The Ramayana of Valmiki

by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597

This page is entitled “sugriva tells rama of bali’s exploits” and represents Chapter 11 of the Kishkindha-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Kishkindha-kanda].

Chapter 11 - Sugriva tells Rama of Bali’s Exploits

Having listened to Rama’s words, which inspired him with joy and courage, Sugriva paid obeisance to him, manifesting his gratitude, and said:—“In your wrath, undoubtedly, you are able to bum up the worlds with your sharp arrows, like the fire at the end of the great cycle; yet reflect on the courage of Bali and, having heard me with attention, consider what should be done.

“‘Ere the sun rises, the indefatigable Bali strides from the western to the eastern ocean and from the northern to the southern sea. He is so powerful that he is able to break off the lofty mountain peaks, throwing them into the air and catching them again. In order to demonstrate his strength, he will snap in two innumerable trees of every kind in the forest.

“Once, there existed a giant, named Dundubhi, in the form of a buffalo, who resembled the peak of Mt. Kailasha and who was as strong as a thousand elephants. The thought of his own might intoxicated him and he was puffed up with pride on account of the boons he had received.

“That giant came to the sea, the Lord of Rivers, and approached that ocean of tumultuous waves, rich in pearls, saying:—

‘Let us enter into combat one with the other!’

But that righteous Lord of the Waters, rising up in all his majesty, answered that titan who was driven on by destiny, saying:—

‘O Skilful Warrior, I am not able to take up your challenge, but hear and I will tell you of one who can match you in fight.

“‘On a vast plain, the retreat of the ascetics, there lives a monarch of the mountains, named Himavat, the far-famed father-in-law of Shiva. He possesses great rivers, many ravines and waterfalls and is well able to satisfy thine overwhelming lust for combat.’

Reflecting: ‘The ocean holds me in dread’, that foremost of titans sped to the forest of Himavat, as swift as an arrow loosed from a bow.

“Breaking off the great white cliffs, Dundubhi let them roll down, shouting with exultation.

Then, like a mass of white cloud, Himavat of gentle and benign aspect, standing on the summit of the mountain, addressed that titan thus:—

‘Do not torment me, O Dundubhi, O You who delightest in justice! I am not concerned with the exploits of warriors but am a refuge of the ascetics.’

“Hearing these words of that righteous monarch of the mountains, Dundubhi, his eyes red with anger, answered:—

“‘If you have not the strength to fight and art paralysed with fear, then tell me who is able to match his prowess with mine, for I wish to enter into combat with him.’

“Hearing this, the wise Himavat, skilful in discourse, answered that powerful titan to whom he had spoken previously, saying:—

“‘The name of that hero of great intelligence, who dwells in Kishkindha, is Bali, the illustrious son of Shakra. That great sage is a skilful warrior and of your stature, he is as well able to enter into combat with you as Vasava with Namuchi. Go with all speed and seek him out, since you are thirsting to fight; he has little patience and is ever full of martial ardour.’

“Having listened to the words of Himavat, Dundubhi in fury went to Kishkindha, Bali’s city, and assuming the form of a terrible buffalo with pointed horns, resembling a thundercloud charged with rain in the sky, that powerful titan came to the gates of the capital. Causing the earth to tremble with his cries, he uprooted the trees near the entrance of the city, snapping them in two. Then, like an elephant, he burst open the gates.

“My brother, who was in the inner apartments, hearing the tumult, came out, full of impatience, surrounded by his wives, like the moon encircled with stars, and that leader of the monkeys, Bali, said to Dundubhi in clear and measured accents:—

“‘O Dundubhi, why dost you obstruct the gateway of the city and bellow thus? I know who you are. Have a care for your life, O Warrior!’

“At these words of the sagacious King of the Monkeys, Dundubhi, his eyes red with anger, answered:—

“‘Do not address me thus in the presence of women, O Warrior! Accept my challenge and meet me in combat to-day, so that I can measure your strength, though, O Monkey, I am willing to restrain my wrath for one night, to allow you to indulge in the pleasures of love, according to your whim, till the rising of the sun. Distribute alms, therefore, to your monkeys and embrace them for the last time. You are the King of the Deer of the Trees, do you load your friends and people with favours. Look long on Kishkindha; enjoy the company of your wives, for I am about to chastise you for thine insolence. To slay a drunken man or one who is demented or whose strength has ebbed away or who is without weapons or defence, or one, like you, given over to lust, is considered equal to infanticide in the world.’

“Dismissing all his wives, including Tara and others, my brother, restraining his wrath, smiling, answered that chief of the titans, saying:—

“‘Do not make a pretext of my being inebriated if you are not afraid to enter into combat with me! Know that in the present issue this intoxication is the wine of warriors!’

“With these words he threw off the golden chain that his sire, Mahendra, had given him and began to fight. Seizing Dundubhi by the horns, who resembled a mountain, that elephant among monkeys roared aloud and began to assail him with blows. Thereafter Bali with a tremendous shout threw him on the ground and blood began to flow from the stricken buffalo.

“Then betwixt the two combatants, Bali and Dundubhi, mad with anger, each desirous of overcoming the other, a terrible struggle ensued. My brother fought with matchless courage, equal to Indra’s, dealing blows with his fists, knees, feet and also with rocks and trees. The duel between the monkey and the titan caused the latter to weaken, whilst the strength of the former grew. In the end, Bali, lifting Dundubhi up, let him fall on the earth and in this death struggle the giant perished.

