Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rama Setu and Sri Krishna - IV: Hanuman Tells Bhimasena About Setu

Below are the excerpts from the Tirth-Yatra-Parva chapter of the Third Book of Mahabharata known as Vana Parva. The original text from Sri Kesari Mohan Ganguly has been minimally modified and abridged in the below format.

avataar varishthaay Sri raamakrishnaayate namaH !

...Defeated at dice and incensed by the wickedsons of Dhritarashtra and their counsellors, the sons of Pritha set out from Hastinapura to spend their days of exile in the forests.

Arjuna in the meanwhile left to perform certain tapa-s and pilgrimages, and eventually visiting heaven. The rest of the four lions amongst men, along with Draupadi, eventually reached the foothills of the mountain of Gandhamadana and were staying there for a few days in the hermitage of noble sages who had their abode there, and anticipating to behold Arjuna, the Dhananjaya, there.

Once Draupadi and Bhimasen were sitting by the river Bhagirathi, and it came to pass that all of a sudden there blew a wind from the north-east and brought a celestial lotus of a thousand petals and effulgent as the sun. And Panchali saw that pure and charming lotus of unearthly fragrance, brought by the wind and left on the ground. And having obtained that excellent and beautiful lotus, that blessed one became exceedingly delighted. She showed it to Bhimasena and requested him to procure more of such unforeseen lotus flowers, so that she may present those to the hermitage.

Knowing the desire of his beloved queen that bull among men, Bhima of great strength, also set out, in order to gratify her. And intent upon fetching the flowers, he began to proceed at rapid space, facing the wind, in the direction from which the flower had come.

Intent upon gratifying Draupadi exiledunto the woods, as he was ranging the beautiful Gandhamadana, he remembered the many and various woes caused by Duryodhana. And he thought, 'Now that Arjuna sojourns in heaven and I too have come away to procure the flowers. Yudhishthira would be worried for us.' Thinking thus, that tiger among men proceeded rapidly. And having for his provisions on the journey the words of Draupadi, the mighty son of Pandu, Vrikodara Bhima, endued with strength and the swiftness of the wind, with his mind and sight fixed on the blooming slopes of the mountain, proceeded to penetrate with speed into that forest filled with trees.

There in the forest was laying down great Hanuman.

Knowing Bhimasena to be his brother, Hanuman, with the view of doing good to Bhima, obstructed the path leading to heaven. And thinking that he (Bhima) should not pass that way,(Hanuman) lay across the narrow path, beautified by plantain trees, obstructing it for the sake of the safety of Bhima. With the object that Bhima might not come by curse or defeat, by entering into the plantain wood, the ape Hanuman of huge body lay down amidst the plantain trees, being overcome with drowsiness. And he began to yawn, lashing his long tail, raised like unto the pole consecrated to Indra, and sounding like thunder. And on all sides round, the mountains by the mouths of caves emitted those sounds in echo, like a cow lowing. And as it was being shaken by the reports produced by the lashing of the tail, the mountain with its summits tottering, began to crumble all around.

On those sounds being heard the down of Bhima's body stood on end; and he began to range that plantain wood, in search of those sounds. And that one of mighty arms saw the vaanara-chief in the plantain wood, on an elevated rocky base. And he was hard to be looked at even as the lightning-flash; and of coppery hue like that of the lightning-flash: and endued with the voice of the lightning-flash; and quick moving as the lightning-flash; and having his short flesh neck supported on his
shoulders; and with his waist slender in consequence of the fullness of his shoulders. And his tail covered with long hair, and a little bent at the end, was raised like unto a banner. And (Bhima) saw Hanuman's head furnished with small lips, and coppery face and tongue, and red ears, and brisk eyes, and bare white incisors sharpened at the edge.' And his head was like unto the shining moon; adorned with white teeth within the mouth; and with mane scattered over, resembling a heap of asoka flowers.

