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The Search for Sita

Far away, Ram and Laxman had come upon each other in the forest. They gazed at each other in dismay as they realized that they had been the victims of a terrible deception. They hurried back to the mud hut only to find their worst fears confirmed. Sita had disappeared. Laxman was overcome with remorse and reproached himself for leaving Sita alone. They hunted high and low for Sita, calling out her name till their voices were hoarse. But silence shrouded the forest. Not a leaf moved and the birds and animals were silent. Just when they were about to give up hope, they stumbled upon the dying vulture. With the little breath that was left in his body, Jatayu told them that Ravan was the villain they sought, but he did not know where the demon had taken Sita. These were his last words before his death. The princes were deeply saddened by Jatayu's death. He had laid down his life while attempting to rescue Sita. 

The disconsolate princes had no clue as to which way to turn. But help was on hand in the form of the 'monkey people' led by their king Sugreeva. Ram and Laxman unburdened their hearts to Sugreeva. The monkey king offered to help them. The monkeys had a wonderful ability to climb to great heights and to travel long distances jumping from branch to branch. This would be a tremendous asset in the search for Sita. Sugreeva promised a reward to the first monkey that discovered Sita's whereabouts. So hundreds of these nimble little creatures scattered in different directions to look for the hapless Sita.  

Now Ram had taken a liking to the monkey, Hanuman. He had a feeling that it would be this monkey that would discover where Sita had been kept captive. Ram took the signet ring that he wore off his finger and gave it to Hanuman. He explained that Sita would trust the bearer of this ring as a true messenger from Ram. 

As it turned out, Hanuman was the first monkey to discover that Ravan had taken Sita to Lanka. But help came from an unexpected source. A bird with amazing eyesight that enabled it to see over high mountains, dense forests and wide oceans. This bird had spotted Sita, captive in the Ashoka grove in Lanka and he whispered this information into Hanuman's ear. 

The mystery had been solved. But now a new obstacle presented itself. An immense expanse of water separated Lanka from the land where Ram and Laxman resided. The question was how to get across the water? Hanuman volunteered to attempt the leap across the ocean. After praying to the gods, Hanuman planted his feet firmly on the ground. He then girded his loins, took a deep breath and launched himself into the air with a mighty roar. He flew high up into the air, across the ocean, till he landed lightly on the sandy beach of Lanka's shore. 

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