Bhima and the Saugandhika flowers


Image courtesy: deviantart.com
Image courtesy: deviantart.com

Right from a very young age Bhima had always been very proud of his physical prowess. So much so that his pride bordered on arrogance due to the fact that but for Duryodhana, nobody else in this world could pretty much match up to his physical strength.

One fine day when the Pandavas were in exile, Draupadi was enchanted by the sweet soulful fragrance of a flower. When she asked Bhima about the smell, he told her that it was of the Saugandhika flower. She immediately insisted that he get her some of these flowers so that she could adorn herself with them.

As he was walking in the forest searching for the source of these flowers, he thought he heard someone call out his name in a low tone. At first he dismissed it believing it to be a figment of his imagination. However, he heard it again. This time he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name.

Going closer to the source of the sound, he happened to be moving along a very narrow path on which only one person could walk at a time. He then suddenly noticed that his way was blocked by an old monkey which was sleeping right in the middle of the path.

Bhima then asked the monkey to move aside and make way for him. When the monkey did not even respond to him, he was enraged and ordered it to make way for him. To his order, the monkey replied “I am too old and weak to move. Push my tail aside and make way for yourself.

By now Bhima did not even have the patience to argue with this monkey who was wasting his time. He bent down with the intention of pushing the monkey’s tail aside and continue on his quest of finding the flowers. But he could not move the monkey’s tail even an inch. Despite his best efforts, he could not even lift the tail, let alone move it aside. He then realized that this was no ordinary monkey and he then asked “You sir, are no ordinary monkey. Please tell me who you are.

When Bhima asked this question, the monkey mysteriously smiled and then revealed his true form. He was none other than Hanuman, the elder son of Vayu and therefore a brother of Bhima who was also the son of the Wind God. “I am Hanuman, your brother. I have come to warn you that the path that you and your brothers have chosen is perilous and fraught with dangers.

Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey's tail
Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey’s tail

Hanuman then proceeded to show Bhima where the Saugandhika flowers would be found and then before bidding farewell embraced his brother. The purpose of this embrace was two-fold. While it increased Bhima’s already formidable strength and physical prowess, the second and more important purpose of the same was to help Bhima shed his ego so that his modesty and humility would add even more prowess to his already powerful personality.

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This post has been written for Today’s Author Write Now Prompt for Nov 1, 2013 where the post had to include the phrase he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name which is the reason why this phrase has been specifically highlighted in the post.

Ravana’s pride


I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – 1st to 7th September 2013.

This post is the seventh and last of a series of trying to correlate the Seven Sins to characters and incidents referred to in the Ramayana.

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

Read Post 3 – Vali’s greed

Read Post 4 – Kumbhakarna’s gluttony

Read Post 5 – Sita’s wrath

Read Post 6 – Manthara’s envy

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Please note that there are various versions of this great epic and therefore my post might contradict with what you have heard or read of this particular incident in the Ramayana. This is only an attempt to map the seven deadly sins to incidents or behavior of particular characters in the Ramayana in a given situation and I have taken liberties with my own interpretations of the same. No offense is meant to any version of this wonderful epic.

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HanumanBurningLanka

The capital city of Lanka was the pride of Ravana’s empire. One version of its description seems superhuman even by modern day standards. The central palace complex was a massive collection of several large looming towers and huge structures that were more than a few square kilometers in area. Legend has it that most of these buildings were built with marble, ivory and other precious metals found in the era. Tales of Lanka, its beauty and grandeur were told by people far and wide in those days and Ravana took immense pride in his capital city which was the crowning jewel of his vast empire.

After Ravana had kidnapped Sita and kept her hostage in the city of Lanka, Hanuman, Rama’s faithful friend volunteered to fly over the Indian Ocean to Lanka to ensure that Sita was safe and sound. When he flew there, he also marveled at the grandeur and the beauty of the city. After locating Sita in the Ashoka Vana and informing her that her husband Rama was on his way to rescue her, he decided to toy with Ravana for a while.

He allowed himself to be captured and demanded an audience with Ravana himself. Since Lanka had never before seen a vanara such as Hanuman, Ravana granted him an audience. When he heard that Hanuman was an envoy of Rama, Ravana was furious and asked his soldiers to set the vanara’s tail on fire. Hearing this, Sita prayed to Agni, the God of Fire and requested him not to harm Hanuman.

Consequently although his tail was on fire, Hanuman was not hurt nor did he feel a thing. Using his magical abilities, he then proceeded to escape from Ravana’s soldiers and hopped from one building to another in the city of Lanka setting fire to each of them with his tail. In a matter of a few minutes, he had managed to set ablaze the whole of Lanka.

Thus, Lanka which had prompted the sin of pride in someone as pious as Ravana was reduced to ashes in a matter of a few hours due to the antics of a mischievous monkey-man.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search