The enchanting Hazara Rama Temple


By Sharon St Joan


In 1565, invaders poured into the magnificent city of Hampi, one of the largest cities in the world at that time, leveling many of the buildings and much of the artwork, and slaughtering nearly all the city’s residents.


Located in the southern state of Karnataka, in India, the Hazara Rama Temple is one of the most remarkable temples of this ancient city. Inside are black polished stone columns, exquisitely carved. At the city’s final hour, as the marauding armies drew near the city gates, some of the temple devotees were thinking only of protecting the temple’s central icons.


*2four columnsDSC00522


During the destruction of Hampi, many sculptures all over the city, icons that were worshipped and revered, were violently smashed and broken. Some fragments lay on the ground for hundreds of years afterwards, with no way of restoring them.


If one looks closely at the floor of the temple interior of the Hazara Rama Temple, one can see four empty rectangles where today nothing stands, yet clearly sculptures once stood there. Apparently, as the armies approached, some worshippers, with the help of others – no one knows who – were able to spirit away four of the key temple icons – Rama, Laksmana, Sita, and Hanuman – before the invaders broke through the gates. The unknown devotees who, out of love for the Gods they worshipped, moved them in the dark of night, must have buried them in an unknown location, intending to return later to restore them to the temple. It seems they were never able to return. Thanks to their brave act of devotion, the icons, which have never been found, rest in peace and were spared from being broken.


The outside walls of the temple remained intact and are lined with thousands of panels, beautifully sculpted, that tell the story of the Ramayana – one of the two great epic poems of India. The Ramayana is very long – several books, but in a nutshell the story is this: The ancient god-king Rama is looking for his wife, Sita, who has been kidnapped by the demon-king of Lanka (today’s Sri Lanka). Rama is distraught, not knowing what to do or where to look for his beloved Sita. In the forest of Kishkinda, he meets the monkey god, Hanuman – a magical being who becomes known for his undying loyalty and devotion to Rama and Sita. Hanuman brings light and positivity into a desperate situation; he travels with Rama to help find Sita, and time after time against impossible odds, he finds a way to overcome all the obstacles that block their way – building a bridge across the sea, transporting a whole mountain top on which healing herbs are growing, finding and communicating with the missing Sita, and then selflessly allowing Rama himself to rescue her. Hanuman brings the gift of life with his innocence, devotion, and magical abilities.


*3elephant etcDSC00517


Just across the river from the ruined city of Hampi, which is now a World Heritage Center, lies the wilderness of rocks and forests where Hanuman was born and where he spent his early life. This whole area was the forest of Kishkinda, many thousands of years before Hampi was built in the fourteenth century.


All around the outside walls of the Hazara Rama Temple run the enchanting panels that depict, with immense charm, the story of Rama’s and Hanuman’s journey to find the lost Sita. While travelers flock to this spectacular late medieval city, it is Hanuman’s story and Hanuman’s presence that provide the backdrop for the city of Hampi.




The wonderfully sculpted panels of the temple portray the events of the story. Hanuman is engaging and clever. He always finds a way where there seems not to be one. When he has no idea at all what he can do, or how he can help, he never gives up, and then an inspiration will come into his head. Sometimes he acts impulsively, without much advance planning. At the moment when he locates the cave where the kidnapped Sita is being kept, it dawns on him that he has never actually met Sita, and that naturally, not knowing who he is, she may be afraid of him. So, with his magical powers, he reduces his height, becoming very small and unthreatening, speaking very gently to her – appearing to be just a little forest monkey who would not harm anyone. Rama has also given Hanuman his signet ring as a token to give to Sita so that she will know that he has been sent by her husband Rama. That helps too.


Hanuman has been sent by Rama to find Sita because, being a magical creature, he can fly through the air – something the human being, Rama, cannot do. Rama cannot traverse the several miles of ocean that lie between India and Sri Lanka. Later, when the bridge has been built across the sea by Hanuman’s friends, the army of monkeys, then Rama also can cross the sea to Sri Lanka.


