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Exemplary devotee

CHENNAI: : Among the foremost devotees of the Lord in His incarnation as Rama, Hanuman has a unique status. He becomes the central figure in the canto named after him, the Sundara kanda, as the Lord's envoy to search for the Divine Mother, Sita, in Lanka. His inimitable traits like his physical prowess for undertaking the arduous journey to the enemy's land and his acumen for executing the task successfully came to the fore when he was unanimously chosen for the mission.

In their discourse, Damal Sri Ramakrishnan and Srimathi Perundevi said Hanuman's singular qualities of head and heart enabled him to bring about the union of Rama and Sita. This union is termed as `marriage of the soul' in the spiritual tradition. Sage Viswamitra who arrived at Dasaratha's court with the pretext of seeking Rama for protecting his sacrifice actually desired to bring about the marriage of Rama and Sita, which he accomplished. This was a marriage brought about with the intention of upholding Dharma in the world for which the Lord had incarnated with His consort.

The separation of Sita from Rama signifies the soul getting entrapped in worldly bondage and the ensuing suffering as a result. When Hanuman took leave of Rama, the Lord entrusted him with His signet ring so that Sita would be convinced that he was His messenger. She acknowledged with tears of joy on beholding it and in return sent Her `Choodamani', an ornament worn on the head. This exchange of jewels also has a deeper symbolism highlighting the dynamics of the doctrine of Self-surrender (Prapatti, Saranagati). The ring being a jewel worn on the hand symbolises the Lord's promise to offer protection to the soul in distress when it surrenders to Him. The Choodamani signifies supplication at the Lord's feet (when the devotee bows down his head touches His feet); thus two basic conditions for Saranagati to be effective are highlighted.

As for Hanuman he donned the role of the preceptor who brings about the union of the soul with the Lord. The Ramayana is thus hailed as a scriptural authority for the concept of Prapatti in Srivaishnava theology, Vibhishana's surrender being the paradigmatic instance of Saranagati. Another exclusivity of this canto is the retelling of the events in this section within this canto itself by Hanuman to Rama..

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