Thursday, 30 July 2015

289. Shuka takes his turn.

           Eager to impress his king with his findings, Shuka, ignoring all etiquette,  peremptorily took over from his pal  by saying "O, king! Please look over there where the vanaras resembling huge elephants in rut, rising like banyan trees on the banks of the river Ganga or sala trees on Himalayas. Those warriors, able to change their form at will, are irresistible, equal to devas and danavas, and in a battle, are endowed with the valour of the gods. There are twenty one thousand crores, a thousand Shankus* and a hundred Vrindas* of these vanaras.
      "These vanaras are the attendants of Sugreeva and were born of devas and gandharvas, are able to change their form at will and always stay in Kishkindha. Those two lookalikes looking like devas standing over there, are Mainda and Dvivida. None can equal them in combat. These two who have drunk amrutam with due authorisation by Brahma are hopeful of destroying Lanka.
      "That vanara you see over there, resembling an intoxicated elephant, who in strength and fury is able to churn up the ocean itself, is the one who came to Lanka to find Seetha and spy on you. This vanara, by whom the ocean was traversed, is the eldest son of Kesari. He is known as the son of Vayu and famously called as Hanuman. He can assume any form at will. He is endowed with a great strength and a good form. He moves like his dad Vayu, with uninterrupted mobility.
           "When he was a child, seeing the sun rise  at dawn, he  presumed it to be some fruit and wanted to eat it. He then jumped up to get it up to a distance of three thousand yojanas (or twenty four thousand miles). However, before reaching the sun, which is unassailable even to devas, sages or danavas, he fell on a mountain, where that radiant orb rises. The fall resulted in the fracture of his jaw. For this reason, because of his strong jaw, he is called Hanuman. I actually learned a lot about this vanara from my bosom friends. It is not possible to describe his strength or physical form or glory in a few words. He alone would be able to destroy Lanka by his valour. How can we forget this vanara by whom the fire that was lighted in his tail by us was in turn lighted and is still blazing up Lanka? Nearby is a warrior, dark of hue with eyes like lotuses, the chief warrior among Ikshvakus, his heroism is well-known in all the worlds, his sense of duty never wavers, nor does he ever transgress the righteousness, he can handle without any difficulty the Brahma Astra and is conversant with Veda, he is the most learned of the Vedic scholars, he can shatter the firmament with his arrows, and rends even the earth, his anger is akin to that of Death, his valour equal to that of Indra, his consort is Seetha who was taken away by you from Janasthana, is Rama who has come to wage war on you, O king! This man, having the radiance of pure gold, with a broad chest, having red eyes, with black and curled hair, standing at the right side of Rama, is his brother called Lakshmana, who is interested in the care and welfare of his brother, skilled in leadership of combat and excellent among the wielders of all weapons.
        "This Lakshmana is said to be a very short-tempered person, difficult to be conquered, victorious, wise and mighty. He is said to be the right hand of Rama.
      "He does not care for his life in the cause of Rama. He is said to be very capable of killing in battle all the rakshashas, alone. Sir, do you see your brother Vibhishana there, taking guard at the left side of Rama. He is said to have been consecrated as a king for Lanka by Rama, who is sure of killing you in the ensuing battle with you. The vanara you see as an unshakable mountain and standing in the center of vanaras is the Lord of all the chiefs of vanaras, with a boundless energy and who, like an Himalayan hill, very much radiating the other vanaras by his splendour, glory, wisdom, strength and his noble descent, who occupies along with the chiefs of Army Generals, a secret place called Kishkindha, with its forests and trees and the place inaccessible because of its impassable mountains in which is established. Wearing his charming, beautiful and golden coloured garland with hundred lotuses is Sugreeva. This garland along with a lady called Tara as well as the permanent kingdom of vanaras were presented to him by Rama after killing Vali, the elder brother of Sugreeva. 
Clarification of the numbering system used in the Valmiki Ramayana:
      One hundred lakhs is a crore. A hundred thousand crores is reckoned as a Shanku. A hundred thousand Shankus are said to be one Maha Shanku. A hundred thousand Maha Shankus are called one Vrindam here. A hundred thousand Vrindas are said to be one Maha vrindam. A hundred thousand Mahavrindas are called one Padmam here. A hundred thousand padmas are said to be one Mahapadmam. A hundred thousand Mahapadmas are called one Kharvam here. A hundred thousand kharvas are said to be one Mahakharvam. A hundred thousand Mahakharvas are called one Samundram. A hundred thousand Samudras are said to be one ugha here. A hundred thousand ughas are acclaimed a one Mahaugha.
End Clarification

       "This Sugreeva, the king of vanaras, having great strength and valour, always surrounded by a colossal army, has come over here, accompanied by the valiant Vibhishana and his cronies, as also a hundred thousand crores of Shankas, a thousand Mahashankus, a hundred Vrindas, a thousand mahavrindas, a hundred padmas, a thousand Mahapadmas, a hundred kharves, samudras and Mahaughas of the same number, and a crore of Mahanghas whole army as such is identical of an ocean.
       "O, king! Please take a good look at this army, which appears like a blazing planet. Take appropriate measures to avoid defeat from these enemies."

