the way you may see some fruit that you like, and you will shake the tree and I will fall into the ocean. I don’t trust you completely. So you enjoy yourself, and go back and tell my Lord that I am waiting. And if he doesn’t come in this many days, then I will leave my body.”