|Values for Life:
One should not get carried away by flattering because it is the first step towards destruction.
The jubilant vanars travelled as fast as they could so as to inform Sri Ram and Sugreev about their achievement. They were very hungry and thirsty. As they were around the boundary of Kishkindha, they found ‘Madhuvan’, the fruit farm which belonged to Sugreev. All of them went inside and drank the serene water from the lake and ate different varieties of fruits lavishly. In the process they almost destroyed the orchard. The armed guards deployed by Sugreev came forward to resist them but they were physically attacked. The guards went to Sugreev and gave their complaints; Sugreev was visibly happy on hearing the news.
“Aha,” he said, “the vanar force have accomplished their task. Otherwise they would not dare to enter Madhuvan without my permission.” Soon Sugreev could see the vanar force, carrying Hanuman on Angada’s shoulders followed by Jambavan and others, presenting themselves before Sri Ram. Hanuman showed Sri Ram the jewel that Sita sent through him. Hanuman narrated the whole story from the beginning of their search of Sita starting from Kishkindha and back. Then they held a conclave of senior vanars to chalk out plans to cross the ocean and attack Lanka. On a very auspicious occasion that was identified by the position of the stars, Sri Ram and the countless vanar forces proceeded towards the shore of the ocean.
Crossing the Ocean
Sri Ram was initially a bit perplexed observing the ocean that was very vast and deep with crocodiles and other dangerous aqua-creatures. Sugreev reassured Sri Ram:“Prabhu, look around and see the good omens all favourable to us. We shall cross the ocean, kill Ravan and his evil supporters and bring back Sita Mata. Now let us think about a scheme by which we can cross the ocean. Either dry it up with your arrow or build a bund across it.”Before starting the operations, Sri Ram consecrated an idol of Lord Shiva on the shore of the ocean and worshipped him for the success of their mission. The Lord appeared before Sri Ram and blessed him. This place is known as Rameswaram. It is believed today that one, who takes bath in the Sethu and offer ablutions at Rameswaram, satisfies the souls of his ancestors. Sri Ram then worshipped to please Varun lying down on Kusa grass without food for three days. Even after three days, Varun did not seem to be pleased and Sri Ram was very much annoyed. He told Lakshman:“Lakshman, bring my bow and arrow. I am going to dry this ocean up and we shall cross it on foot. Varun will witness my prowess today.”
Varun, the Lord of the seas, immediately manifested before Sri Ram with apology and said:“O Lord of the universe, pardon me. I shall withdraw the tides and you may build a bund across the sea. May your mission be successful!”
Knowing through spies that Sri Ram and his huge vanar forces have reached the northern bank of the Sethu, Ocean of Lanka, Ravan called his assembly. He addressed his ministers and generals and told them: “You are my eyes and mind. Tell me what shall be done now. If we think about what Maruti did here, my concern grows. He crossed the ocean and reaching here alone did havoc to us. He killed many of our men including my valorous son Akshakumara. And the fact is that there are countless such heroes with them. If all of them together cross the ocean and come here what would be the repercussions?” Listening to Ravan’s anxious words they replied:“You are unparallel in this world; in valour and prowess. It is a pity that you worry about a man who is no match for you. Your son Meghanada defeated Indra and made him captive. You have defeated Visravana and snatched his plain. You have conquered Varun, Yam and others alone. Maya who was afraid of you presented to you his daughter for wife and gifted you with his spike also. You lifted Kailasa Mountain and the pleased Lord gifted you with his Chandrahasa along with blessings. What Hanuman did here is shameful to remember but we were not informed of it. If we had the slightest clue, he would not have escaped with life.”
Hearing their encouraging words, Ravan’s anxiety vanished and he became cheerful again.
K K Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )