Sunday, 29 November 2015

320. Ravana himself goes to meet Rama and his army.

               The news that Prahasta, his top army chap was killed by one vanara named Nila completely stunned Ravana. At the same time he was very much grieved for the demise of Prahasta. He thought "I underestimated Rama and his vanara army. Now I myself will go and show them who I am. As a forest is consumed by blazing fires, I will scorch that army of vanaras now along with Lakshmana and Rama. Today, I shall satiate the earth with the blood of the vanaras."
        He then ascended his chariot which shone like a flame and was yoked to a team of excellent horses with the brilliance of effulgent bodies. Ravana sallied forth with the sound of conches, kettle-drums, cymbals, clapping of hands and leonine roars and well-acclaimed by agreeable encomiums. He was accompanied by the flesh-eating rakshashas whose forms resembled mountains and clouds. His (Ravana's) glances flashed like torches shone like Rudra surrounded by his ghost like followers.
        Seeing that unusually large army of rakshashas who seemed very furious, Rama asked Vibhishana "Who is in command of this army, furnished with every kind of standard, banner and canopy, armed with javelins, swords, stakes and other weapons and missiles and composed of imperturbable soldiers and elephants as high as the Mahendra Mountain?"
      As Vibhishana did not know that Ravana was in command of that army, he started telling Rama the names of important rakshash heros who were coming into their sight, like "O Prince! That hero who has a face with a coppery hue resembling a newly rising sun, is Akampana..... and that guy coming  standing in his chariot, brandish his bow which has a splendour of Indra's bow, whose standard bears the image of a lion, and who shines like unto an elephant with its terrible curved tusks, ... "
      When Ravana came into their views he told Rama so. Seeing Ravana, Rama commented "Alas! What a glory, what majesty Ravana, the Lord of Rakshas has! Ravana is beaming like the sun with his rays difficult to be gazed, as his magnificence would blind the eyes of any onlooker! The body of deva or danava hero may not be so radiant as this body of the king of rakshashas. All the warriors of the suzerain Ravana are as high as hills. All wield fiery weapons.
          "By good luck, that wretch comes today within my range of sight! Today, I shall expunge my wrath, born of Seetha's abduction!"
      Then Rama took up his bow and then standing erect, drew out an arrow and set ready for a fight. He heard Ravana shouting at his army chaps "Take up your positions unfalteringly and happily at the gates and principal exits, the outposts and fortifications. Learning of my presence along with you here, the vanaras may construe this to be a weak point and may storm this desolate city which is otherwise difficult to be overpowered."
         Ravana thereafter started liquidating vanaras systematically. Seeing Ravana with his radiant bow, Sugreeva the Lord of vanaras, tearing up a huge mountain-top, with its many trees and ridges ran towards that king of rakshashas and hurled it on him. Ravana quickly and effortlessly broke it asunder with his arrows. Then Ravana, taking a very  powerful arrow, hurled it to kill Sugreeva. That arrow  pierced the body of Sugreeva.
       Wounded by that arrow, Sugreeva fell moaning on the earth. Then, Gavaksha, Gavaya, Sushena, Rishabha, Jyotimukha and Nala tearing up rocks, hurled them towards Ravana.
            Ravana, with hundreds of arrows, not only rendered their projectiles fruitless but also pierced those leaders of the vanaras with a multitude of arrows. Pierced by the arrows of Ravana those vanara-Generals fell on the ground. Thereafter, Ravana disposed many of the formidable army of vanaras with a shower of arrows.
        Unable to face Ravana, the vanaras ran to Rama for protection. Then Rama, taking his bow, set out at once. Lakshmana interrupted him with joined palms, said "O, My dear Bro! I am sure I will be able to tackle and kill that rakshash, wretched Ravana. Permit me to do so." Rama nodding his agreement told Lakshmana "Go, Lakshmana and also be strenuous in this duel. Seek out his weak points and guard against your own. Defend yourself vigilantly with your eyes and bow."
      Lakshmana on entering the battle-field saw Ravana with arms as large as the trunks of elephants, who was brandishing his dreadful and fiery bow, covering the bodies of those vanaras with a close rain of darts. Seeing that horror, Hanuman decided to do something to end that atrocity.
     Approaching his chariot, Hanuman lifted his right arm told Ravana "You have got the boon of invulnerability to the devas, danavas, gandharvas and yakshas. But vanaras are a danger to you. This five-branched right hand of mine, which I now raise, will rob you of your life that has long been clinging in your body."
