The Ramayana

The Ramayana 7. When the Rains Cease Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After Sugreeva's coronation, he approaches Rama and asks him what he should do next. Rama instructs Sugreeva to return to the palace and rule, tells him to follow the codes of conduct, and offers advice on how to rule honorably. Sugreeva asks Rama to stay in the capital as a guest, but Rama refuses. He asks Sugreeva to come to him with an army at the end of the rainy season.
Once again, Rama gets to teach someone how to properly lead. This practice puts Rama's exile in a slightly different light, as his exile allows him the opportunity to institute governments that align with his own values and beliefs about ruling. Exile allows him to spread his goodness.
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Hanuman insists on staying with Rama, but Rama tells Hanuman to remain with Sugreeva and counsel him. The monkeys leave and Lakshmana constructs another dwelling for himself and Rama. The rains arrive and fall for months. Rama grows depressed and guilty, thinking of himself sitting in relative shelter while Sita surely undergoes torture. Everything reminds him of Sita and makes him upset. Lakshmana comforts Rama and reminds him of their goal.
Here, Rama shows once again how dedicated he is to Sita. Notably, however, even though he's certainly emotional over losing her, he's not inconsolable or making horrendous decisions as a result of his emotional state like Ravana or Soorpanaka did when they became similarly emotional.
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When the rains end, Rama feels better. However, Sugreeva doesn't arrive with an army as the days pass. Rama wonders if Sugreeva forgot them and suggests that if Sugreeva has deceived them, he should be killed. He sends Lakshmana to go see what happened and to threaten Sugreeva if necessary. Lakshmana leaves immediately. Angada sees Lakshmana coming, recognizes that he's in a temper, and goes to fetch Sugreeva.
Because he's the perfect hero and is therefore exceptionally loyal, Rama must make sure that those who have pledged loyalty to him behave in a similar fashion. In this way, Rama continues to insist that the monkeys of Kiskinda are held to human standards of conduct and goodness.
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Sugreeva is in his bedroom, which is so lavish and filled with beautiful women and good wine that he never leaves it. Angada tries to rouse Sugreeva, but he's unshakable. Angada fetches Hanuman and Tara and asks them for help. Tara angrily yells that they've all forgotten their responsibilities—she's been telling them that it's time to help Rama, but nobody listens. She accuses her companions of being selfish and ungrateful. Hearing this, the people of Kiskinda barricade the gates of the city.
Sugreeva has given into his animal instincts and allowed himself to forget his duty to Rama. Tara again acts as the voice of reason, which begins to give her a place in the story as one who is very much like Rama. She never forgot her kingdom's promises; she simply doesn't have the power to make sure the kingdom follows through on them because she's female.
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Lakshmana kicks the gates open and begins the march to the palace. Seeing this, Hanuman asks Tara to go speak to Lakshmana, knowing that Lakshmana won't harm Tara. Tara and an army of women approach and surround Lakshmana, making him uncomfortable. Tara explains that they're frightened and asks why he's here. Lakshmana feels homesick looking at Tara, and says that he wants to know why Sugreeva hasn't arrived. Tara explains that Sugreeva is gathering his armies. Lakshmana feels relieved.
Tara has already shown that she's a good and virtuous woman, which means that she's able to utilize the cultural protections that Rama's society affords virtuous women (unlike demonic women such as Thataka or Soorpanaka). Despite his military skills, Lakshmana shows that he doesn't always want to be violent; he simply wants Kiskinda to make good on its promises.
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Hanuman hesitantly comes out to join Lakshmana and Tara. Lakshmana asks Hanuman if he forgot his own promise, but Hanuman explains that he always thinks of Rama. Lakshmana explains that Rama is suffering and worried. Hanuman invites Lakshmana into the palace, and Lakshmana accepts.
The text implies that Hanuman was unable to move Sugreeva to action, yet Hanuman himself remains characteristically loyal to Rama.
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Angada tells Sugreeva that Lakshmana is at the palace, and tells him about Lakshmana's anger when he arrived. Sugreeva asks why nobody roused him, and Angada delicately says that Sugreeva must've been asleep when he tried to let him know. Sugreeva praises Angada's delicacy but explains that he was drunk. He lists the bad things that happen when one drinks to excess, and vows to give up alcohol. He decides he's then ready to meet Lakshmana.
Here, Sugreeva is given the opportunity to acknowledge his wrongs and choose to right them, which continues to provide evidence for the story's suggestion that one can choose to be good or evil. Making the right and good choice allows Sugreeva the peace of mind to be able to face his mistakes and make them right.
