“Why do you want to know our identity, O Brahmana? After all what do you ain at?” retorted Lakshmana.
“I do have a purpose in knowing your identity, O Warriors! A very noble and saintly Vanara, Sugreeva by name, resides here on this hill. He has been exiled from his homeland by his powerful brother Vali, the local king. He is on bad days indeed. I want to know whether you are looking for Sugreeva,” argued the Brahmana.
“Certainly, O holy-man! We want to see him. Can you guide us to him?” asked Ram. “Why not? I can personally escort you both to his presence but only when I have known fully about you,” replied the Brahmana.
Rama, then, introduced himself to the Brahmana and Lakshmana related the entire story starting from Ram’s exile to Sita’s abduction. Then expressing his doubt, Lakshmana said, “You do not seem to be what you look. A person who has not studied Rigveda, who hasn’t practised the teachings of the Yajurveda, who has not gone through the Samveda cannot speak such a refined language. So, please be kind enough to reveal your true identity.”
Hearing these words, the Brahmana folded his hands and said, “Your guess is absolutely correct, O Lakshmana. I am Hanuman, a minister of Sugreeva and I have been sent by him to get your secret, i.e. to ascertain that you are his brother Vali’s spies or not. So, I had to appear before you in the guise of a Brahmana.” Saying so, Hanuman came to his real form and lay prostrate at Rama’s feet.
Now Hanuman narrated the woeful story of Sugreeva to both the brothers and said, “Our king Sugreeva is also living in exile. His elder brother Vali did gross injustice to my king. He forced him to leave his capital, Kishkindha, and also usurped his queen Roma. So, Sugreeva wants to extend a hand of friendship towards you”.
“All right; lead us to your king, then” retorted Ram.
Hanuman, then disclosed two ways that led to Sugreeva’s abode. One of the ways was very long but easy while the other was very short but very difficult. Then he seated both the brothers on his shoulders and said, “Don’t be amazed, dear Lakshmana. I have a boon that enables me to change myself to whatever form I like.”
Hanuman began to fly towards the Mount Rishyamook with both brothers on his shoulders. On the way he showed them plants laden with flowers, rapidly flowing waters of brooks, caves, chief mountain peaks and charming valleys. Also, he showed them lakes filled with garlic-coloured waters with half-bloomed buds in them. Cranes, swans, water-fowls and several other water-birds were frolicking in water. Soft grass-eating wild deer were either grazing soft blades of grass or were resting after having had their fill.
Here and there were seen Vanara warriors with gigantic muscular bodies. One of them was Angad, the son of Vali. He was gazing at the movements of Hanuman with a keen sight
Leaving Ram and Lakshmana at he abode of Sugreeva on Mount Rishyamuk, Hanuman himself proceeded to Malayachal to inform Sugreeva of the arrival of both the Koshala princes. Reaching there, he said, “My Lord! Ram, known for his indomitable courage and invincible warriorship, has reached your abode along with this brother Lakshmana. Both of them are descendants of Ikshvaku, the Great.”
Then Hanuman came to Rama and took both the brothers to his master- Sugreeva. Then introducing them to Sugreeva, he said: They are sons of King Dashrath of Ayodhya. Rama is known for his dutifulness. He has come to his forest to fulfil the promise of his father. When they were staying at Panchvati in the Dandak Forest, Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, abducted Ram’s wife Sita in their absence. During the course of their search for her, they have reached here and want to make friends with you.”
Having heard what Hanuman had told, Surgreeva greeted both the brothers and entertained them in a befitting manner. Then he said affectionately, I am a mere Vanara while you are men. IT is so kind of you to extend a hand of friendship towards me. I am convinced that I will be the gainer as a result of this friendly bond.”
Rama felt highly delighted to hear Sugreeva’s words and he embraced him. Describing his sad tale to Rama, tears welled up in Sugreeva’s eyes and he said, “My elder brother Vali has turned me out of his kingdom and usurped my wife too. I am residing here in utter fright and embarrassment. So, assure me of your help so that I may be able to shed all fear and worry.”
Hanuman made a fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together with a view to give the friendship between Rama and Sugreeva a sound footing. Then worshipping the god of fire with flowers he placed it between the two would-be friends. Ram and Sugreeva took oaths of true friendship while going round this sacred fire.
The ceremony having been performed, Sugreeva said to Ram delightfully, “We shall stand by each other through thick and thin.”
Rama felt overjoyed to hear these words and said, “O King of Vanaras! I believe that a true friend always does good to his friends. I take pledge before this sacred fire that I shall kill Vali, the usurper of your throne and wife.”
Ram’s words sent a wave of bliss in Sugreeva’s mind and his face bloomed like a flower.
Hearing Ram’s assurance, Sugreeva said to Ram, “Friend! Hanuman has told me your woeful story. I too take an oath that I shall leave no stone unturned to find out your wife Sita wherever she happens to be. So, I would request you to shed your grief of separation from your spouse.”
