Illustrated Ramayana – Part 19

Hanuman decided to enter Lanka, after dark in a very minute form to find out the whereabouts of Sita. After sunset, he reduced his form to the size of a cat and set off towards the main gate.

But the female deity who jealously guarded the city spotted him. Appearing before him in the form of a fierce monster she demanded in a terrifying voice, “Who are you, monkey of the forest? Why have you come here? Speak the truth before you lose your life.”

“I desire to have a look at this great city and shall go back after I have seen it. But tell me who are you to prevent my entry,” asked Maruthi, which was another name for Hanuman. The guardian of the city was wroth and gave him a fierce slap on the cheek.

Hanuman was at last roused to anger. Yet he would not hit a woman with his right hand, even in self-defence. Hanuman, therefore, hit her with his left fist.

Recalling Brahma’s words to her that evil would befall Lanka when a monkey laid her low, she merely wished Hanuman luck in his endeavour and allowed him to enter the city.

In Lanka, Hanuman began his search examining every mansion and scanning every nook and corner. He entered the palace of Ravana and saw therein the Pushpaka Vimana, the magic vimana of Kubera, which could fulfil the desires of those seated on it.

In the private apartment of Ravana, Hanuman beheld Mandodari whom, for an instant, he mistook for Sita. Then, however, he returned to sober thoughts and decided that the lady who was sleeping in that chamber in a carefree and contented manner could not be Sita. Having thus, decided he renewed his search for Sita through the halls.

There he found many ladies as they lay at their ease under the influence of wine and sleep; some lay pillowed upon instruments of music; some lay upon lounges and some upon priceless rugs and carpets – all sunk in the arms of sleep. Maruthi also beheld Ravana, the lord and ruler of the rakshasa empire, lying at his ease in a beautiful couch nearby.