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Shrila Valmiki's Ramayana

The Divine Pastimes of Shri Shri Sita Rama

vandaamahe maheshaanam hara-kodanda-khandanam


janaki-hridayaananda-chandanam raghu-nandanam

In Padma Purana, Lord Rama Pranama Mantra is given: "Let us offer our respectful
obeisances to Lord Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the delight of King
Raghu, who broke Lord Shiva's bow, and who is the sandal paste that delights Shri
Sitadevi's heart."

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Shri Ramashtaka
108 Names of Lord Rama
About the Translator

BALA-KANDA

Valmiki meets Narada


Valmiki curses the Nishada hunter
Lord Brahma blesses Valmiki
Valmiki composes Ramayana
Lava and Kush recite Ramayana
Description of Ayodhya
Maharaja Dasharatha’s grief at having no sons
Drought in Maharaja Romapada’s kingdom
Shanta, the daughter of Maharaja Dasharatha
Rishyashringa is brought to the Kingdom of Anga
Rishyashringa marries Shanta
Maharaja Dasharatha invites Rishyashringa to perform the ashvamedha sacrifice
The Putreshti sacrifice
The demigods approach Lord Brahma
Lord Vishnu assures the demigods that He will relieve the burden of the earth
The Queens of Maharaja Dasharatha receive sons
Lord Brahma instructs the demigods to assist Lord Vishnu in His mission
The progeny of the demigods
The birth of Maharaja Dasharatha’s four sons
Vasishtha performs the name-giving ceremony
Vishvamitra arrives at the royal court
Vishvamitra requests Rama’s help from Maharaja Dasharatha
Rama, Lakshman and Vishvamitra depart
Lord Rama receives the Bala and Atibala mantras from Vishvamitra
Rama slays the Rakshasi, Tataka
Vishvamitra imparts to Rama his complete knowledge of celestial weapons
Rama, Lakshman and Vishvamitra arrive at Siddhashram
Rama protects Vishvamitra’s sacrifice from the Rakshasas
Rama, Lakshman and Vishvamitra travel to take part in Maharaja Janaka’s sacrifice
How Indra and Ahalya were cursed by Gautama Rishi
Ahalya freed from her curse by Rama’s visit
Maharaja Janaka greets Rama and Lakshman
The history of King Janaka’s bow
The appearance of Sita
Lord Rama breaks the bow and wins Sita
Maharaja Dasharatha arrives at the Kingdom of Mithila
The wedding of Sita and Rama
Parashurama challenges Rama
Sita and Rama’s natural attachment

AYODHYA-KANDA

Rama, the pet son of His father and loved by the citizens
Maharaja Dasharatha desires to retire after installing Rama as his successor
Maharaja Dasharatha’s apprehension
Preparations for Rama’s coronation
Manthara hears of Rama is to be installed upon the throne the next day
Manthara goes to meet Kaikeyi
Manthara artfully speaks to Kaikeyi, to arouse her jealousy
Manthara provides Kaikeyi with the means of achieving her goals
Kaikeyi praises Manthara
Kaikeyi goes to the sulking chamber
King Dasharatha searches for Kaikeyi
The King finds Kaikeyi in the sulking chamber
Kaikeyi asks for two benedictions
Maharaja Dasharatha’s agony, as Kaikeyi enforces her will
Maharaja Dasharatha’s night of torment
Sumantra comes to summon the King
The King summons Rama
Kaikeyi informs Rama of her two desires
Rama breaks the news to His mother
Lakshman’s rage
Rama convinces Kaushalya to remain at Ayodhya
Rama breaks the news to Sita
Rama allows Sita to accompany Him
Rama allows Lakshman to accompany Him
Rama gives away all His possessions
The brahmana, Trijata, throws his staff
Rama bids farewell to His father
King Kekaya’s ability to understand the language of animals
Rama rejects the idea of going to the forest in comfort
Kaikeyi personally brings tree bark clothing
Kaushalya’s advice to Sita
Sita, Rama and Lakshman depart on a chariot driven by Sumantra
The people of Ayodhya follow Rama
Rama has Sumantra deceive the people, so that they can continue their journey alone
Rama meets Guha
Crossing the Ganga
Sita, Rama and Lakshman continue on foot
At Bharadvaja’s ashram
Arrival at Chitrakoot
Staying at Valmiki’s ashram
Sumantra returns to Ayodhya
Maharaja Dasharatha’s anguish and his accidental killing of a young rishi remembered
Maharaja Dasharatha passes away
Bharata is summoned
Bharata’s nightmares
Bharata returns to Ayodhya and meets his mother
Bharata rebukes Kaikeyi
Bharata convinces Kaushalya of his innocence
The cremation of Maharaja Dasharatha’s body
Shatrughna vents his rage upon Manthara
Bharata decides to go and meet Rama
Constructing a highway to the Ganga
Bharata meets Guha
Bharata mats his hair and dresses in tree bark
Bharadvaja Rishi’s magical reception
Rama and Lakshman see Bharata approaching
Bharata meets Rama
Rama learns of His father’s death
Bharata implores Rama to return to Ayodhya
Jabali’s atheistic talk
Bharata presents wooden sandals to Rama
Bharata returns to Ayodhya
Sita, Rama and Lakshman leave Chitrakoot
With Atri Muni and Anasuya
Sita, Rama and Lakshman depart for the Dandaka forest

ARANYA-KANDA

The Rakshasa, Viradha, who was formerly the Gandharva, Tumburu


Sharabhanga Rishi sends Rama to meet Sutikshna Rishi
Sutikshna advises Rama to visit all the ashrams in the Dandaka forest
Sita advises Rama to stop killing the deer
Sita, Rama and Lakshman arrive at Lake Panchapsara
Return to Sutikshna’s ashram
Sita, Rama and Lakshman visit Agastya Rishi
Agastya presents the bow of Lord Vishnu to Rama
Agastya recommends Panchavati for Rama’s residence
Meeting with Jatayu
Lakshman constructs a cottage
Shurpanakha meets Rama and Laksman
Shurpanakha disfigured
Khara attacks Rama
Rama kills Dushana, Khara and 14,000 Rakshasa soldiers
Akampana brings the news to Ravana in Lanka
Akampana suggests that Ravana kidnap Sita
Ravana visits Maricha
Maricha convinces Ravana to give up the idea of kidnapping Sita
Shurpanakha chastises Ravana, then recommends that he kidnap Sita
Ravana again visits Maricha
Maricha’s fear of Rama
Maricha takes the form of a wonderful deer
Sita urges Rama to capture the deer
Maricha leads Rama far astray
Sita forces Lakshman to go to Rama’s rescue
Ravana, dressed as a mendicant, appears in Sita’s doorway
Ravana kidnaps Sita
Jatayu tries to rescue Sita
Ravana brings Sita to Lanka
Ravana fails to seduce Sita
Sita is taken to the Ashoka grove
Indra and Nidradevi visit Sita
Rama meets Lakshman while hurrying back to the cottage
Sita is gone Rama and Lakshman search for her
Rama and Lakshman come upon the dying Jatayu
Lakshman disfigures the Rakshasi, Ayonmukhi
The Rakshasa Kabandha
Kabandha suggests that Rama befriend Sugriva
Lake Pampa and Shabari’s ashram

KISHKINDHA-KANDA

In the Spring, Rama feels separation from Sita


Seeing Rama and Lakshman’s arrival, Sugriva becomes frightened
Hanuman goes to meet Rama and Lakshman
Sugriva meets Rama
Sugriva shows Rama Sita’s cloth and jewelry
Vali kills Mayavi
Vali kills Dundhunbhi
Rama pierces seven Sal trees
Sugriva challenges Vali
Rama kills Vali
Vali’s body is cremated
Rama and Lakshman pass the monsoon season in a cave
With the arrival of autumn, Rama becomes angry because Sugriva has not come
Lakshman goes to Kishkindha
Lakshman meets Tara
Lakshman meets Sugriva
Sugriva summons the monkeys
Sugriva goes to meet Rama
Sugriva dispatches the monkeys in the four directions to look for Sita
Rama gives His ring to Hanuman
Angada’s party enters the Rikshabila cave and meet Svayamprabha
After the expiry of their one month time limit, the monkeys become depressed
Sampati spies the monkeys
The history of Sampati and Jatayu
Sampati informs the monkeys of Ravana’s residence in Lanka
After coming to the ocean, Angada asks the monkey to tell how far they can jump
Jambavan glorifies Hanuman
Hanuman prepares to jump to Lanka

SUNDARA-KANDA

Hanuman jumps from Mahendra Mountain


Hanuman encounters Mount Mainaka
Surasa tries to impede Hanuman
The Rakshasi, Simhika, attempts to stop Hanuman
Hanuman touches down at Lanka
Hanuman challenged by the presiding deity of Lanka
Hanuman searches throughout the city
The women in Ravana’s palace
Hanuman sees Ravana
Hanuman spies the Ashoka grove
Hanuman finds Sita
Ravana comes to see Sita
Sita rebukes Ravana
The Rakshasis intimidate Sita
The Rakshasi Trijata’s dream
Hanuman recites a poem for Sita
Hanuman approaches Sita
Sita’s messages for Rama
Hanuman creates havoc in the Ashoka grove
Hanuman kills Ravana’s son, Aksha
Indrajit captures Hanuman
Hanuman interrogated by Ravana’s ministers
Vibhishana advises that Hanuman should not be killed
Hanuman’s tail set on fire
Hanuman frees himself and then burns Lanka
Hanuman fears that Sita has been burnt
Hanuman visits Sita once again
Hanuman returns to Mount Mahendra
Hanuman relates to Angada all that had taken place
While going to Kishkindha, the monkeys stop at Madhuvana
Dadhimukha complains to Sugriva
Hanuman meets Rama and Lakshman
Hanuman relates Sita’s messages to Rama

YUDDHA-KANDA

Rama praises Hanuman


Hanuman describes Lanka’s fortifications
Rama, Lakshman and the monkeys arrive at the seashore
Ravana consults his ministers
Ravana angered by Vibhishana’s advice
Kumbhakarna addresses the assembly
Why Ravana no longer raped women
Ravana tires of Vibhisana’s advice
Vibhisana deserts Ravana
Vibhisana joins Rama’s camp
Vibhisana surrenders to Rama
Vibhisana proposes that Rama petition the ocean-god for crossing the sea
Ravana sends Shuka as an envoy
Rama sits down on the beach to petition the god of the ocean
Rama becomes enraged
The ocean-god appears before Rama
Rama releases His brahmastra
Vishvakarma’s son, Nala
The bridge to Lanka constructed
Rama, Lakshman and the monkeys arrive at Lanka
Ravana sends Shuka and Sharana to spy
Ravana surveys the enemy from his palace roof
The Vedic system of numbers
Ravana’s spy, Shardula, detected
Vidyujjihva shows a magical imitation of Rama’s severed head to Sita
Vibhishana’s wife, Sharama, comforts Sita
While remaining hidden, Sarama hears Ravana’s talks with his ministers
Malyavan advises Ravana
Rama arranges the army of monkeys
Sugriva confronts Ravana
Rama sends Angada as an envoy to Rama
The battle commences
Remaining invisible, Indrajit seems to vanquish Rama and Lakshman
Indrajit goes to see Ravana, thinking that Rama and Lakshman are dead
Sita is told that Rama has been killed
Sita goes on the Pushpaka chariot to survey the battlefield
Sita’s lamentations
Trijata reassures Sita
Rama laments, thinking that Lakshman will die
Garuda’s arrival
Garuda heals Rama and Lakshman
Ravana next sends Dhumraksha
Vajradamstra fights next
Akampana killed by Hanuman
Prahasta enters the battlefield
Nila kills Prahasta
Ravana goes to fight
Hanuman confronts Ravana
Lakshman fights with Ravana
Rama allows Ravana to return to Lanka after defeating him
Ravana tells his ministers how he was formerly cursed
Ravana orders Kumbhakarna to be awakened
Kumbhakarna wakes up
Vibhisana tells Rama the history of Kumbhakarna
Kumbhakarna meets Ravana
Kumbhakarna goes to fight
Kumbhakarna captures Sugriva
Rama kills Kumbhakarna
Ravana’s four sons- Trishira, Devantaka, Narantaka and Atikaya- go to fight
Angada kills Narantaka
Hanuman kills Devantaka
Nila kills Mahodara
Hanuman kills Trishira
Rishabha kills Mahaparshva
Lakshman kills Atikaya
Indrajit invisibly enters the battlefield
Rama and Lakshman covered by Indrajit’s arrows
Jambavan instructs Hanuman to go to the Himalayas to bring herbs
Hanuman brings a Himalayan mountain peak to Lanka
Rama and Lakshman restored to health
Hanuman replaces the mountain peak
Kumbhakarna’s sons fight
Sugriva kills Kumbha
Hanuman kills Nikumbha
Rama slays Maharaksha
Indrajit re-enters the battlefield
Indrajit kills an illusory Sita
Vibhishana consoles Rama and Lakshman
Vibhishana suggests that Lakshman kill Indrajit at Nikumbhila
Vibhishana confronts Indrajit
Lakshman kills Indrajit
Sushena treats Lakshman
Ravana goes to the Ashoka grove to kill Sita
A minister, Suparshva, dissuades Ravana
Ravana returns to the battlefield
Ravana battles Rama
Lakshman enters the fray
Ravana injures Lakshman with Maya Danava’s spear
Rama attacks Ravana with a vengeance
Hanuman leaps to the Himalayas and brings back a mountain
Matali brings Indra’s chariot for Rama
The injured Ravana’s chariot driver takes him away from the battlefield
Agastya Rishi teaches Rama the Aditya-hridaya prayer
Rama kills Ravana
Ravana’s wives come to see their dead husband
Mandodari’s lamentations
Vibhishana cremates Ravana’s body
Vibhishana installed as the king of Lanka
Rama sends Hanuman to see Sita
Sita forgives the Rakshasis
The story of the hunter, bear and tiger
Rama orders Vibhishana to bring Sita
Vibhishana relays Rama’s message to Sita
Rama gives Sita her leave
Sita asks Lakshman to build a fire
Sita enters the fire
Agni delivers Sita to Rama
Rama justifies His actions
Lord Shiva points out Maharaja Dasharatha to Rama
Rama and Lakshman meet their father
At Rama’s request, Indra brings the monkeys back to life
Vibhishana gives Rama the Pushpaka chariot to return to Ayodhya
While going to Ayodhya, Rama points out the sights to Sita
Rama stops at Bharadvaja Rishi’s ashram
Rama sends Hanuman to inform Guha and Bharata of His arrival
Bharata hears of Rama’s arrival
The meeting of Bharata and Rama
Rama greets His mothers
Rama enters Ayodhya
The bathing ceremony of Lord Rama
Sita gives her necklace to Hanuman
Rama makes Bharata His successor
Ramarajya
Lava and Kush conclude their narration

UTTARA-KANDA

Great rishis come to visit Rama at Ayodhya


Agastya Rishi narrates the history of the Rakshasas
Birth of Ravana and Kumbhakarna
Lord Brahma benedicts Ravana and Kumbhakarna
Kuvera vacates Lanka
Lord Shiva awards Dasagriva the name Ravana
Ravana and Vedavati
Vedavati next appears as Sita
King Anaranya curses Ravana
Ravana cursed by the Apsara, Rambha
Ravana attacks Indra
Meghanada captures Indra
Lord Brahma secures Indra’s release
Vali captures Ravana
Kartaviryarjuna defeats Ravana
Agastya Rishi narrates the history of Hanuman
Hanuman struck by Indra’s thunderbolt
Hanuman receives benedictions from the demigods
Hanuman made to forget his actual prowess
Rama bids farewell to the rishis and kings
Rama honors Hanuman and Angada
Rama bids farewell to Hanuman and Sugriva
The Pushpaka chariot returns to Rama
Sita and Rama pass their time pleasantly- Sita is pregnant
Sita requests Rama to let her visit the ashrams of the rishis in the forest
Rama asks His ministers to freely tell Him what the citizens are saying about Him
Bhadra tells Rama about the envious rumors that are circulating
Rama instructs Lakshman to abandon Sita
Lakshman tells Sita that he is to escort her on a tour of the rishis’ ashrams
Sita, Lakshman, and Sumantra cross the Ganga
Sita learns from Lakshman of her cruel fate
Valmiki’s disciples discover Sita
Valmiki places Sita under the care of elderly female ascetics
Lakshman returns to Rama in Ayodhya
A dog comes to see Rama at the royal court
The brahmana, Sarvatha-siddha punished by being appointed as acharya
Shatrughna kills Lavanasura and established the city of Mathura
Shatrughna hears Lava and Kush recite Ramayana at Valmiki’s ashram
Shatrughna returns to Rama at Ayodhya
A brahmana brings his dead son to Rama’s palace
Narada discloses that the boy had died because a shudra was practicing austerities
While traveling in the Pushpaka chariot, Rama finds Shambuka and kills him
Rama performs the ashvamedha-yagya
Lava and Kush recite Ramayana at Ayodhya
Rama becomes convinced that Lava and Kush are the twin sons of Sita
Rama sends messengers to summon Sita
Sita appears before Rama
Sita enters the earth
Lord Brahma pacifies Rama
Rama visits Valmiki’s ashram
Rama’s mothers pass away
Time personified pays Rama a visit
Durvasa Muni arrives
Lakshman is banished
Rama divides His kingdom and then leaves Ayodhya
Rama enters the River Sarayu, followed by Bharata and Shatrughna
Shri Ramashtakam
by Shrila Murari Gupta
To be recited on Rama Navami
To become Lord Rama's Servant
one should read these 8 verses

Shri Krishna Chaitanya Charita Mahakavya by Shrila Murari Gupta


Second Prakrama, Seventh Sarga
(Balarama font required to read the Sanskrit verses)

rajat-kirita-mani-didhiti-dipitasham / udyad-brihaspati-kavi-pratime vahantam


dve kundale 'nka-rahitendu-samana-vaktra / rama jagat-traya-guru satata bhajami 1

rajat - shining; kirita - crown; mani - jewels; didhita - splendor; dipita - illuminated; asham -
face; udyat - rising; bhaspati - Jupiter; kavi - Venus; pratime - resembling; vahantam -
bearing; dve - two; kundale - earrings; anka-rahita - free of spots; indu - moon; samana -
like; vaktram - moon; ramam - the reservoir of pleasure; jagat-traya - three worlds; gurum -
spiritual master; satatam - perpetually; bhajami - I worship.

Though His face is like a spotless moon, still it is further brightened by a shining crown of
jewels. His earrings resemble Jupiter and Venus rising in the evening sky. I forever worship
this Lord Shri Rama, guru of the three worlds.

udyad-vibhakara-marici-vibodhitabja- / netra su-bimba-dashanacchada-caru-nasam


shubhrashu-rashmi-parinirjjita-caru-hasa / rama jagat-traya-guru satata bhajami 2

udyat - rising; vibha-akara - the sun; marici - rays; vibodhita - awakening; abja-netram - lotus
eyes; su-bimba - beautifully red like the bimba fruit; dashana-chada - teeth-covering (the
lips); caru-nasam - graceful nose; shubhra-ashu - moon; rashmi - rays; parinirjita - defeated;
caru-hasam - sweet smile.

When He awakens and opens His lotus eyes, their luster resembles the early rays of the
rising sun. His teeth are enclosed by charming bimba fruit-red lips. His nose is shapely and
graceful and seeing the beams of His beautiful smile, the white-rayed moon accepts defeat. I
forever worship this Lord Shri Rama, guru of the three worlds.

ta kambu-kantham ajam ambuja-tulya-rupa / muktavali-kanaka-hara-dhrita vibhantam


vidyud-balaka-gana-sayutam ambu-dam va / rama jagat-traya-guru satata bhajami 3

tam - Him; kambu-kantham - neck like a conch; ajam - unborn; ambu-ja - a lotus; tulya - like;
rupam - form; mukta-avali - string; kanaka - gold; hara - necklace; dhtam - held; vibhantam -
shining; vidyut - lightning; balaka - cranes; gana - flocks; sayutam - together with; ambu-dam
- water-giver (cloud); va - or.

The throat of the unborn Lord is like a three-ringed conchshell, and His form is soft as the
lotus. He wears a shining necklace of pearls set in gold, and thus He resembles a water-
laden cloud accompanied by lightning flashes and a flock of cranes. Such is Shri Rama,
guru of the three worlds, whom I perpetually adore.

utthana-hasta-tala-sastha-sahasra-patra / pancacchadadhika-shata pravarangulibhih


kurvaty ashita-kanaka-dyuti yasya sita / parshve 'sti ta raghu-vara satata bhajami 4

utthana - turned upwards; hasta-tala - palms; sastha - situated; sahasra-patram -


thousand-petalled (a lotus flower); panca - five; cchada - covered; adhika - more; shatam - a
hundred; pravara - excellent; angulibhih - by Her fingers; kurvati - She does; ashita-kanaka -
molten gold; dyutih - light; yasya - He whose; sita - Sita Devi; parshve - by His side; asti -
there is; tam - Him; raghu-varam - best of the Raghu dynasty; satatam - perpetually; bhajami
- I adore.

In Her upraised hand Sita Devi holds a thousand-petalled lotus flower, and Her five graceful
fingers make it appear that the flower's hundred petals are covered by another five petals. I
forever worship Rama, best of the Raghu dynasty, by whose side forever remains this Sita,
whose radiance is like molten gold.

agre dhanurdhara-varah kanakojjvalango / jyesthanu-sevana-rato vara-


bhushanadhyah
sheshakhya-dhama-vara-lakshmana-nama yasya / rama jagat-traya-guru satata
bhajami 5

agre - in the front; dhanuh-dhara-varah - best bow-holder; kanaka - gold; ujjvala - blazing;
angah - body; jyestha - elder; anusevana - serving; ratah - attached; vara-bhusana - fine
ornaments; adhyah - enriched; shea-akhya - called Shesha; dhama - abode; vara -
enclosing; lakshmana-nama - named Lakshmana; yasya - whose.

Before Rama stands his brother Lakshmana, deeply attached to His elder brother's service,
the most skilled of archers, his body brilliant golden, and enhanced by splendid ornaments.
He is also known as Shesha, the all-accomodating abode of the worlds. I worship this Lord
Shri Rama guru of the three worlds.

yo raghavendra-kula-sindhu-sudhashu-rupo / marica-rakshasha-subahu-mukhan
nihatya
yajna rakshaka kushikanvaya-punya-rashi / rama jagat-traya-guru satata bhajami 6

yah - who; raghava-indra - best of the Raghus; kula-sindhu - ocean of the dynasty; sudha-
ashu - moon; rupah - form; marica-raksasa - man-eater named Marica; subahu-mukhan -
headed by Subahu; nihatya - slain; yajnam - sacrifice; rakshaka - protected; kushika -
Vishvamitra; anvaya - lineage; punya - pious; rashim - heaps.

Like the nectar-rayed moon shining on the ocean of the Raghu dynasty, He slew the
foremost among the man-eating demons, Marica and Subahu, thus protecting the sacrifice
performed by the sage Vishvamitra for the welfare of His ancstors. I worship this Lord Shri
Rama, guru of the three worlds.

hatva khara-trishirasau sa-ganau kabandha / shri-danda-kananam aduanam eva


kritva
sugriva-maitram akarod vinihatya shatru / ta raghava dasha-mukhanta-kara bhajami 7

hatva - having killed; khara-trishirasau - the two brothers of Ravana named Khara and
Trishira; sa-ganau - with their hordes; kabandham - the demon named Kabandha; shri-
danda-kananam - the sacred forest of Danda; aduanam - free of violating; eva - surely; ktva -
made; sugriva - the monkey king named Sugriva; maitram - friendship; akarot - made;
vinihatya - killing; shatrum - the enemy (Bali); raghavam - best of the Raghu dynasty; tam -
Him; dasha-mukha - the ten-headed one, Ravana; antakaram - the causer of death; bhajami
- I adore.

Slaying the rakshasas Khara, Trishira, Kabandha, and their armies, He rendered safe the
forest of Danda-kanana. By killing thevmonkey-king, Sugriva's enemy, Bali, He made
alliance with him, I adore Shri Rama, best of the Raghu dynasty, the slayer of the ten-
headed Ravana.
bhanktva pinakam akaroj janakatmajaya / vaivahikotsava-vidhi pathi bhargavendram
jitva pitur mudam uvaha kakutstha-varyam / rama jagat-traya-guru satata bhajami 8

bhanktva - having broken; pinakam - bow; akarot - He did; janaka-atma-jayah - of the


daughter of Maharaja Janaka; vaivahika - marriage; utsava-vidhim - the rites of marriage;
pathi - on the path; bhargava-indram - Parashurama; jitva - having defeated; pituh - of His
father; mudam - happiness; uvaha - brought; kakutstha-varyam - the best of the
descendants of Kakutstha (a king of the solar dynasty).

After breaking Shiva's bow, He married Sita, daughter of Janaka-raja. Then on the path
home, He defeated the mighty Parashurama, best of Bhrigu's line, bringing pleasure to
Maharaja Dasharatha, His father. I forever worship this Lord Shri Rama, the foremost
descendant of Kakutstha and guru of the three worlds.
* * * * *
ittha nishamya raghu-nandana-raja-simha- / shlokashtaka sa bhagavan carana
murareh
vaidyasya murdhni vinidhaya lilekha bhale / tva rama-dasa iti bho bhava mat-
prasadat 18

ittham - thus; nishamya - hearing; raghu-nandana - the delight of the Raghu dynasty; raja-
simha - the lion among kings; shloka-atakam - eight verses; sah - He; bhagavan - all-opulent
Lord; caranam - feet; murareh - of Murari; vaidyasya - of the physician; murdhni - on the
head; vinidhaya - placing; lilekha - He wrote; bhale - on the forehead; tvam - you; rama-
dasah - the servant of Rama; iti - thus; bho - Oh!; bhava - be; mat-prasadat - by My mercy.

After hearing these eight verses composed by the physician Murari describing Shri Rama,
lion among kings and delight of the Raghu dynasty, Placing His foot on the physican's head,
Bhagavan Gaura Hari wrote the words "Rama Dasa" on his brow and proclaimed, "Bho! By
My mercy, be forever Shri Rama's servant."
108 Holy Names of Lord Rama
SrI RAma ashTottara satanAmAvaLi

asya srI rAmacandranAmAshTottara satamantrasya brahmA rshih |


anushtup chandah | jAnakI vallabhah srI rAmacandro devatA | om bIjam |
namah saktih | srI rAmacandrah kIlakam | shri rAmacandraprItyarthe
jape viniyogah |

om namo bhagavate rAjAdhirAjAya paramAtmane hrdayAya namah|


om namo bhagavate vidhyAdhirAjAya hayagrIvAya sirase svAhA |
om namo bhagavate jAnakI vallabhAya namah sikhAyai vashatt |
om namo bhagavate raghunandAyAmitatejase kavacAya hum |
om namo bhagavate kshIrAbdhi madhyasthAya nArAyaNAya netratrayAya voushaT |
om namo bhagavate satprakAsAya rAmAya astrAya phaT |
iti shadanganyAsah |
evam angulinyAsah kAryah |

atha dhyAnam

mandArakrti puNya dhAma vilasad vakshasthalam komalam


sAntam kantamahendra nIla rucirAbhAsam sahasrAnAmam
vande'ham raghunandanam surapatim kodaNda dIkshAgurum
rAmam sarva jagat susevita padam sItA manovallabham

1. sahasrasIrshNe vai tubhyam sahasrAkshAya te namah |


namah sahasrahastAya sahasra caraNAya ca ||

[ 1. sahasrasIrshNe namah 2. sahasrAkshAya namah


3. sahasrahastAya namah 4. sahasra caraNAya namah ]

2. namo jImUtavarNAya namaste visvatomukha |


acyutAya namastubhyam namaste seshasAyine ||

[ 5. jImUtavarNAya namah 6. visvatomukhAya namah


7. acyutAya namah 8. seshasAyine namah ]

3. namo hiraNyagarbhAya pancabhUtAtmane namah |


namo mUlaprakrtaye devAnAm hitakAriNe ||

[ 9. hiraNyagarbhAya namah 10. pancabhUtAtmane namah


11. mUlaprakrtaye namah 12. devAnAm hitakAriNe namah ]

4. namaste sarvalokesa sarva duhkha nishUdana |


sankha cakra gadA padma jatAmukuta dhAriNe ||

[ 13. sarvalokesAya namah 14. sarva duhkha nishUdanAya namah


15. sankha cakra gadA padma jatAmukuta dhAriNe namah ]

5. namo garbhAya tatvAya jyotishAm jyotishe namah |


om namo vAsudevAya namo dasarathAtmaja ||

[ 16. garbhAya namah 17. tatvAya namah 18. jyotishAm jyotishe namah
19. vAsudevAya namah 20. dasarathAtmajAya namah ]

6. namo namaste rAjendra sarva sampat pradAya ca |


namah kAruNya rUpAya kaikeyIpriyakAriNe ||

[ 21. rAjendrAya namah 22. sarva sampat pradAya namah


23. kAruNya rUpAya namah 24. kaikeyIpriyakAriNe namah ]

7. namo dAntAya sAntAya visvAmitra priyAya te |


yajnesAya namastubhyam namaste kratupAlaka ||

[ 25. dAntAya namah 26. sAntAya namah 27. visvAmitra priyAya namah
28. yajnesAya namah 29. kratupAlakAya namah ]

8. namo namah kesavAya namo nAthAya sArngiNe |


namaste rAmacandrAya namo nArAyaNAya ca ||

[ 30. kesavAya namah 31. nAthAya namah 32. sArngiNe namah


33. rAmacandrAya namah 34. nArAyaNAya namah ]

9. namaste rAmacandrAya mAdhavAya namo namah |


govindAya namastubhyam namaste paramAtmane ||

[ 35. rAmacandrAya namah 36. mAdhavAya namah


37. govindAya namah 38. paramAtmane namah ]

10. namaste vishNurUpAya raghunAthAya te namah |


namaste anAthanAthAya namaste madhusUdana ||
[ 39. vishNurUpAya namah 40. raghunAthAya namah
41. anAthanAthAya namah 42. madhusUdanAya namah ]

11. trivikrama namastestu sItAyAh pataye namah |


vAmanAya namastubhyam namaste rAghavAya ca ||

[ 43. trivikramAya namah 44. sItAyAh pataye namah


45. vAmanAya namah 46. rAghavAya namah ]

12. namo namah srIdharAya janakIvallabhAya ca |


namastestu hrshIkesa kandarpAya namo namah ||

[ 47. srIdharAya namah 48. janakIvallabhAya namah


49. hrshIkesAya namah 50. kandarpAya namah ]

13. namaste padmanAbhAya kausalyAharshakAriNe |


namo rajIvanayana namaste lakshmaNAgraja ||

[ 51. padmanAbhAya namah 52. kausalyAharshakAriNe namah


53. rajIvanayanAya namah 54. lakshmaNAgrajaya namah ]

14. namo namaste kAkutstha namo dAmodarAya ca |


vibhIshaNa paritrAtarnamah sankarshaNAya ca ||

[ 55. kAkutsthaya namah 56. dAmodarAya namah


57. vibhIshaNa paritrAtre namah 58. sankarshaNAya namah ]

15. vAsudeva namastestu namaste sankarapriya |


pradyumnAya namastubhyam aniruddhAya te namah ||

[ 59. vAsudevaya namah 60. sankarapriyAya namah


61. pradyumnAya namah 62. aniruddhAya namah]

16. sadasat bhaktirUpAya namaste purushottama |


adhokshaja namastestu saptatAla harAya ca ||

[ 63. sadasat bhaktirUpAya namah 64. purushottamAya namah


65. adhokshajAya namah 66. saptatAla harAya namah ]

17. kharadUshaNa samhartre srI nrsimhAya te namah |


acyutAya namastubhyam namaste setubandhaka ||

[ 67. kharadUshaNa samhartre namah 68. srInrsimhAya namah


69. acyutAya namah 70. setubandhakAya namah ]

18. janArdana namastestu namo hanumadAsraya |


upendra candravandyAya mArIca-mathanAya ca ||

[ 71. janArdanAya namah 72. hanumadAsrayAya namah


73. upendra candravandyAya namah 74. mArIca-mathanAya namah ]

19. namo vAli-praharaNa namah sugrIva-rAjyada |


jAmadagnya mahAdarpa HarAya haraye namah ||
[ 75. vAli-praharaNAya namah 76. sugrIva-rAjyadAya namah
77. jAmadagnya mahAdarpa harAya namah 78. haraye namah ]

20. namo namaste krshNAya namaste bharatAgraja |


namaste pitr-bhaktAya namah satrughna pUrvaja ||

[ 79. krshNAya namah 80. bharatAgrajAya namah


81. pitr-bhaktAya namah 82. satrughna pUrvajAya namah ]

21. ayodhyAdhipate tubhyam namah satrughna sevita |


namo nityAya satyAya buddhyAdi-jnAnarUpiNe ||

[ 83. ayodhyAdhipataye namah 84. satrughna sevitAya namah


85. nityAya namah 86. satyAya namah 87. buddhyAdi-jnAnarUpiNe namah ]

22. advaita brahma-rUpAya jnAna-gamyAya te namah |


namah pUrNAya ramyAya mAdhavAya cidAtmane ||

[ 88. advaita brahma-rUpAya namah 89. jnAna-gamyAya namah


90. pUrNAya namah 91. ramyAya namah
92. mAdhavAya namah 93. cidAtmane namah ]

23. ayodhyesAya sreshThaya cin-mAtrAya parAtmane |


namo'halyoddhAraNAya namaste cApa bhanjine ||

[ 94. ayodhyesAya namah 95. sreshThaya namah


96. cin-mAtrAya namah 97. parAtmane namah
98. ahalyoddhAraNAya namah 99. cApa bhanjine namah ]

24. sItArAmAya sevyAya stutyAya parameshThine |


namaste bANa-hastAya namah kodaNda-dhAriNe ||

[100. sItArAmAya namah 101. sevyAya namah


102. stutyAya namah 103. parameshThine namah
104. bANa-hastAya namah 105. kodaNda-dhAriNe namah ]

25. namah kabhanda-hantre ca vAli-hantre namos'tu te |


namastestu dasagrIva prANa samhAra kAriNe ||

[ 106. kabhanda-hantre namah 107. vAli-hantre namah


108. dasagrIva prANa samhAra kAriNe namah ]
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

I would like to introduce myself to all my readers. My name is Robert William Carol. I
was born in America and grew up in a middle-class environment. I received a B.A. from
Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois, but frankly, I was never very interested in the
subjects that were offered. Truthfully, I was a very confused person. The turning point in my
life occurred as I was walking down Beacon Street in Boston. A woman dressed in a sari
suddenly confronted me. She handed me a pamphlet entitled, “Reservoir of Pleasure.” The
book was clearly marked 50 cents and I only had a quarter in my pocket. I didn’t want to buy
the book and so I thought I had the perfect excuse. I pulled out the quarter and said, “See, I
only have 25 cents!” That woman, Yadurani devi dasi, snatched it up, saying, “That’s alright,
you can pay the rest later!” She quickly departed, and I was left holding the pamphlet in my
hands.
This booklet contained three essays written by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada. While reading these essays, I soon began to sense that a helping hand
was reaching out to me. I gradually found that my unseen friend was leading me from the
confusion of ignorance to the platform of real knowledge. Later on, I had the great fortune of
seeing His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, many times. He initiated
me, giving me the name Purnaprajna das.

Modern society has certainly made progress in manipulating the external environment.
But, internally there is great stress and confusion. The books of Shrila Prabhupada, as His
Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is affectionately known to his disciples, provide
immense help in clarifying and purifying one’s internal existence. In my humble opinion, they
are beyond compare. Shrila Prabhupada did not remain in our association long enough to
give us Ramayana. It is my hope that my simple telling of Ramayana will give pleasure and
encouragement to the devotees of the Lord who read it.

Hare Krishna.

