by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “sampati tells the monkeys of sita’s place of concealment” and represents Chapter 58 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].
Hearing the pitiful narrative of the monkeys, who had resolved to give up their lives, the vulture in mournful accents, with tears in his eyes, answered them saying:—
“O Monkeys, you have told me, that Jatayu, my younger brother, was slain in combat by Ravana, who was his superior in strength. Old and bereft of my wings, I can only resign myself to these tidings for I no longer have the power to avenge my brother’s death.
“Formerly, when Indra slew the demon Vritra, my brother and I, wishing to prove which of us was superior, soared into the sky, drawing nearer and nearer to the sun with its aureole of rays. Flinging ourselves into the currents of air, we rose rapidly higher and higher, but the sun having reached its zenith, Jatayu grew faint. Seeing my brother tormented by the sun’s rays, I covered him affectionately with my wings, for he was suffering greatly, whereupon they were scorched and I fell on the Vindhya Mountain, O Foremost of Monkeys, where I remained, not knowing what had befallen him.”
Thus addressed by Sampati, Jatayu’s brother, the eminently sagacious Prince Angada answered :—“If you are indeed the brother of Jatayu and hast heard what I have related, then tell us, dost you know aught of that titan’s abode? Say, if you knowest, whether the retreat of that short-sighted, vilest of demons, Ravana, is near or far away?”
Then the illustrious elder brother of Jatayu answered in words worthy of him, causing delight to the monkeys, and said: “O Monkeys, my pinions being burnt, I am a vulture bereft of strength, yet by my words alone, I shall render Rama a signal service.
“I know the realm of Varuna and those covered by Vishnu’s three strides. I am also conversant with the wars between the Gods and Asuras and the churning of the ocean, from whence the Amrita issued. Though age has deprived me of strength and my vitality is ebbing away, this mission of Rama’s must be- my first concern.
“I saw a young and lovely woman, beautifully attired, being carried off by the w-icked Ravana and that beautiful creature was crying out ‘O Rama’, ‘O Rama’, ‘O Lakshmana’. Tearing off her ornaments she cast them on the earth; her silken cloak, resembling the rays of the sun striking on a mountain summit, shone against the dark skin of the demon like a lightning flash irradiating a cloudy sky. Since she was calling ‘Rama’, ‘Rama’ I believe her to have been Sita. Now hear me, and I will tell you where the abode of that demon is to be found.
“The son of Vishravas and brother of Kuvera, that demon, named Ravana, resides in the city of Lanka, constructed by Vishvakarma, which lies a full hundred yojanas from here on an island in the sea, furnished with golden gateways and ramparts of Kancana gold, with lofty palaces gleaming with Hema gold adorning it. A great wall, bright as the sun, encircles it, and it is there that the unfortunate Vaidehi, attired in a silken cloth, is confined in Ravana’s inner apartments, carefully guarded by demon women. It is there you will find Sita.
“Four hundred miles from here on the southern shore of the sea dwells Ravana. O Monkeys, hie thither speedily and demonstrate your valour! By supernatural means, I know that having seen that place you will return. The first course is the path taken by the fork-tailed shrikes and others living on grain; the second by those who live on insects and fruit; the third by cocks; the fourth by herons, hawks and birds of prey; the fifth by vultures; the sixth by swans endowed with strength, energy, youth and beauty and the last by eagles; we have all derived our origin from Vainateya, O Foremost of Monkeys. I shall avenge that execrable deed of that eater of flesh (Ravana) as also his cruelty to my brother.
“Resting here, I am able to see Ravana and Janaki, for we all possess the supersensual sight of Supama. It is by virtue of our nature and on account of the food we eat, that we can see clearly to a distance of four hundred miles. We are instinctively drawn to search for our food at a distance, whilst other birds scratch it up with their claws at the foot of the trees where they roost, their sight being limited.
“Do you look about for a means to cross over the salty waves; having found Vaidehi, return, your purpose accomplished. Now I desire to be taken by you to the shore of the sea, the abode of Varuna; I will there perform the water ritual for the spirit of my high-souled brother, who has gone to the celestial abode.”
At those words those mighty monkeys carried Sampati, whose wings had been burnt, to the shore of the ocean, after which they brought back that King of the Birds to the Vindhya Mountain; and, having received the information concerning Sita, they experienced great joy.