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Story of Jambavan

Who is Jambavan?

In the epic Ramayana, we come across Jambavan, the King of the Bears. He was a sloth bear, but in some scriptures, he is described as a monkey, or ‘Kapisreshtha,’ the foremost among monkeys.

Jambavan was supposedly created by Lord Brahma to help Lord Rama in his battle against the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. Jambavan was also present during Samudra Manthan, or the churning of the Milky Ocean.

The story goes that when Creation began, Lord Brahma was sitting on the Lotus from the navel of Lord Vishnu. He began to meditate and yawned for some time. When he was yawning, a bear was born. This bear was Jambavan. Supposedly, he was called Jambavan either because he was born on Jambudwipa or because he was born when Vishnu yawned. In Sanskrit, the word for ‘yawn’ is Jrimbhan.

Story of Jambavan

Jambavan was present when Vishnu was fighting the demons, Madhu and Kaitabha. He clapped his hands and enjoyed the battle at the end of which Vishnu killed Madhu and Kaitabha. His age is unknown as there was no time when he was born. During the time of the incidents in the Ramayana, he was said to be 6 Manvantaras old.

He is believed to have gone around Vamana (a Vishnu avatar) seven times when he acquired the three worlds from Mahabali. Jamthun village in Ratlam district, Madhya Pradesh, is called the city of Jamvanta or Jamvanta Nagari. Jambavan’s other names are Jamvanta, Jambavat, Jambavantha, or Jambuvan.

Jambavan is said to be one of the immortals or Chiranjeevis. He was actually the King of the Himalayas who took birth in the form of a bear to serve Rama. Rama had given him a boon by which he would be handsome, have a long life, and the might of 10 million lions.

Legends about Jambavan

Jambavan had great intelligence and was quite good at running a kingdom. He was also one of Sugriva’s advisers. It was Jambavan who advised Sugriva to send Hanuman to Rama and Lakshmana when they were wandering in the forest to find out who they were and their purpose. Jambavan, along with Hanuman, played a key role in finding Rama’s wife, Sita, who was a captive of Ravana in Lanka. He also helped Hanuman realize his true capabilities and encouraged him to leap across the ocean to look for Sita.

In the Ramayana, Jambavan recounts two incidents that happened in his life. Once when both Hanuman and Jambavan were standing at the foot of Mount Mahendra, with Hanuman getting ready to leap, Jambavan said that he too would have been able to jump over the ocean but for an old injury. He suffered the injury when he was beating the drum for Lord Vishnu during his Vamana avatar. As Vishnu was measuring the three worlds, his shoulder struck Jambavan, injuring him. Due to this, his mobility was affected.

During Samudra Manthan, Jambavan was present. From the Gods, he heard about the disease-curing plant Vishalyakarni. During the war against Ravana, when Lakshmana was severely injured by Indrajit, Jambavan told Hanuman about this plant. Hanuman then went in search of the plant, and it was used to revive Lakshmana.

Jambavan was very strong, and during a duel with Ravana, he delivered some powerful punches with his hands on Ravana. He also kicked him in the chest. Ravana fell unconscious and fell in his chariot. His charioteer had to leave the battlefield with Ravana. When Vishnu incarnated as Rama, Jambavan was quite old. In the Ramayana, he is shown as a wise and patient character.

Jambavan Fights Lord Krishna

Jambavan also appeared in the Mahabharata. He killed a lion, which took a gem called Syamantaka from Prasena after killing him. Lord Krishna came to know of this and followed Jambavan into his cave. A violent fight ensued. Finally, after 18 days, Jambavan discovered who Krishna actually was. He then handed over the gem to Lord Krishna and also got his daughter Jambavati married to him. It is said that Lord Rama had already mentioned this to him, saying that when Rama defeated him, Jambavan would recognize him.

Jambavan was truly blessed, for he had the good fortune to meet two incarnations of Lord Vishnu in one lifetime. Two others who lived during both these avatars were Parashurama and Hanuman.

Jambavan and Vamana

The story of Jambavan and Vamana appears in the Puranas. It explains how Jambavan lost his strength.

Jambavan saw Vamana or Vishnu pushing the demon king Bali to Patala, the netherworld. The dwarf Vamana turned into Trivikrama. He was gigantic and measured the three worlds in two steps. On seeing this, Jambavan wanted to circumambulate Trivikrama.

When he was doing the circumambulation, he accidentally collided with Trivikrama and got injured. After this, he lost all his strength. Earlier, he had been as strong as Hanuman and could accomplish the feats Hanuman performed.