Ever wondered how Sri Jambavan, the devoted bear associate of Lord Ramachandra appeared? Well, I found an account of how Sri Jambavan appeared, how he became old, and witnessed the Lord’s eternal pastimes unfolding…
Jambavan is the oldest created being in the universe, apart from Lord Brahma. When Brahma was thinking of making the creation and he had the vision of the Lord, the Lord shook hands with him and gave him the information in Srimad Bhagavatam, aham evasya evagre… “I am before everything and after everything.” Brahma was contemplating to create, and he was thinking, “How great is this creation, and how am I going to accomplish this enormous task?”
In the meantime, Garbhodakasayi Vishnu was laying down on the snake Ananta, and from both of His ears, two drops of sweat came out. One drop became Madhu, a great demon, and the other became Kaitava, another great demon. Madhu and Kaitava came and met, and shook hands. They looked back and said, “We must finish this.” This Rakshasa mentality of Madhu and Kaitava created a bad atmosphere and Brahma started sweating. The sweat came from his four faces.
Demons Madhu and Kaitava battling Sri Vishnu
Lord Vishnu got up and looked at Madhu and Kaitava and said, “O great personalities Madhu and Kaitava, please give me a benediction.” They thought, “This is easy! He is surrendering to us.” They addressed Lord Vishnu, saying “Do you know who we are?” Lord Vishnu replied, “Oh, you are the great Madhu and Kaitava, who are supremely powerful persons.” They said, “What benediction do you want, Vishnu?” Vishnu said, “Please give me a benediction that I can fight with you.” “Oh, you want a fight?” they said. “That is what we are expecting too. Now it is more prestigious for us, because it is our benediction. Yes you can fight with us, but one thing. If ever you think that you want to kill us, you can only kill us in a place where there is no earth, no water, no air, no fire, no ether, no mind, no intelligence and no false ego. You can kill us in that spot.”
That means that they cannot be killed anywhere in the universe, which was exactly what they were thinking. They didn’t know anything beyond the universe, because they were demons. Then Vishnu started fighting with them, and it went on for a long time. While the fight was going on, Brahma was sweating again because of the whole evil atmosphere created by Madhu and Kaitava. This time with the sweat came a small entity, and it was there on his cheek. It was moving around there. Brahma said, “What is this?” and he looked at it. It started growing, so he threw it down.
The drop of sweat grew more, and it was a bear. No species were present at that time. “What is this?” Brahma said….a black bear with so much hair on the body, and it grew and grew and became so strong. It spoke in Sanskrit. He spoke to Brahma, “You have created me, so where shall I go?” Brahma said, “I created something without my knowledge. You go to Jambunada.” That was one piece of land in the water of dissolution, Jambunada-ksetra. So immediately he entered Jambunada, and he sat down there and was looking around… What he saw was Madhu and Kaitava fighting Lord Vishnu. He was clapping his hands and whistling, and he called out, “Wonderful! Hit him on the head!” He was the audience. Vishnu was going up into the sky and picking them up and throwing them. They were so strong, coming from the ear of Vishnu, so they were giving a good fight.
Garbhodakasayi Vishnu was laying down on Ananta sesha for a long time, so he wanted to have enjoy a pastime. He desired some entertainment, so He created somebody and started fighting. He took Madhu and Kaitava on His lap, and then with His hand He crushed them. They were finished, because on His lap, there was no earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence or false ego – His was a transcendental body. Jambavan jumped up and down and said, “Wonderful, wonderful fight! Can I see more?” Lord Vishnu said, “Wait for the creation to begin. Then there will be so many fights.”
So the creation began, and the Manvantaras came one by one. There was a great dissolution, and Satyavrata was on the boat, and a golden fish came, a huge big fish with a horn. With Vasuki, the snake, they tied the fish’s horn to that boat. The sapta-rishis were there and Jambavan was sitting there looking. “Aah, what a nice fish,” he said, and he circumambulated the fish. The fish was circumambulating the whole universe. In this way Jambavan was well engaged at that time. Jambavan will never die as he is a ciran-jiva (immortal). He was getting old, but he was quite strong. Then Kurma-avatar came, and Jambavan witnessed that also. He also was there when Varaha-avatar slapped Hiranyaksa. Hiranyaksa was slapped and he went up circling around, and while he was circling around his eyes came out of his sockets, and Jambavan was playing with them. “What a wonderful fight!” When that was finished, and he saw Lord Nrsimhadeva also. And then Vamanadeva appeared. When Vamanadeva grew into a huge big figure lifting his leg and piercing the universe from the top, Jambavan, in six moments, circled this great form of Trivikrama eighteen times. That was the incredible speed of Jambavan. He was in ecstasy, “Oh! What a beautiful form!” He was going around and around, eighteen times in six moments. When he was coming back down he was in so much ecstasy, and he scratched Mount Meru with his toe-nails.
Sri Jambavan, Sri Hanuman, and Sri Angada
Meru got upset. Meru came in person and said, “Hey, you dirty bear! What are you doing to me? You are touching me with your foot. Even the sapta-rishis don’t do this, they float over me. They don’t set foot on me. You are doing this, so you become old. Because you are young and so fast, you have offended me. You become old and weak.” He cursed him. So Jambavan became very old. Meru told him, “Although you are old, when the pastimes of Lord Ramacandra come, you will do a lot of service for him.” This was Jambavan. And Jambavan was called by Sugriva, who said to him, “Jambavan, you are the oldest. There is nothing that you don’t know. There is no demigod that you don’t know. There is no avatar that you haven’t seen. There is no ocean that you don’t know. You know everything in this creation. So you must help Angada, the son of Bali. Please go and find out where Sita is…”
All glories to Sri Jambavan!
Note: This post was excerpted and modified from http://nitaaiveda.com/