Lakshman armed himself and took the blessings of Ram before proceeding. Vibhishana and Jambavan with his army of bears joined him.
"Come hurry"! said Vibhishan, "I'll take you to the magic grove where he is performing the ceremony. The god of fire will give him his magic chariot, yoked to tigers, which will make him invulnerable. Only rakshasas can see his hideout"
Vibhishan took Lakshman to the secret grove where Indrajit was conducting his ritual. He touched Lakshman, who was then able to see Indrajit kneeling before an altar in the grove, invoking the aid of his favourite god - Agni. He was pouring ghee into the fire with a wooden ladle and muttering incantations. His back was turned to them. The black sacrificial goat was tied to a stake and bleating piteously. Wearing a crimson robe and disheveled locks, Indrajit beat the earth with his javelin and out came thousands of serpents and coiled themselves round his arrows which were piled near the altar. His axe then fell on the neck of the goat and severed it neatly, so that it fell in a pool of blood. He held the ladle high above his head, ready for the final invocation, As the flames leapt higher and higher, the tawny figures of the tigers could be seen, snarling and growling, waiting for their cue, to leap out of the flames, drawing the invincible chariot. Vibhishan nudged Lakshman and he sent an arrow straight at the upraised ladle and split it in two, just as it was descending for the final offering.
The nagas hissed and slithered back to the nether world from where they had come and Indrajit swirled round with an imprecation and snarled, "You traitor! You have betrayed me. You call yourself my uncle and yet you have disclosed my secrets. Otherwise he could never have found out my secret place of worship. You have eaten the salt of my father and yet you have defected to the enemy! Shame on you! It is better to be a slave in one's own country than a friend of the enemy, by licking his boots. One who abandons his own people and adopts the ways of his enemy is a traitor, and I should kill you first, before killing Lakshman".
Vibhishan retorted, "You are the wicked son of my wicked brother and I will have nothing to do with either of you. All these years my brother has reveled in sinful acts. His anger and arrogance are proverbial. All these years I have borne up with it because there was nothing I could do. Though I was born in the clan of the rakshasas,
my instincts were always those of a human. If I have abandoned you all now, it is because I am fed up of living a life of sin and wish to take up a noble path. You are a foolish, impulsive boy, bursting with pride, but beware! Both you and your father are doomed and so is this fabulous city of Lanka"!
By now Jambavan and his army of bears had began to harass Indrajit's army. The commotion created was so great that Indrajit was forced to put an end to his verbal combat with his uncle and come out through the secret tunnel into the open forest. The demon prince was furious at having to end his ritual to become invulnerable. He came out looking like the god of death. Hanuman barred his progress with a tree in his hand.
Vibhishan told Lakshman to go to Hanuman's aid and accost the grandson of Mayan, the master magician. Lakshman twanged his bow string and the enraged Indrajit rushed towards him. Clad in silver from head to toe, with silver helmet and silver sword and arrows, Indrajit took up his bow and stood up in his chariot facing Lakshman. Hanuman immediately carried Lakshman on his shoulders.
"Have you forgotten our last encounter, 0 Lakshman"! he shouted,
"When I made you and your brother lie flat on the ground! This time I will not let you go so easily but will dispatch you fast to the city of Yama"!
The two mighty protagonists faced each other for a fight to the finish. Arrow followed arrow with unerring accuracy. Lakshman broke Indrajit's armour and Indrajit retaliated by smashing Lakshman's armour. They were totally oblivious to the rest of the world. Their brilliant arrows charged with incantations flew like meteors across the sky and collided in mid-air with earth-shattering explosions, each negating the other. Beasts and birds flew hither and thither and the very air seemed to hold its breath in fear. Vibhishan also joined in the fray but refrained from fighting with his nephew. Lakshman sent four Steel-tipped arrows that instantly felled the four beautiful, caparisoned horses. As the chariot started to swerve violently, another crescentshaped arrow neatly severed the charioteer's head from his shoulders. For a minute Indrajit faltered but undaunted, he took up his bow and scattered thousands of arrows at Lakshman's forces. The monkeys quickly took shelter behind Lakshman. As it became dark, Indrajit ran back to the city and returned with another chariot. Lakshman was wonderstruck at the swiftness with which he returned. Lakshman smashed this chariot also. Lifting his sword high above his head, Indrajit whirled it round and round so that the blade seemed ablaze but just
as he was about to release it, Lakshman shattered it with a hundred arrows.
The battle raged on furiously. At last Lakshman took out the arrow given to him by the sage Agastya and charged it with the power of Indra and prayed to the weapon, "If Ram, the son of Dasaratha is truly a dharmatman, if it is true that he has ever been truthful, has ever been loyal and is absolutely unrivalled, then let this arrow kill Indrajit, the son of Ravan". So saying, he let fly the mantra-charged arrow at Indrajit. It flew like a streak of lightning, straight to its target and before Indrajit could counter it with one of his own, it neatly severed his handsome head so that it fell to the ground like a golden lotus. Like the bright sun setting behind the hills, lay the head of Ravan's glorious son. The vanara army set up a roar of victory which could be heard by Ram and Sugriva in the camp. The rakshasa army fled to the city, leaving
their weapons behind.