And amidst the golden plantain trees, that one of exceeding effulgence was lying like unto a blazing fire, with his radiant body. And that slayer of foes as casting glances with his eyes reddened with intoxication. And the intelligent Bhima saw that mighty chief of vaanara-s, of huge body, lying like unto the Himalaya, obstructing the path of heaven. And seeing him alone in that mighty forest, the undaunted athletic Bhima, of long arms, approached him with rapid strides, and uttered a loud shout like unto the thunder. And at that shout of Bhima, beasts and birds became all alarmed. The powerful Hanuman, however, opening his eyes partially looked at him (Bhima) with disregard, with eyes reddened with intoxication.

And then smilingly addressing him, Hanuman said the following words, 'Ill as I am, I was sleeping sweetly. Why hast thou awakened me? Thou shouldst show kindness to all creatures, as thou hast reason. Belonging to the animal species, we are ignorant of virtue. But being endued with reason, men show kindness towards creatures. Why do then reasonable persons like thee commit themselves to acts contaminating alike body, speech, and heart, and destructive of virtue? Thou knowest not what virtue is, neither hast thou taken council of the wise. And therefore it is that from ignorance, and childishness thou destroyest the lower animals. Say, who art thou, and what for hast thou come to the forest devoid of humanity and human beings?"

Hearing these words of the intelligent vaanara-chief, the heroic Bhima nswered, 'Who art thou? And why also hast thou assumed the shape of a vaanara? It is a Kshatriya--one of a race next to the Brahmanas--that asketh thee. And he belongeth to the Kuru race and the lunar stock, and was borne by Kunti in her womb, and is one of the sons of Pandu, and is the off spring of the wind-god, and is known by the name of Bhimasena.' Hearing these words of the Kuru hero, Hanuman smiled, and that son of the wind-god (Hanuman) spake unto that offspring of the wind-god (Bhimasena), saying, 'I am a vaanara, I will not allow thee the passage thou desirest. Better desist and go back. Do thou not meet with destruction.'

At this Bhimasena replied. 'Destruction at anything else do I not ask thee about, O vaanara! Do thou give me passage. Arise! Do not come by grief at my hands.'

Hanuman said, "I have no strength to rise; I am suffering from illness. If go thou must, do thou go by overleaping me."

Bhima said, "The Supreme Soul void of the properties pervadeth a body all over. Him knowable alone by knowledge, I cannot disregard. And therefore, will I not overleap thee. If I had not known Him from Whom become manifest all creatures, I would have leapt over thee and also the mountain, even as Hanuman had bounded over the ocean."

Thereupon Hanuman said, "Who is that Hanuman, who had bounded over the ocean? I ask thee, O best of men. Relate if thou canst."

Bhima replied, "He is even my brother, excellent with every perfection, and endued with intelligence and strength both of mind and body. And he is the illustrious chief of vaanara-s, renowned in the Ramayana. And for Rama's queen, that king of the vaanara-s even with one leap crossed the ocean extending over a hundred yojanas. That mighty one is my brother. I am equal unto him in energy, strength and prowess and also in fight. And able am I to punish thee. So arise. Either give me passage or witness my prowess to-day. If thou do not listen to my bidding, I shall send thee to the abode of Yama."

Then knowing him (Bhima) to be intoxicated with strength, and proud of the might of his arms, Hanuman, slighting him at heart, said the following words, 'Relent thou, O sinless one. In consequence of age, I have no strength to get up. From pity for me, do thou go, moving aside my tail.' Being thus addressed by Hanuman, Bhima proud of the strength of his arms, took him for one wanting in energy and prowess, and thought within himself, 'Taking fast hold of the tail, will I send this vaanara destitute of energy and prowess, to the region of Yama.'

Thereat, with a smile he slightingly took hold of the tail with his left hand; but could not move that tail of the mighty vaanara. Then with both arms he pulled it, resembling the pole reared in honour of Indra. Still the mighty Bhima could not raise the tail with both his arms. And his eye-brows were contracted up, and his eyes rolled, and his face was contracted into wrinkles and his body was covered with sweat; and yet he could not raise it.