Bala-kanda

One day, the great celestial sage, Narada Muni, came to Valmiki’s ashram. Valmiki was
conversing with his disciples, and upon seeing the arrival of his illustrious guest, he
immediately stood up to show respect. After offering their obeisances, and seating him very
comfortably, the rishis washed Narada’s feet and offered him suitable presentations.
There were the usual inquiries of one another’s welfare, and then Valmiki asked, “O
best of all those who know the truth, please tell me whom, now present on the earth, is the
foremost of all great personalities? Who is the most learned, the most powerful, and
possesses the most attractive bodily features? Who is noble-minded, truthful, grateful, and
most clever? Who possesses flawless character, and who always looks after the welfare of
all living beings? Who is never subject to the influence of anger or malice, and yet instills
fear in the hearts of even the demigods (devas)? Who has the strength to give protection to
everyone within the three worlds? Unto who has the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, bestowed
all her blessings? Who is the reservoir of all opulence in full?”
Narada Muni replied, “O rishi, there is a king named Rama who has appeared in the
dynasty of Ikshvaku as the son of Maharaja Dasharatha. He is the embodiment of all good
qualities, the reservoir of all opulence, and the master of unlimited potencies. Ram’s mighty
arms extend to His knees, His throat is decorated with three lines like those on a conch
shell, and His shoulders and chest are broad. His head is beautifully formed, His eyes are
large, and His complexion is tinged with green and is very lustrous. His stature is medium-
tall and His limbs are symmetrical and well formed. His intelligence is unfathomable, His
continence is grave, and His speech is deep in tone and very eloquent.”
“Rama is fully conversant in the use of weapons, He possesses absolute knowledge of
the Vedas, He is the ideal follower of religious principles, and He is the upholder of the
varnashram-dharma social system. Rama is simultaneously the destroyer of all foes and the
only shelter for fully surrendered souls. He possesses unflinching determination, and He is a
genius with unfailing memory. He is wise, compassionate, and grave like the ocean. Rama is
heroic in battle, loved by all creatures, and He is impartial toward both friends and enemies.”
“In fortitude Rama is like the Himalayas. In prowess He is like Lord Vishnu. His beauty
surpasses that of the full moon, His forbearance is like that of the earth, and His anger is like
the fire that blazes forth at the time of universal devastation. In truth, Rama is the very
support of the entire universe and He is a plenary expansion of Lord Vishnu, being equal to
Him in all respects.”
Narada Muni briefly narrated the life history of Lord Ramachandra, and then informed
Valmiki that the very same personality was now ruling over His subjects in a most exemplary
manner.
Narada said, “During the reign of Lord Rama no one within His kingdom suffers from
disease or mental disturbance. Everyone is quite happy and prosperous, being without any
fear of thieves, scarcity or hunger. All towns and villages are filled with abundant food grains,
fruit, vegetables and milk products. Actually, the people experience the same degree of piety
and happiness that was formerly exhibited during Satya-yuga. There are no natural
disturbances like floods, earthquakes or drought. All women are very chaste, and they never
have to suffer the pain of widowhood. Lord Ramachandra will rules the earth for 11,000
years before returning to His supreme abode in the spiritual sky, Vaikuntha.”
After Narada’s departure, to continue his travels, Valmiki went to the banks of the River
Tamasa, along with his disciple Bharadvaja. There, Valmiki sat down in order to meditate
deeply upon Narada’s words. Within the forest, Valmiki’s gaze happened to fall upon a pair
of krauncha birds (cranes), engaged in sexual pleasure and singing very melodiously.
Suddenly, a malicious hunter of the Nishada race came out of hiding and pierced the
male bird with his arrow. The bird fell to the ground, shrieking with pain. Seeing her mate
writhing upon the ground in the agony of death, smeared with his blood, the female
krauncha cried out piteously- herself having been cast down from the heights of sensual
enjoyment to the depths of despair.
Seeing this, Valmiki felt pained at heart, and he considered the hunter to be very sinful.
Flaring up with rage, Valmiki cursed the hunter, saying, “O killer of birds, may you never find
peace of mind for endless years to follow. Let this be the punishment for your heartless
killing of an innocent creature who was engaged in gratifying his mate.”
However, as soon as the curse was uttered, Valmiki felt shame for having become a
victim of uncontrolled anger. As an enlightened soul, he knew very well that all living beings
are acting helplessly, under the influence of the three modes of material nature. Because of
this, Valmiki regretted that he had retaliated against the hunter. And yet, at the same time,
he was astonished to realize that the curse had come out of his mouth in perfect poetic
meter. And, the curse seemed to give a hint of the predominant emotion portrayed in the life
story of Lord Rama, which Valmiki had been contemplating ever since his meeting with
Narada.
Valmiki then remarked to Bharadvaja, “From my sorrow has come a verse of four lines,
each containing eight syllables. From ‘shoka’ (remorse) has come a very nice ‘shloka’
(verse), for without compassion there can be no genuine poetic expression.”
Valmiki bathed in the River Tamasa and then returned to his ashram. Soon thereafter,
as he was seated at ease, contemplating deeply about his having cursed the hunter, Valmiki
saw Lord Brahma descending from his abode, the topmost planet in the universe. Being
highly astonished, Valmiki jubilantly got up from his seat to welcome the secondary creator
of the universe, who had appeared directly from the abdomen of Lord Vishnu. When Lord
Brahma came before him, Valmiki very humbly bowed down to offer his obeisances, and
then began to worship him to the best of his ability, with great respect.
After being honored, Lord Brahma, who can understand the hearts of everyone, spoke
as follows: “Blessed sage, do not grieve, thinking that you had wrongly cursed the hunter. I
will tell you something very confidential. The words that you had angrily spoken were not
your own. They were my words, spoken by you instrumentally, for the purpose of inspiring
you to accomplish a great task. The time has come for you to compose the history of Lord
Ramachandra’s life. This will be a narration that is full of transcendental pastimes, and which
is meant for the ultimate welfare of all in this world.”
“My dear Valmiki, please give up your anxiety. By the strength of my benediction, even
that which is unknown will be clearly revealed to you from within your heart. By my grace,
your narration of Ramayana will be faultless.”
After favoring Valmiki, Lord Brahma departed upon his celestial swan carrier, filling the
hearts of those who beheld him with wonder. Valmiki then sat down in meditation so that he
could visualize all the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra. When Valmiki became deeply
absorbed in the trance of meditation, he was able to clearly see all the events comprising
Lord Ramachandra’s manifested appearance on this earth. (This may seem quite
astonishing, but Valmiki was able to witness the entire life of Lord Rama, just as we are now
able to watch live coverage on television.)
Valmiki composed the Ramayana in 24,000 verses. After completing the epic poem, he
wondered to whom he could teach it so that it would remain intact in memory and then later
on be propagated all over the world. (These were the times before printing presses were
invented, or alternatively, the times when memory was so sharp that writing was
unnecessary.) While Valmiki was considering this, Lava and Kush came to submissively
touch his feet, as was their daily custom. Dressed like rishis, these two sons of Rama that
Sita had delivered while in exile had been under Valmiki’s care ever since birth. As Valmiki
fondly gazed upon the twins, he realized that they were the most suitable and qualified to
become the recipients of his great epic.
Thereafter, Valmiki very carefully taught Lava and Kush the entire Ramayana, and after
it was memorized, they recited it for the first time in an assembly of brahmanas. These
learned brahmanas experienced great transcendental pleasure while listening to the
pastimes of Lord Rama. After praising Lava and Kush very highly, they rewarded the twins
with ample gifts.
From that day onward, Lava and Kush began travelling over the earth, reciting
Ramayana. In the course of their wanderings, they came to the city of Ayodhya, within the
Koshala province. Lord Rama happened to see the two boys, wandering through the streets,
dressed as rishis. Because they were reciting His transcendental pastimes, and were being
acclaimed by the citizens of Ayodhya, Lord Rama brought them back to His palace with
great pleasure. Rama respectfully escorted the two boys into the royal assembly so that they
could recite Ramayana for all to hear. Rama noticed that the twins possessed bodily
features more like those of warriors than scholars, but other than this, He had no idea of
their actual identities. As Lava and Kush began to unfold the wonderful narration, Rama and
His brothers soon became so absorbed in hearing that They forgot about everything else.
This is the effect of Krishna consciousness. Although we are living in this world, if we
absorb our thoughts in Ramayana and other such literature, we can remain aloof from
material contamination and, in our consciousness, reside in the Kingdom of God.
Since a very remote time, the earth had been ruled by the descendents of Ikshvaku, the
eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu. Within the Koshala province, Manu had built his capital city,
Ayodhya, on the banks of the river Sarayu. Later on, under the rule of Ikshvaku’s
descendent, Maharaja Dasharatha, Ayodhya flourished wonderfully.
The city was well laid out with broad and straight avenues that were washed by
perfumed water sprayed from the trunks of elephants. The arched gateways to the city were
made of marble, and the gates were made of gold and silver, inlaid with valuable jewels. The
city walls were strongly fortified, and thousands of warriors were posted to protect the city
from invaders. Throughout the city were seven-story palaces, surrounded by beautiful parks
and gardens, within which were ponds filled with lotus flowers.
The sounds of parrots and peacocks could be heard everywhere, along with the
vibrations of musical instruments. Gentle breezes carried droplets of water from the
numerous fountains, cooling the passers-by in the heat of summer. In this way, Ayodhya
appeared to rival Amaravati, the abode of Indra, the king of heaven.
The streets of Ayodhya were always filled with travelers. Kings and princes from all
parts of the world came to pay their annual tribute, as well as respects, to the emperor.
Maharaja Dasharatha was a great rajarshi, considered to be almost on the level of a
maharshi. He was devoted to truth and greatly loved by all his subjects. Maharaja
Dasharatha was an atiratha, capable of fighting with many thousands of opposing warriors.
Because of his piety, as well as that of the citizens, Vedic civilization was being practiced to
its perfection. All kinds of opulence were wonderfully exhibited, whereas material miseries,
which are the results of sinful life, were practically non-existent.
In Ayodhya, all the four social orders- the brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras,
participated cooperatively for the peace and prosperity of the kingdom. No one was cheated
and no one was miserly. Arrogance, atheism, as well as harsh behavior and speech were
conspicuous by their absence.
Yet, despite possessing all this opulence and prestige, Maharaja Dasharatha was
unhappy because he had no son to perpetuate his dynasty. Finally, after much deliberation,
he decided to perform a horse sacrifice (ashvamedha-yagya) for attaining the fulfillment of
his desire. With this in mind, Maharaja Dasharatha sent his chief-minister, Sumantra, to call
for his family priests.
When the brahmanas, headed by Vasishtha and Vamadeva, had assembled, Maharaja
Dasharatha addressed them as follows: “O best of the twice-born, for so long I have desired
to beget a son, but my hopes have been in vain. Because I have no heir, I can no longer
even pretend to be happy. My days are simply filled with grief. After thinking over the matter
very carefully, I have decided to perform a horse-sacrifice, with your permission. All of you
know shastra (religious texts) very well, and so I request you to lead me on the right path.”
The brahmanas unanimously agreed to the King’s proposal, and so he immediately
ordered his ministers to begin preparations. Sumantra then took Maharaja Dasharatha aside
and told him something he had formerly heard Sanat-kumara relate to an assembly of great
sages. “You will be very interested to hear this narration, my dear King”, Sumantra said,
“because it predicts that in the future you will become the father of four glorious sons.”
Due to some past offense committed by King Romapada, there once was a terrible
drought in his kingdom, causing great fear among all the living beings. When the condition
became intolerable, Maharaja Romapada summoned his council of learned brahmanas and
inquired, “I know that it is because of my own fault that this drought has afflicted my
kingdom. O best of the twice-born, since your knowledge is boundless, kindly prescribe the
proper atonement, so that I can become freed from the reactions to my past sins, whatever
they may be.”
The brahmanas replied, “My dear King, there is a great sage named Vibhandaka, the
son of Kashyapa, living in the forest. Vibhandaka’s son is Rishyashringa. If you can bring
this boy to your kingdom and give him your daughter, Shanta, in marriage, then the drought
will immediately end.”
Shanta was actually the daughter of Maharaja Dasharatha. At the request of his
childless friend, King Romapada, Maharaja Dasharatha had given his daughter so that the
king could raise her as his own. Romapada was very happy to learn the means of ending the
drought, but when he asked his priests to summon Rishyashringa, they refused.
The brahmanas explained, “Vibhandaka will curse us if we try to lure his son away from
home. You see, Rishyashringa has been brought up in complete isolation and has never
seen another human being except his father. This is his father’s way of saving him from
entanglement in worldly affairs.”
“My dear King, we all desire your welfare and so we have devised a way of bringing
Rishyashringa to your kingdom. Because the boy has never even seen a member of the
opposite sex, he is completely unaware of the pleasure of their association. Let the most
beautiful courtesans go and allure him with their feminine ways. We are convinced that this
is the method whereby your purpose will easily be accomplished.”
Maharaja Romapada accepted this proposal and then sent for the foremost of young
and beautiful prostitutes. After being instructed by the King and being promised sufficient
reward, the girls departed for the forest, determined to bring back the young rishi at all costs.
Thereafter, the girls made their camp near Vibhandaka’s ashram and began to wait for a
suitable opportunity. Then, one day, as Rishyashringa was wandering in the forest, he
happened to come to the prostitutes’ camp.
The girls jubilantly got up to greet Rishyashringa. When they inquired about his identity,
the boy replied, “I am the son of Vibhandaka and I am engaged in performing austerities at
my father’s ashram, nearby. All of you are so beautiful! I would like you to come to my home,
to accept my worship and hospitality.”
The girls went with Rsyashringa to his ashram, and there he gave them offerings of
arghya, water for washing their feet, and various kinds of fruit and roots. But, the girls were
very fearful that his father might return at any moment and so they did not want to stay very
long.
Before departing, however, the girls said, “My dear friend, our way of receiving guests is
quite different from yours. Now, please accept our offerings of honor and respect in return.”
Saying this, the girls embraced Rishyashringa very tightly and with great affection, and
then fed him some delicious sweets. Never before had the innocent rishi’s son tasted
anything so pleasing, for he was accustomed to eating the fruit and roots available in the
forest. Actually, he thought that the sweets must be some kind of wonderful fruit that he had
never seen or tasted before. And, because he had previously only seen his father, he
considered the prostitutes to be enchantingly beautiful men.
After the girls left, Rishyashringa began to feel restless at heart because the seed of
lusty desire, which had remained dormant there for so long, had now sprouted.
Rishyashringa could not drag his mind away from thinking about the beautiful girls, for his
heart had become captivated by their tender words and warm embraces. That night he could
hardly sleep, and the next morning, when his father became engaged elsewhere, he went to
where the prostitutes were staying.
The girls were delighted to see Rishyashringa, and they said, “My dear boy, this is not
our real home. Please come with us aboard our magnificent floating hermitage, and we will
take you to a place where we can entertain you in a much better fashion. We have so many
varieties of fruit and roots, and we will enjoy ourselves so much that we will hardly know how
the time is passing.”
Being completely enamored, Rishyashringa unhesitatingly accompanied the prostitutes.
In this way, the girls were able to bring him to Romapada’s capital within the kingdom of
Anga. Even as Rishyashringa was being carried down the Ganga, Indra sent forth showers
of rain, giving great joy to all living creatures.
When he came to know of Rishyashringa’s arrival, King Romapada came out of his
palace to greet him. After bowing down before the young rishi, the King worshiped him with
great attention, and then escorted him into the inner chambers of his palace, where his
daughter resided. Maharaja Romapada presented Shanta to Rishyashringa.
Understanding that the rishi was very satisfied, the King requested, “Please offer me the
benediction that neither you nor your father will retaliate for the duplicitous manner in which
you were lured away from home and brought to my kingdom.”
Rishyashringa gave the King assurances, and the marriage was celebrated with great
festivity. After the wedding, the couple continued to reside in King Romapada’s palace,
passing their time quite happily in royal comfort.
Maharaja Dasharatha was very pleased to hear this story from Sumantra. Without
wasting time, he departed for the kingdom of Anga, along with his retinue. King Romapada
received his friend very warmly, and at that time he informed Rishyashringa that Maharaja
Dasharatha was his actual father-in-law.
After enjoying King Romapada’s hospitality for about a week, Maharaja Dasharatha
explained to his friend, “For a very long time I have been morose on account of not receiving
a son to perpetuate my illustrious dynasty. Now, I request you to allow Rishyashringa to
accompany me to Ayodhya so that he can perform the ashvamedha-yagya on my behalf.”
Romapada happily agreed, and so Maharaja Dasharatha returned to his capital, along
with Rishyashringa and Shanta. Then, when spring arrived, the King humbly approached the
rishi, asking him to give directions for the performance of his sacrifice. In this way,
preparations began, and a site was selected on the northern bank of the Sarayu.
Understanding that King Janaka would be the future father-in-law of his sons, Dasharatha
sent him the first invitation.
The method of ashvamedha-yagya entails the release of a challenge-horse, which then
wanders at will, accompanied by royal guards. While the horse roams the earth, all
subordinate kings pay tribute to the emperor, or else show their insubordination by trying to
capture it. If the challenge-horse returns to the place of sacrifice without being captured, then
the ashvamedha-yagya can be successfully performed. Thus it came to be that after
wandering the earth for one full year, when the challenge-horse returned to Ayodhya, the
sacrifice commenced.
Outside the city, a huge assembly had gathered in an area of tents and pavilions. There
were kings and their queens, along with princes and princesses, who had come from all
corners of the earth, bringing with them costly gifts for the emperor. At the center were the
sacrificial fires, surrounded by brahmanas engaged in chanting the Vedic mantras.
Maharaja Dasharatha’s eldest queen, Kaushalya, circumambulated the challenge-
horse, which was tied to a sacrificial stake. Then, with three strokes of a sword, she severed
the horse’s head, as prescribed by the injunctions of shastra. Rishyashringa offered the fat
of the dead horse into the sacrificial fire, and Maharaja Dasharatha was made to inhale the
fumes, because this act frees the performer from all sinful reactions. After this, the assisting
priests offered the various limbs of the horse into the sacrificial fire, and in this way the three-
day ashvamedha-yagya came to an end.
In previous ages, such sacrifices were performed, and it was assured that the sacrificed
animal would instantly achieve a place in heaven. The success of such sacrifices depended
upon the prowess of the brahmanas, who could chant the mantras to perfection, and who
could invite the demigods to accept their offerings, by dint of their unparalleled piety. (The
Sanskrit word deva refers to the controlling gods within this universe. We will refer to them
as demigods, indicating that they are not on the level of the Supreme Lord.) Today, such
qualified brahmanas no longer exist, and so the performance of these sacrifices is forbidden.
At the conclusion of the sacrifice, Maharaja Dasharatha gave away the entire earth to
the four chief priests. But, the brahmanas returned the gift, saying, “O King, because we are
devoted to the study of the Vedas and the performance of austerities, we have no interest in
ruling a kingdom. Please give us gifts that are useful to us, like cows or gold.”
Rishyashringa then approached Maharaja Dasharatha and said, “My dear King, you will
surely receive four glorious sons, but I propose that a separate sacrifice known as Putreshti
be performed for that purpose.”
Maharaja Dasharatha readily agreed, and the sacrifice commenced soon after.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the demigods approached Lord Brahma and said, “O Grandsire,
because of your benedictions, Ravana has become so powerful that he is harassing
everyone at will. Even we cannot subdue the wicked Rakshasa, and so we beg you to
devise some means for his destruction.”
Lord Brahma paused for a moment to think, and then he said, “At the time of receiving
benedictions, Ravana did not bother to ask for immunity from death at the hands of human
beings, for he considered them to be too insignificant.”
While Brahma was considering the matter carefully, Lord Vishnu suddenly appeared
there, riding upon His carrier, Garuda. With the effulgence of many suns, the Lord appeared
in His four-armed form, dressed in bright saffron-colored garments and carrying in His hands
a conch shell, disc, club and lotus flower.
The demigods worshiped Lord Vishnu with great reverence and then said, “O master of
the universe, please come to our rescue by dividing Yourself into four. Become the sons of
Maharaja Dasharatha, and then arrange for the destruction of Ravana.”
Lord Vishnu replied, “Rest assured that you no longer have need to fear. I will incarnate
as the sons of Maharaja Dasharatha, and rule over the earth for 11,000 years after
vanquishing your enemy, the King of the Rakshasas.”
After saying this, Lord Vishnu mysteriously vanished from sight, much to the
astonishment of the demigods. Meanwhile, from the sacrificial fire of Maharaja Dasharatha
there appeared an exceptional being of dark complexion, possessing all auspicious bodily
features. This person appeared to be unlimitedly powerful, he was decorated with
transcendental ornaments, and in his hands he carried a large golden pot containing a sweet
made from rice and milk. That divine personality then announced to Maharaja Dasharatha, “I
am a messenger of Lord Vishnu.”
With hands joined in supplication, Maharaja Dasharatha replied, “O Vishnuduta, please
order me. What service can I render?”
The servant of Lord Vishnu said, “This pot of kheer is the reward for your two sacrificial
performances. Give portions to your three wives, and then through them you will be able to
beget four sons who will forever perpetuate your fame.”
Maharaja Dasharatha gratefully accepted the pot of prasad, and after he reverentially
circumambulated the Vishnuduta, that servant of Lord Vishnu suddenly disappeared from
view. Without wasting time, the King quickly went and fed the prasad to his wives, for he was
extremely eager to have sons.
First-of-all, Maharaja Dasharatha gave half of the kheer to his eldest wife, Kaushalya.
Then he gave Sumitra one-fourth and Kaikeyi, his youngest wife, one-eighth. After some
deliberation, the King gave the remaining one-eighth to Sumitra, and all of the women were
overjoyed, for they were confident that they would soon become mothers. With great
eagerness they ate their shares of the prasad, and in due course of time, each could feel the
presence of divine offspring within her womb. When Maharaja Dasharatha understood that
his wives were pregnant, he also became very, very pleased.
Meanwhile, Lord Brahma gave the following orders to the demigods: “Lord Vishnu will
soon appear in human society, and so all of you should beget partial manifestations of
yourselves to assist Him. I want you to create a race of divine monkeys by uniting with the
Apsaras, female monkeys, Yakshas, Nagas, Vidyadharas and Kinnaras. These offspring
must be capable of assuming any form at will, and they must possess the other mystic
powers as well. In addition, they must all be very intelligent, and they must be highly skilled
in the use of weapons. They must have strength equal to yourselves, and they must possess
ethereal bodies.”
After receiving this order, Indra begot Vali, Surya begot Sugriva, Brihaspati begot Tara,
Kuvera begot Gandhamadana, Vishvakarma begot Nala, and Agni begot Nila. The Ashvini-
kumaras begot Mainda and Dvivida, Varuna begot Sushena, and Vayu begot Hanuman.
Besides these principal monkeys, many thousands took birth in order to assist Lord Vishnu
in His mission. All of them were gigantic like mountains, and they were exceedingly eager to
fight with Ravana. Like the demigods who begot them, these monkeys were born just after
conception, and they were so powerful that they could agitate the ocean with their impetuous
energy.
There were actually three classes of beings created by the demigods. Formerly,
Jambavan, the king of the bears, had emanated from Lord Brahma’s mouth as he was
yawning. These bears were one class and the other two classes were monkeys, one of
which had long tails like those of cows. There were more than ten million of these bears and
monkeys, and so the earth became overrun with them as they wandered through the forests,
eating wild fruit and various kinds of roots.
Meanwhile, after the completion of the Putresthi sacrifice, the demigods who had
personally come to accept the offerings, the assisting priests, Rishyashringa and Shanta, as
well as all the invited guests, returned to their respective residences.
Then, after a pregnancy of twelve months, on the ninth day of the waxing fortnight in the
month of Chaitra, Kaushalya gave birth to a son. Having reddish eyes and lips, long arms,
and a body possessing all auspicious markings, the son of Kaushalya represented one-half
of the potency of Lord Vishnu.
Soon thereafter, a son representing one-fourth of the potency of Lord Vishnu was born
to Kaikeyi, Maharaja Dasharatha’s youngest queen. Then, two days after the birth of
Kaushalya’s son, Sumitra gave birth to twins, each representing one-eighth of the potency of
Lord Vishnu. All four newborn children greatly resembled one another, They were very
brilliant, and were exceptionally pleasing to behold. At the birth of these four sons of
Dasharatha, the demigods showered flowers from heaven, and the sound of celestial music
could be heard coming from the sky.
In Ayodhya there was a great festival as all the citizens crowded into the streets and
took part in the merry-making, along with the musicians, dancers and actors who provided
entertainment.
Thirteen days after the birth of Kaushalya’s son, Vasishtha Muni, the family priest,
performed the name-giving ceremony. The greatly fortunate rishi named the son of
Kaushalya, Rama, the son of Kaikeyi, Bharata, and the twin sons of Sumitra, Lakshman and
Shatrughna.
Thereafter, Vasishtha Muni took charge of performing all the purifying rituals for the
sons of Maharaja Dasharatha, culminating in the sacred thread ceremony. Under
Vasishtha’s able guidance, all four became masters of the Vedas, great heroic warriors, and
the reservoirs of all godly qualities. From His birth, however, Rama outshone His brothers in
all respects, and so He naturally became the pet son of His father. From childhood,
Lakshman was very attached to Rama, and Rama was also attached to Lakshman. In fact,
Rama would not eat anything, or even go to sleep, without Lakshman. When Rama would go
hunting in the forest, Lakshman would accompany Him without fail. Similarly, Bharata and
Shatrughna were very dear to one another and practically inseparable.
After Rama, Lakshman, Bharata and Shatrughna had completed Their education,
Maharaja Dasharatha consulted with Vasishtha about Their marriages. During one such
discussion, the greatly powerful brahmarshi, Vishvamitra, arrived at Ayodhya and entered
the royal palace. Maharaja Dasharatha and Vasishtha immediately got up from their seats to
welcome the great sage. The King then worshiped his guest in a befitting manner.
Afterwards, Maharaja Dasharatha escorted Vishvamitra into the royal court and seated him
upon an opulent throne.
The King then very submissively said, “O foremost of saintly persons, I hope that your
endeavors to conquer over the cycle of repeated birth and death are meeting with success. I
consider your coming here to be as welcome as a gift of nectar placed in one’s hands, a
torrential rainfall after a long drought, the birth of a son for one who is childless, or the
recovery of great wealth that was considered irrevocably lost.”
When Vishvamitra inquired about his welfare, Maharaja Dasharatha humbly replied, “O
great rishi, your coming here is a great blessing for me. I am honored by your presence.
Now, please tell me what you desire, so that I may serve the purpose of your visit.”
Vishvamitra was very pleased with the King’s reception, and he replied as follows: “I
was performing a great sacrifice, but as it was nearing completion, two vicious Rakshasas
named Maricha and Subahu interrupted it. Being determined to frustrate my attempts, they
have repeatedly polluted my sacrificial arena by dropping flesh and blood upon the altar.
Maharaja, so that I may successfully complete my sacrifice, I wish to take your son Rama so
that He can kill these two terrible Rakshasas. Please do not hesitate, out of parental
affection, to honor my request, for I can assure you that Rama will easily accomplish this
task. In return for your generosity, I shall give you ample benedictions, so please let me take
Rama for just ten days. Rest assured that He will return to you safely.”
Vishvamitra’s words pierced the very core of Maharaja Dasharatha’s heart, so that his
entire body began to tremble. When the rishi stopped speaking, the King fainted, while
seated upon his throne. Maharaja Dasharatha soon regained consciousness, but when he
once again thought of losing Rama, he fainted a second time, falling onto the floor. This
time, it was only after about an hour that the King came to his senses.
When he saw Vishvamitra seated before him, Maharaja Dasharatha pleaded, “O
foremost of sages, you are everyone’s well-wisher. My dear son Rama is only sixteen years
old and He has not yet finished His military training. He has not once entered a battlefield.
Please, do not take my inexperienced son. Instead, allow me to accompany you, along with
a large army, and let us do the work of killing the two Rakshasas. Or, if you insist that Rama
must go with you, then let me and my army go as well, so that we may fight along side Him.”
“My dear Vishvamitra, I am an old man, and without Rama I could not bear to go on
living. Now, please tell me more about these two Rakshasas, and give me some idea of the
extent of their prowess.”
Vishvamitra replied, “Ravana is the king of the Rakshasas, and he is oppressing the
entire world. When he does not personally obstruct a sacrifice, he deputes these two
powerful Rakshasas- Maricha and Subahu, to do the mischief.”
When he heard the name Ravana, Maharaja Dasharatha became even more fearful and
exclaimed, “No one is able to fight with Ravana! Even the other two Rakshasas are much
too formidable, either for me or for my son. O rishi, I cannot fulfill your request. I cannot even
bear to think of allowing my son to accompany you!”
Having become practically mad with grief, Maharaja Dasharatha continued to speak
incoherently while refusing Vishvamitra’s request. Because of this, the rishi felt insulted.
Flaring up, Vishvamitra angrily declared, “Foolish King! Your impudence will cause the
ruin of your entire dynasty! First of all you promised to serve my purpose and now you are
going back on your word! Such behavior toward a brahmana has never before been heard of
in the Raghava dynasty, and so I shall immediately leave this condemned place!”
As Vishvamitra’s body shook with anger, the entire earth began to tremble, so that even
the demigods in heaven became afraid.
Vasishtha Muni quickly approached Maharaja Dasharatha and said, “O King, do not
destroy all of your previously acquired pious credit by abandoning righteousness now. You
made a solemn promise, and so you must fulfill Vishvamitra’s request by giving him your
son.”
“Formerly, when Vishvamitra was a king, he received celestial weapons from Lord Shiva
that had been born from Daksha’s daughters, Jaya and Suprabha. Vishvamitra will surely
give these weapons to Rama, as well as the necessary prowess to kill the Rakshasas.
Actually, Vishvamitra could easily kill Maricha and Subahu himself, but he is asking for help
just to enhance your son’s glory.”
While listening to his preceptor’s words, Maharaja Dasharatha’s fear subsided and his
mind once again became balanced and pacified. The King then cheerfully agreed to allow
his son to accompany Vishvamitra, and because of this, the rishi also became satisfied.
Maharaja Dasharatha then called for Rama, and because the two were practically
inseparable, Lakshman soon appeared with His elder brother. The King briefly described
Vishvamitra’s request, and then he affectionately smelled the heads of his sons. The rishi
then turned and departed, while Rama and Lakshman followed behind, carrying their bows
in their hands. As the three went out of the palace, flowers showered down from heaven,
being wafted by gentle breezes, and celestial music could be heard in the distance.
Before long, Vishvamitra, Rama and Lakshman left Ayodhya far behind. After walking
along the banks of the River Sarayu for about twenty kilometers, Vishvamitra stopped and
said, “My dear Rama, please sip some water to perform achmana for purification. I shall now
teach You the mantras known as Bala and Atibala. After learning these mantras You will
become freed from the influence of fatigue and old age, and You will gain incomparable
wisdom and strength. I know that these qualities already exist in You, but still, I desire to
impart these mantras for Your benefit.”
After receiving the Bala and Atibala mantras, Lord Rama appeared to shine with the
brilliance of a thousand suns. Rama, Lakshman and Vishvamitra spent the night very
pleasantly by the side of the river, and the next day they reached the confluence of the
Sarayu and Ganga.
When Rama saw an ashram of rishis there, He inquired about its history. Vishvamitra
explained, “This is the very place where Lord Shiva burnt Kamadeva (Cupid) to ashes, after
the god of love tried to disturb his meditation.”
After being welcomed by the rishis, the three travelers spent the night at their ashram.
The next morning, they crossed the Ganga, and at mid-stream Rama could distinctly hear
the sound of cascading water, although there appeared to be no cause for this.
When Rama mentioned this to Vishvamitra, the rishi said, “Once, Lord Brahma created
a reservoir of water from his mind, and so it became known as Manasa-sarovara. That lake
is the source of the River Sarayu, and the sound that you hear is water coming down from
Manasa-sarovara and entering the Ganga. O Rama, You should offer Your prayers and
obeisances at this sacred place.”
After reaching the southern bank of the Ganga, Rama saw a dense, uninhabited forest.
He said, “This desolate forest inspires fear in the heart of whoever happens to see it. Please
tell Me why, if you know the reason.”
Vishvamitra replied, “After King Indra killed Vritrasura, he became overwhelmed by
sinful reactions, and as a result, he lost his usual splendor. To restore Indra to his normal
condition, the demigods bathed him in Ganga water that they had empowered by chanting
Vedic mantras. Afterwards, they took the water that contained all of Indra’s impurities and
threw it in this place. Because of this, the land had to accept Indra’s sinful reactions, but in
return, the King of heaven gave it the benediction that it would become a very prosperous
place. As a result, two flourishing kingdoms- Malada and Karusha were established here.”
“Later on, a wicked Rakshasa woman named Tataka came here and began to terrorize
the citizens. Tataka is the wife of the Rakshasa, Sunda, and their son is Maricha, whom I
have brought You here to kill. Being greatly harassed by Tataka, all the people gradually left
this place, so that now it is completely deserted.”
“My dear Rama, I want You to destroy this she-demon today, and thus free this country
of its oppression. As long as this Rakshasi remains alive, no one dares to even enter this
forest. Rama, Tataka is thoroughly wicked, and so cast aside all hesitation to kill a woman.”
Rama responded, “You are My guru, and so it is My duty to obey your orders” and then
He drew back the string of His mighty bow. The twanging sound created when Rama let go
of the bowstring reverberated throughout the four directions, terrifying all creatures. That
awesome sound entered Tataka’s cave, and the Rakshasi became enraged upon hearing it.
As Tataka madly soared through the air, rushing toward the spot from where that sound had
come, Rama could see her approaching.
He exclaimed, “Lakshman, just see this gigantic, hideous creature! But, after all, she is a
woman. I will not kill her, but I will render her harmless by cutting off her hands and feet.”
By use of her mystic powers, Tataka created a dust storm that temporarily clouded
Rama and Lakshman’s vision. Then, a shower of stones poured from the sky. Quickly
regaining His composure, Rama smashed all the stones with His arrows, and then cut off
Tataka’s arms. At Rama’s urging, Lakshman cut off Tataka’s ears and the tip of her nose,
but then, suddenly, she disappeared.
While remaining invisible, Tataka continued to shower stones, and at this time,
Vishvamitra urged with an impassioned voice, “Rama, twilight is approaching! At that time
the Rakshasas’ powers greatly increase! Now, give up Your merciful attitude and kill Tataka
at once!”
In response, Rama proceeded to release torrents of arrows. But then, suddenly, Tataka
became visible and rushed at Him impetuously. Without being disturbed, however, Rama
took an especially powerful arrow from His quiver and released it at the onrushing she-
demon. That single blazing arrow pierced Tataka in the chest, making her scream with pain
and then fall down dead onto the ground with a terrible crashing sound.
At this time, the demigods, headed by Indra, came to see Vishvamitra in a secluded
place. They said, “Rama has a very important mission to accomplish on our behalf, and so
you should unhesitatingly teach him your complete knowledge of celestial weapons.”
After saying this, the demigods instantly vanished. Vishvamitra, Rama and Lakshman
happily spent the night there. The next morning, Vishvamitra taught Rama his complete
understanding of celestial weapons. When Rama thus received the mantras that invoked
them, the celestial weapons came before Him in their personified forms. They said, “Lord
Rama, please give us Your order. Of what service can we be to You?”
Rama replied, “My request is that all of you kindly appear before Me when thought of.”
After the departure of the celestial weapons, Vishvamitra, Rama and Lakshman
continued on their journey. Later in the day, they arrived at Vishvamitra’s hermitage, called
Siddhashram. Vishvamitra’s disciples came out and welcomed their guru, along with Rama
and Lakshman.
Vishvamitra said, “Rama, this place was formerly the residence of Lord Vishnu in His
incarnation as Vamanadeva. You are the same Lord of all creatures, now appearing in
human form. This sacred place has the power to terminate the cycle of birth and death, and
You should consider it as Your own.”
Vishvamitra began to prepare for the continuation of his sacrifice, while Rama and
Lakshman guarded the arena with bows in hand. Six days and nights passed without
incident in this way, with everyone forgoing sleep. Then, on the critical sixth night, when the
soma-rasa was to be extracted, the sacrificial fire suddenly blazed forth brightly, indicating
the immanent arrival of the Rakshasas.
After a moment, a fearful clamor was heard in the sky as Maricha and Subahu, along
with their followers, swooped down without warning. By use of their mystic powers, the
Rakshasas caused torrents of blood, pus, stool, urine, flesh and other contaminated
substances to rain down upon the sacrificial altar.
Rama said, “Lakshman, I will disperse these evil Rakshasas with My weapons, but I will
not kill them, because they are destined to live for some more years.”
After saying this, Rama released a mighty arrow that struck Maricha in the chest and
flung him into the middle of the ocean without killing him. Then, taking another arrow, Rama
pierced Subahu in the chest, making him fall down dead onto the ground. By invoking a third
celestial arrow, Rama dispersed all the remaining Rakshasas, so that the area once again
became calm. All the rishis residing at Siddhashram came and congratulated Lord Rama,
and that evening, the sacrifice came to a successful conclusion.
After passing the night, Rama approached the rishis and inquired, “O brahmanas, now
that your ashram has been freed of all disturbances, is there anything more that We can do
to be of service?”
At Vishvamitra’s urging, the rishis replied, “We are about to depart for the kingdom of
Mithila, so that we can take part in a grand sacrifice that is being arranged by Maharaja
Janaka. We would like You two brothers to accompany us. There is a wonderful bow that
had formerly belonged to Lord Shiva being kept at the sacrificial arena. Lord Shiva had given
this bow to the demigods, who, in turn, presented it to Devavrata, the king of Mithila in a
bygone age. This bow is so formidable that even demigods cannot bend it, and so what to
speak of human beings. It has remained at Mithila for a very long time, being worshiped on
an altar with offerings of flowers, sandalwood paste and other auspicious articles.”
Rama happily agreed to accompany the rishis. Soon afterwards, a great caravan set out
with about one hundred carts loaded with the paraphernalia that was required for Maharaja
Janaka’s sacrifice. After travelling all day, the party reached the banks of the Sone River and
it was decided that they would stop there for the night. Every evening, Rama and Lakshman
would sit with Vishvamitra in a very relaxed and friendly manner. Taking advantage of the
rishi’s vast knowledge, Rama would inquire about the histories of the places that they visited
while traveling to the kingdom of Mithila.
The next morning, the caravan continued its journey, and by sunset it reached the
banks of the Ganga. That evening, Vishvamitra entertained Rama and Lakshman with the
stories of Kartikeya’s birth and Ganga’s descent to the earth.
The next morning, the caravan crossed the Ganga, and by evening they reached the
city of Vishala. Maharaja Sumati, the king of Vishala, came out of the city to welcome
Vishvamitra, and he invited the party to spend the night with him. Then, next morning, the
caravan traveled on, and that day they reached the outskirts of Mithila, the kingdom of
Maharaja Janaka. There, Rama saw an old, desolate ashram, and so He inquired about it
from Vishvamitra Muni.
Vishvamitra explained, “This ashram formerly belonged to Gautama Rishi, who
practiced austerities here along with his wife, Ahalya.”
Vishvamitra then narrated the history as follows: One day, knowing that Gautama was
away from his ashram, King Indra assumed a form that very closely resembled the rishi and
went there. Approaching Gautama’s wife, Indra said, “Those who hanker for the enjoyment
of sexual intercourse do not bother to wait for the time of conception, which is sixteen days
after a woman’s menstrual period. My dear beautiful one, I want to have union with you now
and so please do not disappoint me.”
Ahalya could understand that it was Indra disguised as Gautama who stood before her.
Still, she did not refuse his request, because she eagerly wanted to enjoy his embraces.
Thus, their union took place. After their urges were gratified, Ahalya begged, “Indra, please
protect both of us from the wrath of my husband.”
Indra replied, “There is no need to be afraid. I will depart at once and so no one will see
me.”
But it so happened that as Indra was fearfully sneaking away, Gautama returned after
having taken his bath. When Gautama saw Indra disguised as Gautama, his head hanging
down in shame, he could very well understand the nature of his misconduct. With great
anger, Gautama cursed Indra, “You lusty fool! May your testicles fall off at once as
punishment for this abominable act!”
As soon as this curse was pronounced, Indra’s testicles fell from his body and dropped
onto the ground. After entering his ashram, Gautama cursed his wife as well: “O wretched
woman, from now on you will have to stay alone in this hermitage, invisible to others. You
will be incapable of eating or drinking, and you will have to lie down on a bed of ashes. Only
when, in the far distant future, you offer hospitality to Lord Rama when He comes here, will
you be become absolved of your sin, freed from all lusty desires, and reunited with me as
husband and wife.”
After saying this, Gautama left for the Himalayas. Meanwhile, in the heavenly planets,
Indra informed the demigods, “I have successfully spoiled Gautama Rishi’s attempt to usurp
my position as king of heaven, by making him angry. Unfortunately, in the process I lost my
testicles. Somehow or other, please arrange for my manhood to be re-established.”
In response to Indra’s plea, the demigods arranged for the Pitris to castrate a ram and
graft the testicles onto his body.
Vishvamitra then said, “O Rama, let us now enter Gautama’s ashram, so that You can
free Ahalya from her husband’s curse.”
As soon as Rama entered, the invisible Ahalya regained her original form, which was
dazzling with ascetic splendor. Rama and Lakshman went and touched Ahalya’s feet out of
respect, and in turn, she welcomed the two brothers along with Vishvamitra, offering them all
kinds of hospitality. As soon as this was done, flowers rained down from heaven and the
beating of celestial drums could be heard. Gautama Rishi then came there to be re-united
with his wife, and he worshiped Rama and Lakshman with great reverence.
Thereafter, Vishvamitra, along with Rama and Lakshman, went to the sacrificial arena of
Maharaja Janaka. Lord Rama was pleased to see that thousands of brahmanas had
assembled there, having come from all parts of the world. There were camps arranged for all
classes of visitors, and the preparations for the grand sacrifice were underway. As soon as
Maharaja Janaka heard of Vishvamitra’s arrival, he hurriedly came to greet him.
After seating Vishvamitra amongst the foremost of sages, Janaka said, “This sacrifice
will take twelve days to reach its conclusion, at which time the demigods will personally
appear to accept their shares of the offerings. Please tell me- who are these two exalted
personalities that have accompanied you? They seem to be gods, appearing in human
form.”
Vishvamitra replied, “These two young men are the sons of Maharaja Dasharatha, and
Their names are Rama and Lakshman. I brought Them from Ayodhya to my ashram to kill
the Rakshasas who were disturbing my sacrifice. Now, They have come here to see the
wonderful bow that you have been worshiping with such care and devotion.”
Later on, when all were seated at ease, Shatananda, the chief priest of Maharaja
Janaka and eldest son of Gautama Rishi, requested Vishvamitra to recount the story of how
his mother had regained her original form, by the mercy of Lord Rama. Vishvamitra was
happy to relate the incident in detail. Then, in turn, Shatananda narrated the glorious history
of Vishvamitra, who, although born a kshatriya, was able to elevate himself to the status of
brahmarshi. After this, everyone retired for the night.
The next morning, Maharaja Janaka called for Vishvamitra, Rama and Lakshman, and
after very respectfully greeting them he said, “I know that great personalities like you would
not come here without some grave purpose. Therefore, please let me know how I can serve
you.”
Vishvamitra smilingly replied, “Rama and Lakshman have come here simply because
They are very eager to see the wonderful bow that your family has worshiped for such a long
time.”
Maharaja Janaka then explained, “Long ago, Lord Shiva used this bow to disrupt the
Daksha-yagya. Being denied his rightful share of the offerings, Lord Shiva had picked up this
bow and threatened to annihilate the demigods. Coming to their senses, the demigods were
able to pacify Lord Shiva, who in turn gave them his bow. Later on, the demigods entrusted
the bow to Devavrata, the eldest son of Maharaja Nimi, my forefather.”
After describing the history of the bow, Maharaja Janaka next talked about his daughter:
“One day, as I was preparing the sacrificial ground by leveling it with a golden plow, much to
my surprise, I uncovered a baby girl in one of the furrows. I named her Sita (furrow) and
began to raise her as my foster daughter. Sita grew up quickly, and upon reaching the age
of puberty, many princes came to ask for her hand in marriage. I explained to the princes
that because my daughter was not an ordinary girl, born from the womb of a mother, only a
man of great valor deserved to have her. When the princes asked about what kind of valor
was expected, I showed them the bow of Lord Shiva and asked them to string it.”
“Most of the princes could not even pick up the bow, and so what to speak of string it or
even bend it. Because of this, these princes felt highly insulted. Banding together, they
attacked Mithila, and a fierce battle raged for twelve months. Finally, as my army began to
falter, I fervently prayed to the demigods for help. In answer to my prayers, the demigods
sent a celestial army, and just by seeing it the princes ran away in fear.”
“Because Rama is very eager to see the bow of Lord Shiva, I will have it brought here
for Him to examine. If Rama is able to string it, then I will gladly give Him my beautiful
daughter, Sita.”
Maharaja Janaka gave the order, and soon, five hundred strong men were seen pulling
the immense bow, which was encased in a chest and mounted upon a vehicle having eight
wheels. When it came before them, Vishvamitra asked Rama to open the chest, while
thousands of people gathered around out of curiosity.
As Rama admired the wonderful bow, Maharaja Janaka warned, “Even great demigods,
demons, Rakshasas, Yakshas, Gandharvas and Nagas have failed to bend this mighty bow.
How then can a mere mortal succeed in stringing it?”
Nevertheless, Rama sportingly placed His left hand upon the middle of the bow, and, as
everyone looked on, He effortlessly lifted it out of its case. Then, to the great astonishment of
everyone, Rama strung the bow in an instant and continued bending it with great force.
Suddenly, there was a thunderous cracking sound, as the bow snapped in the middle.
Actually, the breaking bow sounded like a mountain bursting apart, and it stunned the
senses of all the people assembled there, making them fall to the ground, with the exception
of Vishvamitra, Janaka, Rama and Lakshman.
Maharaja Janaka then asked Vishvamitra to send messengers to Ayodhya, inviting King
Dasharatha to attend the marriage of Rama and Sita. It took the messengers three days to
reach Ayodhya, and when they described Rama’s heroic winning of Sita, Maharaja
Dasharatha became overjoyed. After consulting with Vasishtha and Vamadeva, the King
departed early the next morning, keeping his priests in front, and taking with him much
wealth and a large army.
After travelling for four days, the party reached the outskirts of Mithila, and with great
pleasure Maharaja Janaka came out to give his guests a royal reception. After Maharaja
Dasharatha consulted with his sons, it was decided that the preliminary marriage rituals
would begin at an auspicious moment the very next day.
The next morning, after everyone had assembled, Maharaja Dasharatha requested King
Janaka to hear the history of his dynasty from Vasishtha Muni. At the conclusion of his
narration, Vishvamitra formally requested Maharaja Janaka to give his two daughters, Sita
and Urmila, to Rama and Lakshman.
In reply, King Janaka first related the history of his own dynasty, and then happily
concluded the solemn agreement to marry his two daughters to the sons of Dasharatha.
Some preliminary rituals were performed, and at this time Vishvamitra and Vasishtha
requested that the two daughters of Janaka’s younger brother, Kushadvaja, be given in
marriage to Bharata and Shatrughna. Janaka Maharaja happily agreed, and the date for the
marriage was fixed for three days later, because it was a very auspicious time.
Thereafter, on the appointed day, at the auspicious hour known as Vijaya, Vasishtha
approached Maharaja Janaka and said, “The ruler of Koshala, along with his four sons, is
waiting outside for he who will give away his daughters. Let the auspicious wedding sacrifice
begin, without any further delay!”
King Janaka replied, within the hearing of Maharaja Dasharatha, “Whose permission
does the royal guest require to enter his own house? I consider this kingdom to belong to the
ruler of Koshala. Let the four princes come forward so that the marriage ceremony can begin
at once!”
Maharaja Dasharatha brought his four sons into the sacrificial arena, while Vasishtha
Muni prepared the sacrificial altar, decorating it all around with sandalwood paste and
flowers, potted plants, pots of incense, bowls of grains and turmeric, and other auspicious
articles. When all was ready, Vasishtha lit the sacrificial fire and began to offer oblations
while the brahmanas chanted the Vedic mantras. Maharaja Janaka then escorted Sita into
the sacrificial arena, and seated her next to Rama.
With a voice that tremble with emotion, the King said, “O noble prince, this is my
daughter, Sita. Please take her by the hand, and accept her as your life-long partner. She is
a reservoir of all auspicious qualities, and she will be forever devoted to You, as faithfully as
Your own shadow.”
Amid showers of flowers raining down from heaven and the beating of celestial drums,
King Janaka placed the hand of the goddess of fortune, Sita, into the hand of the Supreme
Lord, Rama. In the heavens, the Gandharvas sang while the Apsaras danced in ecstasy, as
next, King Janaka placed the hand of Urmila into Lakshman’s hand, then Mandavi’s hand
into Bharata’s hand, and finally Srutakirti’s hand into Shatrughna’s hand. The four brothers
then circumambulated the sacrificial fire three times, while clasping the hands of Their wives.
After that, They circumambulated King Janaka and the rishis.
Rama felt great satisfaction, having gotten Sita as His wife. She was the embodiment of
all loveliness and virtue. Sitadevi also felt unprecedented happiness upon getting her
beloved Rama, the Lord of her heart and the emblem of goodness, chivalry, intelligence and
masculine beauty. Dedicating their hearts to each other, Sita and Rama shone
resplendently, just as Lord Vishnu shines in the company of His beloved consort, Lakshmi.
At the conclusion of the festivities, the marriage party retired for the night. The next
morning, Vishvamitra departed for the Himalayas. Later in the day, Maharaja Dasharatha left
for Ayodhya, along with his four sons and Their wives, taking with Them the large dowry
received from King Janaka. But while going, Maharaja Dasharatha observed an inauspicious
sign- fierce birds were screeching overhead. Then, he saw the auspicious sign of deer
crossing his path from left to right. Becoming fearful, the King mentioned this to Vasishtha,
who then explained that the inauspicious sign indicated danger while the auspicious sign
assured that there was no need of fear.
As the two were thus conversing, a fierce wind began to blow, shaking the earth and
knocking down many trees. As dust clouded all directions, it became so dark that everyone
became bewildered and panic-stricken, with the exception of Maharaja Dasharatha, his four
sons, Vasishtha and the other rishis.
Suddenly, Parashurama appeared there in a very fierce form. His hair was matted, on
his right shoulder he carried an axe, a bow on his left, and in his hand was a powerful arrow.
The rishis were very surprised to see Parashurama like this, because previously, after
annihilating the kshatriyas twenty-one times, he had vowed to give up his anger and remain
fixed in the execution of austerities.
While the rishis were thus wondering why he had once again become enraged, the son
of Jamadagni addressed Lord Rama as follows: “You have certainly performed a heroic feat
by breaking Lord Shiva’s bow. But, I am carrying an even greater bow- the bow of Lord
Vishnu! If You actually consider Yourself to be a great hero, then take this bow and string it.
If You are able to draw the arrow back to its full length, then I shall consider You to be a fit
person to fight with.”
When Maharaja Dasharatha heard this challenge, he became very afraid of losing his
beloved son. With a faltering voice, he pleaded, “O best of rishis, please desist from your
aggressive spirit. I beg to remind you of your vow to renounce fighting which you had made
after handing over the earth to Kashyapa.”
Parashurama ignored the King and continued speaking to Rama, “Both Lord Shiva’s
bow, which was given to him to kill Tripurasura, and Lord Vishnu’s bow were constructed by
Vishvakarma. Once, at the behest of the demigods, Lord Brahma created some dissention
between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, and in the fierce duel that ensued, Lord Vishnu cut
Lord Shiva’s bowstring and emerged victorious. In disgust, Lord Shiva gave his bow to
Devavrata, while Lord Vishnu gave His bow to the great sage, Richika, the father of
Jamadagni.”
“I had retired to Mount Mahendra, and was executing great austerities, but when I heard
the news of Your breaking Lord Shiva’s bow, I felt compelled to come here and challenge
You. Now, if You consider Yourself competent, take this bow and see if You are worthy of
fighting with me.”
Without uttering a reply, Rama accepted Parashurama’s challenge by snatching the
bow and arrow right out of his hands, along with his acquired ascetic prowess. As the son of
Jamadagni looked on in wonder, Rama effortlessly strung the bow and drew the arrow back
to its full length.
Rama then declared, “Because you are a brahmana, and related to Vishvamitra, I will
not kill you. However, My taking up this arrow can not go in vain. So that your challenge may
be properly answered, I will now use it to destroy the attainment of heaven that you had
earned as a result of your penance.”
All the demigods and celestial rishis had assembled in the sky. Parashurama had
already been rendered impotent, and so all he could do was gaze upon the Lord with wide-
open eyes.
Finally, as Rama stood motionless with the arrow pulled back to His ear, Parashurama
said, in a subdued voice, “After I gave him the earth, Kashyapa ordered me not to reside
here, and for this reason I must leave before nightfall. Although my access to heaven has
been taken away, I beg You to allow me to return to Mount Mahendra, so that I may resume
my performance of austerities.”
“O Rama, I can now understand that You are Lord Vishnu Himself, and so I am not at all
ashamed at being defeated by You.”
Rama silently accepted Parashurama’s request and released the mighty arrow.
Parashurama departed for Mount Mahendra, and immediately the darkness became
dispersed. From their position in the sky, the demigods glorified Lord Rama with great
enthusiasm, while raining down fragrant flowers upon Him. Rama then presented the bow of
Lord Vishnu to Varuna, and the party continued its journey to Ayodhya. After returning
home, Rama, Lakshman, Bhararta and Shatrughna began living very happily with Their
wives.
Once, King Yudhajit came to Ayodhya on a visit. He was the son of Kekaya and
maternal uncle of Bharata, and he invited his nephew, along with Shatrughna, to come and
stay with him for some time. After the departure of Bharata and Shatrughna, Rama began
serving His father and three mothers even more carefully. Rama carried out His duties of
state administration so honestly and conscientiously that all the citizens came to love Him
very dearly.
Sita and Rama’s natural attachment for one another grew stronger, day by day. Being
bound by each other’s beauty and good qualities, They became completely dedicated to one
another. Sita was beauty incarnate, being the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi. With her mind,
she could vividly read every detail of all that was in the innermost core of Rama’s heart.
Being always determined to please her husband, and herself being the very emblem of
womanly gentleness and chastity, Sita was soon able to bring Lord Rama’s heart under her
control.

