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Lesson 12

In search of Sita Devi / Shabari’s hospitality / Vali & Sugreeva / Shri Rama helps Sugreeva / In search of Sita Devi

Ramayan – Lesson 12

Sri Rama was sorely troubled by the episode of the illusory deer.How did this happen? All I want is that Seeta and Lakshmana should be safe- so thinking, he hastened his steps.

On the way he saw Lakshamana coming towards him. He exclaimed,What this, Lakshamana? Why did you leave Seeta alone and come away? Suppose some danger has befallen her! You should not have come. Lakshmana answered,So I thought, too, brother, and remained in the hut. But sister-in-law was in a panic. She forced me to go in search of you. He then recounted the conversation between the two of them.

But Sri Rama was still not comforted. He said,Lakshmana, I have grave misgivings. I am certain that

something untoward has happened. What shall we do if it is so?and raced towards the ashram;and Lakshmana followed him.

They entered the ashram. There was no Seeta; not even a sign of her.Have our fears come true?so they were sacred. They then asked themselves,Has she gone to gather flowers? Has she gone to fetch water from the river?and ran about in search of her. And then they asked themselves,Has she hidden herself in some corner displeased with us? Is she hiding for amusement sake?So they looked for her in every nook and corner. But no, there was not a sign of Seeta anywhere. When they called out,Seeta!only the echo answered,Seeta!.

The grief of Sri Rama and Lakshmana beggared description. Both shed tears;What our fate? How can we go back to Ayodhya? When people ask us, Where is Seeta? what shall we answer? What the use of our living?so they wailed.

Sri Rama grief knew no bounds. The separation from Seeta drove him to extreme bewilderment. He appealed to whatever he saw:Plants and trees, where is my Seeta? Oh lake, where is my Seeta? Oh you animals, did you see my Seeta?- so he went on appealing. If the wind whistled among the trees, he would run there. Where is my Seeta? Has some animal killed and eaten her? Has some rakshasa carried her away? Was she drowned in the lake?- so run his thoughts.

Seeta, you are a princess, and yet you enjoyed no happiness. In spite of my advice you came to the forest with me, and you lived this life smilingly. But where are you now? Why are you silent? I cannot live without you, so he wailed.

Hearing Rama words Lakshmana became apprehensive. He was also miserable because of Seeta disappearance; but he was not confounded. He said,Brother, I understand your anguish. It is right and natural that you should grieve over sister-in-law plight. But we can achieve nothing by courting death. Let us search for sister-in-law. Some one must have abducted her. Let us now scour this forest. We may find some clue. Or, Seeta may be somewhere here. So let us deliberate and decide our course of action. Console yourself. Lakshmana words appealed to Sri Rama. Both found what comfort they could and started in search of Seeta.

They looked into every nook and corner of Panchavati. They investigated every bit of the surroundings. They climbed up trees and pulled down nests. They searched every bush and every hollow of trees. But no, there was no sign of Seeta anywhere.

As they proceeded in search of Seeta, they came to the place where Jatayu was lying wounded. He was in his last moments. He called them and said,You are looking for Seeta Devi, arent you? Ravana has abducted her. He is the son of Vishrawassu and Kaikasi. He is the King of Lanka. He is exceptionally valiant but also exceptionally wicked. He has gone to the south with Seeta. I tried to prevent Ravana crime. I fought with him. But that sinner cut off my wings. My body is full of wounds. I am now dying. Somehow I managed to keep breathing for your sake. Seetadevi is terrified. She is repeating just the names of you two. Go to Lanka and rescue her. Kill Ravanasura.With these words he breathed his last.

Sorrow followed sorrow for Sri Rama. The disappearance of Seeta had already overwhelmed him with grief. And now Jatayu, so close to him, was dead; and he had laid down his life trying to help him (Rama). Sri Rama was griefstricken. Together Sri Rama and Lakshmana performed the last rites for Jatayu. They continued their search for Seeta.

