The fifth and most popular book of the Ramayana of Valmiki, the Sundarakanda, recounts the adventures of the monkey hero Hanuman in leaping across the ocean to the island citadel of Lanka. Once there, he scours the city for the abducted Princess Sita. The poet vividly describes the opulence of the court of the demon king, Ravana, the beauty of his harem, the splendors of the palace gardens, and the hideous deformity of Sita's wardresses. After witnessing Sita's pathetic state and her stern rejection of Ravana's blandishments, Hanuman reveals himself to the princess and restores her hope of rescue. The great monkey then wreaks havoc on the royal park and fights a series of hair-raising battles with Ravana's generals. Permitting himself to captured by the warrior Indrajit, Hanuman is led into the presence of Ravana, whom he admonishes for his lechery. His tail is set ableze, but he escapes his bonds and, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, sets fire to the city. Taking leave of Sita, Hanuman once more leaps the ocean to rejoin his monkey companions. Returning in triumph to report the news of Sita's discovery to Rama, the monkeys pause for an interlude of drunken revelry in the pleasure grove of the monkey king. At last, Hanuman reports on his adventures to Prince Rama. This is the fifth volume translated from the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana. It contains an extensive introduction, exhaustive notes, and comprehensive bibliography.
About the Author(s)
Robert P. Goldman received his Ph. D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He is Professor of Sanskrit and chair of the center for South Asian Studies at the Univ. of California at Berkeley, where he has taught Sanskrit for many years. He is the General Editor of the Valmiki Ramayana Translation Project as well as one of its principal translators. He has taught and published widely in the areas of Sanskrit literature, epic, and traditional Indian culture.