At the time, when the elder brother (agra janmA) of LakshmaNa was some what overcome with sorrow, the younger brother (LakshmaNa) consoled his elder brother some how (kathamapi labdha ASvAsa:) and brought Him back to a state of equilibrium. SrI Raama decided then to send specific messages of affection to His Devi in the distant land of LankA, where She was submerged in the ocean of sorrow. His goal was to give Her hope and rejuvenate Her until He could travel to LankA and rescue Her. He decided to request the royal swan to carry those messages to His Devi. He wanted to honor the Swan first through the presentation lotus petals (sarasija taLai:) and other upacArams (sopacAram saparyA) before making His request to the Swan to be His messenger. Swamy Desikan comments here that for the One in great love (praNaya mahatA kAminAm), the gainful acquisition of a dUtan (dUta lAbha:) to carry a message (sandeSam) to reunite Him with His lady love is even more delightful than the tight embrace with His lady love (dUta lAbha: kAntA- ASleshAt adhika subhaga:).
The intensely deluded SrI Raaman reached the stage of begging the swan, which did not have the capabilities of understanding even simple things and conferred on it an honor that was even larger than accorded to HanumAn for his deft discharge of duties as the Raama dUtan earlier. For one experiencing the intense pain of separation from his beloved wife, the lowly act of seeking help from acetanams like a cloud, mountain, tree et al to reunite him with his wife are understandable. If that were so, it is not strange that some one in that state chooses to approach a cetanam like the Swan (which is capable of enjoying sukha – dukkams) for such help.
SrI Raaman was deluded over the intensity of suffering from being separated from His beloved consort. He lost his discriminative intellect to choose the right person for the successful execution of a task that needed attention. The Swan does not have the capability to comprehend a simple matter or talk about it. In His deluded state, SrI Raaman considered such an unqualified Swan to be an intelligent one to be entrusted with the responsibilities of serving as His second dUtan. SrI Raaman placed a trust greater even than that He had for the MahA MedAvi (nava vyAkaraNa PaNDitar), HanumAn, who went as His first dUtan to LankA and distinguished himself. SrI Raaman engaged in the act of begging that Swan to help Him. Such an act is probably not so strange, when one considers the stressful state of mind of those who are separated from their object of love request help from insentient ones like a cloud, tree or a mountain. This is loka rIti. In this context, SrI Raaman asking a sentient being like the Swan, which can sense pleasure and pain, is not strange after all.
English Commentary by Sri Oppiliappan Sadagopan
Courtesy: Smt Jayanthi Sridharan (Carnatic vocalist)