The Lord Loves Us Fools

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Some books create themselves. One just acts as a medium. It happened with Sundar Kanda. My publisher sent me a beautiful draft of the book today. It is an English interpretation of Tulsidasji’s Sundar Kanda.

I was trying to understand the beautiful lines of  Sundar Kanda- a much loved canto in Sree Ramcharit Manas of Goswami Tulsidasji. Every one of my colleagues seemed to know it by heart. My friend, a great Hanuman bhakt, typically started all her training sessions with Hanuman Chalisa- a forty line devotional eulogy by Tuslidasji . And one day, another friend told me that he found it difficult to understand the various nuances of Sundar Kanda, when his aged mother recited it during pujas.

I had no difficulties with the stories of Ramayana. I had grown up with them. The only question was, whether SreeRamcharit Manas would be accessible to my understanding. The Lord, I believe, has a great liking for fools like me. We rush in where angels fear to tread.

I remembered, a vernacular line on Krishna’s preference, often quoted by mother : Melpathoorinte vibhaktiye kaliha, Poonthanathin bhaktiyanennikishtam!( I prefer Poonthanam’s bhakti to Melpathoor’s vibhakti). 

The story is about Melpathoor Bhattathiry, who wrote the sanskrit classic Narayaneeyam during his prayer-penance for curing his rheumatism. He was staying at Guruvayoor temple in Kerala, acclaimed as the Mathura of the South. He was cured of his disease and praised by all for his exemplary mastery of the language.

Poonthanam Namboodiri, was a poor Krishna Bhakt, who wrote a vernacular paean to Lord Krishna called, ‘Jnanapana.’   So Poonthanam decided to get his text corrected by a scholar. He respectfully approached the learned Melpathoor. The sanskrit scholar condescended to speak to the poor amateur writer of vernacular. But there he stopped. He sniffed that he did not have the time to waste on vernacular writings.  Poor Poonthanam was heart broken at the contemptuous treatment of his labour of love.

That night, Melpathoor’s rheumatism returned with a vengeance. As he groaned in desperate pain, a laughing Krishna, cute and sweet in his Bal avatar, appeared in his dream and told him amidst much home truths : Melpathoorinte vibkatiye kaliha Poonthanathin bhaktiyanennikishtam. ‘Hey, Melpathoor- compared to your Sanskritic grammar and vibhakti pratyayam, I prefer Poonthanam’s devotion to me.’

( Note : I have often wondered whether this anecdote was the satirical rebuttal of the vernacular writer towards their condescending brethren who wrote in upper-class Sanskrit language! While there were poets who wrote in pure Sanskrit, taking pains with the severe rules of structure and syntax, they were also those who – like stringing  beads of mani and pravala in a string-combined words of malayalam and sanskrit like pearls and rubies, to create a mixed language of creation. Then there were those like Poonthanam who wrote in the simplest of Malayalam language.)

Melpathoor sent a word to Poonthanam (He could not move!) and apologised profusely. He corrected the draft and Poonthanam was gratified. Melpathoor’s rheumatism disappeared as subtly as it came-having laughed at the human pettiness of considering one language superior to another.

Anyway, fools like me gain confidence due to such anecdotes. Hanumanji was going to help me in this journey across the word-sea. He knew what a dunce I was when it came to Hindi grammar. How I mix up my ka and ki in every sentence.I guess, Hanumanji, that great bhakt of Sree Ramji- Lord Narayana himself- took pity on me. In fifty days, he helped me sail across Sundar Kanda and blessed me with a sudden official tour to Chitrakoot, where Tulsidasji wrote his master piece.

My relation with God is very personal. He is friend and philosopher and possesses an  irrepressible sense of humour. He does not scare me. He is my best friend. Also, I prefer that He remains He. Though I love Him being Her too. Somehow, growing up with a mother who would say, ‘ My Krishna’ while she bowed before Devi herself, set the basic infrastructure of my devotional growth. It is very fluid, my family’s version of bhakti. You just call. He answers.

I do not have a dedication page for this book. But in my heart, it is for that divinity who exists beyond any narrow human perspective of language or culture, colour or religon, creed or country. The One who just loves us.