Ayodhya-kanda
Bharata and Shatrughna remained with Their maternal uncle, Yudhajit, for some time,
being very warmly entertained by him. At Ayodhya, Rama became the pet son of Maharaja
Dasharatha, and the beloved of all classes of citizens.
Rama was Lord Vishnu Himself, incarnated in human society for the purpose of killing
the wicked Ravana. As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Rama exhibited Himself
as the reservoir of all good qualities. Rama’s beautiful bodily features provided everyone that
viewed Him with the full satisfaction of their eyes.
Rama played the part of a most courageous and heroic kshatriya, and yet, at the same
time He was self-controlled, self-satisfied, without malice, and gentle in word and deed.
Rama did not take offense when criticized by others, and He was pleased by even the
smallest show of kindness. He was forgiving and always humble about His own position.
Rama kept the association of only those persons who were pious and of superior wisdom,
and He was always the first to welcome guests. Rama firmly adhered to truth, He honored
the brahmanas, He loved the citizens, and they loved Him in return.
Rama always acted according to religious principles, and He was very learned in all
shastra. He epitomized youthful vigor and at the same time He was a mature judge of
character. Rama was always diligent in the matter of punishing wrongdoers and rewarding
those who were meritorious. As a horseman and wielder of the bow, Rama excelled all
others, and He was also the greatest chariot warrior. In truth, Rama was the Lord of the
three worlds, and the controller of eternal time, and thus He was unconquerable even by the
greatest of demigods and asuras.
Maharaja Dasharatha had ruled his kingdom for a very long time, but at last he grew old
and fatigued. Increasingly, he desired to retire from administrative duties and prepare
himself for attaining an exalted destination after quitting his present body. The King also
began to see various omens forboding evil, making him fearfully desire to install Rama as his
successor as quickly as possible. For this purpose, Maharaja Dasharatha called a meeting
of his ministers, prominent citizens, and subordinate kings. But, because he felt pressed for
time, he did not invite King Janaka or Kekaya, feeling confident of their approval anyway.
Thereafter, when all had assembled, Maharaja Dasharatha made the following
announcement: “I have grown old, and so I desire to hand over the rule of the kingdom to my
eldest son, Rama, who has reached the age of twenty-seven. This is the sacred month of
Chaitra, and tomorrow, the auspicious constellation Pushya will be in the ascendant.
Therefore, with your permission, I would like the ceremonies for installing Rama as my
successor to the royal throne to begin tomorrow.”
Everyone applauded this suggestion and glorified Rama’s incomparable virtues.
Maharaja Dasharatha was very pleased and relieved, and after the assembly had departed,
he requested Vasishtha Muni to immediately begin preparations. Vasishtha in turn gave
instructions to the chief minister, Sumantra, and others, that the city should be very
gorgeously decorated and all other preparations should be made, so that the ceremonies
could begin promptly the next morning. Maharaja Dasharatha then had Sumantra call for
Rama, and as soon as He received the message, the son of Kaushalya hurriedly came.
Entering the royal assembly, Rama approached His father with folded hands and then fell
flat at his feet to offer His respects.
Maharaja Dasharatha picked up his son, and after warmly embracing Him, he said, “My
dear Rama, I have grown old and weary, and so I feel that it is time for me to retire. I have
sufficiently enjoyed all kinds of royal opulence, I have performed innumerable sacrifices, and
I have distributed a huge amount of charity to the brahmanas.”
“Rama, you are my eldest and favorite son, and all the ministers and citizens love You
dearly. Therefore, I have arranged that tomorrow You will be installed to succeed me as the
King of Koshala.”
Some of Rama’s friends heard this and they quickly ran to Mother Kaushalya so that
they could be the first to give her the news. When Kaushalya heard that her son was going
to be installed as the next king, she was overjoyed, and according to custom she gave the
bearers of the good news gold, jewels, and cows. The news spread fast, so that as Rama
returned to His palace, crowds of cheering citizens greeted Him along the way.
Meanwhile, Maharaja Dasharatha went to his bedroom and lay down to rest. But, as he
was drifting off to sleep, the King saw a recurring and ominous dream. Waking up with a
start, he had Sumantra summon Rama, for he was afraid that there might be some
obstruction to his son’s installation the next day. When Rama learned that His father was
calling Him once again, He felt some apprehension and so departed in great haste. Upon
entering His father’s room, Rama fell flat onto the floor to offer His respects.
Maharaja Dasharatha picked Rama up, and while fondly embracing Him, he spoke as
follows: “My dear Rama, all the desired objectives of my long life have been fulfilled, except
for Your installation upon the royal throne. Unfortunately, this is a very bad astrological
period for me, because of the influence of the sun, Mars and Rahu. I have been seeing
some inauspicious dreams, and so I am convinced that a great calamity awaits me. For this
reason, I want to expedite matters and begin the installation ceremony immediately, even
without the presence of Your brothers, Bharata and Shatrughna. You and Sita should fast
tonight for purification, and then, early tomorrow morning, get yourselves ready.”
Maharaja Dasharatha was constantly haunted by the remembrance of how he had
promised King Kekaya, at the time of his marriage, that it would be Kaikeyi’s son who would
inherit the royal throne upon his retirement. Dasharatha knew that Bharata was Rama’s
faithful follower. But, he thought, “After all, the minds of men are fickle and inconsistent,
especially when it comes to the allurements of power and prestige.” It is for this reason that
Maharaja Dasharatha was so eager to install Rama upon the throne before Bharata’s return.
After taking His leave, Rama returned to His palace to inform Sita of His father’s wishes.
Not finding her there, Rama next went to His mother’s residence. Upon entering Kaushalya’s
room, Rama saw her sitting in front of her household Deity of Lord Narayana, with half-
closed eyes and suspended breath, silently praying for His welfare. She was being waited
upon by Sumitra, Sita and Lakshman.
As Kaushalya got up to greet Him, Rama said, “Mother, my father wants to install Me as
the next King of Koshala. He is very anxious for the ceremonies to begin early tomorrow
morning, and he has asked Sita and I to fast for the night.”
With tears of joy in her eyes, Kaushalya replied, “It is my great fortune that all the
austerities I had performed for the satisfaction of Lord Vishnu have not gone in vain! My dear
child, may You have a long and happy life!”
Rama smilingly turned to Lakshman and said, “My dear brother, You must help Me to
rule the kingdom, for You are just like My second self. In fact, I could not even think of
finding happiness in royal luxury, or even life itself, without You.”
Rama then returned to His palace, along with Sita, and He was in a jubilant mood.
Meanwhile, Maharaja Dasharatha became so anxious that everything would go as planned,
he sent Vasishtha Muni to see if Rama was all right. When Rama was informed of
Vasishtha’s arrival, He quickly ran out of His palace and took the rishi by the hand to help
him down from his chariot. As the family priest, Vasishtha gave Rama some sage advice and
soon departed.
As he was on the way back to the King’s palace, Vasishtha marveled at how all the
citizens were crowding the decorated streets, awaiting the next day’s festivities. The roads
were covered with flowers after having been cleansed with perfumed water. Brilliant and
colorful lamps were seen burning in each and every house and shop, turning night into day.
The noisy crowds swelled like waves of the sea, and the numerous elephants, horses and
camels appeared like large aquatics within that ocean.
Sita and Rama sat together to worship Lord Narayana, and after doing so They lay
down on kusha-grass mats to rest for the night. Rama awoke three hours before sunrise and
worshiped Lord Vishnu and chanted the Gayatri mantra, as the entire city began to buzz with
excitement in anticipation of the installation ceremony.
At the time of Kaikeyi’s marriage to Maharaja Dasharatha, her father, Ashvapati, the
King of Kekaya, had given her a hunch-backed maidservant named Manthara. Manthara
was actually an Apsara who had been deputed by the demigods to assist in the killing of
Ravana. The evening before Rama’s planned installation, Manthara had gone onto the roof
of the palace. From there she could see the splendidly decorated city, crowded with people
in a festive mood.
Being surprised to see all this, Manthara inquired from Rama’s former nurse, who was
standing nearby, “What is the occasion that warrants such a grand celebration? Why do I
see Kaushalya in such a joyful mood, giving charity lavishly to the brahmanas?”
The nurse cheerfully replied, “Have you not heard? Tomorrow, the constellation Pushya
will be in the ascendant. Taking advantage of this auspicious time, Maharaja Dasharatha is
going to install Rama as his successor to the royal throne.”
This unexpected news deeply pierced Manthara’s envious heart. Suspecting foul play
on the part of the King, she excitedly approached Kaikeyi. When she entered her mistress’s
room, Manthara was very surprised to see her peacefully lounging on her couch.
In a very agitated voice, Manthara said, “Get up, you fool! Don’t you see the flood of
disaster that is about to engulf you? Are you so deluded by your husband’s sweet words,
that you do not understand what is happening right in front of your eyes?”
Kaikeyi was shocked to hear these harsh words. She asked, “What is the matter? What
are you talking about?”
These innocent inquiries further inflamed Manthara’s anger. Although a maidservant,
she was a master of the art of speech. Cleverly speaking in such as way as to cause
dejection to enter Kaikeyi’s heart, as well as estrangement from Rama, Manthara replied,
“Do you not know that your husband is going to install Rama as his successor to the throne?
Cannot you see his deceit? Dasharatha speaks to you very sweetly, but at the same time he
sent away Bharata so that he could be free to crown his pet son, Rama. If Rama becomes
the emperor, you will find yourself drowning in an ocean of suffering, and your beloved son
will also meet with ruin.”
“Kaikeyi, not only your son, but I as well, completely depend upon you. Your fortune is
my fortune and your misfortune is mine as well. Please do something before it is too late! I
beg you to act quickly to save yourself and your son.”
Kaikeyi was astonished that her maidservant was speaking in this way. She replied,
“Manthara, I am overjoyed to hear about Rama’s installation! I do not make any distinction
between my son, Bharata, and Kaushalya’s son, Rama. For being the first to deliver such
wonderful news, I will give you this magnificent jewel, and you can ask for whatever else you
may desire.”
While saying this, Kaikeyi placed a priceless jewel into Manthara’s hands. However, the
maidservant disdainfully threw it aside and said with great indignation, “I am shocked that
you can express such joy on the eve of a great disaster! The King’s passing over Bharata to
choose Rama is a terrible insult to you. You have always thought that you are Dasharatha’s
darling, but now the truth comes out that it is Kaushalya whom he adores. Don’t you feel
humiliated? You say that you are happy, but after Rama becomes king, it will be Kaushalya
who prospers. You will be forced to act just like her maidservant, and Bharata will have to
become Rama’s slave.”
Kaikeyi resented the bleak picture that her hunchback maidservant was painting, and so
she replied, “Manthara, how can you talk like this? Rama is the most generous of all persons
and His character is adorned with every virtue. He is the eldest prince and so He deserves to
become the king after my husband’s retirement. Besides, I am confident that after ruling for
one hundred years, Rama will gladly hand over the kingdom to Bharata. I have no doubts
about Rama’s motives because He serves me more carefully than He does His own mother!
I consider Rama to be more glorious than my own son. And, what is the difference, whether
Rama sits on the throne or Bharata? Rama treats all His brothers as His very self!”
Manthara’s anguish became even more aggravated by hearing Kaushalya talk like this.
She shouted, “Stupid! Rama will never hand over the kingdom to Bharata! He will give it His
own future son! In fact, after becoming the king, Rama will no doubt exile Bharata or even kill
him. With Bharata out of the picture, Rama will be able to rule without a rival.”
“Kaikeyi, I am trying to bring you to your senses, but you take your co-wife’s victory to
be a cause of happiness! Can’t you understand the simple fact that Kaushalya is your rival,
and because of this, Bharata’s future is at stake? Rama’s mother hates you because you are
young and beautiful, making the King more attached to you than to her. My advice is that
you act quickly to somehow have Rama exiled to the forest so that Bharata can be installed
upon the throne.”
It so happened that Kaikeyi’s heart gradually became poisoned by Manthara’s hateful
words. She had always cherished the idea of her son becoming the King, and deep down
she resented her co-wife’s seniority.
Her enviousness of Kaushalya aroused, and her face flushed with anger, Kaikeyi at last
declared, “Manthara, you are right! I must somehow have Rama banished to the forest so
that my own son can sit upon the throne. How can I do this?”
Manthara replied, “The means has already been given. If you have forgotten, I shall now
remind you, provided that you promise to act on it.”
Kaikeyi solemnly promised to do whatever Kaikeyi would recommend, and so the
hunchback maidservant spoke as follows: “O Queen, do you not remember this story that
you had once related to me? Long ago, Maharaja Dasharatha had fought on behalf of Indra,
against the asuras. When the demigods suffered defeat, your husband led an attack on the
asuras’ capital city, Vaijayanta. Although he fought valiantly, Dasharatha was critically
wounded and fell unconscious on the battlefield. You had accompanied the King on that
occasion, and it was you who removed him from the battlefield and nursed him back to
health. Out of a deep sense of gratitude, Maharaja Dasharatha offered you two benedictions,
but you told him that you would ask for the favors later on.”
“Kaikeyi, now is the time to utilize these two boons. With one benediction, ask that your
son become the king. With the other, demand that Rama be banished to the forest for
fourteen years. Rama’s absence will give Bharata a good opportunity to establish His
popularity among the citizens. Then his position as the rightful ruler of Ayodhya will remain
secure.”
After revealing the means whereby Bharata could be installed on the throne and Rama
banished to the forest, Manthara gave Kaikeyi some practical advice about the tactics that
would help her to get what she wanted.
Manthara said, “Go now to the sulking-chamber. Throw off your ornaments and royal
dress and put on old, dirty clothes. Then, lie down on the bare floor and when your husband
comes to see you, make sure that you are crying like someone who is bitterly aggrieved.
When the King speaks to you, remain silent at first, and do not worry. Maharaja Dasharatha
is so attached to you that he cannot bear to see you unhappy. You must be confident that he
will do anything to pacify you.”
“Kaikeyi, the most important thing is this- You must never forget that the only thing you
want is for your son to become the king. Don’t give up your anger in exchange for gold or
jewelry, or anything else. Simply remind the King of his promise to give you two
benedictions. Then, when he promises to give you whatever you want, demand that Bharata
be immediately installed upon the throne, and Rama banished to the forest.”
Because her heart had come under the sway of malice and greed, Kaikeyi was
delighted with Manthara’s plan. She assured her maidservant that she would follow her
advice to the letter. Having become obsessed with the idea of making Bharata the emperor
of the world, Kaikeyi considered Manthara to be the cause of all good fortune.
Like a mad-woman, she glorified the maidservant as follows: “My dear Manthara,
although hunchbacks are generally sinful, you, on the other hand, are wise and honorable.
To me, your so-called bodily deformity appears very beautiful. You stoop over like a lotus-
flower, bending in the breeze, and thus your appearance is very charming. Your breasts are
large and lovely, concealing your delicate navel as they bend low. Your hips are graceful and
your thighs are smooth and shapely. Dressed in bright silk, you appear to sparkle, while the
anklets that encircle your soft feet tinkle melodiously. The entire science of diplomacy must
be residing within your hump, which is as large as the hub of a chariot-wheel.”
“My dear Manthara, when Bharata is installed as the emperor of the world, I will garland
that hump with a chain of pure gold. When Rama is exiled to the forest, I will smear your
hump with sandalwood paste. Manthara, I will reward you with exquisite dresses and
jewelry, and I will make all the other hunchback women your maidservants so that they will
massage your feet.”
Although flattered, Manthara interrupted Kaikeyi, saying, “Remember, all this talk is
useless unless we act quickly to stop the King from installing Rama.”
Manthara led Kaikeyi to the sulking chamber. As they walked, she repeatedly fanned
the Queen’s anger by saying, “Never forget what will be in store for Bharata if you do not
succeed. You must be determined to either achieve your glorious end, or else fast to death.”
Meanwhile, having completed all necessary preparations for Rama’s installation,
Maharaja Dasharatha returned to his palace. Filled with longing for his youngest queen, the
King entered her bedroom and was surprised to find her absent. Thinking that Kaikeyi must
be nearby, he repeatedly called out her name, and when there was no response he became
apprehensive.
At last, by inquiring from a servant, the King learned that Kaikeyi had entered the
sulking chamber. With an agitated heart, Maharaja Dasharatha hastened through the palace
corridors. When he entered the room, he was shocked to see Kaikeyi lying down on the bare
floor like an Apsara fallen from heaven, her jewelry and garlands scattered here and there.
The young and beautiful Kaikeyi was dearer to Maharaja Dasharatha than his very life.
When he saw her writhing on the floor, sobbing, the King felt highly alarmed and pained at
heart.
Falling to his knees, Maharaja Dasharatha spoke as follows, while affectionately
stroking Kaikeyi’s face: “What is the matter, my dear one? Tell me the cause of your grief
and rest assured that I will do anything to rectify it. Is it that I have been too busy, and have
failed to pay proper attention to you? Did you have an argument with one of your co-wives?
Has someone insulted you?”
“My dearest one, I am fully under your control. I would never dare to do anything that is
displeasing to you. Speak freely and tell me what is on your mind. O most precious one, you
know that I love you more than life itself. Let me dispel your sorrow, as the rising sun
evaporates the morning mist.”
Cupid’s arrows had pierced Maharaja Dasharatha’s heart, and thus he was a slave to
the urges of passion. After hearing her husband’s words, Kaikeyi felt confident that her goal
would be achieved. There was a brief silence, and then she replied, “No one has insulted me
or shown me any disrespect. My lord, I will tell you what is on my mind. But, first you must
give me the complete assurance that you will accomplish whatever it is I desire.”
Maharaja Dasharatha placed Kaikeyi’s head upon his lap. While tenderly smoothing her
disheveled hair, he replied, “My darling, you know that I love no one more than you, except
Rama. I swear that I will do whatever it is you may order. Feel free to tell me your desire and
rest assured that I would fulfill it without fail. My dear one, you know that I will always give
you everything that you want. Please tell me what is troubling you.”
After hearing this triple assurance, Kaikeyi felt blissfully sure that her husband was
completely under her thumb. Urged on by an inflamed desire, born of partiality toward her
son, the young Queen made the following terrible proclamation, which was as grim as death
itself: “May the twelve Adityas, the eleven Rudras, the eight Vasus and twin Ashvins bear
witness! May the sun and the moon, day and night, and the four directions also bear witness,
as well as the Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Pitris, Bhutas, Pretas and all other living creatures.
My illustrious lord, the follower of dharma and adherent to truth, has promised to fulfill my
desire.”
“My dear husband, remember how you were critically wounded and left for dead while
fighting with the asuras? I nursed you back to life and so you gratefully promised to reward
me with two benedictions. O noble King, you must grant me these two boons today without
fail- otherwise, I will give up my life out of grief. Let Bharata be installed as the ruler of
Koshala, utilizing the very preparations that you have made for Rama. This is the first
benediction I desire, and the second is this: May Rama depart for the Dandaka forest this
very day and live in exile there for fourteen years, wearing only tree-bark and deerskin.”
When Maharaja Dasharatha heard Kaikeyi’s ultimatums, he became practically stunned
with bewilderment. He wondered, “What is happening to me? Am I dreaming of vivid mental
pictures from a past life? Maybe I have gone completely mad!”
Becoming overwhelmed, the King suddenly fainted to the floor. After a brief moment he
regained consciousness, but finding the situation too painful he swooned once again. It was
only after a long time that he again came to his senses, and as he summoned his courage, a
burning anger swelled within his heart.
With great agitation, Maharaja Dasharatha rebuked Kaikeyi, saying, “You vicious
woman! What have I done to deserve this? What offense did Rama commit against you?
Rama loves you as much as He loves His own mother. Why are you bent upon harming
Him? Everyone loves Rama as much as life itself, and I could never bear to live without Him.
I could abandon my other two wives if need be, but I could never forsake Rama!”
After venting his rage, Dasharatha’s mood suddenly changed. Touching his head to
Kaikeyi’s feet, the King pleaded, “My dear beautiful Queen, please give up your terrible
determination. Rama is the embodiment of all virtues- He is kind, forgiving, truthful, gentle,
fixed in His duty, and everyone’s well wisher. Rama has always served you just as lovingly
as your own son, Bharata, if not more. If you insist, I will install Bharata upon the throne, but
I could never think of banishing Rama to the forest. How can you even consider harming
Rama? He is faultless and has never so much as uttered an unkind word to you.”
“My dearly beloved, have pity upon me. Ask for any other benediction. I am ready to
give you the entire earth, but not this. If I were to banish Rama, it would certainly be the
death of me. Please spare me from this most cruel and irreligious act.”
As he spoke, Maharaja Dasharatha was writhing in agony and wailing piteously.
Nonetheless, Kaikeyi was unmoved. Remaining fixed in her determination, she replied, “How
can you dare lecture me about dharma, when you are trying to avoid giving the benedictions
that you had solemnly promised? Think about King Shibi, who gave his own flesh to a hawk
in order to fulfill his promise of protection to a pigeon. If you fail to keep your word, you will
stain the spotless reputation of the glorious kings who appeared in your dynasty. My dear
husband, whatever the circumstances may be, you gave me your promise, and now you
must keep it!”
As she spoke, Kaikeyi became more and more determined to get her way. Being
overwhelmed by anger and greed, she had given up all sense of shame and decency. After
a brief pause, Kaikeyi continued, “O King, I know your real motive! After installing Rama
upon the throne, you will gradually push Bharata and myself out of the picture so that you
can enjoy life with Kaushalya without impediment. But, know this for certain- if you do not
keep your promise, I will drink poison and die this very day!”
Kaikeyi remained silent while Dasharatha continued to moan in agony, staring at his
Queen with unblinking eyes. Finally, the King lost his equilibrium and fell unconscious to the
floor while uttering, “Rama, Rama”.
Then, after some time, Maharaja Dasharatha regained a little composure and said, “You
misguided woman! From whom did you learn this shameless wickedness? Don’t you realize
that even if Bharata is installed upon the throne, He will never accept the kingdom without
Rama. What are the people going to think about me if you force me to perform this ignoble
act? Everyone will ridicule me, saying, ‘There goes the King who lusted after his wife so
much that he exiled his beloved son to the forest.’ Kaikeyi, do you really believe that you will
find any happiness under such circumstances?”
Pausing, Maharaja Dasharatha began to contemplate how Rama, who had always lived
in royal comfort, would be able to endure a harsh forest life. Becoming more and more
pained and angry at the thought, the King suddenly mocked, “O righteous Queen, I wish you
all success in ruling the kingdom after ridding yourself of all your relatives. Do not expect me
to play any part in your sinister plan! I will never grant your wishes- never!”
In the ensuing silence, a feeling of hopelessness began to swell within Maharaja
Dasharatha’s heart. He then reached out to submissively touch Kaikeyi’s feet. Wailing in
agony, the King pleaded, “O Queen, please give up your wicked intentions”, and then he
fainted once again. Kaikeyi responded by chastising her husband with sharp words, again
and again, and in this way, the King remained unconscious for about an hour.
After coming to his senses, Maharaja Dasharatha once again rebuked Kaikeyi, saying,
“How condemned women are, for they are perverse, cruel and selfish by nature! Maybe not
all women, but at least you, mother of Bharata. Your demands are evil and malicious, and so
I will never grant them! You can scream and shout, you can take poison or threaten to do
whatever you like, but I will never banish Rama to the forest!”
The sun went down, and Maharaja Dasharatha spent the entire night wailing with grief.
Sometimes, though, the King would join his hands in supplication and beg, “O lovely-limbed
lady, please be kind to me. I am growing old and do not expect to live much longer. Have
pity upon me and be merciful to Rama, to our preceptors, to the citizens, and Bharata as
well. O lovely-eyed one, please be kind to me.”
Maharaja Dasharatha’s eyes were red from weeping, and his voice was very pitiful to
hear. Still, Kaikeyi simply turned her head away and remained silent. Sometimes the King
would chastise his Queen in a threatening voice, and sometimes he tried to coax her with
argument and reason. All the while, he prayed that the night would never end, so that he
would not have to face the ordeal of banishing Rama to the forest the next day.
At last, when he realized that Kaikeyi was unwavering in her determination, Maharaja
Dasharatha once again fainted out of hopelessness. He awoke the next morning when the
bards came to his door, singing his praises. Feeling disgust, the King ordered the singers
and musicians to go away.
When she saw her husband awaken, Kaikeyi resumed her relentless talk: “What is the
matter, my lord? Is it wrong for you to grant me the two benedictions that you had previously
promised? Those who know dharma (religious principles) have declared that truth is the
highest virtue. In fact, truth is the very root of dharma, and truth is its ultimate goal. O King,
abide by truth, if you actually seek the fruit of righteousness. Grant me my wishes!”
Maharaja Dasharatha angrily replied, “Wicked woman, I hereby disown you! You are no
longer my wife!”
Kaikeyi retorted, “My lord, why are you so agitated? Summon Rama quietly and then do
your duty by telling him that you are installing Bharata as the inheritor of the throne.”
Again and again Kaikeyi pressed her demands upon Maharaja Dasharatha, as if she
were repeatedly whipping a horse. At last, the King called for Rama, just at the time when
Vasishtha Muni and his disciples were entering Ayodhya, after having collected the
necessary paraphernalia for the installation ceremony. When Vasishtha Muni arrived at
Maharaja Dasharatha’s palace, he met Sumantra and told him, “Please inform the King of
my arrival. Also, tell him that everyone is eagerly waiting for Rama’s coronation to begin, and
that the necessary preparations are completed.”
Sumantra went to Maharaja Dasharatha’s room, and while standing at the door he first
of all properly glorified the King. Then he related Vasishtha’s message and implored the King
to come out and greet his family priest. However, Sumantra’s words only inflamed Maharaja
Dasharatha’s grief, and so the King sharply replied, “Go away! Your words of praise are not
welcome!”
Finding the King to be in such an irritable mood, Sumantra retreated a few steps. Then,
the diplomatic Kaikeyi said, “The King was so excited about Rama’s installation ceremony
that he hardly slept at all last night. Being thoroughly exhausted, he had just managed to get
a little rest and so he became annoyed when you disturbed him. Bring Rama here, and then
Maharaja Dasharatha will get up and the ceremonies can begin.”
Sumantra replied, “Unless I hear the King’s voice, I cannot execute any order.”
Maharaja Dasharatha called out, “I am not asleep. I have already summoned Rama.
Why has my order not been executed? Bring Rama here at once!”
Sumantra quickly departed, thinking the King to be very eager to perform the coronation
ceremony. But, the brahmanas were becoming restless because the sacrificial arena was
ready and time was passing, making Maharaja Dasharatha conspicuous by his absence.
When Sumantra reached the palace gates, the guards escorted him into the presence of
Sita and Rama. Sumantra informed Rama that his father had summoned Him. At this time,
Rama remarked to Sita, “My father and Kaikeyi must be calling Me, being impatient to begin
the installation ceremony.”
When Rama departed, He saw Lakshman standing at the gate with folded hands. Rama
took His brother with Him, mounted upon the waiting chariot, and proceeded through the
crowded streets of Ayodhya. The natural characteristic of Lord Rama is that whoever
happens to see Him cannot bear to turn his eyes away from that vision. After coming to the
inner gates of his father’s palace, Rama got down from the chariot and dismissed the
citizens who had followed Him. Rama then entered His father’s room alone. There, He saw
Maharaja Dasharatha seated upon the couch along with Kaikeyi, his face displaying
prominent signs of dejection and anxiety.
As Rama bowed down to Maharaja Dasharatha and then Kaikeyi, the King could only
utter “Rama, Rama”, as his eyes filled up with tears. Actually, Maharaja Dasharatha could
not bear to look directly at his son.
Rama became very apprehensive upon seeing him like this, and He wondered, “What
has made my father so dispirited, just like a saintly person who has performed some
abominable activity? Formerly, even when irritable, My father would become very pleased as
soon as I came before him. Why is he not happy to see Me today?”
Rama asked Kaikeyi, “What is the cause of My father’s distress? Have I unwittingly
done something to offend him?”
Kaikeyi had become thoroughly callous because of her sinful behavior, and so she
impudently replied, “The King in not angry, nor is he offended or aggrieved. He simply has
something to tell You, but is afraid to do so, thinking that it will hurt You. Formerly, your
father had offered me two benedictions after I had saved him from a great danger on the
battlefield. But, due to unmanly weakness he now hesitates to fulfill his promise.”
“Rama, You should protect Your father’s virtue by convincing him not to fall prey to
falsity. If you promise me that You are prepared to carry out the King’s order, then I will tell
You the two benedictions I desire.”
Feeling deeply hurt, Rama replied, “My dear mother, I am very surprised that there is
any doubt in your mind that I would unflinchingly carry out My father’s wishes, even if it
meant entering into fire. Please speak freely about what My father wants, and rest assured
that I would act accordingly. This is my solemn promise.”
Being thus assured by Rama, the cruel Kaikeyi spoke as follows: “Long ago, when Your
father was severely wounded while fighting with the demon Shambara, I carefully nursed him
back to life. Out of a sense of deep gratitude, the King begged me to accept two
benedictions. At that time, I told my husband that I would utilize these two boons later on,
when I need them. Now, I wish to accept these two benedictions, and here is what I desire.”
“First of all, I asked Your father to install Bharata as the next King of Koshala. Secondly,
I have asked the King to banish You to the forest for fourteen years, where You will live as
an ascetic, having matted hair and a garment of tree-bark and deerskin. Rama, it is Your
duty to insure that Your father does not go back on his word and thus tread the path of
unrighteousness.”
Although Kaikeyi had spoken so maliciously, Rama was not the least agitated or
aggrieved. Without displaying even the slightest displeasure, He cheerfully replied, “My dear
mother, I shall immediately go to live in the forest as you desire. Let messengers be sent at
once to summon Bharata. I have no regrets. My only wish is that My father may always look
upon Me favorably. Please do not harbor any ill feeling toward Me.”
Hearing this, Kaikeyi exclaimed with delight, “It is settled! Send messengers to my
brother’s house so that my son may come as quickly as possible. As for You, Rama, I urge
You to leave without delay. Do not worry about Your father. For the moment, he is
bewildered, but after Your departure he will regain his normal composure.”
Rama said, “My dear mother, it grieves Me that My father himself has not ordered Me to
go into exile. Of course, I am quite ready to leave for the forest at once in obedience to your
command alone.”
Kaikeyi replied, “Your father is too mortified to speak, because You are his pet son. In
fact, until You depart, I do not think that he will even be able to bathe or eat his breakfast.”
While listening to all this, Maharaja Dasharatha could only moan, “Oh, how painful”, and
“what a shame.” When Kaikeyi finished speaking, the King lost consciousness and fell onto
the floor.
As Rama picked His father up, He told Kaikeyi, “I do not want to live in this world as a
slave to greed and passion. Like the rishis, I am devoted to righteousness. I would never
give up the path of virtue merely for the sake of ruling a kingdom. My dear mother, there was
no need for you to trouble My father. If you had asked Me directly, I would have
unhesitatingly given you the kingdom and retired to the forest.”
After saying this, Rama bowed to Maharaja Dasharatha and Kaikeyi and then left to
break the news to His mother. Lakshman had been listening outside the door, and it was
with great effort that He controlled his rage as He followed His elder brother. As the two left
the palace, sorrowful wailing could be heard from those who had learned about Rama’s
impending exile. When Maharaja Dasharatha heard the crying, he hid himself under the
bedsheets out of shame.
As Rama entered Kaushalya’s apartment, the palace ladies joyfully greeted Him and
then hurried to inform His mother of His arrival. When Rama entered Kaushalya’s room, she
was worshiping Lord Vishnu, but she quickly got up and embraced Him. Kaushalya then
said, “Rama, I am so happy that You are going to succeed my husband as the King of
Koshala, this very day.”
With gentleness and humility, Rama replied, “My dear mother, please do not become
too upset at what I must tell you. As the result of two benedictions that My father had
formerly promised Kaikeyi, Bharata will be installed upon the royal throne, and today I will
leave Ayodhya to go live in the forest for fourteen years.”
As soon as she heard this, Kaushalya fainted and fell down to the floor. Rama gently
lifted His mother to her feet. Then, as she came to her senses, Kaushalya bitterly lamented
as follows: “What greater misery could happen to me than this? It would have been better for
me to remain childless! Why did death not come instantly to take me, as soon as I heard of
this calamity? Now, my younger co-wives will surely despise me, and by hearing their taunts
my life will become doubly miserable!”
Lakshman had been controlling His rage, but after hearing this He could remain silent
no longer. Lakshman vented His anger by saying, “Our father has become senile and
perverse due to being overpowered by lust. He has become a plaything in the hands of
wicked Kaikeyi! Why should We stand by passively and accept all this? A father, a king, or a
spiritual master who has lost sight of what should be done and what should not be done
must be rejected.”
“Rama, You should take control of the kingdom immediately, before everyone hears
about the King’s decision to install Bharata. And, even if all the ministers and people already
know of it, and are against You, I am prepared to depopulate Ayodhya if necessary!
Turning to Kaushalya, Lakshman said, “My dear mother, you should know that I am
loyal to Rama alone. I am ready to kill the foolish Dasharatha if it is necessary to install
Rama upon the throne!”
Kaushalya did not care for the kingdom, however. She only feared separation from her
beloved son. Kaushalya said, “Rama, please do not go into exile. It would be more virtuous
for You to remain here to please Your poor mother, than go to the forest at the command of
Your father. If You go, I will fast to death, because life would be unbearable without You.”
Rama replied, “Mother, it is not possible for Me to disobey My father. Therefore, you
must give Me permission so that I can leave at once. The order of one’s father can never be
avoided. Just consider how Parashurama beheaded his own mother, Renuka, at the
command of his father, Jamadagni.”
Turning to Lakshman, Rama said, “My dear brother, do not lose all good sense by
becoming a victim of anger. Give up the idea of seizing the throne by force and accept the
order of Our father.”
Rama then said, “Dear mother, do not torture yourself and speak about ending your life.
After My term of exile is over, I will come back to you. Now, please give Me your blessings
so that I can depart without remorse.”
Kaushalya was sobbing piteously, for she could not bear to grant her son permission to
leave. This was very painful for Rama, and so He became sterner and told Lakshman, “Both
of you are simply causing Me grief by opposing My desire to go to the forest in accordance
with My father’s command. To obey My father is the only righteous path for Me, and I will
never be deterred from following it.”
After a short pause, Rama spoke again, to try and pacify Lakshman: “My dear brother,
don’t you see that the sooner Bharata is installed upon the throne and all of this is forgotten,
the sooner You will be able to give up Your grief? Do not blame Kaikeyi, for she is simply an
instrument in the hands of the Supreme Controller, who is the real shaper of our destinies.”
Lakshman was not to be easily pacified, however, and so He angrily replied, “Rama, it
appears that You have become impotent! You have given up Your kshatriya spirit of reliance
upon personal prowess, and have surrendered to Destiny! I am not such a eunuch! I will
subdue Fate by My own power and then install You upon the throne this very day!”
Rama knew that this harsh criticism was actually a manifestation of Lakshman’s love for
Him. While wiping the tears from His brother’s eyes, He spoke in an attempt to comfort Him.
Meanwhile, Kaushalya finally understood that nothing would deter Rama, and so she
pleaded, “My son, if You are so determined to follow Your father’s order, then let me
accompany You to the forest.”
Rama replied, “My dear mother, after being deceived by Kaikeyi and abandoned by you,
Maharaja Dasharatha would certainly give up his life. It is the foremost duty of a chaste and
virtuous wife not to leave her husband under any circumstance. A woman should never even
think of leaving her husband because he is her lord for as long as she lives. No matter how
noble or religious a woman may be, if she fails to serve her husband, she commits sin. This
is the verdict of all Shruti and Smriti- the revealed and remembered scriptures.”
“My dear mother, remain with My father and wait for Me, for I shall return after fourteen
years without fail.”
Hearing this, Kaushalya gave up all hope of accompanying Rama, and so at last, she
gave Him her blessings. Kaushalya said, “May You soon return, so that my happiness will
once again be restored! May righteousness, which You so highly cherish, be Your protector!
May the gods in heaven protect You, and may the weapons that You received from
Vishvamitra defend You! May heaven and earth, the air, the land and the water, as well as
all animate and inanimate beings protect You! May daytime and night, as well as the sun
and the moon give You protection! May You be happy, Rama, for my blessings go with You!”
Kaushalya smelled Rama’s head with great affection and embraced Him. In turn, Rama
touched His mother’s feet again and again. Then, without hesitation, Rama swiftly departed
for His palace to see Sita. Sita knew nothing of all this intrigue, and she had been waiting for
Rama in happy expectation for many hours. But when Rama finally entered her room Sita
saw that He was pale, perspiring, greatly troubled and not accompanied by His usual
entourage. Sita hurriedly got up and asked, “My dear Rama, what is the matter?”
Without hesitation, Rama replied, “My father has ordered Me to leave Ayodhya and go
live in the forest. Instead of Me, Bharata will be installed upon the royal throne. Long ago, My
father had promised to fulfill Kaikeyi’s two wishes after she had nursed him back to health as
he lay wounded upon the battlefield. At that time, Kaikeyi told her husband that she would
utilize the two benedictions at a later date. Now she is asking that her son becomes the next
ruler and that I must be banished to the forest.”
“My dear Sita, I have no choice but to abide by My father’s order, but I want you to
remain here. Go every day and offer your respects at My father’s feet, and follow Bharata’s
commands implicitly. My dearest one, I have come here just to see you before going to the
forest.”
Sita became very agitated while listening to Rama. With anger born of love, she replied,
“O Rama, my husband, most excellent of men- what advice are You giving me? It is the duty
of a wife to share her husband’s destiny, and so I will go with You to the forest. A father,
mother, brother, son and daughter-in-law all have separate identities, but a wife has no
choice but to follow her husband.”
“Rama, I cannot find any refuge in my father, mother, friends or relatives, or even
myself. My husband is my only shelter, and so I am determined to follow You. I will walk
behind You and I will eat only after You have eaten. I will never do anything to displease
You, and I shall remain happy by gazing at the hills, lakes and rivers. I will never become
tired, because I will feel secure in Your presence. I would not want to live in heaven without
You. Rama, it is You alone that I love. Without You I would surely die.”
Because of Sita’s frailty, Rama was reluctant to take her with Him. Attempting to
discourage her, He said, “Delicate lady, one has to endure great discomfort while living in
the forest. There are no soft beds to lie upon, and one has to bear the onslaught of
excessive heat, cold and torrential rain. In the forest, one can only hope to eat fruit and
roots, and there is always danger on account of ferocious animals in search of prey.
Considering all this, I could never allow you to accompany Me to the forest.”
Rama’s words of refusal made Sita tremble with fear. As pearl-like tears rolled down her
cheeks, like drops of water falling from a lotus-leaf, Sita replied, “As long as I remain with
You, all of these inconveniences and dangers would be of no consequence.”
“Rama, without her husband, a woman cannot live. If You do not allow me to go with
You, I will give up my life by taking poison, entering a fire, or drowning myself. Before my
marriage, an astrologer predicted that I would have to spend part of my life in the forest.
Because of this, I know that it is my destiny to accompany You. To be with You is heaven,
and to live without You is hell. Please- You must take me with You!”
But even after hearing this heartfelt appeal, Rama was unwilling to allow Sita to share
His forced exile. Because of this, Sita felt as if she were falling into a great abyss of calamity.
Overwhelmed with a terrible fear of being separated from her husband, she became almost
mad.
Unable to tolerate Rama’s stubbornness any longer, Sita chastised Him for His
callousness as follows: “My father made a big mistake by choosing You for his son-in-law!
Are you going to desert Your chaste wife now, who was married to You before her puberty?
Are You going to leave her unprotected and exposed to the stares of others? The citizens of
Ayodhya are fools for declaring, ‘Rama is as splendorous as the sun, for His glories are
without equal!’ Rama, I refuse to remain here alone while You go off into the forest! Either
You will take me with You, or I will die by drinking poison!”
Crying bitterly, her heart tormented by fear, Sita was on the verge of fainting. Seeing his
darling wife like this was more than Rama could bear, and so His heart finally softened.
Taking Sita in His arms, Rama assured her that she could accompany Him.
Then, He said, “My darling, I only tried to dissuade you because I did not know the real
situation of your mind. Sita, I could no more abandon you than a wise man could give up his
sense of compassion. How could I ever rest peacefully, knowing that you were unhappy? Go
now and give the brahmanas all your valuable clothes and jewels, and whatever else you
possess.”
Sita joyfully departed, and then Lakshman, who had been standing nearby, came and
caught hold of Rama’s lotus feet. With tears in his eyes, Lakshman pleaded. “O Rama, let
me also go with You to the forest.”
Rama replied, “Lakshman, You must remain here to serve Our two mothers, for without
Your protection they will surely be mistreated by Kaikeyi.”
Lakshman said, “Bharata will take care of Our mothers, so there is no need to worry
about them. Rama, as You walk through the forest, I will stay in front with My bow in hand,
so that You and Sita can enjoy the scenery without distraction. I will gather fruit and
vegetables, and when You sleep, I will stand nearby to guard You.”
At last, Rama cheerfully said, “Alright, You can come with Me, but first go and say
goodbye to Your mother. Then bring the two mighty bows that Varuna had given to Maharaja
Janaka, as well as the impenetrable armor, two inexhaustible quivers, and a pair of the best
swords. After offering respect to Vasishtha Muni, return here with the weapons and We shall
depart.”
Thereafter, when Lakshman returned, Rama summoned the foremost of brahmanas so
that He could give away all His possessions in charity. Before long, Suyagya, the son of
Vasishtha; the sons of Agastya and Vishvamitra, and many other brahmanas arrived there.
There was a brahmana named Trijata who lived in a forest near Ayodhya and was very
weak and frail because of being very poor. One day, Trijata’s wife asked him to go to
Ayodhya and beg for some charity from Rama. It so happened that Trijata arrived just at the
time when Rama was distributing His entire wealth.
When Trijata approached Him and described his impoverished condition, Rama jokingly
replied, “Take your staff and throw it as far as you can. As many cows as that stick passes
over, I will give you.”
Trijata tightened his belt and then threw his staff into the air with great enthusiasm.
Much to everyone’s surprise, it soared all the way across the Sarayu and landed amongst a
herd of thousands of cows that were grazing by the riverside. Rama gave Trijata all the cows
that were situated from the bank of the river up to the point where his staff had landed. Then,
He embraced the brahmana and said, “Please do not be offended by My jest. I simply
wanted to see you exhibit your exceptional brahminical prowess.”
Thereafter, Rama gave away everything in His possession, so that no brahmana,
relative, dependent or even beggar, failed to receive charity on that day. Sita, Rama and
Lakshman then proceeded on foot through the streets of Ayodhya, to the palace of Maharaja
Dasharatha. The people who lined the streets, as well as those who gazed from their
balconies, were very pained to see this.
Addressing one another, the citizens exclaimed, “What a great misfortune! Even
common men are now able to see Sita, who previously had never appeared in public. We
will take our families and accompany Rama, so that Ayodhya will become desolate, like an
uninhabited forest, and the forest will become populous like a great city.”
When Rama entered Kaikeyi’s quarters, He saw Sumantra and so asked him to
announce His arrival to the King. Then, when Rama entered the room, followed by Sita and
Lakshman, Maharaja Dasharatha quickly got up and ran to embrace Him. Becoming too
saddened, though, the King fainted onto the floor before he could reach his beloved son.
Rama hurriedly picked up His father, and all around could be heard cries of anguish. After
being brought back to his couch, Maharaja Dasharatha regained consciousness.
Rama said, “My dear father, I have come to bid you farewell. Please give Me permission
to leave for the forest, along with Sita and Lakshman. I tried to dissuade them from following
Me, but they could not even consider living without Me.”
Maharaja Dasharatha then urged, “Rama, take my advice. Imprison me at once and sit
on the royal throne by force. Who will stop You?”
Rama replied, “My dear father, I have no ambition to rule over the earth or attain any
kind of royal opulence.”
The King then said, “Alright, my son. You have my permission to depart for the forest,
but just stay here one more day so that I can have this last opportunity to see You.”
Rama replied, “No, My dear father. It is My duty to fulfill your promise, and so I will do as
Kaikeyi orders by leaving for the forest at once.”
Maharaja Dasharatha had embraced Rama, but when he heard this, he once again lost
consciousness. Sumantra had been weeping, and he also fell to the floor, while everyone,
except Kaikeyi, cried out loud due to grief. Sumantra was the most intimate associate of the
royal family, and so he, more than anyone, suffered.
Getting up, Sumantra approached Kaikeyi and began to chastise her, saying, “Wicked
woman! By sending away Rama, you will become the murderer of your husband. Your
insistence that Bharata be installed upon the throne violates the religious principle that a
kingdom should be handed over to one’s eldest son. Rest assured that you will receive the
bitter fruit of your evil deeds, for when Rama leaves Ayodhya, all the brahmanas will follow
Him. As a result, the kingdom will become devoid of all auspiciousness.”
Sumantra then told Kaikeyi a story. “Once, long ago, your father, Kekaya, received a
rishi’s benediction that enabled him to understand all languages, even those of animals. The
rishi made one condition, though. If Kekaya ever disclosed the meaning of an animal’s
speech, he would die.”
“Once, later on, the King heard the shrill cry of a bird and understanding its meaning, he
began to laugh. Your mother, the Queen, suspected that her husband was laughing at her,
and so she asked him to disclose what he found so amusing. The King told her about the
rishi’s benediction, and warned her that he would die if he disclosed the bird’s meaning. The
foolish Queen was stubborn and jealous, however, and so she replied, ‘You can live or die, I
don’t care, but I insist that you tell me why you were laughing.’ ”
“The mortified king then went to the rishi who had given him the benediction and
explained his dilemma. The rishi said, ‘Do not disclose the bird’s meaning to your Queen.
Rather, rebuke her for her impudence.’ Taking the rishi’s advice, Maharaja Kekaya gathered
his courage, and after chastising his wife severely, he lived happily thereafter.”
“In the same way, Kaikeyi, you are acting very impudently toward your husband. Admit
your fault and give up your wicked plan, so that Maharaja Dasharatha can go ahead and
install Rama upon the throne.”
Still, Kaikeyi was unmoved. Considering Rama’s exile to be inevitable, Maharaja
Dasharatha ordered Sumantra, “Get ready one akshauhini of soldiers, and organize many
merchants, hunters, servants, and the royal treasurer, so that they can accompany Rama
into exile. Although He will reside in the forest, my beloved son does not have to be deprived
of the objects of comfort and enjoyment.”
When she heard this, Kaikeyi became fearful. With a choked up voice, she exclaimed,
“Bharata will not accept the kingdom if you strip it of all its resources before his installation!”
Maharaja Dasharatha sharply replied, “I have already agreed to install Bharata upon the
throne and exile Rama to the forest. Why are you trying to punish me further? If you did not
want Rama to take anything with Him into exile, why did you not mention this at the time of
accepting benedictions?”
Kaikeyi snapped, “In our dynasty there is the example of how King Sagara exiled his
eldest son, Asamanja. You should cast off Rama in the same way, without providing Him
any comfort.”
An elderly minister named Siddhartha could not tolerate this, and so he said with
indignation, “Asamanja took delight in drowning his playmates in the River Sarayu. When the
citizens complained to King Sagara, he rejected his cruel son. What sin has Rama
committed? How can you dare make this comparison between Rama and Asamanja?”
Although Maharaja Dasharatha was becoming very weak, he managed to raise himself
up. He then vowed, “Kaikeyi, if you will not let Rama go to the forest in comfort, I will take all
of the citizens with me and accompany Rama myself!”
Rama then said, “My dear father, please do not become so upset. I have no use for the
royal comforts that you desire for Me. Let Kaikeyi’s maidservants bring Me tree-bark at once
so that I can wear suitable clothes for My forest life.”
Upon hearing this, the shameless Kaikeyi personally went and brought clothing made
from tree-bark and asked Rama to put it on. Without hesitation, Rama and Lakshman
obediently took off Their royal garments and put on the clothes that Kaikeyi gave them. But,
Sita felt very unhappy when she took from Kaikeyi her dress made of kusha-grass and tree-
bark, and her eyes filled up with tears. Then, as she tried to put on the forest dress, it kept
slipping from its proper position because she was not at all used to it. Rama took that tree-
bark dress and began to drape it over Sita’s silk saree. This was unbearable for Vasishtha
Muni.
With tears in his eyes he restrained Rama, while chastising Kaikeyi with strong words:
“You wretched woman! Don’t you see that everyone is prepared to go with Rama? I am also
quite sure Bharata and Shatrughna will follow Him, so that you will be left all alone to rule the
kingdom. At least Sita should be allowed to go to the forest with a comfortable dress while
being carried upon some kind of conveyance.”
Sita wanted to follow her husband’s example, and so she kept the forest clothes on.
When they saw Sita dressed in tree-bark, the palace residents condemned Maharaja
Dasharatha with strong words, and while hearing this talk the King lost all interest in
maintaining his life. For about an hour he remained delirious, while mumbling words of self-
reproach. When Maharaja Dasharatha at last regained some composure, he ordered
Sumantra to bring a chariot to carry Rama to the forest.
At this time, Kaushalya embraced Sita and gave her the following womanly advice: “It is
well-known that during times of misfortune some women desert even a righteous and loving
husband. These women forget all past favors, for there is nothing that can bind them.
Because of ingratitude, such women cannot be controlled by wisdom, by gifts, or even by
marriage. But, on the other hand, there are women who are gentle, truthful and obedient by
nature, and they honor their husbands above all.”
“O Sita, please do not despise my son because of His exile. Let Him always remain your
worshipful Lord in all circumstances.”
Sita accepted this advice with folded hands and then replied, “I know very well my duty
toward my husband, and so please do not speak to me about faithless women. My
attachment to Rama is like the moonlight to the moon. Just as there in no veena without
strings or chariot without wheels, so there is no future for a wife without a husband, even
though she may have one thousand sons. Rama is my Lord, and He shall always be so.
How could I despise Him?”
Kaushalya began to weep while thinking of the impending separation from her son, and
so Rama assured her that the time would quickly pass. Rama then went and clasped His
father’s feet, and circumambulated him, along with Sita and Lakshman. After this, Rama
bowed one last time to His mother, while Lakshman did the same to His mother, Sumitra,
who affectionately smelled her son’s head in return.
Just then, Sumantra came there, and at his behest Rama mounted the chariot, followed
by Sita and Lakshman. Without delay, they departed for the forest.
As Rama passed through the streets of Ayodhya, all the citizens came out to see Him.
While clinging to the chariot they begged Sumantra, “Please drive slowly so that we can
have one long last look at Rama.”
Then, while glancing backward, Rama saw His father running through the crowd,
desperately calling for Sumantra to stop the chariot. Being duty bound, however, Rama
commanded the driver to go more quickly. These conflicting orders put Sumantra in a
dilemma, so that he became confused as to what he should do.
Seeing this, Rama shouted, “Do not prolong the agony of seeing My aged father like
this!” and so Sumantra finally urged the horses on with determination. One of the ministers
then restrained Maharaja Dasharatha by saying, “O King, if a person wants someone to
return, then he should not accompany him very far at the time of his departure.”
As long as the dust raised by Rama’s chariot could be seen, Maharaja Dasharatha kept
his gaze fixed upon it. Finally, after losing all sight of the departing chariot, the King fainted
onto the ground. When Kaushalya and Kaikeyi ran to pick him up, Maharaja Dasharatha
forbade the younger Queen, saying, “Don’t touch me! I have disowned you, and so I no
longer want to see you!”
After lifting up her husband, as Kaushalya escorted him back to the palace, she noticed
that the shops were closed and a gloom pervaded the faces of all the citizens. When he
entered his palace, Maharaja Dasharatha told the servants, “Please take me to Kaushalya’s
rooms. From now on I will only remain there.”
The King passed the night with great difficulty, and around midnight, he said to
Kaushalya, “Please touch me, for my sight has not returned after going with Rama.”
Kaushalya was heartbroken, seeing the piteous condition of her husband and worrying
about Rama. Trying to pacify her, Sumitra said, “You should not worry about your son.
Because Sita and Lakshman are with Him, Rama will not experience even the slightest
difficulty. Dear Kaushalya, Rama is not an ordinary human being. He is the God of gods, the
illuminator of the sun, and the controller of eternal time. While Rama resides in the forest,
the earth herself and all natural phenomena will engage in His devotional service. Rest
assured, that you will one day see the return of your beloved son. Lamenting will serve no
purpose. Just see how the citizens have practically become inactive due to grief. O Queen,
you will have to pacify them and so you should not allow yourself to become too disturbed.”
Meanwhile, the people of Ayodhya had followed Rama’s chariot into the forest, and they
were begging Him to turn back. Rama told them, “I cannot break My vow, and so you should
give Bharata the love that you have for Me.”
There were some elderly brahmanas who could not walk fast enough to keep up with
the others. In great distress, they called out to the horses, begging them not to proceed
further. Hearing these anxious pleas, Rama felt compassion and got down from the chariot.
Then, along with Sita and Lakshman, He proceeded on foot, so that these elderly
brahmanas could catch up with Him. Still, Rama would not turn His face backwards, for He
was determined to perfectly keep His promise.
In this way, they finally reached the River Tamasa. The sun had already begun to set
and so Sumantra and Lakshman made a bed of leaves for Rama to sleep on. After lying
down with Sita, Rama quickly fell asleep. Lakshman stayed awake all night, sitting nearby
with Sumantra, discussing the glories of His elder brother. When Rama awoke early the next
morning, He saw all the citizens of Ayodhya sleeping nearby.
After devising a plan, He told Lakshman, “It seems that the people will not give up their
determination to try and convince Me to return home. Let us depart at once. Sumantra
should drive the chariot in such a way that the people will not be able to understand which
path we took.”
After crossing the river, Rama instructed Sumantra to take the chariot on a clearly
visible path, just to mislead the citizens, and then return. Sumantra thus drove off alone, and
when he came back some time later, Sita, Rama and Lakshman got onto the chariot and
proceed in another direction, into the forest.
When the people awoke and found that Rama had already left, they reproached
themselves as follows: “How can we return to Ayodhya without Rama? What will the women
and children say if we fail to bring Him back with us?”
The people set out, following the tracks that had been left by the chariot, but because of
Rama’s trick they soon became confused and lost the trail. At last, having no alternative, the
people returned home feeling quite depressed. When the women saw the men coming back
without Rama, they reproached them with cruel and harsh words. Everyone greatly
condemned Kaikeyi, saying that they could never bear to live under her rule.
In this way, life in Ayodhya practically came to a standstill, making it look like a great
ocean that had dried up. The brahmanas neglected to perform their sacrifices, and the
mercantile men gave up conducting business. Householders no longer bothered to prepare
meals, and the domestic animals let the grass fall from their mouths as if they were stunned.
Cows no longer gave milk to their calves, and mothers felt no pleasure greeting their sons.
Even the stars in the sky appeared to have a stern look about them. Feeling completely
depressed, no one bothered to eat or engage in any kind of entertainment. Everyone
