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Chapter 280

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Markandeya said, ‘Meanwhile the illustrious descendant of Raghu, alongwith his brother, hospitably treated by Sugriva, continued to dwell onthe breast of the Malyavat hill, beholding every day the clear blue sky.And one night, while gazing from the mountain-top on the bright moon inthe cloudless sky surrounded by planets and stars and stellar bodies,that slayer of foes was suddenly awakened (to a remembrance of Sita) bythe cold breezes fragrant with the perfumes of the lily, lotus and otherflowers of the same species. And virtuous Rama, dejected in spirits atthe thought of Sita’s captivity in the abode of the Rakshasa, addressedthe heroic Lakshmana in the morning saying, ‘Go, Lakshmana and seek inKishkindhya that ungrateful king off the monkeys, who understand well hisown interest and is even now indulging in dissipations, that foolishwretch of his race whom I have installed on a throne and to whom all apesand monkeys and bears owe allegiance, that fellow for whose sake, Omighty-armed perpetuator of Raghu’s race, Vali was slain by me with thyhelp in the wood of Kishkindhya! I regard that worst of monkeys on earthto be highly ungrateful, for, O Lakshmana, that wretch hath now forgottenme who am sunk in such distress! I think he is unwilling to fulfil hispledge, disregarding, from dullness of understanding, one who hath donehim such services! If thou findest him lukewarm and rolling in sensualjoys, thou must then send him, by the path Vali hath been made to follow,to the common goal of all creatures! If, on the other hand, thou seestthat foremost of monkeys delight in our cause, then, O descendant ofKakutstha, shouldst thou bring him hither with thee! Be quick, and delaynot!’ Thus addressed by his brother, Lakshmana ever attentive to thebehests and welfare of his superiors, set out taking with him hishandsome bow with string and arrows. And reaching the gates ofKishkindhya he entered the city unchallenged. And knowing him to beangry, the monkey-king advanced to receive him. And with his wife,Sugriva the king of the monkeys, with a humble heart, joyfully receivedhim with due honours. And the dauntless son of Sumitra then told him whatRama had said. And having heard everything in detail, O mighty monarch,Sugriva, the king of the monkeys with his wife and servants, joined hishands, and cheerfully said unto Lakshmana, that elephant among men, thesewords: ‘I am, O Lakshmana, neither wicked, nor ungrateful, nor destituteof virtue! Hear what efforts I have made for finding out Sita’s place ofcaptivity! I have despatched diligent monkeys in all directions. All ofthem have stipulated to return within a month. They will, O hero, searchthe whole earth with her forests and hills and seas, her villages andtowns and cities and mines. Only five nights are wanting to complete thatmonth, and then thou wilt, with Rama, hear tidings of great joy!’

“Thus addressed by that intelligent king of the monkeys, the high-souledLakshmana became appeased, and he in his turn worshipped Sugriva. Andaccompanied by Sugriva, he returned to Rama on the breast of the Malyavathill. And approaching him, Lakshmana informed him of the beginningalready made in respect of his undertaking. And soon thousands ofmonkey-chiefs began to return, after having carefully searched the threequarters of the earth, viz., the North, the East and the West. But theythat had gone towards the South did not make their appearance And theythat came back represented to Rama, saying that although they hadsearched the whole earth with her belt of seas, yet they could not findeither the princess of Videha or Ravana. But that descendant ofKakutstha’s race, afflicted at heart, managed to live yet, resting hishopes (of hearing Sita’s tidings) on the great monkeys that had gonetowards the South.

