Sundara Kandam: The Story of Hanuman's Search for Sita in Lanka
Sundara Kandam is the fifth book of the epic Ramayana, composed by the sage Valmiki in Sanskrit. It narrates the heroic deeds of Hanuman, the monkey-god and the faithful devotee of Rama, who crossed the ocean to find Sita, the abducted wife of Rama, in Lanka, the island kingdom of Ravana, the demon-king. Sundara Kandam means \"the beautiful book\" or \"the book of beauty\", as it describes the beauty of Hanuman's character, courage, eloquence and glory.
In this book, Hanuman leads a group of monkeys to the south of India, where they encounter various obstacles and challenges in their quest for Sita. Hanuman meets Mainaka, a mountain sent by Indra to help him; Surasa, a giantess who tests his intelligence; Simhika, a sea-monster who tries to devour him; and Lankini, a guardian demoness who blocks his entry to Lanka. Hanuman overcomes them all with his strength, wit and devotion. He reaches Lanka and searches for Sita in every palace and garden. He finally finds her in Ashoka Vana, a grove of sorrow, where she is tormented by Ravana's rakshasas (demons). Hanuman consoles her and gives her Rama's ring as a token of his identity. He also shows her his true form as a huge monkey and tells her the story of Rama. He offers to carry her back to Rama, but she refuses, saying that it is Rama's duty to rescue her. She asks Hanuman to convey her message to Rama and urges him to come soon.
Hanuman then decides to create havoc in Lanka and destroy Ravana's pride. He uproots trees and kills many rakshasas. He sets fire to Ravana's palace and other buildings with his flaming tail. He also kills Aksha, Ravana's son, and defeats Jambumali, Ravana's nephew. He confronts Ravana himself and challenges him to release Sita or face Rama's wrath. He escapes from the clutches of Indrajit, Ravana's eldest son, who binds him with Brahmastra, a divine weapon. He meets Sita again and takes her permission to leave. He also gives her a jewel from his neck as a souvenir. He returns to the sky and flies back to India.
Hanuman rejoins his monkey friends and tells them the good news of finding Sita. They all rejoice and praise him for his marvelous feat. They cross the ocean again and reach Kishkindha, the monkey kingdom ruled by Sugriva, Rama's ally. Hanuman meets Rama and gives him Sita's message and jewel. He also describes Lanka's fortifications and army. Rama is overjoyed and embraces Hanuman. He praises him for his loyalty, bravery and skill. He says that Hanuman has done more than anyone else for him and that he owes him his life. He also says that wherever Rama's story is sung or heard, Hanuman's glory will also be celebrated.
Rama then prepares to invade Lanka with his monkey army. He builds a bridge across the ocean with the help of Nala, a monkey engineer. He reaches Lanka with Lakshmana, his brother; Vibhishana, Ravana's brother who defects to his side; Hanuman; Angada; Jambavan; Nila; Sugriva; and other valiant monkeys. He fights a fierce war with Ravana and his rakshasa army. He kills many of Ravana's generals and sons, including Kumbhakarna, Indrajit and Atikaya. He finally confronts Ravana himself and slays him with his arrow. He rescues Sita from captivity and crowns Vibhishana as the new king of Lanka. He returns to Ayodhya with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman after completing his fourteen years of exile. He is welcomed by his people and coronated as the king of Ayodhya. He rules with justice and righteousness for many years.