appeared to be almost lifeless, like statues, because they were absorbed in thinking of
Rama in separation.
Wherever Rama went, while proceeding through various territories, villages and forests,
He heard the people condemning Dasharatha and Kaikeyi. Finally, after crossing the
Vedasruti and Gomati Rivers, Rama arrived at the River Shyandika, which marked the
southern boundary of the Koshala province.
Here, Rama got down from the chariot and while facing Ayodhya with folded hands He
took leave of His birthplace. Many of the local inhabitants had followed Rama, and when He
asked them to return home, they cried loudly, being unable to depart. But, Rama drove off
swiftly, and while going along, He passed His time by having discussions with Sumantra.
Finally, they reached the mighty Ganga, and there they stopped under a large Ingudi tree.
The king of this territory was named Guha, a Nishada by birth and a close friend of
Rama’s. When he heard of Rama’s arrival, Guha jubilantly came to greet Him. As the sons
of Dasharatha rose from their seats, the Nishada King came and embraced Rama, feeling
pained at heart to see how they were dressed in forest clothing.
Guha said, “My dear Rama, my kingdom, Shringaverapura, is as much Yours as it is
mine. Please make use of everything, as if You were back in Ayodhya. I am greatly honored
that You have come here as my guest.”
Guha had brought sumptuous food, comfortable beds, and articles of worship in order to
give Rama a royal reception. Rama was very pleased by all this, and while embracing Guha
He replied, “At heart, I accept all that you have offered Me. But since I have taken a vow to
wear only kusha-grass, tree bark and deerskin, and eat only fruit and roots, I cannot actually
utilize these gifts. Please take away all that you have brought, except some of the food,
which I can give to the horses for they are My father’s favorites.”
While Guha went and fed the horses, Rama accepted a little water from Lakshman,
because He was fasting that day in honor of the Ganga. That night, Sita and Rama slept
beneath the Ingudi tree while Lakshman and Guha stayed awake to guard them. Although
Guha requested Lakshman to also rest, He refused to do so as long as Sita and Rama were
sleeping. Lakshman then spent the whole night lamenting for His father and mothers, while
Guha listened with tears in his eyes.
The next morning, Rama wanted to cross the Ganga and so Guha provided Him with a
beautiful boat. Before departing, Rama told Sumantra, “Please return to Ayodhya and
engage in My father’s service. Remain calm so that you can pacify the others. You have
been a great help to Me, but from now on We shall proceed by foot.”
Sumantra pleaded with Rama for permission to accompany Him. Rama was adamant,
though, and replied, “Do not be so sad, for We shall return after fourteen years. Assure My
parents of My well being, and urge the King to install Bharata without delay. Also, request
Bharata on My behalf to treat all His mothers equally.”
Sumantra could not bear the thought of leaving Rama, and so he argued, “When I return
to Ayodhya alone, the people will be terribly unhappy. Rama, please let me accompany You.
If You leave me aside, life will be unbearable. I will drown myself or enter fire.”
Rama replied, “I am sending you back to Ayodhya so that Kaikeyi will be convinced that
I have entered the forest. If you do not return with this chariot, she will always be afraid that I
may come back at any time.”
Turning to Guha, Rama said, “I do not want to live in the forest surrounded by friends
and relatives. I will go to an uninhabited place and live like a rishi. Please bring Me the milk-
like extract of the banyan tree so that I can mat My hair.”
When Guha brought this substance, Rama and Lakshman used it to mat Their hair so
that They looked just like forest-dwelling rishis. While bidding Guha farewell, Sita, Rama and
Lakshman boarded the boat, and after sipping some Ganga water, They departed.
When the boat reached mid-stream, Sita offered prayers to Mother Ganga, asking for
Their safe return to Ayodhya. After disembarking on the far side, as the three continued
Their journey, Rama instructed Lakshman to carefully protect Sita by walking in front, while
He stayed at the back.
When night fell, They took shelter of a large tree, and as Sita slept, Rama and
Lakshman stayed awake all night. As They talked, Rama once again requested Lakshman
to return home so that He could protect Their mothers from Kaikeyi’s persecution. Rama
became very emotional while thinking about His mother, so that His face became covered
with tears. While comforting Him, Lakshman was able to convince Rama that He could not
live in His absence, and so, at last, Rama gave Him permission to stay.
The next morning, Sita, Rama and Lakshman set out, and after walking and walking,
They reached the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers. Desiring to meet the great
rishi, Bharadvaja, who lived nearby, Rama approached the ashram and waited at the
entrance. Soon, a disciple of the rishi came to greet Him.
When Rama went inside, He saw Bharadvaja sitting in meditation, surrounded by many
students. Rama introduced Himself and then briefly related the incidents leading up to His
arrival. Bharadvaja offered Sita, Rama and Lakshman a very nice reception, and fed them
many varieties of foods prepared from fruit and roots.
At last, as he led them to their sleeping accommodations, Bharadvaja said, “Rama, I
have been expecting Your arrival ever since I heard the news of Your exile. I would like You
to spend Your fourteen years of forest life here. With my students at Your disposal, I am sure
that You, Your wife and Your brother will not experience even the slightest inconvenience.”
Rama replied, “Best of rishis, your offer is very kind, but since your ashram is so close
to Ayodhya, many people would come to see Me if I stayed here. Please tell Me about some
isolated spot where we can happily pass our period of exile.”
Bharadvaja suggested, “You can go to Chitrakoot Mountain, which is about one hundred
kilometers from here. After crossing the River Yamuna, when You see the gigantic banyan
tree named Shyama, You will know that You are proceeding in the right direction. The entire
area of Chitrakoot is very beautiful, with cascading waterfalls and meandering streams. The
cries of peacocks and cuckoos will enchant Your ears, and everywhere there is plenty of fruit
and honey. Like the heavenly Gandhamadana, it is a very suitable place for leading a life in
the mode of goodness.”
Sita, Rama and Lakshman spent the night at Bharadvaja’s ashram, and the next
morning they said goodbye to the rishi and departed. After some time, They came to the
Yamuna, and so Rama and Lakshman prepared a large raft to carry Them across the river.
Later on, when they reached mid-stream, Sita offered her prayers to goddess Kalindi.
After disembarking on the far side, They soon came to the banyan tree, Shyama. Sita
offered her obeisances to the sacred tree, praying for Their safe return to Ayodhya. Finally,
after walking for a few hours, the three travelers halted to pass the night by the side of the
river.
Early the next morning, They resumed Their journey, and while walking through the
forest, Sita questioned Rama again and again about the plants and trees that she saw there.
As Lakshman walked in front, bow in hand, Rama took great pleasure in describing to Sita
the various manifestations of nature.
When, at last, They arrived at the vicinity of Chitrakoot, They were very pleased to find
an abundance of fruit, roots, sweet water, and honey. There They found Valmiki’s ashram.
Sita, Rama and Lakshman were very warmly received by the rishi, for he had been
expecting Their arrival for some time.
During the course of their conversation, Valmiki invited Rama to reside at that spot. At
Rama’s request, Lakshman brought the necessary materials and within a short time He built
a nice little house, having walls made of wooden stakes and a thatched roof. The customary
rituals for consecrating their new dwelling were performed, and when Rama entered His
cottage, He felt very happy, as if He had left aside the grief that had been brought about by
Kaikeyi’s intrigue.
Meanwhile, after Rama’s departure, Guha dispatched some spies to follow Him
unnoticed. When news came back that Rama had reached Chitrakoot, Sumantra mounted
his chariot and began the painful journey back to Ayodhya. Sumantra arrived in the evening
of the second day, and he immediately noticed that the city had become practically desolate.
When the news of Sumantra’s arrival spread, thousands of people came and gathered
around him. In reply to their inquiries, Sumantra simply explained how he had returned after
leaving Rama at the banks of the Ganga.
Sumantra then went to see Maharaja Dasharatha, but as he began to relay Rama’s
messages, the King fainted due to strong feelings of separation. Sumantra and Kaushalya
quickly went to pick him up, but then she also lost consciousness while crying loudly. Finally,
after regaining his composure, Maharaja Dasharatha said, “Sumantra, please describe to
me all that Rama said before departing.”
Knowing that the King’s life could be sustained only by hearing about Rama, Sumantra
replied, “At the time of His departure, Rama instructed me to return here to engage in your
service. It is only for your welfare that Rama is determined to fulfill your promise to Kaikeyi.
For the same reason, Rama wants you to install Bharata right away.”
“After Rama’s departure, when I picked up the reins, my horses simply stood with tears
in their eyes, refusing to move. So, I stayed with Guha for some time, hoping that Rama
would change His mind and call for me. Finally, after losing all hope, I returned here. All
along the way, I saw that every moving and non-moving creature in the Koshala kingdom is
in a miserable condition due to separation from Rama.”
While listening, Maharaja Dasharatha felt terribly distressed. In a fit of despair, he
declared: “You must take me to Rama at once, or else bring Him back here- otherwise, I
shall die! I am merged in the ocean of grief! The two benedictions I granted Kaikeyi are the
shores of that ocean, and the term of Rama’s exile is its extent. My inward and outward
breaths are the waves, and the rivers of tears shed by Kaushalya and others are further
agitating the ocean. The flaying of arms in agony is the leaping of the fish, the disheveled
hair is the seaweed, and the loud crying is its roar. Kaikeyi is the subterranean fire that
causes showers of welled-up tears, and Manthara’s words are the alligators that infest its
waters.”
After saying this, Maharaja Dasharatha fainted. Kaushalya began to writhe in agony on
the floor, wailing, “Sumantra, if you do not take me to Rama at once, I will surely die!”
Although Kaushalya was the foremost of devoted wives, she addressed her husband
harshly as follows: “It is all your fault that Rama has been exiled! How could you be so cruel
to your son and His delicate wife? How will They be able to tolerate lying upon the bare
ground? How will They survive, eating only fruit and roots? How will They be able to protect
Themselves from the ferocious jungle animals, and how will They survive the onslaught of
freezing cold, fierce winds and torrential rain?”
“Even if Rama lives and returns after fourteen years, Bharata will never give Him back
the throne. And, even if Bharata offered it, Rama would never accept something already
enjoyed by a younger brother. Oh, how unfortunate I am for having a wretched husband like
you! The primary support of a woman is her husband, but because you are under the control
of Kaikeyi, I am now bereft of that support. The secondary support of a woman is her son,
but because Rama has gone away, I am now completely doomed!”
Maharaja Dasharatha was lying down, practically unconscious, and when Kaushalya
thought about how much he was also suffering, her heart softened. When the King regained
his senses, the two became reconciled, and soon thereafter, he fell asleep. But, after a short
while, he suddenly awoke, having remembered a terrible sin that he had committed in the
distant past.
Considering this to be the cause of his present suffering, Maharaja Dasharatha narrated
the incident as follows: “When I was a young man, I learned the art of piercing an unseen
target by hearing its sound. Once, as I was hunting at night, on the banks of the River
Sarayu, I heard what sounded like an elephant. I released my arrow, but then I heard the
loud scream of a human voice, calling out, ‘Who has cruelly pierced me with his arrow,
although I am a rishi and without any fault?’ ”
“I quickly went there and saw a young hermit boy lying on the ground with my arrow
stuck in his body. Seeing me, the boy said, ‘My old and invalid parents are waiting for me to
bring water. You have not only killed me, but you have killed them as well, for without me
they will surely die. Go and confess that you have killed me, but first pull out the arrow
because it is giving me great pain.’ ”
Maharaja Dasharatha continued, “I hesitated to pull out the arrow, being afraid that the
boy would immediately die. He then convinced me by saying, ‘Do not think that you are
killing a brahmana. I was born of a vaishya father and shudra mother.’ So, I pulled out the
arrow and the boy instantly gave up his life. I filled up his pitcher with water and carried it to
his ashram with a grief-stricken heart.”
“There, I saw the feeble, old, blind couple. Hearing me approach, they thought that their
son had returned and so they addressed me with affectionate words. This made me feel
even worse, but I summoned my courage and explained to the couple how I had accidentally
killed their son.”
“The old man then said, ‘Because you have voluntarily confessed your sin, I will not
curse you. If I were to do so you would instantly die. Please take me to where my son’s body
is lying.’ ”
“After I led them there, the old, blind couple began to caress the dead body of their son
and cry piteously. Then, when they offered libations of water for the benefit of their son’s
departed soul, King Indra descended to that spot, riding on a celestial chariot. After assuring
the parents that they would achieve the same exalted destination as their son, Indra took the
boy in his celestial form to the heavenly planets. The old rishi then cursed me with the
following words, ‘Just as we are experiencing great anguish upon the death of our son, you
will have to feel similar grief due to separation from yours.’ ”
“After saying this, the old couple threw themselves upon their son’s funeral pyre, thus
giving up their lives and ascending to heaven. My dear Kaushalya, today I am reaping the
fruit of my horrible crime. I am dying of a broken heart. I can feel the power of my senses
ebbing, like the flame of an oilless lamp. I know that death will come to me very soon. O
Queen, I have already become blind on account of my grief. Please touch me so that I can
be assured of your presence.”
Maharaja Dasharatha continued to lament in separation from Rama, while remembering
Him with a fully absorbed mind. Then, when half of the night had passed, the King gave up
his mortal body.
Early the next morning, the bards came as usual to awaken Maharaja Dasharatha, while
the servants stood with folded hands, awaiting the King’s orders. Then, when some of the
King’s consorts entered the room and saw that his body was without any sign of life, they
cried out in horror. This awakened Kaushalya and Sumitra with a start, and when the two
Queens realized that their husband had passed away, they fell down upon the floor, wailing
in anguish. Upon hearing the uproar, Kaikeyi quickly came there, along with some others,
and when they understood that Maharaja Dasharatha had left his body, they also began to
cry very piteously.
While caressing her dead husband’s head, Kaushalya told Kaikeyi, “I will enter the
King’s funeral pyre so that I can accompany him to his destination. Only a sinful wretch like
you can bear to go on living in the absence of her husband.”
The ministers then came and led Kaushalya away while trying their best to pacify her.
They preserved the King’s body in oil, because the funeral ceremonies could only be
performed in the presence of a son. Being bereft of its ruler, the city of Ayodhya became
shrouded in gloom. Since no one was able to sleep the following night, people gathered in
the streets and reproached Kaikeyi to vent their grief.
The next morning, all the leading brahmanas assembled at the royal court, urging the
priests and ministers to install one of the King’s sons upon the throne that very day.
Addressing Vasishtha, Vamadeva, Markandeya, Kashyapa, Gautama and other foremost
rishis, the brahmanas said, “A country without a king is doomed, because all sorts of rogues
and thieves take advantage of the situation, creating lawlessness. In a kingdom without a
ruler, ownership disappears, sons disobey fathers, the giving of charity is neglected, and
religious practices decline as the citizens simply exploit one another.”
The rishis replied, “What you say is perfectly correct, for it is the King who makes the
demarcation between good and evil in this world. Bereft of a good King, the subjects are just
like cattle without a herdsman.”
Vasishtha then suggested, “Since Bharata has already been selected as the successor
to the royal throne, He should be installed as soon as possible. Let messengers go swiftly to
Girivraja, the capital city of King Kekaya, to bring Bharata and Shatrughna back to Ayodhya.”
All the brahmanas and ministers agreed. Messengers were dispatched at once, being
instructed simply to say, “Bharata, Your presence is urgently required at Ayodhya.”
The very night that the messengers arrived, Bharata had a nightmare that caused Him
to wake up in a very disturbed state of mind. When Shatrughna inquired about His
despondency, Bharata explained, “Last night, in My dreams, I saw My father, disheveled and
dejected, fall from a mountaintop into a pool of cow-dung. As he floundered in the mire, the
King drank oil from his cupped palms and laughed hysterically like a madman. After the oil
became smeared all over his body, he began to eat rice that had been cooked in it.”
“After that, the scene changed, and I saw that the ocean had dried up and the moon had
fallen onto the earth. As the earth remained enveloped in darkness, Rakshasas wandered
over its surface while fire and lava erupted from volcanoes. Then, this scene evaporated and
I next saw that the tusks of my father’s elephants had been broken. Young dark-skinned
women began harassing the King, who was completely dressed in black, smeared over with
red sandalwood paste, adorned with a garland of red flowers, and seated upon an iron
throne. Finally, I saw a chariot drawn by donkeys swiftly carrying My father toward the
south,”
“After witnessing this ghastly dream, I have concluded that either My father, Myself, or
one of My brothers will surely die. Even now, although for no apparent reason, I feel a
constant fear in My heart. My voice is hoarse and My complexion has lost its luster. My mind
is reeling, and I feel shame and hatred- all for no apparent reason. The more I think about it,
the more I become convinced that this nightmare forebodes some great evil.”
While Bharata was speaking, the messengers from Ayodhya entered the room. After
offering their respects to Maharaja Ashvapati and Bharata, they relayed this message, “O
Prince, You are being summoned to Ayodhya by the ministers and Vasishtha Muni, for there
is an urgent matter that requires Your presence.”
When Bharata inquired about the welfare of His parents and brothers, the messengers
assured Him that they were all fine, for that had been their instruction. Bharata departed at
once, and even though Maharaja Ashvapati gave Him many valuable gifts, He hardly noticed
them, because of the urgency of Vasishtha’s message and the premonition that had been
caused by His dreams.
On the seventh day of their journey, Bharata and Shatrughna arrived at the outskirts of
Ayodhya. Even from a distance, the city did not seem to have its usual cheerful appearance.
When Bharata entered Ayodhya, He saw that everyone was in a state of deep depression.
The entire city appeared neglected and dirty because all the citizens had stopped performing
their occupational duties.
Being greatly alarmed, Bharata entered His father’s palace, and when He failed to find
the King in his room, He hurried to His mother’s apartment. When Bharata entered her room,
Kaikeyi jumped up from her seat, for she was overjoyed to see her long-absent son. Bharata
bent down to clasp His mother’s feet, and then she picked Him up and lovingly placed Him
upon her lap. In answer to His mother’s inquiries, Bharata assured her that her father was
well.
Bharata then said, “I have hurried back to Ayodhya at the urging of messengers. How is
My father? I did not find him in his room.”
Kaikeyi calmly replied, “My son, Your father, the King, has passed away.”
Upon hearing this, Bharata fell to the floor while crying aloud. Kaikeyi quickly went and
lifted Him up saying, “My dear Bharata, do not become so sad. It is the duty of an
enlightened person to remain equipoised.”
Bharata tearfully asked, “How did My father die? Did he leave any message for Me?
Mother, please send someone immediately to inform Rama of my arrival.”
As if relating some pleasant news, Kaikeyi frankly replied, “Being exiled from the
Koshala kingdom, Rama went to the forest dressed in tree-bark, and Sita and Lakshman
have followed Him. Your father could not bear to live without his pet son, and so he gave up
his life while crying out, “O Rama! O Sita! O Lakshman!”
Bharata asked, “Why was Rama sent into exile? What horrible crime did He commit?
Did He unwittingly kill a brahmana or take his possessions?”
Kaikeyi then narrated to Bharata all that had happened, considering herself to be very
clever for having manipulated events as she did. Kaikeyi said, “In your absence, the King
suddenly announced that Rama would be installed upon the royal throne the very next day.
In order to save us from being dominated by Kaushalya and her son, I took advantage of two
benedictions that Your father had formerly promised when I had saved his life.”
“With the first boon I demanded that You become the King’s successor, and with the
second, I banished Rama to the forest for fourteen years. Rama was always Dasharatha’s
pet son, and so in separation the King died of a broken heart.”
“My dear son, you must accept the royal throne this very day, after performing the
funeral ceremonies for Your departed father. Please take heart and give up Your grief.”
When Bharata thus learned the truth of the matter, He angrily rebuked His mother as
follows: “Wicked woman, you must be the goddess Kali herself, appearing for the destruction
of the universe! You have killed My father and exiled Rama, who is dearer to Me than My
own life. Are you really so perverse that you believe that I will accept the throne from you?
You are not My mother- you are My worst enemy! I hope that you go to hell for all that you
have done!”
“Sinful woman, I will never let you accomplish your selfish ambition. I will go to the forest
at once and bring back Rama so that He can rule the kingdom. After Rama is installed upon
the throne, I will engage myself as His eternal servant, for that is My natural position and
highest aspiration. Hardhearted woman, think of how Kaushalya must feel in the absence of
her only son. Wretched one, not only will I bring Rama back to Ayodhya, but I will myself
spend fourteen years in exile, just to keep My father’s promise intact and save Rama from
abandoning His vow.”
His anger having become highly inflamed, Bharata was hissing like a serpent. But then
suddenly, due to excessive grief, He fell to the floor unconscious.
When He regained His senses after a long time, Bharata spoke as follows to the
ministers who had gathered there: “I have no desire to become emperor of the world, for I
consider Myself to be a servant of My elder brother, Rama. Being away in a distant place, I
had no idea of My mother’s evil schemes. Please believe Me when I say that I had nothing to
do with Rama’s exile, and that Kaikeyi’s hopes are not shared by Me.”
Kaikeyi was shocked by Bharata’s response to all that she had done. Her illusion having
been destroyed, like a dream upon awakening, she felt pained at the turn of events and
tears began to well up in her eyes.
Kaushalya learned of Bharata’s arrival, so she went to meet Him, just as Bharata and
Shatrughna were on Their way to see her. While going, Kaushalya fainted, and so Bharata
and Shatrughna saw her lying on the floor. They picked Kaushalya up and embraced her,
but when she saw Bharata, she sarcastically said, “Oh, You have come back to enjoy the
kingdom You always coveted. You must be overjoyed that everything has worked out
perfectly, according to plan.”
Bharata felt very pained to hear these harsh words, and so He remained speechless for
some time. Then, regaining His composure, Bharata fell at Kaushalya’s feet.
After getting up, He said, “My dear mother, I had nothing to do with Rama’s exile. I had
no idea of what Kaikeyi was planning. You know how much I love Rama! Can’t you see how
aggrieved I am because of My father’s death and Rama’s exile?”
“Just to convince you of My innocence, I hereby make this solemn declaration: ‘May
whoever helped Kaikeyi in her nefarious plan to exile Rama reap the consequences of killing
a king, a cow, a woman, a child, or an old person. May he become addicted to wine, women,
meat and gambling. May godly men painstakingly avoid him, and may he remain childless
throughout his life. May he incur the sinful reaction that afflicts the arsonist, the traitorous
friend, and the unfair arbitrator. May he suffer the sinful reaction of refusing water to a thirsty
man and shunning his wife when she approaches him at her time for conception.’ ”
“My dear mother, Rama is My very life and soul and My existence has no other purpose
than dedication to His service.”
Hearing this, Kaushalya gave up her doubts and became convinced of Bharata’s
innocence. She lifted Him up and placed His head upon her lap, and she cried loudly while
fondly caressing Him. Bharata also felt very aggrieved by seeing His stepmother, and so
they passed the night together in commiseration.
The next morning, Vasishtha came and encouraged Bharata to cremate the body of His
deceased father. The body was taken out of the vat of oil and placed upon a decorated
carrier. But as He looked at the dead body, Bharata lost all composure and began to
address His father while sobbing convulsively. Once again Vasishtha urged Bharata to calm
Himself, so that the funeral rites could be completed.
At last, the procession wended its way as flowers were scattered on the road in front of
the carrier. The funeral pyre had been constructed from logs of sandalwood and aguru. After
the body was placed upon it, the fire was ignited while the brahmanas chanted mantras from
the Sama-veda. All the King’s consorts had come there, riding upon chariots and palanquins,
according to their status, and thus the air was filled with the sound of hundreds of wailing
women.
At the conclusion of the cremation, everyone went to the banks of the Sarayu to offer
water for the benefit of the King’s departed soul. After that, a ten-day contamination period
was observed, and then Bharata performed some required rituals for two days. At the end of
the twelfth day, Bharata gave profuse charity to the brahmanas.
At the dawn of the thirteenth day, Bharata and Shatrughna went to the funeral pyre to
collect the remains, which were to be thrown into the River Sarayu. Upon arriving there,
however, Bharata and Shatrughna once again became overwhelmed with grief. Weeping
profusely, They fell to the ground, and while writhing in agony, They cried out, again and
again, “O dear father, where have you gone, leaving Us aside?”
Vasishtha came and picked up Bharata, saying, “My dear prince, You must control
Yourself so that You can perform Your duties. First of all, collect the bones and ashes of
Your father’s cremated body. After cleaning the grounds, You must throw these remains into
the river. The dualities of life and death, joy and sorrow, and gain and loss are experienced
by all embodied beings, and are unavoidable. The indulgence in lamentation that You are
now displaying is not befitting a descendent of the Ikshvaku dynasty.”
Vasishtha similarly picked up and pacified Shatrughna, and thereafter, all the funeral
rites were dutifully completed. Finally, returning to the palace, Bharata began to think about
going to the forest, to bring back Rama and Lakshman.
Shatrughna then said, “Rama is the best well-wishing friend of everyone, and yet He
has been exiled to the forest at the insistence of a cruel and selfish woman. My brother
Lakshman must be even more condemned! Was there nothing He could do to avert this
disaster?”
Just at that moment, the hunch-backed maidservant, Manthara, appeared on the scene.
Although she looked no better than a monkey, her body was smeared over with sandalwood
paste, and she was wearing a valuable dress along with jeweled ornaments.
Knowing her to be the real cause of Rama’s banishment, the doorman suddenly
grabbed Manthara by the arm and dragged her before Shatrughna, exclaiming, “Here is the
wicked witch that incited Kaikeyi to banish Rama to the forest. O Prince, she fanned the
flames of jealousy within the Queen’s heart and thus became the murderer of Your father.
Punish her as You see fit!”
Overcome with a strong desire for revenge, Shatrughna violently grabbed Manthara and
began to drag her along the floor. As Manthara’s ornaments broke, so that the jewels
scattered here and there, her hunchbacked companions ran away in fear. Shatrughna then
vowed, “I shall now release My long-held wrath upon both Manthara and Kaikeyi so they can
feel as much pain as they have caused others.”
As Kaikeyi ran to Him for shelter, Bharata restrained His younger brother by saying,
“Shatrughna, women never deserve to be killed! I would have gladly killed Manthara and
Kaikeyi Myself, except that I knew that Rama would have never forgiven Me. Please restrain
Yourself!”
Shatrughna relented, letting go of Manthara, and she went sobbing to the shelter of
Kaikeyi’s feet.
The next morning, the bards came to eulogize Bharata in expectation of His becoming
the next king. Their praises only served to aggravate His grief, however, and so He ordered
them to stop by saying, “I am not the ruler of Ayodhya.”
Meanwhile, in the royal assembly, Vasishtha Muni ordered that Bharata be summoned,
along with the ministers, military commanders, and other important citizens. When Bharata
arrived at the assembly hall, He was received with the same enthusiasm that had formerly
been shown to Maharaja Dasharatha.
Vasishtha then said, “O Prince, because Rama and Lakshman have been banished to
the forest, and Your father has passed away, life within the kingdom is now disrupted. We
know that You had nothing to do with Kaikeyi’s intrigues, and that Maharaja Dasharatha
selected You as his successor. All the preparations have been made and the citizens are in
great anticipation. Please give Your consent so that we can install You upon the throne
today.”
Bharata felt very pained at heart to hear this proposal. While restraining His tears, He
replied, “O foremost of rishis, you are well aware of our family tradition that the eldest son
must be the inheritor of the royal throne. I could never think of usurping the kingdom from
Rama, for I consider Myself to be His menial servant. I want to go to the forest as soon as
possible, to persuade Rama to return to Ayodhya. If I am unsuccessful, then I shall also
remain in the forest, like Lakshman.”
“Please make ready a formidable army, and have the engineers construct roads where
there are none, so that we can proceed without impediment.”
Tears came to the eyes of all who heard Bharata’s impassioned statements, and the
ministers were very pleased by His determination. Upon receiving everyone’s approval,
Bharata also felt great relief, and He began to shed tears of joy.
Thereafter, the ministers summoned all kinds of engineers and laborers so that soon a
huge work crew left Ayodhya to construct a broad highway into the forest.
First, the workers cut down many trees, dug up their roots, and leveled the ground by
filling in the holes. They built bridges across the streams, and after paving the road, they
lined it with rows of flowering trees. Dams were constructed so that artificial lakes could be
built.
When everything was completed, the entire highway, which extended from Ayodhya up
to the banks of the Ganga, was sprinkled with sandalwood-scented water. Large tents were
put up at appropriate places, to provide rest-camps for the travelers, and fences and moats
surrounded them. The entire highway, which appeared to be fit for the demigods, was
completed in an amazingly short time.
The next morning, Bharata ordered Sumantra to bring His chariot, and before long They
departed, along with a huge army. Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi rode in separate
chariots, and they were all hopeful of bringing Rama back from the forest. Many other
citizens also accompanied Bharata, being delighted at the prospect of seeing Rama.
Arriving at the banks of the Ganga, the party rested for the night. When Guha saw
Bharata’s army, he suspected that He might be going with the intention of attacking Rama.
Therefore, he told his associates, “We are followers of Rama. As a precaution, let one
hundred soldiers guard each of our five hundred boats, so that, if necessary, we can prevent
Bharata from crossing the Ganga.”
Then, taking many gifts with him, Guha went to meet Bharata, to ascertain His actual
mentality. When Sumantra saw Guha approaching, he informed Bharata of his friendship
with Rama. The King of the Nishadas then came and extended all hospitality, and in
response, Bharata asked about the route to Bharadvaja’s ashram.
Guha said, “You can rest assured that I will guide You there. Now, please tell me frankly
what Your intentions are in going to see Rama. Since You have brought such a large army, it
appears that You want to fight with Him.”
Bharata replied, “My dear Guha, your words give Me great pain. Please believe Me
when I say that I have come here just to persuade Rama to return to Ayodhya so that He
can be installed as the ruler of the Koshalas.”
Guha was convinced by Bharata’s sincerity, and since darkness had already fallen,
everyone prepared to rest for the night. Later, Guha approached Bharata as He lay upon His
bed, and said, “When Rama came here, along with Sita and Lakshman, He lay down on a
bed that we made of dry leaves. As Sita and Rama slept, Lakshman and I stayed awake all
night talking. Lakshman could not bear to accept any comfort as long as Rama lay upon the
bare ground. The next morning, Rama and Lakshman matted Their hair with the sticky
extract of the banyan tree, and then crossed the Ganga.”
When Bharata heard how Rama had matted His hair, He became disheartened, thinking
that He might not be willing to return to Ayodhya. Kaushalya was seated nearby, and she
came to comfort Bharata. Guha continued to speak about everything that Rama had done
while going to the forest. Then he led Bharata, Shatrughna and Their mothers to the place
where Sita and Rama had slept, showing them the kusha grass that remained crushed by
the weight of Their bodies. Everyone felt sad to see this, for they remembered how Rama
used to sleep in royal comfort.
Bharata was especially pained, because He considered Himself to be the cause of Sita,
Rama and Lakshman’s sufferings. While condemning Himself, Bharata made up His mind to
mat His hair, and also lie down upon the bare ground to take Rama’s place in exile.
The next morning, Bharata, who now had matted hair and clothes made of tree-bark,
requested Guha to help Him across the Ganga. All the men and horses then crossed the
river in boats, while the elephants swam. After disembarking, Guha showed Bharata the way
to Bharadvaja’s ashram.
When He came close to the rishi’s hermitage, Bharata left his army at a distance of
three kilometers, and then proceeded on foot with Shatrughna and Vasishtha Muni. When he
saw Vasishtha enter, Bharadvaja quickly got up to greet him. Then, after the usual
formalities, Bharadvaja inquired, “O Prince, please tell me why you have come to the forest. I
certainly hope that you have not come with the intention of harming Rama.”
It was painful for Bharata to hear the rishi’s words. With tears in His eyes, He replied, “It
is very disturbing for Me to see how people doubt My motives. Please be assured that I have
come here just to convince Rama to return to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. O best of
rishis, kindly point out where My brother is staying.”
Bharadvaja replied, “My dear Prince, I already knew of your intentions by dint of my
yogic powers. I just felt it was my duty to test You. Rama is staying at Chitrakoot Mountain,
and so remain here tonight and then continue Your journey tomorrow morning.”
Bharata accepted the invitation, and then Bharadvaja asked Him to call for His soldiers,
for he wished to entertain them all. After the army’s arrival, Bharadvaja invoked
Vishvakarma, along with other leading demigods, headed by Indra, Yama, Varuna and
Kuvera. The rishi requested them to supply all necessary objects of enjoyment so that he
could provide a first-class reception for his guests.
Immediately after the departure of the demigods, fragrant breezes began to blow. Then,
by the influence of Vishvakarma, the entire area, to the extent of sixty kilometers, became
carpeted, except for some gardens placed at interval, full of fruit trees and flowers.
Miraculously, four-room houses and stables manifested themselves, as well as a royal
palace that was furnished with every conceivable article of enjoyment.
Bharata entered this magnificent building, followed by His priests and ministers, and as
He approached the royal throne, He meditated upon Rama, as if He were seated there.
Bharata circumambulated His elder brother and then bowed His head to offer obeisances.
He then picked up a chamara and sat down in the chair meant for the chief minister, as all
others took their respective seats.
Meanwhile, by utilizing his mystic power, Bharadvaja created a river of kheer (rice
cooked with milk and sugar) that flowed through his ashram. Lord Brahma and Kuvera each
sent 20,000 women whose embrace would cause a man to appear as if seized by a fit of
madness. The chief Gandharvas- Narada, Tumburu and Gopa, came to sing of Rama’s
glories to Bharata, and Bharadvaja summoned celestial trees to accompany them with
musical instruments. Thus, a bel tree played tablas while peepul trees danced. Other trees,
such as the tamala, appeared as hunchbacks and dwarves to render service to Bharata, and
jambu trees took the form of young women.
While Bharata was being entertained in this manner, the soldiers were hardly neglected.
Celestial girls sang to them in very sweet voices while urging them to drink wine and eat
kheer. Seven or eight girls were engaged in massaging oil over each soldier’s body and then
bathing him with water. Other girls massaged the soldiers’ feet, and had them drink wine in a
secluded place. Even the horses were fed sumptuously with grains soaked in honey.
When the men became intoxicated, they exclaimed, “This is heaven! We no longer want
to continue our journey to the forest, nor return to Ayodhya!”
In this way, the soldier became satiated with all kinds of enjoyment in the association of
heavenly damsels. In fact, thousands of soldiers were seen running here and there while
singing, dancing and laughing. Everyone was so amazed by the entertainment that they felt
as if they were enjoying a delightful dream. The night seemed to pass quickly, and with the
appearance of dawn, all the Gandharvas, Apsaras and celestial trees took permission from
Bharadvaja and returned to their respective abodes.
Bharata then took His mothers and went to Bharadvaja to ask for directions to
Chitrakoot. As the rishi inquired whether Bharata had enjoyed the reception, he noticed that
one woman appeared to be emaciated because of grief, another was clasping his feet to
offer respect, and the third stood with her head hung down in shame.
When Bharadvaja inquired about their identities, Bharata replied, “This is Kaushalya, the
seniormost widow of Dasharatha, and this is Sumitra, the mother of Lakshman and
Shatrughna. This other woman, who is cruel, vulgar, conceited and sinful, is Kaikeyi. Being
the cause of Rama’s exile, she is the root of all our present miseries.”
Bharadvaja then said, “Bharata, You should not consider Your mother to be guilty, for
there is a higher purpose behind Rama’s banishment to the forest. Your mother’s actions are
just a part of a great plan, meant for the welfare and happiness of all beings.”
Thereafter, Bharata circumambulated Bharadvaja Rishi and then commanded His army
to depart. As the regiments of infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots proceeded, all the
forest animals fled in fear to distant places. At last, when Chitrakoot Mountain came into
view, Bharata asked the soldiers to be on the lookout for Rama’s cottage. Someone then
saw a column of smoke rising up in the distance, and so he excitedly went and told Bharata.
After ordering His army to set up camp, Bharata went on foot, along with Vasishtha,
Shatrughna and a few others.
Meanwhile, Rama had been sitting with Sita on a big rock at the foot of the hill.
Pleasantly passing their time, Rama was describing to Sita the varieties of roots that the
rishis eat. He also pointed out all kinds of trees, plants and wild animals that were found in
the region. They had been residing at Chitrakoot for about three months, and Rama always
tried His best to divert Sita’s mind from the grief of living in exile. Rama pointed toward the
River Mandakini, which was adorned with beautiful flowers, and which served as the sporting
ground for numerous swans, cranes and other exotic birds.
Rama said, “Dear one, there is no reason for Us to be aggrieved, for We are living
together in such a lovely place.”
It was at this time that Rama spotted the dust being raised by Bharata’s army in the far
distance. Soon, Rama could hear the sounds of the wild animals that were fleeing in fear.
Turning to Lakshman, He said, “Just see the dust being raised over there by something that
is frightening the forest animals. Please find out at once what is causing this disturbance.”
Lakshman climbed a tall tree, and from there he could see the vast army approaching.
With great alarm, he called down to Rama, “Put out the fire immediately and hide Sita within
a cave. Then, bring our weapons, for there is an army coming toward Us.”
Rama called back, “Look at the flags on the chariots, and see if you can tell whose army
it is.”
When Lakshman saw that the flags had the design of a white Kovidara tree, he shouted,
“It is Bharata’s army! Our brother must be coming here to kill Us so that He can be assured
of enjoying unrivaled sovereignty. The soldiers are approaching us with great enthusiasm, so
We had better take our bows and prepare to fight from the top of the hill. Rama, it is Our
good fortune that Bharata has come here so that I can fight with the one who has caused
Our suffering. We should not hesitate to kill Bharata. After doing so I will take great pleasure
in killing Kaikeyi and all her relatives, just to purge the earth of the sins she has committed.”
To pacify Lakshman, Rama replied, “When Bharata has come here in great eagerness
to see Me, what is the necessity of bows and arrows? In My opinion, Bharata has come here
just to offer Me the kingdom. But, if You want to kill Bharata so that You can enjoy the
kingdom for Yourself, just say so and I will order Bharata to hand it over to You peacefully.”
After being admonished, Lakshman hung His head down in shame and said, “I was
hoping that Our father had come to see Us. I can see his elephant, but it is without the usual
white umbrella and so I think that he has not come.”
Sita, Rama and Lakshman returned to their cottage while Bharata was searching in the
forest nearby. Climbing a tree, Bharata spotted a column of smoke, and so He hastened in
that direction, followed by Guha, Shatrughna and Sumantra, while Vasishtha went to get the
three mothers.
At last, Bharata came to a clearing in the forest, and there He saw the small cottage
with Rama and Lakshman’s gold-plated bows and a sacrificial altar in front. Upon seeing
Rama, Bharata rushed forward with tears in His eyes, crying out, “Oh, how painful it is to see
You with matted hair and tree-bark clothing! You were accustomed to living in royal comfort,
but due to My fault, You are now suffering in the forest.”
Then, as Bharata ran to touch Rama’s lotus feet, He fainted and fell to the ground.
Rama quickly came and lifted Him up, and He was also very aggrieved to see His younger
brother so emaciated and dressed in tree-bark. Rama embraced Shatrughna, who had fallen
at His feet, and then Sumantra and Guha.
After taking Bharata upon His lap, Rama inquired, “My dear brother, why have You
come here, leaving Our father alone and unattended to? Tell Me about Our mothers, and
about the residents of Ayodhya? Are they well and happy? I hope that You have not come
here after having already lost Your sovereignty!”
Rama continued to inquire about Bharata’s welfare, in a manner that would give
instruction to all political heads of state: “My dear brother, a righteous kingdom will surely
prosper. Are the brahmanas, demigods and elders being properly respected? Are the
women within the kingdom being properly honored and protected? Are disputes being
impartially judged? I hope that You avoid the fourteen weaknesses- atheism, hypocrisy,
anger, procrastination, laziness, slavery to the senses, contempt for good advice, lack of
vigilance, fondness for bad council, impractical planning, inability to keep a secret,
attachment to foolish friends, negligence of religious observances, and failure to counteract
enemies.”
“Bharata, are you aware of the three kinds of prowess- physical strength, power of
authority, and intelligence? Do You avoid the following eight kinds of friends- the deceitful,
the reckless, the violent, the envious, the gossiper, the foul-mouthed, the usurper of
property, and the unjust?”
“Do You avoid making alliances with these twenty kinds of kings? They are- the child-
monarch, the senile, the frail and ill, the over-aggressive, the cowardly, the greedy, the
sensualist, the frivolous, those who were defeated in battle, who have been overthrown, who
frequently travel abroad, who have many enemies, who are poverty-stricken, who are
opposed to religious principles, who are despised by their ministers, and who are mentally
disturbed?”
“I hope that You prefer to keep the company of one learned man rather than thousands
of ignorant fools. A single talented minister can give one immense benefit, whereas in times
of necessity, thousands of fools are of no use.”
“Bharata, if a King does not get rid of a physician who is simply adept at aggravating a
disease, a servant who in intent upon bringing disgrace upon his master, or a warrior who
wants to become the ruler himself, then he will surely be killed by these three.”
“Are the women protected and honored by You, and are they pacified with regards to
their material demands? I hope that You do not place too much faith in women or confide
Your secrets to them.”
While observing Bharata’s matted hair and forest dress, Rama could understand that He
had accepted these austerities out of love for Him. After once again embracing Bharata,
Rama inquired, “My dear brother, why have You relinquished the throne and come here to
the forest, dressed as a mendicant?”
Bharata replied, “Rama, my mother’s intrigues were carried out without My knowledge.
Please believe Me. You are the rightful inheritor of the royal throne, and so I implore You to
return at once to take up the rule of the kingdom. Practically the whole of Ayodhya has come
to a standstill for everyone is morose on account of Your absence.”
As He made this impassioned appeal, Bharata clasped Shri Rama’s lotus feet and
placed them upon His head. Rama picked up Bharata and embraced Him while saying, “I
know that You had no part in banishing Me to the forest. Still, I don’t want to regain the
kingdom by sinful means.”
“Bharata, You should not condemn Your mother or the King, for they were both acting
within the bounds of propriety. In fact, elders are always free to treat their dependents as
they like. Just accept the royal throne and rule the kingdom, for that was the desire of Your
father. For My part, I am determined to spend fourteen years in the forest. I consider the
father’s order to be the supreme religious principle.”
Bharata objected, saying, “In the presence of an elder prince, no one can become the
King. You must come back to Ayodhya and sit upon the throne, after offering water for the
benefit of Our dear father’s departed soul.”
Upon hearing of His father’s death, Rama fainted onto the ground. Sita, Bharata and
Lakshman hastily sprinkled water over His body, so that Rama soon regained
consciousness. After tearfully lamenting at great length the loss of His father, Rama
declared, “I shall never return to Ayodhya!”
Afterwards, Rama went to the banks of the River Mandakini Ganga, along with His
brothers and Sumantra. There, He offered water for the welfare of His departed father. Upon
returning to His cottage, Rama clasped His brothers’ hands, and all four began wailing with
grief. This loud sound reverberated throughout the valley, and when the soldiers of Bharata’s
army heard it, they became saddened, knowing it to be the grief of the four brothers. They
hurried toward the direction from which the sound was coming, and soon after, they greeted
Rama with tears in their eyes.
Meanwhile, keeping the three widows of Maharaja Dasharatha in front, Vasishtha also
hastened to see Rama. Arriving at the Ganga, he saw the remnants of articles that Rama
had used for making offerings to His departed father. Kaushalya was pained to observe that
the only food that Rama had at His disposal was some pulp of the Ingudi fruit.
Considering this to be unworthy of being offered to her husband, with a tinge of
amusement she thought, “Now I am practically experiencing the truth of the old adage that
says, ‘The deities that a man worships have to partake of the same food upon which he
subsists.’ ”
When Vasishtha and the three women came to the cottage, they were very pained to
see how Rama looked just like a demigod that had fallen from heaven. Rama quickly stood
up and went to touch His mothers’ feet. As Rama bowed down, the mothers wiped the dust
from His back, while Sita and Lakshman also came to greet them.
After the exchange of welcomes, Rama sat down with His preceptor, Vasishtha, while
the others took their seats around them. Bharata then told Rama, “My mother is now
repentant, and so, with her permission, I wish to return the kingdom of Koshala to You.”
Everyone present applauded the proposal, but Rama replied, “My dear Bharata, in this
world no one can act independently. Under the control of eternal Time, everything ultimately
meets with defeat. Therefore, no wise man should lament for life’s reverses. Union always
ends in separation. Pieces of driftwood float together on the surface of the ocean and then
later on disperse. Similarly, members of family and society meet briefly and then depart for
their separate destinations. As solid pillars gradually decay, causing a house to collapse, so
a man totters into old age, and at last meets with death. As a river cannot return to its
source, so everyone must follow the path of his forefathers.”
“Why should one feel sorry for others, when he himself is going to die? A man’s skin
becomes wrinkled and his hair turns grey. What can he do? He is happy to see the sun rise,
and then he is happy to see the sun set, without realizing that he has died a little. Therefore,
a sober and learned person should use his energy for executing religious principles, so that
he can attain a higher destination after death.”
“Bharata, there is no need to lament for Our father, for he has given up an old body to
attain heavenly happiness. You must return to Ayodhya at once and execute Our father’s
order, just as I will remain here to carry out his will.”
Still, Bharata argued, “Rama, Our noble father had become too infatuated with women
in his old age. He seemed to confirm the popular notion that at the time of death one
invariably becomes obsessed with something. You should return to Ayodhya and thus undo
the harm that Our father caused by his weakness. You are a kshatriya, and so it Your duty to
act like one, not like a rishi. You are a grihastha, which is the noblest of the four ashrams.
Why are You abandoning the duties of married life? If You refuse to return to Ayodhya, then
I shall also not go back. I will remain here in the forest like You and Lakshman.”
Rama replied, “My dear Bharata, You are wrongly criticizing Our father by saying that he
was impelled by lusty attachment for Kaikeyi. At the time of the King’s marriage to Kaikeyi,
her father had made him promise that it would be her son who succeeded him as emperor.
Please go back to Ayodhya, so that Our father’s promise can be kept intact. You must take
responsibility for ruling the kingdom, even if it is only for My sake.”
A great rishi named Jabali was accompanying Vasishtha, and he was the next to speak.
In the hopes of arousing within Rama the desire to enjoy royal opulence and sense
gratification, thus facilitating His return to Ayodhya, Jabali expounded an atheistic
philosophy.
The rishi said, “O Prince, a living being is nothing more than the resultant combination of
a sperm and an ovum. The father is called the efficient cause of the living entity and the
mother is called the material cause. But in reality, the only cause of creation is the chance
interaction of atomic particles. When a person dies, he once again becomes dust. Thus,
everything we see is just a combination of atoms and nothing more. What we call mother,
father, son or daughter, have no real relationship with us.”
“Rama, why should You suffer, just for the sake of Your so-called father? What is the
use in performing the shraddha ceremony? Can a dead man eat Your offerings? Whatever
we perceive is the all-in-all. Therefore, You should enjoy what is pleasing to the senses, by
accepting the kingdom from Bharata.”
After hearing this, Rama heatedly replied, “Your views are actually impiety in the garb of
piety, and because of this, they are most dangerous. In the guise of wisdom, you are
preaching the grossest ignorance.”
“One who lives only for the pleasure of the senses becomes a slave to uncontrolled lust
and greed. Truth is the highest principle of virtue, and so I will adhere to the order of My
father without being swayed by the aspiration for personal sense enjoyment. This earth is
the field of activities, and when one attains the rarely achieved human birth, only pious acts
should be performed.”
“My father made a mistake by keeping you as an advisor because your views are
staunchly atheistic like those of Charvaka and the Buddhists. People like you are so
condemned that the Vedas prohibit one from even seeing the face of an atheist.”
Jabali then admitted, “Rama, I am actually a follower of the Vedas, and I have firm faith
in the existence of God. I was only speaking from the atheistic point of view to try and
persuade You to return to Ayodhya.”
Rama had become terribly angry while listening to Jabali’s atheistic discourse, and so
Vasishtha also spoke to pacify Him. The rishi said, “Rama, every king in the Ikshvaku
dynasty had selected his eldest son to inherit the kingdom. The unbroken rule is that as long
as an elder brother is alive, no younger brother can sit upon the throne. Therefore, I implore
You to return to Ayodhya. To deny my order would be irreligious, because the guru’s
instructions take precedence over those given by a mother or father.”
Rama remained adamant, however, insisting that one’s duty to his parents is inviolable.
When Bharata finally understood that His attempt to persuade Rama had failed, He became
so depressed that he ordered Sumantra, “Spread kusha grass in front of the door to Rama’s
cottage. I am going to sit there blindfolded, fasting from all food and drink, until Rama relents
and accepts the royal throne.”
Sumantra would not act without Rama’s order, however, and so Bharata spread the
kusha grass with His own hands and then sat down at the entrance to Rama’s cottage.
Rama then said, “My dear brother, I have not done You any harm. Why are You trying to
force Me like this?”
In response, Bharata appealed to all those present there, “Why are you standing like
statues? Why don’t you try and dissuade Rama from His determination to remain here in the
forest?”
The people replied, “Since Rama is fully determined to fulfill His father’s promise, it is
very difficult for us to even think of arguing with Him.”
Rama then said, “My dear brother, why don’t You also accept this attitude, instead of
stubbornly trying to oppose Me?”
At last, Bharata gave up the idea of fasting until death. Still, He pleaded, “Rama, let me
act as Your proxy by staying here in the forest for fourteen years while You return to
Ayodhya to rule the kingdom.”
Rama replied, “This is not a proper proposal, for the use of a proxy is only sanctioned
when one is incapable of performing some act.”
Just then, a host of celestial rishis appeared invisibly in the sky and praised the
wonderful conversation between the two divine brothers. Desiring to accelerate the death of
Ravana, the rishis said, “Bharata, you should follow Your elder brother’s advice.”
Rama was very pleased to hear this, but Bharata still pleaded, “I am not powerful
enough to rule the kingdom, and so You must go back to take charge of the administration.”
Saying this, Bharata fell at Rama’s lotus feet. Rama took Bharata upon His lap and said,
“My dear brother, You are quite capable of ruling the kingdom in My absence. My mind
cannot be deterred from its decision, and so You must give up all reluctance and accept the
responsibility that has come to You.”
At last surrendering to the inevitable, Bharata brought forth a pair of wooden sandals
that were inlaid with gold and requested Rama to place His lotus feet upon them. Rama put
on the shoes and then immediately gave them back to Bharata.
Bharata bowed down to Rama and said, “After relegating the burden of ruling the
kingdom to these shoes, I will remain outside Ayodhya, keeping matted hair and wearing
clothes of tree-bark. Rama, I will eat only fruit and roots while awaiting Your return. But, if
after fourteen years You do not come back, I will give up my life by entering fire.”
Rama accepted this statement and then embraced Bharata and Shatrughna. He
assured Them that after the expiry of His term of exile, He would return home to sit on the
throne. With tears in His eyes, Rama bid farewell to His brothers, while urging them not to
neglect Kaikeyi. Rama spoke some very sweet words to His mothers, but they were too
upset to say anything in reply. Rama then implored everyone to return to Ayodhya, and after
doing so, He turned His back and entered His cottage.
Thereafter, placing Rama’s shoes upon his head, Bharata got onto his chariot, along
with Shatrughna, and set out, keeping the brahmanas in front.
After arriving at Bharadvaja’s ashram, Bharata went and offered his obeisances to the
rishi. In answer to Bharadvaja’s inquiries, Bharata described Rama’s determination to remain
in exile. Vasishtha then brought Rama’s shoes and requested Bharadvaja to empower them
with the potency to fulfill all the needs of Ayodhya’s citizens. This was done ceremonially by
the rishi, after which Bharata took permission to depart.
Returning by the same path by which he came to the forest, Bharata eventually arrived
at the outskirts of Ayodhya. Seeing the city’s desolate appearance, he remarked to
Sumantra, “Without Rama, Ayodhya has no life, just as the material body becomes inert
after the passing away of the soul.”
After entering his father’s palace, Bharata broke down and cried because of its bleak
and desolate appearance. At this time, he made up His mind to retire to Nandigrama and
live there like an ascetic. The ministers praised this noble determination. Bharata then called
for His chariot and departed, along with Shatrughna. Out of spontaneous affection, all the
citizens followed Bharata as He went to Nandigrama. Upon His arrival, Bharata first of all
ordered His ministers to place Rama’s shoes upon the throne.
Thereafter, as He remained at Nandigrama, along with His army, Bharata submitted all
the state affairs to Rama’s shoes, as well as all the gifts that were presented to Him. Bharata
would often be seen holding the royal umbrella over Rama’s shoes, or else fanning them
with a chamara. In this way, Bharata ruled the kingdom for fourteen years, always feeling
Himself subordinate to Lord Rama, who remained there in the form of His shoes.
Meanwhile, Rama began to notice anxiety in the minds of the rishis living in the vicinity
of Chitrakoot. Feeling that perhaps He was the cause, Rama humbly approached the leader
of the rishis and said, “I can see that there is something disturbing the minds of the rishis
living here. If you can, please disclose the reason for this, especially if there is some fault on
My part.”
The elderly rishi replied, “My dear Rama, there could never be any fault on Your part.
Our fear is caused by the Rakshasas, headed by Khara, the younger brother of Ravana.
Being envious by nature, Khara and the other Rakshasas come before us in hideous forms,
and while disrupting our sacrifices, they pollute our bodies with foul substances. We plan to
move to another area before the Rakshasas resort to violence. I will take my disciples to
Ashva Muni’s ashram, which is not very far from here. If You like, You can accompany us
and take up residence there.”
Rama informed the rishi that He preferred to remain at Chitrakoot. But after some time,
He also made up His mind to go to Atri Muni’s ashram, feeling disturbed by memories of
Bharata and His mothers’ visit there. The rishi received Sita, Rama and Lakshman very
warmly, as if They were his own children, and Sita took the opportunity of meeting his elderly
wife, Anasuya. While Sita listened with rapt attention, Anasuya spoke about the duties of a
chaste wife.
Finally, being very pleased with Sita, Anasuya said, “My dear child, I wish to offer you a
benediction by utilizing my ample stock of ascetic merit. Just tell me what it is that you would
like.”
Sita replied, “O saintly lady, your presence is, in itself, sufficient benediction.”
Nevertheless, Anasuya gave Sita an unfading celestial garland, celestial garments and
ornaments, and cosmetics that were inexhaustible. When evening approached, Anasuya
asked Sita to go and attend to her husband, after putting on her newly acquired dress and
jewelry. Rama was very pleased to see Sita in this way, and that night They slept at Atri’s
ashram. The next morning Rama inquired from Atri Muni about the path to the Dandaka
forest.
At this time, the rishi warned, “This forest is infested with fierce and malicious
Rakshasas. They take pleasure in devouring anyone who neglects to wash his mouth after
eating, or who is inattentive in following other such injunctions.”
Rama said goodbye to Atri Muni and Anasuya, and then, along with Sita and Lakshman,
He entered the dense forest, like the moon entering a mass of dark clouds.

Aranya-kanda

Within the Dandaka forest, Sita, Rama, and Lakshman saw a delightful cluster of
cottages inhabited by rishis. Surrounded by trees laden with fruit and flowers, and
resounding with the singing of birds and the chanting of Vedic mantras, the ashram
sanctified the hearts of all who beheld it. In the surrounding area, the deer and other animals
roamed without fear. Rama and Lakshman removed the strings from Their bows and
entered the ashram.
They were very warmly received by the rishis, and were given a grass hut to stay in.
After spending the night, Rama took leave of the sages and then led the way deeper into the
forest, with Sita in the middle and Lakshman behind.
Suddenly, a gigantic, hideous Rakshasa appeared upon the scene. Dressed in blood-
stained tiger-skin and having sunken eyes, long sharp teeth, a jagged jaw, and a round
protruding belly, the Rakshasa carried a spear from which dangled the heads of three lions,
four tigers, two wolves, ten spotted deer, and an elephant, all dripping with blood. Appearing
like death personified, the horrible monster roared ferociously and then lunged forward,
snatching Sita.
Quickly retreating to some distance, the Rakshasa roared once again and then
declared, “I will take this woman for my wife and drink the blood of You other two.”
Rama exclaimed, “To see Sita being touched by someone else is even more painful for
Me than the death of My father!”
Lakshman said reproachfully, “How can You just stand there and lament? Watch now as
I kill this Rakshasa by venting the anger against Bharata that I have been obliged to
suppress for so long!”
At this point, the Rakshasa inquired, “Who are You, that have intruded into my forest?”
Rama replied, “We are two kshatriyas. Why have you dared to obstruct Us and carry off
My wife?”
The Rakshasa replied, “My name is Viradha, the son of Java by his wife Shatahrada. As
a reward for my severe austerities, I received a benediction from Lord Brahma that no
weapon can kill me. Therefore, I advise You to run away at once, for if You do so, leaving
this lovely woman for me, I will spare You.”
Upon hearing this, Rama angrily strung His bow and quickly released seven golden-
feathered arrows that made Viradha fall to the ground, bleeding profusely. After letting Sita
go, Viradha picked up his lance and rushed madly toward Rama and Lakshman. Although
the two brothers showered innumerable arrows upon the Rakshasa, he simply laughed
hideously in response. In fact, as Viradha swallowed some of the arrows, the rest simply fell
down from his body as a result of Brahma’s benediction. While laughing, Viradha threw his
lance, but Rama cut it to pieces with His arrows.
Then, taking up their swords, Rama and Lakshman rushed at Viradha. And yet, even as
they hacked away at his body, the Rakshasa picked Rama and Lakshman up in his arms
and began carrying Them away on his shoulders into the forest. Seeing this, Sita cried out
piteously, “O Rakshasa, please leave these two aside, and take me instead.”
When They heard this, Rama and Lakshman decided to kill Viradha at once. Exhibiting
super-human prowess, Rama broke off the Rakshasa’s right arm while Lakshman wrenched
off his left. This caused Viradha to fall to the ground unconscious while Rama and Lakshman
continued to beat him with Their fists. Still, despite being repeatedly smashed and kicked,
the Rakshasa did not die.
Rama then said, “Lakshman, because this demon cannot be killed in battle, let Us bury
him alive. Quickly, dig a big hole while I keep My eye on him.”
While Lakshman was digging, Viradha regained consciousness and said to Rama, “Now
I recognize You. In truth, I am the Gandharva, Tumburu. Because of lusting after the Apsara,
Rambha, I was cursed by Kuvera to become a Rakshasa until that time when You would
deliver me. Please bury me in this hole, for in this way I shall become free from that curse.
Afterwards, You should go and meet the great rishi, Sharabhanga, who lives about twenty
kilometers from here, for he will give You some very beneficial advice.”
As Lakshman continued digging, Rama kept His foot on the Rakshasa’s neck. At last,
Rama threw the screaming demon into the deep pit and then covered him over with big
stones. In this way, Tumburu gave up his Rakshasa body and ascended to heaven, being
relieved from Kuvera’s curse.
As advised, Sita, Rama and Lakshman set out to visit the great sage Sharabhanga.
When They approached the rishi’s ashram, They were amazed to see King Indra sitting on
his celestial chariot, the wheels of which did not touch the ground. Surrounded by numerous
demigods, Indra was conversing with Sharabhanga, and at that time another celestial chariot
came and waited in the sky. When he saw Rama approach, Indra quickly ascended to the
sky in his chariot drawn by 1000 horses, because he only wanted to meet the Lord after
Ravana’s death.
Sita, Rama and Lakshman hurriedly went and touched Sharabhanga’s feet. After being
welcomed by the rishi, Rama asked, “Great sage, if you are able to disclose the matter,
please tell us the purpose of Indra’s visit.”
Sharabhanga replied, “Indra came here to take me to Brahmaloka, which is the
destination I have earned by my severe penance. But, I told the King of heaven that before
departing from this world I wanted to see You, knowing that You were nearby.”
Later on, when Rama requested Sharabhanga to designate a place of residence for His
period of exile, the rishi advised Him to approach the great sage Sutikshna. Sharabhanga
then said, “ Rama, I have one request that I beg You to kindly fulfill. The time has come for
me to give up my material body, and so I wish to do so in Your presence.”
Sarabhanga built a fire and made it blaze up brightly by pouring ghee. Then, while
chanting mantras, the rishi entered the fire and burned his body to ashes. Immediately,
Sharabhanga was seen rising out of the fire, and in a youthful and dazzlingly effulgent
celestial body, he ascended to Brahmaloka, where he was welcomed by its inhabitants.
Thereafter, some rishis came to Rama and said, “Many of us living here are being
mercilessly killed by the Rakshasas. You may come and see the dead bodies that are still
lying about, here and there. Rama, we humbly beg You to give us protection.”
Rama assured the rishis by saying, “As a kshatriya I am your servant, and so, for your
sake I will kill the Rakshasas.” Rama then proceeded to Sutikshna’s ashram in the company
of those rishis.
Welcoming Them, Sutikshna said, “I have been awaiting Your visit, O descendent of
Raghu. Before ascending to Brahmaloka, Indra came here to inform me of Your immanent
arrival.”
Later on, when Rama asked Sutikshna to designate a place for His residence, the rishi
offered the use of his own cottage. Rama refused, saying, “If we were to remain here, our
killing the deer would certainly be the cause of your unhappiness.”
Sita, Rama and Lakshman spent the night at Sutikshna’s ashram. The next morning,
when Rama took permission to depart, Sutikshna embraced Him and invited Him to return
after visiting all the hermitages in the Dandaka forest.
Later in the day, as they were walking along the forest path, Sita said, “My dear
husband, due to the powerful influence of material nature, it is possible for even a great and
noble man to gradually become degraded. Therefore, one should always be very careful to
control his mind and senses so as to avoid the addictions that result from material desire.
There are three sinful activities that should especially be avoided- false speech, sexual
relations with another’s wife, and cruelty toward those who are not inimical.”
“In Your character there is not even a pinch of the first two faults, for You have never
uttered a lie, and You could not even think of lusting after another’s wife. But, Rama, I see
that You take the lives of so many innocent animals. Because of this, I can understand that
there is still the contamination of enmity in You. I feel very unhappy when I see the poor
animals being needlessly killed.”
“My dear Rama, simply by carrying a bow in Your hands You increase the killing
propensity, just as putting fuel too near a fire makes it blaze higher.”
“Please listen as I tell You a story in this connection. Once, there was a rishi who
performed such wonderful austerities that Indra became afraid of being overthrown. Desiring
to obstruct the rishi’s advancement, Indra came before him in the guise of a warrior. While
handing him a sword, Indra requested, ‘Please keep this for me very carefully, until I return
later on to take it back.’ ”
The rishi consented, and in order to keep his promise, he always kept the sword with
him, even when he went to the forest to collect fruit and flowers. But, as a result, the rishi’s
mind gradually became tinged with the desire for cruelty. At last, he gave up his execution of
austerities to live a life of violence. In this way, the rishi became so degraded that after death
he went to hell for punishment.”
“My dear husband, since that brahmana became degraded simply by the association of
Indra’s sword, I request You to keep Your bow in hand only for the purpose of killing the
Rakshasas that are harassing the rishis. Please do not kill even the innocent Rakshasas,
and so what to speak of other poor creatures. Of course, I am a foolish woman and so it is
not my position to instruct You about religious principles. Still, if You think it fit, please give
my words some thought and then do what You think is best.”
Rama replied, “Dear Sita, I very much appreciate your words, which are certainly full of
wisdom. I know that it is only because you love Me that you have advised Me for My welfare.
Unless one is dear, he is never given such frank council. Janaki, the rishis could easily kill
the Rakshasas but they do not do so because it would diminish their stock of acquired
ascetic merit. It is for this reason that I have promised to kill all the Rakshasas in the
Dandaka forest. I might be able to renounce you or even Lakshman, but I could never give
up a promise that I had made to the brahmanas.”
Sita, Rama and Lakshman came to a large, heavenly lake. Mysteriously, the sound of
singing could be heard coming from within the water, although no one was to be seen.
A rishi named Dharmabhrit was present, and at Rama’s request, he explained, “This
lake, known as Pancapsara, was originally created by the sage, Mandakarni, by utilizing his
mystic power. Thereafter, he performed austerities on the shore of this lake for 10,000 years
while subsisting only upon air. Because of this, the demigods became very fearful, thinking
that the rishi might come to occupy one of their posts.”
“To divert Mandakarni, the demigods deputed five Apsaras, and it so happened that the
rishi became captivated by their feminine attractions. After marrying them all, Mandakarni
began to reside with them in a secret house that he created within the water. The sound that
you hear is the music of those Apsaras. Even to this very day they constantly serve the great
rishi, who has regained his youth by utilizing his ascetic prowess.”
Thereafter, Sita, Rama and Lakshman wandered from ashram to ashram within the
Dandaka forest. Sometimes they would stay at an ashram for two weeks, sometimes for a
month, and sometimes even longer, up to a year. In this way, ten years of Rama’s exile
passed quite comfortably and contentedly. After visiting the ashrams within the Dandaka
forest, Sita, Rama and Lakshman returned to Sutikshna’s hermitage and continued living
there.
One day, while conversing with Sutikshna, Rama said, “I have heard that the great
sage, Agastya, lives somewhere in Dandakaranya, but I could not find him within the vast
forest. I would like to go and offer My respects to the rishi and receive his blessings in return.
Kindly give Me directions.”
Sutikshna replied, “I think that it is very good for You to go and see Agastya. I suggest
that You set out this very day.”
After taking directions from Sutikshna, Rama departed, along with Sita and Lakshman.
When They came to the vicinity of Agastya’s ashram, Rama told the story of how the rishi
had formerly killed the Rakshasa brothers, Vatapi and Ilvala.
As evening approached, They arrived at the ashram belonging to Agastya’s brother and
so decided to spend the night there. The next day they arrived at Agastya’s ashram, which
was free from all disturbances because the Rakshasas were afraid of him. Rama sent
Lakshman to announce His arrival. When a disciple informed him, Agastya commanded,
“Invite Rama to come here at once, for I have been waiting in expectation for a long time.”
When Rama entered the ashram, He saw that sitting places were kept ready for
receiving the demigods. Agastya came to greet Rama, and with great reverence the Lord
bowed down and touched the rishi’s feet. Agastya had Rama seated, and then, after the
customary inquiries, he provided his guests with very nice food. When the meal was
finished, Agastya took great pleasure in giving Rama a bow of Lord Vishnu that had been
made by Vishvakarma, two inexhaustible quivers presented by Indra, an infallible arrow
given by Lord Brahma, and a gold-inlaid sword.
Then, turning to Sita, Agastya said, “You have earned eternal glory by voluntarily
undergoing great hardship for the sake of your husband. What you have done is especially
meritorious because it has been the nature of women since the very dawn of creation to love
a man only so long as he is prosperous.”
When Rama asked Agastya to suggest a place for His residence, the rishi thought for
awhile and then recommended Panchavati, about twenty kilometers away, near the
Godavari River. Before Rama’s departure, Agastya confided, “I already know about Your
entire life by dint of my yogic perception, which has been enhanced by my affection for You.”
While on the way to Panchavati, Sita, Rama and Lakshman came upon Jatayu, the
gigantic king of the vultures. Thinking him to be a Rakshasa, Rama inquired about his
identity.
With mild words, Jatayu replied, “My dear child, I was a good friend of Your father’s.
Long ago, Kashyapa married eight daughters of Prajapati Daksha. From Vinata, Aruna was
born, and from Tamasa, Shyeni took birth. I am the son of Aruna and his wife, Shyeni, and
my name is Jatayu.”
“My dear Rama, I would like to offer myself as Your sincere servant. There are many
fierce Rakshasas living in this forest, and so whenever You and Lakshman leave Your
cottage, I will watch over Sita.”
Due to Jatayu’s relationship with His father, Rama respectfully bowed down to him.
Jatayu then accompanied Rama, Sita and Lakshman to Panchavati, keeping a watchful eye
all the while.
Upon their arrival, Rama told Lakshman, “My dear brother, please select a site for
building Our cottage. It should be near a lake or river, for water and greenery together create
ideal scenic beauty.”
Lakshman replied, “Rama, please select a place that is to Your liking, and then I will
build a cottage.”
Rama picked out a spot near the banks of the Godavari where there was a lake that
was adorned with pink and blue lotus flowers. The land there was flat and so it gave an
unobstructed view of the surrounding area. The cries of swans and chakravakas could be
heard, as well as those of peacocks that echoed from the caves of the nearby hills.
Lakshman built a nice cottage, and after it was consecrated with flower offerings, Rama went
inside, feeling very pleased.
Gradually, winter set in, and so the morning sunshine became very pleasing to the
sense of touch. One morning, after Rama and Lakshman returned home after bathing in the
river, they began conversing with one another as They prepared to perform Their morning
religious duties.
At that time, a female Rakshasa came there, and when she saw Rama, her heart
became infatuated with love for Him. With His dark, glowing complexion and lotus-petal
eyes, Rama appeared to be Kandarpa, the god of love himself, in human form. By contrast,
the Rakshasi had an extremely ugly face, protruding belly, deformed eyes, and copper-
colored hair. Rama’s youthful body was well proportioned, muscular, and bore all the signs
of royalty, whereas she was very odd-looking and on the brink of middle age.
Still, being pierced by Cupid’s arrows, the Rakshasi approached Rama and said, “My
dear handsome one, please tell me who You are, and what Your purpose is in coming to the
forest, dressed like a hermit.”
In reply, Rama briefly narrated the events leading up to His exile and then asked the
Rakshasi to identify herself. She said, “My name is Shurpanakha, and I am the sister of
Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Vibhishana, Khara and Dushana. I live in this forest and strike fear
into the hearts of all creatures.”
“To tell You quite frankly, Rama, I have become overpowered by love for You, and so I
have made up my mind to have You as my husband. Give up Your ugly and deformed wife!
She is not worthy of such a great hero like You! I am powerful and can travel at will, and so I
am a suitable partner for You. First of all I will devour flat-bellied Sita, as well as your brother
Lakshman. Then, we will be free to revel together in the hills and valleys of the beautiful
Dandaka forest.”
As Shurpanakha looked at Him with love-intoxicated eyes, Rama heartily laughed and
jokingly replied, “I am a married man, and I am sure that a young, beautiful girl like you could
not tolerate living with a co-wife. But, My brother, who is an even greater hero than Myself, is
without a wife, and so I suggest that you marry Him.”
Shurpanakha took Rama’s words seriously. Leaving Him aside, she turned to
Lakshman. Being saturated with lusty desires, she said, “My dear handsome hero, you
appear to be more powerful and attractive than Your brother. Therefore, you are the most
suitable husband for me. Come, make me Your wife, and we shall roam together through the
forest, enjoying our loving affairs.”
Lakshman smilingly replied, “O woman with soft skin and lovely limbs, you should know
that I am simply a servant of My elder brother. If you marry Me, then you will become no
better than His maidservant. In My opinion, you would be much better off becoming Rama’s
second wife. After some time, He will surely give up His aging and misshapen Sita and
accept you alone. You have such a lovely face, which is decorated with sweet smiles, and
your ample breasts, slender waist and wide hips make a man forget all other women. Who
could resist you? Marry Rama and very soon He will cast aside His ugly wife.”
Shurpanakha was too simple-minded to understand that Rama and Lakshman were
joking. Once again she turned to Rama and said, “You are too attached to ugly Sita, and so I
shall eat her at once and then take You by force as my husband!”
After saying this, Shurpanakha rushed toward Sita, but Rama restrained her while telling
Lakshman, “You should not have joked with this Rakshasi is such a way as to put Sita into
danger. Now, disfigure her so that she will be taught a lesson!”
Receiving Rama’s order, Lakshman drew his sword and quickly sliced off
Shurpanakha’s nose and ears. The Rakshasi screamed horribly in pain. While bleeding
profusely, she ran to the adjoining forest, called Janasthana, where her brother, Khara, was
staying along with many other Rakshasas. Smeared with blood and terribly frightened,
Shurpanakha threw herself at her brother’s feet and wept bitterly. As Khara looked on, she
incoherently tried to explain what had happened, and his heart became filled with horror and
rage because of her disfigured appearance.
While breathing like a snake that had been trampled, Khara finally said, “Sister, get up
and calm yourself! Tell me clearly what has happened! Who has dared to do this? Does he
not realize that he drank poison by doing so? There is not a demigod or asura, Gandharva
or rishi, who can harm you and escape with his life! Just point out the culprit and I will drink
his blood dry with my sharp arrows!”
While sobbing bitterly, Shurpanakha managed to reply, “There are two brothers named
Rama and Lakshman, staying nearby in the Dandaka forest. I do not know whether They are
demigods or asuras, but because They have mutilated my face, I will become pacified only
after drinking Their blood!”
Khara called for fourteen of the most powerful Rakshasas and sent them, along with
Shurpanakha, to kill Rama, Lakshman and Sita. Rama was sitting with Sita in Their thatched
cottage, while Lakshman guarded the door, when Shurpanakha pointed Them out to the
others. Upon seeing the hideous man-eaters, Rama ordered Lakshman, “Stay here with Sita
while I fight.”
Coming outside, Rama called out to the Rakshasas, “We have come to this forest at the
request of the rishis who have sought Our protection from your atrocities. We are living a life
of tapasya, and are eating only fruit and roots. Why have you come here to disturb Us? You
had better turn back now, if you at all value your lives.”
Surprised at being challenged so courageously, the Rakshasas stared at Rama with
blood-red eyes and replied, “Our master, Khara, is angry with You, so he has ordered us to
kill You. How can You dare to fight with so many of us? In a moment we will smash You with
our weapons and You will be dead!”
After saying this, the Rakshasas rushed at Rama while brandishing their weapons. But,
with fourteen arrows Rama cut their weapons to pieces and then with fourteen more He
pierced their hearts. Like trees whose trunks had been severed, the Rakshasas fell to the
ground dead, bathed in their blood.
Shaking with fear, Shurpanakha ran back to her brother and informed him of the
slaughter. She then said, “You tried to comfort me by sending others to kill Rama and
Lakshman, but it was the Rakshasas who were killed and not Them. Now you must go and
kill Rama and Lakshman yourself. If you do not, then I will give up my life out of shame!”
After saying this, Shurpanakha fell to the ground, overwhelmed with grief,and while
beating her belly she burst into tears. Khara became enraged while listening to his sister’s
harsh words and so he vowed, “Give up your sorrow! I promise to kill Rama and Lakshman
this very day so that you will be able to drink Their blood!”
At this, Shurpanakha became somewhat pacified. Khara then ordered his brother,
Dushana, to bring his chariot and weapons, and assemble all the 14,000 Rakshasas.
As Khara proceeded toward the Dandaka forest, along with the army of Rakshasas,
dark clouds began to shower rain mixed with blood. Khara’s horses accidentally stumbled
and fell down on the road. A vulture came and perched on Khara’s flagpole, jackals began to
howl frightfully, and then darkness set in on account of a solar eclipse, although it was not
the proper time for such an occurrence. All the while, Khara’s left arm trembled, and his
voice became hoarse and faint.
And yet, in spite of witnessing these ominous omens, Khara simply laughed and said,
“Because of my great prowess, I do not care for any of these so-called inauspicious signs!”
Meanwhile, all the demigods and celestial rishis assembled in the sky to witness the
impending battle. As the Rakshasas approached, Rama described to Lakshman all the
auspicious omens that he could see, “My arrows are feeling joyful, My bow is stirring with
delight, and My right arm is throbbing. My dear brother, take Sita at once to a mountain cave
and watch over her carefully as I massacre these Rakshasas.”
After the departure of Sita and Lakshman, Rama put on His blazing golden armor. Then,
as the Rakshasas advanced, roaring ferociously, Rama summoned His all-devouring anger
and assumed a form that was very dreadful to see. While his army surrounded Rama,
showering their clubs, spears, swords and axes, Khara released 1000 arrows. Rama cut all
these to pieces, and although He was deeply pierced and bleeding, He did not appear to feel
any pain.
Rama then proceeded to release thousands of arrows at the Rakshasas, cutting to
pieces their bows, flags, shields, armor and bodily limbs. Innumerable Rakshasas fell down
dead, along with their horses and elephants, and many of their chariots were smashed to
pieces. Becoming more enraged, the remaining Rakshasas countered by showering their
weapons with greater enthusiasm. Rama easily cut those weapons to pieces, however, while
at the same time piercing many Rakshasas’ hearts. As numerous grotesque heads became
severed from their gigantic trunks, the remaining Rakshasas began fleeing to the shelter of
Khara.
Dushana suddenly rushed at Rama in great anger, and others followed, being
encouraged by his exhibition of valor. Rama took up the best of Gandharva weapons,
causing many thousands of arrows to stream forth from His bow, covering the sun and
creating darkness everywhere. Thousands of Rakshasas were cut to pieces, so that their
dismembered corpses lay in heaps.
Dushana then rallied his army, urging the remaining 5000 Rakshasas to attack Rama. In
the fighting that followed, Dushana fought heroically, and when Rama saw that His arrows
were being successfully counteracted, He became furious. Taking up a blazing arrow, Rama
cut Dushana’s bow in half, and then with four more arrows He killed the Rakshasa’s horses.
With another arrow, Rama killed Dushana’s driver, and then with three more He pierced him
in the chest.
Although severely pained, Dushana grabbed a spiked club, and after jumping down
from his chariot, he rushed impetuously at Rama. But, with two arrows Rama severed
Dushana’s arms, and then with one more He took away the Rakshasa’s life.
The remainder of Dushana’s army rushed at Rama, hoping for revenge. Working at the
speed of mind, Rama released 5000 arrows in a steady stream, like so many blazing
meteors, so that 5000 slain Rakshasa warriors soon lay upon the ground. Upon seeing this,
Khara ordered his few remaining soldiers to attack, but Rama made short work of them as
well. Thus, the Dandaka forest became a sea of reddish mud, due to the blood of the 14,000
slain Rakshasas.
Only Khara and Trishira remained alive. As Khara prepared to attack, his general,
Trishira, begged him for permission to fight first. Khara gave his consent, and so the three-
headed Rakshasa approached Rama while showering his arrows. When some arrows
pierced His forehead, Rama became angered and retaliated by killing Trishira’s horses and
driver, and knocking down his flag. Then, as Trishira attempted to jump down from his
disabled chariot, Rama pierced him in the heart with a fiery arrow, and cut off his heads with
three more.
Khara then rallied the few surviving Rakshasas and fearfully attacked Rama. During the
fierce battle that followed, the sun became invisible as their streams of arrows completely
covered the sky.
Bringing his chariot close by, Khara dexterously broke Rama’s bow in half. Khara then
shot 1000 arrows that shattered Rama’s armor, making the pieces fall to the ground.
Although His limbs were deeply pierced, Rama calmly strung the bow of Lord Vishnu. He
then cut down Khara’s emblem, but the Rakshasa retaliated by wounding Rama severely.
Becoming enraged, Rama quickly released six arrows that pierced Khara’s head, arms and
chest. Then, with thirteen more, Rama killed his horses, severed his driver’s head, broke his
bow and smashed his chariot. The last of these arrows, which was as dazzling as lightning,
pierced Khara in the chest, making him fall backwards, unconscious.
Khara quickly recovered himself, jumped down from his broken chariot and stood before
Rama, club in hand. Rama chastised Khara by saying, “You cruel and sinful Rakshasa,
because you have dedicated your life to giving pain to others, you are thoroughly
condemned. To punish you, I will certainly cut off your head this very hour!”
The enraged Khara replied, “You vile wretch! Those who are actually heroes do not
boast of their prowess!”
Having said this, Khara hurled his gigantic mace at Rama. That blazing club burned to
ashes all the trees and bushes that stood in its path, and yet, Rama’s arrows broke it to
pieces as it soared through the air. Once again, Rama and Khara exchanged harsh words,
and then the Rakshasa uprooted a tall Sal tree. After whirling it around, Khara hurled it at
Rama while shouting, “You are killed!” Rama cut that huge tree to pieces, however.
Then, desiring to put an end to his adversary, Rama released 1000 arrows. Although
blood poured profusely from every part of his body, Khara made one last attempt by rushing
at Rama impetuously. Rama selected a blazing arrow, and when it pierced Khara’s chest,
making him burst into flames, the Rakshasa dropped dead onto the ground.
The demigods were overjoyed to witness Rama’s victory, and while beating their drums
and showering flowers, they glorified the Lord for His astonishing feat of killing all the
Rakshasas in just one and a half hours.
Great rishis, headed by Agastya, then appeared before Rama and disclosed, “It was just
to arrange for You to come here and kill the Rakshasas that Indra had visited Sharabhanga.
It is for this reason that the rishi had advised You to come and reside here.”
Sita and Lakshman came out from Their cave. When she saw that Rama was safe and
sound, Sita ran and embraced Him with great joy. Meanwhile, a Rakshasa named
Akampana, who had escaped the massacre, went to Lanka and told Ravana about the
death of his two brothers and their followers.
Ravana became red with rage upon receiving this news, and with great agitation he
shouted, “Who has dared to offend me in this way, bringing about his own death? No one
can save him now- not even Indra, Yama or Vishnu! Tell me at once- who has dared to
make me angry?”
Akampana was very afraid of Ravana’s wrath, and so he begged, “My lord, I shall gladly
answer your questions. But, please promise that you will not become angry with me for my
truthful speech.”
When Ravana gave him assurances, Akampana said, “The 14,000 Rakshasas,
including your two brothers, were killed by a human being named Rama, the son of King
Dasharatha.”
Ravana inquired, “Was this Rama accompanied by all the demigods?”
Akampana replied, “Oh no, my lord! Rama killed all the Rakshasas single-handedly,
without even taking help from His younger brother, Lakshman. Rama’s prowess is so
formidable that He accomplished the task in a very short time. No one could stand before
Him, and when He became enraged it appeared as if the entire universe would be
destroyed!”
Ravana then angrily declared, “I shall go to Janasthana at once and kill this Rama and
Lakshman. Then we will see what kind of great heroes They are!”
For the benefit of his master, Akampana warned, “Please do not act hastily due to
underestimating Rama’s prowess. He is capable of annihilating the entire cosmic
manifestation and then recreating it. Even if all the demigods and asuras combined together,
I do not think that Rama could be killed by them.
Therefore, do not consider attacking Him with force. I have thought of another means
whereby you can insure Rama’s death. His wife, Sita, is incomparably beautiful, and her face
is lovelier than thousands of moons. She is the very emblem of feminine attractiveness, and
besides this, she is the perfection of womanly chastity and behavior. I think that without Sita,
Rama could no longer bear to live, and so I suggest that you go and kidnap her.”
Ravana immediately liked the idea, and after thinking it over for some time he said,
“Your plan is brilliant! I shall go to Panchavati tomorrow on my chariot and carry away Sita
by force with great pleasure.”
After dismissing Akampana, Ravana went to the hermitage of Tataka’s son, Maricha.
After receiving Ravana with great respect and washing his feet, Maricha said, “O lord of the
Rakshasas, your surprise visit here fills my heart with misgivings. I know that you would not
have come here personally unless the matter was very serious.”
Ravana replied, “What you say is correct. A human being named Rama has completely
annihilated my army that was posted at Janasthana. His brother, Lakshman, disfigured
Shurpanakha and so Khara and Dushana tried to retaliate. I had considered my two brothers
to be invincible, but they have been killed along with all of their soldiers. Maricha, I need your
help because I want to kidnap Rama’s wife, Sita.”
With great shock and horror, Maricha said, “Whoever has given you this idea is actually
your worst enemy in the guise of a friend. Ravana, if you try to carry out this foolish plan it
will only result in your destruction, for Rama has inconceivable prowess, on the level of Lord
Vishnu Himself. Rama is like a fathomless ocean. Crocodiles are His bow and whirlpools are
His mighty arms. The releasing of His arrows is the constant flowing of waves, and the span
from shore to shore is the battlefield wherein His enemies drown.”
“O King of the Rakshasas, you had better control your anger and return to Lanka. Enjoy
yourself there, along with your wives, and let Rama enjoy His wife in the Dandaka forest.
Otherwise, you will unnecessarily bring disaster down upon your head!”
Ravana took Maricha’s advice and returned to his magnificent palace at Lanka.
Meanwhile, after witnessing the great slaughter of Rakshasas, Shurpanakha went to
see her brother. Ravana had ten heads and twenty arms, and his body bore many scars
from former conflicts, including those that had been inflicted by Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshana
chakra. Once, Ravana attacked Bhogavati, and after defeating Vasuki and Takshaka, he
took away the latter’s wife by force. After conquering Kuvera, Ravana took possession of the
Pushpaka chariot, and then, out of spite, he destroyed some of the heavenly gardens, such
as Nandanavana.
Long ago, Ravana had performed severe austerities, and at the completion of 10,000
years, he began offering his ten heads in sacrifice to Lord Brahma. Being pleased with
Ravana, Lord Brahma offered him the benediction of being immune to death at the hands of
all kinds of living entities, except human beings. After receiving this benediction, the puffed-
up Ravana began killing brahmanas and disrupting their sacrifices. Thus, he became a thorn
in the side of the demigods, and so they fervently prayed to Lord Vishnu for his destruction.
Shurpanakha came before Ravana, who was seated upon a golden throne within his
seven-story palace, and showed him her disfigured face.
With great agitation she said, “My dear brother, have you become so absorbed in sense
gratification that you fail to recognize the grave danger that is at hand? When a king is
interested only in his own vulgar enjoyment and does not attend to state affairs, everyone
comes to despise him. Haven’t your spies told you how Rama single-handedly killed 14,000
Rakshasas at Janasthana, including your two brothers? You are a useless king and so I
predict that you will not remain on the throne for long!”
Ravana became mad with rage while listening to his sister prod him in such a manner,
in front of his ministers. Still, he controlled his anger, and after thinking a moment, he
inquired, “Who is this Rama, and what is His strength? Was it He that deformed you like
this? Speak, for I want to know everything!”
Shurpanakha replied, “With long, powerful arms, and large eyes shaped like lotus
petals, Rama appears to be the god of love himself. Although He is the most heroic
kshatriya, He has dressed Himself in deerskin and tree bark and keeps matted hair. Rama’s
younger brother is named Lakshman, and it is He who cut off my nose and ears, under His
brother’s instruction.”
“Rama’s wife is named Sita, and she exactly resembles the goddess of fortune. She has
large, dark eyes and the beauty of her face surpasses that of many, many moons. Her
smooth skin has the color of molten gold, and her slim waist, graceful hips and full breasts
make her incomparably beautiful.”
“Ravana, there is no other woman like Sita. I know that if you were to see her, you
would fall madly in love. She would make a perfect wife for you. I wanted to capture Sita and
bring her to you, but when I tried to do so, Lakshman disfigured me. My dear brother, you
should go and kidnap Sita, if you are really the powerful hero that you make yourself out to
be!”
After hearing this, Ravana became fully determined to possess Sita. Once again he
mounted his chariot and after crossing the sea he came to Maricha’s ashram. Maricha, who
was dressed like a rishi and engaged in performing austerities, received Ravana very
respectfully and then inquired, “O King, what is the reason for your early return to my humble
residence?”
Ravana replied, “After hearing about Rama’s slaughter of the Rakshasas at Janasthana,
I have not found a moment’s peace. I have made up my mind to kidnap Sita, and I want you
to help me.”
“For this purpose, I have devised a very clever plan. I want you to take the form of a
golden deer with silver spots and then play in front of Sita. She will surely become captivated
by such a cute and wonderful creature and want to have it as her pet. As you proceed to
lead Rama astray, I will go and kidnap the unprotected Sita and take her back to Lanka.
Thereafter, when Rama becomes aggrieved and emaciated due to separation from His
beloved wife, I will easily be able to kill Him.”
Upon hearing the name, Rama, Maricha became very fearful, and as he thought about
Ravana’s plan, his mouth became dry. Staring with unblinking eyes, Maricha addressed
Ravana with folded hands, “O lord, if you go ahead with your scheme, it will result in the
destruction of Lanka and all the Rakshasas. Because of your lusty nature, and your
ignorance of Rama’s prowess, you are heedlessly rushing toward your doom. Please hear
from me attentively about Rama’s supreme potency before you blindly bring about your own
destruction.”
“Previously, I used to wander over the earth with club in hand, being very proud of my
superhuman strength. I subsisted upon the flesh of the rishis in the Dandaka forest. Out of
fear, Vishvamitra approached Maharaja Dasharatha to solicit Rama’s help in protecting his
sacrificial performance.”
“Thereafter, when I came to disrupt the yagya, Rama hurled me into the ocean with just
one arrow. Having been spared by Rama, I returned to Lanka, but still I was not cured of my
pride. Taking the form of a large, carnivorous stag with a flaming tongue, I returned to the
Dandaka forest to roam about, drinking the rishis’ blood.”
“Then, once again I came upon Rama, who was wandering in the forest along with Sita
and Lakshman. Considering how He had adopted a life of renunciation, I became
determined to gain revenge. However, when I rushed at Him, Rama released three arrows,
instantly killing my two companions. I fled with my life, and I think that I was spared only
because Rama’s arrows do not kill those who run away from the battlefield.”
“Ever since that time, I have been obsessed with fear of Rama, and as a result, my
inclination for violence and fighting has vanished. Having given up all malice toward others, I
have taken to an ascetic life of yoga practice. Still, I have failed to obtain peace of mind for
whenever my glance happens to fall upon a tree, I think that it is Rama, dressed in tree bark.
Thus, the entire forest appears to have become transformed into innumerable Ramas, and
because of this, wherever I look I feel terrified. Sometimes, I see Rama in my dreams and so
I immediately wake up, my heart thumping with terror. I have become so afraid of Rama that
whenever I hear a word beginning with the letter ‘R’, such as ratha or ratna, my heart
trembles.”
“O King, for your welfare, as well as mine, I advise you to forget about kidnapping Sita.
Aside from fearing Rama, why should you perform such a sinful act? There is no offense
more punishable that the abduction of another’s wife. Remain satisfied with your thousands
of wives and thus save your dignity, fortune, kingdom, and life itself.”
After listening very patiently, Ravana replied, “Maricha, I did not ask for your advice, but
only for your help in kidnapping Sita. As my minister, it is your duty to give advice only when
asked for, and to obey my orders without question. I have made up my mind and nothing
can deter me. I want you to take the form of a deer and charm Sita.”
“Then, when she begs Rama to capture you, lead Him deep into the forest and call out,
‘O Sita! O Lakshman!’ When He thinks that His brother is in difficulty, Lakshman will leave
Sita alone to go help Him. Just perform this little service, and in return, I will reward you with
half my kingdom. But, if you refuse, I will kill you this very day! This is your choice, Maricha,
either certain death at my hands, or possible death at the hands of Rama. Make up your
mind!”
Maricha boldly said, “Flatterers are easy to come by, but rare is the person who will
speak unpleasant words that are meant for ones benefit. A minister should always give good
advice, even if uncalled for, especially when the King becomes misguided. Unfortunately, it