    Ravana was irritated and angry but also amused as well. He told Hanuman "Strike quickly without fear, O Vanara! Win eternal renown. Thereafter, I am going to destroy you, after measuring your strength."
       Hanuman made a tart rejoinder "Recollect that I have killed your son Aksha already."
      That was the last straw for Ravana, who without any more warning struck Hanuman on his chest with the palm of his hand (it is immaterial which hand). It was really very hard for Hanuman, who reeled. Quickly recovering his balance, Hanuman hit Ravana back with the very raised palm of his right hand. This was quite violent even for Ravana, who shook like a mountain when the earth trembles. Beholding Ravana struck in the fight by Hanuman's palm, the rishis, Vanaras, sidhas, devas and asuras (who were witnessing from the firmament the battle game as their prime entertainment) raised a resounding approbation.
       Ravana, who was quite a sportsman (may be sportsrakshash is more appropriate), having regained his breath, remarked "Well done! Well done! O, monkey! You are my adversary, worthy of praise by your valour!"
          Hanuman replied "O, Ravana! Why this boasting? Now strike me again! My fist is about to dispatch you to meet your maker."
      The tart reply of Hanuman very much irritated and angered Ravana, who enraged, his eyes red with fury and whirling his fist with force landed it down violently on Hanuman's chest. Hanuman did not expect such a mighty knock and therefore reeled once again. Seeing that mighty Hanuman exhausted, Ravana turned his chariot towards Nila. With his terrific arrows Ravana pierced the vital parts of Nila, who was already engaged in fight with some rakshash and was in a winning position.
          Nila, the Army General of vanaras, tormented by that hail of arrows, hurled with one hand a great rock at Ravana.
      Meanwhile, Hanuman regained his breath and in his martial ire cried out furiously at Ravana, who was occupied in fight with Nila "It is not proper to start fighting with a person who is already fighting with another."
       Ravana shattered the rock hurled by Nila with his arrows and it fell down, crumbling to pieces. Seeing that rock was shattered, Nila glowed with fury. Nila then hurled Aswakarna trees, Shala trees with extensive flowering, Chuta trees and other various types of trees. Ravana, confronting those trees, busted them to pieces and showered a hail of darts on Nila. Showered by a multitude of shafts, as from a cloud, the mighty Nila assumed a diminutive form and leapt on to the point of Ravana's standard.
         Seeing Nila standing well on the point of his standard, Ravana became highly furious. Nila was leaping on to the point of Ravana's standard jumped on to the tip of his bow and then on to the peak of his diadem and so on and so forth. Lakshmana, Hanuman and Rama and others were amused to see that. Ravana, amazed at the Nila's agility, seized an arrow called Agneya (the weapon of Fire).
       Seeing the discomfort and irritation of Ravana, all vanaras felt rejoiced. Seeing Ravana disconcerted at the agility of Nila all vanaras shouted joyously. The agile jumping hither and thither by Nila and  the shouts of joy by the vanaras, made Ravana totally confused and did not know what to do. Ravana then taking up an arrow, charged with the missile presided over by the fire-God, aimed at Nila who had perched on the tip of his standard.
         Then, Ravana told Nila "O monkey! You are endowed with agility combined with a supreme power of magic. Now save your life if you can."
        Ravana then shot that Agni Missile arrow at Nila. Struck on the chest by that arrow combined with a missile, Nila burnt all over, fell on the ground. Yet by virtue of the powerful aid of his father and his own native vigour, he did not die.
         Seeing Nila unconscious, Ravana, eager for fight, rushed on Lakshmana. Seeing Ravana in front of him Lakshmana told him "O, King of rakshashas! Now fight with me. Stop fighting with the vanaras!"
       Ravana drawing near his adversary, who stood close to his chariot replied "O, Lakshmana! By my good fortune, you in your perverted mind, reached within my range of sight so as to meet your death. This very instant, you will go to the region of Death, after having collapsed by the bang of my rain of arrows."
        Lakshmana told him "You are blowing your own trumpet! O, King of rakshashas! I know your valour, strength, energy and courage! Come! I now stand here, with my bow and arrows in hand."
        Thus accosted, Ravana, infuriated, loosened seven arrows which Lakshmana shattered with his arrows. Beholding those arrows shattered like great cobras with their hoods shattered, Ravana loosened other sharp arrows.
             The fight was going on evenly for some time. After sometime Lakshmana was struck by Ravana in the forehead with an arrow with the power of Agni, which had been bestowed on him by Brahma.