And when after having striven, the illustrious Bhima failed in raising the tail, he approached the side of the vaanara, and stood with a bashful countenance. And bowing down, Kunti's son, with joined hands, spake these words, 'Relent thou, O foremost of vaanara-s; and forgive me for my harsh words. Art thou a Siddha, or a god, or a Gandharva, or a Guhyaka? I ask thee out of curiosity. Tell me who thou art that hast assumed the shape of vaanara, if it be not a secret, O long-armed one, and if I can well hear it. I ask thee as a disciple, and I, O sinless one, seek thy refuge.'

Thereupon Hanuman said, 'O represser of foes, even to the extent of thy curiosity to know me, shall I relate all at length. Listen, O son of Pandu! O lotus-eyed one, I was begotten by the wind-god that life of the world--upon the wife of Kesari. I am a vaanara, by name Hanuman. All the mighty vaanara-kings, and vaanara-chiefs used to wait upon that son of the sun, Sugriva, and that son of Sakra, Vali. And, O represser of foes, a friendship subsisted between me and Sugriva, even as between the wind and fire. And for some cause, Sugriva, driven out by his brother, for a long time dwelt with me at the Hrisyamukh. And it came to pass that the mighty son of Dasaratha the heroic Rama, who is Vishnu's self in the shape of a human being, took his birth in this world. And in company with his queen and brother, taking his bow, that foremost of bowmen with the view of compassing his father's welfare, began to reside in the Dandaka forest.

And from Janasthana, that mighty Rakshasa monarch, the wicked Ravana, carried away his (Rama's) queen by stratagem and force, deceiving, O sinless one, that foremost of men, through the agency of a Rakshasa, Maricha, who assumed the form of a deer marked with gem-like and golden spots."

Hanuman said, 'And after his wife was carried away, that descendant of Raghu, while searching with his brother for his queen, met, on the summit of that mountain, with Sugriva, chief of the vaanara-s. Then a friendship was contracted between him and the high-souled Raghava. And the latter, having slain Vali installed Sugriva in the kingdom. And having obtained the kingdom, Sugriva sent forth vaanara-s by hundreds and by thousands in search of Sita. And, O best of men, I too with innumerable vaanara-s set out towards the south in quest of Sita, O mighty-armed one. Then a mighty vulture Sampati by name, communicated the tidings that Sita was in the abode of Ravana. Thereupon with the object of securing success unto Rama, I all of a sudden bounded over the main, extending for a hundred yojanas.

And, O chief of the Bharatas, having by my own prowess crossed the ocean, that abode of sharks and crocodiles, I saw in Ravana's residence, the daughter of king Janaka, Sita, like unto the daughter of a celestial. And having interviewed that lady, Vaidehi, Rama's beloved, and burnt the whole of Lanka with its towers and ramparts and gates, and proclaimed my name there, I returned.

Hearing everything from me the lotus-eyed Rama at once ascertained his course of action, and having for the passage of his army constructed a bridge across the deep, crossed it followed by myriads of vaanara-s. Then by prowess Rama slew those Rakshasas in battle, and also Ravana, the oppressor of the worlds together with his Rakshasa followers.

And having slain the king of the Rakshasas, with his brother, and sons and kindred, he installed in the kingdom in Lanka the Rakshasa chief, Vibhishana, pious, and reverent, and kind to devoted dependants. Then Rama recovered his wife even like the lost Vaidic revelation. Then Raghu's son, Rama, with his devoted wife, returned to his own city, Ayodhya, inaccessible to enemies; and that lord of men began to dwell there. Then that foremost of kings, Rama was established in the kingdom.

Thereafter, I asked a boon of the lotus-eyed Rama, saying, 'O slayer of foes, Rama, may I live as long as the history of thy deeds remaineth extant on earth!"