is inevitably seen that one who is about to die is never willing to take good advice.”
“O King, if we carry out your plan, then I am certain that both of us will end up dead.
Still, I would rather die at the hands of an exalted enemy on the battlefield than be killed here
by you. So, let us depart at once.”
Being very pleased with Maricha for his co-operation, Ravana embraced him. Then, the
two mounted upon the aerial chariot and departed. After passing over numerous forests,
rivers, towns and fields, they landed in the Dandaka forest near to where Sita, Rama and
Lakshman were staying.
After getting down from the chariot, Maricha transformed himself into a wonderful deer
and began to playfully prance back and forth in front of Rama’s cottage. The golden deer
had numerous jewel-like silver spots, and the tips of its horns were like sapphires. Its mouth
appeared like a pinkish lotus flower, its tail was like a rainbow, and its ears were bright blue.
All in all, the magical deer seemed to have been constructed entirely of valuable jewels.
Having a dazzling luster, the deer illuminated the entire area surrounding the cottage.
Sometimes it nibbled at the grass and sometimes it frolicked among the trees.
Sita was gathering flowers in the groves of mango, ashoka and karnikara trees as
Maricha-the-deer leapt, ran, and crouched, being eager to attract her attention. Catching the
scent of the Rakshasa-in-disguise, the other deer quickly fled into the forest, helter-skelter.
When the magical deer suddenly came close by, bounding in front of her eyes, Sita looked
at it with wonder and enchantment.
Sita had never before seen such a wonderful deer, and with wide-open eyes she called
out, “Rama, Lakshman, come here at once!”
When Lakshman came and saw the deer He said, “It’s a trick! This must be Maricha the
Rakshasa disguised as a deer, seeking revenge. He is known to take such a form, just to
waylay kings who come hunting in the forest.”
Sita interrupted Lakshman because her intelligence had been deluded by the deer’s
beauty. She said, “Rama, please go quickly and catch this deer, for it has captivated my
fancy. Such a lovely pet would make me happy by providing a diversion from our dreary
forest life. If you can catch this deer alive, I will take it back to Ayodhya at the end of our
exile, for it will delight Bharata and our mothers. Please Rama, bring the deer for me to play
with. It is so lovely and its smooth skin shines like the moon.”
“My dear husband, if You cannot capture the deer alive, then kill it so that I can make a
rug out of its jewel-like skin. You must think that I am a foolish woman, but I must have this
deer, for I am enchanted by its beauty.”
Rama was delighted to receive the chance to fulfill Sita’s wish, and He was also
enchanted by the deer’s mysterious beauty. He told Lakshman, “Sita is enthralled, and so I
must bring her this deer. Look at its tongue, darting about like a flame, or like lightning in a
cloud. Nowhere can such a deer be found- even in the heavenly Nandana or Chaitraratha
gardens. For sure, this deer’s splendor will cost it its life. I will make a carpet from its spotted
golden skin so that Sita and I can enjoy sitting together on it. And if, as you say, the deer is
actually Maricha, then killing it will be beneficial for all the rishis residing in the forest.
Lakshman, until My return, stay here with Your bow in hand, and keep a careful watch over
Sita.”
Having said this, Rama picked up a sword, bow and two quivers, whereupon Maricha
suddenly vanished from sight. As Rama entered the forest, the deer once again came into
view, running away swiftly and looking backward. Then again, the deer came very close to
Rama, as if tempting Him to capture it. But, as Rama ran toward the deer, it once again
disappeared from sight. In this way, by repeatedly becoming visible and then again
disappearing from view, Maricha lured Rama far away from His cottage. Confused by the
deer’s puzzling movements, Rama felt helpless and frustrated.
Finally, having become exhausted by the chase, Rama rested awhile beneath a tree.
Then, once again, the deer suddenly appeared close by. But when Rama got up and tried to
catch it, the deer mysteriously vanished. Out of frustration, Rama gave up the idea of
capturing the deer alive. When the deer next appeared at some distance, Rama shot a
blazing arrow of Lord Brahma, hoping to kill it. Maricha tried to jump high to avoid Rama’s
arrow, but it nonetheless pierced his heart. As Maricha fell to the ground, mortally wounded,
he assumed his real form as a Rakshasa.
Then, remembering Ravana’s instructions, Maricha imitated Rama’s voice and called
out in great distress, “O Sita! O Lakshman!”
Maricha gave up his life and Rama became very dejected upon hearing these words,
wondering, “What will Sita and Lakshman think?” In fact, a terrible fear entered Rama’s
heart, and so He immediately began to rush back to His cottage.
Meanwhile, when Sita heard Maricha’s voice, she thought that Rama must have been
calling for help. Becoming panicky with fear, she turned to Lakshman and urged, “Go quickly
and find out what has happened! That was Rama crying out for help! He needs You!
Lakshman, my heart is throbbing and I can hardly breathe! The Rakshasas must have
overwhelmed Rama!”
But, Lakshman kept Rama’s order to guard Sita firmly in mind, and so He did not even
stir. This apparent indifference made Sita more upset, and so she chastised Lakshman with
very harsh words: “Why do You just stand there? Do You want Rama to die? Now I can
understand that You are actually the enemy of Your elder brother in the guise of a friend. I
think that You would like Rama to die so that You can be free to enjoy me as You like!
Otherwise, You would quickly rush to His rescue! Go quickly, Lakshman! What is the use of
my remaining alive and safe when my husband is in danger?”
Unto Sita, who was sobbing and trembling in fear, Lakshman replied, “Try and control
yourself! Rama cannot be harmed by anyone- by any Rakshasa or even Indra and all the
demigods. Do not talk like this! The voice that you heard was the conjuring trick of Maricha,
just to frighten us. Rama ordered me to protect you, and so I will stay here and obey Him.”
Sita was practically deranged due to fright. Lakshman’s words of pacification aroused
hatred and anger within her heart. Her eyes became red with rage.
Sita raved, “You shameless, wicked man! I think that You are enjoying Rama’s
misfortune. Otherwise, why would You speak so calmly? I can now understand that all along
You were simply pretending to be Your elder brother’s humble servant. The real reason You
accompanied Rama to the forest was to look for an opportunity to kill Him and then fulfill
Your lusty desires to enjoy me.”
“Maybe You are Bharata’s agent! In any case, you will never obtain the fulfillment of
Your sinful desires! Do You actually think that I would accept You after having been the wife
of lotus-eyed Rama? I would rather die! Without Rama I could not bear to live for even a
moment!”
His heart being pierced as if by arrows, the horrified Lakshman replied with folded
hands, “Princess of Mithila, you are like a deity to Me and so I cannot speak harshly in reply.
I know that it is the nature of women to create discord between friends. For sure, women are
so fickle and hard-hearted that when they become obsessed with some desire, they give up
all sense of morality.”
“O daughter of King Janaka, you have goaded Me with your sharp words and so I shall
go to Rama, as you demand. But, because I can see terrible omens, foreboding great evil, I
am afraid that when I return with Rama, We will no longer find you here.”
With great agitation, Sita responded, “If Rama is killed, then I will jump from a cliff,
drown myself, or take poison, for I would rather die than be touched by another man!”
Lakshman had become very angry while listening to Sita’s harsh and cruel words.
Although He dutifully tried to console her, Lakshman was actually very eager to see Rama.
So, as Sita continued to malign Him, Lakshman departed at last, giving Ravana his eagerly
awaited opportunity.
Dressed in saffron cloth, his hair tied into a knot on top of his head, wearing wooden
sandals, and carrying an umbrella on his right shoulder and a staff and kamandalu (water
pot) on his left, Ravana came before Sita in the guise of a wandering mendicant. Sita was
sitting inside the cottage, shedding tears of grief on account of Rama’s absence, as Ravana
appeared in the doorway.
Out of fear, the wind ceased blowing, the leaves on the trees stopped fluttering, and the
waters of the Godavari became hushed.
While chanting Vedic mantras Ravana approached Sita, and while staring at her his
heart became pierced by Cupid’s arrows. In the hopes of charming Sita, Ravana said, “Who
are you, lovely lady, residing alone within this terrible forest? Are you the goddess of
modesty, Hri, the goddess of fame, Kirti, the goddess of mystic powers, Bhuti, or the
goddess of love, Rati? Or, are you Lakshmi herself, bereft of your lotus flower?”
“Your smooth white teeth are like a row of jasmine buds, and your dark eyes resemble
two bumblebees that hover over your lotus-like face. Tapering and graceful are your thighs,
like the trunks of baby elephants, and your hips are rounded and ample. Your firm and
abundant breasts seem to touch one another, and their nipples are pointed and prominent.
Beneath them is a waist so slim that a thumb and index finger can encircle it perfectly.”
“No mortal or even celestial woman can equal your beauty, which has ravished my heart
like a swelling river that overflows its banks. Why do you remain here when you could
prosper somewhere else? You should live in a palace, dressed in the finest clothes and
jewelry and attended to by countless servants. O sweet-smiling one, choose a worthy
husband and leave this jungle that is full of ferocious animals.”
Although spoken to so boldly, Sita offered her guest a nice reception, for she did not
want to offend a brahmana. After offering Ravana a seat and water to wash his feet, Sita
gave him some food and explained, “Sir, my name is Sita, and I am the daughter of the
noble-minded King Janaka of Mithila. At the age of nine I was married to my beloved
husband, Rama. Later on, at the urging of his wife, Kaikeyi, my father-in-law, Maharaja
Dasharatha, installed her son Bharata upon the royal throne and banished Rama to the
forest for fourteen years.”
“Now, please tell me your name and ancestry. O brahmana, why have you come alone
to the Dandaka forest?”
The so-called brahmana replied, “I am Ravana, the King of the Rakshasas, and even
the great demigods tremble at the mere mention of my name. O faultlessly beautiful one,
now that I have seen you, I could never again take delight in my other innumerable consorts.
Sita, become my principal queen and you will have 5000 maidservants awaiting your
commands. Leave this forest and enjoy with me in the beautiful gardens of Lanka.”
Sita became very angry while listening to Ravana, and with great contempt she replied,
“I am completely devoted to Rama, who is as steady as a rock, as grave as an ocean, and
sheltering like a Banyan tree. I am devoted to Rama, who has mighty arms and a broad
chest, whose face resembles the full moon, and who is self-controlled and virtuous.”
“Rama is a lion among men, and you, who are like a jackal, want to possess me, a
lioness. Would you dare to touch the sun, or lift up Mount Mandara? Would you pierce your
eyes with a needle or carry a blazing fire in your clothes? Would you attempt to swim across
the ocean with a boulder tied around your neck? Then, why do you dare consider running
away with Rama’s wife?”
“Rama is like Garuda, and you are but a crow. Rama is the ocean and you, a small
puddle. Rama is sandalwood and you are mud. He is like gold and you are like iron. Rama is
like a swan and you are no better than a vulture. You may kidnap me, but as long as Rama
lives, you will no more enjoy me than a fly enjoys the ghee that it flounders in.”
Although she spoke boldly, Sita was shaking with fear. In order to further intimidate her,
Ravana spoke as follows: “Listen to me, lovely lady. I am the half-brother of Kuvera, the god
of wealth. After vanquishing him, I took away his Pushpaka chariot, and now he hides from
me somewhere near Mount Kailash. All the demigods are afraid of me, and wherever I go,
the sunshine becomes like moonshine, the wind calms itself, and rivers stop flowing. Forget
Rama, for He is a mere mortal who is doomed to perish soon. Come with me and enjoy
heavenly delights. I passionately yearn for you and so please do not reject me.”
Sita replied, “If you are actually Kuvera’s brother, then why do you act with such wicked
intentions? The ravisher of Indra’s wife may survive, but whoever tries to molest me is
doomed!”
Finally, Ravana lost all patience, and in a fit of rage he revealed his gigantic form as a
fierce Rakshasa, having ten heads, twenty arms and sharp teeth. He then declared, “If you
wish to have a husband who is renowned throughout the three worlds, then accept me.
Serve me, and I shall never displease you. Why are you so fond of someone who has been
banished to the forest?”
Then, after a momentary pause, Ravana quickly reached out with his left hand and
grabbed Sita by the hair. As if summoned, Ravana’s golden chariot came close by. Placing
his right hand on Sita’s thigh, Ravana took her in his arms, mounted the chariot and
ascended into the sky. Wailing like one injured or mad, Sita called out, “Rama! Rama! Why
don’t you come here and save me? You must punish this wretched Ravana!”
In desperation, Sita next called out to the trees, the river, as well as the birds and
animals, begging them to inform Rama of her abduction. Sita then spotted Jatayu, who was
perched upon a tree, sleeping, and so she cried out, “Jatayu! I know that you cannot defeat
Ravana, but please tell Rama that I have been kidnapped by him.”
Jatayu awakened upon hearing Sita’s calls, and when he saw how Ravana was carrying
her away, he challenged the King of the Rakshasas: “Ravana, I am Jatayu, the King of the
vultures. How is it that you dare to lay your hands upon the wife of another? Beware! You
are carrying a poisonous snake in your arms. I have become old, whereas you are young
and armed with weapons. Still, I will not let you carry away Sita. I warn you! Give up your evil
intention or else be thrown down from your chariot like an over-ripe fruit falling from a tree.”
Being challenged, Ravana angrily rushed at Jatayu, and as they began to fight, it
appeared as if two mountains were striking one another. Ravana struck Jatayu with many
weapons, and the giant vulture wounded the Rakshasa King with his sharp talons. Although
pierced by numerous arrows, the sight of Sita crying while seated upon Ravana’s chariot
enabled Jatayu to tolerate the pain.
As he attacked Ravana, Jatayu warded off the onslaught of arrows with his wings and
then managed to break the Rakshasa’s bow with his feet. Having gained this advantage,
Jatayu next cut off Ravana’s armor and then killed the mules that were yoked to his chariot.
The heroic Jatayu proceeded to smash Ravana’s chariot to pieces while simultaneously
striking off the driver’s head with his beak. As a result, Ravana fell to the ground, while tightly
holding Sita in his arms. All who witnessed this wonderful display of prowess applauded
Jatayu with great enthusiasm.
But, due to his age, Jatayu became exhausted. Ravana once again rose up into the sky
by dint of his own prowess, holding Sita in one arm while wielding a sword with the other.
Jatayu then suddenly swooped down on Ravana, from the back, and began pulling his hair
so forcibly that the Rakshasa’s lips quivered in indignation. Keeping Sita pressed tightly to
his left thigh, Ravana struck back at Jatayu with his palm. Jatayu dodged the blow, and
proceeded to tear off Ravana’s twenty arms with his powerful beak. Ravana’s arms were
immediately replaced with new ones, and after leaving Sita aside, he began striking Jatayu
with his fists and feet.
The fighting continued in this way for about an hour. Finally, in desperation, Ravana
took out his sword and swiftly cut off Jatayu’s wings, feet and flanks, making him fall to the
ground, fatally wounded. Greatly distressed, Sita ran to where Jatayu lay and embraced him
as tears came to her eyes. But, Ravana quickly went and seized Sita by the hair.
When she cried out, “Rama! Rama!” the whole universe went out of order, so that
everywhere became enveloped in darkness. Due to empathy with Sita’s grief, the wind no
longer blew and the sun became lusterless. Lord Brahma, however, who could perceive the
entire incident through divine eyes, declared, “Our purpose is now accomplished!”
As Ravana rose up to the sky with Sita, her ornaments broke apart, causing jewels to
fall to the ground. The pearls from her necklace slipped from her breast like the pure water of
the Ganga falling from the sky. Sita was overwhelmed with fear and grief, and while
continuously struggling to get free, she reproached Ravana again and again for his vile and
cowardly act. As Ravana sped to his destination, all creatures seemed to lament, “There is
no dharma, there is no truth, there is no gentleness.”
Her loosened hair waving in the wind, her mark of tilaka erased, and her face being
without cheer, Sita moaned, “O Rama, O Lakshman.” Sita then happened to see five
monkey chiefs sitting on top of a mountain. Unnoticed by Ravana, she took off her silk upper
garment and some jewelry and dropped them in the midst of the monkeys, hoping that they
would give these things to Rama. As the monkeys stared at him with unblinking eyes,
Ravana continued to carry Sita toward Lanka.
After crossing the ocean, the Rakshasa King took Sita into the inner apartments of his
palace. There, he ordered the fierce female Rakshasa attendants, “I want you to watch over
this woman very carefully and do not let anyone see her without my permission. Provide her
with the very best clothing, jewelry, and food, and give her gold, pearls- whatever she wants.
But, take heed of this warning- anyone who utters so much as one harsh word to Sita, will
die by my order!”
Ravana then called for eight powerful Rakshasas and told them, “Ever since Rama
killed my brothers and their army at Janasthana, I have felt an intolerable enmity toward
Him. In fact, I will not be able to sleep peacefully at night until Rama is killed. Go now and
spy on Him, and bring back to me all the information that you gather.”
Because of his previous experience with women, Ravana foolishly felt happy now that
he had Sita. After dispatching these Rakshasas, he went to see her, being overwhelmed by
desire for her. There he saw Sita in a very distressed condition, surrounded by numerous
Rakshasis. Bathed in her tears, Sita appeared like a wind-buffeted boat at sea, or a doe that
had strayed form its herd while being pursued by dogs. Although she was unwilling, Ravana
forced Sita to accompany him on a tour of his palace.
As she viewed the spacious and fabulously decorated rooms, containing thousands of
women, Ravana explained, “Lanka is inhabited by 320 million Rakshasas, excluding the
aged and infants, and 1000 of these are my personal servants. If you are wise, lovely Sita,
you will fulfill my ardent desire, by becoming my principal queen. Become my master and
rule over all this opulence that you see before you. I am tormented by love for you, and I
shall be devoted to you alone. Please grant me your favor and look upon me with affection.
After all, youthful beauty is fleeting. You should enjoy life with me and forget the insignificant
Rama.”
While covering her moon-like face, Sita began shedding silent tears. Ravana continued,
“Do not be afraid that our union goes against religious principles. I love you more than life
itself. I fall at your feet and beg you to grant me your favor. Let this plea that has arisen from
love’s anguish not go in vain. Never before has Ravana bowed down before any woman.”
Ravana thought that by speaking of his love for her, Sita would soon be won over.
However, Sita fearlessly replied, “My heart is devoted to Rama without deviation, and to
Rama alone. Why should I, a swan sporting with her mate within a lotus-filled lake, prefer a
duck meandering on the shore? You can do whatever you like to me, but rest assured that
because of your vile and sinful lust, you will soon meet with death at the hands of Rama.”
Being harshly rebuked, Ravana became angry and said, “I will give you just twelve
months to surrender to me. At the end of that time, if you still resist, I will have my cooks cut
you into pieces and serve you as my breakfast.”
Turning to his attendants, Ravana ordered, “Take Sita to the Ashoka grove. Watch her
very carefully and try to win her over to my side by whatever means required. Threaten her,
flatter her, do whatever it takes, but tame her as one would an elephant.”
Sita went to live in the Ashoka grove, which was a beautiful garden filled with trees
bearing fruit and flowers. Sita was already thoroughly miserable, and as the deformed
Rakshasa women continued to intimidate her, she fainted due to fright. Meanwhile, Lord
Brahma summoned Indra and said, “Sita has been kidnapped by Ravana and taken to
Lanka. This is our good fortune because it will surely bring about the destruction of the
Rakshasa King. Still, there is the danger that Sita may die due to separation from Rama, and
so I want you to go and give her this heavenly kheer to eat.”
Indra went to the Ashoka grove along with Nidradevi, the goddess of sleep. After Nidra
had woven her spell, putting all the Rakshasi guards to sleep, Indra approached Sita in the
dress of a brahmana and said, “I am the King of heaven, Indra, and I have come here to
render assistance to Lord Rama. Please take this celestial kheer, for as soon as you eat it,
you will become immune to hunger, thirst, and other bodily miseries, for years to come.”
Sita doubted that the brahmana was in fact Indra, and so she asked him to reveal his
celestial form. Being so requested, Indra assumed his real form, and when Sita noticed how
his feet did not touch the ground, his garland was not at all faded, and his clothing was
completely free from all dirt, she became convinced, and so happily agreed to eat the kheer.
First, Sita offered the food to Rama and Lakshman, praying that They would accept it.
Then, as soon as she ate the prasada, Sita became freed from all bodily pangs. Since their
mission had been accomplished, Indra and Nidradevi instantly vanished from Sita’s sight.
Meanwhile, after killing Maricha, as Rama hurried back to His cottage, He thought, “I
know that the Rakshasas want to take revenge for My having slaughtered their entire
contingent at Janasthana. Maricha’s tricks must have been part of a plan to lure Me away
from Sita so that they could devour her. I hope that Lakshman did not leave Sita alone after
hearing Maricha cry out, perfectly imitating My voice.”
Rama was already very apprehensive, and so when He heard the frightful cry of a jackal
at His back, He became even more afraid. Birds and animals then began to pass Rama on
the right side, while crying out frightfully. His left eye twitched, His left arm throbbed
convulsively, and His heart thumped loudly. While observing all these inauspicious signs,
Rama met Lakshman, who was on His way from the cottage.
Taking Him by the left hand, Rama reproached Lakshman, saying, “How could You
disobey My order and leave Sita unprotected? From all the inauspicious omens I see I can
understand that she has either been killed or kidnapped. Oh, Lakshman, how could you
leave Sita all alone?”
As they rushed back to the cottage, Rama suddenly tripped on the forest path.
Overwhelmed by fear, on account of Sita, and angry with Lakshman, for deserting her,
Rama began to lament like a madman: “If Sita is dead, then I will kill Myself! I could not even
think of living without her. Oh Lakshman, how could You betray Me like this and leave My
dear Sita unprotected?”
Lakshman tried to explain what had happened by saying, “Sita became like a
madwoman after hearing Your cries for help, and she spoke to Me very harshly. She goaded
Me with sharp words and accused Me of leaving You to die so that I could enjoy her for
Myself. Then, she accused Me of being Bharata’s accomplice and Your enemy in disguise.
Just to prove that her accusations were false, I had to come to Your aid.”
With great irritation and agitation, Rama snapped, “That is no excuse for leaving Sita
alone and unprotected. You know that I am unconquerable and fully able to defend Myself
against the Rakshasas. You should not have disobeyed My order simply being provoked by
a woman’s anger. Lakshman, You have made a great mistake by acting in a way that is
quite unworthy of You.”
While conversing in this way, Rama and Lakshman returned to Their cottage and found
it deserted. Feverishly, Rama began searching everywhere in the vicinity, and when He
failed to find Sita, His face became withered and darkened, due to grief. Afflicted with
transcendental madness arising out of separation, Rama questioned the trees: “O Kadamba,
O Bilva, O Arjuna, have you seen My beloved Sita pass this way, dressed in yellow silk and
with flowers in her hair?”
After receiving no reply, Rama inquired from the animals and birds, and when they gave
no answer, His sorrow increased. Sometimes, Rama imagined that He caught a glimpse of
Sita and so He cried out, “Dearly beloved, why are you running away from Me and hiding?
Why don’t you speak to Me?”
Then again, Rama imagined that the Rakshasas had devoured Sita, and this caused
Him to envision her delicate bodily features. Rama and Lakshman continued to comb the
surrounding hills and forests, refusing to give up hope of finding Sita. However, when she
was not found after a thorough search, Rama became discouraged and sat down in utter
despair. Still, Lakshman encouraged Rama to continue looking, and so They roamed
through more forests, hills and plains.
Finally, Rama could continue no longer and so He gave way to an intense grief,
standing motionless as if bereft of all reason. Breathing hotly and His eyes filled with tears,
Rama became indifferent to Lakshman’s assurances that They would surely find Sita. Being
tormented by love, Rama cried out helplessly, “Sita, Sita”, again and again. Then, as if
deranged, Rama called out, “My darling, have you hidden yourself just to play a joke on Me?
I beg you to please come out now, so that My intolerable suffering will be relieved.”
When Sita did not come, Rama became even more disappointed, being convinced that
the Rakshasas had devoured her. While Rama continued to lament pathetically, Lakshman
also became sick at heart. Rama then said, “Lakshman, please go to the banks of the
Godavari. Maybe Sita went there to gather lotus flowers.”
After some time, when Lakshman returned without Sita, Rama personally went to the
river and began questioning the trees and animals there. Due to fear of Ravana, none gave
a reply, although Rama did notice that the deer seemed to be looking at Him with a
meaningful intention. Rama then questioned the deer and tried to read their minds by
looking through their eyes. It seemed that the deer replied to Him by turning their heads
upward and toward the south, as if to indicate that Sita had been carried away through the
sky in that direction.
Lakshman could understand the deer’s message, and so He suggested to Rama that
They walk toward the south in the hopes of finding some clue. After setting out, They soon
came to a trail of scattered flowers that Rama recognized to be those that He had given Sita.
Addressing the nearby mountain, named Prashravana, Rama asked, “Where has Sita gone,
after passing this way?”
When He received no reply, Rama became enraged and challenged, “Hey, mountain, if
you do not answer Me, I will shatter you to pieces with My arrows!”
Still, there was silence, as Rama glanced over the mountain with red-hot eyes and
prepared to release His arrows for its destruction. Lakshman then pointed out Sita’s running
footprints, along with those of a giant Rakshasa. Following these footprints, they came to
where Ravana’s broken bow and quiver lay, as well as shattered debris from his chariot and
broken pieces of Sita’s jewelry. When drops of blood were also seen, Rama concluded that
Sita must have been devoured by the Rakshasas, for it appeared as if two of the man-eaters
had fought over her at this place.
As He gazed at the dead mules, smashed chariot and scattered weapons, the enraged
Rama vowed, “No Rakshasa will escape My vengeance, for today I shall destroy them all in
retaliation for Sita’s murder. Why didn’t the useless demigods do something to save My
helpless wife? If the demigods do not deliver Sita to Me at once, then as revenge for their
negligence, and the devouring of Sita by the Rakshasas, I will destroy the entire universe!”
Rama’s eyes were red with anger, and his lips, which were pressed together, trembled
with rage. After taking His bow from Lakshman’s hands, Rama placed a powerful arrow upon
the string, which was capable of destroying the entire universe.
Terrified, Lakshman joined His hands in supplication and pleaded, “Rama, by nature
You are gentle, self-controlled and the well-wisher of all living entities. Please control Your
wrath and act only after careful consideration. It appears to me that there was only one
Rakshasa in this fight, for there is only the debris of one broken chariot. Let us look some
more, and if we cannot find any further clues as to Sita’s whereabouts, You can act as You
see fit.”
“My dear brother, You must practice forbearance. After all, suffering is inevitable. If you
are seen to be unable to tolerate life’s miseries, then how will the common people be
expected to do so? Please think only about how Your enemy can be killed. Why should You
needlessly destroy the universe?”
While speaking, Lakshman lovingly massaged His brother’s lotus feet, and fortunately,
Rama became pacified. After withdrawing the arrow from His bow, Rama asked what They
should do next, and so Lakshman suggested that They thoroughly search the entire area of
Janasthana. Thereafter, while roaming through the forest, Rama and Lakshman came upon
the fallen Jatayu, lying in a pool of blood.
At first, Rama thought that he was a Rakshasa disguised as a bird, resting a little after
having devoured Sita. But as Rama approached him with an arrow fitted to His bow, Jatayu
identified himself and explained how he had been fatally wounded while trying to rescue Sita
from the clutches of Ravana. After understanding the situation, Rama threw His bow aside.
Then, as He embraced Jatayu, Rama became doubly aggrieved on account of the plight of
His well-wisher.
Anxiously, Rama inquired, “Jatayu, can you tell Me anything more about Sita and her
abductor?”
The dying Jatayu replied, “Ravana kidnapped Sita at a particular time of day known as
Vinda. If a person loses something at that time, he will surely get it back very soon. My dear
Rama, do not be overly distraught about Sita, for You will certainly regain her after killing the
King of the Rakshasas in battle.”
Then, as Jatayu was describing Ravana’s exalted lineage, he suddenly gasped his last
breath while uttering, “Rama, Rama.” Rama then told Lakshman, “I feel more saddened by
the death of Jatayu, who gave up his life for My sake, than the kidnapping of Sita. Go now
and bring some logs so that We can cremate his body. Let it be known that Jatayu will attain
to the highest destination as a reward for the service that he has rendered to Me.”
Lakshman prepared the funeral pyre and Rama placed Jatayu’s body upon it.
Lakshman lit the fire, and then both brothers made offerings for the benefit of Jatayu’s
departed soul while Rama chanted Vedic mantras. Rama and Lakshman then went to the
Godavari to offer oblations of water, and after doing so They had Their baths. Thus
completing the funeral ceremonies, Rama and Lakshman once again fixed Their minds on
finding Sita, and so They continued to wander in the forest.
Passing out of the Dandaka forest, Rama and Lakshman traveled toward the southwest.
After some time, They came to a huge cave, in front of which stood a fierce female
Rakshasa. The ghastly Rakshasi, having sharp teeth, a large protruding belly and tough
skin, suddenly caught Lakshman by the hand and said, “Handsome hero, please come and
revel with me in this delightful forest.” Saying this, the Rakshasi embraced Lakshman and
continued, “My name is Ayonmukhi, and I am Yours. Take me as Your beloved wife.”
Lakshman angrily drew His sword and cut off the Rakshasi’s ears, nose and breasts.
Screaming with pain, she ran away and so Rama and Lakshman proceeded on into the
dense forest. Rama then said, “My left arm is throbbing and My mind feels perturbed.
Lakshman, we should be prepared for some immanent danger.” A moment later, the frightful
cry of a Vanjulaka bird was heard, and so Lakshman said, “This indicates that victory will be
Ours.”
After They had walked some distance, a loud noise was suddenly heard and a storm
began brewing. Rama and Lakshman proceeded cautiously with Their swords in hand, and
in this way they came upon a huge Rakshasa having no head, neck or legs, and a gigantic
mouth located in the middle of his belly.
This Rakshasa was as big as a mountain and sharp, bristling hair stood up all over his
body. On his chest were two fiery eyes, and his long arms stretched out for twelve
kilometers, enabling him to easily catch large animals to eat. Although Rama and Lakshman
retreated to a distance of three kilometers upon seeing the Rakshasa, the monster caught
Them and squeezed Them so tightly that They were put into a helpless condition.
Rama did not feel aggrieved, but Lakshman became despondent and said, “My dear
brother, You should offer Me as a sacrifice to this Rakshasa in exchange for Your own life,
so that You can continue looking for Sita.”
Rama encouraged Lakshman not to be afraid, and at that time, the Rakshasa began to
speak: “My name is Kabandha. It is my great fortune that You have come to this forest
because I have been very hungry for a long time. Since You are the food that Destiny has
provided me, I think that You will have a very difficult time escaping with Your precious
lives.”
Lakshman said to Rama, “We should save Ourselves by quickly cutting off this
Rakshasa’s arms with Our swords.”
When he heard this, Kabandha became furious and opened his mouth widely with the
intention of devouring Rama and Lakshman at once. But, before he could do so, Rama cut
off his right arm and Lakshman cut off his left, making the Rakshasa fall to the ground,
bathed in his own blood. In an anguished voice, Kabandha asked, “Who are you?”
Lakshman replied, “This is Rama, a kshatriya in the line of Ikshvaku, and I am His
brother. We have come here in search of Rama’s wife, Sita, who was kidnapped by the King
of the Rakshasas, Ravana.”
Kabandha was overjoyed to hear the name Rama. After warmly welcoming his guests,
he said, “I am so fortunate that you have come here and redeemed me! Please listen as I tell
you how I happened to acquire this ghastly form. In my last life I was the son of Danu. By
performing austerities, I was able to satisfy Lord Brahma, who then awarded me the
benediction of having a long duration of life. After receiving this boon, I became very proud,
thinking that my archenemy Indra could no longer harm me.”
“Thereafter, when I attacked the King of heaven on the battlefield, he hurled his
thunderbolt at me. As a result, my head and legs became thrust into my body. Finding
myself in such a wretched condition, I begged Indra to kill me, but he refused to do so
because it would falsify Lord Brahma’s words. Then, when I asked Indra how I would survive
without a head, he placed my mouth in the middle of my belly and made my arms twelve
kilometers long.”
“Indra then declared, ‘When Rama and Lakshman come before you and cut off your
arms, you will regain your celestial form.’ Ever since that time, I have been catching all kinds
of creatures with my long arms and stuffing them into my mouth, hoping that one day I would
capture the Rama who had been mentioned by Indra.”
“Then, once, I harassed a great rishi named Sthulashira, and so he cursed me to retain
this horrible form for eternity. I tearfully begged the rishi to prescribe some end to my plight
and so he confirmed that I would regain my original form after being cremated by Rama. At
last I have been delivered by You, and so in return, after my death, I will direct You to a
powerful ally who will help You get back Your wife.”
Rama said, “My wife, Sita, has been kidnapped by Ravana, the King of the Rakshasas.
Unfortunately, I only know his name and nothing about his appearance or place of
residence. I will cremate your body so that you can attain your desired destination. But, in
return, you should give Me some information about Ravana.”
Kabandha replied, “I am very sorry, but I do not know anything about Ravana. But, after
being cremated, I will tell You about someone who has traveled throughout the three worlds
and so will be able to help you locate the King of the Rakshasas.”
Rama and Lakshman took Kabandha and placed him on the funeral pyre that Lakshman
had made within a mountain cave. Because the body was so fat, as it burned it looked like a
big lump of flaming ghee. From out of the fire rose Kabandha in his original celestial form,
dressed in fine garments and decorated with ornaments and flower garlands.
After taking his seat upon a celestial chariot pulled by swans, Kabandha said, “Rama,
political misfortune can be overcome by six means- making peace, fighting, assassination,
amassing superior arms and fortifications, creating dissention, and seeking the help of allies.
You are now plunged into the depths of despair due to the loss of Your wife, but You will one
day be able to retrieve her with the help of someone in a similar condition. That person is the
monkey king, Sugriva, who has been exiled by his brother, Vali, the son of Indra.”
“Rama, you should go and make friends with Sugriva. He is the son of Surya, and he
also needs a benefactor. He is now living along with four other Vanaras on Rishyamukha
Mountain, which is located near Lake Pampa. First go to Lake Pampa and meet the ascetic
woman, Shabari. A great rishi, Matanga, resided there long ago, and after his death, Shabari
took care of his disciples. These disciples of Matanga have long since ascended to higher
worlds but Shabari remains there in Matanga’s ashram, awaiting Your darshan before
departing for Brahmaloka.”
“Near Lake Pampa is the Rishyamukha Hill where Sugriva lives in a large cave, being
afraid of his brother, Vali. Sugriva is loyal, intelligent, generous, wise, very brave and
powerful. Go and make an alliance with him, for he knows all about the Rakshasas, and his
followers can wander over the earth until they find Sita.”
After saying this, Kabandha took permission from Rama and ascended to heaven.
Following Kabandha’s directions, Rama and Lakshman departed, and on the second day,
they arrived at Lake Pampa, next to which they saw Matanga Rishi’s ashram. When Rama
and Lakshman entered the hermitage, Shabari quickly got up and greeted Them with folded
hands. After touching the lotus feet of Rama and Lakshman, Shabari gave Them water to
wash Their feet and supplied Them with food and drink.
When Rama inquired about her spiritual practices, Shabari, a perfected soul, replied,
“Just by seeing You, I have achieved the fruition of all my austerities. When You came to live
at Chitrakoot, the rishis I had been serving ascended to heaven in celestial chariots. Before
departing, however, they assured me that You would come here, and that after welcoming
You I would also attain a heavenly destination.”
At Rama’s request, Shabari took Him and Lakshman on a tour of the beautiful area
surrounding Lake Pampa. Afterwards, she requested permission from Rama to cast off her
mortal body so that she could rejoin the sages she had previously served so faithfully. Being
very pleased with Shabari, Rama granted her desire.
After building a fire, the elderly ascetic lady, dressed in deerskin and tree-bark, and
having matted hair, leapt into the blazing flames. The next moment, Shabari was seen rising
up to heaven, like a flash of lightning. She was adorned with celestial jewelry and garlands.
Having thus witnessed Shabari’s spiritual prowess, Rama and Lakshman went to bathe in
Lake Pampa, which had been created from the water of the seven seas. Thereafter, feeling
enlivened, and hopeful of finding Sita, Rama impatiently departed, along with Lakshman,
being very eager to meet Sugriva.