Then Sugreeva started narrating the happening of a few days back, “One day I saw that a fearful demon was carrying away a woman forcibly. Now I am convinced that she must be Sita and none else because bewailing bitterly, she was calling out the names Rama and Lakshmana. Seeing me, she threw her ornaments they are still with me. I’ll be back with them in no time.”
As soon as Ram and Lakshmana saw the ornaments, they recognised them.
Next day, in accordance with Ram’s pledge, Sugreeva and his men made for Kishkindha and set up their camp in a dense forest near the town. Directed by Ram, Sugreeva went to Vali’s place and challenged him for a duel. Though Vali beat Sugreeva in the first round of the duel, yet he did not give up because he was sure that Ram would certainly kill Vali.
Ram, standing behind a big tree, aimed at Vali again and again, but he could not succeed in shooting an arrow. So, Sugreeva badly defeated by Vali came back to Ram and said, “Friend! Vali kept beating me and you kept looking at us. I had told you that Vali is another name for death.”
“Sugreeva! Both of you have so similar faces that I could not locate Vali. So, I did not shoot the arrow,” retorted Ram.
Ram put a garland round Sugreeva’s neck and said, “This garland will help me to locate you easily. So, I’ll not be confused this time. Rest assured! Vali will not return alive today. Your fear and his enmity both will come to an end in the battle –field as soon as I shoot an arrow at him today. So, shed all fear and worry once for all now.”
Sugreeva replied, “Friend! He has come out victorious in many a battle. He always aims at a win and truly speaking, he has never seen a defeat so far. He has a flair for battles indeed.”
“You are right, frined. But remember that a person who is proud of his strength cannot brook insulting words from his enemy especially when he is in the company of women. So, go once again and challenge Vali for a duel. This time, he will not return alive in any case,” said Ram assuringly.
Seeing Sugreeva coming towards him, Vali’s eyes became red in anger and brandishing a fist, he said to Sugreeva, “I will do away with you with only one blow.” Saying so, he attacked Sugreeva.
Sugreeva did not lag behind. So, both the brother got engaged into a fierce scuffle.
Just then Ram shot an arrow at Vali, who having been hit, fell down with a thud.
Rama accompanied by Lakshmana now went near Vali and placed his head in his lap.
Vali asked Ram, “Do you get some credit by killing me like that. You have killed me in a deceptive manner. It won’t bring you any laurel. I had done you no harm. Why, after all, did you kill me?”
After Vali’s death, Sugreeva was declared king of Kishkindha and Vali’s son Angad was appointed his hair-apparent. Hanuman asked Rama to participate in the auspicious ceremony but Ram refused to go to Kishkindha saying, “I cannot enter any village or town till my exile comes to an end. So, take Lakshmana with you and ask him to perform the ceremony of coronation.
Sugreeva, along with Angad and his five ministers reached Kishkindha and they were received with open arms by everyone.
Then a golden throne was placed on a stage decorated with flowers and valuable velvety sheets. Sugreeva was seated on it and Lakshmana, after putting a tilak on his forehead, placed the crown on Sugreeva’s head.
Sugreeva, having his throne restored, indulged in pleasures and forgot the promise given to Rama. Seeing this, Hanuman went to Sugreeva and reminding him of the word given by him to Ram, he said, “My Lord! All this stately graduer is here only because of Ram. It is a pity that you have forgotten him in tracing his wife Sita.”
Sugreeva’s eyes opened and he got frightened and said, “Hanuman! Pleasure had made me blind and I came to for=get my promise. Send our men in all directions so that we may find out Sita as early as possible and be able to inform Ram of it.”
Hearing this, Hanuman left eh palace and collected a number of select men to be put on the job of tracing Sita. Then he read out to them the order of the Vanara King.
Sugreeva with all his ministers and the search party, consisting of select persons, came to Ram. Seeing them, Rama smiled and said, “I love you as I love my brother Bharata, O Sugreeva. I request you to take immediate steps for tracing my wife Sita.”
Hearing this, Sugreeva called Sujan, Angad, Jamvant, Hanuman, Nala and Neel to him and said, “All of you must go towards the South and look for Sita everywhere.”
Before the search party left, Rama gave his ring to Hanuman, and said in a humble voice, it is only you who can trace Sita. Take this ring. Seeing it, Sita will at once believe that you are my messenger.”
“Bless me, O Lord, so that I may be successful.” Saying these words and taking the ring from Rama, Hanuman left the place along with other members of the search-party.
Receiving the order of Sugreeva and getting proper instructions from Hanuman, the selected party left Kishkindha and they scattered in different directions. Each of them enthusiastic to have the credit of trading Sita.
Sugreeva’s men began to look for Sita in forests, towns and capitals of various kingdoms. They had to face untold suffering in doing this hard job. But they did not lose heart.
