23-1 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Śrī Rām acaritam ānasa

(The Mānasa lake containing the exploits of Śrī Rāma)

Descent Four


Lovely as jasmine and blue lotus, of surpassing strength, repositories of wisdom, endowed with natural grace, excellent bowmen, hymned by the Vedas, and lovers of the cow and the Brāhmaṇas, who appeared in the form of mortal men through their own Māyā (deluding potency) as the two noble scions of Raghu, the armours of true religion, friendly to all and journeying in quest for Sītā, may they both grant us Devotion. (1)

Blessed are those pious souls who ceaselessly quaff the nectar of Śrī Rāma’s Name, churned out of the ocean of the Vedas, which completely destroys the sins of the Kali age and knows no decay, which shines ever bright in the most beautiful moon-like mouth of the glorious Śambhu (Lord Śiva), a palatable remedy for the disease of transmigration and the very life of Sītā (Janaka’s Daughter). (2)

Why not reside in Kāśī (the modern Vārāṇasī), the abode of Śambhu and Bhavānī (Goddess Pārvatī), knowing it to be the birthplace of Mukti (final beatitude), the mine of spiritual wisdom and the destroyer of sins? O stupid mind, how is it that you do not worship Him who drank off the deadly venom (churned out of the ocean of milk), the very presence of which was burning all the host of gods? Who else is so merciful as Lord Śaṅkara?

The Lord of Raghus proceeded still further and approached the Riṣyamūka hill. There dwelt Sugrīva (a monkey chief) with his counsellors. When he saw the two brothers, the very embodiments of immeasurable strength, he was exceedingly alarmed and said (to one of his ministers), “Listen, Hanumān: those two men are repositories of strength and beauty. Disguised as a Brāhmaṇa student go and see them and perceiving their intention in your mind inform me accordingly by means of signs. If they have been despatched by the malicious Vāli, I must leave this hill and flee away at once.” Taking the form of a Brāhmaṇa the monkey (Hanumān) went up to the two brothers and bowing his head accosted them thus: “Who are you, heroes - one of dark hue, the other fair - that roam the woods disguised as Kṣatriyas? Treading the hard ground with your tender feet, wherefore are you wandering in the forest, my masters? Though possessed of delicate, charming and beautiful limbs, how is it that you have exposed yourself to the scorching sun and stormy wind of these wild regions? Do you count in the Trinity (viz., Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the three worlds) or are you the twin divine sages Nara and Nārāyaṇa? (1 - 5)

“Or are you the Lord of all the spheres the Prime Cause of the world and , manifested in human form to bridge the ocean of mundane existence and relieve the burden of the earth?” (1)

“We are sons of King Daśaratha, the lord of Kosala, and have come to the forest in obedience to our father’s command. We two brothers are called by the names of Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa. We had with us a pretty and delicate girl, the daughter of King Videha, who has been carried away by some demon here. It is in quest of her that we are moving about, O holy Brāhmaṇa. We have furnished you with our account in some detail; now tell us your story in a comprehensive manner, O good Brāhmaṇa.” Now Hanumān recognized his lord and falling to the ground clasped His feet. That joy, Umā, was more than could be described. A thrill ran through his body and no words came to his lips as he gazed on the lovely style of their dress. Then recovering himself he sang His praises and was glad at heart to have found his master. “It was quite in the fitness of things that I questioned my lord; but how is it that You ask me like a mortal? I have been roving in error under the spell of Your Māyā (deluding potency); it was for this reason that I failed to recognize my lord.” (1 - 5)

“In the first place I am dull-witted and deluded, wicked at heart and ignorant; to crown all, my master, who are a befriender of the humble and are no other than the almighty Lord Yourself, had forgotten me.” (2)