Thereupon he said, 'So be it.'

"O represser of foes, O Bhima, through the grace of Sita also, here all excellent objects of entertainment are supplied to me, whoever abide at this place. Rama reigned for the thousand and ten hundred years. Then he ascended to his own abode. Ever since, here Apsaras and Gandharvas delight me, singing for aye the deeds of that hero, O sinless one."

"O son of the Kurus, this path is impassable to mortals. For this, O Bharata, as also with the view that none might defeat or curse thee, have I obstructed thy passage to this path trod by the immortals. This is one of the paths to heaven, for the celestials; mortals cannot pass this way. But the lake in search of which thou hast come, lieth even in that direction."

Thus addressed, the powerful Bhimasena of mighty arms, affectionately, and with a cheerful heart, bowed unto his brother, Hanuman, the vaanara-chief, and said in mild words, 'None is more fortunate than I am; now have I seen my elder brother. It is a great favour shown unto me; and I have been well pleased with thee. Now I wish that thou mayst fulfil this desire of mine. I desire to behold. O hero, that incomparable form of thine, which thou at that time hadst had, in bounding over the main, that abode of sharks and crocodiles. Thereby I shall be satisfied, and also believe in thy words.' Thus addressed, that mighty vaanara said with a smile, 'That form of mine neither thou, not any one else can behold. At that age, the state of things was different, and doth not exist at present. In the Krita age, the state of things was one; and in the Treta, another; and in the Dwapara, still another. Diminution is going on this age; and I have not that form now. The ground, rivers, plants, and rocks, and siddhas, gods, and celestial sages conform to Time, in harmony with the state of things in the different yugas.

Therefore, do not desire to see my former shape, O perpetuator of the Kuru race. I am conforming to the tendency of the age. Verily, Time is irresistible'

Hanuman then explained to Bhima the histories of all the different Yugas that had passed, and also of that which is yet to come, and said, "The religious acts performed at the waning of the yugas, produce contrary effects. And even those that live for several yugas, conform to these changes. O represser of foes, as regards thy curiosity to know me, I say this,--Why should a wise person be eager to know a superfluous matter? (Thus), O long-armed one, have I narrated in full what thou hadst asked me regarding the characteristics of the different yugas. Good happen to thee! Do thou return.'"

But Bhimasena said, "Without beholding thy former shape, I will never go away. If I have found favour with thee, do thou then show me thine own shape."

Being thus addressed by Bhima, the vaanara with a smile showed him that form of his in which he had bounded over the main. And wishing to gratify his brother, Hanuman assumed a gigantic body which (both) in length and breadth increased exceedingly. And that vaanara of immeasurable effulgence stood there, covering the plantain grove furnished with trees, and elevating himself to the height reached by the Vindhya. And the vaanara, having attained his lofty and gigantic body like unto a mountain, furnished with coppery eyes, and sharp teeth, and a face marked by frown, lay covering all sides and lashing his long tail. And that son of the Kurus, Bhima, beholding that gigantic form of his brother, wondered, and the hairs of his body repeatedly stood on end. And beholding him like unto the sun in splendour, and unto a golden mountain, and also unto the blazing firmament, Bhima closed his eyes.

Thereupon Hanuman addressed Bhima with a smile, saying, 'O sinless one, thou art capable of beholding my size up to this extent. I can, however, go on swelling my size as long as I wish. And, O Bhima, amidst foes, my size increaseth exceedingly by its own energy.'

