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The most fundamental of Hindu deities, is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - popular deities include Ganesha, Krishna, Hanuman and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga,Saraswati.

Search and Seige

Rama urged Sugriva to challenge his upper brother Vali to a duel. Then they all went to Kishkindha, Vali's capital Letting off dreadful cry, Sugriva challenged Vali to a fight while Rama and the others stood hidden behind the plants and trees. It surprised Vali and he thought, "What does it mean? Sugriva end seems approaching, or he would not have dared shout a challenge."

Enraged Vali came out of his palace and what followed was dreadful fight between the two warriors of formidable strength. The grim fight went on for quite some time, but gradually Sugriva began to lose ground before his brother's superior prowess and stamina. Rama saw it from his hiding place, and finding his friend in sore distress, he let fly a terrible arrow. And Vali fell down gasping for breathe and soon breathed his last.

Sugriva was made king of Kishkindha and Vali's son Aganda, the crown prince. It delighted all the apes and they shouted in great joy. Then the rains commenced and Rama pined away in Sita's a absence. His sorrow was endless. The rainy seasons being over, the sky cleared and so did the pathways, but there was no sign to begin the search on the part of Sugriva. He gave himself up completely to wine, women and enjoying and forget his promise to Rama.

Ultimately Lakshmana's patience was exhausted, and he full of great rage entered Sugriva's inner apartments to remind him of his dharma and promise. Lakshmana spoke in great wrath, "Are you not afraid of the thunderbolt-like arrows of Rama so as to forget Rama's work and be too absorbed in carnal pleasures?"

Sugriva trembled in fear and begged Lakshman's forgiveness saying, "I am not oblivious of Rama's affair. Soon the monkey hordes would be here to commence the search. Rama will be united with Sita soon after slaying Ravana. Please forgive my laziness." These humble words pacified Lakshmana and he embraced Sugriva with great affection.

Crores and crores of apes and Vanaras collected on the Kishkindha hills. The monkeys, huge as mountain tops, possessed super human powers. They looked like rain clouds round the sun. Sugriva divided his monkey army into four division, and sent one to the east, the other to the west, the third to the north and the last to the south with proper instructions as how to search for Sita.

In the south were sent Angada and Hanuman at the head of huge and formidable forces. Hanuman was well-known for his exceptional prowess, wisdom and virtues. Rama felt confident that Hanuman would do his work. Rama called Hanuman to his side and gave him signet-ring saying, "My child, you may find Sita. Give it to her and say that soon I shall slay Ravana." And Hanuman replied, "My lord, be sure, I shall fulfill your expectations."

Hanuman, the son of the wind-god full of great enthusiasm led the huge ape army to the south and explored all the regions of the south assigned to them, but without any success. At last they reached the shores of the vast sea, surging and thundering frightfully. Given to despair and failing in their mission, they all decided to starve to death on the stands of the sea. Fortunately there lived Sampati, the elder brother of Jatayu in the nearby rocks. When he heard the name of his brother Jatayu and how he died trying to save Sita from the vile Ravana, his curiosity was aroused. He came near the apes and learned from them all that happened.

Encouraging them Sampati said, "I saw Sita carried off by Ravana . The Rakshasa king Ravana lives in Lanka, a hundered yojanas away from here across the sea. You will find Sita there. Someone among you, possessing the speed of wind and immense strength should jump off to the other shore to find Sita there."

The mighty apes saw the vast stretch of water before them and were plunged into glood afresh. They wondered who among them was powerful enough to jump off to the other side. They debated the question for long and finally decided that only Hanuman, the peerless hero could perform that superhuman feat.

Hanuman, the wind-god of limitless strength then ascended the Mahendra mountain and concentrating his mind jumped off with the speed of lightening and landed on the opposite shores of the island of Lanka.

Determined to find out Sita, Hanuman saw before him the magnificent city of Lanka. The great city of gold shone like a planet in the night sky. When night had fallen, Hanuman, reduced himself to the size of a cat, and entered the wonderful city. Hanuman , who could assume any shape at will, wondered at the vast splendor of Lanka. He saw the exceedingly beautiful palace of Ravana with high arches of burnished gold, guarded by thousands of choicest warriors. Hanuman felt as if he were in heaven itself. Such was its opulence and grandeur.

Secretly Hanuman entered the Ravana's sleeping apartments. When he came upon the sleeping Ravana, he was simply amazed to see the immense strength of Ravana. He lay asleep on a celestial bedstead and looked like a huge rain-cloud in the
evening sky. All around him slept his numerous wives with their faces shining like the moon. But he found Sita nowhere.

