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Chapter 278

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Markandeya said, ‘Afflicted with grief at the abduction of Sita, Ramahad not to go much further before he came upon Pampa–that lake whichabounded with lotuses of various kinds. And fanned by the cool, deliciousand fragrant breezes in those woods, Rama suddenly remembered his dearspouse. And, O mighty monarch, thinking of that dear wife of his, andafflicted at the thought of his separation from her, Rama gave way tolamentations. The son of Sumitra then addressed him saying, ‘O thou thatgivest proper respect to those that deserve it, despondency such as thisshould not be suffered to approach thee, like illness that can nevertouch an old man leading a regular life! Thou hast obtained informationof Ravana and of the princess of Videha! Liberate her now with exertionand intelligence! Let us now approach Sugriva, that foremost of monkeys,who is even now on the mountain top! Console thyself, when I, thydisciple and slave and ally, am near!’ And addressed by Lakshmana inthese and other words of the same import, Rama regained his own natureand attended to the business before him. And bathing in the waters ofPampa and offering oblations therewith unto their ancestors, both thoseheroic brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, set out (for Rishyamuka). Andarriving at Rishyamuka which abounded with fruits and roots and trees,those heroes beheld five monkeys on the top of the mountain-peak. Andseeing them approach, Sugriva sent his counsellor the intelligentHanuman, huge as the Himavat-mountains, to receive them. And thebrothers, having first exchanged words with Hanuman, approached Sugriva.And then, O king, Rama made friends with Sugriva. And when Rama informedSugriva of the object he had in view, Sugriva showed him the piece ofcloth that Sita had dropped among the monkeys, while being carried awayby Ravana. And having obtained from him those credentials, Rama himselfinstalled Sugriva–that foremost of monkeys–in sovereignty of all themonkeys of Earth. And Rama also pledged himself to slay Vali in battle.And having come to that understanding and placing the fullest confidencein each other, they all repaired to Kiskindhya, desirous of battle (withVali). And arriving at Kiskindhya, Sugriva sent forth a loud roar deep asthat of a cataract. Unable to bear that challenge, Vali was for comingout (but his wife) Tara stood in way, saying, ‘Himself endued with greatstrength, the way in which Sugriva is roaring, showeth, I ween, that hehath found assistance! It behoveth thee not, therefore, to go out! Thusaddressed by her, that king of the monkeys, the eloquent Vali, decked ina golden garland replied unto Tara of face beautiful as the moon, saying,’Thou understandest the voice of every creature. Tell me after reflectionwhose help it is that this brother in name only of mine hath obtained!’Thus addressed by him Tara endued with wisdom and possessed of theeffulgence of the moon, answered her lord after a moment’s reflection,saying, ‘Listen, O monarch of the monkeys! That foremost of bowmen,endued with great might, Rama the son of Dasaratha, whose spouse hathbeen ravished, hath made an alliance offensive and defensive withSugriva! And his brother the intelligent Lakshmana also of mighty arms,the unvanquished son of Sumitra, standeth beside him for the success ofSugriva’s object. And Mainda and Dwivida, and Hanuman the son of Pavana,and Jamvuman, the king of the bears, are beside Sugriva as hiscounsellors. All these illustrious ones are endued with great strengthand intelligence. And these all, depending upon the might and energy ofRama, are prepared for thy destruction!’ Hearing these words of hers thatwere for his benefit, the king of the monkeys disregarded themaltogether. And filled with jealousy, he also suspected her to have sether heart on Sugriva! And addressing Tara in harsh words, he went out ofhis cave and coming before Sugriva who was staying by the side of themountains of Malyavat, he spoke unto him thus, ‘Frequently vanquishedbefore by me, fond as thou art of life, thou art allowed by me to escapewith life owing to thy relationship with me! What hath made thee wish fordeath so soon?’ Thus addressed by Vali, Sugriva, that slayer of foes, asif addressing Rama himself for informing him of what had happened,replied unto his brother in these words of grave import, ‘O king, robbedby thee of my wife and my kingdom also, what need have I of life? Knowthat it is for this that I have come!’ Then addressing each other inthese and other words of the same import, Vali and Sugriva rushed to theencounter, fighting with Sala and Tala trees and stones. And they struckeach other down on the earth. And leaping high into the air, they struckeach other with their fists. And mangled by each other’s nail and teeth,both of them were covered with blood. And the two heroes shone on thataccount like a pair of blossoming Kinshukas. And as they fought with eachother, no difference (in aspect) could be observed so as to distinguishthem. Then Hanuman placed on Sugriva’s neck a garland of flowers. Andthat hero thereupon shone with that garland on his neck, like thebeautiful and huge peak of Malya with its cloudy belt. And Rama,recognising Sugriva by that sign, then drew his foremost of huge bows,aiming at Vali as his mark. And the twang of Rama’s bow resembled theroar of an engine. And Vali, pierced in the heart by that arrow, trembledin fear. And Vali, his heart having been pierced through, began to vomitforth blood. And he then beheld standing before him Rama with Sumatra’sson by his side. And reproving that descendant of Kakutstha’s race, Valifell down on the ground and became senseless. And Tara then beheld thatlord of hers possessed of the effulgence of the Moon, lying prostrate onthe bare earth. And after Vali had been thus slain, Sugriva regainedpossession of Kishkindhya, and along with it, of the widowed Tara also offace beautiful as the moon. And the intelligent Rama also dwelt on thebeautiful breast of the Malyavat hill for four months, duly worshipped bySugriva all the while.

