The Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “swayamprabha frees the monkeys from the cave” and represents Chapter 52 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 52 - Swayamprabha frees the Monkeys from the Cave

That virtuous ascetic, greatly mystified, addressed all those leaders of monkeys who were now rested, saying:—

“O Monkeys, if, satisfied by the fruits, your fatigue is alleviated, I would fain listen to your story if it is fit to be heard by me.”

Hearing these words, Hanuman, the Son of Maruta began to relate all with perfect candour, saying: “The Sovereign of the whole world, Rama, who is equal to Mahendra and Varuna, the illustrious son of Dasaratha, retired to the Dandaka Forest in company with his brother Lakshmana and his consort Vaidehi. The latter was forcibly carried away by Ravana.

“His friend is that valiant monkey named Sugriva. By that monarch, the foremost of monkeys, we have been sent hither and with the assistance of those led by Angada, we have been dispatched to search the southern region inhabited by Agastya and protected by Yama. We have been commissioned to search for Sita, the daughter of Videha and the demon Ravana, who is able to change his form at will. Having scoured the forests and the seas of the south, overcome with hunger, we sat down at the foot of the trees. Our faces drained of colour, absorbed in thought, we were sunk in an ocean of anxiety which we were unable to cross.

“Casting our eyes round, we observed a huge cave hidden by trees and creepers and enveloped in gloom. Now swans, geese and osprey flew out from that cave their wings dripping with water, and I said to those monkeys, ‘Let us enter there!’ which all agreed to do. Anxious to accomplish our purpose, we went in grasping each others hands, thus forcing an entry into that dark cave; this is our purpose and the reason why we have come hither. Having come here, famished and exhausted, we, who were sorely tried by hunger, have been entertained on fruits and roots with the traditional hospitality. You have saved us, who were weary and suffering from starvation; now say what service the monkeys may render you in return?”

Thus addressed by the apes, the all-knowing Swayamprabha replied to those monkey leaders, saying: “lam well pleased with all these excellent monkeys; I am but fulfilling my duty and have no need of anything.”

Thus answered in words filled with nobility and virtue, Hanuman addressed that irreproachable lady saying: “We have all found refuge with you, O Virtuous Ascetic, but the time fixed by the magnanimous Sugriva has run out since we entered the cave, it behoves you, therefore, to assist us to leave this place. If the commands of Sugriva be disregarded, it will mean death for us. Please deliver us all; the fear of Sugriva afflicts us. Great is the task that has been undertaken by us and if we remain here, that work of ours will not be accomplished.”

Thus addressed by Hanuman, the ascetic answered him saying:—“For a living being to emerge from this cave alive, is hard, but by the power of my asceticism acquired through self control I shall deliver all the monkeys from this subterranean chamber. Do you all close your eyes, for none will succeed in issuing from this place if their eyes remain open.”

Then, desirous of going out, all those magnanimous monkeys instantly closed their eyes covering them with their hands, possessed of slender fingers, and in the twinkling of an eye, the ascetic transported them outside the cave and having saved them from danger, in order to encourage them, said:—

“This is the auspicious Vindhya Mountain covered with trees and herbs, there the Prasravana Mountain and the great ocean. May good fortune attend you! I go to my abode, O Foremost of Monkeys.”

With these words Swayamprabha re-entered the cave.

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