Arjuna, one of the five Pandavas was on a pilgrimage. He reached Rameswaram. After the darshan of Sri Ramanatheswara, he was curious to see the Rama Setu, the bridge that was built with rocks and trees by the vanaras. Looking at the bridge, he exclaimed loudly, “all the monkeys wasted their time and energy creating a bridge with rocks and trees. If I were there, I would have created a bridge of arrows within minutes”.
A small old monkey sitting over there heard him, and said that a bridge made of arrows would never have been able to withstand the strength of Sugreeva, Angada, and the whole army of mighty monkeys. Why all of them, it wouldn’t even withstand its own weight said the monkey. Arjuna took it as a challenge and said that he would create a bridge with arrows and the monkey can safely move and jump about on the bridge and it would not collapse. If the bridge collapsed, Arjuna vowed to burn himself alive. The monkey accepted the challenge.
Arjuna created a sturdy bridge with his arrrows. No sooner the monkey touched it with its tail, it collapsed. Arjuna was stunned, but made another attempt and created a more stronger bridge with arrows. Again it collapsed under the weight of the monkey. Defeated, Arjuna decided to enter into fire. Just then a young brahmana came along and seeing Arjuna making arrangements to enter into fire asked for the reason. They told him what had happened. The brahamana said that when anyone takes on a vow, there should be a witness. Now he will be the witness and the challenge should be taken up again in his presence. Arjuna agreed and made a very strong bridge with his arrrows. The monkey jumped on to the bridge. This time the bridge did not collapse!
Arjuna was surprised! The monkey too was surprised, and tried with all its might and strength again and again, but the bridge did not collapse. Finally the monkey assumed its own huge, full form: he was none other than Hanuman. Arjuna was surprised and felt guilty for having entered into a challenge with Sri Hanuman. The bridge did not break down even under the strength of Hanuman. Hanuman was surprised and when he looked under the bridge he found the brahmana who was none other than Lord Vishnu supporting the bridge on His shoulders. Both Arjuna and Hanuman prostrated to the Lord.
The Lord then told them that He alone was Rama and Krishna. Both Hanuman and Arjuna are dear to Him and this challenge was uncalled for. The Lord had come to stop Arjuna from entering into fire. Hanuman was very sad and upset that the Lord had shouldered the entire burden of the bridge along with his own weight. How could he make the Lord, who was his Master shoulder his weight. The Lord then consoled Hanuman saying that in Rama Avatar, he had carried Him (Rama) and Lakshmana on his shoulders and He was ever indebted to him. Carrying the weight of His devotee was the only way He could reciprocate His love for His devotee! Hanuman then promised Arjuna that during the kurukshetra war, when the Lord Himself will be driving his chariot, he would adorn his chariot flag-post and protect him from all danger and lead him to victory.
[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]
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I Am delighted to inform you all that I have authored a book of stories for children titled: ” Bharatiya Katha Vaibhava -1″.
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