“Although, my lord, I have many faults, let not the servant be cast into oblivion by the master. The Jīva (ego), O Lord, is deluded by Your Māyā and can be redeemed only by Your grace. On top of it, I swear by the Hero of Raghu’s line, I know neither adoration nor any other means (of pleasing You). A servant depends on his master and a child on its mother and both remain free from anxiety; for a master needs must take care of his servant.” So saying he fell at the Lord’s feet much agitated; his heart was overwhelmed with love and he manifested his own (monkey) form. The Lord of Raghus then lifted and clasped him to His bosom and soothed him by wetting him with the tears of His eyes. “Listen, O Hanumān: be not depressed at heart; you are twice as dear to Me as Lakṣmaṇa. Everyone says that I look upon all with the same eye; but a devotee is particularly dear to Me because he too depends on none but Me.” (1 - 4)

“And he alone, Hanumān, is exclusively devoted to Me, who is steadfast in his conviction that he is the servant and that the as manifested form of the Lord whole animate and inanimate creation is his master.” (3)

When Hanumān, the son of the wind-god, found his master so tararable to him he rejoiced at heart and all his agony gone. “My Lord, on the summit of this hill dwells Sugrīva, the chief of the monkeys; he is a servant of Yours. Make friends with him, my lord; knowing him to be in affliction rid him of all fear. He will have Sītā tracked by drafting millions of monkeys in every direction (in search of Her).” Having thus explained to Him everything, he lifted both the brothers on his back (and took them to the place where Sugrīva was). When Sugrīva saw Śrī Rāma, he accounted his birth as highly blessed. He reverently advanced to meet Him and bowed his head at His feet; while the Lord of Raghus and His younger brother embraced him in return. The monkey chief pondered thus within himself, “Will they, good heavens, make friends with me?” (1 - 4)

Then Hanumān related all the circumstances of both the sides, and having installed the sacred fire as a witness he concluded a firm alliance (between Śrī Rāma and Sugrīva). (4)

The alliance was thus unreservedly concluded and Lakṣmaṇa narrated all the past history of Śrī Rāma. Said Sugrīva with his eyes full of tears, “The daughter of Janaka (the lord of Mithilā), my lord, will be surely recovered. On one occasion when I sat here deliberating with my counsellors I saw her fallen in the enemy’s hands and being borne through the air loudly wailing. Crying “Rāma, Rāma, Ah! my Rāma” she dropped her scarf when she saw us.” When Śrī Rāma asked for that he handed it over to Him at once. Śrī Rāma pressed it to His bosom and grieved much. Said Sugrīva, “Listen, O hero of Raghu’s line; sorrow no more and take courage in your heart. I will render service to you in every way so that Janaka’s daughter may come and see you.” (1 - 4)

The Ocean of Mercy, who was at the same time the embodiment of physical strength, rejoiced to hear his ally’s words, “Tell me, Sugrīva, why have you come to stay in the forest?” (5)

“My lord, Vāli and myself are two brothers. The affection that existed between us was past all telling. Once upon a time, O lord, the son of the demon Maya, who was known by the name of Māyāvī, came to our town (Kiṣkindha). At dead of night he called out at the gate of the town. Vāli could not brook his enemy’s challenge to a bout and sallied forth to meet him. But when he saw Vāli coming, he took to flight. I too had accompanied my brother. The enemy went and entered the cave of a big mountain. Then Vāli gave instructions to me, “Await my return till a fortnight. If I do not return, then take me as slain.” When I had waited there for a month, O slayer of Khara, a copious stream of blood issued from the cave. I, therefore, concluded that the demon had slain Vāli and that he would come and kill me too. Accordingly I blocked the mouth of the cave with a rock and fled away. When the ministers saw the town without a master, they forced me to accept the throne. Meanwhile Vāli, who had killed the enemy, returned home and saw me (installed on the throne), he nursed a grudge against me in his heart. He gave me a most severe beating as he would an enemy, and robbed me of all that I had including my wife. For fear of him, O gracious Hero of Raghu’s line, I wandered all over the world in a pitiable condition. A curse prevents him from coming over here; yet I remain ill at ease in mind.” When the gracious Lord heard of His devotee’s distress both His long arms started throbbing (thus showing His martial spirit as well as His determination to punish Vāli). (1 - 7)

