Week 5: Buck's Ramayana (pp. 110-218)

Assignments - Reading Guide A - Reading Guide B - Ramayana Resources

Reading Guide: B

Your Reading B for this week is Buck's Ramayana, pp. 162-218. You might want to read over the previous reading guide to remind yourself of what has happened so far.

p. 162. The golden deer. Maricha tries to persuade Ravana to leave Sita and Rama alone, but he finally relents and flies with Ravana to Panchavati. Maricha appears as a beautiful golden deer and at Sita's insistence, Rama chases the deer. When Rama kills the deer, Maricha cries out for help in Rama's voice. Sita is terrified and Lakshmana, reluctantly, goes to investigate. Ravana then comes to Sita, disguised as an old man.

p. 169. The abduction of Sita. Sita welcomes the old man and he praises her beauty. Ravana then reveals his true form to Sita and carries her off against her will. Jatayu fights with Ravana but in the end Ravana is able to chop off Jatayu's wings and he falls to the ground. Ravana heads south, taking Sita with him. As they fly away, Sita sees two monkeys on the ground and lets her jewelry fall where they can find it.

p. 176. Sita in Lanka. Ravana holds Sita captive in Lanka. Indra brings food to Sita and tells her the story of why Ravana cannot simply rape her. The sage Viśwamitra had turned the apsarasa Rambha to stone, and the yakshas had carried her off to the Treasure Lord, Vaiśravana, thinking she was a statue. Rambha returned to life and fell in love with Nalakubara, the son of Vaiśravana. Meanwhile, Ravana had decided to acquire all kinds of wives, and he wanted to have an apsarasa. He saw Rambha and raped her. When Nalakubara heard what Ravana had done, he put a curse on Ravana: if he ever raped a woman again, his heads would explode. This was why Ravana had not simply raped Sita. Instead of taking her by force, he needed to persuade her to give in to him, as all the other women had, except for Rambha.

p. 181. Savari (Śarvari). When Rama and Lakshmana get back from chasing the deer, Sita is already gone. Just before he dies, Jatayu tells them that he saw Sita being abducted by Ravana. Rama and Lakshmana head south, and come to the hermitage of the sage Matanga. Matanga is dead, but Savari still lives there. She tells Rama and Lakshmana that she saw Ravana taking Sita away, and she also tells them about the monkey brothers, Vali and Sugriva, and about Sugriva's friend, the monkey Hanuman.

p. 184. Hanuman. Savari then tells Rama and Lakshmana how Riksharaja, the first monkey, was created. This first monkey lived both as a male monkey and as a female. In female form, she gave birth to two monkeys: Vali whose father was Indra and Sugriva whose father was Surya, the sun god. She then asked Vayu, the wind god, to father a child who would be a friend to Sugriva. Vayu chose Anjana, who gave birth to Hanuman but then abandoned her baby. When Hanuman saw the sun, he reached out for it, thinking it was a mango. Vayu prevented him from being burned by the sun. Hanuman also thought that Rahu was a mango and tried to bite him. Baby Hanuman also attacked Indra and Airavata. He was hurled to the ground and broke his jaw. The wind stopped blowing to take care of Hanuman. Brahma granted Hanuman eternal life, and Surya brought him mangoes. In this way, the wind was placated and agreed to blow, so the world was able to breathe again.

p. 189. Vali. Vali was irascible and liked to fight. The buffalo demon Dundhuvi challenged Vali to a fight. Vali killed the buffalo demon and hurled its corpse towards Rishyamuka hill where it polluted the sacrificial altar of the sage Matanga. Matanga cursed Vali so that he could never approach this hill again. Dundhuvi's son Mayavi wanted to avenge his father's death and challenged Vali to a fight. Vali chased Mayavi into a cave and told Sugriva to wait outside. Sugriva waited but he finally concluded Vali was dead and sealed the cave. When Vali finally emerged from the cave, he was furious at Sugriva and sent him into exile from Kishkindhya, keeping Sugriva's wife Ruma prisoner. Sugriva fled with Hanuman to the hill for safety, since Vali could not follow him there. Savari urges Rama and Lakshmana to befriend Sugriva. After telling all this to Rama and Lakshmana, she then steps into her own funeral pyre. As she is dying, Indra comes down in his chariot and bears her away to heaven.

p. 199. The death of Vali. Hanuman brings Rama and Lakshmana to Sugriva who shows them Sita's jewelry. Assured of Rama's help, Sugriva challenges Vali to a fight. Vali's wife Tara urges him to be careful, but Vali dismisses her concerns. As Sugriva and Vali are fighting, Rama shoots Vali with an arrow and kills him. Before he dies, Vali tells his son Angada to help Rama. The grieving Tara plunges Rama's arrow into her heart and dies. Sugriva becomes king and promises to begin the search for Sita as soon as the rainy season is over. Rama and Lakshmana wait out the rainy season in a forest cave.

p. 202. The expeditions. At the end of the rainy season, Sugriva does not arrive with help. Rama sends Lakshmana to investigate. Sugriva is drunk. Hanuman tells Sugriva to bow down to Lakshmana and beg forgiveness. Sugriva's wife Ruma leads Lakshmana to see Sugriva who explains that he is amassing an army of monkeys and bears to go looking for traces of Sita. Forces are sent in each direction, with orders to return in a month with news. Angada is given command of the force heading south, including Hanuman and Jambavan, the king of the bears. Rama and Lakshmana will wait with Sugriva for news. Rama gives Hanuman his ring as a token to show to Sita if and when he finds her.

p. 213. The expedition to the south. Angada, Hanuman, and Jambavan head south with their troops. They discover a cave which leads them to an underground world inhabited by a woman named Swayamprabha. She explains that the underground world was built by the asura Maya, whose consort was Hema the apsarasa. Indra had apparently killed Maya with a blast of his thunderbolt, but Swayamprabha thinks nevertheless he might still be alive. She helps Angada and the monkeys and bears to get out of the cave and return to the world aboveground. When they emerge into the light, they see that a month has gone by. Angada is in despair because they seem to have failed in their mission. He then enters into meditation and prepares to die, but Hanuman and Jambavan refuse to give up.

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