By Vālmīki
Translated by Rosalind Lefeber


After losing first his kingship and then his wife, Rama goes to the monkey capital of Kishkíndha to seek help in finding Sita, and meets Hánuman, the greatest of the monkey heroes. The brothers Valin and Sugríva are both claimants for the monkey throne. In exchange for the assistance of the monkey troops in discovering where Sita is held captive, Rama has to help Sugríva win the throne. The monkey hordes set out in every direction to scour the world, but without success until an old vulture tells them she is in Lanka. The book concludes with Hánuman’s supernatural preparation to leap over the ocean to Lanka to pursue the search.

The tragic rivalry between the two monkey brothers is in sharp contrast to Rama’s affectionate relationship with his own brothers and forms a self-contained episode within the larger story of Rama’s adventures. Rama’s intervention in the struggle between Sugríva and Valin is the chief moral focus of this book.

Now when Valin saw Rághava and mighty Lákshmana, he spoke these words which, though harsh, were civil and consistent with righteousness: “Because of you, I have met my death while in the heat of battle with someone else. What possible merit have you gained by killing me when I wasn’t looking? ... I did not know that your judgement was destroyed and that you were a vicious evildoer hiding under a banner of righteousness, like a well overgrown with grass. ... I did no harm either in your kingdom or in your city, nor did I insult you; so why did you kill me, an innocent, forest-ranging monkey, living only on fruit and roots, when I ... was not fighting against you?...”

415 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-5207-4  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-5207-1  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Rosalind Lefeber is Lecturer Emerita in Sanskrit at the University of Toronto.