Thursday, 26 November 2015

318. Prahasta is sent to vanquish Rama and his army.

          Ravana just could not just believe that the great and highly prowess and indomitable Akampana was killed. He wanted some time to think to select the best commander to tackle that vanara army. He was looking at the faces of his commanders around him. Seeing Prahasta, the C-in-C  of his armed forces, he felt regretted that he had not sent him earlier. He started buttering his field marshal by  "O, Prahasta, the most proficient in war-fare! I now realize that I under estimated those monkeys. Now I realize that Kumbhakarna or Indrajit or you  or Nikumbha should have been sent to tackle them. As I cannot send the others at this time, I am asking you. Quickly place yourself in their midst with the required number of warriors and set forth in order to triumph over all those monkeys. Coming to know that your are entering the battle-field, the army of monkeys will run away.
      "The animals are unsteady, prone to insubordination and fickle-minded. They cannot stomach  your presence in the battle field as their adversary, as elephants shudder hearing a lion's roar. O, Prahasta! As that army takes to its heels, Rama along with Lakshmana being rendered supportless, will fall into your power though unwillingly. A skeptical misfortune is preferable to one that is certain! Whether it is pleasing or otherwise to hear, say honestly what you consider as an advantage to us."
         Prahasta the Army-General decided to tell Ravana what he has in his mind like Ushana  would speak to Bali, the king of rakshashas. Accordingly he said "O, king! we deliberated this matter with our wise ministers earlier. There was no unanimous agreement. To return Seetha was what I considered preferable. Not to do so meant war. This invasion of Rama along with a huge army of vanaras is not unforeseen by us.
        "Time and again, I have been honoured by you at appropriate times by gifts, felicitations and nice appreciations.  As quid pro quo, I, therefore, am highly obliged, when the opportunity arises, to render you a service. I consider your happiness more important to me than my wives, sons or riches. If necessary, I will willingly sacrifice my life for your sake in battle or for any other reason."
              Prahasta then ordered his aide-de-camp standing near him "Recall immediately all the warriors on leave, training, exercise etc. I want the entire lot of our army gathered and ready to march for the battle in a couple of hours. Today, the flesh-eating birds and beasts will have a feast of the bodies of vanaras and bears I will be slaying on the battle-field with my arrows."
           Within a short while, that City of Lanka was filled with those terrific rakshash-warriors, resembling elephants, wielding various types of weaponry. Some rakshashas propitiated the Agni with their offerings and some others paid homage to Brahmanas. These actions created a fragrant breeze bearing the scent of clarified butter.
         Then, the rakshashas became ready for the battle, delightedly wore garlands of different shapes, consecrated by certain Mantras (sacred formulas). Thereafter, armed with bows and armours, the rakshashas with their eyes turned towards their king Ravana, marched at a brisk pace and ranged themselves round Prahasta.
            Prahasta as commanded by Ravana, ascended his chariot and set out from Lanka along with a huge army. While Prahasta sallied forth, the sound of a kettle-drum, the resonance of musical instruments and the sound of conches were heard, as though filling the earth like the roar of a cloud.
        The rakshashas with terrific forms and bulky bodies, shouting with dreadful voices, went in front, as forerunners of Prahasta. Narantaka, Kumbhahanu, Mahanada and Samunnata, attendants of Prahasta sallied forth, surrounding him on all sides. He emerged from the eastern gate in the midst of an immense, formidable and orderly arranged army, resembling a herd of elephants. In the center of that army, vast as sea, Prahasta in his fury, came forth appearing like Death at the end of the world.
        The warriors of  Prahasta were very happy to be going to the battle field under the command of the most valiant,  doughty, indomitable, redoubtable and dauntless commander Prahasta, whom even Indra was  scared to face in a battle, were  raising war-cries happily and loudly. This, unfortunately for them, drew sinister answering calls from all creatures in Lanka. In a cloudless sky, birds of prey eating flesh and drinking blood, flew in circles from left to right towards the chariot. Fearful jackals vomited forth fire and flames, howling repeatedly. A meteor fell from the sky and the wind blew harshly.
          The planets, in opposition to each other, lost their brilliance. The clouds, with their raucous sound, showered blood on Prahasta's chariot and dampened those who were walking in front of it. A vulture facing the south alighted on the top of the standard, croaking towards both of its sides and deprived the rakshash of his entire lustre. The goad slipped several times then from the hand of the charioteer, himself a Suta (the son of a Kshatriya by a Brahamana woman) well skilled in controlling the horses, as he entered the battle-field.
          The splendor clothing Prahasta  vanished in an instant and the horses stumbled even on even ground. 
         On reaching the battle field, an exceedingly tumultuous clamour arose from Rama's army of vanaras as they tore up the trees and seized hold of huge rocks and getting prepared for attack and counter attack. Both the armies of the yelling rakshashas and the roaringr vanaras were delighted, impetuous and impatient for action. They were challenging each other with great shouts. Prahasta was going ahead nonchalantly towards the army of Sugreeva, whom he imagined, he would destroy without much effort.

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