THEN Sugriva heard the story of the calamity that had befallen the Raghu princes at Panchavati and how Rama's heart was breaking with the ache of separation from Sita and anxiety as to her fate. Deeply touched, Sugriva tried to console Rama. "I have heard everything from Lakshmana," he said. "Lay aside all doubts and fears. We shall surely discover Sita, wherever she may be concealed, and that, soon. My companions and myself noticed a Rakshasa carrying a weeping lady and speeding fast across the sky. She was crying 'O Rama! O Lakshmana!' She too noticed us and, removing her sash, tied up in it her jewels and threw down the little bundle. We picked up and have kept it. See if the jewels are Sita's."
On hearing this Rama excitedly shouted: "Fetch the bundle, fetch it."
They brought it from the cave and when Rama saw the sash he was beside himself with grief. The little bundle brought before his eyes the suffering of Sita at the hands of the Rakshasa.
He closed his eyes and told Lakshmana to untie the bundle and examine the jewels since he himself could not bear to look at them.
Lakshmana did so. "Indeed these are Sita's anklets," LakShmana said. "There is no doubt they are hers. These I know, for often have I seen them while laying my head on her feet in worship. The others I am not familiar with, never having presumed to look closely at them."
How full of loving reverence is this speech which Valmiki puts in the mouth of Lakshmana and how cruelly must Sita's unjust words have pierced his heart on the fateful day when she drove him from her.
Rama took all the jewels in his hands and pressed them one by one to his eyes. He said: "They must have fallen on the soft grass and so they are intact."
Then, grief giving place to rage, he said: "Yama's gates are wide open to receive the Rakshasa. Soon will he be destroyed with all his people."
Seeing Rama's grief and wrath, Sugriva became somewhat anxious. Though their mutual friendship and help had been pledged in the presence of the sacred fire, Sugriva was concerned over the question of priorities.
Sugriva's heart went to Rama in his suffering, indeed, he himself knew what it was to lose kingdom and wife. But then, first thing must come first. He must approach the subject guardedly and not seem to place his own affairs before Rama's. That might jeopardise their newborn friendship. But it was not purely selfish to say that he, as King of Kishkindha and lord of his tribe, would be a far more serviceable ally than he could be as a fugitive pretender.
Besides, if he launched on the enterprise of reclaiming Sita when Vali was still king of the Vanaras, one could not guess what Vali's course may be. Oh no! There could be no doubt that the first move in the enterprise must be to secure the resources of the Vanara kingdom by killing Vali and placing himself on the throne.
This alone would bring success to Rama as well as himself. But realising Rama's state of mind, he resolved to act with circumspection.
He said: "I do not know the strength or the dwelling place of this wicked
Rakshasa. We do not know where he has taken Sita and where he keeps her hidden. Still, I promise you solemnly, wherever Sita may be, I shall find her and her captor and find ways of destroying him and recovering her. You will kill the wicked Rakshasa and win glory. Do not despair or yield to grief that weakens the spirit. Look at me. Like you, I have lost my wife. I have been turned out of my kingdom and disgraced. And yet I control my sorrow and keep my courage up. If I a Vanara, can do this, it should be far easier for you. If sorrow overwhelms, one becomes helpless and can do nothing. Therefore, friend, I beg of you to control your grief."
These words of Sugriva made an impression on Rama's heart. He wiped the tears off his eyes and embraced Sugriva. He got over the weakness that possessed him at the sight of Sita's jewels and recovered his fortitude and self-control.
"Sugriva, your friendship is dear to me," he said. "I shall follow your advice. Think out when and how we should begin the search for Sita. I shall make your cause mine, and place you on the throne of Kishkindha and I, who say this, have never uttered a vain or false word in my life and never will. Tell me frankly how I can bring you relief. I shall do it."
Sugriva and his ministers were overjoyed to hear Rama's words. They were convinced that soon their troubles would end and Sugriva would once again become king of the Vanaras.