To all Hindus the Ramayana is an important religious text. It describes the life of Sri Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is divided into seven parts. Of these, Sunderkand is considered the most important. The reading of sunderkand has many benefits as it helps people find happiness and fulfillment. Therefore, when possibility for complete narration of the Ramayana is not possible, then people have a community prayer where Sunderkand is narrated.
Sunderkand sings the praises of Sri Ram. Whoever hears it with devotion shall without any means be able to cross the ocean of life.
The seven parts of the Ramayana have been equated with seven pilgrimages that lead to salvation –Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika Puri (Ujjain) and Dvarvati (Dwarka). Thereby, Sunderkand is equated with the fifth pilgrimage of Kanchi. Kanchi is again divided into two parts – Shiv Kanchi and Vishnu Kanchi.
Sunderkand is a beautiful verbal description of Sri Ram. It comprises three shlokas (hymns of praise), six chhand (metres), 60 dohe (couplets) and 526 chaupai (Hindu poetic metre). Of the 60 couplets, the first 30 pertain to the description and character of Sri Hanuman and the other 30 pertain to the qualities of Sri Ram. The word sunder meaning beautiful, handsome, virtuous, and good appears in 24 chaupai. Sri Hanuman is the chief character in Sunderkand. Within Sunderkand there are several stories that encourage those with mental uneasiness to achieve peace and harmony.
Sunderkand gives a beautiful description of Sri Ram’s ambassador Hanuman’s strength, knowledge and wisdom. With the blessings of Sri Ram he is able to cross the ocean in one leap. When faced by Lankini, guarding the gates to Lanka, he successfully overcomes her and gains entrance. Although a bachelor, Hanuman conveys an emotionally charged description lines of Sri Ram’s longing for her that helps Sita forget her own pangs of loneliness due to separation from her husband. On meeting Vibhishna, he uses the policy of winning him over to his side by causing dissension. On meeting Ravana, he uses the policy of differentiation and discrimination. He also employs the policy of force to inflict punishment and attain sway in his favour. At the same time, he explains to Ravana how he could win the favour of the Supreme God. After obtaining Sita’s blessings, he returns to Sri Ram to free him also from the longing of separation and motivates him to prepare for war.
Power of Sunderkand
Besides the beauty and inspiration of the verses, this puja directs one towards attaining spiritual knowledge. Followers chant the Sunderkand as an unfailing ritual and seek the favours of Sri Hanuman. Through its regular chanting one overcomes poverty and sorrow and is protected from obstacles and hurdles, besides being blessed with success and happiness. Faith and devotion are the key factors.