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Shabari’s hospitality

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They entered Krauncharanya. They encountered a mighty rakshasa there. He was very tall. The amazing thing was that he had no neck and no mouth. His mouth was in his stomach. He used to stretch his arms, draw anyone before him towards himself and thrust him into his mouth. He was called Kabandha. As Sri Rama and Lakshamana approached where he was, he drew both together.He tried to swallow them. But Sri Rama and Lakshmana cut off his two arms. Kabandha screamed with pain. He asked,Who are you?Sri Rama told him. Kabandha was delighted when he heard that the person before him was Sri Rama.

Once he was a messenger of the gods. A curse had transformed him into a rakshasa. He said,Sri Rama, seeing you has made me very happy. The time has arrived for my liberation. Burn me alive. I shall then regain my former form. Sri Rama and Lakshmana did as he had prayed. They cut off branches of trees and laid them on Kabandha body. They lighted them and burnt the body. At once a messenger of the gods, himself a god, appeared. Kabandha had been liberated from the curse.

The god greeted Sri Rama and said,Sri Rama, I will be ever grateful to you for the favour you have conferred. In return I will render a help a small one though. Ravana has abducted your wife. He is a person of stupendous daring. He has a huge army. Do not attempt to overcome him all by yourself.

At some distance from here is the kingdom of Kishkindha. The ruler is Vali. He has a brother,Sugreeva. The brothers have fallen out. So Sugreeva lives on Rishyamuka Parvatha, outside Kishkindha. Go there and inform Sugreeva of your plight. He will be of help to you. He himself is in trouble; help him, too.

On their way to Rishyamuka Parvatha, Sri Rama and Lakshmana came to Mathangashrama. Sage Matanga disciple, Shabari, was engaged in tapas there. At the time of his departure to heaven Sage Matanga told Shabari,Stay in this ashram. One day Sri Rama, the son of Dasharatha, will come here.Entertain him hospitably. You will attain salvation. From that day Shabari had been looking forward to Sri Rama arrival. She used to keep aside the best fruits of the forest for Sri Rama. Every day she used to tell herself,Sri Rama will be here today. He will relish this fruit; he will appreciate this seat. And so every day she would prepare to entertain Sri Rama. At the end of the day she would sigh, saying to herself,How sad; Sri Rama did not come today!

That day her yearning was satisfied. Her joy and zest waxed without limit. She entertained Sri Rama and Lakshmana. She offered Sri Rama the best fruits she had stored for him. She made a prayer;Sri Rama, I am a poor woman. I do not know how to entertain so illustrious a person as you. Accept this humble service. Sri Rama saw Shabari. She was very, very old; but there was an unearthly glow in her face. Her mind was in Sri Rama. She had served Sage Matanga and won his grace. Sri Rama was filled with joy at her affection. He accepted the seat which she offered, and ate the fruits she gave. She felt the joy of attaining her supreme desire. Her tapas had been rewarded. She attained salavation.

Sri Rama was attracted to the glorious ashram. Deer and tigers lived in harmony there. There was no hatred, no envy there. Wild animals had shed their cruelty and lived a gentle life.

Sri Rama and Lakshmana could see Rishyamuka Parvatha from Matangashrama. They hastened towards it. On the way they came to Lake Pampa. It was a sacred lake. Its water was sweet like amrita. The vast sheet of water was a feast to the eye. Creepers and climbers and plants of many kinds grew on the banks. Lotuses, water lilies and saugandhikas had blossomed in it in thick clusters.Red lotuses and white lotuses had beautified the lake. Plants and trees of many kinds grew there.Peacocks danced gaily. Woodpeckers, white crane, parrots and cuckoos delighted the eye and the ear. The water of the lake was clear like crystal. All round the lake lay thick, white sand.

Spellbound by the loveliness of the lake, Sri Rama and Lakshamana stood gazing at it in silence for a while. They had a bath in the lake and were delighted. They drank the water of the lake which was clear like the mind of a good person, and felt refreshed.

