by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “hanuman and his companions enter the rikshdbila cavern” and represents Chapter 50 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].
The Monkey Hanuman, in company with the General Tara and Angada, once again explored the deep woods and ravines of the Vindhya range. Those monkeys searched the caverns which resounded with the roar of lions and tigers as well as the inaccessible and mighty torrents. Finally they came to the southwestern summit of the mountain and, while they rested there, time passed.
That region is hard to explore on account of the vast extent of the forests and the dangerous ravines and caverns; nevertheless the Son of the Wind examined it all thoroughly. Separated from each other by a short distance, Gaja, Gavaksha, Gavaya, Sharabha, Gandhamadana, Mainda, Dvivida, Hanuman and Jambavan, the youthful Prince Angada and Tara, dwellers of the woods, began to search those regions in the south covered by the mountain range.
While they were exploring this place on every side, they observed the opening to a cave named Rikshabila, difficult of entry, guarded by a giant. Tortured with hunger and thirst and overcome with exhaustion they espied this cavity overgrown by trees, bushes and creepers, from which herons, swans, geese and waterfowl were issuing, dripping with water and covered with the pollen of lotuses.
Drawing near to that fragrant cave, difficult of access, those monkeys were struck with astonishment and desired to enter it. Then those foremost of monkeys, seeing signs of water, full of joy, approached that subterranean chamber abounding in every kind of creature, resembling the abode of Indra, which was impenetrable and fearful to behold.
And Hanuman, the son of the Wind-god, who resembled the peak of a mountain, said to those redoubtable monkeys, who dwelt in the woods and forests:—“We have explored the southern region covered with a chain of mountains; we are exhausted with fatigue and unable to find Maithili. From yonder cave, swans, cranes, herons and waterfowl are emerging on every side, drenched with water. Without doubt there is a well or pool to be found there for these trees at the mouth of the cave are green.”
Hanuman having spoken thus, all the monkeys entered into the dark cave, bereft of sun and moon, that caused their hair to stand on end. They heard the roar of lions and the sound of deer and birds and those invincible monkeys felt their courage and prowess fail; moving with the speed of the wind and despite the darkness, their sight being unimpaired, they penetrated deep into the cave and beheld a luminous, enchanting and marvellous region filled with different kinds of trees of varying fragrance. Pressing close to one another, they advanced four miles into the interior and fainting with fatigue, bewildered, seeking for water, they continued to descend into the darkness. Emaciated, their faces woe-begone, spent, despairing of their Eves, those monkeys then beheld a light. Happily they approached that spot and saw trees glistening like gold, possessing the brilliance of fire, and they beheld Salas, Talas, Tamalas, Punnagas, Vanjulas, Dhavas, Champakas, Nagavrikshas and Karnikaras in full flower with clusters of golden blossom, crimson buds, twigs and creepers adorning them, dazzling as the dawn, their trunks being of emerald and their bark luminous. There were also lakes of blue lotus, abounding in waterfowl, there, and great golden trees encircled that place, that shone like the first light of dawn and fishes of gold and enormous lotuses were to be seen in pools of tranquil waters. Gold and silver palaces were to be found there with little windows of refined gold festooned with chains of pearls, the floors paved with silver and gold and encrusted with pearls and diamonds.
And the monkeys beheld splendid mansions everywhere and trees laden with fruit and flowers that shone like coral and precious gems and golden bees and honey in abundance. Couches and marvellous seats of immense size, decorated with gold and diamonds, drew their gaze, as well as gold and silver vessels, heaps of aloes and sandal, pure foods, fruits and roots, costly vehicles, delicious syrups, priceless raiment and great piles of woollen cloths and wonderful skins.
Whilst wandering here and there about that subterranean chamber, those courageous monkeys beheld a woman at a short distance from them. Attired in robes of bark and a black antelope skin, that ascetic, given to fasting, shone with a great effulgence.
Astonished, those monkeys halted suddenly and Hanuman addressed her saying:—“Who art you? To whom does this cavern belong?”
Bowing down to that aged woman, Hanuman, who resembled a mountain, with joined palms, enquired of her: “Who art you? To whom does this retreat, this cave and its jewels belong?”