“Meanwhile Ravana excited by lust, having reached his city of Lanka,placed Sita in an abode, resembling Nandana itself, within a forest ofAsokas, that looked like an asylum of ascetics. And the large-eyed Sitapassed her days there in distress, living on fruits and roots, practisingascetic austerities with fasts, attired in ascetic garb, and waning thinday by day, thinking of her absent lord. And the king of the Rakshasasappointed many Rakshasa women armed with bearded darts and swords andlances and battle-axes and maces and flaming brands, for guarding her.And some of these had two eyes, and some three. And some had eyes ontheir foreheads. And some had long tongues and some had none. And somehad three breasts and some had only one leg. And some had three mattedbraids on their heads, and some had only one eye. And these, and othersof blazing eyes and hair stiff as the camel’s, stood beside Sitasurrounding her day and night most watchfully. And those Pisacha women offrightful voice and terrible aspect always addressed that large-eyed ladyin the harshest tones. And they said, ‘Let us eat her up, let us mangleher, let us tear her into pieces, her, that is, that dwelleth heredisregarding our lord!’ And filled with grief at the separation from herlord, Sita drew a deep sigh and answered those Rakshasa women, saying,’Reverend ladies, eat me up without delay! I have no desire to livewithout that husband of mine, of eyes like lotus-leaves and locks wavy,and blue in hue! Truly I will, without food and without the least love oflife, emaciate my limbs, like a she-snake (hibernating) within a Talatree. Know this for certain that I will never seek the protection of anyother person than the descendant of Raghu. And knowing this, do what yethink fit!’ And hearing these words of hers, those Rakshasas withdissonant voice went to the king of the Rakshasas, for representing untohim all she had said. And when those Rakshasas had gone away, one oftheir number known by the name of Trijata, who was virtuous and agreeablein speech, began to console the princess of Videha. And she said,’Listen, O Sita! I will tell thee something! O friend, believe in what Isay! O thou of fair hips, cast off thy fears, and listen to what I say.There is an intelligent and old chief of the Rakshasas known by the nameof Avindhya. He always seeketh Rama’s good and hath told me these wordsfor thy sake! ‘Reassuring and cheering her, tell Sita in my name, saying:’Thy husband the mighty Rama is well and is waited upon by Lakshmana. Andthe blessed descendant of Raghu hath already made friends with Sugriva,the king of the monkeys, and is ready to act for thee! And, O timid lady,entertain thou no fear on account of Ravana, who is censured by the wholeworld, for, O daughter, thou art safe from him on account of Nalakuvera’scurse. Indeed, this wretch had been cursed before for his having violatedhis daughter-in-law, Rambha. This lustful wretch is not able to violateany woman by force. Thy husband will soon come, protected by Sugriva andwith the intelligent son of Sumitra in his train, and will soon take theeaway hence! O lady, I have had a most terrible dream of evil omen,indicating the destruction of this wicked-minded wretch of Pulastya’srace! This night wanderer of mean deeds is, indeed, most wicked andcruel. He inspireth terror in all by the defects of his nature and thewickedness of his conduct. And deprived of his senses by Fate, hechallengeth the very gods. In my vision I have seen every indication ofhis downfall. I have seen the Ten-headed, with his crown shaven and bodybesmeared with oil, sunk in mire, and the next moment dancing on achariot drawn by mules. I have seen Kumbhakarna and others, perfectlynaked and with crowns shaven, decked with red wreaths and unguents, andrunning towards the southern direction. Vibhishana alone, with umbrellaover his head, and graced with a turban, and with body decked with whitewreaths and unguents, I beheld ascending the summit of the White hill.And I saw four of his counsellors also, decked with white wreaths andunguents, ascending the summit of that hill along with him. All thisbodeth that these alone will be saved from the impending terror. Thewhole earth with its oceans and seas will be enveloped with Rama’sarrows. O lady, thy husband will fill the whole earth with his fame. Ialso saw Lakshmana, consuming all directions (with his arrows) andascending on a heap of bones and drinking thereon honey and rice boiledin milk. And thou, O lady, hast been beheld by me running towards anorthernly direction, weeping and covered with blood and protected by atiger! And, O princess of Videha, soon wilt thou find happiness, beingunited, O Sita, with thy lord, that descendant of Raghu accompanied byhis brother!’ Hearing these words of Trijata, that girl with eyes likethose of a young gazelle, once more began to entertain hopes of a unionwith her lord. And when at last those fierce and cruel Pisacha guardscame back, they saw her sitting with Trijata as before.”

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