Hanuman began his search afresh, and reached the Ashoka garden. The pleasure park was a marvel of pleasance. He explored and searched every grove, jumped from one tree to another looking all around. At last he saw an Ashoka tree of exceptional height and beauty with a high platform of gold around it. On looking closely he saw under the tree gracious lady in soiled garments, her hair loose, and face stained with streams of tear sand surrounded by Rakshasis.

Hanuman was pondering as how to approach Sita, when night had almost worn out and the dawn appeared. He saw Ravana coming followed by hundered damsels in processions. Splendidly dressed and adorned, Ravana came close and Sita shrank and began to tremble in fear. Ravana told her of his deep passion and yearning for her; requested to bestow her favors on him. He prayed her to give up fasting and to accept gifts of rich food, drinks, raiment and jewels.

Sita rebuffed Ravana with many a harsh word saying, "O sinner, give up any hope for me. You are doomed to die sooner at Rama's hands for abducting me." These harsh words of Sita extremely enraged Ravana and he left with the threat that if she did not yield to his desires within two months he would cut her up into pieces and get cooked for his breakfast. Hanuman found himself in a fix. He did not know how to approach and console Devi Sita. He pondered for a while and then began to recite the story of Rama in sweet voice, "Rama the eldest prince of Dashratha, came to the forest in exile at his father's command. He along with Lakshmana went hunting in the forest. In their absence Ravana carried off Sita." Hanuman went on reciting Rama's heroic deeds and praises.

Sita looked all around amazed till she sighted Hanuman above on the tree among its branches. At first Sita got terribly frightened and fell down almost into a swoon, but then Hanuman got down the tree and prostrated himself before her and said with folded hands, "Mother, I am Rama's messenger. Rama is well and so is Lakshmana soon Rama will attack Lanka with vast army of monkey and apes and Ravana will be slain. I am Rama's sslve and the son of the wind-god Marut."

Sita felt reassured and her fears were calmed down. She asked Hanuman how the vanaras and Rama came together. What Rama and Lakshmana look like. Hanuman's elaborate replies satisfied Sita. Then Hanuman gave her the signet ring with Rama's name inscribed on it. On seeing Rama's ring Sita's faced radiated with joy and she blessed Hanuman.

"I hope Raghava has not forgotten me. Tell him my child, to rescue me soon. Tell him only two more months remain after which Ravana would kill me for not yielding to his desires. Ravana is wicked, evil and averse to give me back," said Sita with her eyes filled with tears. She gave Hanuman her crest-jewel as token saying, "give it to Rama and he will be assured that you have met me. Give then my good wishes."

Hanuman bowed and prepared to leave, but then he thought of displaying his powers by slaying some of the demons of immeasurable strength. With this purpose in view he devastated the entire pleasure garden of Ravana. On hearing the destruction of the garden, Ravana got infuriated and sent number of formidable demons to capture and kill Hanuman. But Hanuman growing still bigger in size and shouting Rama's victory slaughtered all of them. Then came many more army chief's and warriors who met the same fate. Next came Aksha Kumara, the crown prince. But again Hanuman slew and sent him to Yama's abode. Ravana then sent his son Indrajit, A great hero; comparable to Indra himself in valor glory and strength.

They clashed with a terrible force and a long and fierce battle raged. Indrajit failed to defeat and capture Hanuman inspire of hes best efforts. At last he used a missile presided over by Brahma and immobilized Hanuman. Out of respect to Brahma Hanuman submitted himself to that bondage. The Rakshasas took him to Ravana's presence, belaboring and dragging him.

Hanuman saw Ravana sitting on his bejeweled throne in all splendors. All around him were his great minister and warriors. Introducing himself Hanuman said, "I am the wind-god's son Hanuman and have come here searching Sita at king Sugriva's commands. Rama slew mighty Vali and installed Sugriva on the throne. I have seen Janaki in Ashoka Grove. O Ravana, give heed to my advice and return Sita, or else your life is short."

Ravana stared at Hanuman with twenty red eyes in anger and said, "Put the monkey to death." But Vibhishana intervened, "it is not proper to kill the messenger, my lord give him some other exemplary punishment."

At last Ravana ordered to set Hanuman's tail on fire and then to carry him around through the streets of Lanka. The demons, full of fun, wrapped Hanuman's tail in oil-soaked rags and set it on fire. They carried him through the streets, but Hanuman broke loose and lashed his burning tail and jumped high in the air setting fire to high mansions, palaces and houses. High flames engulfed entire Lanka. The demons, their wives and children cried and wept to see Lanka in conflagration. Hanuman jumped from one housetop to another and looked at what he had done. The scene delighted Hanuman beyond measure. But then he thought of mother Sita and he was filled with fear, "What if Sita too had been burnt to death?" thought he. He hastened to the Ashoka Grove and was much relieved to find Sita there safe and alive.

