In the last newsletter, we celebrated the marriage of Lord Hanuman with Surya's daughter, the brilliant Suvarchala, after which the newlyweds retired to the Gandhamadana mountain to perform penance while abiding by strict celibacy.
While the divine couple was immersed in their penance, various devotees came to Gandhamadana and to perform seva. One such devotee offered a camel as a vahana for Lord Hanuman. Though Sri Hanuman had no need for this vehicle, he accepted the offering to please and bless the devotee. Meanwhile, Lord Hanuman also took another form as an ordinary vanara to serve and care for his parents in Kishkinda.
Around the same time, Vali and Sugreev were engrossed in deep penance and were blessed with powers by the Celestials. Since Vali's penance was more severe, he was blessed with a unique boon - that he would gain half of his opponent's strength in any battle!
In time, the great vanara King Ruksharajasa died. As his adopted eldest son, Vali was crowned the new king while Sugreev became the crown prince. Both Vali and Sugreev requested Hanuman to be their prime minister. Hanuman agreed and guided the kingdom with dharmic conduct and wisdom. Following Sri Hanuman's advice, the empire grew considerably.
To protect his vast kingdom, Vali defeated many vanara and demon enemies. After defeating one such enemy, the evil demon Dundubhi, Vali threw the body onto the nearby Rushyamuka mountain. Sage Matanga's ashram was located on that very mountain and was desecrated by Vali's reckless act. The Sage noted Vali's pride and placed a curse on him. If Vali ever sets foot on Rushyamuka mountain, his head would explode into a thousand pieces! From that day on, Vali avoided Rushyamuka for fear of his life.
Being a king has many challenges. Another time, Vali fought with a huge demon called Mayavi. Both were evenly match and in the course of the battle, Vali backed him into a cave. After many days of non-stop fighting, a stream of blood flowed out of the cave. Sugreev and the other vanaras called fervently for Vali. But Vali did not answer nor did he return. Thinking that Mayavi had defeated even the great Vali, everyone decided to block the cave's entrance to prevent the demon from coming out.
They returned home with heavy hearts and relayed the news to Vali's Queen, Tara. Though they were all in mourning, a kingdom cannot remain kingless. King Vali's eldest son, Angada, was still a minor so the ministers approached Prince Sugreev to accept the crown. But Sugreev, still entrenched in grief, flatly refused. It fell to Hanuman to help him realize his duties as Prince. Per the vanara code of righteous conduct, a younger brother must take up his elder brother's kingdom and take responsibility for any surviving family as his own, if there is no eligible heir among his children. Hanuman patiently explained to Sugreev the ramifications and pitfalls if he continued his refusal to take up the crown.
Sugreev accepted the kingship and took Vali's family as his own. He also made Angada the crown prince. This dispelled any question of any future children of Sugreev making a claim to the crown. The first successor to the crown was clear - it would be Prince Angada. This first act of King Sugreev pleased both the elders and Queen Tara.
Will be continued...