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AFAIK, Valmiki as the writer of Ramayana, is describing the events of Ramayana exactly as the characters themselves perceive and experience those events. So he doesn't add anything more or anything less when he puts into words the thoughts, feelings or actions of those characters.

Given that, when Hanuma starts searching for Sita in Lanka and sees Ravana's wife Mandodari in Ravana's palace from a distance, he mistakes her for Sita because he's never seen Mandodari or Sita before.

And it doesn't appear that Hanuma was told about Ravana or his family by any vanara or rishi. Yet the translator of the following shlokha (51-52, Sarga 10, Sundara Kanda) says Hanuma actually saw Mandodari, in that, he actually knew her name. The original Sanskrit shlokha however only seems to be describing a feature, मन्द उदरीम् (manda udariim = soft-bellied), of the most prominent lady that Hanuma saw in Ravana's palace.

मुक्ता मणि समायुक्तैर् भूषणैः सुविभूषिताम् |
विभूषयन्तीम् इव च स्व श्रिया भवन उत्तमम् || ५-१०-५१

गौरीम् कनक वर्ण आभाम् इष्टाम् अन्तः पुर ईश्वरीम् |
कपिर् मन्द उदरीम् तत्र शयानाम् चारु रूपिणीम् || ५-१०-५२

51;52. kapiH = Hanuma; mandodariim = (saw) Mandodari; charuruupiNiim = with a beautiful form; muktaamaNisamaamuktaiH = together with diamonds and pearls; suvibhuushhitaam well decorated; bhuushhaNaiH = by jewellery; svashriya = and with her self radiance; vibhuushhayantiimiva = as though decorating bhavanottamam = that great building; gauriim = with a fair complexion; kanakavarNaabhaam = and with a radiance like golden colour; ishhTaam = who was dear to her husband; antaHpureshvariim = the lady of the women in that gynaeceum; shayaanaam = sleeping; tatra = there.

Hanuma saw Mandodari with a beautiful form together with diamonds and pearls, well decorated by jewellery and with her self radiance as though decorating that great building with a fair complexion and with a radiance like golden colour, who was dear to her husband the lady of women in that gynaeceum sleeping there. [Shlokha 51-52, Sarga 10, Sundara Kanda]


Questions:

  1. So does Hanuma really know the name of Ravana's wife as "Mandodari" when he sees her for the first time? If not, is it a mere coincidence that Hanuma spots the predominant feature of Mandodari, which is her soft belly, which also happens to be the reason behind her name?

  2. Is there a better translation of the above shlokha anywhere online that shows the correct meaning of those two words मन्द उदरीम् (manda udariim)?

  3. Also, given that Hanuma hasn't spoken to very many people other than Sita during his search for her, can we assume that, throughout Sundara Kanda, Valmiki is only describing every new character that Hanuma encounters only by their features, but doesn't really refer to them by name in his shlokhas?

  • I think you're overthinking things. Valmiki's narration isn't third person-limited, it's third person-omniscient. Valmiki describes events as they are, not just the feelings and perspections of the people involved. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 20 '16 at 4:40
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Ok. Yes, I could be overthinking it. Let me research a little more on Valmiki's style of writing ;) – sv. Feb 20 '16 at 5:52
  • @sv.: Do the two words manda and udarim appear separately in the Shloka, or you have the done the vichched and the orginal word in the Shloka is mandodarim? – Amit Saxena Apr 29 '16 at 13:33
  • @AmitSaxena Good question, I just noticed the same yesterday too. On ValmikiRamayan.net the English transliteration uses single word for some as in this case and two words for others. I don't know what the original Sanskrit shloka reads as. – sv. Apr 29 '16 at 13:40
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    @AmitSaxena Yeah, I think some problem with the website ValmikiRamayan.net. IndianScriptures.com seems to have the correct shlokha (it's the last but one on the last page) – sv. Apr 29 '16 at 17:43
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Hanumaan did not know Mandodari by her name for sure. Ravana's wife Mandodari was a good soul. It is said that her divinity was one of the great strength for Ravana. When Hanumaan was in search of Sita, he mistook mandodari for Sita sighting her divinity. But with one reason he decided that it was not Sita. That reason was, a "pathi Baktha" like Sita will surely not be able to have such a deep sleep with out any worry when she is away from her husband Rama.

With only this Hanumman decided it has to be Mandodari who was sleeping under the tree undisturbed and happily and it could not be Sita Devi.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Welcome to Hinduism.SE :) You should cite sources and if possible translate them into English. – ABcDexter Jun 9 '16 at 12:11
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No.And that is why Hanuman mistook Dhanyamalini as Mandodari.

Hanumanji reported Jamavaan that Mandodari restained Ravan.

"

स्त्रीणाम् मध्यात् समुत्पत्य तस्य भार्या दुरात्मनः || ५-५८-७५ वरा मन्द उदरी नाम तया स प्रतिषेधितः |

"Springing up from the midst of those women, a royal woman named Mandodari, the wife of that evil-minded Ravana, ran to him. He was restrained by her."

Sunder Kanda Sarga 58

But Dhanyamalini restained Ravan earlier.

उपगम्य ततः शीघ्रं राक्षसी धान्यमालिनी || ५-२२-३९ परिष्वज्य दशग्रीवमिदं वचनमब्रवीत् |

Thereafter an ogre named Dhanyamalini quickly neared Ravana, embraced him and spoke these words.

Sunder Kanda Sarga 22

Bibek Debroy puts in the footnote no 273 of Valmiki Ramayana Volume 2.

Earlier, we were told that Dhanyamalini restrained Ravana, Mandodari not having been mentioned.

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