Hanuman is intensely charming because, in his innocence, he does not recognize his own strength and his own powers. It is only when he is reminded by someone else that he becomes aware that he can do amazing tasks, such as getting his monkey and bear friends to build a bridge across the ocean, that he can fly, or grow smaller or taller, or pick up a mountain and carry it thousands of miles – that he has the powers and the ability to find and restore to Rama, his lost wife Sita.


*5one black columnDSC00521


But there is something else very captivating and charming – and that is the intense devotion to Hanuman of the sculptors and temple builders who created these beautiful evocative images of Hanuman – and the reverence of the many thousands of worshippers who come here to see this re-creation of the life of Hanuman and the story of Rama and Sita.


It is with great love and faithfulness that artists carved the wonderful lifelike images of Hanuman and all the other beings in the story. It is with profound reverence that they brought the images to life.


An uncomprehending eye might say that after all, this is just the story of a flying, talking monkey – something like a child’s story from thousands of years ago – about a forest animal that travels through the air — what could be its relevance today?


But the devotees from all over India and from farther away who visit these beautiful images do not see it that way. Instead they are caught up in the magic of this heroic presence, Hanuman – always faithful, always innocent, ever brave, and endowed with the magical gifts needed to bring light, life, and a happy ending to this ancient tale. It is a story of profound loyalty and a beautiful heroic spirit – a story always relevant to all times and all places.


Thank you to Dr. Nanditha Krishna for her profound insights into the character of Hanuman.


Photos: Sharon St Joan

Top photo: Hanuman on the right, and, above, giving the ring to Sita.

Second photo: The temple interior.

Third photo: More scenes from the Ramayana.

Fourth photo: A winged being.

Fifth photo: A black polished column and a visitor to the temple.


© Sharon St Joan, 2017

Rain of spring


By Sharon St Joan


Now fire licks


At the fainting feet


Of the demon-thieves,


While on the far hill


In the rain


Of spring, the rough-barked cedars


Stretch out their laughing leaves.


Hanuman, now is the time to lay waste


The cities of pain


Born on the plains of deception.


Fly through the night


With your tail that flicks


Cinders, sparks of the setting sun.


Dry up the dark


Path of the cracked, lamenting bones.


Burn up the pits of Ravana, smoldering long


Where the wan-faced, wailing meet


To cower and hide.


Hanuman, hasten at dawn, ride


On the clear ringing winds


Of Vayu, that free the cliffs and sands


From dust and choking must,


That impel the bright-winged forests


To flower


Again in the morning mists,


While only the pure song


Of the meadowlark


Sings to the musical waters


That spill


Down the granite stones


In the rainbowed ark


Of light.


Photo: Rashed-Al-Qayum / © the raqs / Wikimedia Commons / This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Rashed-Al-Qayum at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide. / Madhabkunda Water-Fall, Maulvibazar, Bangladesh.


Written March 11, 2016.


© 2016, Sharon St Joan









March 11, 2016

The forests of the Ramayana


In the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, when Laksmana, the brother of the hero Rama is lying unconscious on the battlefield and all seems lost, their loyal friend, the divine monkey, Hanuman, flies through the air all the way from Sri Lanka to the Himalayas to bring life-saving herbs back to the herbal doctor who can use them to heal Laksmana. In fact, it turns out that Hanuman has to bring back the entire mountain on which the herbs are growing because when he arrives in the Himalayas, he realizes that he doesn’t know the difference between one herbal plant and the next, so he can’t just pick out the right ones. All ends well, fortunately, and when Hanuman returns to Sri Lanka, the herbal doctor is able to use the right herbs from the transported mountain to revive Laksmana from the brink of death and restore him to good health once again.