Hanuman bowed down and slotted her. Sita blessed him and allowed him to leave saying, "Remind Rama my days and numbered if he fails to rescue me." Hanuman walked thrice-round Sita and flew off towards the opposite shore. The monkeys, apes and bears saw Hanuman coming. They rushed to greet and hug him. Jamban, the bear king hugged him affectionately and there went up great shouts of joy.

"Sita is alive and there, I talked to her," said Hanuman. The monkey hordes became all ears and the circle narrowed down. And then Angada cried in glee, "Tell us more about her, about your adventure." Hanuman told them in brief how he reached Lanka, what dangers he met, how he destroyed many of the demon warriors and finally set Lanka ablaze.

Angada then ordered, "Return to king Sugriva at once to give him the happy outcome of the issue." And they left and flew to Kishkindhya. On the outskirts of Kishkindhya was a big and beautiful vine and honey garden of Sugriva. They enjoyed themselves to their hearts content and in the process they destroyed the honeycombs, uprooted the trees and belabored the guards. The guards ran to Sugriva and reported the devastation. Sugriva at first got hot with anger, but soon was calmed and dissolved in smiles knowing that they had been successful in their mission.

Led by prince Angad, they reached the Praspravana Mountain in the presence of Rama, Lakshmana and Sugriva. Hanuman bowed his head before Rama and made his prostration's and said, "O Rama, I have seen her. She is in Lanka surrounded by evil Rakshasis in the Ashoka Grove. So steadfast in fidelity she always meditates on you alone, her hair loose, deluged in grief and determined to die if not rescued in time. Take this auspicious crest-jewel, she has sent you as a token. I gave her your signet-ring." Rama wept aloud and pressed the jewel to his heart and said crying in grief, "I cannot live without Janaki. O Hanuman tell me all over again what she said and what you saw. I shall sustain on that." And Hanuman recounted what Sita has told him and what he himself had seen. Jambvan and Sugriva consoled Rama. Lakshmana prayed him to have patience for grief and inaction ruined their purpose. And promising never to give to sorrow again Rama said, "soon we shall cross the ocean and lay siege to Lanaka.

The next day monkeys the apes and the bears in vast numbers marched towards the sea led by their generals and chiefs. Having reached the seashore, they engaged themselves in building a bridge of rocks, stones and trees. For five days and nights they laboured hard before it could be completed. The monkey and bear hordes them crossed over to Lanka, leaping and jumping in sheer joy.

In the meanwhile Ravana came to the audience hall to hold a council of war. His counselors, brothers, ministers, army chiefs all had assembled there. Ravana told them how the monkey army had come to the other shore and is likely soon to cross over to Lanka and lay siege. He sought their advice in the matter. The demon chiefs spoke one by one their plan to rout and defeat the enemy in very flattering and unrealistic terms. But then wise Vsbhishana got up and said, "give back Sita to Rama before Lanka is overrun by monkey hordes. None should hope to escape the Rama's deadly arrows. Reconciliation is the best course.

These words of some advice displeased Ravana and he spoke harshly to Vibhishana, and abusing him shouted, "You are disgrace to Rakshasa race. Had you been not my brother, you would not be alive this moment.

Sore and unhappy Vibhishana left Lanka for good and went where Rama was flying through the air followed by his four faithful ministers. He sought refuge and alliance with Rama. And Rama was glad to grant refuge and protection to Ravana's younger brother. Vibhishana in return promised to help his best in the destruction and defeat of Ravana.

Having crossed over to Lanka, Rama saw the dazzling city of Lanka perched on the Trikuta hill. But then his thoughts flew to Sita and he was full of sorrow. However Rama prepared for the battle eager to rout Ravana. But then Rama thought of giving a last chance to Ravana for peace.

Angada was sent to Ravana's court as a messenger. Introducing himself Angada said, "Give back Sita, surrender to Rama or else be doomed." These words made the demon king frown and he got up from his throne crying in anger, "Hold him, kill the monkey." But Angada was high up in the air and gone away to Rama.

The next day in the morning Ravana surveyed the scene from the vantagepoint of the city ramparts and found Lanka besieged all around by huge monkey's apes and bears in millions. Seeing so huge an army, he was drowned in thought and wondered as how to destroy them.




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