Rama Meets Hanuman
Rama and Laxmana left the ashrama of Shabari and reached the Pampa Lake further South. It was a pleasant site; the water of the lake was sweet and clear. All animals were seen drinking from the same spot. Rivalry and cruelty was foreign to the spot. Surrounding trees were blooming with fruits and flowers.
Here the two brothers rested for a couple of days. The evergreen sage Narada visited Rama to seek advice on the nuances and subtleties of Bhakti -Yoga of Devotion or Worship. The expressions of Bhakti in a spiritual aspirant were discussed. Rama told Narada about the nine types of Bhakti:
One who enjoys the Association of Sages is Bhakta. And who is a sage? In whose presence one gets peace and happiness of mind and soul is a sage.
Second Bhakti is to listen to the stories and glory of God with all humility and love.
To worship the holy feet of one's Guru (Teacher) and to serve him as per one's ability is third bhakti.
To have firm faith in the teachings of scriptures and Mantra, Japa, etc. is another form of worship.
To control the sense organs, and to be able to stabilize the mind in the constant remembrance of the Lord is one form of Bhakti.
To attempt to visualize the same God in everything and in all situations is the next form of Bhakti.
To remain contented, non covetous and satisfied in whatever condition the lord has placed one in is the eighth type of devotion, and
To lead a simple guileless life, not to injure or harm anyone, to have firm faith in the existence of God, and to be equal in pain and pleasure is the last form of Bhakti.
One who attempts to acquire anyone of these virtues is a Bhakta -devotee of the Lord.
Meeting of Rama and Hanuman
Soon Rama and Laxmana reached the foothills of Rishyamuk mountains. Here the king Sugreeva of monkey clan was staying with his ministers and friends. One of them was mighty Hanuman, the noblest devotee of Rama. This intelligent monkey was well versed in all the scriptures and was pure by thought, words, and deeds. He had vowed to remain celibate all throughout his life, and therefore he looked at every woman as mother. His devotion to Rama was eternal, and he thought himself to be the most obedient servant of Rama! This sadhana with servant attitude is called as Dasya-bhava. Hanuman is worshipped all over in India as the deity of purity, power, and eliminator of all evils.
On seeing the two foreigners coming to the mountain, Sugreeva asked Hanuman to see with what intentions these two had come to Kishkindha. Accordingly, Hanuman came down as a Brahmin priest, and inquired, "O noble ones, who are you and what brings you here? It seems you are warriors but you have taken to life of sanyasins. Why is it so? O delicate ones of royal origin, your feet are having blisters due to this rough terrain. Please tell me about yourselves."
Thus spoken to with modesty and humility, Rama answered, "O Noble Monkey, we are the princes from Ayodhya. My name is Rama and he is my brother Laxmana. As it happens, some demon has kidnapped my wife Sita and we are moving in search of her. And by the way who are you, who speaks to us with such devotion and love?"
No sooner did Rama speak thus than Hanuman realized that he was face to face with his Ishta -- Lord Rama. The amnesia of this birth suddenly vanished and Hanuman could see the glorious form of his Master full of effulgence and grace.
With tears in his eyes, he prostrated at the lotus feet of Rama and said, "O Lord, you have taken such a long time to come to your devotee that this Hanuman has almost become ignorant fool not to recognize you. What a foolish question to ask - who are you!"
Rama lifted his devotee and put him to his breast, patting him on his back. The tears flowed freely from the eyes of Rama and Hanuman. Laxmana who was astonished to see the second devotee (first one was Shabari) whom Rama loved more than him (Laxmana). But jealousy! No. Laxmana was an intelligent devotee of Rama, capable to understand that Sri Rama had all types of Devotees who come to earth to contribute their might, and help Rama in his mission. Therefore, he also hugged Hanuman with same love and reverence.
Story of Sugreeva and His Brother Vali
Soon Rama and Laxmana were invited to visit the camp where with the help of Sugreeva and other friends they were sure to find out some way to locate as to where Sita could have been taken away.
On his meeting with Rama Sugreeva told this life story to him:
Sugreeva had run away from his kingdom in the fear of his elder brother Vali. Vali was very powerful and cruel king of Kishkindha. He had once defeated the mighty Ravana also. As it happened, once a demon Mayawi challenged Vali's supremacy. Vali accepted the challenge and fight broke out between the two. They entered one cave and continued their fight inside. Vali specifically told Sugreeva to remain stationed at the mouth of the cave and wait for him for fifteen days. "I will kill this demon and return", Vali told Sugreeva.
