Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ramayana: Rama and Ravana

You will now read about the great battle between Rama's army and Ravana's army... but it is also not the end of Rama and Sita's story! There is more to come, as you will see.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Ramayana unit. Story source: Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913).


Image source: Rama battles Ravana


Rama Confronts Ravana

The Battle Continues

Kumbhakarna mounted his chariot and went forth to battle. The apes trembled to behold him and fled panic-stricken. . . . Sugriva rallied them quickly, and then they began to fling trees and boulders, but these were all splintered to pieces on the limbs of the giant. He defeated Hanuman, and seized Sugriva, and carried him off in his chariot. Thousands of apes were devoured by the mighty Rakshasa.

At length Kumbhakarna went against Rama and a fierce conflict ensued, but in the end Rama discharged flaming arrows and severed his head from his body. The monster staggered backward and fell into the ocean, and great billows arose and tossed angrily in the midst of the swollen deep.

Indrajit thereafter offered up another sacrifice and secured fresh weapons. Rendering himself invisible, he rose high in the air and showered arrows like rain until Rama and Lakshmana, who were grievously wounded, fell down and pretended to be dead.

When darkness came on, Hanuman and Bibhishana surveyed the battlefield with torches and found that many apes had been wounded and slain. Great was their sorrow, but Sushena, the ape physician, bade Hanuman to hasten to a certain Himalayan mountain to obtain healing herbs. The wind god's son assumed tremendous bulk, and, leaping aloft, went speedily through the air until he reached the place where the herbs grew. He searched for them in vain; then he tore up the mountain and, carrying it in his hand, returned again to the battlefield. The physician soon discovered the herbs; then he gave healing to Rama and Lakshmana and the wounded apes, who rose up at once ready and eager to fight as before. Hanuman returned with the mountain and restored it to its place.

When the sun rose, Ravana sent forth young heroes to battle against the apes and bears, but they were all slain. Then Indrajit came to avenge the fallen, but Lakshmana drew his bow and shot an arrow which Indra had given to him. Unerring was his aim, and Indrajit was struck down; his body rolled headless upon the plain.

Ravana and Lakshmana

Ravana lamented for the death of his son, crying: "He was the mightiest of my heroes and the dearest to my heart. All the gods feared him, yet by a mortal was he laid low. . . . O my son, thy widow wails for thee and thy mother weeps in sore distress. Fondly I deemed that when the frailties of old age afflicted me thou wouldst close mine eyelids in death, but youth is taken first and I am left alone to battle against mine enemies."

For a time the mighty demon wept; then he arose in wrath to wreak vengeance. First of all, he hastened towards the Asoka grove to slay Sita. But the Rakshasa dames concealed the wife of Rama and prevailed upon Ravana not to pollute his fame by slaying a woman. One cried to him: "Auspicious is the last day of the waning moon. The hour of thy vengeance is nigh. Turn thee towards the battlefield and great glory will be thine."

Ravana went gloomily away; he mounted his chariot to battle against his enemies, remembering those who had already fallen. Followed by a great army, he swept from the city like to a tempest cloud which darkens the summer heaven. He beheld his brother Bibhishana fighting for Rama, and angrily cast at him a great weapon, but Lakshmana flung a javelin which shattered it in flight. Ravana smiled grimly and shouted to Lakshmana: "Slayer of my son, I welcome thee! Thou hast protected Bibhishana; now protect, if thou canst, thine own self."

Having spoken thus he flung a great dart, which pierced the heart of Lakshmana and pinned him to the earth.

Rama stooped over the fallen hero and cried: "Alas! Art thou fallen, my gallant brother? Thy weapons have dropped from thy hands; death claims thee, but, O Lakshmana, thou wilt not die alone. I am weary of battle and of glory, and when my task is ended, I will follow in thy footsteps. . . . The love of wife or friend is easily won, but the love of a faithful brother, equal to thine, is rarely found in this world of illusions. Dearest of brothers, greatest of heroes, wilt thou never awaken from thy deathly swoon or open again thine eyes to behold me? . . . Alas! the lips of Lakshmana are silent and his ears are stopped."

In the darkness of night Hanuman again hastened northward in speedy flight to obtain the mountain which he had aforetime carried to Lanka. The physician found upon it the healing herbs; he pounded them and made a paste which he placed under the nostrils of the unconscious warrior. Then Lakshmana rose up again healed and hale and powerful.

Victory

Rama rejoiced greatly, and turned against his foes. . . . A night attack was made upon the Rakshasa capital, and the Apes intercepted a sacrifice which Ravana sought to offer up to the gods so as to compel their aid; many fair mansions were given to the flames.

When day came, Ravana went forth to battle. Surpanakha, his sister who had caused the war, stood in his way, and he thrust her aside impatiently, whereat she cursed him, saying: "For this, thou wilt never again return to the city."

Ravana drove on in battle fury, his heart filled with hatred for his foes and with sorrow for the fallen. Rama went against him in the chariot of Indra, and for a time a dubious conflict was waged. The earth trembled and the ocean shook with fear.

Suddenly Rama darted forward. He drew his bow and shot a swift arro, which smote off one of Ravana's ten heads, but immediately another appeared in its place.

Then the hero seized the flaming weapon which Brahma had created for the protection of the gods; with unerring aim, he discharged it in flaming splendour; it struck the demon; it cleft in twain his heart of iron. Roaring in his fierce agony Ravana fell ponderously upon the plain and immediately expired. So was the enemy of gods and men put to death by peerless Rama.

Celestial music was heard in heaven and flowers fell upon the plain of victory: a voice came down the wind, saying: "O victor of truth and righteousness, thy task is now ended."

The Rakshasa hosts broke in flight when Ravana fell, and Rama entered the city in triumph. Bibhishana burned the body of his fallen brother, and performed the funeral rites. Thereafter he was proclaimed King of Lanka.


(1100 words)


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