The world of plants

The world of plants is central to the Ramayana, and though this long poem of several books was written thousands of years ago, the trees and plants depicted in this amazing epic, are geographically accurate, and even today, the plants that are described are found growing in the exact locations all over India where Valmiki, author of the Ramayana, has placed them. It is all geographically and botanically correct.

Mr. M. Amerthalingam, botanist with the C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre, Chennai, presented the paper, “Plant Diversity in the Valmiki Ramayana” at the February 2013 Conference on The Ramayana in Literature, Society, and the Arts. The proceedings have recently been published.

He highlights the extraordinary range of the plant life of India at the time and notes the precise descriptions each of the 182 different plants mentioned in the Ramayana.

The Ramayana as historical reality

Fewer and fewer people these days see the Ramayana, one of the two great epics of India, as a work of mythology or fiction. Indeed, it has never been viewed as anything other than history in India. Only western scholars have had difficulty accepting the basic historical reality of Rama, Sita, and the events of their lives. It is true enough that there are poetic aspects to the story – and whether or not Hanuman really flew through the air or not may be questionable, but that Rama and Sita did really live and that the major events of their lives are true is accepted as fact.

The dates when they lived are the subject of much scholarly speculation, but possibly they lived around 3,000 BCE, or maybe earlier, or maybe later.

Mr. Amerthalingam has compiled a list of all the plants described in the Ramayana. In his travels to rescue his wife Sita, who had been abducted, the hero Rama traveled from Ayodhya in the north of India to Lanka (Sri Lanka) in the south. On his way, Rama journeyed through numerous forests, each was unique, and remarkably, each account is true to the actual plant life which is native to that forest.


In the beginning of the epic, in Chitrakoot forest where Rama and Sita spent time in exile, there were many beautiful flowering trees; mango and jackfruit; there were neem and bamboo, and a host of other trees, all of which are found in that area today and which are described very precisely.

In the Dandakaranya forest, there were tall trees and trees bearing fruit.

The Panchavati forest, from where Sita was abducted, lies on the banks of the River Godavari.

In Sri Lanka, there were evergreen forests – these are not the kind of evergreens one might think of in the west, like spruce, pine, and fir trees – they were the evergreens in India and Sri Lanka which remained green year round, like the ashoka tree, a rain forest tree with lovely red flowers.

In what is today the Bellary district of the state of Karnataka, Rama met Hanuman and Sugriva, two leaders of the monkey people who, throughout the epic poem, provided invaluable assistance to Rama in his search for the lost Sita. Without Hanuman’s help, it is hard to see how Rama could have rescued Sita.

They spent some time there in the forest, near the Pampa sarovar (lake) among a great wealth of trees and plants – both moist and dry deciduous plants. There were rose-apples, banyan trees, jackfruit, peepal, and mango trees, sandalwood, ashoka, and kadamba. There were lotuses, lilies, wild cherries, and jasmine, and around thirty more species, all mentioned by name.


Medicinal herbs in the Ramayana

In the story mentioned above, during a huge battle that took place between the forces of Rama and the demon king Ravana, when Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, was lying unconscious on the battlefield, the doctor Sushena asked Hanuman to fly to the Himalayas. Hanuman set off, flying through the air over the snow-covered terrain until he reached the Dronagiri Mountain. After Hanuman had picked up the entire mountain and flown back with it, Sushena was able to identify the four herbs that were required; Mrita sanjeevani (which brings the dead back to life), Vishalyakarani (which cures all wounds caused by weapons), Suvarnakarani which restores the body), and Sandhani (which joins severed limbs and fractured bones). Thanks to the herbal knowledge of Sushena and the strength and heroism of Hanuman, Lakshmana sprang back to life and was ready to fight again.

The entire Ramayana is filled with beautiful and very accurate accounts of plants. On the island of Lanka, it was forbidden to cut down trees. Although the demon king Ravana was a criminal, guilty of abducting Sita, he did always show a sincere appreciation for trees. In his country, planting trees was considered a very praiseworthy activity. It was believed that a wood cutter and his family would suffer death and destruction as a karmic consequence of harming trees. Trees were worshipped in Lanka and throughout India, as they still are today.