But even after more than fifteen days, nobody returned. one day blood was seen flowing from the cave and Sugreeva thought that Vali must have been killed, and it was likely that the demon would kill him too. So Sugreeva ran away to his kingdom and waited for Vali. But Vali did not return even after a few weeks. Therefore he declared himself to be the new king in place of Vali.
A few months passed thus. The injured Vali recovered from his wounds and regained his strength to return to his kingdom. He was trembling with rage when he found that his unfaithful brother has acceded to his throne. He suspected foul play and thrashed Sugreeva almost to death. Somehow Sugreeva escaped and ran for his life to take shelter on the heights of Risyamuk mountains.
Further Rama was told that Vali had also forcefully taken his (Sugreeva's) wife as the new queen. Sugreeva and Hanuman pleaded that Vali was unjust and cruel king and his rule was causing immense hardship and suffering to the people of Kishkindha. Hence, Rama must put an end to his life and make Sugreeva the king again.
Rama Kills Vali
Rama agreed as he had seen that although Sugreeva was a coward fellow he was not wicked. He had not occupied the throne intentionally or through scheme. He really believed that Vali was killed in fight. Therefore, Rama accepted him as his friend and promised to eliminate Vali. Accordingly, The party left for the capital city and Sugreeva, under the instructions of Rama, challenged his brother to come out and fight it out for the final decision as to who should rule Kishkindha. During the fight Rama put an end to the life of mighty Vali with a powerful arrow. Sugreeva thus was reinstated as the king. He promised Rama to help him in finding out the whereabouts of Sita. Accordingly plans were drawn and four groups were formed to reach out East, West, North and South territories.
Serach for Sita Starts
Son of late Vali - Angad - had joined his uncle and Rama in this mission. He became a great devotee of Rama. Jambuwanta, a bear, also came to help them. Thus Rama, Laxmana, Hanuman, Sugreeva, Angad, and Jambuwanta headed south where chances of finding Sita were highest.
In Search Of Sita
The urgency of finding Sita was visible in the movements of these devotees of Rama. It was decided that both Rama and Laxmana should take rest and wait for them to bring the news of the whereabouts of Sita. Thus Hanuman, Angad, Jambuwanta, and others reached the southern tip of India. The vast Indian Ocean was seen spread out as limitless expanse. No one knew what to do next. Hanuman was not prepared to return back to Rama without definite news of Mother Sita. He would rather put an end to life than go empty handed to his Master.
Thus, confused and with anxiety laden heart, almost dejected, these mighty Rama Bhaktas sat down on the rock near the sprawling ocean shore. Behind them, in a cave not far off, a huge vulture, almost famished with hunger, was pleased to see these people as his prey! Sampati was his name. His sense of hearing, vision, and smell were phenomenally acute. His power was such that he could eat a person in one bite! Thus, to satisfy his age-old hunger, he decided to attack one of them.
But, just then he heard Hanuman talking about Jatayu: How he had tried to protect Sita from the hands of Ravana. The sudden surprise of Sampati was attributed to Jatayu being his brother! To know more about Jatayu and his fate Sampati went near the group and inquired, "O noble ones, who are you? From whence do you come to this remote and lonely place? And may I know the details of your reference to my brother Jatayu?"
Thus spoken to, Hanuman narrated the valiant sacrifice Jatayu made in the attempt to rescue Sita. He further told Sampati about Rama, Laxmana, and Sita, and how Ravana had kidnapped Sita. They had come to that remote place in search of Sita. Sampati thought over the matter. When he realized that Sri Rama - the Lord Himself - had liberated the soul his brother, he also decided to help Rama in his mission to eliminate evil from this earth.
Sita Located In Lanka!
He could see for miles ahead across the sea. His penetrating vision could visualize every tiny detail on an island there. And, yes, on the island of Lanka, was seated a lady under the tree in a beautiful garden - Ashokvan. He realized that it was the kingdom of the mighty Ravana. He could also see that Sita was under arrest and many watchful eyes were on her, mostly of demon lady servants of Ravana. He narrated the scene to others. Angad, Hanuman, Jambuwanta and others were full of joy.
But their joy was short lived. Hanuman said that it was useless to go Rama without positive proof about Sita. Someone must go there to actually talk to Sita, confirm and return after which they should inform Rama. For this purpose said Hanuman, he had already brought the royal and private ring of Rama familiar to Sita on the basis of which someone could give Sita guarantee of early help and safe return back to Rama.
However, the question as to who could/would go to that far off land sprang up as a problem for which the answer was not forthcoming with ease. Sampati said that he could not go as he had become old and the power in his wings had left him. Angad said, if I was asked to go on land I would go any distance; but water! No, it was not possible for him to swim or jump so high and long.
Then Hanuman, the great Yogi, sits in meditation, repeating the holy name of his Chosen Ideal - Rama.