Blessed Be! Jai Hanuman Ji!

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Tarahim Bhav Sindhu Bina Jaljaan(50): You Can Cross The Worldly Ocean Without Any Other Means

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SreeRamCharit Manas’ Fifth Canto (Sopan)  named SundarKanda Ends:

The Ocean suggests a way

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Nadh Neel Nal kapi dvau bhai/ larikayim rishi aasish payi//

Tinh kem paras kiyem giri bhare/tarihahim jaladhy pratap tumhare//

The Ocean said-You have Neel and Nal, two monkey brothers with you, they have obtained a boon from an ascetic in their childhood

If they touch anything, even a mountain turns light, and with your blessings, will float on the waters of the ocean

(Note: Nal and Neel were the architects and engineers of the ancient bridge connecting Rameshwaram with Lanka. They were remarkably brilliant in their field as per folk lores)

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Mai puni ur dhari Prabhu prabhutai/karihavu bal anuman sahayi//

Ehi bidhi nadh payodhi bandhayiya/jehim yeh sujasu lok tihu gaayiya//

I will also keep Your Grace in my heart, and try to help as much as I can (  as per my capability in this task)

Hey Lord! Bind down the ocean( Build a bridge- setubandan) in such a manner that the three worlds sing praises of Your Glory!

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Ehim sir mam uttar tat baasy/hatahu nadh khal nar agh raasy//

Suni Kripal sagar mann peera/turatahim hari Ram randheera//

Please kill off the wicked clan of human beings who reside on my northern shores with Your arrow

Hearing the agony of the Ocean, the valorous and compassionate SreeRamji killed off the wicked ones  immediatly

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Dekhi Ram bal paurush bhary/harshy payonidhi bhayavu sukhari//

Sakal charit kahi prabhuhi sunava/charan bandi payodhi sidhava//

Seeing SreeRamji’s radiance and great strength, the Ocean was gratified and content,

He narrated the stories of those wicked ones to SreeRamji, then bowing before the Lord’s feet, the Ocean God returned to his abode

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Nij bhavan gavanevu sindhu SreeRaghupathihi yeh mat bhayavu/

Yeh charit kali malhar jadhamati das Tulsi gayavu//

Sukh bhavan sansay saman davan bishad Raghupathy guna gana/

Taji sakal aas bharos gaavahi sunahi santat sad mana//

The ocean returned to its abode, SreeRaghunathji liked his solution

This story removes all the sins accrued in Kali Yug, TulsiDas has sung it as per his wits ( according to his intelligence)

Sree Ramji  is an incarnation of all great qualities- He gives joy absolute, removes all doubts, and vanquishes all agonies

Hey Stupid Mind ! Let go of all worldy attachments and desires, (and instead of that) sing and listen to this great story

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Doha:

Sakal sumangal dayak Ragunayak gun gaan/

Sadar sunahim te tarahim bhav sindhu bina jaljaan//

Singing the praises of SreeRamji brings in all auspicious tidings

Those who listen to it with respect, will cross over the worldly ocean without resorting to any other means ( the Lord’s meditation acts as a safe-boat)

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Iti Sreemadramcharitmanase sakalakliklushvidhvamsane pancham sopanah samamtah/

The Fifth Canto ( Sundar Kanda) of SreeRamcharitmanas, which removes all the sins accrued in Kali Yug ends here.

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Personal Note: In these 50 blogs across two months, I have obtained  immense joy and peace; as I attempted  to understand the beautiful lines of Sundar Kanda of Goswami Tulsidasji’s great SreeRamcharitmanas.

May the compassionate Lord bless you all!