Witnessing that dreadful and wonderful body of Hanuman, like unto the Vindhya mountain, the son of the wind-god became bewildered. Then with his down standing erect, the noble-minded Bhima, joining his hands, replied unto Hanuman saying (there), 'O lord, by me have been beheld the vast dimensions of thy body. Do thou (now), O highly powerful one, decrease thyself by thy own power. Surely I cannot look at thee, like unto the sun risen, and of immeasurable (power), and irrepressible, and resembling the mountain Mainaka. O hero, to-day this wonder of my heart is very great, that thou remaining by his side, Rama should have encountered Ravana personally. Depending on the strength of thy arms, thou wert capable of instantly destroying Lanka, with its warriors, and horses, elephants and chariots. Surely, O son of the wind-god, there is nothing that is incapable of being achieved by thee; and in fight, Ravana together with his followers was no match for thee single-handed."

Thus addressed by Bhima, Hanuman, the chief of vaanara-s, answered in affectionate words uttered in solemn accents. "O mighty-armed one, O Bharata, it is even as thou sayest. O Bhimasena, that worst of Rakshasas was no match for me. But if I had slain Ravana--that thorn of the worlds--the glory of Raghu's son would have been obscured;--and for this it is that I left him alone. By slaying that lord of the Rakshasas together with his followers, and bringing back Sita unto his own city, that hero hath established his fame among men.

Now, O highly wise one, being intent on the welfare of thy brothers, and protected by the wind-god, do thou go along a fortunate and auspicious way."

Hanuman then discoursed to his brother Bhimasena upon the topics of politics, ethics, and diplomacy.

Then contracting that huge body of his, which he had assumed at will, the vaanara with his arms again embraced Bhimasena. And on Bhima being embraced by his brother, his fatigue went off, and all (the powers of body) as also his strength were restored. And having gained great accession of strength, he thought that there was none equal to him in physical power. And with tears in his eyes, the vaanara from affection again addressed Bhima in choked utterance, saying, 'O hero, repair to thy own abode. May I be incidentally remembered by thee in thy talk! O best of Kurus, do not tell any one that I abide here. O thou of great strength, the most excellent of the wives of the gods and Gandharvas resort to this place, and the time of their arrival is nigh.

My eyes have been blessed (by seeing thee). And, O Bhima, having felt a human being by coming in contact with thee, I have been put in mind of that son of Raghu, who was Vishnu himself under the name of Rama, and who delighted the heart of the world; and who was as the sun in regard to the lotus face of Sita, and also to that darkness--Ravana. Therefore, O heroic son of Kunti, let not thy meeting with me be fruitless. Do thou with fraternal feeling ask of me a boon, O Bharata. If this be thy wish, that going to Varanavata, I may destroy the insignificant sons of Dhritarashtra--even this will I immediately do. Or if this be thy wish that, that city may be ground by me with rocks, or that I may bind Duryodhana and bring him before thee, even this will I do to-day, O thou of mighty strength.'

Hearing those words of that high-souled one, Bhimasena with a cheerful heart answered Hanuman, saying, 'O foremost of vaanara-s, I take all this as already performed by thee. O mighty-armed one! I ask of thee this,--be thou well pleased with me. O powerful one, on thy having become our protector, the Pandavas have found help. Even by thy prowess shall we conquer all foes.'

Thus addressed, Hanuman said unto Bhimasena, 'From fraternal feeling and affection, I will do good unto thee, by diving into the army of thy foes copiously furnished with arrows and javelins. And, O highly powerful one, O hero, when thou shall give leonine roars, then shall I with my own, add force to shouts. Remaining on the flagstaff of Arjuna's car will I emit fierce shouts that will damp the energy of thy foes. Thereby ye will slay them easily.' Having said this unto Pandu's son, and also pointed him out the way of how he could fetch the flowers and come out of the woods.

Hanuman vanished then from that spot. And Bhima went on too, thinking of Hanuman's body and splendour unrivalled on earth, and also of the greatness and dignity of Dasaratha's son, Raghava the Best Amongst All Men.

Also read:
Rama Setu and Sri Krishna - I: Kamyavana Setu Bandha Kunda
Rama Setu and Sri Krishna - II: Hanuman's Promise to Govardhana
Rama Setu and Sri Krishna - III: Arjun and Hanuman's tussle over Setu

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