It is clear from the detailed and abundant descriptions of the 182 plants that the Ramayana could only have been written in India, and that the author, Valmiki, was writing botanically correct information. He was also absolutely familiar with the medical uses of the plants.


Listening to the natural world

Keenly aware of plants, Valmiki knew them exceptionally well. Today so many of us are unaware of plants; we brush them aside into the background, not listening to what they have to say and unaware of the souls of the living world around us. Only by once again revering the world of trees and plants can we reawaken our consciousness to the natural world, so that the earth may be restored and renewed.

Thanks to Mr. M. Amerthalingam for his amazing knowledge of these trees and plants and for bringing them to life for us.

The Proceedings of the Conference on The Ramayana in Literature, Society, and the Arts, February 1-2, 2013 has been published by C.P.R. Publications, C.P.R. Institute of Indological Research Chennai. To visit their website, click here.

To find the book, Sacred Plants of India by Nanditha Krishna and M. Amerthalingam, on Amazon, click here.

Top photo: Photographer: Eric Guinther / permission: GNU / Wikimedia Commons / “Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2…” / Leaves of the peepal tree.

Second photo: Photographer: J.M. Garg / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.” / Leaves of the neem tree.

Third photo: Author: ProjectManhattan / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / The jackfruit tree.

Fourth photo: Original uploader was Indiancorrector at en.wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons / “This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Indiancorrector at the wikipedia project. This applies worldwide.” / Kishkindha, the kingdom of the monkey people in the Ramayana, view from atop Aanjaneya Parvat, near Hampi, in Karnataka.

© 2014, Sharon St Joan

Rama encounters Varuna, God of the sea

the shore of rameshwaramIMG_7508


A passage retold from the Ramayana, by Valmiki


In despair, Rama looked out over the sea.


The day was beautiful, filled with sunlight, and gentle waves rolled onto the shore, with their white froth. Herons, pelicans and cormorants fished in the waves, elegant, standing on one foot or walking with long strides through the shallow waters. In the waves little white shells, empty and incredibly delicate, rolled up onto the yellow sands.


Rama looked out over the vast, vast sea, which seemed to him vaster than any sea had ever been, and there was no way to cross it.


He stood on the shores of the island now called Rameswaram, and looked across to where the kingdom of Lanka (now known as Sri Lanka) lay, encircled by the sea, thirty miles (fifty kilometers) away. A few months before, the demon-king of Lanka, Ravana, had stolen Rama’s wife Sita, kidnapping her at a moment when Rama and his brother were off in the forest, and she was alone. She had been spirited away in the airship of Ravana and now was held captive somewhere in the island country of Lanka.


It had taken Rama a long time and much effort to find out where Sita was, to discover who had captured her, and then to journey here, with his faithful brother Lakshmana at his side. And now there was no way to cross the sea.


For three days, on the shores of the sea, Rama fasted and meditated, praying to the God of the sea, Varuna, to appear and to help him find a way to cross to Lanka.


Rama prayed and meditated, and the waves washed along the shore, but there was no reply from Varuna. There was no response, nothing but the endless, repetitive sound of the waves.


On the morning of the fourth day, Rama stood up, enraged at his misfortune and this most unfair obstacle that stood in his way; he shouted at Varuna, the God of the sea, demanding that he appear at once. His voice echoed over the water, “Varuna! Varuna!” The God Varuna was probably none too pleased to be spoken to in this way, and he did not answer.


Rama, infuriated by this unbearable silence picked up his bow and began to shoot arrows into the sea. These were no ordinary arrows, and Rama was no ordinary hero. Years before he had been taught the secrets of celestial weapons by his teacher, Vishwamitra, and now he unleashed weapons with the power of supernatural force. The creatures of the sea began to die, and the waters began to burn.