           Lakshmana was hardly able to withstand it and his head was reeling and his bow started slipping from his hand. With a very great effort he retained his consciousness, and shattered that arrow. Then he broke Ravana's bow with a three pointed arrow which also pierced him. Ravana swooned and regained his senses with difficulty.
        Ravana, with his bow broken, severely wounded by the arrows of Lakshmana, his limbs spattered with flesh and streaming with blood was raving. He, therefore decided to end the battle with one of the most powerful missiles he was bestowed with. He then seizing that spear gifted to him by Brahma, hurled by his strongest hand on Lakshmana. That blazing spear, faithfully emitting smoke and as bright as fire, frightening the vanaras on its way and defying all the arrows and missiles of Lakshmana to shatter it or stop it, hit his broad chest.
          The mighty Lakshmana, struck by that spear, fell down on the earth. Ravana then boldly rushing on him who was yet insensible, seized him brutally with his hands.
       Ravana who was capable of lifting Himavat, Mandara and Meru mountains as also the Three Worlds with the Gods, was surprised to see that he could not raise or even move Lakshmana. Lakshmana was only wounded in the breast by that very powerful missile and not killed due to the fact that he was an inconceivable fraction of Vishnu Himself and as such no one can kill him.
           Seeing Ravana was trying to take the body of Lakshmana, Hanuman rushed towards Ravana and struck angrily on his chest with his all powerful fist. That made Ravana to reel and fall on his knees to the ground.
          A good lot of blood oozed out from all his faces, eyes, and ears. Somehow he returned to his chariot and sat in the middle of it. Seeing Ravana despite his redoubtable strength staggered on the battle-field, sages and vanaras began to shout in triumph. The other celestial spectators from above also applauded.
         Lifting up Lakshmana in his arms, Hanuman brought him to Rama's presence. 
        That spear leaving Lakshmana returned to its position in that chariot of Ravana. The mighty Ravana too, regaining his consciousness, picked up his arrows and the great bow.
         Hanuman told Rama "You have to punish that rakshash by climbing my back, as Vishnu on Garuda, in order to fight with the Enemy of Gods."
             Rama did so. Approaching the battle field Rama saw Ravana standing in his chariot in the battle-field. Rama became angry on seeing him and rushed upon that Ravana like unto Vishnu with his uplifted mace rushed upon Virochana.
          Rama told in a deep voice to Ravana  "O, Rakshash! Stay, stay! Having evoked such a displeasure to me, where will you flee and get an abandonment? Even if you seek refuge in the region of Indra or Yama  or Surya or Brahma  or Agni or Shiva or  anywhere in the fourteen worlds you cannot elude me from now on."
           Irritated by the confident words of Rama, Ravana hurled powerful and flaming arrows on Hanuman the bearer of Rama. Strangely and surprisingly those arrows did not affect Hanuman in anyway but wounded him slightly. Seeing Hanuman wounded by Ravana, Rama's anger increased manifold.
         Rama shattered the chariot of Ravana along with its wheels, horses, banner, canopy, great standard, charioteer, darts, spears and swords. Thereupon, with a great force, Rama struck that Ravana, in his broad and beautiful chest, like Indra would strike the Mount Meru with his thunderbolt.
    That valiant King of rakshashas, whom neither thunder nor lightning could cause disturbance or trembling, stumbled letting fall his bow at the valiant impact of Rama's missiles which created a deep injury. Seeing that Ravana swooning, the magnanimous Rama took up a blazing arrow shaped like a crescent moon and used it to shatter the diadem of Ravana, which was of bright hue.
           In that battle-field, Rama told that Lord of Rakshashas whose splendour was dimmed, who resembled a venomous snake robbed of its poison or like a sun its rays extinguished, bereft of lustre "You have accomplished a highly terrific great feat and my brave soldiers have succumbed beneath your blows. Now, as you are weary and in this condition, I do not want to kill you now.
      "I know you have been tormented in the battle. Go back now. After refreshing yourself, come back in a new chariot with a new bow and try to conquer me."
         King Ravana, his confident boasting subdued, his bow shattered, his horses slain, his chariot shattered, his great diadem broken walked slowly back to Lanka with terrible anger and shame. 
        Rama then arranged for drawing out the arrows from the vanaras and from Lakshmana.
        As usual all the celestial spectators from the firmament felt rejoiced at the defeat of Ravana.

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