“Listen, Sugrīva: I will kill Vāli with a single arrow His life will not be saved even if he takes refuge with Brahmā (the Creator) or even with Rudra (Lord Śiva). (6)

 “One would incur great sin by the very sight of those who are not distressed to see the distress of a friend. A man should regard his own mountain-like troubles as of no more account than a mere grain of sand, while the troubles of a friend should appear to him like Mount Śumeru, though really they may be as trifling as a grain of sand. Those fools who are not of such a temperament presume in vain to make friends with anybody. A friend should restrain his companion from the evil path and lead him on the path of virtue; he should proclaim the latter’s good points and screen his faults, should give and take things without any scruple and serve his friend’s interest to the best of his ability and finding him in distress love him a hundred times more than ever. The Vedas declare these to be the qualities of a noble friend. He, however, who contrives to speak bland words to your face and harms you behind your back and harbours some evil design in his heart, and whose mind is as tortuous as the movements of a snake is an unworthy friend and one had better bid good-bye to such a friend. A stupid servant, a stingy monarch, a bad wife and a false friend - these four are tormenting like a pike. Relying on my strength, dear friend, grieve no more; I will serve your cause in everyway possible.” Said Sugrīva, “Listen, O Hero of Raghu’s race: Vāli is possessed of immense strength and is exceedingly staunch in battle.” He then showed Him Dundubhi’s bones and the seven palm-trees, which were struck down by the Lord of Raghus without any exertion. When Sugrīva witnessed Śrī Rāma’s immeasurable strength his affection for Him grew all the more and he was now satisfied that he would succeed in killing Vāli. He bowed his head at His feet again and again and was delighted at heart to recognize the Lord. When the light of wisdom dawned on him, he said; “My mind, O Lord, has been set at rest by Your grace. Renouncing pleasure, prosperity, home, personal glory and all I will render service to You. All these are stumbling-blocks on the path of Devotion to Śrī Rāma (Yourself): so declare saints given to the worship of Your feet. Pairs of opposites such as friend and foe, joy and sorrow, in this world are products of Māyā (Illusion) and have no reality. Vāli is my greatest friend, by whose grace I have met You, Rāma, the Allayer of sorrow. On waking from a dream when a man comes to know the identity of him with whom he had fought in the dream, he feels abashed. Now, my Lord, do me this favour that I may renounce all and worship You night and day.” On hearing the words of Sugrīva, imbued as they were with dispassion, Śrī Rāma, who held a bow in His hand, smiled and said, “Whatever you have said is all true; but my words, O friend, can never be otherwise.” Śrī Rāma (says the saint Kākabhuśuṇḍi), O Garuḍa (king of birds), makes us all dance even as a juggler would make his monkey dance: so declare the Vedas. Taking Sugrīva with Him the Lord of Raghus proceeded with a bow and arrow in His hands. Then the Lord of Raghus sent Sugrīva, who, strengthened by Śrī Rāma, thundered under the very nose of Vāli. On hearing his roar Vāli sallied forth frantic with fury. His wife, however, clasped his feet with her hands and warned him thus: “Listen, my lord: the two brothers with whom Sugrīva has concluded an alliance are of unapproachable majesty and might. They are no other than Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, the sons of King Daśaratha (the lord of Kosala), who can conquer Death himself on the field of battle.” (1 - 15)

Said Vāli, “Listen, my timid darling, the Lord of Raghus looks upon all with the same eye. Even if He kills me, I will attain His divine abode and have Him as my eternal Lord.” (7)

So saying he sallied forth in his great pride, thinking no more of Sugrīva than of a blade of grass. The two brothers closed with each other. Vāli browbeat Sugrīva, and striking him with his fist roared in a thundering voice. Sugrīva now fled in dismay (and returned to Śrī Rāma); the stroke of his clenched fist had fallen on him as a bolt from heaven. “What did I say, O gracious Hero of Raghu’s line? This is no brother of mine but Death himself.” “You two brothers are identical in appearance; it was because of this confusion that I did not kill him.” He stroked Sugrīva’s body with His hand and Io! It became as hard as adamant and all his pain was gone. He put on his neck a wreath of flowers and giving him enormous strength sent him back. Again the two brothers fought in many ways, while the Lord of Raghus watched them from behind a tree. (1 - 4)