The army of monkeys who had come to Rama’s aid and had traveled with him in the quest for Sita stood not far off, aghast and alarmed at this display of violence against the sea and her innocent creatures. Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, entreated him to stop this senseless onslaught.


Just as Rama was about to unleash the cosmic force of the all-powerful weapon, the Brahmastra, which might have destroyed all of creation, Varuna appeared out of the waves.




He bowed to Rama, who was, in fact, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, and calmly explained that there was nothing to be so upset about, that he would ensure that the waves would remain still while a way was found for Rama’s forces to cross the sea, and that they would remain calm until they had completed their crossing.


Then, Hanuman, the Monkey God, the ever devoted and loyal friend of Rama, as he did time and again throughout the long adventure, came up with a solution. There was nothing to worry about. Yes, the sea seemed vast, but the army of monkeys would build a bridge from Rameshwaram to Lanka. The dilemma would be easily solved, and the sea could be crossed.


The monkey army set to work, and after a time, the bridge (which still exists today) stretched all the way from Rameshwaram to Lanka, enabling Rama with his armies of monkeys and bears to cross to Lanka.


More to follow…



Top photo: Sharon St Joan / The shore of Rameshwaram


Second photo: Painting by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906)./ Wikimedia Commons/ “This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.” / “Varuna the Lord of ocean, pacifying Sri Rama, angered at the intransigence of the sea to give way to enter Lanka.”


© Sharon St Joan, 2014

Chennai, India: Ramayana Festival in February


By the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation


A Festival organized by                                                       

The C.P. RAMASWAMI AIYAR FOUNDATION 1, Eldams Road, AlwarpetChennai 600 018, India.www.cprfoundation.orgTel.: 91-44-2431778, 24337023e-mail:



The C.P. RAMASWAMI AIYAR FOUNDATION is celebrating the role of the great epic in the culture of India and South-East Asia.

The Ramayana is a great epic which knows no boundaries of religion or nation. It has taught the values of life and behaviour to men and women over centuries, across India and South-East Asia. There is no finer example in the world of a multi-religious, international culture than the Ramayana. Scores of generations of children have watched performances and narrations of the great epic over 2,000 years, to learn the importance of an ethical life. This has been the cornerstone of the life of India and South-East Asia. Many kings in these countries have taken the name of Rama, cities and islands have been named after persons and places in the epic and symbols of Vishnu (whose incarnation is Rama) have been royal emblems across the region.

The story of the Ramayana is enacted more often than any other story of the world. It is performed by Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. It is the most important cultural tradition of Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and India. It has also been widely prevalent in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Ramayana is the great bond of culture which unites India and the countries of South East Asia.


                                                     Dr. SUBRAMANIAMSWAMY presides.

Release of the following publications:

1 VALMIKI RAMAYANA by late Justice N. Chandrasekhara Aiyer.

THESETU AND RAMESHWARAM by late Shri N.Vanamamalai Pillai.




FEBRUARY 1 to 24  –              Exhibition of the RAMAYANA in PAINTING, SCULPTURE

                                                and POPULAR CULTURE

                                                organised by C.P. ART CENTRE                                                                


The Ramayana as it has been created in early 20th century oleographs, miniature and folk painting, bronzes, terracotta and popular toys will be on display. A map of India with Rama’s  route from Ayodhya to Lanka and scenes of the various events that took place in each site will be depicted by clay toys.

There will be performances of the RAMAYANA in HARIKATHA, MUSIC and DANCE during this period. The final programme will be posted later.

FEBRUARY 1 and 2  –   International Conference on the RAMAYANA in LITERATURE, SOCIETY and the ARTS organised by C. P. R. INSTITUTE OF INDOLOGICAL RESEARCH.

All conference participants should be registered. While there is no participation fee, we are limiting the number of participants, so please register as soon as possible.