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Karaum So Begi Jo Tumhahi Sohayi (49):Whatever You Wish, I Shall Immediately Carry Out

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God of Ocean (Varuna) speaks to SreeRamji (Sundar Kanda continued)

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Sabhay sindhu gahi pad prabhu kere/cchamahu nadh sab avgun mere//

Gagan sameer anahl jal dhari/eenh kayi nadh sahaj jad karni//

The Ocean God( Varuna) caught hold of SreeRamji’s feet in fear and said- Lord! Please forgive  all my faults

The sky, air, fire, water and earth( panchbootha) are prone by nature to be indifferent in action ( not proactive)

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Tav prerit Mayam upjaye/srishti hetu sab grandhani gaye//

Prabhu ayasu jehi kah jas ahayi/so tehi bhaanti rahe sukh lahayi//

Due to your powers, Maya has created these elements for purposes of Creation- all the ancient texts say that,

Whatever be the nature assigned  by the Lord, the element stays  contentedly within its purview

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Prabhu bhal keenh mohi sikkh deenhi/marjada puni tumhari keenhi//

Dol gawar sudra pasu naary/sakal tadana ke adhikary//

Lord, you did the proper thing by punishing me, but the nature of things- that too has been designed by You!

The drum, the illiterate, the lowly evolved soul, the animal, the woman- they all get punished ( taught) due to their nature

(Note: One gets an insight into the socio cultural forces at work in ancient times- not much different from today-where patriarchy and lack of empathy with those marginalised existed in society)

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Prabhu pratap mai jaab sukhayi/utarihi kataku na mori badayi//

Prabhu agya apel shruti gaayi/karaum so begi jo tumhahi sohayi//

Due to your powers, I will dry up and the army will cross over- but that will be against the nature of the ocean( as an element of nature)

Yet Your command has to be obeyed, that is the decree from the Vedas, now whatever You may suggest, I shall immediately carry out!

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Doha:

Sunat bineet bachan ati kah kripal musukai/

Jehi bidhi utarai kapi kataku tat so kahu upayi//

Listening to the very humble words of the Ocean, the compassionate Raghunathji smiled and said-

Hey Son! Suggest a way that the army of monkeys can cross over you

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Bhay Binu Hoyi Na Preeti(48): Without Fear, There Is No Respect

 

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The Fury of Lord Ram(SundarKanda Continued)

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Doha:

Binay na manat jaladhi jad gaye teeni din beeti/

Bole Ram sakop tab bhay hoyi binu na preeti//

Three days went by, but the indifferent ocean did not heed the humility of SreeRamji

Then the Lord became furious and said- Without fear, there is no respect!(To make certain people obey, fear has to be instilled within them)

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Lacchiman baan sarasan aanu/Soshaum baridhi bisikh krisanu//

Sad sanu binay kutil san preety/sahaj kripan san sundar neeti//

Hey Laxman! Bring me my bow and arrows! I will dry up this ocean with the Agni baan (Fire Arrow)

Showing humility before a fool, showing grace to a wicked man, and  giving advice of generosity to a miser-

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Mamta rat san gyan kahani/ati lobhi san birathi bakhani//

Krodhihi sam kamihi Harikadha/usar beej baye bhal jadha//

Telling a moral story to a man engrossed in sensuous pleasures, describing the merits of detachment to an extremely greedy man, speaking peace with an infuriated man, telling about the Lord to a materialistic man-all these are equivalent to sowing seeds in barren soil ( all these are futile efforts)

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As kahi Raghupathy chhap chadava/yeh mat Lacchiman ke Mann bhava//

Sandhanevu Prabhu bisikh karala/udi udathi ur andar jwala//

Speaking thus, SreeRamji raised his bow,Laxman was in total agreement with this view

As the Lord took aim with his fearsome and mighty Fire Arrow, flames started emerging from within the heart of the ocean

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Magar urag shash gan akulane/jarat janthu jalnidhi jab jaane//

Kanak dhar bhari mani gan nana/bipra roop aayavu taji maana//

Crocodiles, serpents, fishes all became agitated, when the Ocean found its inhabitants burning

Filling a golden bag with precious stones, in the guise of a Brahmin, it approached SreeRamji

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Doha:

Katehim payi kadari farai koti jatan kovu seench/

Binay na maan khagos sunu datehim payi nav neech//

(Kaka Bushundi says-): Hey Garudji! Even if you try a crore solutions ,the bananas still  need to be cut to ripen properly

The wicked man will not listen to politeness, he will listen only on getting punished( the evil person agrees to  your terms only   when he is intimidated by fear)

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(Note: Reflecting on one’s own life, I realised how true SreeRamji’s words are: Sometimes one has to take up arms to defend and protect one’s own! Evil will not listen to grace or politeness- it understands only the language of fear! Wise counsel indeed.)

Ravan Kar Deejahu Yeh Paathy(45): Give This Missive To Ravan

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The spy’s story (Sundar Kanda Continued)

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Suni Lacchiman sab nikat bolaye/daya lagy hasi turat chodaye//

Ravan kar deejahu yeh pathy/Lacchiman bachan bacchu kulkhaty//

Hearing the spy’s words, Laxman called them all near himself, he felt great pity on the spy and immediately got him freed

(Then Laxman told him-) Give this letter to Ravan himself,( to his own hand and tell him-)Hey Clan-Destroyer! Be forewarned by Laxman’s message!

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Doha:

Kahehu mukhagar mood san mam sandesu udaar/

Sita deyi milhu na ta aava Kalu tumhaar//

Then  you should convey to that fool my  generous message verbally-

You better hand over Sitaji to SreeRamji and meet the Lord, else know that Your Kal( Death God) has arrived!

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Turat nayi Lacchiman pad madha/ chale doot barnat gun gadha//

Kahat Ram jasu Lanka aye/Ravan charan sees tinh naye//

After bowing at Laxman’s feet and singing glorious tales of SreeRamji’s qualities, the spy left immediately

Praising SreeRamji he arrived at Lanka, and went to Ravan and paid obeisance

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Bihasi Dasanan poochi baata/kahasi na suk aapani kuslaata//

Puni kahu khabari Bibheeshan keri/jaahi mrityu aayi ati neri//

Ravan laughed and queried-Hey Shuk! why are you not speaking of your well being?

Tell us about that Vibheeshan, whose death has come so close to him

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Karat raj Lanka sad tyagy/hoyihi jav kar keet abhagy//

Puni kahu bhalu kees katkayi/kadin kal prerit chali ayi//

That fool abdicated Lanka even when he was a part of the rulers, the unfortunate one will get crushed like a  seed of the barley plant (in the ensuing war)

Tell me about the army of bears and monkeys, brought herewith due to the push of impending death_

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Jinh ke jeevan kar rakhwara/bhayavu mridul chitt sindhu bichara//

Kahu tapasinh kai baat bahori/jinh ke hridayam traas ati mori//

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And whose protector is the gentle, and simple ocean itself ( Had the ocean not been there as a barrier, the Rakshasas would have eaten them up a long time ago)

And do tell me about those mendicants,  whose hearts are terror struck because of me!

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Daiv Daiv Aalasy Pukara(44): Only The Indolent Cries God, God!

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Laxman is annoyed (SundarKanda Continued)

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Sakha kahi tumh neeki upayi/karia daiv jaum hoyi sahayi//

Mantra na yeh Lacchiman mann bhava/Ram bachan suni ati dukh paava//

(Sree Ramji said)Hey Friend! You have given the right solution,let us do it, the God of ocean will help

But his brother Laxman did not like Vibheeshan’s advice,he felt saddened by SreeRamji’s reply

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Nadh daiv kar kavan bharosa/soshiya sindhu kariya mann rosa//

Kadar mann kahu ek adhaara/daiv daiv aalasy pukaara//

(Laxmanji said) Hey Lord! What is this reliance on the Gods? Bring  forth  your fury and burn the ocean down!

This ‘reliance on Gods’ is just an excuse for a cowardly mind, and only the lazy ones keep repeating God, God!

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Sunat bihasi bole Raghubeera /aisehim karab dharahu mann dheera//

As kahi Prabhu anujahi samucchayi/sindhu sameep gaye Raghurayi//

Listening to his brother, SreeRamji laughed and said-Yes, I will do like you suggest, be calm and confident

Consoling his brother, he left the place moving closer to the ocean

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Pradham pranam keenh siru nayi/baide puni tat darbh dasayi//

Jabahim Bibheeshanu Prabhu pahim aye/pacchem Ravan doot padaye//

SreeRamji first bowed before the ocean, then he spread out some grass(darbha) and sat down

Meanwhile, as  soon as Vibheeshan had left Lanka, Ravan had sent his spy to follow him