When Sugrīva had tried many a trick and exerted all his might he lost heart and felt much alarmed. Śrī Rāma then drew His arrow and shot Vāli in the heart. (8)

Struck by the shaft Vāli fell to the ground smarting with pain; again he sprang up and sat, when he saw the Lord before him - dark of hue, with His matted hair coiled on His head, bloodshot eyes and the bow still drawn. Gazing on Him again and again he fixed his heart on His feet; now that he recognized the Lord he felt that he had realized the reward of his birth. Although his heart was full of love, the words on his lips were harsh; looking towards Śrī Rāma he said, “Even though, my lord, You descended on earth for upholding righteousness. You have killed me as a hunter would. I, Your enemy and Sugrīva, Your dear friend! For what fault did You take my life, my lord?” “Listen, O wretch: a younger brother’s wife, a sister, a daughter-in-law and one’s own daughter - these four are alike. One would incur no sin by killing him who looks upon these with an evil eye. Fool, in your extravagant pride you paid no heed to your wife’s warning. You knew that your brother had taken refuge under the might of my arm; and yet in your vile arrogance you sought to kill him!” (1 - 5)

“Listen, Rāma: my shrewdness cannot avail against my master. But, my lord, am I a sinner yet even though I have found shelter in You at the hour of my death?” (9)

When Śrī Rāma heard this most tender speech of Vāli, He stroked his head with His hand. “I make your body immortal; you may keep up your life.” Said Vāli, “Listen, O Ocean of Mercy: sages continue their efforts (for God-Realization) during successive births; but at the last moment they fail to utter the name “Rāma”. But He, on the strength of whose Name Lord Śaṅkara bestows immortality on all alike, has appeared in a visible form before my very eyes! Shall I ever get such a golden opportunity again? (1 - 3)

“He has appeared before my very eyes, whose praises the Vedas ever sing only in negative terms and whom sages are scarcely able to perceive in their meditation even after they have controlled their breath and mind and freed their senses from passion. Knowing me to be a victim of excessive pride the Lord said to me, “Preserve your life!” But who would be such a fool as to insist on cutting down a celestial tree and using it as a fence to protect an acacia tree? Now, my lord, look upon me with compassion and grant me the boon that I ask; in whatever species of life it may be my fate to be born, I may continue to love Śrī Rāma’s (Your) feet. This son of mine, Aṅgada by name, is my equal in humility and strength. O Bestower of Blessedness; therefore, accept him, my master; and holding him by the arm, O Lord of gods and men, treat him as Your servant.” (1-2)

Intensifying his devotion to Śrī Rāma’s feet Vāli dropped his body (without his knowing it) even as an elephant little knows the falling of a wreath of flowers from its neck. (10)

Śrī Rāma sent away Vāli to His own abode. All the people of the city ran in dismay. With dishevelled hair and a tottering frame Tārā (Vāli’s wife) wailed in many ways. When the Lord of Raghus saw her distress, He imparted to her wisdom and dispelled her delusion. “Made up of the five elements, viz., earth, water, fire, ether and air, this body is extremely vile. The mortal frame lies, buried in eternal sleep before your eyes, while the soul is everlasting. For whom, then, do you lament?” The light of wisdom dawned on her and now she embraced His feet and asked of Him the boon of supreme Devotion. The almighty Śrī Rāma, O Umā (says Bhagavān Śaṅkara) makes us all dance like so many marionettes. Śrī Rāma then gave orders to Sugrīva, who performed all the funeral rites with due ceremony. He next instructed His younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa), “Go and crown Sugrīva as the king.” Bowing their head to the Lord of Raghus, all left in obedience to His orders. (1 - 5)

