Aranya Kand 4 - Encounters with Jatayu, Kabandha and Shabari
As Ravana took Sita to Lanka, she saw five great apes on a mountain. Removing all her ornaments, she wrapped them in her upper garment and threw them at the apes. She hoped that the apes would give the ornaments to Rama when he came in search of her. Ravana did not notice this.
Soon, they reached Lanka, and Ravana took her to his inner quarters and asked a demoness to take care of her. He summoned eight rakshasas and told them to stay in the forests and keep an eye on Rama, and try to kill him if possible. Ravana then went to Sita and showed her his palace. He told her it would all belong to her is she became his queen.
An angry Sita then placed a blade of grass between her and Ravana. She told Ravana that he would be killed by Rama and his kingdom destroyed. Ravana then summoned terrible demonesses. He told them to take her to the Ashoka grove and keep an eye on her. He warned her if she did not accept him within twelve months, the cook would cut her into pieces and make breakfast.
Meanwhile, Rama who was returning to the hermitage, met Lakshmana on the way. He was distressed that Lakshmana had left Sita alone. Rama was distraught when he saw that Sita was not in the hermitage. Grieving, he asked the trees and plants around the hermitage to tell him where Sita was. Accompanied by Lakshmana, Rama wandered from one place to another, desperately looking for his beloved Sita.
He saw Sita’s ornaments and the flowers she had worn strewn on the ground. He saw Sita’s footprints along with that of a mighty being. Rama swore he would kill whoever had abducted Sita, and make the mountains whirl. Lakshmana tried to calm down Rama assuring him that they would find whoever abducted Sita and kill her.
While searching for Sita, they found Jatayu lying on the ground, bleeding. Rama assumed Jatayu had eaten up Sita and decided to kill him. The great bird then told Rama how Ravana had abducted Sita. Rama then hugged the bird and wept, seeing the eagle’s condition. Taking a last breath, Jatayu told Rama that the one who had abducted Sita was Ravana, the lord of Lanka, the son of Vishrava, and brother of Kubera.
Jatayu then gave up his life. The brothers then cremated the bird and conducted his last rites. The brothers then went in the west and south directions, searching for Sita. They heard a terrible sound and came face-to-face with the horrible monster Kabandha. The demon caught hold of them and threatened to kill them.
Rama and Lakshmana used their swords and cut off the demon’s hands. The demon screamed in pain and asked them who they were. Lakshmana then told who Rama was. The demon then narrated its story. It was a great being cursed by a sage to be a monster. The sage had predicted that Kabandha would be freed of the curse when Rama cut off his arms.
As per his request, the brothers then cremated Kabandha, and he ascended to heaven. While leaving for the other world, Kabandha told Rama to go to the Rishyamukha Mountains by the Pampa River and befriend the ape leader Sugriva. Kabandha told Rama that the apes would then find Sita wherever she was.
The brothers then left in search of Sugriva. On the way, they met an aged woman Shabari, who was waiting for them in her hermitage near Lake Pampa. She welcomed them and touched their feet. After having seen Rama, she took his permission, gave up her body, and went to heaven. The two brothers then proceeded to Rishyamukha in search of the ape Sugriva, the son of Riksharaja.
End of Aranya Kanda