- Long, long ago in an age when men lived for a thousand years and noble kings ruled our planet, there lived a great king named Lord Ramachandra. Actually He was not an ordinary king. He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, incarnated in India as the son of Maharaj Dasarath, the king of Ayodhya. He was the avatar during an age known as the Treta yuga, and had a greenish complexion like a beautiful parrot. Why would God have come to Earth? He appears throughout the ages to re-establish religious principles and rid the planet of the most evil and demoniac people who are disturbing society.
He also comes to enjoy loving pastimes with His dear-most devotees. The Supreme Lord loves His devotees and they love Him. They therefore take birth as His friends, mother, father, brothers, wife, servants and sometimes even as animals such as cows and monkeys.
Lord Rama was raised to be a perfect ruler. He personified justice, mercy, strength and all other good qualities. The citizens of Ayodhya were very happy to know that Maharaj Dasarath had such a qualified successor. However, as fate would have it, to honor a vow that his father had made, Lord Rama accepted fourteen years of exile to the forest. Everyone was heartbroken. No one could believe the situation, but because Lord Rama was so noble, He readily accepted His fate. He left His father’s palace for the forest accompanied by His brother Laksman and His wife Sita Devi.
Many pastimes took place while Lord Rama lived in the forest; however, nothing compared to when the Rakshasa king Ravana kidnapped His dear wife Sita Devi, whom He loved with all His heart. Laksman and Rama looked everywhere for Sita but could not find her. Rama thought of her constantly and His mind was distracted by grief due to her separation. He could not eat and hardly slept.
- Lord Rama and His eternal devotee Hanuman
While searching for Sita, Rama and Laksman saved the life of Sugriva, a great monkey king who was being hunted by his demoniac brother Vali. After that, Lord Rama enlisted Sugriva along with his mighty monkey general Hanuman and all the monkey tribes, in the search for His missing Sita. A frantic search ensued. Sugriva ordered all monkeys, gorillas, apes, bears and other animals to search the four directions for Sita Devi. Sugriva was so intense that he ordered: “Anyone who does not report back to me within one month will be executed!” Lord Rama was very happy with Sugriva’s efforts to help him in this desperate time.
Soon word came that Hanuman had found Sita in Ravana’s island city of Lanka, where she was being held captive. Meeting with Sugriva, Hanuman and the other monkey chiefs, Lord Rama discussed how to cross over the ocean and rescue her.
- Lord Rama, Laksman, and Hanuman constructing the bridge
At this time Ravana’s brother Vibhishana left Ravana’s palace in Lanka to join Rama’s army. Vibhishana had tried in vain to convince his brother Ravana to return Sita and make peace with Rama, but Ravana was convinced that mere humans and animals could never defeat him. Ravana considered himself such a great warrior because even the Lord of Death, Yamaraj, had retreated in battle against him. Little did he know what the real truth was about Lord Rama.
When Vibhishana came to Lord Rama, one by one, each of the monkey leaders expressed distrust for him. They said, “He is the brother of Ravana, how can he be trusted?” When Hanuman spoke though, he told the opposite–that he trusted Vibhishana and did not detect any deceitfulness in him. Lord Rama agreed. He stated, “If a person comes to me saying ‘I am yours only once, then I shall protect him from danger forever. This is my solemn vow I make before you all.” All the great monkey chiefs were deeply moved by Rama’s speech. Sugriva said tearfully, “O Rama your knowledge is perfect and you are always devoted to virtue. My doubts are gone.”
- Hanuman constructing the bridge
Now Vibhishana, as an ally and friend, helped devise a plan to cross the ocean. To reach the island of Lanka they would build a bridge! Lord Ramachandra began the enormous task. Meanwhile Hanuman, who had super strength and was blessed with a boon that he could fly, could easily cross the ocean simply by jumping over it. The Lord is so merciful upon His pure devotees that He presents them as even more powerful than Himself.
With incredible strength the army of monkey soldiers uprooted giant trees and lifted great mountain peaks, which they carried to the sea. Soon there were gigantic piles of trees and rocks all over the beach. One particular monkey named Nala was the son of the demigods’ famous architect, Vishvakarma. Under his direction the monkeys began throwing everything they had collected into the sea and tying it all together with vines. They engraved each rock with the holy name of Rama and the rocks began to float on the water.
- Stones inscribed with the Holy Name of Lord Rama floated
Feeling very excited, the monkeys built over 100 miles of bridge just in the first day. Seeing their own progress they became even more enthusiastic and within only five days completed a bridge that spanned over 800 miles and was 80 miles wide. While demigods and saintly rishis watched from above in amazement, the monkeys and bears leapt and ran onto the bridge laughing and shouting with joy! Rama rode on Hanuman’s shoulders and Angada carried Laksman as the ferocious army of monkeys and bears crossed the bridge to Lanka.
Lord Rama, Laksman, millions of monkeys led by Hanuman, Sugriva and Angada, and legions of bears led by Jambuvan, all arrived on the outskirts of Lanka ready for battle. The battle cry was given and they began an attack on the city. The brutal battle went on for many days and nights. At one point Rama and Laksman were paralyzed by Ravana’s son Indrajit’s poisonous arrows. Hanuman was dispatched to retrieve a special herb to heal them, but when he flew to the Himalaya Mountains he found that the herbs had hidden themselves from view. Undeterred, Hanuman lifted the whole mountaintop into the sky and carried it to the battlefield. There the herbs were discovered and administered to Rama and Laksman, who recovered miraculously from all their wounds. Shortly thereafter, Ravana himself entered the battle and was defeated by Lord Rama.
Finally Sita Devi was released and great celebrations followed. However, to prove her chastity, Sita Devi entered into fire. Agni Dev, the god of fire himself, carried Sita Devi from within the fire back to Lord Rama, proclaiming to everyone her purity and chastity. Now the fourteen years of exile had ended and they all returned to Ayodyha, where Lord Rama ruled for many, many years.
Jaya Sita, Jaya Rama!