The Mahabharata Home
"Markandeya said, 'It was on the breast of that very hill where Rama was seated with those foremost of monkeys that great monkey chiefs at the command of Sugriva, began to flock together. The father-in-law of Vali, the illustrious Sushena, accompanied by a thousand crores of active apes, came to Rama. And those two foremost of monkeys endued with mighty energy, viz., Gaya and Gavakshya, each accompanied by a hundred crores of monkeys, showed themselves there. And, O king, Gavakshya also of terrible mien and endued with a bovine tail, showed himself there, having collected sixty thousand crores of monkeys. And the renowned Gandhamadana, dwelling on the mountains of the same name, collected a hundred thousand crores of monkeys. And the intelligent and mighty monkey known by the name of Panasa mustered together fifty-two crores of monkeys. 1 And that foremost and illustrious of monkeys named Dadhimukha of mighty energy mustered a large army of monkeys possessed of terrible prowess. And Jamvuvan showed himself there with a hundred thousand crores of black bears of terrible deeds and faces having the Tilaka mark. 2 And these and many other chiefs of monkey-chiefs, countless in number, O king, came there for aiding Rama's cause. And endued with bodies huge as mountain-peaks and roaring like lions, loud was the uproar that was heard there made by those monkeys running restlessly from place to place. And some of them looked like mountain-peaks,
and some looked like buffaloes. And some were of the hue of autumnal clouds and the faces of some were red as vermillion. And some rose high, and some fell down, and some cut capers, and some scattered the dust, as they mustered together from various directions. And that monkey army, vast as the sea at full tide, encamped there at Sugriva's bidding. And after those foremost of monkeys had mustered from every direction, the illustrious descendant of Raghu, with Sugriva by his side, set out in an auspicious moment of a very fair day under a lucky constellation, accompanied by that host arrayed in order of battle, as if for the purpose of destroying all the worlds. And Hanuman, the son of the Wind-god, was in the van of that host, while the rear was protected by the fearless son of Sumitra. And surrounded by the monkey-chiefs, those princes of Raghu's house with fingers cased in guana skin, shone, as they went, like the Sun and the Moon in the midst of the planets. And that monkey host armed with stones and Sala and Tala trees, looked very much like a far-extending field of corn under the morning sun. And that mighty army, protected by Nala and Nila and Angada and Kratha and Mainda and Dwivida, marched forth for achieving the purpose of Raghava. And encamping successively, without interruption of any kind, on wide and healthy tracts and valleys abounding with fruits and roots and water and honey and meat, the monkey host at last reached the shores of the briny sea. And like unto a second ocean, that mighty army with its countless colours, having reached the shores of sea, took up its abode there. Then the illustrious son of Dasaratha, addressing Sugriva amongst all those foremost monkeys, spoke unto him these words that were suited to the occasion, 'This army is large. The ocean also is difficult to cross. What contrivance, therefore, commends itself to thee for crossing the ocean?' At these words, many vain-glorious monkeys answered, 'We are fully able to cross the sea.' This answer, however, was not of much use, as all could not avail of that means. Some of the monkeys proposed to cross the sea in boats, and some in rafts of various kinds. Rama, however, conciliating them all, said, 'This cannot be. 'The sea here is a full hundred Yojanas in width. All the monkeys, ye heroes, will not be able to cross it. This proposal, therefore, that ye have made, is not consonant to reason. Besides we have not the number of boats necessary for carrying all our troops. How, again, can one like us raise such obstacles in the way of the merchants? Our army is very large. The foe wilt make a great havoc if a hole is detected. Therefore, to cross the sea in boats and rafts doth not recommend itself to me. I will, however, pray to the Ocean for the necessary means. Foregoing food, I will lie down on the shore. He will certainly show himself to me. If, however, he doth not show himself, I will chastise him then by means of my great weapons that are more blazing than fire itself and are incapable of being baffled!' Having said these words, both Rama and Lakshmana touched water 1 and duly laid themselves down on a bed of kusa grass on the seashore. The divine and illustrious Ocean then
that lord of male and female rivers, surrounded by aquatic animals, appeared unto Rama in a vision. And addressing Rama in sweet accents, the genius of the Ocean, surrounded by countless mines of gems, said, 'O son of Kausalya, tell me what aid, O bull among men, I am to render thee! I also have sprung from the race of Ikshwaku 1 and am, therefore, a relative of thine!' Rama replied unto him, saying, 'O lord of rivers, male and female, I desire thee to grant me a way for my troops, passing along which I may slay the Ten-headed (Ravana), that wretch of Pulastya's race! If thou dost not grant the way I beg of thee, I will then dry thee up by means of my celestial arrows inspired with mantras!' And hearing these words of Rama, the genius of Varuna's abode, joining his hands, answered in great affliction, 'I do not desire to put any obstacle in thy way. I am no foe of thine! Listen, O Rama, to these words, and having listened, do what is proper! If, at thy command, I get a way for the passage of thy army, others then, from strength of their bows, will command me to do the same! In thy army there is a monkey of the name of Nala, who is a skilful mechanic. And endued with great strength, Nala is the son of Tashtri, the divine artificer of the Universe. And whether it is wood, or grass or stone, that he will throw into my waters, I will support the same on my surface, and thus wilt thou have a bridge (over which to pass)!' And having said these words, the genius of the Ocean disappeared. And Rama awaking, called Nala unto him and said, 'Build thou a bridge over the sea! Thou alone, I am sure, art able to do it!' And it was by this means that the descendant of Kakutstha's race caused a bridge to be built that was ten Yojanas in width and a hundred Yojanas in length. And to this day that bridge is celebrated over all the world by the name of Nala's bridge. And having completed that bridge, Nala, of body huge as a hill, came away at the command of Rama.
"And while Rama was on this side of the ocean, the virtuous Vibhishana, the brother of the king of the Rakshasas accompanied by four of his counsellors, came unto Rama. And the high-souled Rama received him with due welcome. Sugriva, however, feared, thinking he might be a spy. The son of Raghu, meanwhile perfectly satisfied (with Vibhishana) in consequence of the sincerity of his exertions and the many indications of his good conduct, worshipped him with respect. And he also installed Vibhishana in the sovereignty of all the Rakshasas and made him his own junior counsellor, and a friend of Lakshmana's. And it was under Vibhishana's guidance, O king, that Rama with all his troops crossed the great ocean by means of that bridge in course of a month. And having crossed the ocean and arrived at Lanka, Rama caused its extensive and numerous gardens to be devastated by his monkeys. And while Rama's troops were there, two of Ravana's counsellors and officers, named Suka and Sarana, who had come as spies, having assumed the shape of monkeys, were seized by Vibhishana. And when those wanderers of the night assumed their real Rakshasa forms, Rama showed them his
troop and dismissed them quietly. And having quartered his troops in those woods that skirted the city, Rama then sent the monkey Angada with great wisdom as his envoy to Ravana."
552:1 There is a difference of reading here. Some texts read fifty seven,
552:2 A difference of reading is observable here.
553:1 As a purificatory ceremony, called the Achamana. To this day, no Hindu can perform any ceremony without going through the Achamana in the first instance.
554:1 Traditions represents the sons of king Sagara of the Ikshwaku race as the excavator of the ocean. Hence the ocean is called Sagara.
Next: Section CCLXXXII