Thursday, 21 November 2013

105. Enter the Dragon.

            In this way Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana comfortably spent their time while being adored by eminent sages when they were with them. While sitting in the hermitage with only Seetha and his brother Lakshmana, they were exchanging pleasantries. One such day Rama was sitting in the hermitage and heartily absorbed in telling narratives, a rakshashi happened to pass through the hermitage, fortuitously. She was the sister of the ten-headed Rakshasha Ravana. Her name was Shuurpanakha. Being rakshashi her face was very unpleasant to look at but she can assume a very pleasant face; she was pot bellied one but can arrogate a slim waist; she was wry-eyed one but can make herself look like a broad-eyed one, was coppery-haired one but can assume the look of a pleasantly tressed one, was very ugly featured one but can make herself look as a charming featured one, brassy voiced one but can simulate the most gentle voice, deplorably oldish one but can assume the look of a young maid, crooked talker with the power to change into a pleasant talker, ill-mannered one but can act as a very well-mannered one, uncouth one but can act as a well-mannered one, abominable one but can act as a charming one.
               On seeing the divine like Rama, she at once madly fell in love with him. She stared at Rama and asked him "Hi! Handsome! You are dressed as an ascetic but you seem to have a wife. And you seem to be handling a bow and arrows. Why have you come to this place which is  frequented by rakshashas?"
              Rama looked at her and told her with a smile "I am the eldest son of the great king named Dasharatha, and people know me by the name Rama. He is Lakshmana by name, my younger brother and a devoted follower of mine, and she is my wife, the daughter of Videha's king, well-known as Seetha. I have come here to this forest to dwell, as enjoined by the directives of the king and my father, and by my mother, as well. Could you please tell me who you are? Whose wife are you? Or, whose daughter are you? What is your name? By the way, you look quite fascinating and an enthralling personality. I, therefore guess that you are a rakshashi." 
I am writing this Ramayanam from the version claimed to be the most authentic of the maharishi Valmiki. Here it is not explained what happened to Jatayu after he accompanied Rama up to Panchavati. However in some other versions there are a few more verses wherein it is stated that 'Jatayu comes to Rama to take leave of him to go and see his relatives and bird-friends, after Rama returns from the river'. Then, knowing that Jatayu is not there Shuurpanakha enters the cottage area with a guise of winsome beauty. No rakshasha or a rakshashi can approach that cottage of Rama, as long as Jatayu was there as he could identify him/her whatever guise he/she may be. It is not clear how Shuurpanakha appeared before Rama. As a beautiful maid or in her natural get up?
       In KambaRamayanam, the great Tamil poet Kamban has stated that Shuurpanakha appeared before Rama in the guise of a beautiful, young and enchanting maid.
End Comment.
             Shuurpanakha replied with a lascivious gleam "I will tell you the truth, Rama, nothing but truth. I am of course a rakshashi named Shuurpanakha. I will be freely moving alone in this forest. My brother is the highly valorous and mighty Ravana, the king of all rakshashas and the son of Vishravasa, if ever you have heard of him. And the mighty Kumbhakarna who will always be in profound sleep is my brother, and the virtue-souled Vibheeshana too is my brother, but he does not behave like a rakshasha. There are a couple of cousins of mine named Khara and Duushana who are renowned for their bravery in war. I can excel all of them by my bravery. Oh, Rama, seeing you I decided to marry you. That is reason I have come to you.
               "I am endowed with such preponderance and as such I can defeat any rakshasha, rakshashi or an animal. Being my dear husband, everyone will fear and respect you. Therefore you become my everlasting husband.  By the way, why did you marry that woman Seetha. Unlovely and unshapely is this Seetha. She is unworthy to be your wife. I am the only one worthy to be your wife. Hence you may treat me as your wife from this moment onwards.
              "Oh! What shall we do with that pint-sized human you have married? Shall I eat up this disfigured, dishonest, diabolical human female with a hallow stomach along with him, that brother of yours to make you free.
               "As my dear husband, you can lustily ramble about Dandaka forest along with me while enjoying yourself on various mountaintops in the sky and in forests on the earth." 
              Hearing the blabber of that Rakshashi, Rama chuckled with amusement. He then told her softly with a smile "Oh, Respectable lady, I am married and this pint-sized woman is my dear wife. I do not want to lose her. It will be distressing for your sort of females to live with a co-wife. My younger brother Lakshmana there is with a good conduct, good looking, a promising and a valiant one. And he does not live with any wife at present. He therefore, may be in need of a wife. You can see for yourself that he is youthful, good-looking. He can become a befitting husband for you, fit enough to your kind of features. I suggest you woo him."
              Shuurpanakha nodded in complete agreement. Dazed in lust, discarding Rama she approached Lakshmana and told him "I with my best complexion will be your deserving wife meetly to you charm. You can happily take a jaunt all over Dandaka forest along with me."
             With great difficulty, Lakshmana suppressed his guffaw. He then smiled sweetly and replied "Do you want to become a female servant by becoming the wife of a servant like me? I am just a vassal of my adorable brother. Oh, Lovely eyed one, befitting to your unmatchable complexion I think that it would be most appropriate for you to become the wife of my brother Rama who is abounding in means. On becoming the younger wife of that adorable one, you too will achieve your means and thus you will go to the peak of happiness. On discarding her who is disfigured, dishonest, diabolically deleterious old wife with a hallow stomach, Rama will surely adore you alone.
          "Oh, Lovely complexioned one with the most lascivious waist! Is there any wiseacre to simply ignore your kind of most desirable personality, indeed, in preference to human females?"
           Suffering with acute carnality, Shuurpanakha simply swallowed those words to be truthful. She then went back to Rama who was with his wife Seetha and told him "You are blindly tenacious of her who is disfigured, dishonest, diabolical, hallow-stomached old wife of yours. As such you do not see how superior I am than her in every way. Now I am going to eat up this human female right before your very eyes, and then I can blithely make merry along with you, without the botheration of a co-wife." Saying thus she rushed towards the deer-eyed Seetha in high exasperation as a great meteor would dash towards Rohini, the brightest star in the sky. Rama swiftly covered Seetha from the attack and shouted at Lakshmana "Punning in any way with the base and brutish is inapposite. Vaidehi is somehow surviving. Teach this paunchy rakshashi a lesson by defacing her." 
              The sudden action of the rakshashi infuriated Lakshmana. He drew his sword and and rushed to that rakshashi with the intention to kill her. But on hearing Rama he merely chopped off her ears and nose. As the action of Lakshmana was very quick and fast, Shuurpanakha did not realise what happened. When she did, she blared highly and fled.
             At the outside of the hermitage Shuurpanakha paused to take stock of the damage. She noticed that blood was exuding from her nose and both ears and those parts were missing, too. That made her make many a blare like a cloud in cloudburst. Then she rushed to her cousin Khara who possessed violent vigour, and was presently surrounded by his band of his hench-rakshashas. Before him she fell onto the ground like a thunderbolt from the sky. Then convulsed in the fluster of fear and her body wet with blood reported to her cousin Khara, all about Rama's arrival in the forest with his wife and Lakshmana, and also about his atrocity to her.


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