“After the lapse of two months, several monkeys seeking with haste thepresence of Sugriva, addressed him, saying, ‘O king, that foremost ofmonkeys, the son of Pavana, as also Angada, the son of Vali, and theother great monkeys whom thou hadst despatched to search the southernregion, have come back and are pillaging that great and excellent orchardcalled Madhuvana, which was always guarded by Vali and which hath beenwell-guarded by thee also after him!’ Hearing of this act of liberty ontheir part, Sugriva inferred the success of their mission, for it is onlyservants that have been crowned with success that can act in this way.And that intelligent and foremost of monkeys communicated his suspicionsto Rama. And Rama also, from this, guessed that the princess of Mithilahad been seen. Then Hanuman and the other monkeys, having refreshedthemselves thus, came towards their king, who was then staying with Ramaand Lakshmana. And, O Bharata, observing the gait of Hanuman and thecolour of his face, Rama was confirmed in the belief that Hanuman hadreally seen Sita. Then those successful monkeys with Hanuman at theirhead, duly bowed unto Rama and Lakshmana and Sugriva. And Rama thentaking up his bow and quiver, addressed those monkeys, saying, ‘Have youbeen successful? Will ye impart life unto me? Will ye once more enable meto reign in Ayodhya after having slain my enemy in battle and rescued thedaughter of Janaka? With the princess of Videha unrescued, and the foeunslain in battle, I dare not live, robbed of wife and honour!’ Thusaddressed by Rama, the son of Pavana, replied unto him, saying, ‘I bringthee good news, O Rama; for Janaka’s daughter hath been seen by me.Having searched the southern region with all its hills, forests, andmines for some time, we became very weary. At length we beheld a greatcavern. And having beheld it, we entered that cavern which extended overmany Yojanas. It was dark and deep and overgrown with trees and infestedby worms. And having gone a great way through it, we came upon sun-shineand beheld a beautiful palace. It was, O Raghava, the abode of the DaityaMaya. And there we beheld a female ascetic named Prabhavati engaged inascetic austerities. And she gave us food and drink of various kinds. Andhaving refreshed ourselves therewith and regained our strength, weproceeded along the way shown by her. At last we came out of the cavernand beheld the briny sea, and on its shores, the Sahya, the Malaya andthe great Dardura mountains. And ascending the mountains of Malaya, webeheld before us the vast ocean.[91] And beholding it we felt sorelygrieved in mind. And dejected in spirits and afflicted with pain andfamishing with hunger, we despaired of returning with our lives. Castingour eyes on the great ocean extending over many hundreds of Yojanas andabounding in whales and alligators and other aquatic animals, we becameanxious and filled with grief. We then sat together, resolved to diethere of starvation. And in course of conversation we happened to talk ofthe vulture Jatayu. Just then we saw a bird huge as a mountain, offrightful form, and inspiring terror into every heart, like a second sonof Vinata.[92] And coming upon us unawares for devouring us, he said,’Who are ye that are speaking thus of my brother Jatayu? I am his elderbrother, by name Sampati, and am the king of birds. Once upon a time, wetwo, with the desire of outstripping each other, flew towards the sun. Mywings got burnt, but those of Jatayu were not. That was the last time Isaw my beloved brother Jatayu, the king of vultures! My wings burnt, Ifell down upon the top of this great mountain where I still am!’ When hefinished speaking, we informed him of the death of his brother in a fewwords and also of this calamity that hath befallen thee! And, O king, thepowerful Sampati heating this unpleasant news from us, was greatlyafflicted and again enquired of us, saying, ‘Who is this Rama and why wasSita carried off and how was Jatayu slain? Ye foremost of monkeys I wishto hear everything in detail!’ We then informed him of everything aboutthis calamity of thine and of the reason also of our vow of starvation.That king of birds then urged us (to give up our vow) by these words ofhis: ‘Ravana is, indeed, known to me. Lanka is his capital. I beheld iton the other side of the sea in a valley of the Trikuta hills! Sita mustbe there. I have little doubt of this!’ Hearing these words of his, werose up quickly and began, O chastiser of foes, to take counsel of oneanother for crossing the ocean! And when none dared to cross it, I,having recourse to my father, crossed the great ocean which is a hundredYojanas in width. And having slain the Rakshasis on the waters, I saw thechaste Sita within Ravana’s harem, observing ascetic austerities, eagerto behold her lord, with matted locks on head, and body besmeared withfilth, and lean, and melancholy and helpless. Recognising her as Sita bythose unusual signs, and approaching that worshipful lady while alone, Isaid, ‘I am, O Sita, an emissary of Rama and monkey begotten byPavana![93] Desirous of having a sight of thee, hither have I cometravelling through the skies! Protected by Sugriva, that monarch of allthe monkeys, the royal brothers Rama and Lakshmana are in peace! AndRama, O lady, with Sumitra’s son, hath enquired of thy welfare! AndSugriva also, on account of his friendship (with Rama and Lakshmana)enquireth of thy welfare. Followed by all the monkeys, thy husband willsoon be here. Confide in me, O adorable lady, I am a monkey and not aRakshasa!’ Thus addressed by me, Sita seemed to meditate for a moment andthen replied to me, saying, ‘From the words of Avindhya I know that thouart Hanuman! O mighty-armed one, Avindhya is an old and respectedRakshasa! He told me that Sugriva is surrounded by counsellors like thee.Thou mayst depart now!’ And with these words she gave me this jewel as acredential. And, indeed, it was by means of this jewel that the faultlessSita had been able to support her existence. And the daughter of Janakafurther told me as a token from her, that by thee, O tiger among men, ablade of grass (inspired with Mantras and thus converted into a fatalweapon) had once been shot at a crow while ye were on the breast of themighty hill known by the name of Chitrakuta! And this she said asevidence of my having met her and hers being really the princess ofVideha. I then caused myself to be seized by Ravana’s soldiers, and thenset fire to the city of Lanka!'”



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