SPEAKERS (in alphabetical order)  

1.    Tracing the Antiquity of the Ramayana – Through the Inscriptions, literature and 

       Art of the Gupta …..Dr. Ashvini Agarwal

2.    Plant Diversity in the Valmiki Ramayana…..M. Amirthalingam and Dr. P. Sudhakar

3.    The Influence of Ramayana on Kalidasa…..Dr. S. Annapurna

4.    Ethical Values of Ramayana…..Dr. V. Balambal

5.    Time-honored Depictions of Ramayana in Vidarbha (Maharashtra) during Vakatakas…..Kanchana Bhaisare, B.C. Deotare and P.S. Joshi

6.    Highlights from the Chronology of Ayodhya…..Nicole Elfi and Michel Danino

7.    Temples in and around Thanjavur District, in Tamil Nadu connected with Ramayana…..Dr. S. Gayathri

8.    The Historical Rama…..Dr. D.K. Hari and D.K. Hema Hari

9.    Historicity of Rawana and Trails of Rama – Seetha in Srilanka…..Devmi Jayasinghe

10.  Women in Ramayana – Portrayals, Understandings, Interpretations and Relevance…..Dr. Prema Kasturi

11.  Telling or Showing? Ramayana in Graphic Novels…..Aarttee Kaul Dhar

12.  Historicity of Ramayana on the leads of Plato’s Timaeus and Critias and Valmiki’s Ramayana…..N.C.K. Kiriella

13.  Rama Temples in South India…..Dr. Chithra Madhavan

14.  Epic retold – Ramayana influencing English graphic novels for children in India over the years…..Dr. Lopamudra Maitra

15.  Chudamani – The crest jewel of Sita and its Symbolism in the Ramayana…..Dr. Soumya Manjunath Chavan

16.  Bhratru Bhava in Ramayana – A Critique (Bonding Relationship of Brotherhood in Ramayana)…..Dr. V. Mohan

17.  Ramayana as a source for Yogic concepts…..R. Muthulakshmi

18.  A few important Pahari Ramayana Drawings and Painting from the Seth Kasturbhai Lalbhai        Collection…..Dr. Indubala J. Nahakpam

19.  Textual and Contextual Dynamism in RamayanaSculptures…..Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal

20.  The depiction of Rani Kaikeyi in the Ramacharitamanasa…..Dr. Haripriya Rangarajan

21.  Dream Motif – Ramayana Inheritance…..Dr. Ramadevi Sekhar

22.  Valmiki and many Ramayanas…..Tilak Shankar

23. Sri Ram Temple at Ayodhya…..Dr. A. K. Sharma

24.  Re – Telling Ramayana: Performing Women in Ramlila of Ramnagar…..Dr. Anita Singh

25.  The Ramayana as the Inexhaustible Site of Cultural Contexts…..Dr. Avadhesh Kumar Singh

26.  Glimpses of Ramayana in the Hymns of Saiva Saints of Tamilnadu…..Dr. Bala Sivakadadcham

27.  Iconographic trends in Rama worship: Insights from techno – cultural studies of  bronzes…..Dr. Sharada Srinivasan

28.  The Art of Administration as depicted in Valmiki Ramayana…..Dr. R. Subasri

29.  The Didactic Representation of the Characters of Ramayana in Sanskrit Literary Tradition…..P.P. Sudarsan

30.  Ramayana and Bhattikavya…..Dr. Sita Sundar Ram

31.  Ramayana and the works of Mahamahopadhyaya Sri Lakshmana Suri…..Dr. Uma Maheshwari

32.  Characterization of Sri Rama in Mandodari Chatusloki……Dr. M. Varadarajan

33.  Plight of Sita in Chudamani Episode – A Study…..S. Kumuda Varadarajan

34.  Ramanayana panel sculptures from Tiruchenampoondi, Pullamangai and other early Chola temples in Tamil Nadu…..Dr. S. Vasanthi

35.  Axioms as idioms and proverbs – Ramayana’s influence on society…..K. Vidyuta

36.  Uttarakhand in Avani: Sita’s life in exile and the Cholas’ religious policy in the aftermath        of the Govindaraja Controversy (1186 – 1279)…..Dr. Usha R. Vijailakshmi

