Sugriva Explains How He Learned Geography


Sugreeva's knowledge of physical world is acquired when Vali put him to flight. Rama enquires with Sugreeva as to how Sugreeva has many details of lands, countries, rivers, and mountains. In reply, Sugreeva says that when repulsed by Vali he was on the run to pillar to post, until he finally settled on Mt. Rishyamuka. During such a plighted flight, Sugreeva says, he acquired a direct and personal knowledge of earth.

Chapter [Sarga] 46 in Detail

When the chiefs of monkey-troops are on their way Rama spoke to Sugreeva, "Indeed, how do you know very-well about the globe of earth in its entirety?" [4-46-1]

Then Sugreeva bowing down before Rama said, "I will narrate all vividly, and let my words be heard." [4-46-2]

"When Vali repulsed the buffalo-shaped demon Dundubhi towards Malaya Mountain, then that buffalo entered the cave of Mt. Malaya, and even Vali entered therein wishing to kill that buffalo. [4-46-3, 4]

"Vali then kept me at the mouth of the cave as I was an amenable brother, but Vali did not exit from cave even after one full year. [4-46-5]

"I was dumbfounded to see that cave is then fully filled with blood, and then a venom like anguish called the loss of my brother agonized me. [4-46-6]

"Then I concluded that 'my brother is unmistakably killed,' and then I fixed a mountain similar boulder in the mouth of that cavity with a thinking that it will be impossible for that buffalo to exit and it will get destroyed within that cave itself. [4-46-7, 8a]

"Unhopeful of Vali's aliveness then I arrived in Kishkindha, and on getting the very magnificent kingdom of Kishkindha, and also Ruma along with Tara, I was peaceably staying there with friends. [4-46-8, 9]

"Vali then came back to Kishkindha on killing that great demon, and then I was spellbound in fear of Vali's killing me, and I gave back the kingdom to Vali owing to my deference to him. [4-46-10]

"That evil-minded Vali becoming highly perturbed at his senses furiously repulsed me further and further away, even though I was running away from him with my ministers, as he wished to kill me. [4-46-11]

"Such as I was, who is repulsed by Vali, I was made to run away rapidly, and during that fleeing I went on seeing diverse rivers, forests and cities. [4-46-12]

"I have then really seen the earth as in the reflection on the surface of a mirror, where the mirror shows all the objects in exactness, and the earth is like the circle of a fireball, where it is encircled with fire-like reddish, brownish, ocherish [red or yellow] minerals and ores, and it appeared to me in my high flight like a cow-hoof-print in the mirror, called my perception. [4-46-13]

"Then on going to eastern direction I saw various trees, enchanting mountains with caves, and also numerous lakes. [4-46-14]

"There I saw the mountain wreathed in with ores, namely Mt. Udaya, the Sun-Rise, and I have also seen the Milk Water Oceans which is forever an abode for apsara-s. [4-46-15]

"I fled speedily when Vali repulsed me, but oh, lord Rama, when I returned he again made me to flee forthwith. [4-46-16]

"Then from that eastern direction I fled to southern direction, which is thick with Vindhya Range Mountains and diverse trees, especially with sandalwood trees. [4-46-17]

"While I was seeing the interiors of forest and mountains again I was made to run by Vali, who was setting upon me from within the interiors of those forests and mountains, and then I reached the western direction. [4-46-18]

"Such as I was, on seeing diverse cities and the best mountain Astagiri, Mt. Dusk, I reached that excellent Mt. Dusk also, and since Vali is at my heel, I took to my heels, by a long way to north. [4-46-19]

"Even at Himalayas, Mt. Meru, like that at the Northern Ocean, Vali drove me back, and when the clemency from Vali, or a shelter, or even a foothold on earth was indeterminable, then Hanuma, whose prosperity is his wisdom, said a word to me. [4-46-20, 21a]

“‘Oh, king Sugreeva, now I remember how Sage Matanga cursed the king of monkeys Vali at that time. If Vali really enters the fringes of the hermitage of Sage Matanga, Vali's head gets splintered in hundred ways. Hence dwelling in sage Matanga's hermitage will be peaceful and imperturbable for us.' Thus Hanuma spoke to me. [4-46-21b, 22, 23a]

"Oh, prince Rama, then Vali though reached Mt. Rishyamuka, he did not enter into its precincts at that time fearing Sage Matanga and his curse, oh, king Rama, thus this globe of earth is apparently and closely sighted by me in its entirety, and then I came into the cave of Rishyamuka and did not stir out." So said Sugreeva to Rama. [4-46-25b, 24]

Thus, this is the 46th chapter in Kishkindha Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.

Sriman Moola Rama Vijayate