Lakṣmaṇa immediately summoned the citizens and the Brāhmaṇas and (in their presence) crowned Sugrīva as the king and installed Aṅgada as the Crown Prince. (11)

Umā, there is no such friend as Śrī Rāma in this world - neither preceptor, nor father, nor mother, nor brother, nor master. Gods, men and sages, all as a rule have some selfish motive behind their love. The same Sugrīva who trembled day and night in fear of Vāli, who had many a sore on his body and whose breast ever burnt with the fire of anxiety, was made the king of monkeys! The Hero of Raghu’s line, is extremely compassionate by nature. No wonder that men who knowingly abandon such a lord, should be caught in the meshes of calamity. The Lord then sent for Sugrīva and instructed him in the various principles of statecraft. Said the Lord, “Listen, O Sugrīva, lord of the monkeys: I may not enter a town for four years and ten. The hot season is now over and the rains have set in. I will, therefore, encamp on the hills not far from you. You and Aṅgada rule over the kingdom, and ever cherish my business in your heart.” When Sugrīva returned home, Śrī Rāma took up His abode on the Pravarṣaṇa hills. (1 - 5)

The gods had already kept ready for Him a charming cave in the mountain in the hope that the all-merciful Śrī Rāma would come and stay there for some time. (12)

The lovely forest, rich in flowers, presented a most splendid sight with its swarms of bees humming in greed of honey. Delightful bulbs, roots, fruits and leaves grew in abundance from the time the Lord came there. Seeing the mountain incomparable in its charms Śrī Rāma, the suzerain Lord of gods, stayed there with His younger brother. Taking the form of bees, birds and beasts, gods, Siddhas and hermits did service to the Lord. The forest became a picture of felicity from the time Śrī Rāma, the Lord of Lakṣmī (the goddess of prosperity), took up His residence there. There was a delightful and glistening rock of crystal, on which the two brothers sat at ease. Śrī Rāma gave a discourse to His younger brother on many a topic such as Devotion, dispassion, statecraft and spiritual wisdom. As the rains had set in, the sky was overcast with clouds, which made a delightful rumbling noise. (1 - 4)

“Look here, Lakṣmaṇa: the peacocks dance at the sight of the clouds, even as a householder having a leaning towards dispassion would rejoice to see a devotee of Bhagavān Viṣṇu.” (13)

“The roaming clouds are terribly thundering in the sky. Bereft as I am, of my darling (Sītā), my heart trembles to see all this. The lightning flashes fitfully amid the clouds, like the friendship of the wicked, never endures. The pouring clouds cleave close to the ground even as the learned stoop beneath accumulated lore. The mountains endure the buffeting of showers even as a saint would put up with the taunts of the wicked. The swelling streamlets rush with great speed just as the wicked would feel elated even with a small fortune. The water becomes turbid the moment it descends on earth, even as the Jīva (an embodied soul) is enveloped in Māyā as soon as born. The water coming from various directions gathers into a pool even as commendable virtues find their way into the heart of a noble soul. The water of the stream, becomes still once it enters into the ocean, just as the ego finds eternal rest on attaining union with Śrī Hari. (1 - 4)

“The green earth is so choked with grass that the tracks cannot be distinguished, just as holy books are obscured by heretic doctrines. (14)

“On all sides one hears the delightful croaking of frogs, which reminds one of a batch of religious students chanting the Vedas. Clothed with new leaves the trees of different species look as green and cheerful as the mind of a striving soul who has attained spiritual wisdom. The leaves of the Āka and Javāsa plants have fallen off even as under a good government the plans of the wicked come to naught. Dust cannot be found even if one searches for it, just as piety is scared away by anger. The earth rich with crops appears as delightful as the wealth of a generous man. In the thick darkness of the night fireflies gleam like a mustered band of hypocrites. The embankments of the fields have been breached by torrential rains just as women get spoiled by freedom. Clever farmers weed out the grass from their crops, just as the wise discard infatuation, vanity and pride. The Cakravāka birds are no more to be seen, just as virtues disappear with the Kali age. Even though it rains on the barren lands as well, not a blade of grass sprouts on it, just as concupiscence takes no root in the heart of a servant of Śrī Hari. The earth looks charming with the swarms of various living creatures even as the population grows under a good government. Many a weary traveller has stopped here and there just as with the dawning of wisdom the senses become still. (1 - 6)

