On understanding of “Chaitravana” in Rāmāyaṇa

Toponyms in Rāmāyaṇa

The Vanas-forest names in Rāmāyaṇa

Description

The context is to understand the word Chaitravana in Rāmāyaṇa

Description of the enchanting environs of Pampā begins from the first canto itself. We are looking for Pampā and will be matching it with today’s Pampā location. Reference to this Pampā sarovara is found in the 73rd, 74th, 75th, cantos of Aranyakāṇda and the 1st, 13th and 27th cantos of Kiṣkindhākāṇda.

tadāgaccha gamiṣyāmi pampāṃ tāṃ priyadarśanām।।3.75.6।।
ṛṣyamūko giriryatra nātidūre prakāśate।
yasminvasati dharmātmā sugrīvoṃ’śumatassutaḥ।।3.75.7।।
nityaṃ vālibhayāttrastaścaturbhissaha vānaraiḥ।

तदागच्छ गमिष्यामि पम्पां तां प्रियदर्शनाम्।।3.75.6।।
ऋष्यमूको गिरिर्यत्र नातिदूरे प्रकाशते।
यस्मिन्वसति धर्मात्मा सुग्रीवोंऽशुमतस्सुतः।।3.75.7।।
नित्यं वालिभयात्त्रस्तश्चतुर्भिस्सह वानरैः।

Come, let us go to Pampa, which is pleasing to look at. Sugriva, the rigteous self, the son of the Sun has been staying for fear of Vali at the shining Rishyamuka, not far from here.

asyāstīre tu pūrvoktaḥ parvato dhātumaṇḍitaḥ।
ṛṣyamūka iti khyātaḥ puṇyaḥ puṣpitapādapaḥ।।3.75.25।।

अस्यास्तीरे तु पूर्वोक्तः पर्वतो धातुमण्डितः।
ऋष्यमूक इति ख्यातः पुण्यः पुष्पितपादपः।।3.75.25।।

The famous mount, sacred Rishyamuka is situated on the bank of Pampa full of blossoming trees.

— Gitasupersite IIT

Arrival at Pampā and the utterance of name “Caitravana”

मां ह्यद्य मृगशाबाक्षी चिन्ताशोकबलात्कृतम्।
सन्तापयति सौमित्रे क्रूरश्चैत्रवनानिलः।।४।१।३५।।

सौमित्रे Saumitri, मृगशाबाक्षी a fawneyed lady, चिन्ताशोकबलात्कृतम् sinking in sorrow, माम् me, क्रूरः cruel, चैत्रवनानिलः the breeze of spring forest (vs the breeze of the wildlife sanctuary), अद्य now, सन्तापयति torments, हि indeed

‘O Saumitri “the cruel breeze of the spring forest” torments me as I am now immersed in grief in the absence of my fawneyed beloved.

— Gitasupersite IIT

Shri Nityanand Mishra translated it as under —

“Śrī-Rāma says that the cruel forest breeze of caitra month is tormenting him. He uses the inference from the slightly different reading of the commentary by Govindarāja, which says krūraścaitro vanānilaḥ/क्रूरश्चैत्रो वनानिलः, which means the cruel caitra month and the forest breeze are tormenting him.” He has done the samāsavigraha as breeze of chaitra month’s forest ( forest during Chaitramonth). To me it appeared little weired since Nandanavana, Chaitravana are common names for a wildlife sanctuary. To attempt it in sanskrit as chaitra month forest also appeared to me weired. So I attempted with the other meaning to understand the shloka with the help of various references.

My attempt

Why I say the forest sanctuary ? I arrive at it with the help of internal and external evidence of the description of Chaitravana. Read below.

Caitra;

(m) Name of a lunar month in which the full moon stands in the constellation Chitrā (corresponding to March-April in todays time, which is not the beginning of Vasanta/Spring in our times)

(m) One of the seven ranges of mountains (dividing the continent into Varṣas), [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

(n) sanctuary

Vana (n);

(n) forest

(n) abode

Thus Caitravana= A wildlife sanctuary

Other references on the word Caitravana

  1. चैत्रवन मिथिला के पास का एक उद्यान । यहाँ तीर्थंकर नेमिनाथ दीक्षित हुए थे । महापुराण 69.54

2. दिव्य चैत्रवन ज्यों सुखद , सर्वाधिक अभिराम । त्यों यह उपवन राम का, सहज बढ़ाता काम ।

Dr. Om Joshi- Ramgatha- Read here

3. बक्सर को सिद्ध वन का राजा विश्वामित्र हुए जिसके द्वारा वैदिक और वैग्यानिक कार्य किया गया था । त्रेतायुग में लंका का अधिपति राण ने ताडका , मारीच का क्षेत्रों का अधिकारी बनाया था । ताडका ने चैत्रवन की स्थान देकर राक्षसी संस्कृति का कार्य करने में सक्रिय भूमिका निभाई थी और उसके लिए विश्वामित्र की वेदशालाओं को समाप्त कर रही थीं ।….यह स्थान प्राचीन इतिहास में “सिद्धाश्रम”,“वेदगर्भापुरी”, “करुष”, “तपोवन”, “चैत्रथ”, “व्याघ्रसर”, “बक्सर” के नाम से भी जाना जाता था। read here.

4. नंदनवन चैत्रवन । त्यांहूनि दिसे शोभायमान ।
आनंदवनेंसीं समान । कैलासभुवन तेंवी शोभे ॥ ३९ ॥ — श्रीएकनाथमहाराजकृत, श्रीभावार्थरामायण — सुंदरकांड॥ अध्याय सातवा ॥ रावणाचे अशोकवनात आगमन. Read here.

5. Passing beyond this forest there lies another vana (woodland) resembling Nandanavana of lord Indra and Chairaratha of lord Kubera. In the shribhavartha Ramayan we understand that Nandanavana and Chaitravana are names of sanctuary. Read here.

Other toponymy evidence

The place names like Chitradurga in the vicinity of Pampā in todays time — another physical Lakṣaṇā

Physically Chitradurga is exact south of Pampa Sarovara. The area around the sarovaras probably were named with Chitra-Sanctuary. For e.g., ChitrakUTa and Chitravana

Place name Cittirakūṭam

Takeaway

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Rupa Bhaty

Architect and Adjunct Assistant Professor at School of Indic studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, MA, USA