37.  Ramayana Musical Compositions……Dr. V. Yamuna Devi 

For further information, please write to the above e-mail / postal addresses.Or call G. Balaji: +91-94441 54939 or Malathy Narasimhan: +91- 97100 49639

Please visit our website:

Top image: Author: Raja Ravi Press / Source:  / Wikimedia Commons / The lord Rama portrayed as exile in the forest, accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana /

Second image: Wikimedia Commons: “This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.” / Valmiki composing the Ramayana /

Third image: Artist: Raja Ravi Varma / Varuna the Lord of ocean, pacifying Sri Rama, who stands on the shore, angered at the intransigence of the sea. / Wikimedia Commons: “This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.” 

Fourth image: Artist: Raja Ravi Varma / Wikimedia Commons: “This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.” / Hanuman

Hanuman, son of the wind



Son of the wind,




Sent to free


Entangled innocence from rusted snares,


From the bitter clawhold of Ravana,


To guide the gold-winged butterfly,


The shy, dawn-eyed doe,


The nagalinga tree


Of skylit flower,


The brave host of bears


On the oak-hallowed hill,


The bright-songed messengers, in flight,


The belled, meandering cow,


The redwoods of ancient girth,


The moon-






Of silver gill,


Out from the chasms of desolation


Of a world gone awry


Back to the far, far


Reaches of the beginning – before ever time arose


Back to the shining lake of the mountain height


Hidden unseen in the green land of the star


Where mists of joy run


Like horses on the white river, wide,


Where the spring cactus unfolds gold and red.


A day to bring the innocent out, away


In the boat of the canted bow


That fled


Across the storm-bent sea


In the gale-churned hour.


Do you remember your flaming brand


And the fire that went up to swallow


The iron-souled city of Lanka?




Savior of the innocent, hero-son


Of earth and star,


There  –  hear the call of the raven chime


From the canyon of  ill-kept time.






Son of the wind,


Breath of the earth.


Written April 3, 2012


Photo: © Sekernas | / Langur monkey




Close Encounters with the Monkeys of the Sacred Forest

Article and photos by Bama, reposted with permission, from What an Amazing World!

It's finger lickin' good

Hinduism in Bali is world-away from the one in India. In Bali, the balance of the nature is one of the main principles in life. That explains why many Balinese traditions are heavily influenced with animism which emphasizes the respect to the nature and the creatures that dwell in it. One of the creatures which enjoy a rather special treatment from Balinese people is the gray long-tailed macaques who live in almost every forest in Bali. The story of Ramayana also helps to keep their population healthy because it is said that when Ravana kidnapped Sita, monkey soldiers led by Hanuman fought against the king of Lanka to rescue Sita.

Taking a nap

Heading to northeastern part of Bali, I made a stop at one of Bali’s most well-known sacred forests in Ubud where monkeys dwell freely and fed properly. Unlike the ones in Uluwatu who often steal things from people, monkeys in Ubud behave much more nicely towards visitors. We can watch them very closely without having to worry that they might grab any of our belongings. Under the lush green canopy of the forest, they play around, show affection to each other, eat fruits and leaves, sleep and even fight while us, humans, watch them and giggle every time they do something funny.

A small river inside the forest

Like other places in Bali, there is of course a temple inside the forest. As expected, the temple is adorned with many monkey statues and also the statue of Hanuman. However, like most temples in Bali, the temple at the monkey forest is closed for the public because it is considered as a holy place. Nevertheless this place is worth a visit when you are in Bali, whether you are a monkey lover or not.

One thing that we can learn from this place is that humans can choose to live peacefully side by side with animals by respecting their needs. We are here on earth not to destroy what’s in it. But we are responsible to keep the planet a humane place for all creatures.

To view the original posting on the blog “What an amazing world!”, click here.