They then entered the forest, thick green in colour. It was spring. The boughs of trees bent low with the weight of fruits. Flowers of varied colours enriched the breeze with sweet smell. Cuckoos sang sweetly. Peacocks danced and bees moved from flower to flower sucking honey. Sri Rama and Lakshmana gazed upon the loveliness of the forest. They drank in the beauty of Nature to their hearts content.

But Sri Rama mind was with Seetadevi. The moment he remembered her he lost interest in everything else. His face would wither, and his eyes would be filled with tears. Lakshamana, knew the turmoil raging in his brother mind. He endeavoured to soothe him with appropriate words. And thus they came to Rishyamuka Parvatha.

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Vali & Sugreeva

Rishyamuka Parvatha was, at that time, the abode of aVanara- monkey, Sugreeva by name; he dwelt there with a number of followers. He saw Sri Rama and Lakshmana at a distance, and was alarmed. With his companions he hid in Mathangashrama.

Sugreeva was the younger brother of Vali, the ruler of Kishkindha. He was the brother of an emperor, but yet was now condemned to wander in forests and mountain ranges. He was afraid of his elder brother and was in hiding in the Rishyamuka ranges.

Vali and Sugreeva were the sons of a Vanara King, Riksharaja. The father had, before his death,appointed Vali as king and Sugreeva the Yuvaraja or prince. Vali was a formidable warrior. When, long before all this, the gods and the danavas undertook the churning of the ocean for the sake of amritha, Vali had helped them. He had married Tara, the daughter of a Vanara warrior Sushena. Their son was the valiant Angada.

Sugreeva used to assist his brother in the administration. He was highly respectful towards Vali and devoted to him. He had married Ruma, the daughter of another valiant Vanara, Tara. They all lived happily together.

Vali was a champion warrior. Few could face him on the battlefield. Every day he used to fly from the Northern Sea to the Southern Sea and from the Eastern Sea to the Western Sea before sunrise. He would throw up mighty mountains and catch them like mere balls. He could snap huge trees in a trice. Such was his prowess.

Once a rakshasa, Mayavi by name, turned up near the palace at the dead of the night and began to make a scene. Vali sleep was disturbed. Furious, he set out to subdue the rakhasa. Sugreeva followed his brother. The moment Mayavi saw Vali he fled. Vali and Sugreeva pursued him. Mayavi entered a huge cave. Vali followed. He asked Sugreeva to wait for him outside the cave.

Sugreeva waited accordingly. A day passed; another day followed. Weeks and months went by. But there was no sign of Vali. Sugreeva was sorely troubled.Shall I enter the cave?he asked himself. But the elder brother had instructed him to await his return. Unable to decide what to do, Sugreeva was restless.

A whole year passed. Sugreeva waited anxiously. One day Sugreeva hered the roar of rakshasas.And blood flowed out of the cave like a flood. But there was yet no sign of Vali. Sugreeva was grief-stricken.The rakshasas have killed my brotherhe wailed and wept profusely. He then placed a heavy boulder in the mouth of the cave so that the rakshasas could not come out, and returned to Kishkindha with a heavy heart. He narrated to the Vanaras all that had happened. They wept, saying that the kingdom was orphaned. They chose Sugreeva king, and crowned him. He was a righteous ruler.

But, all of a sudden, one day Vali appeared. The Vanaras were astounded. Vali, whom they had given up for dead, was there, right before them! Sugreeva learnt that Vali was back, and raced to meet him. He danced with joy. He removed his crown from his head and placed it at his brother feet. He said,Brother, we are all thrilled with joy at your return. All these days I ruled as your representative. Accept this crown. Hereafter you are our sovereign, and we are all your servants.

Sugreeva spoke these words with the utmost humility but Vali was not pleased. He said to his ministers,This Sugreeva is a traitor. He has proved treacherous to his own brother. He should be driven out of the kingdom.