“Sometimes a strong wind would blow and disperse the clouds in various directions, just as with the birth of an unworthy son the noble traditions of a family get extinct. Now it becomes pitch dark even during the day, while at other times the sun would shine brightly, just as the light of wisdom is obscured in the company of the vile and manifests itself in the company of the good. (15 A-B)

“Look here, Lakṣmaṇa: the rains are over now and the most charming autumn has arrived. The whole earth is covered by the Kāśa grass with its white flowers as if the rainy season has exposed its old age. The constellation known by the name of Agastya (Canopus) has appeared and dried up the water on the roads even as contentment swallows greed. The limpid water of the rivers and lakes looks charming as a saint’s heart devoid of pride and infatuation. Slowly but gradually the water of the streams and lakes is drying up even as the wise shake off the possessive instinct. Knowing that the autumn had set in the Khañjana bird has made its appearance, just as the welcome fruit of one’s meritorious deeds appears at the appointed time (neither sooner nor later). Devoid of mud and dust the earth has assumed a lovely aspect just like the administration of a monarch well-versed in politics. The fish are distressed on account of the diminishing waters even as an improvident householder suffering from want of money. The cloudless sky is shining as bright as a devotee of Śrī Hari, who has abandoned all desires. Here and there we have light autumnal showers, just as a rare soul comes to develop devotion to Me. (1 - 5)

 “Kings and ascetics, merchants and mendicants are gladly leaving the city (kings for extending their dominions, ascetics in search of a suitable place for practising penance, merchants for carrying on their trade and mendicants for begging alms), just as men in any of the four stages of life cease to toil (for perfection) once they have acquired devotion to Śrī Hari. (16)

“In deep waters the fish are as happy as ever, just as those who have taken refuge in Śrī Hari (i.e., Myself) never fall into trouble of any kind. With full-blown lotuses the lake appears as charming as when the absolute Brahma appears with form. The bees are making a humming sound which possesses a unique melody of its own, and the birds a charming concert of diverse sounds. The Cakravāka bird is sad at heart to see the night, just as a villain is grieved at the sight of another’s fortune. The Chātakā cries out in its agony of excessive thirst just as an enemy of Śaṅkara knows no rest. The moon by night relieves the heat of the autumnal sun, just as the sight of a holy man drives away sin. Flocks of Chakora birds fix their gaze on the moon as soon as she comes to their view, even as the votaries of Śrī Hari on meeting Him. Mosquitoes and gadflies have perished due to fear of cold, just as hostility to the Brāhmaṇas brings, ruin to the entire family. (1 - 4)

 “The insects that teemed on the earth have perished with the advent of the autumn, just as a man who has found a teacher in the real sense of the term, is rid of all doubt and error. (17)

“The rains are over and the autumn, which is marked by a cloudless sky and limpid waters, has arrived; yet, dear brother, we have received no news about Sītā. If only once I could anyhow come to know of her whereabouts I would recover her out of the hands of even Death himself. Wherever she may be, if only she is still alive I would make an effort to rescue her, dear brother. Sugrīva too has forgotten me now that he has got a kingdom, a treasury, the amenities of city life and his own spouse. I will shoot the fool tomorrow with the same arrow which I used in killing Vāli.” (Says Śaṅkara) He whose very grace rids one of pride and infatuation, could He ever dream of being angry, Umā? Those enlightened sages alone who have conceived a love for the feet of Śrī Rāma (the Hero of Raghu’s race) can know the inwardness of this conduct of His. When Lakṣmaṇa found the Lord angry, he strung his bow and took arrows in his hands. (1 - 4)