Monday, 27 July 2015

288. Ravana gets further briefing about the vanara strength.

         Sarana continued his briefing by "Your Majesty! Please let me tell you about those army-chiefs who are ready to display their valour for Rama with scant regard for their lives. One such one is the vanara called Hara, who has terrific acts to his credit. The hair on his tail, measuring many fathoms, soft, with mixed colours of yellow, white and super-white, wavery and shining like the rays of the sun, are dragging along the ground. Hundreds and thousands of troop-leaders who are resolved to be the servants of Sugreeva rally behind him, carrying trees with them and firmly determined to attack Lanka shortly. O, Sir! Those who look like black-clouds and akin to black collyrium are extremely ferocious bears, absolutely mighty in combat, in exceedingly large number, indefinable like the other shore of an ocean, living in mountains, plains and on river-banks are now joined Sugreeva and are very eager to  assist him in every way in the ensuing battle with you.
          "O, king! Look at that bear standing in the middle, with terrific eyes and of fearful appearance, encircled by all like Parjanya , the rain-god, being encircled by clouds. He is another army-chief called Dhumra, the Lord of all bears, who drinks the waters of the river Narmada and resides on the excellent mountain called Rikshavanta. See him who is appearing like a mountain the younger brother of Dhumra, resembling like his brother, is more distinguished in prowess. He is known as the intelligent Jambavan, who was of great help to Indra in a battle between devas and asuras and many boons were given to him for that. Jambavan's giant bodied troops, resembling rakshashas and  monsters, having thick hair and endowed with unlimited energy, wander about, climbing mountain-heights and hurling for fun massive rocks as big as huge clouds. They do not have any fear of death. O, king! The commander of commanders of vanaras is called Dambha who along with his bulky troops dwell on the Sahasraksha mountain.  He fought with Indra the Lord of devas and demonstrated that he was in no way inferior to him in strength and valour. He is the commander of commanders and the grand-father of vanaras, famously known as Samnadana. This Samnadana, whose striding prowess is equal to that of Indra,  was born to a youthful Gandharva maiden and Krishnavartman for the purpose of helping the devas in a combat between devas and asuras. 
     "The commander named Krathana, the son of Visravasa, is the one who is sitting  beneath the Jambu tree, on that mountain, the king of peaks, which is frequented by Kinneras, and which mountain affords delight constantly to your brother. It is near there, Krathana, that powerful lord of the vanaras, commands a thousand crores of vanaras. He hopes to crush Lanka with the help of his army.
              "The one who usually roams by the Ganges, creating terror among leaders of herds of elephants, in retaliation of the old quarrel between elephants and vanaras, thundering and uprooting trees, is the commander and leader of vanaras called Pramathim who dwells in mountain-caves, subduing wild elephants. This excellent one among the vanaras and this army-chief of vanaras, taking shelter in Mandara the foremost of mountains and the mountain Ushirabheeja alongside the River Ganga, passes his life happily like Indra himself. A hundred thousand vanaras proud of their strength and prowess with their radiant fore-arms, making a roaring noise, are following him. 
       "O, king! The commander called Pramathi is said to be difficult to be conquered. That one beholding a cloud raised by wind is Pramathi. At that place, a great quantity of red illumined dust is tossed about and raised by wind in various ways in different directions. Energetic and excited army of vanaras is also stationed there along with Pramathi.
        "O, monarch! One hundred lakhs of monkeys with their black faces, with fearful appearance and with great strength, experiencing the crossing of the bridge, surrounds the troop-leader called Gavaksha, a vanara and are making a roaring noise, ready to crush Lanka by their bodily strength.
     "This army-chief is called Kesari, the chief of the commanders of vanaras, used to wander in Kanchana mountain wherein are trees which yield fruits in all seasons.
        "O, Sir! There are sixty thousand mountains in that beautiful golden mountain ranges. There is an excellent mountain the middle of that mountain range. In that mountain range there, in the last mountain these vanaras reside. Some of them are tawny coloured, some are white-coloured, with nails as their weapons, difficult to be approached like tigers, resembling fire, like unto serpents vomiting poison with their very long coiling tails, resembling elephants in rut, equal to mighty mountains and making great thunderous sound like that of clouds. All of them stand looking on your Lanka as if they are about to crush it.
       "O, king! He who stands in the middle is another powerful leader of the vanaras who is a wise man, eager to conquer you and is famous in the world by the name of Shatabali. He swears to destroy Lanka with his troops. This Shatabali is courageous, strong, valiant and is established in his manliness. He does not care for his life in the cause of Rama. Each and every single one, like Gaja, Gavaya, Nala and Nila is surrounded by crores of warriors.
     "There are other excellent vanaras residing in Vindhya mountain who are quick-paced and are impossible to be counted because of their multitude have also joined the force of Sugreeva for the ensuing encounter with you. All of them are highly prominent, their stature equal to high hills and all of them are capable in a moment to level the earth by uprooting and razing its mountains  to the ground."

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

287. Ravana informed about the vanara leaders.

             Ravana on hearing the report and advice  from the spies, pondered for a few moments and said "I do not give Seetha even if the devas, gandharvas or danavas attack me or even if there is pressure from all the worlds. O, my dear chaps! As you were harassed very much by the vanaras you seem to be so terrified and as such advising me to give back that lass Seetha.
Who can defeat me in battle?"
           Ravana thought for a while and signed to the two guys to follow him. All the three ascended the roof of the (Ravana's) palace which was shining white like snow and which was equal to the height of several palmyrah trees. Ravana, stupefied with anger, saw that ocean, the mountains, the forests and the entire land were completely filled with vanaras.
      Amazed to see that great army of vanaras, which was boundless and intolerable,  Ravana asked Sarana 
"Which vanaras are important among them? Who are the valiant ones? Who are the very strong ones? Who will stay in front at all places, with great energy? To whom Sugreeva will hear? Who are the generals of the commanders of the vanara-heads? What is the influence of the vanaras?"
       Sarana who already collected those info said "He is the heroic chief of army, called Nila, by whose great battle-cry the entire kingdom of Lanka, with its ramparts, mountains, woods and gardens is resounding. That vanara is encircled by hundreds and thousands of army-chiefs. He is stationed, with his face directed towards Lanka and is making a roaring sound. He is standing in front of the army of Sugreeva, the lord of all the vanaras. He, the valiant one, who holds his arms high, who tramples the earth under his feet as he marches, whose face is turned towards Lanka, who in fury is knitting his brows very much, who is resembling a mountain-peak in stature, who is like the petals of a lotus in hue, who in excess of anger continuously lashes out his tail, the swish of which is heard in ten regions, he is the prince named Angada. This Angada, son of Vali and always dear to Sugreeva, is coming forwards for Rama's interests, as Varuna to Indra's. It is all due to Angada's design that Seetha was found by Hanuman, who is a swift vanara and a well-wisher of Rama. This valiant Angada, together with his innumerable chiefs of vanaras, is raring to crush you. Surrounded by a large army the one who is posing majestically is the valiant Nala the creator of the bridge. These excellent vanaras, numbering a thousand crores and eight lakhs, lodging in sandalwood groves, yelling with a lion's roar and having stiffened their limbs, are knitting their eyebrows raised in anger. These valiant vanaras, who are terrific and fierce having a ferocious zeal are under the command of Nala. Nala himself with his aforesaid army aspires to smash Lanka forthwith. A vanara called Sweta of silver hue who is quick-witted and clever, of terrific prowess and a warrior renowned in the three worlds, has come to Sugreeva, bringing great delight to the troops.
           "There is a mountain called Ramya, on the banks of River Gomati. That mountain filled with various kinds of trees is also called Samrochana. An army-chief, named Kumuda used to roam around that mountainous region. He also used to rule that kingdom. He is the leader for lakhs of vanaras. He has a very long coppery hair, yellow, pale and white and hideous to look is the intrepid and fierce vanara called Kanda. He yearns to fight and boasts that he will destroy Lanka.
         "O, king! He who resembles a tawny lion with a long mane and who is looking at Lanka attentively as though he wishes to consume it with his glances just like Lord Shiva with his third eye, who dwells mostly on the mountains of Krishna and Sahya of Vindhya range of pleasing aspect, is the General named Rambha. Three thousand crores of excellent vanaras, who are formidable of impetuous valour and vigour, surround him who is marching ahead and follow in his footsteps to destroy Lanka. O, king! Look! The one who is yawning continuously and shaking his ears, he who does not have fear of death, he who never retreats from a battle, but violently moves with rage, who again sees obliquely, he who lashes out his tail and roars like a lion with great vigour, he who constantly dwells on the lovely Salveya mountain, he is Sarabha by name, the commander of vanaras with immense energy and devoid of fear. All his one lakh and forty thousand army-chiefs called Viharas* are strong.

*Viharas - Those who roam about at will.

       "The one who is like a great cloud, enveloping the space and who stays in the middle of the vanara warriors like Indra, the great voice of whose wishing his vanara warriors for success in the ensuing battle is heard like the roll of drums, is the General named Panasa, who has proved himself that he is invincible in battle. He dwells in Pariyatra, a mountain that is exceeded by none in height. Troop-commanders numbering fifty lakhs commanding separate units attend obediently to him, who is excellent among Generals. He who is encamped with sixty lakhs vanaras as his army-strength on the sea-shore like unto a second ocean is the commander called Vinata who resembles Dardura mountain in size and is positioned there lending charm to the formidable army marching ahead and moves about, drinking the water of River Vena, the foremost of all rivers. A vanara called Krathana, keeping the courageous, strong vanaras and the army-lieutenants in separate units, is inviting you for the battle. That resplendent vanara who for his part nourishes his body having the hue of a red chalk and proud of his strength, stands facing you with anger is called Gavaya. Seventy lakhs vanaras are attending on him. He, too wishes to crush the city of Lanka with the help of his army. These commanders and commanders-in-chief are difficult to be conquered and their number is hard to be counted. Their troops are divided into distinct units.".

Saturday, 18 July 2015

286. Ravana sent spies to assess the strength of the army of Rama.

             That night Ravana could not sleep. Rama and his laaaarrrrge army of vanaras were bothering him. In the following morning, after his morning chores, he called Shuka and Sarana, and told them "The entire army of vanaras have crossed the ocean. We believed that it would be impossible for them. The construction of the bridge across the ocean by Rama is an unprecedented   achievement. I am still not able to believe that a pass-way has been constructed across the ocean. The very fact that they have constructed a bridge across the ocean shows that the army of vanaras is certainly a worthy adversary to me.
          "I now want you two to enter that army of vanaras clandestinely and gather all information regarding the real quantum of their army, their prowess, as to which vanaras are important among them, which ministers of Rama and Sugreeva have come together, which vanaras are abiding in front, which vanaras are valiant, how that bridge was constructed across the ocean full of water, how the encamping is done for those vanaras, the determination, strength and the striking senses of Rama and  Lakshmana. Also get the info as to who  is the Chief of Army of that army of vanaras. Get all the info as quickly as possible and return as early as you can."
          Very competent rakshashas Shuka and Sarana assuming the guise of vanaras, sneaked into that army of vanaras. Shuka and Sarana were not able to count the number of that inconceivable army of vanaras. That exercise caused their hair to stand up due to the fact that the number exceeded much more than the highest number up to which they could count. That army was stationed on the tops of mountains, round about the waterfalls, in the caves, on the sea-shores, in the woodlands and in the gardens. It was still in the process of crossing the ocean, or was intending to cross it in its entirety. It had either encamped or was still encamping, making a terrible noise. The two rakshasas saw that very strong and imperturbable sea of army.
         Vibhishana identified them though in disguise. He caught hold of them and took the duo to Rama and told him "O, Rama! These two rakshasas are Shuka and Sarana, the ministers of Ravana who has send them here to spy on us."
              The pair of spies were trembling with fear and concluded that they will be meeting  their maker sooner than later.  Though they did not have any hope for their lives they tried to get some sympathy by honesty by telling Rama "O, excellent man! O, Rama! As per the orders of our king Ravana we came here to probe and get all information about your entire army."
        Looking at them with a benign smile and a  remarkable sangfroid  Rama surprised them by saying "Has the entire army been observed by you? Have you observed us well? Have you accomplished the task as entrusted to you? If so, you may go back now according to your free will. In case you like to get some more info you may probe and get them without any fear and Vibhishana will help you to get them. Do not have any apprehension about your life. I do not kill messengers or spies without any weapons."            Then turning to Vibhishana he said "O, Vibhishana!  Show heroism on enemies and not on these two spies. Set them both, who are spies in disguise, free." 
          Rama then told the duo spies  "When you return to the city of Lanka, repeat my following words faithfully to Ravana, the younger half-brother of Kubera and the king of rakshashas. 'That force on which you relied when you were taking away Seetha from me, display now that very same force at your will along with your troops and allies. Tomorrow, at daybreak, you will see my arrows will start demolishing the city of Lanka with its ramparts and arches as well as the army of rakshasas. O, Ravana! Tomorrow, at the break of the day I will cast my dreadful anger on you and your army as Indra the Lord of devas wielding a thunderbolt casts the thunderbolt on rakshasas.' "
         Nodding their heads vehemently in agreement the two spies, Shuka and Sarana, admiring the justice of Rama, cried out "May you be victorious!".
     They reported their king "O, king of rakshasas! We were seized by Vibhishana with the intention of killing us. But, Rama, the pious minded whose valour is immeasurable, set us free.
      "In our assessment the four heroes to wit, Rama, the son of Dasharatha, his dear brother the illustrious Lakshmana, the great resplendent Vibhishana and Sugreeva whose valour is equal to Indra the Lord of devas, who are, in our opinion equal to the protectors of the worlds, the valiant ones skilled in the use of weapons and of proven prowess. They are now stationed at the same place. They can storm the city of Lanka with its ramparts and arches and transplant it elsewhere, even without the help of any vanara. Such is Rama's form and such are his weapons that he alone can  overthrow the city of Lanka. That army protected by Rama and Lakshmana as well as Sugreeva, are indubitably unconquerable even by all the gods and rakshasas. Now, the army of the mighty vanaras, who are readily raring to fight, consists of cheerful warriors. Make peace, instead of enmity with them. Restore Seetha to Rama."

Thursday, 16 July 2015

285. Shuka was finally released at the orders of Rama.

          That army of the valiant vanaras headed by their king Sugreeva looked charming like a full moon night in autumn presided over by the moon and illuminated by bright stars. The earth pressed under the feet of that multitude of warriors of that army which was energetic like a sea, trembled with fear by the rapid movement of that army. Then the vanaras heard a great tumult from the city of Lanka like noisy sounds of kettledrums and tabours, which caused their hair to raise. Their leaders were rejoiced by that sound, but could not tolerate it for long and countered it by emitting shouts, which surpassed, ipso facto suppressed that uproar. Those rakshasas, too, heard the roaring of the wildly delighted vanaras and they, at the first instance thought it  to be the thundering of clouds in the sky. When they noticed that there were no cloud they realized that the sound was from the varana army.
             Seeing Lanka dressed with multi colored flags and buntings, Rama was reminded of Seetha and his heart became queasy with grief. He murmured "Seetha whose eyes resemble those of a young deer, was detained by Ravana there, as Rohini star is overshadowed by the red bodied planet (mars)." Seeing Lakshmana he exclaimed "O, Lakshmana! Look at this Lanka, which appears as though constructed on a hilltop by Visvakarma with his imagination and so elevated scraping the sky looks very lovely. The city of Lanka was constructed densely with many seven storied buildings and appears like  the abode of Vishnu, covered with white clouds. Lanka is made beautiful by the garden vying with chaitraratha (the garden of Kubera the god of riches) with songs of birds of various species, with fruit bearing flowers and charms in bloom. See how a gentle breeze sways the branches where the cuckoos abound where bees swarm and where birds are excited with joy."
        The army of vanaras was divided into battalions according to the procedure found in scriptures. Rama ordered "Taking the troops of vanaras under his command, let Angada take up his position with Nila at the center of the formation. Let Rishabha along with his division of the army take up his position, having recourse to the right side of the army. Let Gandhamadana, the strong and unconquerable, resembling an elephant in rut, take his position superintending the left side of the  troops. I shall stand alert in the forefront of the army along with Lakshmana. Let Jambavan, Sushena and Vegadarshi protect the belly portion of the army. Let Sugreeva the king of vanaras protect the rear guard of the army."
      That army with innumerable skillfully distributed divisions led by the foremost of vanaras, resembled heavens with their mass of clouds. With a desire to crush the rakshashas in battle, the vanaras, seizing peaks of mountains and gigantic trees, kept them ready for use in the battle. All the heroic vanaras took an unequivocal   resolution  in their minds "With peak of mountains or with our bare fists, we shall shatter this Lanka into pieces."
       Then, Rama told Sugreeva "Our forces are properly marshaled. Let this Shuka be released." Hearing the explicit orders of Rama, Sugreeva released Shuka, the messenger.  
       Shuka went to Ravana and stood before Ravana shivering in fright. Seeing him shaking like that Ravana laughingly enquired him "Why were your wings tied up? You appear with your wings plucked up. Have you fallen as a victim to their various fickle minds?" Shuka told him nervously "On the northern shore of the ocean, I conveyed your message in a smooth tone, conciliating and without any ambiguity, exactly as per your instructions. Before I could finish, the enraged vanaras jumped on me and seized me. They soon started beating and plucking me. Those vanaras did not listen to what I was telling them. Vanaras, by their very nature, are angry and ferocious. That Rama the killer of Viraadha, Kabandha and Khara, along with Sugreeva has come over here. Having constructed a bridge across the sea and crossed the salty ocean and expelling the rakshasas, here stands Rama wielding his bow. Thousands of divisions of hordes of bears and vanaras resembling mountains and clouds, cover the earth. There is no more possibility of an alliance between these two armies, to wit, the army of rakshasas and the army of vanaras, than between that of devas and asuras. Very soon they will come to our rampart. Now we have to choose one of the two options to wit,  restore Seetha or defy him."
        Hearing the words of Shuka, Ravana with his eyes becoming blood red in anger, as if he would consume him with his glance, said  "Even if I were frightened by all the worlds or even if I were to face a battle with Devas or Gandharvas or Danavas, I would not give back Seetha. Endowed with a huge army I shall eclipse the aforesaid army of Rama, as the brilliance of all stars is obscured at the rising of the sun. My rashness is like that of the sea and my strength is like that of the wind. Rama is not aware of it. That is why, he is foolish enough to challenge me for a combat. Rama has not seen my arrows resembling venomous serpents lying in my quiver. That is why he is acting stupidly against me. Rama is not aware of my prowess in battle. Neither the thousand eyed Indra nor  Varuna, nor Yama, nor Kubera can defeat me in a battle."

Saturday, 11 July 2015

284. Rama shares the portents observed by him with his bro.

         Rama murmured 'Thanks!' to the devas and others. He then looked around and what he saw made him very happy. Rama, who was well acquainted with portents, saw some portents around, which augur beneficial outcome for him. However, some of the portents seemed to predict grave happenings. Embracing Lakshmana he told him "O, Lakshmana! Now that we have occupied this region endowed with cold water and woods abounding in fruits, let us quickly divide this multitude of forces into appropriate  battalions and drawing it up in battle array and be ready for any eventuality. I perceive an impending danger which will be terrific, causing destruction to the world, and torture to the eminent heroes among bears, vanaras and rakshasas. Winds are blowing with dust and earth is trembling. Mountain-tops are quivering and trees are falling down. Ferocious clouds resembling wild beasts are dirty colored and emit a terrific roaring and let loose dreadful showers mingled with drops of blood. Evening twilight resembling red sandal wood is very much dreadful. From the blazing sun, balls of fire fall. Wild animals and birds from all sides are roaring pitiably with melancholic sound, facing towards the sun in great fear. The splendorous moon looks as though rising at the time of universal dissolution, invested with a black and red halo is tormenting my mind this night.
     "O, Lakshmana! A dark stain appears on the cloudless solar disc, which is diminished, dreary, inauspicious and coppery. Look! Stars enveloped in enormous dust, appear to announce a dissolution of the world. Crows, eagles and vultures are flying low. Jackals too are howling very dreadful and inauspicious sounds. Earth will become a quagmire of flesh and blood, covered with rocks, spears and swords hurled by vanaras and rakshasas. Abounding with all the vanaras we should be ready to attack the city ruled by Ravana, today itself at a quick pace."
        Rama the cynosure of all, wielding his bow sallied forth in front, facing Lanka. All those excellent vanaras, together with Vibhishana and Sugreeva making roaring sounds surged forth for the destruction of the audacious enemies. Rama on his part was pleased by the act and gestures of those very strong vanaras, with their intention to gratify him.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

283. Rama was advised to build a bridge.

           Hearing those pacificatory words from both his dear bro as well as from the firmament above, Rama shouted at the ocean harshly "O, ocean! I will make you dry up now along with your nethermost subterranean region. A vast stretch of sand will appear, when your water gets consumed by my arrows. At the same time the creatures inhabiting you will get destroyed by the gush of arrows released by my bow. Then our vanaras will proceed to the other shore by foot. O, Sea! the abode of asuras! You seem to be unaware of my valor or prowess. You will now be made aware of the same."
              Rama then set ready to send the Brahma-Asthra to the ocean. Then suddenly both the heaven and earth seemed to be split asunder. Mountains also were shaken. Darkness enveloped the world. All the quarters were obscured. Lakes and rivers were soon agitated. The moon, sun and the stars moved obliquely and though the sun's rays lighted the sky, it was enveloped by darkness and shined with a blaze of hundreds of meteors while thunders reverberated with an unparalleled sound in the sky. Series of monstrous winds blew fiercely  sweeping away the clouds, tore up the trees, shattering the mountain peaks, broke off the points of the rocks, emitted flashes of radiance like lightning with a correspondingly great sound like great thunders. All the creatures cried out along with the thunders. The invisible beings too gave off a terrific noise. The creatures were overpowered, frightened, agitated, lied down and also very much anguished. They did not move out of fear. The great ocean with its waves and water, along with its living creatures including snakes and rakshashas soon became possessed of a terrific velocity. Due to that speed and swelling of waters, the ocean crossed beyond the other shore to the extent of a Yojana (eight miles). Rama born in Raghu dynasty and the annihilator of enemies, did not retreat before that ocean, which swelled and crossed its limits. Then, Sagara, the ocean god, himself rose from the middle of the ocean like the sun rises at dawn from the huge mountain of Meru. That ocean god  along with snakes of flaming jaws appeared with a hue of glossy emerald adorned with gold.
         The valiant ocean, the lord of rivers, wearing a wreath of pearls, with his eyes resembling lotus leaves, bearing a beautiful garland made of all kinds of flowers on his head, with ornaments of refined gold, adorned with excellent jewels made of pearls from his domain, decorated with different kinds of gems and metals, resembling Himavat mountain, wearing on his broad chest a locket radiating a white luster, resembling the Kaustubha gem, hanging in the middle of a single string of pearls, with a multitude of waves whirled around him, encircled by the clouds and winds, escorted by rivers mainly the Ganga and Sindhu, endowed with diverse forms resembling various deities, approached Rama with joined palms, who stood with his bow in hand all set to send the Brahma-Asthra. The ocean god addressed Rama first by shouting  'Rama!' and then reverently and politely said "O, beloved Rama! Let earth, wind, ether, water and light remain fixed in their own nature, resorting to their eternal path. I am fathomless and my nature is that it is impossible of being swum across. It becomes unnatural if I become shallow. Neither from desire nor ambition nor fear nor from affection, I am unable to solidify my waters inhabited by alligators, fishes etc.. I shall, however, make it possible to see that you are able to cross over. I will arrange a place for the vanaras to cross me and bear with it. As long as the army crosses me, the crocodiles will not bother them."
          Rama then replied "Thanks a lot. However, I now have a problem at hand. I already have set this BrahmaAsthra. It is not possible for me to just remove it from my bow. I have to send it to hit some target.  Please, therefore, suggest a target for it?"
           After thinking for a few moments the mighty ocean said "Towards my northern side, there is a holy place. It is well known as Drumakulya, just like the way you are well known to this world. Numerous robbers of fearful and ferocious deeds, with the sinful Abhiras as their chief, drink my waters there. I am not able to bear that touch of those wicked people, the evil doers. O, Rama! Let this fierce asthra without vain be released to hit them there."
           Rama did so. The place where that Astra, whose splendor was akin to that of a nuclear bomb, descended  is indeed famous as Maru* on this earth.

* Maru-Malwar in Rajastan (India)!?

      The earth hit by that asthra emitted a sound like piercing wailing. The waters of the penultimate subterranean region gushed forth from the mouth of that cleft. Then the hollow became known as Vrana. Water gushing forth from it looked and tasted like seawater. A terrific splitting sound was heard in that place. Water was dried up in those cavities, as a result of the asthra of Rama. That desert of Maru became famous in the three worlds. Rama, the son of Dasharatha, a wise  and a valiant man resembling a celestial, made that cavity dried up and gave a boon to that desert of Maru. Due to granting of a boon by Rama, that desert of Maru became the most congenial place for cattle rearing, a place without any disease, producing tasty fruits and roots, with a lot of clarified butter, a lot of milk and various kinds of sweet- smelling herbs. Thus it became an auspicious and suitable place, bestowing these merits. While that cavity was burning, Ocean, the lord of rivers pointing the vanara Nala, told Rama "O, excellent man! This one, named Nala, a glorious person, is the son of Vishvakarma. He was given a boon by his father and is equal to his dad, Visvakarma. Let this greatly energetic vanara build a bridge across me. I can hold that bridge. He is just the same as his father."
          Then the god of Ocean disappeared in the same way he appeared. Then Nala, one of the more distinguished vanaras stood up and said "As suggested by the Ocean, I will construct a bridge across this large Ocean, taking recourse to the skill and ability of my father. This Sagara, the formidable mass of water, in fear of punishment, gave a passage to Rama, wishing to see a bridge constructed on it. On the mountain of Mandara, the following boon was given by Visvakarma to my mother 'O, god like lady! A son equal to me will be born to you.' I am a son born of Visvakarma's own loins. I am equal to Visvakarma. As I never attempted anything like my papa earlier, I was not sure of my ability to construct a bridge on the ocean. I, therefore, did not volunteer earlier. Now I am very confident and feel very capable of constructing a bridge across the ocean. Hence, let us start to build the bridge now itself."
            Coming to know of the bridge across the ocean being built by one of their comrades, Nala, the entire lot of the vanara army jumped in joy on all sides to take part in that endeavour. The vanaras, who resembled mountains, broke the rocks from the nearby mountains and trees from the nearby forests and dragged them away towards the sea. Those vanaras filled the ocean with all types of trees like sala, asvakarna, dhava, bamboo, kutaja, arjuna, palmyra,tilaka, tinisa, bilva, saptaparna and karnika in blossom as also mango and asoka. The excellent and energetic vanaras lifted and brought, like Indra's flag posts, some trees with roots intact and some others without roots. From here and there the vanarass brought palmyra trees, pomegranate shrubs, coconut and vibhitaka, karira, bakula and neem trees. The huge bodied vanaras with  enormous strength uprooted elephant-sized rocks and mountains and transported them by mechanical contrivances contrived by Nala. The water, raised up due to sudden throwing of mountains, stones, etc. in the sea, soured upward towards the sky and from there again, gushed back. The rocks befalling on all sides perturbed the ocean. Some others drew up very long strings in order to keep the rocks in a straight line. Nala on his part initiated a monumental bridge in the middle of the ocean. Some vanaras were holding poles for measuring the bridge and some others collected the material. Reeds and logs resembling clouds and mountains brought by hundreds of vanaras fastened some parts of the bridge.
       Vanaras constructed the bridge with trees having blossom at the end of their boughs. Some vanaras looking like demons seized rocks resembling mountains and peaks of mountains. Then, a tumultuous sound occurred when the rocks were thrown into the sea and when mountains were caused to fall there. On the first day, fourteen Yojanas of the bridge were constructed by the vanaras. In the same manner, on the second day twenty Yojanas of bridge were constructed speedily by them with terrific bodies and mighty strength.
        Thus, on the third day twenty-one Yojanas of the bridge was constructed in the ocean speedily with their colossal bodies. On the fourth day, a further of twenty-two Yojanas were constructed by the dashing vanaras with a great speed. In that manner, on the fifth day, the vanaras working quickly constructed twenty-three yojanas of the bridge up to the other seashore. The proud Nala, the strong and illustrious son of Visvakarma  built the bridge across the sea as truly as his father would have built it. That beautiful and lovely bridge constructed by Nala across the ocean, the abode of alligators, shone brightly like a milky way of stars in the sky. With a desire to behold that marvel, devas along with gandharvas, siddhas and great rishis came  and stood up in the   firmament. The devas and gandharvas  openly appreciated the Nala's bridge, having a width of ten yojanas and a length of hundred yojanas and which was very difficult to be built. The vanaras taking long leaps and short leaps shouted in joy. All other beings seeing that bridge across the ocean felt their hair standing on end in amazement and deemed it as unimaginably wonderful. Those thousand crores of vanaras in a great spectacle reached the other shore of the great ocean soon after building that bridge across the sea. That colossal bridge, which was broad, well-constructed, glorious, well postured and held together firmly, looked beautiful like a separating straight line in the ocean. Vibhishana, wielding a mace in his hand, stood up on the seashore along with his ministers, was all ready for meeting any eventualities in invading the enemies.
        Sugreeva told Rama "O, valiant man! This ocean, the abode of alligators, is  vast. I do not want you to waste your energy crossing the ocean by walking over the bridge. Please ascend the shoulder of Hanuman and let Lakshmana ascend the shoulder of Angada. They can hold both of you while flying in the sky."
        Rama smilingly nodded his agreement. Then wielding his bow and Lakshmana and Sugreeva by his sides, went to the front of that army. Some vanaras went along the middle of the bridge. Some others went along the sides. Some others were jumping into water. Some others marched forward on the path. Some vanaras entered the sky and flew like Garuda, the eagle. The highly terrific sound of the ocean was surpassed by the great sounds of the terrific vanaras who were crossing the sea. That army of vanaras, which crossed the ocean by the bridge constructed by Nala, was encamped by Sugreeva at that location of the shore having many fruits, tubers and water. Seeing Rama's accomplishment, which was amazing and arduous, devas, Siddhas and Charanas (celestial bards) along with great sages, forthwith approached Rama and consecrated him with very splendid waters separately. The devas, Siddhas and others blessed Rama "O, king! Defeat your enemies. Rule the earth and ocean for years."