The dense forests around the Vindhya Range were not easily penetrable. So, it was a dangerous job to cross these forests in order to get to South India.
Ordered by Sugreeva, Hanuman accompanied Angad and crossed over to Sought India. They conducted a thorough search for Sita but with no result. Then suddenly they saw Sampati, Jatayu’s brother, who was sitting on the branch of a tree gazing at them.
Sampati asked Hanuman, “Are you looking for Sita? I have seen Ravana carrying her to her island – Lanka.”
Having learnt this, the search-party advanced towards the ocean in the south. But the sight of the raging waves of the endless ocean dampened their spirits. They realised that it was almost impossible for then to cross the ocean and reach Lanka.
As mentioned above, the sight of the vast sea had thrown cold water on the spirits of the search-party. They all sad dejected on the sea-shore.
One member of the search-party said, “This ocean stands between us and Lanka. How shall we cross it after all?”
“Quite impossible! We can never cross this sea,” said the other.
Then Jamvant said, “We must find some way to get across the sea. I believe one of us can leap over the sea and reach Lanka to settle scores with Ravana.”
“Who is that, sir?” one of the hearers asked Jamvant. “That who can take the longest leap,” replied Jamvant.
Jamvant collected all the members of the search-party and asked them, “Let me know how far each of you can leap.”
Neel replied, “I can leap over a distance of 300 miles.”
“I can go 400 miles,” said Nala.
“But I can go 500 miles,” assured Angad.
Jamvant encouraged all the members of the search-party and said, “Comrades! All of you are firm-minded and courageous. You are members of a warrior clan. We want to return after being successful. Which of us can please Ram, Lakshmana and Sugreeva with his unique exploit of crossing the sea?”
But none of the search-party was strong enough to do the needful. Only Hanuman had the calibre to do it. So, Jamvant went to him and said, “Hanuman! Only you can do this difficult job, I believe. Why are you silent then? Are you not aware of your capacity and strength?”
But Hanuman kept quiet.
Jamvant once again incited Hanuman and said, “You are strong as Sugreeva and as brilliant as Rama and Lakshmana. You are the strongest, the wisest of all the Vanaras and you are full of immense patience too. Why don’t you offer yourself for the hob of crossing the ocean?”
But Hanuman remained unmoved.
Jamvant then related a story of Hanuman’s childhood, “Once you were playing in the lap of your mather – Anjana. Seeing the crimson coloured rising sun, you took him for some ripe fruit and jumped into the shy with a view to catching it. As soon as you spread your hand to grab the sun, Lord Indra got enraged and he threw his vajra at you. It made you unconscious and you fell down back on the ground. Your father-Wind-god could not tolerate it and the wind came to a standstill. All the three worlds were going to be finished.
The gods, then, approached Lord Shiva who consoled them and suggested to them, “Let us all go to Wind-god and request him to be kind.”
“All the gods went to Wind-god and said, “Your son swallowed the sun and you have brought the winds to a halt. All the three worlds are going to finish. Be kind enough to let the winds blow so that no one dies. It is sure to bring fame to you, sir. Not only this, we are ready to grant you a boon of your own choice.”
The Wind-god agreed and he said, “O gods! Bless my son so that he may possess undying fame and invincible strength and also make him a sea of wisdom as well.”
“Then all the gods showered boons on you. Brahma gave you his power while Agni enabled you to remain unharmed in a fire even. Indira made your body impervious as a rock while Varuna gave you the boon of crossing seas etc, without any difficulty.”
“So, be up and doing, Hanuman! Leap over this sea. You are master of a unique speed,” said Jamvant pointing to the ocean.
Hearing Jamvant’s words, Hanuman got up and said, “Jamvant! I shall fly to Lanka and return after tracing Ram’s wife Sita.” Saying so, Hanuman assumed a gigantic form and leapt into the sky.
Seeing Hanuman leaping into the sky, tears welled up in Angad’s eyes and he said, “We are between the devil and the deep sea. We have not been able to trace Sita. If we go back unsuccessful, King Sugreeva will behead us all.”
Hearing Angad’s words, all the members of the search-party spoke in one voice, “We will not return to Kishkindha until and unless we get some news about Sita. Hanuman has gone to Lank to trace Sita. We must stay here and wait for him till he returns.”
Hanuman flew at the top of his speed over the sea. Seeing his courage and speed, all the Vanaras forsook their sorrow and began to dance in joy. Praising Hanuman in various ways, they began to shout in joy. They said, “O Brave Hanuman! You have relieved all our sorrow. We, all the members of the search-party, crave for your success in the mission that you have undertaken. Each of us will keep standing on one leg till you return because our safety depends on your success in tracing Sita. May you be crowned with success!”
Seeing Hanuman flying fast over the sea and seeing Angad in deep sorrow, Jamvant started cheering him up through funny tales.