kiskiKAHANI (the Ramayana Project)

300 Ramayanas and Counting . . .
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Rāma, sick with love for his lost Sītā, is anxiously awaiting the return of the search parties Sugrīva – roused from his post-victory revels – has dispatched to the four corners of the earth.  Those from the North, East and West come back empty handed and with nothing to report.  All now rests with the expedition to the South led by Hanumān. When he and his high-spirited troop finally arrive, Hanumān presents Rāma with a message from the imprisoned Sītā: “Come as fast as you can.  I won’t last much longer.”  It would be enough to spur any husband to immediate action, and none more than Rāma, and he prepares to set off with his army the very next morning. It is this point of the Rāmāyāṇa story that Vedānta Deśika, a 13th century Tamil philosopher and poet, chooses as the setting for his Haṃsa Sandeśa (The Message of the Swan), a beautiful Sanskrit lyric of 110 verses. To return to Rāma, but this time the Rāma of the Haṃsa Sandeśa: on the dawn of departure, the hero sees a swan, newly arrived from its monsoon retreat in the Himalayas, and is suddenly overcome with intense longing for his elegant wife.  When he comes to, he decides to ask the swan to take a second message to Sītā to console her and to reassure her that he will be there soon – and thus ensure she doesn’t succumb to her … Continue reading

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