As Sri Ram and Lakshman proceeded further, they found Sabari’s ashram. Sabari received them well and offered the brothers fruits and water. Accepting them, Ram and Lakshman were relaxed and they blessed her. Sabari told Ram:“I know the purpose of your coming. I have been waiting here to behold you once and leave my body. It is Ravan who has abducted Sita and presently she is in Lanka. I can see this with my yogic insight. Go straight and you will reach Kishkindha near the holy river Pampa. Meet Sugreev, the king of monkeys, who made Kishkindha his abode because of his fear for Bali along with his four ministers. Sugreev will help you to reach out to Sita,” she concluded.
Seeking to trace Sita, Ram and Lakshman walked a long way through dense forests, hill tops and damp grounds and finally reached Risyamooka Hills near Kishkindha on the bank of the holy river Pampa.
Sugreev, the banished king of Kishkindha had been dwelling along with his four ministers on the Risyamooka Hills. He saw, there come steadily, two young radiant men, in the garb of ascetics but with bow, quiver with full of arrows and swords. A mixed feeling of admiration, fear and panic overtook Sugreev. He thought the boys might have been sent by his elder brother Bali to kill him. The agitated Sugreev called Hanuman, the most favourite among his ministers and told him:
“Hanuman, look there,” he pointed out, “who are they, coming towards us? They look very gallant and determined. Note the firm and gentle foot-steps they make. Are they my death warrant signed by my brother? Go at once and find out.”
Hanuman, as directed by Sugreev, in the guise of a Brahmachari, approached them and gave them a warm salute. “Could I entreat for your acquaintance please? You look certainly of extra-terrestrial beings. We have never before beheld such handsome personalities, before whom even cupid becomes insignificant. Do you belong to the category of gods above? Or do you belong to the super-human personalities of Godhead? I have an apprehension that both of you are the deciders of destiny,” Hanuman said.
Ram, pointing out to Hanuman, told Lakshman: “Listen to this Brahmachari’s dignified art of speech, Lakshman. It is a culmination of all linguistic shastras. I have never heard a better communication. His pronunciation, phonetics, stress, accent, idioms and phrases – all are marvelous. Not an iota of mistake in his sentences or words. He is an expert in grammar.”
Sri Ram, then turned to Hanuman and said: “I am Ram, son of king Dasarath of Ayodhya. This is my brother, Lakshman. My wife Sita and we came to the forest to spend fourteen years under the instruction of our father. One day a cruel Rakshasa came to our ashram in our absence and took Sita away by force. We have been searching for her with no success so far. Now, tell us who you are.”
“I am Hanuman,” replied the Brahmachari, “One of the four ministers of Sugreev, erstwhile king of Kishkindha. His brother Bali, a tyrant, drove him away. Bali is also keeping Sugreev’s wife with him. Sugreev is currently dwelling atop the Risyamookachala Hills. If Sugreev and you could enter into an alliance, both of you can annihilate your respective enemies.
I shall do my best in this regard. Please ascend on my shoulders. I shall take you to Sugreev.” Saying this, Hanuman took his original form and carrying the brothers on his shoulders proceeded towards Sugreev. Sri Ram remembered Sabari’s words and consented to Hanuman’s offer.
KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )