Saturday, 29 August 2015

301. Sugreeva fought a duel with Ravana.

           Then, Rama along with Sugreeva and the troop leaders, ascended the top of Suvela mountain which was having a circumference of sixteen miles. Halting there just for a while and surveying the ten cardinal points, Rama saw the city of Lanka, which was beautifully constructed by Visvakarma, the divine architect on the top of Trikuta Mountain with nice arrangements and ravishing with enchanting groves.
          There, standing above a gateway, was the invincible Ravana the lord of rakshashas, who was being fanned with white whisks on both sides, was being graced with a triumphal parasol,  smeared with red sandal paste, adorned with scarlet ornaments, attired in raiment embroidered in gold, resembling a dark cloud, with scars of wounds inflicted on his breast by Airavata  with his tusks, wrapped in a cloak of red colour resembling the colour of hare's blood and looked like a mass of clouds in the sky enveloped with sunshine at sunset.
             Seeing Ravana, Sugreeva was not able to contain his anger and got up at once, while Rama and the chiefs of the army of vanaras were looking on. Gathering up his strength and courage, Sugreeva, in an impulse of fury, bounced from the summit of the mountain and landed on the top of that gate where Ravana was standing.
        Alighting in front of Ravana, he (i.e. Sugreeva) shouted with an ugly sneer "You Rakshash! I am Sugreeva, a friend and a servant of Rama, the Lord of the world. You will not be spared by me today, by the inspiring grace of Rama."
       Without any further notice Sugreeva leapt on Ravana, felling him on the ground, and pulled some of his brightly coloured crowns from his heads and threw them away on the ground.
       Seeing Sugreeva about to rush upon him again, Ravana told him gruffly  with unmitigated anger "You will be Sugreeva (one who has a handsome neck) until this moment. But in a few moments, you will become Hinagriva (one who does not have any  neck)." Instantaneously Ravana raised up and quickly flung Sugreeva on to the ground with a few of his arms. Bouncing like a ball, Sugreeva flung back on his adversary with his arms.
          Ravana and Sugreeva carried on a duel which was unbearable, with perspiration broke out on their limbs, with their bodies red with blood, each clung to other, paralyzing his opponent's movements, resembling silk-cotton and Kimshuka trees, followed by blows of fists, slaps of hands, blows of elbows and blows of fingers on each other.
          Having wrestled for a long time on the center of the flat floor of the gateway, each in turn repeatedly lifting their bodies and bending their feet in a particular way, the two highly competent combatants remained on that flat roof of the gate way. Crushing one another and their bodies clung together, they both dropped down between the defensive walls and the moat. They would leap up again, seizing each other from the ground, after pausing an instant to regain their breath.
      With arms interlaced like ropes joined together, they remained locked together in the struggle many a time. Both of them were fully trained in wrestling and found themselves matched evenly. The two champions in wrestling were fighting like a tiger and a lion  or two young lordly elephants encountering in a hostile manner. In view of this the obvious result was both with arms interlaced and having become tired absolutely with their strength getting depleted, fell on the ground together.
     Thereafter rising slowly with great difficulty, those two champs hurled themselves on each other, circling around the arena again and again, like we view in a slow motion video clipping.
       Like two great tuskers with their enormous arms resembling the trunks, those two warriors were keeping back each other, fought vehemently for a long time and moved speedily in a circular area. Approaching each other like two wild cats fighting over a piece of meat, trying to kill each other, they stood growling again and again.
      As both Sugreeva and Ravana were skilled in wrestling, they executed innumerable and myriad evolutions, taking up diverse postures, moving in a curved line like an ox's urine, coming and going, stepping side ways, having a retrograde motion to avoid blows, turning about abandoning the attack, dashing towards each other, leaping, standing firm and erect, retreated, turned sideways, rushed in a bent posture, ran lifting their foot to kick the opponent and by letting go or stealing away.
          As Ravana could not defeat Sugreeva, he decided to invoke his  magic power. Sensing it, Sugreeva flew into the sky triumphantly, shaking off all fatigue.  Ravana, baffled by Sugreeva's retreat, stood confounded there gaping at the receding Sugreeva. As Sugreeva was endowed with the speed of the wind, returned to Rama in a jiffy.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

300. Rama and others were bewitched seeing the beauty of Lanka.

            After selecting their places for rest for the night on the Suvela mountain for that night, Rama and others looked hither and thither. When their eyes fell on the gardens and groves in Lanka all the eyes were transfixed. They became fascinated seeing those gardens which were leveled, beautiful, spacious, majestic and enchanting to look at. Thick with Champaka, Ashoka, Vakula Sala and palmyra trees, covered with groves of Tamala and Panasa trees, surrounded with rows of Nagakesara trees, Lanka looked splended on all sides like the city of Amaravati reigned by Indra the god of devas, with green lawns and variegated avenues and with beautiful trees of various kinds like Hintala, Arjuna, Nipa, Saptaparna in full flowering, Tilaka, Karnikara and Patal whose crests were laden with flowers and which were intertwined with climbers laden with multi-coloured flowers and red tender leaves. The trees there were laden with fragrant and greatly enchanting flowers and fruits, as human beings were laden with ornaments.
         That gardens, which bore flowers and fruits in relation to the relevant seasons and with full of bees, like Chaitraratha (garden of Kubera, the god of riches), was quite charming, like Nandana (garden of Indra the Lord of Devas). In that gardens abounding in cascades, the songs of birds like gallinules, lapwings(small white cranes), dancing peacocks and cuckoos were heard.
      Then, some of the more brave and inquisitive vanaras, thrilled with rapture and delighted, each assuming that shape he fancied, entered the aforesaid groves and gardens with birds ever excited with joy, wandered by bees, with clusters of trees occupied by cuckoos, having variegated sounds of birds and song of the large bees, abounding with sounds of ospreys, with the music of wagtails and cries of cranes.
      Some troop-leaders of the valiant vanaras, with due permission from sugreeva sallied towards Lanka, the city adorned with flags. They assumed different forms and loitering making noises causing the birds to frighten and displeasing animals including elephants and thereby causing that Lanka to tremble by their noises.
       Those vanaras with great speed marched ahead, making the earth flattened by their feet and the dust thus raised by their feet went up instantaneously. Frightened by that unusual sound, bears, lions buffaloes, elephants, deer and birds were trembled and terrified and hastened towards ten different directions.
          The solitary peak of Trikuta mountain, which looked as tall as the sky, covered all over with flowers resembling gold was charming to look at.
         Lanka, ruled by Ravana, with a breadth of eighty mile and a length of one hundred sixty miles, was located on the apex of the mountain there. 
       The city of Lanka looked beautiful with its towering City-gates resembling white clouds as well as with golden and silver ramparts. The city of Lanka, greatly adorned by palaces and seven storied mansions, looked like the sky with clouds at the end of a summer and as a region of Vishnu  between earth and heaven.
       A palace, duly graced with a thousand pillars, which looked like a peak of Mount Kailasa was there in the City of Lanka, which was always protected by a complete army of rakshashas. The palace seemed to be scraping the skies and was to be seen as an ornament to the City of Ravana.
      Note: You may wonder how Lanka looked so beautiful when Hanuman burned it completely only a few days earlier. Well, my guess is it was re-built as before in a few days, again by Visvakarma.
End Note.
           Lakshmana and the remaining vanaras who chose to stay put  with Rama at the Suvela mountain  saw that charming golden city of Ravana, graced with mountains, picturesque with various minerals, splendid with gardens, reechoing with songs of birds of every kind, frequented by varieties of deer, richly endowed with various kinds of flowers, inhabited by rakshashas of every degree and duly flourishing, having increased its wealth.
         Beholding that City, which looked like heaven and crammed with huge palaces,  Rama was absolutely wonderstruck. Rama with his great army saw that City, full of precious gems, having all kinds of facilities, adorned with rows of mansions, having excellent doors with huge mechanical appliances and with a large armed forces protecting the City.

Monday, 24 August 2015

299. Rama decided to stay for the night at the mountain Suvela.

        Rama then decided to camp for himself as well as the whole army in the mountain Suvela for the night. He told Lakshmana, Sugreeva and Vibhishana "We shall ascend this Suvela mountain, shining well with hundreds of minerals. All of us will stay on this mountain for this night.
       "We shall see Lanka the abode of that rakshash, Ravana by whom my wife was taken away for the sake of his own death, by whom virtue was not understood, good character was not known and noble lineage was not seen and by whom that contemptible act was done with an inferior demoniacal mind. My anger is increased on hearing the name of that rakshash. Because of the offence committed by him, I shall see that all these rakshashas are destroyed. Falling into that power of trap of death, one does evil acts. Because of the offence, the vilest, committed by him, his lineage is going to be destroyed."
       Rama with ascending anger ascended the mountain Suvela with its conspicuous summits. Lakshmana, who took delight in his own valour and steadfastness, keeping ready his mighty bow with arrows, followed Rama, in the rear. Sugreeva along with his ministers and Vibhishana ascended the mountain, by following him. Hanuman, Angada, Nila, Mainda, Dvivida, Gaja, Gavaksha, Gavaya, Sharabha, Gandhamadana, Panasa, Kumuda, Hara, Rambha the chief of the troop, Jambavan, Sushena, the greatly wise Rishabha, Durmukha of great splendour, Shatabali and all the other vanaras and bears which are fast-moving, which can wander easily on mountains with a speed akin to that of wind, ascended that Suvela mountain which Rama ascended.
         Reaching the apex of the mountain they looked at the city of Lanka which appeared as though it was hanging in the sky. The chiefs of the vanara-troops saw that beautiful City of Lanka furnished with excellent gates, enriched with exquisite ramparts and pervaded all over with rakshasas.
      Those excellent vanaras noticed in one of the ramparts where black rakshashas  standing together. Seeing the rakshasas who were craving for war, all those vanaras made various types of noises, while Rama was witnessing the scene.
        Then, the sun reddened with evening-twilight went down and the night shining with full moon arrived. Thereafter, Rama along with Lakshmana as well as Sugreeva, the Lord of vanaras together with his troops and captions of troops, duly greeted welcome and treated hospitably by Vibhishana, halted happily on the mountain resort of Suvela.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

298. Vibhishana learnt the arrangements made by Ravana.

          Meanwhile, Rama, Sugreeva the sovereign of vanaras, Hanuman the son of Vayu, Jambavan the king of the Bears, Vibhishana the rakshash, Angada the son of Vali, Lakshmana, Sushena along with his kinsfolk, Mainda, Dvivida, Gaja, Gavaksha, Kumuda, Nala and Panasa, all having reached the enemy's territory, assembled to discuss the next course of action. Rama addressed them in general "I Observe that this city of Lanka, ruled by Ravana, appears to be impregnable even to the immortal devdhas together with asuras, the uragas (serpent rakshashas) or Gandharvas. Ravana, the lord of rakshashas seems to be staying in the city always,  except  for occasional escapades like the abduction of Seetha. Think of the ways and means for the success of our expedition."
         Vibhishana the younger brother of Ravana said "My pals and counselors Anala, Panasa, Sampati and Pramati, assuming the form of birds, visited the city of Lanka clandestinely and collected a good lot of useful info.
         "O, Rama! The arrangements made by Ravana for the defence of this city have been collected by them. The very strong Prashata is made responsible for the defense of the eastern gate. Mahaparshva and Mahodara of mighty prowess are to defend the southern gate. Indragit, the son of Ravana will be guarding the western gate along with many rakshashas armed with harpoons, swords, bows, spears and hammers together with warriors furnished with weapons of various kinds. Ravana, knower of magical formulas, will himself be at the northern gate, along with several thousands of rakshashas holding various weapons in their hands.
         "Virupaksha along with a mighty army carrying spears, clubs and bows along with many other rakshashas, occupies the center of the fort. The strength of the elephants and chariots is around ten thousand each, the cavalry twenty thousand and there are more than a crore foot soldiers.
        "O, Rama! When Ravana attacked Kubera, sixty lacs of rakshashas sallied forth with him. All of them were akin to the evil-minded Ravana in prowess, in strength, in courage and in pride. Please don't be indignant  about this information. I am not trying to scare you, but only informing you. You are indeed capable of overpowering even suras."
        After hearing Vibhishana Rama said "I have some experience in the deployment of forces against adversaries in battles. At the eastern gate of Lanka, Nila that lion among vanaras, surrounded by many valiant vanaras, will oppose Prahasta. At the southern gate, Angada the son of Vali, surrounded by his mighty army, will oppose Mahaparshva and Mahodara. Hanuman that son Vayu and of inscrutable spirit, surrounded by a multitude of vanaras, will enter the City through the western gate.
         "I myself am determined to oppose that wicked rakshash, who, armed with the boons he has received, enjoys oppressing all, including the magnanimous sages. With the aid of Lakshmana, I shall forcibly enter the northern gate where Ravana is stationed along with his army.
        "The mighty Sugreeva, the valiant Jambavan, the king of bears and Vibhishana, the younger brother of the Lord of rakshashas will occupy the central position of the army. Vanaras should not assume human form in the battle, for, in the army of vanaras, this vanara-shape should serve as a sign of recognition among us. Seven of us namely I, my brother Lakshmana, who is full of valour, my friend Vibhishana and his four companions will attack the foe in our normal form."

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

297. Ravana ignored the advice of Malyavan.

            Ravana so fascinated,  entranced, charmed, captivated, smitten, bewitched, engrossed, spellbound, infatuated and hypnotized by the lascivious body of Seetha, could not brook that so called beneficial advice of Malyavan.  With bubbling anger swaying his body including his ten heads and twenty hands, knitting his brows on all his ten faces, rolling all his twenty eyes in fury he told Malyavan "I have closed all my ears to the speech you have made. How can you hold Rama, who is a mere human being, a small feeble man, taking help from vanarass and dwelling in a forest having been abandoned by his father, to be capable of defeating me in a battle? How can you hold me, the Lord of rakshashas, terrifying devas and possessing all powers in full, to be weaker than a human? I believe that you have  become jealous of my prowess and developed a leaning towards the enemies. Which learned man, who understands the truth in the scriptures, would speak thus harshly to a mighty person in power, were it not to instigate him?
      "Why should I give back Seetha, who is like Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune without the lotus, having brought her away from the forest. If you think that I did it in that way out fear of Rama see that Rama killed within a few days by me, along with Lakshama, Sugreeva and the crores of vanaras. How can you imagine that me, the omnipotent  and invincible Ravana, whom in combat, the devas themselves dare not meet in battle, entertain fear for Rama, a mere human? I would rather be cut myself into pieces than bend before anybody! Such was I from birth, it is my nature by default and is not alterable. What great marvel is there in that which gave way to terror if by a lucky chance, a bridge was constructed by Rama across the ocean. That Rama along with his army of vanaras, having crossed the ocean, will not go back alive. It is my true promise to you."
          Seeing Ravana to be highly excited and speaking with such fury, Malyavan became totally abashed and   did not like to reply. Blessing Ravana with a victory over Rama and his army Malyavan took permission and went home. Ravana then continued to have deliberations with his ministers about planning the defense of Lanka. Thereafter, he assigned the eastern gate to the rakshash, Prahasta and the southern gate to Mahaparshva and Mahodara, both with great prowess. At the western gate, he placed his son Indrajit, a powerful conjurer besides being a valiant warrior, with considerable force of rakshashas.
           Placing Shuka and Sarana at the northern gate, Ravana told his ministers that he would go there personally. He placed the rakshash Virupaksha, who was full of energy and courage, to be in the center of the fort, with a large number of rakshashas. Making fortified Lanka in this manner, that bull among rakshashas, under the grip of bad time, deemed his purpose as accomplished. Having ordered for adequate arrangements for the defense of the city, Ravana then let his ministers depart. Having been honoured with blessings of victory by the body of counsellors, he entered his mighty and sumptuous inner apartments.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

296. Malyavan advises Ravana to make peace with Rama.

         The mighty armed Rama sallied forth with the resonant roll of kettle drums, mingled with the blast of conches. Hearing that sound, Ravana the Lord of rakshashas, trembling a little,  looked at his ministers. Ravana of great strength, the tormentor of the world and a cruel lord of rakshashas then addressed (actually shouted at with ALL his ten mouths) all his ministers in a voice that shook the entire hall "I have heard what you told me about Rama's crossing the ocean, his prowess, strength and heroism. I know that you are truly brave in the battle-field, yet, on knowing that valiant Rama is on our soil, you  keep looking at each other in silence."
           Hearing that remark of Ravana, Malyavan the maternal grandfather of Ravana (actually he was the elder brother of the maternal grandpa of Ravana) a highly intelligent rakshash, replied Ravana "O, king! He who is well-versed in (fourteen)* sciences and follows the path of prudence, enjoys sovereignty for a long time and compels his enemies too into subjugation.
*Four Vedas, six Vedaangas, the Puranas, the Mimamsa, Nyaya and Dharma together constitute the fourteen sciences.
     "He who concludes peace or wages war at a fitting time with enemies strengthens his own forces and attains a great power. A treaty of peace should be reached by a king who is weaker or at best equal to an enemy. The king should never underrate that enemy. If the king is more powerful, he should make war on the enemy. For that reason, I consider that alliance with Rama will be highly prudent. Let Seetha, for whose sake you are being attacked, be restored to him.
    "All the devas, rishis and Gandharvas are wishing victory for Rama. It is not wise to ignore them. Alliance with him will be beneficial for you. Brahma, the lord of creation, created broadly only two classes of beings, the suras and the asuras. Suras take refuge in righteousness and asuras in unrighteousness. O, Ravana! Righteous is said to be on the side of the suras. Unrighteousness is indeed on the side of  the asuras. In Krita (also known as Satya) Yuga 
righteousness swallows unrighteousness. In Kali Yuga unrighteousness swallows righteousness. Therefore, while you were wandering in the worlds, even the great righteousness was destroyed and unrighteousness favoured by you. So, the enemies are stronger than us.
      "Due to your negligence, that well nourished unrighteousness is swallowing us. You, who are interested in sensual enjoyments, doing whatever you like, have created a great alarm in the sages, having the nature of fire. The power of those sages is insurmountable like an igniting fire. Having purified their minds through penance, they intent on promotion of righteousness, in as much as these Brahamans worship the gods through different principal sacrifices, also pour oblations into the sacred fires with due ceremony and read the Vedas in a loud voice. Having subdued the asuras, they continued to chant the sacred text, on hearing which all the asuras scattered in all directions, as thundering clouds in a hot season.
          "The smoke coming forth from the sacred fire of the sage who resemble the fire (in brilliance), enveloping the ten directions, takes away the magical power of the asuras. The severe  austerity practiced by the sages with firm resolve in different parts of the world torment the asuras. You received a boon of invincibility from devas, danavas and yakshas, but these are men, vanaras and bears. All of them are as powerful and efficacious and having strong prowess  like lions. By seeing various kinds of unexpected and undesirable events and portents and many types of terrific things, I am afraid that a calculated  destruction of all of us rakshashas is premeditated.
        "With terrifying clamour, monstrous clouds, inspiring horror, rain hot blood on Lanka on every side. Tears drop from the weeping elephants, horses etc., whose skins became discolored and are covered with dust and are not shining as before. Flesh-eating animals like jackals are howling horribly. Entering Lanka, they are in the groves, forming into groups. Black women, chattering incoherently in dreams and robbing different houses laughing loudly showing their white teeth. Dogs devour the sacred offerings offered in homes. Donkeys are born of cows and rats of mongoose.
          "Cats mate with tigers, pigs with dogs, Kinnaras with rakshashas and humans. Red-footed and white pigeons, messengers of death, move in different directions, foretelling the extermination of rakshashas. Domesticated mynas   defeated by other bellicose birds drop down, making a chirping sound. Birds and wild animals, facing towards the sun, cry out. Death, in the form of a frightful, monstrous and cruel blackish fellow with a shaven head casts his eyes on all our dwellings, both morning and evening. These and such other sinister omens appear. I deem Rama of firm fortitude as Vishnu  in human form. This Rama is not a mere human being, which is evident by the fact that he  built the most wonderful bridge across the sea. O, Ravana! Make peace with Rama, who is the king of men. Having come to know of his acts, let that which is good for the future be done after a mature understanding."
        Malyavan seemed to have convinced everyone save Ravana. And every eye was expectedly looking at the faces of Ravana with trepidation.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

295. Sarama continues her efforts in soothing Seetha.

            Seetha, who was terribly distressed seeing the head of her dear hubby Rama, as well as hearing Ravana's deriding confabulation, was comforted and rendered happy by Sarama, as parched earth is solaced by rain.
Sarama wanted Seetha to be more happy. She asked Seetha "O, black eyed lady! I can take a message from you and convey the same to Rama and return secretly. I am gifted with such a talent. That apart neither  Pavan nor Garuda can follow my movements."
          Looking at Sarama gratefully, Seetha said "Thanks a lot for you offer. I guess you are capable of going even to heaven or to the penultimate subterranean region and return safely. Yes! I very much like you to do something for me. 
        "That cruel and evil minded Ravana, equipped with the strength in the shape of conjuring tricks, has flummoxed me, as spirituous liquor would the moment it is imbibed. By his order, I was threatened by words all the time by the most frightful rakshasis, who always surround me and insult me by their act repeatedly. I am depressed and distrustful. My mind is not in its natural state. Staying in the Ashoka vana, I am distressed because of this fear. Please let me know, all that is decided by Ravana during his meeting with his ministers about the matter of releasing me or keeping me captive."      
      Sarama, wiping Seetha's face, which got moist with tears, replied "Is that all you want?!  O, Seetha! I will get that info and get back to you pronto."
       Sarama thereafter vanished from the sight of Seetha.  Going to the meeting place of Ravana with his ministers, Sarama collected all the info she wanted and returned to the Ashoka vana where Seetha looking like Lakshmi the goddess of prosperity without  the lotus,  waiting for her eagerly. 
         Seetha affectionately embracing Sarama told her "Sitting here comfortably tell me about the real design of that cruel and wicked Ravana."
      Sarama replied "Both Kaikasi, the mother of Ravana and Aviddha, the aged minister advised Ravana to release you. They said 'Let Seetha be restored honorably to Rama the Lord  par excellence. That unimaginable thing happened in Janasthana should be an eye-opener to you. Which mortal would accomplish the crossing of the ocean, the discovery of Seetha by Hanuman, and the carnage of the rakshashas in combat on this earth?' Though admonished in many ways by the aged minister and his mother he is not inclined to set you free, any more than a miser would leave his hold on his riches. O, Seetha! He does not want to release you. This is the resolve of the cruel Ravana along with his ministers. Thereafter, due to infatuation caused by his impending death, his aforesaid determination is very firm. He is not at all inclined to release you. Killing Ravana by his sharp arrows in combat, Rama will take you back to Ayodhya without any doubt."
         Both heard the sound of all the vanara troops blended with the sound of kettle drums, causing earth to shake. Hearing that sound of that vanara troops, the servants of Ravana stationed in Lanka became apprehensive and depressed.

Friday, 14 August 2015

294. Sympathetic Sarama soothed Seetha.

             Seeing the bewildered Seetha, a rakshashi named Sarama* who had developed some affection for Seetha and was treating Seetha as one of her beloved friends.
*Sarama, is claimed to be the (or one of the) wife(or wives) of Vibhishana, by some experts on Valmiki Ramayana.
Sarama was one of the guards assigned by Ravana to guard Seetha. She was kind hearted and firm in austerity. She made herself a companion as well as a protectress of Seetha, who was being protected by her there. The affectionate Sarama found Seetha stupefied and just risen after rolling on the dust and soiled, resembling a female horse.
          Sarama consoled  Seetha "O, Seetha! Calm down. Please do not fret. Be comfortable! Do not get perturbed. Timid woman! I overheard the entire dialog between Ravana and you. O, Seetha! I probed and found out the reason why Ravana left you agitatedly. They all know that it is not possible to attack and conquer or kill Rama, a man of self awareness, even while he is asleep. It is not possible to kill all the vanaras in the manner Ravana told you. The vanaras are fully protected by Rama, like suras are protected by Indra, their lord.
       "O, Seetha! I assure your that Rama, who is endowed with long and well rounded arms, an illustrious man, who is large-chested, a man of great energy, an archer well known in all the worlds, a man endowed with muscularity, a righteous minded man, a person of celebrity on earth, a man of eternal strength, a protector for himself and others, a man of high descent, a knower of doctrines of conduct and behavior, the killer of a stream of enemy forces, a man of inconceivable strength and valor, a venerable man and an annihilator of adversaries, has not been killed.
            "The face of Rama you saw was not real but a trick. Hear me. Rama, along with his army of vanaras, having crossed the ocean, reached its southern shore and is encamped there. All of them are quite safe and sound.
      "I personally went and saw both Rama and Lakshmana very much alive. They stand protected by the troops gathered together at the vicinity of the ocean. Some spies of Ravana brought the news here that Rama has crossed the ocean. Hearing that news, Ravana hurriedly left you for making deliberations with all his advisors. ..........."
          Sarama was interrupted by a terrific sound from the troops preparing for the impending war. Hearing the crashing sound of kettle drums, made to sound like a thunder storm with a drum stick, Sarama in her sweet voice told Seetha "O, timid Seetha! This frightful sound of  kettledrum is indeed an indication of preparation for war. Hear also the thundering crash of the kettle drums, which resembles the rumbling of clouds. Elephants in rut are being caparisoned for the war. Chariot horses are being prepared for the battle. Thousands of horsemen carrying darts in their hands are seen. Thousands of soldiers equipped with armor are marching quickly hither and thither. Royal highways are filled with wonderfully looking warriors like a swift flowing sea with its flood of waters making a roaring sound.
       "Seen are the sheen of polished weapons, shields and coats of mail sending forth luster of many hues like the splendor of fire consuming a forest in summer. Here is seen the flurry of chariots, horses and elephants following the lead of Ravana as well as of energetic rakshashas thrilled with joy. Hear the sound of bells of elephants. Hear the rattling of chariots. Hear the cry of neighing horses, resembling the flourish of trumpets. Here is the bustle of rakshashas, carrying uplifted weapons in their hands following the lead of Ravana. This bustling activity is causing hair to stand erect. A good fortune, which will bring your sorrow to an end, awaits you. A peril has arrived for the rakshashas. The lotus eyed Rama, your husband, who has overcome his anger but having an unimaginable strength will kill Ravana in the ensuing battle and take you back. Your consort along with Lakshmana will show his valor against the rakshashas, like Indra the lord of devas along with Vishnu, the lord of preservation, the annihilator of enemies exhibited his strength over his adversaries. Very soon, I shall see you, mounted on the lap of Rama who actually arrived, your object of his coming being fulfilled and the enemy fallen.
        "O, Seetha! You will shed tears of joy on the bosom of that broad-chested Rama, re-united with you and holding you clasped to his breast. Before long, that mighty Rama will loosen the one single plait which has reached past your hips, which you have worn these many months. Seeing his face, looking like a rising moon, you will renounce your tears born of grief, like a female snake casts off its slough.
      "O, Seetha! Having killed Ravana in combat, Rama will enjoy happiness in the company of his beloved, namely yourself. Acclaimed by the nonpareil Rama, you will be so happy as how the earth, endowed with crops, feels after the onset of good rains. Seek refuge now with him like the sun that rolls towards Meru the highest mountain like a horse that makes its round rapidly. That sun is indeed the source of happiness for all creatures."

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

293. Seetha's sorrow, lamentation and despair..

           Seetha did see the illusory head and bow. She heard Ravana narrating about Rama's friendly relationship with Sugreeva, as earlier apprised by Hanuman. She truly believed that that head was that of her dear husband. The eyes were her husband's eyes, facial complexion, hair, expanse of his forehead and the beautiful jewel worn on the top of his head did not seem to be different. She naturally was  very much afflicted with sorrow, cried and abused Kaikeyi who was responsible for her present calamity saying (I believe she was crying, too) "Kaikeyi! So you now got what you were craving for! This my dear Rama, causing a joy to the family, has been slain. The entire race has been destroyed by you, a squabbling woman. You gave clothes made of bark to the venerable Rama and sent him on exile to the forest. What harm has he done to you? ........"
       Thus letting out her grief, Seetha the miserable lady was trembling and fell on the ground like a plantain tree that was cut off. The wide eyed Seetha, regaining consciousness after sometime, approached that illusory head and resumed her laments "O, the long armed Rama! The pursuer of a strong will! Alas, you have been killed! I have become a witness to your last fate. I have been made a widow. It is said that the early death of a husband is the misfortune of the wife. You, having good conduct, have preceded me in death. Even you who were actually intent on protecting me, fallen in great affliction and immersed in an ocean of grief, have been killed by the evildoers. My mother-in-law, Kausalya who cherished you tenderly has been left without a son like a cow that has lost its calf. It was mentioned by astrologers that your life span was very lengthy. Their words are proved wrong. You are short lived. It seems your prudence took a vacation. Despite the fact that you were sagacious, Time, the master of all beings has brought you to an end. How is it possible that you, who knew the doctrine of political ethics is destined for an unforeseen premature death?
             "The night of destroying time which was very much cruel and terrible thus has encircled you, embezzled you and snatched you away from me. Leaving me miserable, you lie down here, embracing the earth as your beloved. Here is your bow which was decorated with gold, dear to me and worshiped diligently by you with sandal paste and wreath of flowers. Surely, you must have met in heaven your father and my father-in-law Dasharatha as well as all the multitude of your manes. You have abandoned your own pious lineage of royal sages but you performed a great act, which will surely illuminate the heaven like a luminary.
         "O, prince! Why don't you look at me? Why don't you reply me, your dear wife who lived with you together since the time of obtaining me as a girl by you as a boy. Remember your solemn promise at the time of our marriage 'I shall have righteous conduct with you' Take me also with you, wretched as I am. Why have you gone away, leaving me like this? Leaving me, the miserable woman, why have you gone to the other world from this world? This beautiful body, which was cuddled by me with great love, will now be dragged about by wild beasts. Why are you not securing the privilege of being cremated with a sacrificial fire, even though you have worshiped the Lord through sacrificial performances such as Agnishtoma (mantra or kalpa connected with the agniSToma, or praise of god of fire) duly furnished with abundant gifts?
        "Kausalya absorbed as she was with grief can now see Lakshmana only returned out of the exiled trio. He will narrate surely to her about your slaughter as also the killing of the army of your allies, by the rakshashas at night. Hearing that you were killed while sleeping and that I was kept captive by the king of  rakshashas, she will surely give up her life. The strong and faultless prince Rama was killed in a small puddle, after crossing the ocean, for the cause of me, an unworthy woman. I, the disgrace of my race, was wedded by Rama. Thus, a wife herself has eventually proved to be the cause for the death of Rama, an honorable man. Even though I was the wife of Rama who showed hospitality to all, it is I, that very person, who is weeping here and now, because without doubt, in a previous existence, an excellent gift was refused by me to someone, who was most eligible for the same. O! God! Unite the wife with the husband without delay. Arrange to kill me right now. Thus, you will perform an admirable and auspicious act. Join my head with his head and my body with his body. I shall go along the path of my magnanimous Lord. ......"
        While Seetha was lamenting thus, a rakshash royal guard came and told Ravana "Your Majesy! Prahasta, the army chief asked me to inform you that he need to see you immediately. "
              Hearing that Ravana left the Ashoka garden.            Soon after the departure of Ravana, the illusory head and bow vanished!
                Prahasta, the army chief informed Ravana the information he gathered about the army of Rama.
            He, Ravana deliberated with his ministers as to what action in its entirety to be pursued and entered the council-chamber and issued his commands in accordance with the knowledge he possessed of Rama's forces.
           Ravana ordered his generals  "By the sound of the drum beaten loudly with a drum stick, immediately summon all my forces. Do not tell them the reason for it."
        In a short time a huge army gathered.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

292. Ravana tries to win Seetha by trick.

         The information that Rama with his imperturbable army was encamped at the Mount Suvela in Lanka disturbed Ravana very greatly. He consulted his more intelligent and reliable counselors. Though he did not get any very satisfactory  advice from them, he got a good idea by collating all their advice. He sent away the advisers and entered his favorite chamber in his palace. Sitting on his very favorite throne there he brooded over the idea. After a few minutes he was satisfied that he got a very good result-oriented solution. With a great satisfaction he slapped happily his right thigh with a few of his hands and shouted loudly 'AHH..' (due to the pain). Then with a smile he sent for the exceedingly competent Vidyujjihva, the great sorcerer.  In a short while that guy reported and Ravana with happy faces told him "My dear chap! I have a very brilliant idea. If you do not execute it properly, then today will become the LAST day of your LIFE. With your spells, create an illusion in order to deceive Seetha, the lovely lassie I kept at the Asoka vana. Produce a head resembling Rama's along with a great bow and arrows created deceptively and present yourself before me."
       Vidyujjihva nodded and demonstrated some magic to Ravana to convince him of his high capability. The king was satisfied  and gave him an ornament as a gift, in appreciation.
             Then Ravana with abundant confidence that Seetha would, this time will agree to become his bedmate, duly entered the Ashoka Vana, eager to have a sight of Seetha. There he saw Seetha seated on the ground with her head bent down in grief as she was and absorbed in the thought of her husband.
        Approaching Seetha who was attended upon by ghastly ogresses seated not far away from her and mentioning his own name with great delight, Ravana audaciously addressed Seetha "O, Beautiful one! He in whom you trusted and repelled me whenever I sought to consort you, that murderer of Khara, your husband Rama has been killed in battle. Your root has been cut off in all ways by me and your pride has been slain. By your present evil predicament, you will have to become my wife. O, Foolish one! Give up this nonsensical resolution. What will you do with that one who is now dead. O, beautiful one! Become the Chief Queen over all my consorts. Now you think yourself rationally, sensibly and wisely. O, Seetha! Hear about the dreadful killing of your husband in battle, like the killing of  Vritra.
      "Rama, encircled by an extensive army led forward by Sugreeva, is said to have come over here to kill me. While sun was going to set, Rama with his mighty army was encamped there, encroaching upon the northern shore of the sea.
       "My spies informed me that the entire army of Rama, after crossing that vast ocean and arriving at night, were completely fatigued in the course of the journey and were comfortably asleep.  At the middle of the night my great army led by Prahasta, Rama's army was killed in the night at the place where Rama and Lakshmana were resting. My warriors wielding harpoons, maces, discs, daggers, sticks, great arrows spears, shining maces with spikes, picks, lances, darts, massed weapons, clubs and circular missiles, went there and used those weapons on them again and again in order to strike down the vanaras. The impetuous Prahasta, with his steady hand, severed the head of Rama sleeping there, with his mighty sword without any resistance from any one. Fortunately, Vibhishana is held captive. Lakshmana along with the vanaras were made to run away in all directions.
        "O, Seetha! Sugreeva the king of vanaras with his neck broken and Hanuman with his jaw removed were laid down and killed by the rakshasas. Thereafter Jambavan who was rising up on his knees was killed in the battle. His body was cut off with many sharp-edged spears, like a tree is cut off. Mainda and Dvivida, the two great scourgers of their foes, the long bodied and the foremost of the vanaras, groaning and breathless, their limbs bathed in blood, were cut to pieces at the waist-level, by a sword. Panasa, crying for help was stretched on the earth under a tree of the same name lying in a pit. The exceedingly valiant kumuda on his part, shrieking, was killed by a hail of missiles. Angada, who was adorned with bracelets lies fallen down, emitting blood on all sides, as he was pierced by the rakshasas with many arrows, after approaching him. The vanaras sleeping there were crushed by elephants and multitude of chariots, like clouds are crushed to pieces by the velocity of wind.
          "While those enemies while being struck on the back like lions pursuing great elephants,  fled in terror, pursued by my warriors. Some vanaras fell in the sea and some sought shelter in the sky. Some climbing up the trees, hid themselves. Our rakshashas with monstrous eyes, killed a multitude of vanars at the shores of the sea, in the mountains and in the woods. Thus, your husband together with his army was killed by my troops.  His head, drenched in his blood and besmeared with dust has been gathered up."
       Ravana then shouted at one of the rakshashies guarding Seetha "Bring Vidyujjihva, the rakshash by whom Raghava's head has been brought from the battle-field." Holding that head along with a bow, Vidyujjihva walked in solemnly and stood in front of Ravana with a grave face. Ravana commanded him "Keep Rama's head in front of Seetha. Let the miserable Seetha see well the ultimate condition of her husband."
         Vidyujjihva did so and promptly  left the site.
     Throwing a great shining bow before Seetha, Ravana jeered at her saying "Here is Rama's bow famous in the three worlds! This is the bow with its cord stretched, belonging to Rama  was brought by Prahasta here, after killing that hero in the night.
      "You now have no option other than to agree to become submissive to my desire."

Friday, 7 August 2015

291. The report of Shardula.

        Thereafter, the spies, after cooling themselves for a little while, and after discussing and deciding as to what should be reported to the king, went  to Ravana for reporting. Seeing them, Ravana, with an agitated voice asked Shardula "Hi, Fellow! Your complexion is not as it used to be. You look miserable, too. I hope that you have not been spotted out, caught and roasted by the enraged vanaras."              Shardula was taken aback by the remark of Ravana. Shaking like a leaf, sluggishly and nervously he replied "O, king! Those strong, bold and excellent vanaras protected by Rama are not capable of being spied upon. They are not capable of being talked to. We could not elicit any information from them. The entire path is being protected by the vanaras looking like mountains. While trying to infiltrate into the midst of them in the guise of vanaras, all of us were spotted out almost immediately.  I was seized forcibly by them and was investigated in various ways. I was also beaten on all sides with knees, fists, teeth and palms by the enraged vanaras. I was also paraded around their army. Having been paraded all around I was finally taken to the presence of Rama. I was bleeding allover my body and was trembling with my senses disturbed. While being plagued by the vanaras I cried the name of Rama for protection with joined palms. I was saved by Rama. 
         "Rama has filled the sea with boulders and rocks, taking up his position at the gates of Lanka and stands there, well-equipped with weapons. I noticed that Rama of great splendour arranged the army in the form of Garuda. He is encircled on all sides by the vanaras and is approaching Lanka. Before he reaches the ramparts, we have the two alternatives to wit, give away Seetha immediately or defy him."
             Ravana told  Shardula "I will not give away Seetha even if the devas or Gandharvas   or danavas were to fight against me or even all of them combined together to fight with me." 
      After pausing a few moments, Ravana asked him "Has the army been espied by you? Who are the valiant vanaras among them? What radiance do the vanaras, who are difficult to be conquered possess of, like what kind, whose sons and grandsons are they, etc. Those information will help me to formulate suitable strategies to get the better of the enemies, quickly and decisively without loss of men and time."
             Shardula replied "Yes, your majesty!  King Sugreeva, the son of Riksharajasa, is difficult to be conquered in battle. The son of Gadgada, famously called as Jambavan is said to be invincible. The others are the son of the same Gadgada, the son of Brihaspati called Kesari, whose son is Hanuman about whom you know him very well. O, king! One Sushena the son of Yama, is another valiant and virtuous vanara. The vanara called Dadhimukha, the cool-minded, who is the son of the Moon is another very valiant vanara. Sumukha, Durmukha and   Vegadarshi are said to be the personifications of death in the form of vanaras, created by Brahma. Nila, the army-general is the son of Agni and said to be indomitable. The young Angada, Indra's grandson is claimed to be very strong and invincible. Both the mighty Mainda and Dvinda, born of the two divinities of Ashvins as well as Gaja, Gavaksha, Gavaya, Sharabha and Gandhamadhana the five sons of Yama are all claimed to be staunch, unbeatable and unyielding. All the vanaras in that army who are yearning for battle are all seem to be immensely strong.
           "This young man Rama, Dasharatha's son, who is well-built like a lion, by whom Dushana, Khara and Trishana were killed is said to be  fearless, gallant, intrepid, plucky, doughty and indomitable. It is said that here is no one on earth who is equal in prowess to Rama, by whom Viradha as well as Kabandha who was equal to Yama, were killed. Your majesty is well aware that all the rakshashas in Janasthana were killed by Rama, single-handedly. His brother, the virtuous Lakshamana, resembling the most excellent elephant among elephants, in the path of whose arrows, even Indra himself could not survive. Sweta and Jyotirmukha, the sons of Surya, Hemakuta, another son of Varuna, Nila the son of Visvakarma are all very strong and invincible vanaras. Another such one is the mighty and swift Durdhara the son of Vasus. Of course your own brother Vibhishana has joined them and remains devoted to Rama.  Sir, I believe I have told you all I know."

Monday, 3 August 2015

290. Ravana sends some more spies.

          Looking those formidable,  intimidating, threatening, dangerous, terrifying, appalling, horrible, dreadful, menacing, dismaying, fearful, daunting, frightful, baleful and shocking vanaras as well as the most valiant, doughty and indomitable Lakshmana Rama's right arm, his own brother Vibhishana standing close to Rama, the terribly powerful Sugreeva the king of all vanaras, the strong Angada the grandson of Indra, the powerful Hanuman, the invincible Jambavan, the highly gallant,  daring, bold, heroic and courageous vanara leaders Sushena, Kumuda, Nila, Nala, Gaja, Gavaksha, Sharabha, Mainda and Dvivida  pointed out by Shuka and Sarana,  Ravanas heart (unfortunately for him, he had only one heart as against ten heads and twenty hands) started fluttering, which made him nervous, apprehensive, anxious, uneasy, edgy, worried, tense, fearful, shaky, agitated and jittery. He became terribly angry with those spies Shuka and Sarana who made him shaking. Hiding his nervousness Ravana shouted angrily at Shuka and Sarana who were standing silently saluting with their faces bent down and smiling happily "Don't you know that it is most improper and ungallant of you two  to utter unpleasant words to me, your king who has the power to mete out any punishment. Is it proper for both of you to shower irrelevant praise on our enemies who are adverse to us and are contemplating to vanquish me? In vain have you sat at the feet of your elders, your preceptors and the aged, since the essence to be followed from political sciences has not been grasped by either of you. Or if you have imbibed them, you have not remembered them. You are over-burdened with ignorance! Being associated with such foolish persons like you, it is a miracle that I am still able to retain my sovereignty! Have you no fear of death that you dare address me thus rudely? Trees may survive in the forest, even if disturbed by fire. But the guilty cannot survive the justice of the monarch. Because of the good services you have earlier rendered to us, I would have killed you two miscreants who are praising the band of enemies. Keep away from my neighborhood. Do not be seen anywhere here. I am recollecting your past services and hence spare your lives. Both of you, who are ungrateful and unfaithful towards me, are considered as dead to me."
         Shuka and Sarana  paid obeisance to Ravana and vanished silently.
           Ravana then ordered some competent spies to be sent to him for briefing. When those spies made their presence before him, Ravana told them "Your primary task is to investigate that guy Rama, like who are his intimate friends, and in respect of those who joined on his side with a liking towards him. Find out what are his hours of sleeping and waking and what he intends to do next. Get these as well as any other useful info fast. You should get such info which will enable me to kill or capture him and his cronies without much effort."
       Those spies headed by Shardula started to do their assigned work. They went to the place where Rama along with Lakshmana were camped. (Don't ask me where else they can go.) They went there in disguise! (Yes, Agreed, it is obvious. They cannot go to Rama and introduced themselves as the spies sent by Ravana to spy on him and his army.)
        Rama and Lakshmana together with Sugreeva and Vibhishana were found by the spies in the neighbourhood of the Mountain Suvela. Seeing that army, those spies became overwhelmed with fear. And unfortunately for them they were spotted by Vibhishana. When they were captured and brought to Rama and others, Vibhishana commented that Shardula among them was more wicked than others. When Shardula was about to be killed by the vanaras, Rama intervened and got him as well as his companions released.
         Those spies heaved a sigh of relief and reached back Lanka.