“As he fell blood flowed in rivers from the veins of his body and that titan of yast limbs lay stretched on the ground, having rejoined the elements.

“Lifting up the inanimate corpse in his two arms, Bali with one throw sent it flying to a distance of four miles. From the titan’s jaws, shattered by the violence of the fall, blood spouted forth and the drops were carried by the wind to Matanga’s hermitage.

Seeing that rain of blood, the Sage, displeased, reflected:

‘What perverse wretch has dared to spatter me with blood? Who is this evil, perfidious and vile creature, this madman?’

“Thinking thus, that excellent Muni went out of the hermitage and beheld the buffalo, as large as a mountain, lying dead on the ground.

By virtue of his austerities, he knew that a monkey was responsible for this deed and he pronounced a terrible curse on that ape who had thrown the corpse there saying:—

“‘May he never come here! If that monkey who, with a stream of blood, has desecrated this wood where I have built my retreat, ever sets foot in this place, he will die! Should that wicked wretch who has thrown the corpse of this titan here, breaking my trees, come within four miles of my hermitage, he shall assuredly not survive and his confederates, whosoever they may be, who have sought refuge in my forest, will not be permitted to remain here following this malediction. Let them go where they will, for I shall assuredly curse any who stay in these woods, that I have protected like mine own offspring, and destroy the foliage and young shoots, plucking the fruit and scratching up the roots. From to-day, every monkey that I see here will be changed into stone for the period of a thousand years!’

“On hearing the words of the ascetic, all the monkeys that frequented those woods went away, and, beholding them issuing from the forest, Bali enquired of them, saying:—

“‘Why have you all come here, you dwellers in the Matanga Forest? Happy are they who dwell in the woods!’

“Then those monkeys told Bali, who wore a chain of gold, the cause of their departure and also of the curse that had been laid on them.

“My brother, hearing the monkeys’ words, sought out that great Rishi and with joined palms attempted to appease him, but Matanga refused to listen to him and re-entered his hermitage.

“Trembling under the shadow of that curse, Bali began to roam about aimlessly, but, terrified of the malediction, that monkey did not dare approach the great mountain Rishyamuka or even glance in that direction, O Prince.

“Knowing he will never venture here, O Rama, I wander about these woods with my companions, free of all anxiety The heaped bones of Dundubhi, the victim of the arrogance, his strength inspired in him, are here and resemble the peak of a vast mountain. Bali in his might, stripped all the leaves from these seven giant Sala trees with their mighty boughs, one after the other. His strength is immeasurable, O Rama; I have now proved it to you. In consequence, I do not see how you canst overcome him in battle, O King.”

Thus spoke Sugriva and Lakshmana, smiling, then enquired of him:—

“What can Rama do to convince you that he is able to overcome him?” Sugriva then made answer:—

“If Rama is able to penetrate these seven Sala trees, that Bali pierced again and again, with a single arrow, then, by that sign, I shall know he can overcome him. At the same time, let him with a single kick send the carcase of the buffalo flying to a distance of a hundred bows’ length.”

Having spoken, Sugriva, the corners of whose eyes were slightly red, reflected awhile and then once more addressed Rama, the descendant of Kakutstha, saying:—

“Full of courage and audacity, renowned for his strength and energy, that powerful monkey has never been defeated in combat. His exploits are famous; the Gods themselves are not able to accomplish them. It was on remembering them, filled with terror, that I resolved to take refuge on the Rishyamuka Mountain. Thinking of that Indra among Monkeys and how invincible, irresistible and ruthless he is, I came here. Filled with distress and anguish, I wander about in these woods with my devoted and excellent companions, Hanuman and others. You are for me a glorious and illustrious friend, O You who art dear to your friends, O Lion among Men! I take refuge with you as in another Himavat; yet I am conversant with the strength of my wicked brother and his overbearing nature and I am not acquainted with your skill as a warrior, O Raghava. Assuredly, it is not that I wish to test you or humiliate you nor inspire you with fear by recounting his great exploits. Mine own cowardice is well known! O Rama, thine accents, thine assurance, your temerity and your stature truly manifest your great power, which is like a fire concealed beneath the ashes.”

Hearing the words of the magnanimous Sugriva, Rama began to smile and answered him, saying:—

“If you dost not trust in our courage, O Monkey, I will instil you with that confidence so essential in war.”

Then with his foot, that mighty hero sent the dried up carcase of that titan flying. Seeing the carcase hurtling through the air, Sugriva once more addressed Rama, who was as radiant as the sun, in the presence of Lakshmana and the monkeys and in candid accents said:—

“O my Friend, when that corpse was fresh and its flesh intact, it was sent flying through the air by my brother, though he was weakened by inebriation and fatigue. Now stripped of flesh, as light as a straw, you have kicked it in play; it is therefore impossible for me to judge who is the more powerful, you or Bali. Between a fresh corpse and dry bones, there is a great difference, O Raghava.

“I am therefore still uncertain, My Dear Friend, as to who is the stronger, you or Bali, but if you are able to pierce even a single Sala tree, then I should be able to judge who is superior and who inferior. Therefore stretch that bow, which resembles the trunk of an elephant and drawing the cord up to thine ear, discharge that great arrow, which I am sure will penetrate the Sala tree and by that sign I shall be satisfied. I implore you, O Prince, to do me this great favour. As amongst the planets the sun is greatest and among mountains the Himalayas, just as among quadrupeds the lion is king, so among men you are supreme in valour.”

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