Sunderkand forms a part of seven kands or sections of the 'Ram Charit Manas' written by Goswami Tulsidasji. It is a saga of Hanuman's total surrender to Rama, his supreme master. Devotees recite the Sunderkand as a prayer to Hanuman, the Monkey God.
The Ashok Vatika
The Trikutachal Mountains in Sri Lanka have three ranges. The country folk stay in the Neel Range while the Suvel Range is a vast plateau. Since the Ashok Vatika where Sita was imprisoned by Ravana is located in the Sundar Range this section is named Sunderkand.
Sunderkand commences with the departure of Hanuman for Lanka in search of Sita and ends with Rama ready to cross the ocean in order to liberate Sita.It is symbolic of the battle between good and evil.
Sunderkand presents Rama as Maryada Purushottam or the perfect man and stresses on chanting the name of Rama which brings purity of heart, peace and righteousness plus energy. Who is Rama? Vibhisan says that Rama is not the son of Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya. He in reality is the Lord of Time, Space and Causation. He is the one without attributes, the unborn, the First Cause and the eternal. (39/1)
Hanuman, an aspirant of self-realization, crosses the ocean of life’s ordeals to discover Sita, an icon of perfect virtue and beauty. Devotion is essential in the perennial quest of mankind for a divine and transcendental love in the Sunderkand.
Hanumanji symbolises the perfect devotee in this section.
Reciting the Sundarkand confers moksha on devotees as it depicts the process of liberation.The ocean of sansara and the finding of Sita by Hanuman is a paradigm of the seeker for ultimate reality. The aspirant's struggle for self-realisation is reflected in Hanuman’s facing obstacles on his way to Lanka and Sita’s efforts to unite with the Supreme Spirit represented by Rama.
Human mind has often been linked to a monkey because of its wavering nature. The innate powers of Hanuman could not be revealed under Sugreeva and only when he came in contact with Rama was he acclaimed as a Monkey-God.
Shri Hanuman Setting Fire to Lanka
Sunderkand describes the picturesque and prosperous Lanka in all its glory. Hanuman initially views it from a mountain- top and finds it is surrounded by the oceans from all sides.Even Lanka’s burning is described as a beautiful act, destroying evil.
Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati are watching the entire sequence of Sundarkand with their dialogue forming the core of this episode’s teachings. Lord Shiva affirms that those who chant Rama’s name in speech, thought and action will be free of grief for all times to come.
In Sunderkand, every thing ends beautifully on a positive note. Hanuman finds out the whereabouts of Sita and her rescue is assured. Mandodari in Ravana’s palace advises him on correct behaviour.Vibheeshana is liberated from evil surroundings and accepted in Rama’s camp. Rama is ready to enter Lanka for liberating Sita as he learns the secret of crossing the sea from the Sea God.
Religiously reciting the Sunderkand gives us strength to boldly face calamities on the temporal plane. Goswami Tulsidasji concludes the section by confirming that those who listen to the kand with reverence are empowered to cross the ocean of worldly existence.