Sugreeva was very unhappy. He was truly devoted to his elder brother. But he saw that, somehow,Vali was talking like a mad man. The ministers said,Master, why are you enraged? Your younger brother is a good person. He used to speak with affection about you always. He rules righteously. Why are you angry with him? How has he wronged you?

Vali replied,You know that I chased the rakshasa Mayavi. He entered a cave. I asked Sugreeva to wait for me and entered the cave. It was a vast cave, with several layers. It was pitch dark inside. It took me a year to locate Mayavi there. Then I fought with him and killed him. The cave was flooded with his blood. I then came to the entrance to the cave. But, there was a huge boulder blocking the entrance! This traitor did not want me to come out, and had placed it there. But I pushed it aside and came out. And I find that here, this sinner is merrily ruling over this kingdom.

Sugreeva said with folded hands,Brother, do not doubt my loyalty without reason. Honestly, I have not been a traitor to you. When blood flowed from the cave and I heard only the roar of the rakshasas I was in anguish. I placed the boulder there so that the rakshasas might not come out. I beg of you, do not mistake me. But Vali would not be convinced. He carried away Sugriva wife Ruma by force to his palace. He asked Sugreeva to leave his kingdom at once. Sugreeva, having lost both his wife and his kingdom, found refuge in the forest.

Sugreeva lived always in fear of Vali. So the appearance of Sri Rama and Lakshmana unnerved him.He feared they might belong to Vali camp. He retired to Mathangashrama with his followers. He then said to Hanumantha,Find out who they are and why they have come here.

Hanumantha was the son of Vayu. His mother was Anjanadevi. So Hanumantha is also known as Anjaneya. He was very strong. He was as swift as the God of Winds, Vayu. He could fly in the sky. As a boy once he saw the sun and thought it was a fruit. He leapt to the sky to seize it. Then Lord Indra struck him with his Vajrayudha. Hanumantha fell on a rock. Hishanavu- cheek – became swollen; he came to be known as Hanumantha. He was immortal. So he had no fear of death. So great a person was Hanumantha. He was Sugreeva minister and his close friend.

Hanumantha dutifully approached Sri Rama and Lakshmana. Modestly he spoke to them :Who are you? You are handsome like the gods, the Ashwinis. You are sturdy. Your faces have the glow of royalty. But you wear cloth made of plant fibre, like rishis. Your faces have an unearthly radiance. But like the brightness of moon covered by clouds your lustre is dimmed by some great sorrow. Why have you come here? Be pleased to tell me.

Hanumantha modest demeanour pleased Sri Rama.He said,Lakshmana, did you hear the words of this Vanara warrior? No one who has not studied the four Vedas with attention to the enunciation and the meaning can speak so pleasingly. There was not a single inappropriate word in his speech.There was no unpleasant distortion of face, eye, forehead or brows as he spoke. He said nothing that was unnecessary, but left out nothing that was relevant; never fumbled and was not too fast; his pronunciation was never indistinct so as to cause ambiguity. It is a pleasure to listen to him. Tell him about ourselves.

Lakshmana told Hanumatha in detail all about themselves. Hanumantha was glad that they were not from Vali camp. He was also moved by their plight. He said,My name is Hanumantha. You are now in Kishkhinda. Vali, the elder son of Rikhsharaja, is the ruler. He has a younger brother, Sugreeva. I am Sugreeva minister. These two brothers are not on good terms. Fearing his brother, Sugreeva now lives here. He was apprehensive when he saw you. So I came to enquire about you. I will take you to Sugreeva. He will be happy to meet you. He placed them on his shoulders and carried to Sugreeva. He told Sugreeva about them and introduced them.

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Shri Rama helps Sugreeva

Sugreeva was happy to see Sri Rama and Lakshmana. He embraced Sri Rama and said,Sri Rama, I am pleased to see you. Hanumantha has told me that you are a man of rare valour. I sorely need the help of a hero like you. Help me kill my elder brother Vali.