Kishkindhya-kanda

The beauty of the spring scenery surrounding Lake Pampa awoke within Rama
remembrances of His loving pastimes with Sita, and because of this, His grief became
intensified. While constantly thinking about Sita, Rama wondered if she would be able to live
in separation from Him, especially during this spring season.
Giving vent to His unbearable sorrow, Rama bitterly lamented as follows: “Lakshman,
now is the month of Chaitra, and this lake is so lovely with its deep blue water. This is the
season of love, and all the trees are resplendent with fruit and flowers. Look at the karnikara
trees with their bright red blossoms, raining down their petals so that the carpet of green has
become spotted with red.”
Without Sita, life seems meaningless. That which pleased Me when she was present,
now gives Me pain! When I hear the Kokila’s call, I think of Sita’s sweet voice. When I see
the pinkish lotus flowers swaying on the crests of the waves, I think of Sita’s eyes. The
gentle fragrant breeze only reminds Me of Sita’s honey-scented breath. Lakshman, it is a
cruel spring! The pain is unbearable for Me! I can no longer live without Sita. You had better
return to Ayodhya and render service to Bharata while I stay here and give up My life!”
Hoping to instill some hope within Rama, Lakshman replied, “My dear brother, there is
no reason to believe that Sita is not alive and well. Wherever Ravana may be- in heaven or
on earth- within the sea or in the nether regions, We will find him and vent Our wrath! Give
up this useless melancholy, and make up Your mind to find Sita! It is by earnest endeavor
that We shall succeed, not by lamenting!”
After being admonished by Lakshman, Rama gave up His morbid depression. As They
continued talking, Rama and Lakshman reached Rishyamukha Hill. From a distance,
Sugriva could see Them approaching. Suspecting them to be allies of Vali, Sugriva became
very afraid. Along with his associates, he quickly went to take shelter within Matanga’s
ashram, since it was protected by the rishi’s magic spell. But despite this security, Sugriva
was so frightened and restless that he wandered from hilltop to hilltop, being unable to
remain still for a moment.
Hanuman said to his distracted master, “You should give up this paranoia of Vali.
Because you are a fickle-minded monkey, you hastily come to some conclusion that will later
on be rejected after giving the matter some careful thought.”
Sugriva replied, “Whether they are agents of Vali or not, these persons who have come
here certainly seem dangerous. They look like chiefs of the demigods and They are armed
with bows and swords. Remember that Vali is very cunning, and he has many friends.”
“Hanuman, I want you to go and find out why these two have come here. Observe Them
carefully- Their speech and Their expressions. Find out who They are and what They want.
If you purposely glorify me in Their presence, you will be able to find out whether They are
actually friendly or inimical.”
Hanuman concealed his real form and appeared before Rama and Lakshman as a
mendicant. After falling flat to offer his obeisances, Hanuman said, “O great heroes, please
tell me how it is that such exalted personalities have come to this desolate region. Your
strongly built bodies indicate that You are warriors, and yet You are dressed like ascetics.
My name is Hanuman, and I am a minister of Sugriva, who has been banished from his
kingdom by his elder brother, Vali. I am the son of Vayu and I can go anywhere at will and
assume any form that I please. Sugriva has sent me here to extend to You his friendship
and hospitality.”
Rama then said to Lakshman, “This Hanuman is a minister of Sugriva, the noble King of
the Vanaras whom We have been searching for. How courteously he behaves, and how
poetically he speaks. In his eyes, limbs, attitude and expression, there is nothing the least
displeasing or duplicitous. He has depth, power, and confidence, and his speech reflects a
mature unification of heart, voice and intelligence. Even an enemy would be charmed by his
words! Lakshman, please explain to Hanuman the sequence of events that has led Us to
come here.”
Lakshman said, “It is Our good fortune that We have met you, for We have been
searching for Sugriva, being eager to make an alliance of friendship with him. This is Rama,
the son of Maharaja Dasharatha, and I am His younger brother, Lakshman. Rama’s father
wanted to install Him as his successor to the royal throne, but due to political intrigue, He
was banished to the forest instead.”
“Recently, the Rakshasa king, Ravana, kidnapped Rama’s beloved wife, Sita.
Overwhelmed by grief, We have been searching for Sita in the forest, and while wandering
here and there, We came upon a fierce Rakshasa named Kabandha. By killing him, We
relieved him from a terrible curse, and in return, he advised Us to make an alliance of
friendship with Sugriva. It is for this purpose that We have come here, and We are ready to
do whatever is beneficial for you and your noble king.”
Lakshman’s tone of voice was pathetic, and tears filled His eyes as He described Their
plight to Hanuman. Hanuman then said, “Sugriva, like you, is now bereft of his kingdom and
wife. I am sure that he and his followers will help You to find Sita. Please come with me now
and meet Sugriva. He has been very anxious to find out the reason for Your coming here.”
After saying this, Hanuman assumed his real gigantic monkey-like form. Taking Rama
and Lakshman upon his shoulders, Hanuman immediately departed for Rishyashringa
Mountain. First of all, Hanuman went alone to Sugriva and explained about Rama’s friendly
intentions.
Sugriva then took the form of a mendicant and went to see Rama and Lakshman. As he
approached, Sugriva extended his hand as an offering of friendship, and with great pleasure,
Rama extended His hand in return and warmly embraced the monkey chief. Lakshman then
lit a sacred fire between Rama and Sugriva, in order to formally unite the two friends. After
ceremonially circumambulating the fire, Rama and Sugriva looked upon one another without
anxiety.
Sugriva then said, “My dear Rama, from this day on, Your happiness shall be my
happiness, Your sorrow shall be my sorrow, and vice versa.”
After saying this, Sugriva snapped off a Sal branch full of flowers and placed it on the
ground for Rama to sit on. Hanuman broke off a branch of sandalwood blossoms for
Lakshman, and after all were seated Sugriva said, “Rama, I pass my life in constant anxiety
because of my brother, Vali. After he forcibly took away my wife and kingdom, I took shelter
within this forest. Still, I remain haunted by the fear that Vali may come and attack me at any
time, and thus I know not a moment’s peace.”
Rama mildly smiled and replied, “Service is the real fruit of friendship, and so it is My
duty to dispose of Vali so that you can regain your wife and kingdom.”
Sugriva then said, “Hanuman has told me how You were exiled to the forest, and how
Your wife was kidnapped. As a friend, it is my vow to help You to recover her, whether she is
in heaven, on earth, or in the nether regions. Rama, I am sure that I saw Sita being carried
away by a powerful Rakshasa, and she was crying out, “Rama! Rama!” She saw us seated
upon this hill, and so she threw down her upper garment and some jewelry. We have kept
these.”
Rama was very eager to see these things and so Sugriva went and brought them from a
dark cave where they had been stored. Immediately recognizing the cloth and jewelry, Rama
cried out, “O darling, O dearly beloved!” As tears fell from His lotus eyes, Rama became so
bewildered with grief that He suddenly fell to the ground, wailing pitifully. Then, after coming
to His senses, Rama said, “Lakshman, these were worn by Sita. Can You recognize them?”
Lakshman replied, “I do not know about the yellow silk cloth, bangles or earrings. Out of
respect for Sita, I would never gaze above her ankles. But, since I used to go every morning
and bow down at her lotus feet, I do recognize the ankle-bells.”
Thereafter, when Rama inquired about Ravana, Sugriva said, “Unfortunately, I have not
even heard of Ravana. But, You can rest assured that I will help You find him. Rama, You
should not lament so much for the loss of Your dear wife. A person can never become
happy simply by grieving. Such sorrow actually diminishes one’s strength, and thus puts his
very life in danger. Even though I am a foolish monkey, in a similar situation, I do not lament
as much as You.”
Rama became a little pacified by Sugriva’s words. After embracing once again, the two
sat down comfortably. When Sugriva mentioned his fear of Vali once more, Rama said,
“Friends and enemies are known by the respective service and disservice that they render.
Sugriva, please rest assured that I will kill Vali today. But, first, I would like to hear exactly
how such bitter enmity arose between you two brothers.”
Sugriva replied, “It is only to a true friend that one can give full vent to his grief. Rama,
please listen as I tell You the whole story. When my father died, being the elder prince, Vali
became the King of Kishkindha and I engaged in his service.
Previous to this, Mayavi, the son of Maya Danava, had become Vali’s enemy on
account of a woman. Then, one night, as everyone was asleep, Mayavi came to Kishkindha
and challenged Vali to fight. Although I, along with his wives, tried to dissuade him, the
enraged Vali rushed out of the palace to meet the aggressor.
I followed my brother, and when Mayavi saw both of us he became afraid and ran away.
Then, as we gave chase, Mayavi entered a deep and dark cave, the entrance of which was
covered over by dense weeds. Vali ordered me to guard the entrance, while he went inside
to fight with the demon.”
“One entire year passed as I waited with no sign of my brother. Then, when I saw blood
mixed with foam oozing out from the cave, and heard what sounded like the enemy, but not
my brother’s voice, I concluded that Vali must have been killed. After blocking the cave’s
entrance with a huge boulder, I offered water for the benefit of my brother’s departed soul.
Then, when I returned to Kishkindha, the ministers installed me on the throne, and I began
to rule the kingdom righteously.”
“But, some time later, Vali returned to Kishkindha after killing Mayavi, much to
everyone’s surprise. When he saw me sitting on the throne, Vali became enraged and
immediately arrested all the ministers, putting them in chains. I could have fought with my
brother, but out of respect, I bowed down to him and placed the royal crown at his feet,
hoping that he would become pacified. Vali remained angry, however, and he continued to
abuse me severely.”
“Calling together all the leading citizens, Vali announced, ‘I had entered the earth to kill
the demon Mayavi, and it was only after searching for one full year that I was able to find
him. After I killed Mayavi, along with all of his relatives, the flow of blood practically filled up
the cave, making it very difficult for me to get out. When I finally reached the cave’s
entrance, I discovered that a huge boulder blocked the way out. I called for Sugriva, again
and again. When there was no reply, I kicked aside the boulder and returned home. Much to
my surprise, I saw Sugriva sitting on the throne. I could very well understand that Sugriva
had tried to shut me up within the cave so that he could gain control of the kingdom.’ ”
Sugriva concluded, “In retaliation, Vali took away all my possessions, including my wife,
and banished me from Kishkindha, leaving me with just a single cloth. Ever since that time I
have been residing on this mountain, along with my associates.”
Rama said, “My dear Sugriva, rest assured that I will kill Vali so that you can recover
your wife and your kingdom.”
But, Sugriva doubted whether Rama was powerful enough to kill Vali. To illustrate his
brother’s prowess, Sugriva narrated the following story: Once there was a great demon
named Dundhubhi, who wandered over the earth in the form of a buffalo. When he came to
the beach, he challenged the ocean to fight.
The presiding lord of the ocean then appeared before Dundhubhi and said, “O best of
the asuras, I am not a competent match for you. I suggest that you approach Himavan, the
presiding deity of the Himalayas and father-in-law of Lord Shiva.”
Thinking that the Ocean was afraid to fight with him, Dundhubhi went to the Himalayas
and began tearing down its peaks. Himavan then appeared on a mountaintop and said, “I
am the shelter of many great rishis who are nonviolent and peaceful in mind, and I myself
am not at all adept at warfare. O greatest of the demons, please leave us aside and do not
create any more disturbances.”
When the angry demon asked with whom he should fight, Himavan described my
brother Vali, the son of Indra. Dundhubhi then went to Kishkindha. While bellowing loudly, he
began to tear up the ground with his hooves, uproot big trees and damage the city gates
with his horns. Vali immediately came and challenged the arrogant demon to fight.
After a brief exchange of harsh words, Vali grabbed Dundhubhi by the horns, whirled
him around, and dashed him to the ground, making blood flow from his ears. A fierce duel
followed, as each struck the other forcibly, but soon the demon began to weaken. Noticing
this, Vali lifted Dundhubhi up in the air and smashed him to the ground with all his strength.
As blood poured profusely from every hole in his body, Dhundhuhbi gave up his life.
Vali then lifted up Dundhubhi’s dead body and hurled it a distance of six kilometers. As
the corpse flew through the air, drops of blood fell onto the ground at Matanga’s ashram.
This angered the great rishi and he wondered who had done such a stupid thing.
When Matanga learned that Vali had killed the demon, he pronounced the following
curse: “If that monkey ever comes within six kilometers of my ashram, he will instantly die. If
his ministers come here, they will remain as stone statues for thousands of years.”
Sugriva then concluded his narration by saying, “Vali went and tried to pacify the rishi,
but because he failed to do so, he has been afraid to approach this place ever since that
time. Over there, You can see the dried up skin and bones of the great demon. You can just
imagine how powerful Dundhubhi must have been. How can you hope to defeat Vali?”
Lakshman laughed to think how Sugriva doubted Rama’s ability to kill Vali. He then
asked, “What could Rama do that will satisfy you regarding His prowess?”
Sugriva replied, “Once, at this place, Vali pierced seven large Sal trees with seven
arrows. If Rama can split one of these trees with a single arrow and then kick the remains of
Dundhubhi a distance of 200 bows’ length, I would consider Him to be a suitable match for
Vali.”
After hearing this, Rama effortlessly lifted Dundhubhi’s skeleton with His big toe and
sportingly flung it a distance of some kilometers. Still, Sugriva said, “When Vali had thrown
the demon’s body it was very heavy with flesh and blood, and he was tired from fighting.
Since the carcass is now comparatively light, it is impossible to judge who is actually the
more powerful- Rama or Vali.”
Rama then picked up His bow and released a powerful arrow that pierced all seven Sal
trees and then entered the earth, going all the way down to Patala. Finally, after an hour, the
arrow returned to Rama’s quiver. Sugriva was struck with wonder, and he very reverently
bowed down at Rama’s lotus feet. In turn, Rama picked up Sugriva and embraced him. He
then suggested, “Let us go now to Kishkindha. Sugriva, you go on ahead and challenge Vali,
while Lakshman and I hide behind some trees just outside the city gate.”
Sugriva went to Kishkindha and roared loudly, to challenge his brother. When he heard
this, Vali came rushing out of the city, excited with rage, just like the sun emerging from
behind a hill. Vali and Sugriva proceeded to angrily strike one another with their fists, but as
Rama watched the fight with His bow in hand, He could not tell which of the two was Vali, for
the brothers looked alike. Because of this, Rama refrained from releasing His arrow. Sugriva
thought that Rama was unwilling to help him, and because he appeared to be losing the
fight, he ran away, his body battered and soaked with blood. While chasing Sugriva, Vali
taunted, “Coward! Run for your life! This time I will spare you!”
Sugriva took shelter in the forest surrounding Matanga’s ashram, and soon after, Rama
and Lakshman also came there. Reproachfully, Sugriva said, “Rama, if You did not intend to
kill Vali, why did You encourage me to challenge him? It would have been better if You had
honestly said, ‘I am not willing to kill your elder brother.’ ”
Rama explained, “As I watched the fight I became confused, because your voice, bodily
features and dress exactly resemble your brother’s. It is for this reason alone that I did not
release My arrow. Put on some distinguishing mark and then go once again and challenge
Vali.”
Turning to Lakshman, Rama said, “Uproot a blossoming Gajapushpi creeper and fasten
it around Sugriva’s neck. In this way, I will easily be able to distinguish him from his brother.”
Sugriva once again departed for Kishkindha, accompanied by Rama, Lakshman,
Hanuman, Nala, Nila and Tara. When they reached the outskirts of town, everyone
concealed themselves within a grove of trees while Sugriva approached the gate,
challenging his brother with loud roars. Vali was inside the ladies’ apartments when he heard
Sugriva summoning him. In a fit of rage, he rose up from his seat and began to storm out of
the room with heavy strides. In great anxiety, Vali’s wife, Tara, got up and clung to him
lovingly, trying to restrain him.
Tara pleaded, “My lord, please cast aside your anger for now and consider the matter
carefully. You have already severely beaten Sugriva, and so it is very surprising that he has
returned so quickly and is roaring so confidently. I can only conclude that your brother is
accompanied by a strong ally, and for this reason he dares to act so boldly.”
“Our son, Angada, has received information from his spies that Rama and Lakshman
have come here and made an alliance of friendship with Sugriva. Rama is inconceivably
powerful, on a level with Lord Vishnu, and so you should not risk creating enmity with Him.
Why don’t you settle this quarrel by installing Sugriva as your successor, and in this way
make friendship with Rama as well?”
Being destined to die, Vali could not accept this good advice, and so he replied, “I
cannot tolerate such arrogance on the part of my younger brother. As far as Rama is
concerned, I have no quarrel with Him. He is a virtuous kshatriya, and so I have no fear that
He would harm an innocent person with whom He has no enmity.”
Vali stormed out of the city, hissing with rage, and a fierce battle followed. As before,
Vali soon gained the upper hand, and so Sugriva signaled to Rama, indicating that his
strength was failing. Rama could see that Sugriva was on the verge of collapse, and so He
fitted a powerful arrow onto His bowstring. That arrow flashed through the air like lightning
and pierced Vali deeply in the chest. And yet, although Vali fell to the ground, bathed in his
blood, he did not give up his life, for he was wearing a celestial gold chain that had been
given to him by his father, King Indra.
Rama and Lakshman came out from the grove and approached the mortally wounded
Vali.
Filled with indignation, Vali chastised Rama with harsh and disdainful words: “I had
heard that You are a righteous king, devoted to dharma, and that You are heroic and
compassionate. Little did I realize that You are the vilest wretch! Like a well covered with
weeds, You make an external show of virtue, but Your sinful action has betrayed Your
wicked heart. I fought with Sugriva because I was convinced that You would not attack me.
How could anyone claiming to be a kshatriya and a hero kill someone who is fighting with
another, and with whom he has no enmity? I never harmed nor insulted You. I never
attacked Your kingdom. What merit have You acquired by striking me unfairly? How will You
ever justify this action in front of righteous men? If You had fought honestly, then it would be
You lying here and not I! You shot Your arrow at me from a hiding place, like a snake
attacking a sleeping man. I challenge You to justify this shameful act!”
Rama replied, “Your accusations show that you are actually ignorant of true morality.
Monkeys are by nature frivolous because of their uncontrolled minds. You are a monkey and
your advisors are also monkeys, so you cannot understand dharma.”
“The entire earth, with all its mountains, forests and rivers, is ruled by the dynasty of
Ikshvaku. The kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty have complete authority over all men and
animals, and the power to punish or reward whomever they please. It is you that have acted
sinfully under the sway of lust and greed. You have taken Ruma, the wife of your younger
brother, and enjoyed her as your wife. It is for this sinful act that you deserved to die at My
hands.”
“Death is the proper punishment for one who has sexual relations with his daughter,
daughter-in-law, sister, or the wife of a younger brother. If a king does not punish a sinner,
then he himself becomes sinful. It is for this reason that I promised to kill you and thus
enable Sugriva to regain his wife and kingdom. Aside from this, it is an accepted practice
that while hunting, a kshatriya releases his arrows at inattentive animals from a hidden
position. Because you are only a monkey, My act does not bear the slightest fault.”
After hearing this, Vali felt shame for his abominable actions.
With hands joined in supplication, he replied, “I must admit that what You have said is
correct. I had only dared to denounce You because I was overly proud, being ignorant of my
own sins.”
“My dear Rama, I beg that You to give protection to my only son, Angada, who was
begotten by me through my wife, Tara. He will certainly become very distressed when he
hears about my death. Please excuse the harsh words by which I foolishly accused You of
acting in an unrighteous manner.”
Rama assured Vali that He would take care of Angada. When she learned of her
husband’s defeat, Tara came running out from the city with her son. Surrounding Tara were
Vali’s ministers, but upon seeing Rama, they began to fearfully run away. Tara tried to stop
them, but the ministers advised, “Do not go to see Vali. Protect your son within the
fortifications of Kishkindha and prepare to install him upon the royal throne.”
Tara replied, “I do not care for sovereignty. The kingdom and its royal opulence are now
useless to me without my husband.”
While crying piteously and beating her breasts in agony, Tara went to where Vali was
lying on the ground. She embraced her dying husband and lamented bitterly while Vali’s
other wives came there and surrounded them. Tara’s only desire was to follow her husband.
Having made up her mind to fast until death, she sat down by Vali’s side.
Hanuman then went and pleaded, “O Queen, please get up. Do not let your grief deviate
you from the path of righteousness. You will have to perform the funeral ceremonies for your
dead husband and then protect Angada carefully after installing him upon the throne.”
Tara adamantly replied, “As for Angada’s installation, that decision lies in the hands of
his uncle, Sugriva. My only desire is to follow my husband to his destination.”
Vali then said, “Sugriva, I beg you to please forgive me for all the wrongs that I have
done. Accept the kingdom from me now, and take care of my son, for he will always remain
faithful to you.”
After saying this, Vali handed Sugriva the celestial gold chain that he had received from
King Indra. Then, turning to Angada, he said, “My dear son, now that I am departing, you
should always remain obedient to Sugriva. Act after due consideration, and accept the
dualities of pleasure and pain with an equipoised mind. Avoid excessive attachment and
hatred, for both extremes lead to degradation.”
After saying this to Angada, Vali, who was deeply pained by Rama’s arrow, gave up his
life. Then, as Tara continued to embrace her dead husband while sorrowfully wailing, Nila
came and extracted the arrow from Vali’s chest. Tara told Angada, “Bow down to your
father’s feet”, and as the young prince did so, he also became overwhelmed by intense
sorrow.
Seeing Tara’s anguish, Sugriva also became despondent. With a voice laden with
sadness he said, “Rama, I am now experiencing that the fulfillment of my desire has
produced just the opposite of what I had anticipated. Instead of happiness, I feel repulsion
when I think of ruling the kingdom. Life itself seems tasteless, after having killed my elder
brother. In order to atone for my sinful act, I have decided to enter fire and give up my life.
My dear Rama, these other heroic monkeys will help You search for Your beloved wife.”
Rama was very unhappy to hear Sugriva talk like this, and tears came to His eyes. Tara
then approached Rama and pleaded, “I know that my husband will be very unhappy without
me, even if he’s living in heaven. Please kill me so that I can join him. Rama, if You consider
the killing of a woman to be sinful, then just think of me as being non-different from Vali.”
Rama consoled Tara, and then said to Sugriva, “The tears of sorrow that you have shed
are sufficient bereavement for the departed soul of your brother. Now it is time for you to
attend to your responsibilities. This world is moving under the direction of eternal time, and
thus all living beings make their appearance and then depart. Under the direction of the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, time never oversteps it limit or deviates from its course.
Everything is destined by time, therefore, one should not lament for that which inevitable.”
Sugriva gradually became pacified, and then, with Lakshman’s help, he began to
arrange for the cremation of his dead brother’s body. Tara had a palanquin brought from
Kishkindha, and Sugriva and Angada put the body on it and led the procession to a nearby
mountain stream. As the funeral pyre was being built, Tara placed Vali’s head upon her lap
and continued to bitterly weep, giving pain to all that saw her. Finally, the other women came
and raised up Tara, enabling Sugriva and Angada to place the body on the funeral pyre.
After the completion of the cremation, water was brought from the River Tungabhadra, and
offerings were made to the departed soul of the heroic monkey king.
Hanuman then asked Rama to accompany Sugriva to Kishkindha to perform his
coronation. Rama declined, however, saying, “Due to the nature of My exile, I cannot enter
any city. Hanuman, I suggest that you perform Sugriva’s coronation, and at the same time
Angada can be installed as his successor. The monsoon season is about to begin, and that
will not be a good time to search for Sita. All of you monkey chiefs can remain at Kishkindha
for four months, while Lakshman and I pass Our time staying in a mountain cave. When the
autumn season arrives, we can begin an all-out search for the kingdom of Ravana.”
When Sugriva entered Kishkindha, he was heartily welcomed by all the citizens. At the
time of his coronation, the bathing ceremony was performed by leading monkeys, such as
Mainda, Dvivida and Hanuman, as well as by Jambavan, the King of the bears. Sugriva got
back his wife, Ruma, and he installed Angada as his successor.
For four months, Rama and Lakshman lived within a cave of the Prashravana Mountain.
Due to feeling intense pangs of separation from Sita, Rama could not find any pleasure in
the scenic beauty of the mountainous region. Nor would sleep come to visit Him at night, on
account of His continuous crying.
One day, Rama said to Lakshman, “After evaporating water from the ocean for eight
months, the sky sends forth heavy showers of rain. Dark clouds as large as hills range
across the sky in clusters, creating a melancholy mood. See the golden lightning, streaking
inside the black monsoon cloud, like Sita in the arms of Ravana! The lush green grass
provides a colorful dress for mother earth, spotted with various flowers and restless birds.
Bees are humming, frogs are croaking, and the rumble of thunder and the patter of rainfall
provide a musical accompaniment. Sugriva must be enjoying the monsoon season, his
object having been fulfilled. But, without Sita, I am like the riverbank that erodes on account
of the river’s swelling current.”
At such times, Lakshman would try and encourage Rama by pointing out that the
purpose of a grieving man was never to be fulfilled. However, the dark skies and frequent
rain, although nourishing for the tropical jungle, only served to intensify Rama’s longing for
Sita.
Rama assumed that by enabling Sugriva to get back his kingdom, the monkey King
would never forget his obligation to help find Sita. And yet, even as the autumn season came
and the skies became clear and blue, Sugriva did not come to meet Rama. Having achieved
his goal, and being without any cause of fear, Sugriva spent his time completely absorbed in
enjoying the company of young women, especially his wife Ruma and the newly acquired
Tara. Because of this, he even neglected to fulfill his responsibility to take care of the state
administration.
When Hanuman saw how Sugriva had become a slave to sensuality, and was
completely neglecting his duties, he approached the King and advised, “You had better keep
your promise and fulfill your obligation to Rama. Out of respect for his friend, Rama has not
yet come here to remind you, but you should remember that it is only by His grace that you
have prospered. Now is the time for you to summon all the monkeys under your command
and begin an all-out search for Sita.”
Hanuman’s speech brought Sugriva to his senses. The King called for Nila and ordered,
“Let my proclamation be broadcast to all the monkey warriors- they must report here for duty
within fifteen days or else be punished with death!”
After giving this command, Sugriva returned to the inner apartments. Meanwhile, being
separated from Sita, the beauty of the autumn season only served to heighten Rama’s
anguish. And, because He could understand that Sugriva was simply wallowing in a life of
sensuality, Rama became even more depressed. Lakshman also became despondent while
observing Rama’s grief, and so He tried His best to cheer Him up.
One day, Rama said, “Now that autumn has arrived, the ground has become firm and
dry, and the air is crisp and cool. This is the perfect time to initiate a military campaign and
yet Sugriva is not to be seen. It seems that he has forgotten all sense of duty, being
absorbed in sense enjoyment in the association of numerous women.”
“Lakshman, I want you to go to Kishkindha and admonish Sugriva in My name. Tell him,
‘O King of the monkeys, one who acts like you is the vilest of persons. I am astonished that
you are not afraid of avoiding Me, the killer of your elder brother. I hereby warn you that if
you neglect your promise to help Me find Sita, then I will personally come to Kishkindha and
kill you, along with all of your relatives.’ ”
When Rama exhibited this transcendental anger, Lakshman also became excited with
rage. While picking up His bow and preparing to depart, Lakshman declared, “If that rascal
Sugriva does not jump up to execute Your command, I will kill him Myself this very day!”
Saying this, Lakshman hastily started to leave, but Rama tried to restrain His anger,
saying, “First of all speak to Sugriva in a conciliatory tone, for I am sure that will be sufficient
to bring him to his senses.”
Thereafter, with an air of great indignation, Lakshman entered Kishkindha, a beautiful
city that had been built within a huge cave. As He rushed toward Sugriva’s palace, like a
maddened elephant, Lakshman impetuously knocked down the trees that stood in His path.
There were many fierce monkeys guarding the palace entrance, and when they saw
Lakshmana coming, His lips trembling with rage, they began to uproot large trees and pick
up boulders. But, when Lakshman saw the guards arming themselves, He became so
ferocious that the panic-stricken monkeys began running away in all directions. The
ministers then rushed to inform Sugriva of how Lakshman had arrived in an exceedingly
angry mood. However, because Sugriva was with Tara, and overwhelmed with sexual
desire, he did not pay much attention to their words.
Meanwhile, as the ministers ordered the monkeys to arm themselves for battle, the
enraged Lakshman met Angada and told him to inform Sugriva of His arrival. Angada then
went, and while clasping his uncle’s feet, told him of Lakshman’s presence. Sugriva had
fallen asleep in a drunken state, and so he did not even wake up. Only when numerous
monkeys came and noisily clamored around Sugriva, out of fear of Lakshman, did the King
finally become roused from his slumber.
As Sugriva opened his blood-shot eyes, the ministers said, “Lakshman is waiting for you
outside the palace gate, in a very angry mood. We advise you to go out and offer your
obeisances and submission, just to appease Him.”
Finally realizing the gravity of the situation, Sugriva quickly got out of bed wondering
why Lakshman was so angry with him. Hanuman then reminded Sugriva, “O King, because
you were absorbed in sense enjoyment, you did not notice how time was passing. Autumn
arrived long ago, and yet you neglected to fulfill your promise to help Rama search for Sita.
Lakshman has come here just to remind you of your duty, and so you had better approach
Him with folded hands, hoping that He becomes pacified.”
Sugriva told Angada to escort Lakshman into the palace. All the monkeys who had
previously taken up weapons now stood with folded hands to greet Him. When Lakshman
came to the inner apartments, He could hear the sound of women singing to the
accompaniment of musical instruments, as well as the jingling of their ornaments.
Actually, when He saw all the young and beautiful ladies, Lakshman became somewhat
ashamed because of His vow to shun the company of others’ wives. Although He was thus
restrained from entering, Lakshman twanged His mighty bow, causing Sugriva to become
very afraid.
Sugriva trembled when he heard that awesome sound, and he told Tara, “I wonder why
Lakshman is so angry. I think it would be better if you go first and try to appease Him.”
As Tara came before Him, her dress loosened and her eyes rolling due to intoxication,
Lakshman’s anger subsided, as He looked downward at her feet, out of respect. Tara asked,
“My dear prince, why are you so angry with Sugriva?”
Lakshman curtly replied, “Your husband has neglected his obligation to Rama,
preferring to pass his days in the inner apartments, dallying with women.”
Tara pleaded, “You must forgive Sugriva, for he has lost his good intelligence under the
influence of lust. We have heard that even great rishis sometimes hanker for sense
enjoyment, and so what to speak of a fickle-minded monkey? Please do not think that
Sugriva has forgotten his obligation to Rama. He has already called for millions of monkeys
to assemble here so that they can be engaged in the search for Sita. Why don’t You come in
now and talk with Sugriva?”
Lakshman entered the inner apartments of the palace, and when He saw the fabulous
opulence, along with the groups of beautiful women, His anger once again became aroused.
Sugriva was sitting on a couch, embracing Ruma, but when he saw Lakshman he became
embarrassed and so quickly stood up with folded hands, as did all the ladies present there.
Lakshman angrily chastised Sugriva by saying, “You simply made empty promises,
proving yourself to be a false friend and a most abominable person! One who receives help
from a sincere friend and then does not repay that service is most hard-hearted and
deserves to be killed!”
“Once, when Lord Brahma saw such an ungrateful person, he exclaimed, ‘The means of
atonement has been prescribed for the killer of a cow, a drunkard, a thief, and for one who
has broken a sacred vow, but there is no redemption for an ungrateful soul!’ I warn you,
Sugriva. If you do not start helping Rama immediately, you will meet your brother Vali in the
abode of Yamaraja this very day!”
Tara replied for her husband, “Lakshman, Sugriva is not a liar, nor is he hard-hearted.
He has not forgotten what Rama did for him. His only fault is that he lost all sense of time,
due to overindulgence in sensuality. We have heard that in Lanka, the abode of Ravana,
there are millions of Rakshasas. Since it would not be possible to kill Ravana without slaying
them first, Sugriva has summoned millions of monkey warriors from all corners of the earth.
He has not yet met Rama, nor initiated the search for Sita, because he is awaiting their
arrival. Sugriva has set a fifteen day time limit, and so thousands of monkeys and bears are
expected to start arriving at Kishkindha today.”
After hearing this, Lakshman gave up His anger. Sugriva humbly threw aside his
garland and said, “I could never repay Rama for all that He has done for me. He is my
master and my Lord. I will follow Him wherever He goes and do whatever He orders. I admit
that I was at fault, and now I beg for Your forgiveness.”
Lakshman replied in a mild voice, “Kindly forgive My angry mood as well. I think that it
would be best for you to go see Rama right now. He will become encouraged by your
sincerity.”
Sugriva then ordered Hanuman, “Once again, summon all the monkeys from the
Himalayan, Mahendra, Mandara and Kailash Mountains. Arouse all those who are prone to
sense indulgence and procrastination by telling them that anyone who does not respond
within ten days will be killed.”
Hanuman immediately dispatched the monkey leaders in all directions, and, as a result,
within the very hour, millions of monkeys began pouring into Kishkindha. After making their
presentations to the King, the monkeys were dismissed. Again Lakshman urged Sugriva to
go see Rama, and so the King called for a palanquin. Sugriva and Lakshman were then
carried to where Rama was staying, and innumerable monkeys accompanied them.
As Lakshman and Sugriva stood before Him with folded hands, Rama gazed upon the
army of monkeys with great satisfaction. Sugriva fell flat upon the ground to submit himself
as a fully surrendered soul at the lotus feet of Lord Rama. Being very merciful, Rama lifted
up Sugriva and embraced him without bearing any grudge for his past negligence.
Rama then had Sugriva seated and said, “First of all, a king should understand very well
the proper times for religiosity, economic development, and sense enjoyment. Then, he can
enjoy life accordingly. When a king gives up the Vedic regulations, being overly attached to
sensuality, and thus indulges himself irregularly, he is to be considered fallen. My dear
Sugriva, now is the time for you to try and find Sita as you have promised.”
Sugriva replied, “My dear Rama, please rest assured that I am very eager to help You,
as are all of these monkeys assembled here”
Once again, Rama embraced Sugriva, to reconfirm their friendship. At this time, a huge
dust cloud was seen to cover the entire sky so that the sun became veiled. This was caused
by the vast hoards of monkeys that were converging at Kishkindha in response to Sugriva’s
order. All the great leaders of the monkeys then approached Sugriva, along with their
followers, reporting for duty. There was Keshar, the father of Hanuman; Sushena, the father
of Tara; Tara, the father of Ruma; Mainda and Dvivida, the sons of the Ashvini-kumaras; and
Jambavan, the King of the bears. Thus, the entire surrounding area of forests and mountains
became completely covered with monkeys.
While pointing out to Rama all the different groups of monkeys, Sugriva said, “My dear
Lord, You should consider these monkey warriors to be Your very own army. From now on,
please order them as You see fit.”
Rama replied, “Our first mission is to locate Ravana, and ascertain whether Sita is still
alive or not. My dear Sugriva, organize the search parties, and then when Sita is found, I will
give the necessary orders.”
Being so instructed, Sugriva first called the monkey king, Vinda, and ordered, “I want
you and your soldiers to search everywhere in the Eastern direction, including all the seven
oceans and seven islands. I am giving you one month to search through this entire area, and
anyone who reports back later than that will be executed for neglecting the royal order.”
Next, Sugriva dispatched Angada, Nila, Hanuman, Jambavan, Mainda, Dvivida and
others to the South, making the son of Vali their leader. While describing the geography of
this area, Sugriva said, “One hundred yojanas from the northern shore of the Salt Ocean is
an island which I feel must surely be the residence of Ravana. Further south is Bhogavati,
the capital of Rasatala, and beyond that is the abode of Yamaraja, which marks the southern
boundary of Bhumandala. Do not search Pitriloka or beyond, for no earthly being can go
there.”
Sugriva then sent Sushena and his followers to the West. While instructing them,
Sugriva said, “In the middle of the Salt ocean is Pragjyotishapura, the city of Narakasura,
and the western limit is where the sun sets. Beyond that there is no information as to what
exists and so you should not go there.”
Finally, Shatabali was dispatched to the North. Sugriva informed him, “First, you will
come to the land of the Mlecchas and then you will reach the Himalayan Mountains. Beyond
this is 100 yojanas of desolate land, and then Mount Kailash. Further north is the Krauncha
mountain and then the Uttara-kuru province, beyond which is the northern Saltwater sea.
When you come to the shore of that ocean, turn back, for it is not possible to go any further.”
Sugriva considered Hanuman to be the most capable of finding Sita. Just to encourage
him, the King said, “Hanuman, amongst all the powerful monkeys, you are exceptional. On
this earth, in the sky, in heaven, or in the nether regions, there is no one capable of
obstructing you. You not only have superhuman strength, but you are courageous, intelligent
and resourceful. Therefore, I am especially counting on you to find Sita.”
By hearing this, and by observing Hanuman’s self-confidence, Rama also became
convinced that it was he who would find His beloved wife. Taking off His ring, Rama handed
it to Hanuman and said, “My name is inscribed on the inside. When you find Sita, give her
this ring for she will recognize it and be convinced that you are My envoy. My dear
Hanuman, I have full confidence that you will be able to carry out this important mission on
My behalf.”
Hanuman took the ring and touched it to his forehead. Then, he bowed down to Lord
Rama and departed. As the monkeys scoured the earth, looking for any clue to Sita’s
whereabouts, Rama and Lakshman remained at Prashravana for the prescribed period of
one month. After all the monkeys had departed Rama asked Sugriva, “How is it that you
have acquired such an extensive knowledge of the earth’s geography?”
Sugriva replied, “After Vali had banished me from Kishkindha, I roamed over the earth,
looking for shelter, until Hanuman informed me of Matanga Rishi’s curse.”
As the monkeys searched for Sita, they spread out during the day, combing their
allotted areas, and then, at night, they regrouped in order to rest. Before one month had
elapsed, Vinata, Shatabali and Sushena returned to Prashravana, having thoroughly
scoured their assigned directions. With sad faces they reported to Sugriva that they had not
been able to unearth even a single clue as to Sita’s whereabouts. Sugriva sat next to Rama
as the monkeys came and related to him their experiences. Finally, everyone concluded that
Hanuman was the only remaining hope.
As the party led by Angada thoroughly searched throughout the desolate Vindhya
mountain range, hunger and thirst tormented the monkeys, for that place was devoid of
water. When they left the mountains and entered the adjoining forest, they were
disappointed to find that the trees did not have any leaves, and so what to speak of fruit and
flowers. Because the streams in that forest had dried up, even birds and animals did not live
there. This forest had once been the residence of the great sage Kandu. When his son died
prematurely, at the age of ten, the rishi was so angry that he cursed the forest to become
unfit for habitation by man or beast.
As the monkeys roamed about in that desolate forest, the allotted period of one month
came to an end. While searching for water, Angada and Tara spotted a cave with creepers
thickly growing at its entrance and aquatic birds congregating there. The monkeys quickly
ran, hoping to find water within.
The cave was densely dark and so the monkeys entered by making a chain, holding
one another by the hand. Finally, after going a long distance, they saw a light deep within the
cave. Proceeding toward it, they came to a golden palace by the side of lovely ponds amid a
very pleasant garden, in which golden trees were growing. In the middle of that heavenly
grove, the monkeys saw an ascetic woman dressed in black deerskin, glowing with spiritual
effulgence.
Hanuman approached her with folded hands and said, “Please tell us who you are and
to whom this cave belongs. Why does everything have such a golden appearance? We are
very tired and thirsty, because for a long time we have been wandering throughout waterless
regions.”
The woman replied, “This cave is named Rikshabila and it is the creation of Maya
Danava. After performing austerities here, Maya Danava received a benediction from Lord
Brahma that enabled him to possess all the mystic powers known to Shukra. Maya Danava
continued to live here, but later on, when he became attached to the Apsara, Hema, Indra
drove him away from these regions with the help of his thunderbolt. At that time, Lord
Brahma gave this cave to Hema.”
“My name is Svayamprabha, the daughter of Merusavarni, who is the superintending
deity of Mount Meru. I am a friend of Hema’s and so I remain here just to guard this
hermitage. Please make yourselves feel at home, and kindly tell me the purpose of your
coming to these inaccessible regions.”
As Svayambrabha proceeded to offer her guests all kinds of hospitality, Hanuman
related to her the entire story of Rama’s exile and their search for the kidnapped Sita.
Hanuman then said, “We cannot thank you enough for your kind reception. Is there any
service that we can perform in return?”
Svayamprabha replied, “Because I am engaged in executing austerities, I have nothing
to ask from others.”
Hanuman then said, “Our master, the monkey king, Sugriva, had allotted us one month
to find Sita. That period has already expired, and because of this we feel doomed. Is there
any way that you could help us?”
Svayamprabha replied, “It is very difficult for anyone to even get out of this cave alive,
but I shall help you by utilizing my mystic power. While looking, no one can leave this place,
so all of you must close your eyes.”
Thereafter, as the monkeys kept their eyes tightly shut, they suddenly found themselves
being transported out of the cave. When they opened their eyes, the monkeys found that the
trees outside the cave were in full bloom. Concluding that spring had arrived, the monkeys
were amazed to realize that so much time had mysteriously passed. Angada then
suggested, “We should sit down and fast until death, for that would be more noble than
being killed by Sugriva for our negligence.”
All the monkeys agreed that there was no question of returning to Kishkindha without
having received any information about Sita. Tara then advocated, “Let us take shelter within
this inaccessible cave. We could live there without fear of being discovered.”
Angada remained silent, as if ready to approve of this plan, but then Hanuman said, “My
dear Prince, I consider you to be endowed with the eight attributes of intelligence. These
are- possessing an inclination to hear what others have to say, having enough mental
control to actually hear what others say, being able to comprehend the basic meaning of
what is said, good memory, capacity to reason in favor of a proposition, capacity to reason
against a proposition, deep insight into the meaning of what others say, and true wisdom.”
“Angada, you are also adept at employing the four kinds of political expedients-
persuasion or conciliation, gift or gratification, sowing seeds of dissension within the enemy’s
ranks and the use of violence or force if necessary.”
“Above and beyond this, you are endowed with the fourteen excellent qualities that
characterize great personalities. These are- a sense of time and place, firmness, ability to
endure all kinds of hardship, knowledge of all subjects, expertise, vigor, ability to guard one’s
secrets, consistency, heroism, ability to judge one’s own strength in comparison to that of an
enemy, appreciation of the services rendered by others, compassion for surrendered souls,
indignation in the presence of unrighteousness, and steadiness in duty.”
In this way, Hanuman employed the first political expedient by flattering Angada. Then
he utilized the third expedient by causing some dissension among the monkeys, making
them argue about what should be done.
Finally, Hanuman intimidated Angada by saying, “If you carry out your foolish plan to
live within this cave, you will soon meet with disaster. The other monkeys will not remain
faithful to you under such conditions. Eventually, Lakshman will find out where you are, and
he will destroy the cave, along with you and the other monkeys. On the other hand, if you
return to Kishkindha, Sugriva will certainly forgive you, and because you are an only son, he
will later-on install you upon the throne.”
However, Angada argued, “You overestimate Sugriva, and you forget that he is enjoying
his elder brother’s wife. Sugriva purposely neglected his promise to Rama, and took action
only after being threatened by Lakshman. Whoever wants to can return home, but I will
remain here, fasting until death.”
Angada was weeping, and after saying this, he sat down on kusha grass, surrounded by
the other monkeys, and all were determined to give up their lives. At this time, Sampati, the
elder brother of Jatayu, came out of his cave and perched on the peak of a mountain, within
the sight of all the monkeys.
Being overjoyed, he said to himself, “By the grace of Destiny I have gotten some food
after such a long time! When the monkeys fall down dead of starvation, I will eat them one
by one.”
Angada became very agitated upon hearing this. Addressing Hanuman, he said, “What
a horrible fate we now face! This is all the doing of the evil Kaikeyi! First, she caused the
death of the great soul Jatayu, then Vali, and now she will become the cause of our deaths
as well!”
This was the first time that Sampati had heard about Jatayu’s death. He eagerly said,
“Please tell me what happened to my younger brother. I am pleased to hear you glorify
Jatayu, but at the same time I am anguished on account of his death. O best of monkeys, I
wish to beg one favor from you. Long ago, my wings were burnt by the sun’s rays, and
because of this I cannot fly. Would you all kindly help me come down from this mountain
peak?”
The monkeys could not put much faith in Sampati, because just a moment before he
had considered eating them. Still, they thought, “We were planning to die by fasting anyway.
So, if this gigantic vulture eats us alive, it just means that our suffering will end more quickly.”
The monkeys then went and helped Sampati down from the mountaintop, and while
doing so, Angada narrated the entire story of Rama’s exile as well as Jatayu’s heroic death.
In turn, Sampati related his own history as follows: “Long, long ago, after Indra had
killed Vritrasura, Jatayu and I wanted to test our prowess and so we decided to challenge
the King of heaven. After soaring high into the sky, all the way to the heavenly planets, we
defeated Indra in battle. This made us become very proud, and so we decided to ascend
even higher. But, as we approached the sun, Jatayu grew faint because of the heat. In order
to save him I covered him with my wings, but as a result, they were burnt and I fell down
onto the Vindhya Mountains.”
Angada interrupted, “If you are actually Jatayu’s elder brother and our well-wisher, then
tell us where Ravana, the King of the Rakshasas, lives.”
Sampati replied, “Because I am very old and my wings are burnt, I am not able to
physically serve Lord Rama. Therefore, I will serve Him with my power of speech. I was told
that a young lady was carried away by Ravana, and while crying out, ‘Rama! Rama!’ she
dropped some of her ornaments to the ground. I know that this Ravana is the King of the
Rakshasas, and his kingdom, Lanka, is situated on an island, one hundred yojanas from the
southern shore. Because I am a descendent of Vinata, my vision extends for more than one
hundred yojanas, and I can see the golden city from here.”
“My dear monkeys, you will be able to find Sita in Lanka, guarded by Rakshasa women.
Now, if you would be so kind as to grant me one favor in return, take me to the ocean so that
I can offer water for the benefit of my brother’s departed soul.”
The monkeys were overjoyed to receive news about Sita, and so they cast aside their
vow to fast until death. They took Sampati to the ocean, and after returning, Jambavan
asked, “How did you come to learn that Sita had been kidnapped by Ravana?”
Sampati explained, “After my wings had been burnt, my son, Suparshva, began to take
care of me and bring me my food. Once, when I was very hungry, and Suparshva returned
home without any food, I chastised him severely. He then said, ‘While searching for flesh
today, I happened to see a giant Rakshasa carrying away a young woman through the sky. I
wanted to bring them both for you to eat, but in a very friendly manner the Rakshasa
requested me to let him pass, and so I could not refuse. After that, the Siddhas came and
informed me of Ravana’s identity. They said that I was very fortunate that the King of the
Rakshasas hadn’t killed me.’ ”
Sampati could see that the monkeys were now confident of his friendship, and so he
continued narrating his life-story as follows: “After falling onto the Vindhya Mountains, I
remained unconscious for six days. Then, when I regained consciousness, I saw that the
rishi, Nishakara, was living nearby. When I met the sage he asked how my wings had
become burnt and so I explained to him how my brother and I had tried to chase the sun to
where it sets in the West.”
“I told the rishi, ‘As we approached the sun, we began to lose consciousness. I was able
to protect my brother, but in the process my wings were burnt and I fell down here upon this
mountain. Since that time, I have not heard from my brother, and my crippled condition
makes life unbearable. Therefore, I shall commit suicide by jumping off the mountain peak.’ ”
“As I stood before him with tears in my eyes, Nishakara said, ‘Do not despair, for I will
give you a benediction: When, at a future date, you give information to the monkeys about
Sita, your wings will reappear along with renewed energy.’ After saying this, the rishi
returned to his cottage, and I crawled back to my place in the Vindhya Mountains. After that,
I passed my time waiting for your arrival, and after 8000 years the rishi gave up his body and
went to heaven. Now, in his absence, I doubt the truthfulness of his words.”
But, as Sampati continued to speak, a pair of wings suddenly sprouted on his body,
while at the same time he felt a resurgence of youthful energy. With great delight, Sampati
soared into the air to test his new wings, but before departing, he encouraged the monkeys
to resume their search for Sita. After Sampati flew away, the monkeys headed south,
endowed with fresh hope.
When the monkeys came to the shore of the ocean, they once again became dejected.
Seeing the vastness of the water, the monkeys thought themselves incapable of crossing
over to Lanka.
Just to encourage his followers, Angada said, “Despondency is utterly worthless, for it
has never been the cause of an action’s bearing fruit. In fact, despair is the root of failure,
and so it is as deadly as a poisonous snake. Whoever can leap 100 yojanas to rescue Sita
from the clutches of Ravana, please step forward. Let us become freed from the fear of
Sugriva’s wrath.”
No one responded, though, and so Angada began to ask the monkeys individually how
far they could jump. Thus, one after another, the monkeys responded- some saying that they
could jump 10 yojanas, some 20, or 30, 40 or 50. Mainda then said that he could jump 60
yojanas, and Dvivida claimed that he could leap 70.
Sushena declared that he could jump 80 yojanas and then Jambavan spoke: “Formerly I
had an almost unlimited jumping capability, but now, at the end of my life, I can leap only 90
yojanas and no more. Long ago, when Lord Vamanadeva had covered the entire universe, I
had circumambulated Him as He took His three strides. Now, unfortunately, I am not capable
of jumping to Lanka to save Sita.”
Angada then said, “I can probably jump 100 yojanas, but I doubt whether I could do so a
second time in order to return here.”
Jambavan said, “I am sure that with your prowess you could leap 1000 yojanas. But,
you are the leader of this expedition and so it would not be proper for you to accomplish the
task yourself. My dear prince, you must order someone else to do it.”
Angada replied, “It does not matter who is in charge. If someone does not go to Lanka,
whether myself of someone else, then our only alternative will be to fast until death.
Jambavan, please find out some means whereby we can cross the ocean and thus save
ourselves from Sugriva’s anger.”
Jambavan then said, “Do not worry, for I shall now appeal to someone who will certainly
be able to perform this difficult task. Hanuman, you are equal to Garuda, the carrier of Lord
Vishnu, and so why haven’t you spoken? Listen everybody as I narrate the glorious history
of the best of all monkeys: There was an Apsara named Punjikasthala was cursed by a rishi
so that she had to be born as Anjana, the daughter of the monkey-king, Kunjara. Anjana
grew up to be wonderfully beautiful, and she had the ability to change form at will.”
“Once, after marrying the monkey-chief, Keshari, Anjana took the form of a human
being and wandered throughout the mountains. When he saw her, Vayu became captivated
by her beauty and then removed her dress by means of the wind. When Vayu saw Anjana’s
rounded and closely united thighs, her swelling breasts and other feminine attractions, he
became overwhelmed with sexual desire and embraced her by force.”
“Unable to see her assailant, Anjana cried out, ‘Who is it that is violating my chaste vow
to accept only one husband?’ Vayu replied, ‘I have not physically spoiled your chastity,
because I entered you mentally. I am the god of air, and by my grace you will give birth to a
powerful son who will be equal to me in travelling at will.’ ”
“Anjana was satisfied with Vayu’s speech, and soon thereafter she gave birth to
Hanuman within a mountain cave. The next morning, when baby Hanuman saw the rising
sun, he thought that it was a shiny fruit. Desiring to catch it, he leaped more than 3000
yojanas into the sky, but was thrown back to the earth by the sun’s brilliance. Unhurt,
Hanuman once again jumped up into the sky, and this time Indra hurled his thunderbolt,
being angered by the monkey’s audacity. The King of heaven’s supreme weapon dashed
Hanuman against a mountainside, and as a result, the left side of his chin was fractured. It is
because of this that he received his name, for Hanuman means, ‘One having a broken chin.’

“Vayu became very angry at Indra because of his aggression against his son, and so he
withheld the supply of air to the three worlds. This made the demigods very anxious, and so,
with Lord Brahma in front, they rushed to where Vayu was staying. Then, just to satisfy the
wind-god, Lord Brahma gave Hanuman the benediction that he would be invincible in battle.
Indra had been quite pleased, as well as surprised to see that the baby monkey had not
been killed by his thunderbolt, and so he awarded Hanuman the boon of dying at the time of
his own choice.”
Jambavan concluded, “I therefore consider Hanuman alone to be capable of
accomplishing our mission. Of course, in the past, this little jump would have been nothing
for me. As Lord Trivikrama expanded His three steps to take away Bali Maharaja’s kingdom,
I had soared around the world 21 times, just to circumambulate Him. When the demigods
and asuras had desired to produce nectar, it was I who single-handedly collected all the
herbs that were thrown into the ocean of milk. I have grown very old, however, and so now it
is time for Hanuman to exhibit his astonishing prowess.”
Hanuman became very encouraged while listening to these words of glorification. Then,
to the great joy of all the monkeys present there, he began to expand himself into a gigantic
form, and while doing so, he further delineated his own glories.
Hanuman said, “I can go around Mount Meru 1000 times without pausing, and by
splashing the waters of the ocean, I can inundate the entire world. I can circumambulate
Garuda 1000 times as he flies through the sky, and I can uproot the entire city of Lanka and
carry it a great distance, if I so desire.”
All the monkeys felt thrilled to hear Hanuman boast of his prowess. But, to remind him
of the gravity of the situation, they said, “We will all stand here on one foot until you return.
Our very lives depend upon you, as do all hopes of recovering Sita.”
Hanuman said, “I will jump from the peak of Mount Mahendra, since it is capable of
sustaining the immense pressure that I will have to exert upon it.”
After saying this, Hanuman departed, and within a moment he arrived at the mighty
Mahendra Hill, which would serve as the support for his monumental leap.