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Doha:

Sakal charit tinh dekhe dharem kapat kapi deh/

Prabhu gun hridayam sarahahim saranagat par neh//

The spy has assumed the form of a monkey and was watching all the leela(literally play)in front of him

In his heart he was praising the qualities of the Lord and His compassion for the one who sought refuge

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Pragat bakhanahim Ram subhavu/athi saprem gaa bisari duravu//

Ripu ke doot kapinh tab jaane/sakal bandhim kapees pahim aane//

Then he forgot his artificial form and in his true form, started praising SreeRamji openly

The monkeys recognised him as a spy and binding him up they took him to Sugreev

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Kah Sugreev sunanhu sab banar/ang bhang kari padavahu nisichar//

Suni Sugreev bachan kapi dhaye/baandhi katak chahu paas bhiraye//

Sugreev said- listen, monkeys! Cut the Rakshasa  into pieces and send him back

The monkeys raced to obey him, they tied the spy up and circled the army grounds with him

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Bahu prakar maran kapi laage/deen pukarat tadapi na tyaage //

Jo hamar har naasa kaana/tehi Kosaladhees kai aana//

The monkeys started torturing him in various ways, he kept crying out pathetically, but they did not spare him

(Then the spy cried out loudly-) The one who cuts off my nose and ears, may he be fragrant with the Name of SreeRamji, Raja of Kosala

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(Note: The spy took the name of the Lord, which has immediate effects!)

Jadapi Sakha Tav Iccha Nahim(42): Although, My Friend, You Have No Desire

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SreeRamji and Vibheeshan ( Sundar Kanda continued)

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Sagun upasak parhit nirat neeti drid nem/

Te nar praan saman jinh kem dwij pad prem//

Those who are devotees of  the Lord ( sakar roopi) full of good qualities, who  constantly work for the welfare of others, firm in FairPlay and justice

Who have love for good souls, those people are dear to me like lifebreath

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Sunu Lankes sakal gun torem/tatem tumh atisay priy morem//

Ram bachan suni banar joodha/sakal kahahim Jai kripa baroodha//

Hey Lord of Lanka! Listen, you have all the above attributes in you, and hence you are very dear to me

Hearing SreeRamji’s words the monkey army chanted joyously- May the Lord of Compassion be Victorious

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Sunat Bibheeshanu Prabhu ke baani/nahim aghath shravanamrit jaani//

Pad ambuj gahi barahim baara/hridayam samat na premu apaara//

Hearing the Lord’s words that showered like nectar in his ears, Vibheeshan was overwhelmed,

He fell at the lotus feet of the Lord again and again, his heart was  bubbling over with great love

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Sunahu Dev charachar swami/pranatpal ur andarjaamy//

Ur kacchu pradham baasana rahi/Prabhu pad preethi sarit so bahi//

(Vibheeshan Ji said) Hey Lord! Master of the Universe!Hey Protector of the refugees!The omniscient one who knows what transpires within everyone’s hearts!

I had some desires within me which have flown away in the river of Your kindness

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Ab kripal nij bhagaty paavani/dehu sada siv mann bhaavani//

Evamastu kahi Prabhu randheera/magaa turat sindhu kar neera//

Now, My Lord! Please grant me unflinching devotion to You, which is so beloved to Lord Shiv’s heart

Evamastu-Let it be so, said SreeRamji and asked for the water from the ocean

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Jadapi sakha tav iccha nahim/mor darasu amogh jag mahim//

As kahi Ram tilak tehi saara/suman brishti nabh bhayi apaara//

(The Lord said-) Although my friend, you have no wish for it,  getting to see me in this world, will not go fruitless

Saying that, SreeRamji did Rajtilak ( did the ceremony of anointing Vibheeshan as King), flowers were showered from the skies in great numbers

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Doha:

Ravan krodh anahl nij swas sameer prachand/

Jarat Bibheeshanu rakhevu deenhevu raju akhand//

Vibheeshan, whose breath( spoken words) had the effect of  a wild wind that made the fire of Ravan’s fury burn madly,

Was saved by SreeRamji, who gifted him an undivided kingdom(Lanka)

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