Ramayan: Yuddha Kanda - Book Of War

Canto IV: The Mighty Battle



The vanara army now charged the eastern gate of Lanka, giving g cries. The~ clambered up the walls and broke the ramparts. Very soon they made inroads into the other three walls. The whole place was alive with a mass of leaping and screaming vanaras bent on destruction. The rakshasa army ably defended their bastion and the first dayís fight continued into the night which was the time when the rakshasas became more powerful. Indrajit, Ravan's son was one of their ablest warriors. The name given to him at birth was Meghanath but he came to be called Indrajit after he defeated Indra, the king of the Gods. He was a master magician and prince of illusions Ravanís golden boy, who could take any form at will. It is said that only his mother, Mandodari, knew his real form.

After having almost defeated Angada, he leapt into the air and disappeared into the clouds. From this vantage point where he could not be seen, Indrajit fired the deadly noose of the serpent, with ahich he bound the two brothers, who had already been badly wounded by him. Ram fell to the ground in a faint and Lakshman followed suit. Enmeshed by the magic cords, lacerated all over their bodies with Indrajitís deadly arrows, they lay on bed of arrows, drenched in Blood, with hardly any signs of life, except for an occasional, feeble twitching. There was panic in the vanara army and they stared at the sky in the hope of being able to see Indrajit but none of them could see him except Vibhishan and he was also helpless against the snake noose. Indrajit was jubilant, for he was sure that he had killed the brothers. Having created havoc in the rest of the army, he returned to his father and gave him the happy news.

Sugriva was desperate when he saw Ram and Lakshman in this state but Vibhishan comforted him and said, "Take it from me that they are not dead. It is only a temporary faint. Let us chant some mantras and they will wake up. Now it is up to you to keep up the morale of the army until the brothers recover consciousness. You should not allow your affection to weaken you. Both of them will have to be guarded carefully until they regain consciousness".

In the meantime, Indrajit entered the city covered with glory and gave the happy news to his father that he had killed his two enemies. Ravan was overjoyed and blessed his valiant son. That night the whole of Lanka slept peacefully. In the morning, Ravan sent for the rakshasis who were looking after Sita and told them to tell her that her husband lay dead on the battlefield Since she would not be convinced by mere talk, he told them to take her in his aerial vehicle, called the Pushpaka and let her survey the battlefield from the air and observe the body other husband. "Tell Sita to forget her husband and come to me, since now she has no other recourse but to accept my love and become my wife".

The rakshasis forced Sita to get into the vehicle and took her over the battlefield, where she saw for herself the devastation in the monkey army. In the midst of the sea of corpses of dead and dying monkeys, she suddenly spied her beloved husband and his brother lying on a bed of arrows, their bodies bleeding and inert. She could no longer see clearly due to the tears which were flowing in torrents from her eyes. For some time, the shock made her keep absolutely silent but then she started to moan and bewail her fate.

"How is it that my Ram who killed all the raksbasas at Janasthana, single-handed, could not counteract the effects of these deadly arrows of the evil-minded son of Ravan? Our Guru Vasishta prophesied that my Ram would perform many Aswamedka yagas and win great fame as a king and that I would never be a widow and would be the mother of heroic sons. How is it that all these words have proved false! There is no one that we can trust. Fate is all powerful. Of what use are the lotus marks on my feet, which proclaim that I will be a queen. I have the twelve auspicious signs, my body is symmetrical, my teeth even, my navel set deep in my stomach. My breasts are full and skin and hair soft. My complexion is pearly and my soles touch the ground when I walk, yet this calamity has overtaken me"

One of the rakshasis who was kinder than the rest and had befriended Sita before, now comforted her with these words, "My lady, please do of weep. Your Lord is not dead. Neither of them is dead. See how the vanaras are guarding their bodies. They appear to be waiting for them to recover. Take this opportunity and have a good look at the face of your beloved husband, from whom you have been parted for such a long time. There is a glow about their faces which would not have been there if they were dead. So forget this sorrow and take heart.

Sita was thrilled to hear this. She observed the two carefully and confirmed what was said by the kindly rakshasi. She raised her palms in prostration to Ram and then returned.

Slowly, after a passage of time, the nagapasa ceased to have effect and Ram came to consciousness. When he saw his brother lying apparently dead, he started lamenting and swooned again. At this moment when all of them were sitting and crying round the fallen princes, Sugriva's court physician came and said,"Once long when the gods and demons were fighting, the gods were struck own in a similar fashion but their guru revived them with special herbs of the milky ocean. These herbs are known as sanjeewrkarani, which capable of reviving those who are fatally stricken and vishalyakarani, which heals all wounds inflicted by weapons. Let Hanuman be sent be get them.

Hardly had he finished speaking when a tempestuous wind rose from the ocean, making the waves leap up into the sky. The force of the wind appeared to bend even the mountains. Trees were snapped like sticks and flung to the ground and animals ran hither and thither. Suddenly Garuda, the king of birds, vehicle of Vishnu, cleaved his way trough the storm-tossed sky.

The storm had been caused by the wind raised by his enormous wings. He was the bitter enemy of all snakes and as soon as he appeared, the snake-noose which had bound the two brothers started loosening its deathly hold over them. As he came nearer, they were released completely and Lakshman stirred, as if from sleep. The wide winged Garuda now came close to them and stroked their faces lovingly with his wings and instantly their wounds vanished and lustre returned to their faces. Their splendour, majesty, intelligence and courage, increased tenfold. Garuda embraced them warmly and Ram said, "When you caressed me with your wings I felt as if my father was touching me. Because of you, we have been saved from this deadly snake noose. How wonderful you look? Pray tell me who you are".

