Thursday, 7 May 2015

264. Hanuman describes Lanka.

          Rama felt very much at ease in mind after hearing the well-founded and indubitably  reasonable exposition of Sugreeva. Rama slowly nodded his agreement with him.
       After thinking for a little while, turning to Hanuman he said  "Okay! After hearing dear Sugreeva, I feel I am quite competent to find ways of crossing this ocean by some means, like by way of building a bridge or by drying up the ocean.
        "Now please tell me how many citadels in Lanka are difficult to access. During your uninvited visit to Lanka you may have a glimpse of the size of the army, the fortification-details of the gates and citadels, the way in which Lanka was guarded and the various mansions of the more important rakshashas. Describe everything you have observed."
           Hanuman felt immensely happy that anticipating such a question from Rama, he had already collated the same and kept ready to produce. Had he worn a shirt like today, he would have lifted the collar of the same in pride. "Sir, I am already armed with the answers to the questions you asked me. Thinking that it would be a good idea to collect the same, I willingly subjected myself to be bound and dragged on to all the important roads and places in Lanka. While they were dragging me all-over Lanka, I merrily noted in my mind all the info you now want. I, therefore, can tell you everything, to wit, how the city of Lanka has been defended by the various methods of fortification and how it has been guarded by the troops. I can also tell you the details of how the rakshashas are attached to their king, the excellent prosperity of Lanka generated by the glory of Ravana, the awfulness of the ocean, the divisions of the body of his forces and of animals like horses and elephants carrying his forces other than the infantry.
           "The great Lanka was delighted and rejoicing, full of elephants in rut, abounding in chariots and inhabited by gangs of rakshashas. Four fairly big and extensive gates are fitted with strong doors along with huge beams for locking those gates. Strong and mighty ballistas capable of hurling darts and stones have been attached to them. The enemy troops which may arrive there would be warded off by those catapults at the very gates. Dangerous and sharp edged Sataghnis (trebuchets) made of iron, forged by hordes of rakshasas, have been kept in readiness in hundreds at the gates.
Comment: Sataghnis are four forearms in length bristled with iron spikes and are so called because they are supposed to kill hundreds at a time.
End Comment.
          "A great rampart made of gold, which is inviolable  and inlaid  at intervals  with gems, corals, cat's eyes and pearls, encircle the whole Lanka. Most awe-inspiring and fathomless moats (deep trenches) of great splendor, filled with cold water, infested with alligators and inhabited by fishes are there all round the city. Anterior to the gateways, there are four very extensive draw-bridges, equipped with numerous engines and furnished with many rows of buildings built on the rampart  meant for those entrusted with the duty of guarding the entrances. Against the approach of the enemy forces there, the draw-bridges are protected by the aforesaid engines and the enemy-battalions are flung into the moats on every side. The most important draw-bridge which is unshakable, firmly fastened very well and strong, is dazzling with numerous gold pillars and pedestals. Ravana, inclined to war and endowed with power of the state, himself remains alert and in readiness to review the forces. 
     "Oh, Rama! Lanka, therefore is impregnable; it looks like a celestial citadel that inspires awe. Surrounded by water and built on a mountain, it has four fold defenses including forest and artificial fortification. 
      "Lanka is situated on the other side of the ocean, which is difficult of access, Oh Rama! It offers no passage for vehicles either and there is no proper communication from any side. That city of Lanka, resembling the city of Gods, is built on a mountain peak and is inaccessible. That Lanka is abounding with horses and elephants and is extremely difficult to conquer. Deep trenches and Sataghnis, too, as well as engines of war of every kind adorn Lanka, the city of wicked Ravana. Ten thousand rakshasas all carrying darts in their hands and warriors, who with swords are ever alert and difficult to assail, are positioned at the eastern gate. One hundred thousand rakshasas, with an army of four limbs (viz. horses, foot soldiers, elephants and chariots) are positioned at the southern gate of the city. Warriors unsurpassed by others constitute that army. One million troops with shields and swords as well as proficient in the use of all mystic missiles, are positioned at the western gate. A hundred million rakshasas, who are mounted on chariots or who ride on horses, sons of distinguished families and greatly honored, are positioned there at the northern gate. Moreover, rakshasas, hundreds of thousands in number, difficult to attack, aggregating to one and quarter of a crore of rakshasas are positioned at the central division. Those bridges were broken by me and the moats were filled up with the wreckage. The city of Lanka was burnt by me and the defensive walls were pulled down. A part of the army of the gigantic rakshasas was destroyed. By some way or other, let us cross the ocean. The city of Lanka should be assumed then as destroyed by the vanaras. Oh, Rama! What is the use for the rest of the forces to you? Angada, Dvivida, Mainda, Jambavan, Panasa, Anala and Nila the commander-in-chief, alone, by reaching that great city of Ravana, leaping and storming Lanka with its mountains and woods, moats and archways, protective walls and buildings, will recover Seetha. Order quickly to get all the forces accumulated accordingly. Let us set out at the appropriate moment."

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