The Tidings Conveyed | RAMAYAN

 

59. THE TIDINGS CONVEYED 


SUGRIVA'S conjecture was like nectar to Rama's ears. They eagerly awaited the arrival of the Vanaras. In a short while a great clamor was in the air and the Vanara hordes alighted with cries of triumph. 

Hanuman and Angada leading, the Vanaras marched to the presence of their king who with Rama and Lakshmana was awaiting their coming. 

Hanuman bowed and said: "Seen have I the Goddess of purity, your queen. She is safe and well in Lanka. I salute her from here across space." And he turned southwards and offered worshipful salutation. 

Thus succinctly did Hanuman convey to the prince the glad news that Sita was found and was well in body and mind. Sugriva and Lakshmana, beside themselves with joy, embraced Rama. 

"Dear Vanara friends," exclaimed the Prince of Ayodhya, "tell me where exactly Sita is. How is she? How did you manage to see her? Tell me everything in detail." His eager inquiries came quick upon one another. 

The other Vanaras turned to Hanuman who stood behind, and asked him to narrate all that he had seen and done. Hanuman began to tell the tale. With his unrivalled courage and strength and single-handed, he had performed a mighty task. Yet he did not push himself forward into the presence of Prince Rama or King Sugriva, but gave precedence to Angada and the aged Jambavan and the others, and was silent until they asked him to speak. 

Indeed, generally, great men who dare and do mighty deeds are disinclined to speak about their exploits. In painting this scene the poet brings out this law of natural conduct. Another thing to note here is Hanuman's reverence for Sita. From the time he first saw her, his reverence for Sita appeared to surpass even his devotion to Rama, if the two could be distinguished. This is the case with all pious devotees who regard and worship the Supreme as Mother. When that aspect of the All immanent Power is before true devotees, their reverence becomes ecstatic like the child's joy in the mother's lap. 

"Crossing the hundred yojanas of water, I reached the city of the wicked Ravana on the southern shore. There, in a park attached to the palace, I saw Sita held prisoner and closely guarded. It was wonderful to see her emaciated form. She maintained life only in the thought of her lord and repetition of his name. Cruel and ugly Rakshasis surrounded her. I saw her lying on the ground, her hair unkempt and her face clouded by sorrow and care. When I reached there, she had resolved to put an end to her life to escape from the Rakshasa king's importunities and threats. I began uttering praises of your glory in a low voice. Unknown to her, and a mere monkey, I had to secure her confidence first. Then I spoke to her. I told her of the alliance between King Sugriva and yourself. I told her of your great grief and unchanging love. This filled her with sweet sorrow and awakened hope in her and the desire to live. Asked for a token which I might convey to you, the angel of purity gave me this jewel to be given to you. She also told me how once a crow had troubled her while you were asleep and how you were grieved about it, she asked me to remind you of the incident. She wanted me to remind you of another occasion when, roaming among the hills, perspiration had made the tilak trickle down her forehead and you replaced it with red ochre rubbed out of a rock. She bade me tell you that she would struggle and keep alive for a month, but then she would perish at the hands of Ravana, or she would seek her own release of death. She bade me convey her respects to the Vanara King. Now let us think and make preparations at once for proceeding to Lanka to redeem the princess." 

Saying this, he handed the sikhamani, crest-jewel, of Sita to the prince. 

Rama took the jewel from Hanuman's hand and at the sight of it fainted, racked beyond bearing between extremes of joy and grief. 

He pressed the jewel to his bosom and cried: "O Lakshmana!" Again he embraced Hanuman and said: "Heroic son of Vayu, blessed are you who have seen Sita. I too see her now before me. You have, indeed, brought her to me." 

"Dear hero, my heart's friend!" he cried "tell me everything again in full. Tell me once again what Sita said. Let me hear her words which are sweet like water to parched lips." 

Hanuman narrated the whole story to the eager listeners and Rama wept when Hanuman repeated these words of Sita: 

"Many Rakshasas has my Rama slain, but why has he not come here yet to slay Ravana and save me from my sufferings? Why has he not sent brave Lakshmana to slay the wretch? It cannot be that my lord has grown indifferent towards me! For I know of no wrong I have ever committed in thought or word or deed to lose his love." 

Hanuman said: "I tried to console her saying: 'Rama is ever thinking of' you and grieving for you. He knows no rest. Do not imagine that Rama and Lakshmana have forgotten you. No words of mine could describe their grief. Now that I am going to tell them you are here, it will not be long before they come and destroy Ravana and return with you in triumph to Ayodhya.' It was then she untied the jewel from a knot in a corner of her sari and gave it to me. I placed it on my head in reverence and, securing it, started to return. She stopped me and uttered a benediction again and said: 'Friend Hanuman convey the news of my welfare to the lions, my lord and his brother, to king Sugriva and his ministers. Devise your plans and help him to come here and redeem me. I trust in you, Hanuman, absolutely. May God bless you." 

"Lay aside your grief, my Lord," continued Hanuman, "and think out now what has to be done. Sita doubted how you and the Vanara army could cross the sea. I assured her that she need have no fear or doubt on that score, since, by no means the strongest among the Vanaras, I myself had crossed it as she could see. I said to her that I myself could carry Rama and Lakshmana on my shoulders and cross the sea and bring them there."






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