The bird said, "I am Garuda, the son of Vinata and I am your constant companion. I am your vehicle and will always be hovering around you,

even though you are not aware of it. I am the only one who could have saved you from this noose made of snakes, who have taken on the form of arrows, which Indrajit invoked by a special mantra. I am their ancient enemy and that is why they vanished as soon as they saw me. Ram, fear not, you and your brother are destined to destroy your enemies and have a glorious future. Your strength lies in your adherence to dharma and you will be victorious, even though your enemies are treacherous. Now give me leave to go. Whenever you need me, just think of me and I'll be there".

Witnessing this miraculous recovery of the brothers, the monkeys chattered and clattered with delight. They beat their tails and thumped their kettledrums and jumped up and down with joy.

Ravan heard these sounds and was puzzled. How can they be so joyous when Ram lies dead, he thought? He ordered his spies to go and find out the truth and was amazed when they returned with the news of Ram's miraculous escape.

Now Ravan sent another horde, led by the terrible warrior called Dhumraksha, the fiery-eyed one, but he was killed by Hanuman. Next to be sent was Vajradamshtra, with fangs like sharpened diamonds, who was another invincible warrior but he was killed by Vali's son, Angada. Then came Akampana, who was vanquished by Hanuman. Ravan was quite depressed at the death of three of his best warriors.

He called his commander-in-chief Prahastha and told him to go "How is it that an army which can hardly be called an army at all, defeat three of my best warriors. They are only a bunch of wild, fickle minded monkeys, who have never been trained in the art of warfare. They will never be able to face a well disciplined army which marches ruthlessly under the guidance of a master general like you".

Prahastha was happy to see the confidence which was placed in him by his master and advanced to the front. He created havoc in the vanara forces until Neela confronted him and crushed his chariot and forced him to get down. They fought face to face until at last Neela took up a big boulder and crushed Prahastha's head. His frightened army abandoned their leader and flew back to the city. Ravan could not believe that his favourite commander had been killed. He decided that it was time that he himself entered the arena. Ram saw the huge army advancing and asked Vibhishan who were, the leaders who were in the forefront of the troop.

Vibhishan said, "The chariot with the lion banner belongs to Indrajit and the one with the white umbrella holds Ravan, the lord of the rakshasas" .

Ram gazed at him for a long moment and said, "Indeed he is a glorious figure. Such radiance! Like the sun at noon. He seems to be endowed with all the qualities of a great hero. Yet when I think that he is the one who has stolen my Sita, I cannot help but pity him, for he is coming closer to his death".

Ravan arranged his army carefully and then plunged into battle. Sugriva had been itching to get his hands on the demon king and hurled rocks at him which Ravan splintered with ease. At last he fell in a faint from one of Ravan's arrows and the monkey hoard fled in fear and ran to Ram. Ram stood up ready to enter the fray but Lakshman stopped him and said that it would be his pleasure to make an end of this wicked man.

Hanuman in the meantime rushed at Ravan and said, "You have been granted many boons but none which will protect you from monkeys. Now allow my right hand to teach you a well deserved lesson". Ravan was furious when he heard this and said, "I will give you the opportunity of winning everlasting fame by hitting me, just once, and then I'll kill you".

Hanuman punched him on his chest and Ravan reeled under the pressure. He admired Hanuman's strength but did not wait for more. He turned his chariot towards Neela and did his best to wound him but since Neela was the son of the fire-god, he could not be killed. Ravan now directed his fury against the approaching Lakshman. Then ensued a memorable fight between the two, which was watched by all the others. At last Ravan was compelled to use the shakti weapon given to him by Brahma. He hurled it at Lakshman, who fell down in a swoon. With a smile Ravan came close and tried to lift him up but was unable to do so. He was amazed that he could not do it. He, who had once lifted the mountain of Kailasa, was now unable to lift Ram's brother. Hanuman came and struck Ravan down from his chariot and before he could recover from the blow, he carried Lakshman back to Ram. As soon as he reached Ram, the shakti weapon left his side and returned to Ravan and Lakshman was his old self.

Ravan was bent on causing havoc to the vanara army and Ram decided that it was high time for him to enter the fray. Hanuman begged him to use his shoulder as a vehicle, since Ravan was fighting from a chariot and Ram from the ground. Ram agreed and went to battle on Hanuman's shoulder. At last the two protagonists came face to face. Neither could help admiring the other but Ram said, "You think you are a hero, yet you have behaved in a fashion which no hero would behave. You deserve nothing but death and I will see that you get it".

Without answering Ravan took up his bow and aimed an arrow at Hanuman. It fell off from the mighty hero, like a mango leaf from its tree. Ram was furious when he saw the attack on Hanuman and he broke Ravan's chariot and wounded his horses and charioteer.

Another arrow on Ravan's chest made him reel and still another cut off his golden crown, which rolled on the dust. The king of rakshasas was now without his crown, his bow and his chariot. Denuded of his accoutrements, he appeared to have lost half his splendour.

Ram took pity on him and said, "You have acted in an unforgivable manner, yet I see that you are very tired, so I will refrain from killing you now. Go home and take rest and return with another bow and chariot, then I'll show you what I am capable of".

Ravan returned to Lanka, crestfallen and ashamed, his pride totally humbled.

Thus ends the fourth Canto "The Mighty Battle" of Yuddha Kanda in the glorious Ramayan of the Sage Valmiki.




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