Sri Rama answered,Sugreeva, I have heard about you and your elder brother, Vali. We bent our steps towards this place, on the suggestion of a rakshasa, Kabandha. Hanumantha also has told us something about you. But why do you desire my help to kill Vali?Sugreeva then narrated his story.Sri Rama was moved to pity by his tale of sorrow. He sympathized with Sugreeva who had lost both his kingdom and his wife. He said,Sugreeva, if Vali learns that you have taken shelter here, will he not come here and harass you?

Sugreeva explaned :No, Vali cannot enter Mathangashrama. There is a reason. Once a rakshasa, Dundubhi by name, challenged my brother to a duel. There was a grim fight. Finally Vali killed Dundubhi and made a hump of his body and threw it into the sea. Some blood from the corpse splashed into this ashram. Sage Matanga was angry and said,If the fellow who is responsible for this steps into this ashram, let him die. So Vali cannot come to this ashram. I am hiding here.

Sri Rama said,Sugreeva, have no fear. I will help you. Fight with Vali. I shall kill him. Take it that your dark days are over. Your kingdom and your wife are as good as restored to you. He went on,Sugreeva, as you know, a rakshasa has abducted my wife. It seems he is called Ravana. Do you know anything about Ravana? Will you help me find out where my wife is?

Sugreeva recalled that, when Ravana was carrying her away, Seeta Devi had thrown down a bundle of jewels. He had the bundle fetched. He explained,Sri Rama, some days ago a rakhshasa was carrying away a young woman by force. She was wailing, crying aloud, O Rama! O Lakshmana! When she saw us, she threw down this bundle of jewels. Here they are; see if they are your wife jewels. As soon as he saw the jewels Sri Rama remembered Seeta, and was overwhelmed with grief. His eyes grew dim with tears. He could not identify the jewels. He said,Lakshmana, you look at these jewels. Tell us if they belong to your sister-in-law.

Lakshmana looked at the jewels one by one, and said,These ear-rings I have not seen, nor have I seen this nose- ring. for I have never seen my sister-in-law face. But I am certain the anklets are hers; I know them well because I used to see them every morning when I touched my sister-in-law feet. Sugreeva tried to comfort Sri Rama who was shedding tears. He then asked,Sri Rama, when shall we challenge Vali?Sri Rama said,Let us not delay. We shall do it today. Sugreeva had his misgivings, thinking,How can we start a fight straightway? Vali is a person of immense prowess. He is a superb bowman. He can shoot an arrow to pierce seven trees one after another. Should we not prepare ourselves for a clash with him?

Lakshmana discerned that Sugreeva was terribly scared, and that he doubted if Sri Rama could overcome Vali. He thought first of all Sugreeva had to be reassured. He said,Sugreeva, how will you be reassured about my brother valour?Sugreeva replied,If Sri Rama can pierce seven trees with a single arrow as my brother Vali does, I shall be assured. Smiling, Sri Rama went to a cluster of seven trees with Lakshmana and Sugreeva, and strung his bow. Taking aim, he let fly an arrow. The arrow sped like lightning and pierced the seven trees. Sugreeva and his followers were dumb with astonishment. Then Sugreeva embraced Sri Rama in raptures, and said,Sri Rama, forgive me for testing you. I was forced to do it because of my fear of my brother. I am now convinced that only you can kill Vali. Let us set forth today, as you suggested, and kill Vali. They all went to Kishkindha.

Sugreeva entered Kishkindha and roared once. Vali, who was in the inner apartments of the palace,heard it. News had reached him that Sri Rama and Lakshmana, sons of Dasharatha, who had come from Ayodhya, were supporting Sugreeva. But yet, could Sugreeva summon so much courage? He was furious and came out. Sugreeva challenged Vali to a duel. Vali was always ready to fight. The two combatants came to the forest near by; the duel began. Sri Rama watched it from behind a tree.