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Sugreeva greets Lakshmana and they enter the palace hall. Lakshmana insists on sitting on the floor rather than a golden chair. The monkeys try to offer Lakshmana luxuries, but Lakshmana says that Rama lives on little and as Rama's companion, Lakshmana will too. He asks Sugreeva to begin a search for Sita immediately. Sugreeva begs forgiveness and instructs Hanuman to bring the armies to Rama's home when they arrive.
Though the monkeys are certainly Lakshmana's allies, he aligns himself much more fully with Rama than the monkeys. This makes it very clear that Lakshmana is first and foremost a representation of the ideal brother. By refusing the offered luxuries, Lakshmana also self-enforces his decision to follow Rama into exile, which functions as an overt display of loyalty.
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Sugreeva leaves to meet with Rama, and Rama greets him with open arms. Sugreeva is self-critical, but Rama brushes this aside. Sugreeva explains that Hanuman will come soon with an army, and Rama sends Sugreeva back to the city. Lakshmana tells Rama after about what happened in Kiskinda.
Despite his earlier anger at Sugreeva's lapse, Rama shows that a good leader is forgiving and kind when others make mistakes. Because Lakshmana tells Rama what happened, Rama gets to make a fully informed decision going forward.
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Soon, the armies begin to arrive. Rama stands at a high spot to try to count them, but decides that counting will take too long. Sugreeva calls the commanders to each search in a different direction. Sugreeva gives Hanuman and Angada special directions to go south, explaining the terrain they'll encounter. Rama takes Hanuman aside and gives him an explanation of Sita's beauty so he'll recognize her when he finds her. Finally, Rama takes his ring off and gives it to Hanuman to give to Sita.
Sugreeva follows through with his promise to raise armies for Rama, which allows him to gain Rama's favor again. Hanuman, as the ideal devotee, is trusted with the task of recognizing Sita. This shows Rama's faith in Hanuman. It also suggests that Rama has some sense of where Sita is, as he seems fairly certain that Hanuman will find her.
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Hanuman and Angada travel south with an army. They search and search and eventually find themselves in an underground palace. There they find a woman seated in meditation, who explains that she was once a goddess condemned to meditate underground until Hanuman's arrival. Hanuman finally shatters the underworld and they continue their journey. When they reach the ocean, it seems as though all hope is lost. Angada suggests he commit suicide rather than return empty handed, and Hanuman reminds him of Jatayu's noble death, saying they can't die before searching every world.
The woman's explanation of Hanuman's redemptive powers places Hanuman in a similar position as Rama (as when Rama redeemed Ahalya). It suggests that Hanuman also has divine origins, and further that his path south is already foretold. Hanuman's words to Angada suggest again that the gods and supernatural worlds are closely linked to everyday reality.
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Hearing Jatayu's name, a grotesque and massive being approaches the group of monkeys. Hanuman challenges the being, but the being cries and introduces himself as Sampathi, Jatayu's older brother. Sampathi asks why Jatayu died, and Hanuman explains what happened. Sampathi says that when he and Jatayu were younger, the irritated sun god charred Sampathi, who protected Jatayu under his wings. Sampathi was told that he'd be redeemed when he heard Rama's name. At that, the army yells "Victory to Rama," and Sampathi is restored to his majestic form.
Rama's redemptive powers work even when Rama himself isn't present. This is suggestive of Rama's power and heroism, and also makes it very clear that others take on some of Rama's positive qualities by aligning themselves with him. Rama's power works within the story just like it is meant to for readers and listeners. Further, Sampathi makes it very clear that Rama's existence was foretold, which suggests his future victory over Ravana.
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Sampathi tells the monkeys that he saw Ravana take Sita over the ocean to Lanka. Sampathi leaves and the monkeys discuss how to cross the ocean. One of the advisors turns to Hanuman and explains that Hanuman has been cursed to forget how powerful he is, and says that Hanuman can grow to a great size if he wants to. The advisors tells Hanuman to grow large enough to cross the ocean with one step, and then make himself small and find Sita. Hanuman does as he's told: he grows larger than the mountain and steps across the ocean to Lanka.
This advisor confirms that Hanuman shares Rama's divine origins. While Rama has his bow to give him power, Hanuman has the power to shift his size. This power allows him to carry out his promises to Rama and insure that good prevails. Notably, Hanuman is able to do this when he obtains knowledge about himself and becomes introspective. This suggests that introspection and self-knowledge are essential to being good and heroic.
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