Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/327

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clude a solemn alliance with the chiefs of the monkeys, Hanumat and Sugrīva. With the help of the latter, Rāma slays the terrible giant Bali. Hanumat meanwhile crosses from the mainland to the island of Lankā, the abode of Rāvaṇa, in search of Sītā. Here he finds her wandering sadly in a grove and announces to her that deliverance is at hand. After slaying a number of demons, he returns and reports his discovery to Rāma. A plan of campaign is now arranged. The monkeys having miraculously built a bridge from the continent to Lankā with the aid of the god of the sea, Rāma leads his army across, slays Rāvaṇa, and wins back Sītā. After she has purified herself from the suspicion of infidelity by the ordeal of fire, Rāma joyfully returns with her to Ayodhyā, where he reigns gloriously in association with his faithful brother Bharata, and gladdens his subjects with a new golden age.

Such in bare outline is the main story of the Rāmāyaṇa. By the addition of the first and last books Vālmīki's epic has in the following way been transformed into a poem meant to glorify the god Vishṇu. Rāvaṇa, having obtained from Brahmā the boon of being invulnerable to gods, demigods, and demons, abuses his immunity in so terrible a manner that the gods are reduced to despair. Bethinking themselves at last that Rāvaṇa had in his arrogance forgotten to ask that he should not be wounded by men, they implore Vishṇu to allow himself to be born as a man for the destruction of the demon. Vishṇu, consenting, is born as Rāma, and accomplishes the task. At the end of the seventh book Brahmā and the other gods come to Rāma, pay homage to him, and proclaim that he is really Vishṇu, "the glorious lord of the discus." The belief here ex-