Both were formidable warriors. But Vali had the upper hand. The brothers, engaged in grim boxing,looked exactly alike. Sri Rama could not make out who Vali was and who Sugreeva. Sri Rama was upset, not knowing what to do. By then Vali had over-powered Sugreeva; unable to cope with his blows Sugreeva ran away to Rishyamuka Parvatha.

Sri Rama, Lakshmana and others followed him. Sri Rama said to him,Sugreeva, do not misunderstand me. You and your elder brother are replicas. There is not the slightest difference between the two of you in height or build or features. So I could not identify you. But do not be apprehensive. Go again tomorrow and challenge your brother once again. Wear this garland, and I shall know you- so saying he put a garland around Sugreeva neck. The next day Sugreeva once again went to Kishkindha and let out a roar. Vali responded as before. As they were locked in a fight Sri Rama let fly a sharp arrow at the right moment. It pierced Vali chest and he fell down. His end was approaching. All the Vanaras and the women of the royal apartments crowded around him. Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sugreeva also approached him.

Vali said,Sri Rama, I know who you are. I have heard that you are exceptionally righteous. But, was it a righteous act to strike at me from behind a tree when we were engaged in a duel?Sri Rama replied,Vali, you are unrighteous, and, therefore, you can be killed by any means. You doubted your brother integrity without a reason. You took away his wife by force. You disgraced him and drove him to the forest. Did no thought of righteousness cross your mind then?Vali now saw light. He repented his earlier deeds, which, now he realized, were unjust. He said,Sri Rama, you are right. I was unfair. I am now unhappy that I made my younger brother suffer. Sugreeva, forgive my offences. Henceforth rule over this kingdom. Look after my wife Tara and my son Angada well. May good fortune bless you- with these words Vali passed away.

Everyone was grief-stricken at Vali death. But what could anybody do? He had paid the penalty for his wrong doings. His obsequies were performed, and they all returned to Kishkindha. On an auspicious day Sugreeva was crowned king. Angada, Vali son, was made the Yuvaraja.

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Examination on Lesson – 12

Choose answers to all the questions. All the best !!

Q1. Who tells Shri Rama about who has abducted Sita Devi ?

Ans: a) Kabandha b)Hanuman c) Sugreeva d) Jatayu

Q2. Why did Shri Rama go looking for Sugreeva ?

Ans: a) Because Kabandha guided him to Sugreeva indicating that Sugreeva will help Shri Rama b) He thinks Sugreeva has abducted Sita Devi c) So that Sugreeva may give him shelter in the forest d) Because Sugreeva was his old friend

Q3 Why did Sabari wait in the Matangashram every day with fruits ?

Ans: a) Because she ate only fruits b)To wait for Shri Rama, to entertain him to attain salvation c) Because she were nowhere to go d) Because she was scared to go out due to the fear of Rakshasas

Q4. Who was Hanuman ?

Ans: a)A friend of Jattayu b) A disciple of Mattanga Rishi c)Vali’s Minister d) Son of Vayu God

Q5. Why did Shri Rama agree to kill Vali ?

Ans: a) Because he was Shri Rama’s enemy b) Because he was abducted Sita Devi c) Because he was unrighteous and was not ready to correct himself d) Because Vali was challenged Shri Rama

Q.6 Why did Shri Rama did not kill Vali on the first day of Vali and Sugreev’s fight ?

Ans: a) Because he could not recognize which was Vali of the two b) Because he did not want to help Sugreeva c) Becuase he did not want to kill Vali d) Because Vali has asked to be for forgiven

Q7. Who was Sugreeva’s main minister ?

Ans: a) Angada b)Tara c) Sushena d) Hanuman

Correct Answers below

Examination 12

Q.1 Ans d)

Q.2 Ans a)

Q.3 Ans b)

Q.4 Ans d)

Q.5 Ans c)

Q.6 Ans a)

Q.7 Ans d)

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