Vibhishan, Hanuman and Jambavan were thrilled at Lakshman's feat. He was carried triumphantly back on Hanuman's shoulders to the
camp, where Ram welcomed him with joy. He took him on his lap and embraced him. He called the physician to come and attend to his wounds, which were many. The whole camp rejoiced and Ram hoped that hearing of his son's death, Ravan himself would come the next day and fight with him.
When Ravan heard of the death of the beloved son of Mandodari, he fainted. Indrajit who had once captured Indra, the king of gods and brought him in chains to his father, now lay dead, killed by an arrow which had been charged with the power of Indra himself. Reviving from his swoon, he began to lament over his son. "My son! My beloved son"! he moaned, "there was no' one like you in the whole world. You could defeat every enemy you encountered, yet you have been killed by that
puny human being. How is it possible? Without you, this entire earth seems to be an empty place. Life has lost its charm for me, now that you are dead, my dearest child. Where have you gone leaving me, and your mother and your beloved wife? 0 Indrajit, why did you have to die"!
He forgot that he was the sole cause for the destruction of all his sons. His sorrow turned to anger, as it normally did with him and he decided to kill Sita in truth, and not as a trick, as his son had done, for she was the cause of all this. He forgot the fact that he had no
one to blame but himself. It was his cruel and unjust act, which had brought calamity on his whole race, as prophesied by Vibhishan. Tears like liquid fire rolled down his cheeks. Picking up his sword, he rushed out of the palace, determined to kill Sita, who was still devoted to Ram. His ministers and wives rushed after him. They had seen him angry many times before but that was nothing compared to what they saw now. Like a malefic comet approaching Venus, he flew at Sita with upraised sword. She saw him coming, sword in hand and realised that this time he was not approaching with words of love but with the sword of hate and meant to kill her, as easily as he had professed to love her. How easily swayed are the minds of the wicked! One day they profess love and the next day it changes to hate. Sita was ready to die since
she was convinced that Ram had died. Luckily for her, one of Ravan's ministers who was saner than the rest, approached him and said.
"My Lord! How can you contemplate such a sinful deed! It was bad enough that you abducted her! How can you think of killing her now when she is helpless and at your mercy! Leave this poor, defenseless
woman alone and turn your fury against her husband and brother who are the ones who killed your son. Today is the fourteenth day of the dark lunar fortnight. Tomorrow is the night of the new moon, most auspicious for night rangers like us. That is the time for you to march against Ram and after having killed him, you can return victoriously and claim Sita as your own
Luckily for Sita, Ravan seemed to find this advice palatable. He checked his stride and stood for a moment, lost in thought. Then without saying a word to anyone, he turned round and marched to his assembly hall.
The next day he sent his crack regiment of carefully chosen men famed for their valour to the battlefield with orders that they should not return until the Kosala brothers were dead. Armed with all the best weapons of the time, the ill-fated army set out at break of day. The two armies met with a terrible clash and blood flowed like a river. Ram tackled them single-handed as he had done the army at Janasthana. The army could not be seen due to the shower of arrows which engulfed them. At last Ram took up the weapon called the gandharua, which created a kind of illusion by which many hundreds of Rams could be seen on all sides. Within the period of an hour, he had totally wrecked Ravan's crack regiment.
There was a loud wail in the whole of Lanka, set up by the wives of the deceased. They blamed Surpanekha for being the sole cause of all their troubles. Every house in Lanka was sunk in sorrow. Those houses from which at one time, only the sound of music and revelry could be heard, were now shuddering with the sounds of moans and sobs. As Ravan approached his bedroom, the fascinating Mandodari, daughter of Mayan, the maker of illusions, approached him and softly wound her arms round his neck. "My Lord", she said, "do you have to go for battle tomorrow? Can you not change your mind"?
Gently he put her away from him and said, "My faithful one, you know I have to go, but please believe in me. I will not let you down".
"You have never let me down, my Lord", she said. "From the day you married me, you have given me nothing but delight. How can I forget"!
For the last time Ravan climbed up to the ramparts of his castle and sang the Sama hymns in which he was an expert and by singing which he had once pleased Maheswara, the Lord of the world. The whole of nature seemed to be providing an accompaniment for his chants, with the sighing of the wind, the lashing of the waves and the eerie creaking of the trees, as they swayed to and fro, in tune with the rhythm of his song. Ram heard it down below and watched fascinated as Ravan's mighty figure, silhouetted against the sky, swayed and danced to his
At last with the approach of midnight, amauasya, the night of the new moon, the wind dropped, the waves calmed down and Ravan came down for his final battle.
He ordered the last of his generals to get ready for the battle, for he had decided to go himself and avenge the death of all his loved ones. His divine chariot with the golden banner, equipped with all the latest weapons and drawn by eight, swift horses, gleaming with jewels, was brought to the gate and Ravan leaped into it like a tiger and took the reins himself. The demon warriors cheered and clapped as he thundered down the street. He chose to take the fifth gate, the gate of illusion and rose up like a black swan into the sky.
Thus ends the sixth Canto called "Indrajit" of the Yuddha Kanda in the glorious Ramyana of the Sage Valmiki.