Sundara-kanda

First of all, the virtuous Hanuman offered his obeisances to Surya, Indra, Vayu, Brahma
and Lord Rama, at the foot of Mount Mahendra. Then, after climbing to the peak, he
expanded his body to gigantic proportions and grabbed onto the mountain with his hands
and feet. For several moments, Hanuman remained poised, while composing his mind in
preparation for the great leap.
Due to the weight of his huge body, the entire mountain began to tremble. Large
snakes, vomiting fire from their mouths, bit into the rocks, making them shatter into flaming
fragments. The Vidyadharas flew up into the sky to witness the spectacular jump, and in
reply to their exclamations of wonder, Hanuman roared like a huge cloud and stretched out
his tail.
Then, when Hanuman crouched down in order to summon all his strength, the mountain
peak began to crumble and spurts of water gushed forth because of the tremendous
pressure. Gandharva couples that had been enjoying in that heavenly region, as well as the
numerous rishis that resided there, quickly fled out of fear. Hanuman then declared to the
monkeys, “Either I will bring back Sita, or the entire city of Lanka, along with Ravana, after
uprooting it!”
Hanuman took a deep breath and tensed his muscles. Then, all of a sudden, he sprang
into the air, like an arrow shot from Lord Rama’s bow. Due to the force of Hanuman’s jump,
all the trees on the peak of Mount Mahendra were uprooted and thrown into the sky. As
Hanuman soared through the air, these trees followed in his wake for some time and then
fell into the ocean. The variously colored flowers that were blown off the branches fluttered
down and became scattered over the surface of the water, creating a particularly beautiful
sight.
The hurricane-strength winds caused by Hanuman’s motion agitated the ocean, making
waves as tall as mountains crash against his chest. Hanuman’s shadow, projected upon the
surface of the water, was huge, and the suction created as he passed through the air drew
the nearby clouds to him. Hanuman thus resembled the moon as he alternately became
hidden while passing through the clouds and then visible as he emerged from them. Out of
paternal affection, Vayu blew cooling breezes so that the sunshine did not scorch Hanuman.
As Hanuman soared through the air, all classes of beings applauded him. The presiding
deity of the ocean also wanted to assist him, just to show respect for Lord Rama. Rama had
appeared in the dynasty of Ikshvaku, and His forefather, King Sagara, had extended the
ocean’s boundaries. There was a great, submerged mountain named Mainaka, which Indra
had placed in the middle of the ocean to block the passage from Patala to the earth so that
the demons would be obstructed. The Ocean ordered Mainaka to rise up out of the water to
provide a resting-place for Hanuman. But, when Hanuman saw the great mountain peak
rising from the sea, he considered it to be an impediment and so thrust it down with his
chest.
Appreciating Hanuman’s prowess, Mainaka took a human form, and while appearing on
his own summit, he said, “Son of Vayu, you can rest here for awhile and then continue your
journey. Please accept this humble service, for I desire to worship your father by helping you
in this way.”
“In Satya-yuga, all mountains had wings and so we flew through the sky like so many
Garudas. But, the demigods and rishis became fearful of the possibility of our falling to the
ground and smashing everything. Finally, Indra took his thunderbolt, and in an angry mood
he cut off the wings of thousands of mountains. I was also attacked in this way, but Vayu
came to my rescue by throwing me into the ocean. My wings were thus spared, and now,
just to repay that favor, I request you to stop for awhile and accept my hospitality.”
Hanuman replied, “Please excuse me, for I dare not stop. My time is limited and I
promised the other monkeys that I would not tarry on my journey.” Saying this, Hanuman
touched the top of the mountain, as a token of respect, and then soared upwards, continuing
his flight. Being pleased, Indra came and told Mainaka, “You need fear no more that I will cut
off your wings. From now on, you are free to travel as you like.”
Meanwhile, the demigods and celestial rishis approached Surasa, the mother of the
Nagas, and requested, “We would like to ascertain Hanuman’s actual strength. For this
purpose, we request you to assume the form of a huge Rakshasi and try to impede him.
Either Hanuman will quickly defeat you, or else, being unable to do so, he will become
despondent.”
Surasa took the form of a disfigured Rakshasa woman and emerged from the ocean,
blocking Hanuman’s path. She announced, “By the benediction of Lord Brahma, it has been
ordained that I can eat whatever food comes before me. O best of the monkeys, by the will
of Destiny you have crossed my path, and so I invite you to kindly enter my mouth.”
Hanuman replied, “I am trying to render service to Lord Rama by locating His kidnapped
wife, Sita. Therefore, you should help me. But, if you are determined to devour me, then I
promise to return here after finding Sita and reporting back to Rama. At that time, I will enter
your mouth without fail.”
Surasa retorted, “Because of Lord Brahma’s boon, you will be forced to enter my mouth
this very moment!” She then opened her mouth wide, but the enraged Hanuman expanded
his body and challenged, “You will have to make your mouth bigger if you want me to enter
it.”
At this, Surasa expanded her mouth to double the size, and so Hanuman increased his
size even more. Surasa countered by enlarging her mouth further, but in response,
Hanuman grew bigger than that. Surasa made her mouth still larger, and so Hanuman
continued to expand. Surasa quickly opened her mouth to engulf him, and so Hanuman
grew even bigger. At last, when Surasa enlarged her mouth to its maximum limit, in the
twinkling of an eye, Hanuman contracted his body to become the size of a thumb, darted
into her mouth, and immediately came out. Hanuman then said, “O daughter of Daksha, the
condition of your benediction has now been fulfilled and so I shall resume my journey.”
Surasa was delighted with the clever Hanuman. Appearing before him in her original
form, she said, “Well done, foremost of Vanaras! Go now and accomplish your mission. May
you soon reunite Sita with Lord Rama!”
As Hanuman continued on his way, soaring through the sky, a Rakshasa woman named
Simhika suddenly grabbed his shadow. Being unaware of this, Hanuman thought that his
strength was waning. But then, as he looked around, Hanuman spotted a huge and ghastly
creature emerging from the sea. As Simhika madly rushed at him with wide-open mouth,
Hanuman began to expand his body. But, the sharp-witted Hanuman quickly realized that, in
spite his best efforts, the onrushing Rakshasi’s mouth was big enough to swallow him.
Reversing his strategy, Hanuman quickly shrank to tiny proportions. After entering
Simhika’s mouth, Hanuman went inside her hideous body, and then, using his claws, he tore
the Rakshasi’s heart to shreds. As Simhika fell down dead into the water, Hanuman
emerged from her body and assumed his expanded form, while the Siddhas, Charanas and
Vidyadharas glorified him for his victory.
Soon thereafter, the distant shore, its beaches bounded by forests, came into view.
Thinking that the Rakshasas could easily spot him, Hanuman resumed his normal size and
then descended upon the Trikuta Mountain. Even after jumping 100 yojanas, Hanuman did
not feel the least bit tired, nor did he gasp for breath.
Gazing upward, Hanuman beheld the wonderful city of Lanka, perched atop the Trikuta
Mountain and surrounded by moats that were filled with lotus flowers. A high golden wall
circled the entire city, and ever since the abduction of Sita it was being heavily guarded by
fierce-looking Rakshasas. Hanuman approached the northern gate and from there he could
see inside the city. There were towering white palaces and broad avenues that were
adorned with golden arches and crowded with innumerable Rakshasas.
Hanuman thought to himself, “This city appears to be unconquerable, even by the
demigods, and so what to speak of an army of monkeys. How can Rama hope to vanquish
the Rakshasas? Only Sugriva, Nila, Angada, and I can cross over the ocean to come here.
Anyway, I will think about that later on, for my first duty is to find out whether Sita is still alive
or not. Let me carefully consider how I can meet her, for an incapable messenger can spoil
even the best of plans. The guards appear to be very vigilant and so I had better not try to
sneak into the city in my natural form. It appears as if even the wind cannot enter Lanka
undetected! Therefore, I had better assume some inconspicuous guise, and then enter the
city at night.”
Hanuman eagerly awaited the setting of the sun. At last, when it grew dark, he
contracted his body to become as small as a cat and entered the city by jumping over the
high wall. Awestruck, Hanuman saw that the city was beyond his imagination, being filled
with seven and eight storied palaces that were lavishly decorated with gold and jewels.
At this time, the moon rose over the horizon, helping Hanuman by spreading its silvery
illumination. But, just then, Lanka personified, in the form of a hideous Rakshasa woman,
came before Hanuman and challenged, “How did you enter this city unchecked? What is a
monkey like you doing in the kingdom of the Rakshasas?”
Hanuman countered, “I will answer your questions only if you identify yourself first.”
The Rakshasi angrily replied, “I am the presiding deity of Lanka, and I carefully guard
the city for Ravana. Because you have entered without permission, you shall meet your
death at my hands this very day.”
Hanuman then said, “I have come here to take a tour of the city because I want to see
all the magnificent palaces and gardens.”
Lanka defiantly replied, “This city is only for Rakshasas, and no stray monkeys are
allowed to wander the streets. If you want to see Lanka’s opulence, you will have to
vanquish me first!”
Hanuman boldly declared, “I will look at the city as much as I like and then depart the
same way that I came.”
At this, the enraged Lanka shouted, “You will not!” and smacked Hanuman with the
palm of her left hand. Hanuman roared loudly with indignation and then struck Lanka with his
left fist, although not violently, in consideration of her being a woman. Still, the blow made
Lanka fall to the ground while moaning with pain.
She then begged, “Please spare me, for a true hero will never strike a woman. Once,
long ago, Lord Brahma had informed me, ‘At the time when you will be overpowered by a
monkey, the destruction of your city and all the Rakshasas will be immanent.’ I admit defeat,
for I can understand that Ravana’s death is at hand. Vanara, you have my permission to
enter Lanka to accomplish whatever purpose you desire.”
Thereafter, Hanuman hurriedly wandered throughout the city, jumping from one rooftop
to another. He saw numerous spies in various disguises, and in front of Ravana’s palace,
which was encircled by walls made of pure gold from the Jambu River, he saw an army of
100,000 Rakshasas protecting it.
As Hanuman searched for Sita throughout the city, he saw great palaces having doors
inlaid with jewels. The walls within the palaces were free of all dust and were crystal clear,
and the floors were laid out in wonderful designs that fascinated the eyes and mind of the
beholder. Intricately constructed stairways lead to balconies that were inlaid with gold and
silver, and above them were magnificent domes and ceilings. Musical instruments played
while the wives of the Rakshasas came and reclined in the arms of their amorous husbands.
As he entered one residence after another, Hanuman saw someone caressing her lover
and someone else applying sandalwood paste all over her body. Someone slept, someone
laughed and someone else was engaged in the affairs of love with her mate. Someone was
sprawled out naked, having been left aside by her husband, and someone else, decorated
with flowers and ornaments, was just welcoming her lover. In this way, Hanuman observed
thousands of beautiful women having moon-like faces, their lotus-petal eyes casting sidelong
glances that beguiled the hearts of their loved ones. But, there was no trace of Sita and so
Hanuman became somewhat disheartened.
Hanuman next decided to look throughout the palaces belonging to Ravana’s relatives
and consorts, which, from a distance, appeared like enormous clusters of monsoon clouds,
illuminated by streaks of lightning. Finally, after searching through the residences of
Kumbhakarna, Indrajit and others, Hanuman hopefully entered Ravana’s palace, which was
filled with the sight of beautiful women and the sound of tinkling ornaments. Being at the very
peak of Trikuta Mountain, Hanuman felt as if he were being carried across the skies in a
celestial chariot pulled by white swans.
In fact, the interior of Ravana’s palace appeared to be a ravishing paradise with wish-
fulfilling trees surrounded by jewel-like flowers. As Hanuman roamed about he saw many
pleasure-rooms, their floors always wet with wine and liquor. There were rooms filled with all
kinds of treasure, and rooms used to store weapons. But, Sita was nowhere to be seen and
so Hanuman became disappointed. Still, there remained Ravana’s personal quarters, which
were vast.
While wandering about, trying to find the way into Ravana’s inner apartments, Hanuman
came to where the Pushpaka chariot was being stored. This chariot, which had been
constructed by Vishvakarma for Lord Brahma, traveled in the sky by following the mental
indications of the driver. The Pushpaka chariot was decorated with birds made from jewels
that flapped their wings mechanically, as well as snakes made of gold and silver. Inside were
elephants with shapely trunks that showered scented water onto a statue of the goddess of
fortune, Lakshmi, standing elegantly within a pool of water, a lotus flower in each of her four
lovely hands.
To get a good look inside Ravana’s apartments, Hanuman jumped onto the Pushpaka
chariot. From that vantage point, he could see a great hall having a crystal floor inlaid with
pearls, diamonds and gold, and which was covered by a great carpet having a map of the
earth with all of its mountains and seas as its design. Stairways of gems led to the upper
levels. Golden lamps provided soft illumination, their light reflecting from countless valuable
jewels.
Everything about this spacious hall was so gratifying to the five senses that Hanuman
began to wonder, “Where am I? Is this heaven? This could very well be the supreme realm
of Lord Brahma!”
When Hanuman went inside the inner apartments to continue his search, he saw
thousands of beautiful and colorfully dressed women sprawled upon the expansive carpet.
With half of the night gone, they were fast asleep under the influence of intoxication, as well
as the exhaustion caused by their amorous revels. The women’s’ jeweled bracelets, belts
and ankle-bells were now silent, although sparkling, making the scene appear something like
a lotus-lake, serene with silent swans.
Hanuman gazed upon the ladies, who lay with eyes closed and lips shut tight, like
fragrant lotuses that close their petals upon the arrival of evening. In their stupor, the ladies’
hair had become disheveled and their jewelry scattered. While dancing and drinking, their
anklets had been misplaced, their marks of tilak erased, and their necklaces broken. Their
belts were loosened, their dresses were wrinkled, and their garlands trampled. Thus the
ladies lay like flowering creepers that had been crushed by wild elephants.
While sleeping, some of the ladies used their arms as pillows, while others rested their
heads upon the breasts of their co-wives. Others lay with their heads upon someone’s lap,
stomach or buttocks, and some, under the influence of love’s intoxication, slept with arms
intertwined, embracing one another. Whose arms? Whose legs? Whose garlands? Whose
jewelry? The consorts of Ravana were so intimately united in sleep, that it was difficult to
make out.
Under the influence of lust, innumerable daughters of kings, brahmanas, Daityas and
Gandharvas had become the wives of Ravana. Some he had kidnapped after defeating their
relatives, but all of them had accepted him willingly, being infatuated with desire. None were
lowborn, ugly, crude or stupid, and none were neglected by Ravana, the lord of Lanka.
In the midst of all these women, Hanuman saw Ravana, lying upon an elegant couch
that had been placed upon a special platform and covered by a white canopy. Ravana was
seen to possess one head and two arms, for it was only in battle that he assumed his
gigantic form, having ten heads and twenty arms. Hanuman observed the numerous wounds
on Ravana’s body that had been caused by such illustrious weapons as the thunderbolt of
Indra and the chakra of Lord Vishnu.
Ravana’s dark-complexioned body was smeared with sandalwood paste, and he lay
exhausted after a night of feasting, drinking and erotic enjoyment. Hanuman stared at
Ravana respectfully, and he recoiled slightly, in awe of his powerful and majestic
appearance.
Hanuman then once again turned his attention to Ravana’s consorts, who surrounded
him like so many glittering stars encircling the full moon. Several women were sleeping in
the arms of their beloved lord, while others caressed the musical instruments that they had
played earlier that evening. Like a lotus clinging to a floating tree-branch in mid-stream, one
beauty with a slender waist embraced her vina. Another held her madduka drum in her lap,
as if it were her infant child. Another full-breasted woman tightly hugged her tambourine as if
it were a loved one who had returned after a long absence.
Lying a bit apart from the others, on a lavishly decorated couch, was the fair-
complexioned Mandodari, Ravana’s favorite queen. When Hanuman saw how young,
beautiful and dignified she appeared, he thought, “This must be Sita!”
Being thrilled at his discovery, Hanuman began to rejoice like a monkey by slapping his
arms, jumping for joy, kissing his tail, and climbing up and down the palace pillars.
But, after a moment’s consideration, he thought, “This cannot be Sita. It must be
someone else. In separation from Rama, Sita would not even be able to eat or sleep, I am
sure. Nor would she dress so nicely, and she would never accept the association of another
male, even if he were the King of heaven! After all, in comparison to Rama, what are the
demigods, and so what to speak of a wicked Rakshasa like Ravana?”
Hanuman continued his search, wandering from room to room, throughout the rest of
Ravana’s palace. He saw thousands of moon-faced women, sleeping amidst vessels
containing huge quantities of meat and wine, as well as drinking glasses that had been
scattered here and there. Hanuman had to look at these women very closely while searching
for Sita, and because of this he had some misgivings.
Hanuman thought, “Perhaps I have violated the principles of religion by gazing upon the
wives of others while they are sleeping naked. What will be my destination?”
But, after due consideration, Hanuman concluded, “It is the motive which determines
whether an act is virtuous or sinful. While gazing upon these women, I remained pure in
mind, for my only thought was to find Sita. Because I am looking for a woman, where else
can I search, except among women? I am only doing this for the service of Lord Rama, and
so my looking at others’ wives cannot be considered sinful.”
As Hanuman continued to search, without finding any trace of Sita, he concluded that
she must no longer be alive. Becoming very aggrieved at heart, he wondered what he would
tell the other monkeys, who were anxiously awaiting his return. Hanuman fought his
depression by reminding himself that indefatigability is the only cause of success. While
hoping for the best, he continued to look in some places that he had previously neglected.
Finally, after having scoured Lanka again and again, Hanuman became completely
depressed. Although Sampati had assured him of Sita’s presence in Lanka, Hanuman could
not find her anywhere, and so he began to speculate in various ways. He thought, “Maybe
Sita died out of fear while being carried through the air to Lanka, or maybe Ravana had
dropped her out of fear of Rama. Sita might have wiggled herself free and then fallen into
the ocean. Perhaps Ravana devoured her when she refused to become his consort.”
Hanuman’s thoughts then turned to the disastrous results of returning to Rama and
reporting his failure. He thought, “Without Sita, Rama will surely give up His life, and
Lakshman will follow suit. When They hear that Rama and Lakshman have given up their
lives, Bharata and Shatrughna will also surely kill Themselves. Then, with all four sons gone,
the three mothers will wither away and die. Because of their failure, Sugriva, Angada and the
other monkeys will give up their lives out of shame. Therefore, I must not return to
Kishkindha. Either I will commit suicide or else spend the rest of my life living as a recluse.”
Then, as Hanuman struggled to emerge from these gloomy thoughts, he considered,
“Maybe I should kill Ravana, or drag him back to Rama, so that he can be offered as a
human sacrifice to Lord Shiva.”
Hanuman was sitting on one of Lanka’s high defense walls, and while thinking in this
way he happened to gaze at a large grove of Ashoka trees on the outskirts of town, which he
had not yet explored. Making up his mind to continue the search, Hanuman first of all offered
his obeisances to Rama, Lakshman and the principal demigods. Then, he leaped from the
defense wall to the Ashoka grove.
After roaming about aimlessly for some time, Hanuman climbed a tall tree to get a better
view. From the treetop he could see a mountain stream cascading down into a nearby lotus
pond. Surrounded by flowering trees, this idyllic spot seemed to be a perfect place for Sita to
spend her time. Because of this, Hanuman decided to remain stationed upon the treetop in
the hopes that Sita would come there to take her morning bath and perform her devotional
activities.
Turning his head, Hanuman saw a lofty temple, situated in a nearby garden, that was
supported by 1000 pillars. In front of the temple, a woman sat, dressed in a single dirty,
worn-out, yellow cloth. She appeared to be emaciated due to fasting, and on account of her
anguish she sighed heavily, again and again. Although her face was wet with tears and
displayed her great anxiety and exhaustion, she shone with a divine radiance that could not
be obscured by her grief. She thus appeared like a smoke-covered fire, and many Rakshasa
women surrounded her.
Hanuman recognized her to be the same woman whom he had seen being carried away
by Ravana. He also saw that the ornaments that she wore, although tarnished, fit the
description that Rama had given him.
Hanuman gazed upon the woman’s full-moon face, her graceful eyebrows, her full
breasts, her bright red lips, her slender waist, her lotus-petal eyes, her delicate and
symmetrical limbs, and concluded that she must be Sita. Although as lovely as the goddess
of love, Sita sat upon the ground like a female ascetic practicing penance. Although most
glorious, she suffered acute anguish so that she appeared like a sacred text misinterpreted,
wealth squandered, faith shattered, hope frustrated, ideals impeded, intellect corrupted, or
fame blackened.
Hanuman thought, “This is the woman whom Rama loves, and for whom He suffers,
sometimes feeling pity, sometimes tenderness and sometimes grief. Pity for the dear one He
failed to protect. Tenderness for the woman who is solely dependent upon Him. And, grief at
suddenly losing His beloved wife. Sita’s grace and beauty resemble that of Rama, and she is
certainly worth the trouble of jumping over to Lanka and killing all the Rakshasas. In fact, if
Sita were placed on one side of a scale and the sovereignty of the three worlds on the other,
the latter would not even measure up to a fraction of her worth. I am pained to see how she
has to suffer at the hands of Ravana. Still, I know that due to her absorption in thought of
Rama she probably cannot even perceive her external suffering.”
The moon rose to help Hanuman observe Sita and the numerous Rakshasa women that
were guarding her. Some of the hideous Rakshasis had only one eye or one ear, and one of
them had ears all over her body. Another had her nose placed in the middle of her forehead.
Some Rakshasis were bald and some were dwarves. Some were hunchbacks and some
had lips that hung down over their chins. Some had heads that resembled those of boars,
deer, camels, tigers, or horses. Others had only a single hand or foot. Some Rakshasis had
heads that were sunk into their bodies, like Kabandha, and most of them had meat and
blood smeared all over their bodies.
Hanuman wept tears of joy at having found Sita, and as he remained concealed atop
the Ashoka tree and watched her, the night gradually passed away.
Meanwhile, Ravana was awakened before dawn by the singing of the bards who
praised him to the accompaniment of musical instruments. As soon as he got up, Ravana
began to think of Sita, for he was irresistibly drawn to her by his passion. Unable to suppress
his sensual longing for the princess of Videha, Ravana set out for the Ashoka grove,
accompanied by one hundred beautiful women carrying golden lamps, chamaras, cushions,
water, and other things. Still under the influence of the previous night’s intoxication, Ravana
staggered along, followed by the lovely ladies, who thus appeared to be like flashes of
lightning behind a dark cloud.
When Hanuman saw Ravana approaching, he prudently concealed himself behind a
dense cluster of leafy branches. When Sita saw Ravana coming, she covered her body as
best as she could, and then, while trembling violently, she sat down and wept. As Sita sat
upon the bare ground, she swayed back and forth, like a frail boat tossing upon a stormy
sea.
In her wretched condition, Sita appeared to be just like an understanding that had
become dim, hope that had been frustrated, an order that had been flouted, or a sacred altar
that had been desecrated. She was like a full moon in eclipse, an army that had been
routed, or a stream that had dried up due to drought. She was like a pond whose lotuses
had been uprooted, an extinguished flame, or birds that had fled due to fright. Sita’s body
had become emaciated, and her mind was depressed, because of fasting, brooding, grief
and fear.
Coming before Sita, Ravana spoke in the hopes of seducing her: “Most fair and
beautiful lady, why do you cover your shapely breasts and thin waist? O large-eyed lovely
one, I am afflicted with love for you, and so please give up your shyness. Favor me, my
beloved, and fulfill my unbearable longing to have you. It has always been the custom of
Rakshasas to carry away the wives of others or rape them. But, I will not touch you as long
as you do not voluntarily agree to love me in return.”
“You are a goddess. Why are you lying upon the bare ground? Why should you wear
dirty clothes and fast for no reason? Why do you tie your hair in a single braid and sit
brooding all the time? This is not at all befitting a ravishing princess like you.”
“Become my queen and enjoy royal opulence that is beyond compare within the three
worlds. You will use only the finest flower garlands, sandalwood paste, perfumes and
jewelry. You will eat the most sumptuous food, drink the most ambrosial beverages and lie
down upon the most luxurious couches. Enjoy yourself continually, with singing, dancing and
music!”
“Lovely lady, youth quickly passes, and for this reason, your stubbornness is utter folly.
You have the most beautiful face, fairer than the full moon, and your bodily features are the
perfection of artistic craftsmanship.”
“Become my beloved wife, and in return I shall do anything for your pleasure. If you like,
I will conquer the entire earth and present it as a gift to your father, King Janaka. Who can
dare to defy me? Sita, after seeing you, I have become so enamored that I can no longer
find pleasure in any of my wives, not even Mandodari. Why do you insist on remaining
faithful to Rama, who is a mere human being and a straw in the street in comparison to me?
I doubt whether Rama still lives, and even if He does, you can rest assured that you will
never see Him again.”
Sita first placed a straw between herself and Ravana, as a symbol of her unwillingness
to contact him directly. Then, she gently replied, “You should withdraw your mind from me,
and remain contented with the numerous consorts that you already possess. You will never
be able to have me, just as a sinful man fails to achieve perfection. I was born in a noble
family and was married according to religious principles. I shall never do anything contrary to
righteousness, and so there is no hope of your ever gaining my favor.”
Sita turned her back to Ravana, and continued, “Because you are acting perversely,
directing yourself away from the path of virtue, you will soon become the cause of the
destruction of your entire kingdom. Why don’t you follow the example of good men who
protect their wives, as well as the wives of others? The fool who is dissatisfied with his own
wife, and seeks pleasure with the wives of others, is doomed. Why do you ignore the advice
of the wise, and reject that which is good? Why are you so determined to cause the
destruction of all the Rakshasas? Don’t you know that all people rejoice upon the death of
wicked persons?”
“I will never be tempted by your offers of insignificant opulence and royal comforts. I am
as inseparable from Rama as sunlight is from the sun. The only way that you can save
yourself from Rama’s wrath is to voluntarily deliver me back to Him. You should try to
cultivate friendship with Rama, for He is very merciful to those who take shelter of Him.
Otherwise, it will not be long before Rama and Lakshman come here and suck out your life-
breath with Their arrows. You will never be able to escape Rama’s vengeance, even though
you may be capable of saving yourself from Indra’s thunderbolt! It is only a matter of time
before Rama finds you out and punishes you for your wickedness!”
Becoming agitated, Ravana retorted, “Generally, the more courteously a man treats a
woman, the more agreeably she responds to him. But, in your case the opposite holds true. I
should kill you for your harsh words! You are lucky that my love for you controls my anger,
like a charioteer that curbs unruly horses. Love acts strangely, for the more a beloved
mistreats her lover, the more he showers her with affection. It is for this reason alone that I
do not kill you, although death and dishonor are what you deserve.”
“Already, ten months of your one-year time limit have passed. Therefore, I am going to
wait just two months more. Then, if you still refuse to reciprocate my love, I will have you
chopped into pieces by my cooks and served as my breakfast!”
Some of Ravana’s consorts, that had been forcibly abducted, were present there, and
when they heard his threats, they felt sympathy for Sita. As Ravana prepared to depart, they
began to comfort Sita, so that their compassionate words gave her some reassurance.
Becoming encouraged, Sita once again rebuked Ravana, saying, “You must not have
even a single well-wisher in your kingdom, for no one deterred you from this ignoble act that
is meant for your destruction. Rama is like a mighty elephant, and you are like a tiny rabbit.
You can talk so boldly only because Rama is out of sight! I could reduce you to ashes by
utilizing my own mystic power, but I refrain from doing so because I have not received
Rama’s order. Actually, it is impossible for anyone to kidnap the wife of Lord Rama. You
have only been able to do so because Destiny is making me the instrumental cause of your
death.”
Struck by these sharp words, Ravana hissed like a serpent and gazed at Sita with
angry, bloodshot eyes. “I will kill you this very day, “ Ravana bellowed. Then, turning to the
Rakshasis that guarded Sita, Ravana said, “You must make Sita submit to me by any means
possible, whether it be conciliation, gifts, disharmony with Rama, or force, if necessary.”
Ravana then once again menacingly turned to Sita. Mandodari had come there along
with Ravana’s youngest consort, Dhanyamalini. Seeing that Ravana might become violent,
Dhanyamalini went and embraced her husband while saying, “Come back to your palace
and enjoy yourself with us. Forget about this pale and emaciated Sita. When a man desires
to enjoy a woman who does not love him, he only suffers. But, when a man wants a woman
who loves him in return, he enjoys great delight.”
In this way, Ravana was dissuaded from abusing Sita any further. While laughing
conceitedly, he returned to his palace. The hideous Rakshasi guards then approached Sita
and began to threaten her in harsh, angry voices.
The Rakshasi, Ekajata, said, “You should give up your false pride and accept Ravana,
for he is a very exalted personality. Pulastya was the mind-born son of Lord Brahma, and the
fourth of six Prajapatis. Pulastya’s mind-born son was Vishrava Rishi, and his son is
Ravana. Do not hesitate to accept the King of the Rakshasas, thinking him to be unworthy of
you, for if you remain adamant it will certainly result in your destruction!”
Another Rakshasi named Durmukhi said, “You are a fool for refusing to become
Ravana’s queen. Don’t you know that at his command the trees scatter flowers and the
clouds release torrents of rain. The sun does not shine and the wind refuses to blow if it
displeases Ravana. Sweet-smiling goddess, listen to our advice or else face a horrible
death.”
Sita calmly replied, “You can devour me if you like, but I shall never submit to Ravana.”
Finding Sita to be adamant, the Rakshasis picked up spears, axes and knives and
began to threaten her as they surrounded her. One of them shouted, “You are young, soft
and tender. I will eat your heart, liver and spleen this very moment if you do not submit to
Ravana.” Others exclaimed, “I will savor your succulent thighs!” “I will drink your hot blood!”
A Rakshasi named Ajamukhi then interrupted, “I hate squabbling. Let’s chop her up and
divide her into equal morsels. Order wine to be brought. Let us feast upon human flesh and
dance before the goddess Bhadrakali.”
Finally, Sita could no longer bear to hear these ghastly remarks and so she burst into
tears. While violently trembling with fear she cried out, again and again, “O Rama! O
Lakshman!”
While shedding incessant tears, Sita lamented, “Why doesn’t Rama come here and
save me? Perhaps He does not know where I am. Maybe He has already died in separation
from me and is now residing in heaven. Perhaps Ravana was able to kill Rama by means of
some sinister trick. Oh, when will Rama come here and take me back to Ayodhya, after
destroying all of the Rakshasas? Why am I so unfortunate that I cannot give up my life at
once? If only I could die, because death would surely be better than this misery!”
While the Rakshasis were intimidating Sita, one elderly woman named Trijata suddenly
awoke from a deep slumber. Approaching the other Rakshasis, Trijata prudently spoke to
them as follows: “You wretches! How can you dare torment Sita like this? You shall never be
able to devour her, and I will now tell you the reason why. I just had a vivid dream wherein I
saw Rama come here and rescue Sita, after killing all the Rakshasas.”
When the other Rakshasis begged her to describe her dream in detail, Trijata said, “I
saw Rama and Lakshman dressed in white and wearing white garlands. They were soaring
through the sky in a white celestial chariot that was drawn by 1000 white horses.”
“Then, the scene changed, and I saw Rama seated upon a giant four-tusked elephant,
and He was dressed all in white. Sita was also dressed in white, and she was standing upon
a white mountain in the middle of the sea. When Rama came nearby, Sita mounted upon
His elephant and thus became reunited with her husband. After this, I saw Rama, Sita and
Lakshman flying through the sky toward the North, riding in the Pushpaka chariot.”
“Then, I saw Ravana in my dream. He had a shaved head and his body was smeared
with red sandalwood paste. He was riding in a chariot that was drawn by asses, and while
drinking oil, he laughed as if he had become mentally deranged. As the chariot rode off, I
saw Ravana disappear into a gloomy hell that was full of filthy things and which emitted an
obnoxious odor.”
“I saw Kumbhakarna and the sons of Ravana in the same way, but not Vibhishana. He
was mounted upon a four-tusked elephant that was covered by a white canopy, and conch
shells and drums were heralding him. Finally, I saw the whole of Lanka crumble and fall into
the sea. I have therefore concluded that very soon Rama will come here and recover Sita,
after killing the Rakshasas. You had better give up tormenting Sita, and instead, beg for her
forgiveness.”
At that time, auspicious signs appeared in the faultless body of Sita, like servants eager
to wait upon a wealthy man. Her lotus-like left eye began to twitch, and her left arm gently
throbbed. Sita’s graceful left thigh also quivered, as if Rama Himself were standing before
her.
Noticing all this, Trijata declared, “Because of these auspicious signs, I can understand
that Sita will soon receive some very good news.”
Sita was very happy to hear this, and she said, “If all that you have described comes
true, then I will make sure that you are given all protection from the wrath of my husband.”
But, Sita soon relapsed into her usual mood of hopelessness and despair as she gazed
upon the hideous Rakshasis that surrounded her. Sita thought, “What if Ravana kills me
before Rama is able to come and rescue me? Having fallen into this most miserable
condition of life, I can no longer bear the torment.”
Desiring to end her life, Sita took the string that bound her hair, and after knotting it
tightly around her neck she began to tie the other end to a branch of the Ashoka tree that
she was sitting under. Just then, however, she once again experienced the auspicious
trembling in her body, and so her mood brightened and she became more hopeful.
All the while, Hanuman had remained hidden, listening to Sita and the Rakshasis. Now,
he considered the situation as follows: “I had better go and comfort Sita, for I can see that
her intelligence has become clouded by her intense grief. If I return to Rama without having
given her any hope it would certainly be a great fault on my part. At any time Sita may give
up her life out of despair. But, all of these Rakshasa women are guarding Sita. How shall I
talk to her? Never mind! Somehow or other I must do so! Rama will ask me if I have any
message from Sita, and if I tell Him that I have none He might burn me to ashes with His
anger. Yes, Rama and Sita both need to be consoled by receiving news of each other.”
“I will go and meet Sita when the guards are inattentive. If I speak to her in Sanskrit, she
will surely have faith in my words. No, wait, if I talk like a brahmana, she may think that I am
Ravana, disguised as a mendicant. I think that only if I speak to her in the dialect of Ayodhya
will she believe me. No, that will not work! If Sita hears a monkey talking like a human being,
she will still think that I am Ravana. After all, the Rakshasa King can assume any form he
likes.”
“I had better be careful, for if Sita screams, the guards will be alerted and they will
summon Ravana’s soldiers. If this happens, I might be captured. Even if I defeat all the
Rakshasas, I might be too tired to jump back to the mainland. I had better consider very
carefully how to best approach Sita, for a thoughtless messenger can ruin even the most
perfect plan.”
After pondering over his dilemma in this way, Hanuman finally concluded, “First I will
sing about the glories of Rama. Then, after gaining Sita’s confidence, I will deliver His
message to her.” While remaining concealed within the tree’s branches, Hanuman recited as
follows, loud enough for Sita to hear:
“Descendent of Ikshvaku
King Dasharatha was his name
Righteous and heroic
He ruled Ayodhya of great fame.
Finally receiving four sons
Rama the darling of his heart
Full of unlimited potencies
Vishnu playing a human part.
To give Kaikeyi her boons
Into exile Rama was sent
Upholder of His father’s vow
With Sita and Lakshman He went.
When Rama killed the Rakshasas
Who filled the rishis with fear
Ravana kidnapped Sita
With the help of Maricha, the deer.
Then while searching for Sita
Rama made Sugriva His friend
To look in the southern quarter
I, Hanuman, He did send.
After crossing many mountains
I jumped the ocean wavy
And thus I succeeded
In finding you, O devi.
Rama will come to save you
His dearly beloved wife
Now give me some message
To save your husband’s life.”
Sita was very surprised to hear this poem, and while looking upward to find the speaker,
she spotted Hanuman. This frightened Sita terribly, and she began to weep, thinking, “It is
very inauspicious to see a monkey in one’s dream!”
Being afraid and overwrought due to anguish, she fainted. After some time, when Sita
regained her senses, she thought, “After seeing a monkey in my nightmare, I should pray for
Rama and Lakshman’s welfare. Wait, how could I be dreaming? Because of my suffering in
separation from Rama, I never sleep for even a moment! It must have been some kind of
hallucination! The monkey could not have been real, for wherever I look, I only see Rama!
My ears only hear Rama’s voice, and my mind can think of Rama and nothing else! Still, it’s
hard for me to believe that the monkey was illusory, for he appeared so real!”
Hanuman then came down from the tree. While standing before Sita with folded hands,
he inquired, “Who are you? You seem to be a goddess, and so I guess that you are the
consort of Lord Rama.”
Sita was delighted to hear the name “Rama”, and in response, she narrated the entire
story of her life. After all, Hanuman was the first friendly person she had talked to in such a
long time. In conclusion, Sita explained, “Ravana has given me just two more months to live.
If Rama does not come here before that, then I will voluntarily give up my life.”
Hanuman became more confident because Sita was talking to him. He said, “I am an
envoy from Rama, and I can assure you that He is quite well. Rama has sent me here to
locate you, and He inquires about your welfare.”
Sita was delighted to hear this, and in great happiness the two continued conversing for
some time. But, as he became engrossed in her talk, Hanuman gradually inched closer to
Sita. When she saw this, Sita became seized with the idea that the monkey might actually be
Ravana in disguise. Sita suddenly exclaimed, “Oh! How disgusting it is that I have been
tricked into talking to you!”
While sinking to the ground, being exhausted by grief, Sita’s mind took another turn.
She considered, “I do feel some kind of delight by seeing this monkey. Perhaps my
suspicions are false. Maybe he really is a messenger from Rama.”
After composing herself, Sita once again spoke respectfully, saying, “Please tell me
more about Rama. Your descriptions of Him are very pleasing to my ears and heart.”
Factually, Sita was absorbed in intense emotional ecstasy brought about by separation
from Rama. As a result, her talks were manifestations of transcendental madness.
Like a deranged person, Sita continued to speculate as follows: “Maybe this monkey is
a ghost. Perhaps I am just imagining him, having become mentally unbalanced due to my
agony. No! I should not think like this! Why should I allow myself to be carried away by my
disturbed mind? From the nature of his speech, it definitely appears as if this monkey has
come as an envoy of Rama. Then again, how can I believe that a mere monkey could jump
across the ocean to Lanka? Surely this is Ravana in disguise!”
Hanuman could understand Sita’s doubts and so he continued to glorify Rama in
various ways, just to reassure her. Then, to test Hanuman, Sita said, “Please tell me the
story of how you met Rama. Also, describe to me in detail both Rama and Lakshman’s
bodily features.”
In reply, Hanuman very nicely described Rama and Lakshman. Then he said, “I met the
two brothers at the Rishyamukha Mountain. When Rama saw the jewels that you had
dropped in the midst of monkeys while being carried away by Ravana, He became overjoyed
so that tears fell from His eyes. In order to establish an alliance of friendship with Sugriva,
Rama killed Vali. To repay this favor, Sugriva initiated a great search for you all over the
world by sending out millions of monkeys. Now, by good fortune, I have located you in this
remote place.”
“My name is Hanuman. I was begotten by the wind-god, Vayu, through the womb of the
mighty monkey Keshari’s consort.”
By hearing Hanuman’s description of Rama, Sita became fully convinced that he was a
messenger sent by her husband. While Sita shed tears of joy, Hanuman took the opportunity
to give her Rama’s ring that had His name inscribed on the inside of the band. While taking
the ring in her hand, Sita’s face blossomed with happiness, as if she were experiencing the
arrival of Rama Himself. She said, “Hanuman, I am eternally indebted to you for this gift. You
are so magnanimous to have come here for my sake. Please tell me more about Rama.”
With folded hands, Hanuman replied, “It is only because Rama does not know where
you are that He does not come here and rescue you. Without you, Rama does not have
even a moment’s peace of mind. Rest assured that as soon as I return and inform Rama of
your presence here, He will immediately come and kill Ravana.”
Sita urged, “You must make Rama understand how urgent it is that He come here
quickly, for after two months, Ravana will kill me. Ravana’s younger brother, Vibhishana, has
repeatedly pleaded with him to return me to Rama. Vibhishana’s eldest daughter, Kala, has
told me how an old and wise minister named Avindhya had warned Ravana of the immanent
destruction of the Rakshasas by Rama. Still, Ravana does not listen to this kind of advice.”
Hanuman suggested, “If you like, I can immediately bring you to Rama by carrying you
to Kishkindha on my back. I am sure that the Rakshasas could not keep up with me as I fly
across the ocean.”
Sita was thrilled with the prospect, but still she replied, “Your proposal seems to be
perfectly in line with the frivolous character of monkeys. How can someone so small even
think of carrying me across the ocean?”
Hanuman was a little offended by this remark. He thought, “How little Sita thinks of me!”
To convince Sita of his prowess, Hanuman revealed his gigantic form and boasted, “If I like, I
can uproot the entire city of Lanka, with Ravana, and carry it back to Rama! Give up your
doubts!”
Sita admitted, “You are certainly strong enough to carry me across the ocean, but still, I
do not think that it is a good idea. What if I become faint as you dash through the sky, and
fall from your back into the shark and crocodile-infested water? What if the Rakshasas rally
and attack you? You will be fully engaged in fighting with them, and so what will happen to
me? Even if you kill all the Rakshasas, this would diminish Rama’s reputation.”
“Hanuman, I am completely devoted to my husband, and so I do not want to touch the
body of anyone but Him. When Ravana kidnapped me, I was helpless. I had no choice.
Rama must come here personally and rescue me after killing the wicked Ravana. This act
alone would be worthy of enhancing His glorious reputation.”
Hanuman replied, “I appreciate your sentiments, which are just befitting the chaste and
righteous wife of Lord Rama. I shall now return to Him, and so please give me something
that will convince Rama that I have actually met you.”
As tears filled her eyes, Sita spoke in a faint voice as follows: “Hanuman, just to
convince Rama that you have met me, you can relate to Him the following incident. While
residing at Chitrakoot, one day, after playing in the water, Rama rested on my lap, dripping
wet.”
“At that time, a crow came and began pecking at me, as if wanting to eat my flesh. I
picked up a lump of dirt to scare the crow away, but it was determined and so remained
hidden nearby. Becoming angry, I accidentally pulled the string that was holding up my slip,
causing it to loosen and fall down. Rama laughed heartily to see how flustered I became and
meanwhile, the crow once again started pecking at me. I took shelter of Rama by sitting on
His lap, and He comforted me while wiping away the tears from my eyes.”
“Due to exhaustion I soon fell asleep in Rama’s arms, and a short while later, He also
dozed off. Taking advantage of this, the crow suddenly swooped down and clawed at my
breasts, waking me up with a start. After flying upwards, the crow swooped down and
clawed me once more. As a result, Rama also awoke, feeling the drops of blood that fell on
Him from my wounds. When Rama saw the cuts on both my breasts, He became enraged
and asked me to identify the culprit. Before I could reply, Rama saw the crow standing at a
distance, his claws dripping with blood.”
“Being very angry, Rama took a blade of kusha grass from His mat and empowered it
with the brahmastra. After the straw burst into flames, Rama hurled it at the crow, and as it
flew up into the sky, the kusha-grass weapon followed it. This crow was actually the son of
Indra. As the brahmastra chased him, he tried to obtain shelter all over the universe, but
even his father could not help him. At last, the crow came and surrendered to Rama.”
“Out of compassion, Rama forgave the exhausted bird, but then said, ‘This brahmastra
cannot be ineffective, so it must be directed somewhere.’ After saying this, Rama used the
weapon to destroy the crow’s right eye. Thereafter, Indra’s son departed, after offering Rama
obeisances.”
Sita became very sad while relating this pastime. With tears in her eyes, she said,
“Hanuman, Rama invoked the brahmastra against an insignificant crow, so why doesn’t He
attack Ravana now? Does Rama no longer care for me? In a former life I must have
committed some abominable sin so that Rama is now disregarding me.”
To encourage Sita, Hanuman said, “I can personally attest to the fact that, due to
separation from you, Rama is completely merged into the depths of the ocean of sorrow.
Now, please give me some object that I can show Him.”
Sita sighed and replied, “At least I now have some real hope of being rescued. But, you
must impress upon Rama that if, after one month, I still have not seen Him, I will surely die
out of grief.”
After saying this, Sita untied from her cloth a bright jewel that she had formerly used to
decorate her head. While handing it to Hanuman, Sita said, “When He sees this jewel, Rama
will remember three persons because it was given to me by my mother as dowry, in the
presence of His father and mine. Hanuman, please act in such a way that Rama and
Lakshman will come here as quickly as possible to terminate my terrible suffering.”
Hanuman then circumambulated Sita, and was just about to depart when she once
again spoke with a voice that was choked up with tears. Sita said, “Please speak to Rama
about me in such a way that He will become very eager to rescue me.”
Hanuman replied, “Do not worry. Very soon you will see Rama, Lakshman, and all the
heroic monkeys come here to kill Ravana.”
Sita then requested, “Just stay here for one more day so that, by your association, I can
have a little relief from my intolerable misery. Oh! Why do I even get my hopes up? How will
all the monkeys be able to cross the ocean? I think that even Rama and Lakshman will not
be able to do so- only Garuda, Vayu or you have the capacity. Hanuman, I know that you
could rescue me single-handedly. But, I request you to somehow enable Rama to kill all the
Rakshasas and save me, for that will eternally enhance His glorious reputation.”
Hanuman replied, “All the monkeys in Sugriva’s army are equal to or superior to me,
and so you can rest assured that they will easily reach Lanka. You must know that only
insignificant persons like me are sent on errands, so give up your doubts once and for all. If
need be, I will cross the ocean carrying Rama and Lakshman on my back.”
Sita said, “Hanuman, try to see that my rescue is expedited, for I do not know how much
longer I can survive under these conditions. Here is one more message for Rama. Remind
Him of the time He painted my cheeks with a red mineral to replace the decorations that had
worn off.”
As Hanuman once again prepared to depart, Sita repeatedly implored him to act in such
a way that would benefit her. Hanuman then thought as follows: “My mission would not be
complete without ascertaining the true strength of the Rakshasas. I will destroy this Ashoka
grove, which is one of Ravana’s pleasure gardens, just to invoke his anger. When the King
of the Rakshasas sends his army to attack me, I will destroy it and then return to Rama.”
Having made up his mind, Hanuman began to create havoc by knocking down some
trees and uprooting others. He stirred up the ponds, shattered the hilltops, and after
practically destroying the garden, he made his stand at the entrance.
Hearing the screams of the frightened birds and animals, as well as the sounds created
by Hanuman’s mischief, the Rakshasi guards woke up with a start. When they spotted him
stationed at the garden’s entrance, Hanuman assumed a gigantic form, filling their hearts
with terror. Surrounding Sita, the Rakshasis asked, “Who is this creature? What were you
talking to him about?”
Sita denied knowing about Hanuman. She said, “He must be a Rakshasa. Since you are
all Rakshasas, it is you that should know about him and not I. I am also terrified to see his
huge and frightening appearance.”
While some Rakshasis remained to guard Sita, others went to report the matter to
Ravana. After bowing down to their king, they said, “There is a giant monkey who first of all
talked to Sita and then devastated the entire Ashoka grove, except the small portion where
she stays. When we asked Sita about his identity, she claimed that she did not know him.”
Excited and angry, Ravana immediately dispatched 80,000 fierce Rakshasas, known as
Kinkaras, to go and capture Hanuman. When Hanuman saw the Rakshasas coming,
brandishing their weapons, he further expanded his body while lashing his tail about so
violently that the sound of it reverberated throughout Lanka.
Hanuman then challenged, “I am a servant of Lord Rama. If I like, I can kill 1000
Ravanas!” After saying this, Hanuman loudly roared, and although the Kinkaras were
terrified they attacked him from all sides. Hanuman grabbed an iron bar that he found
nearby, and while flying through the air he slaughtered the Rakshasas within a short time. A
few surviving Kinkaras hurried back to Ravana and informed him of the massacre. Upon
hearing the news, Ravana’s eyes began to roll with rage, and next, he ordered the powerful
son of Prahasta, named Jambumali, to fight.
Meanwhile, Hanuman was engaged in destroying the immense temple of the
Rakshasas’ guardian deity that was located in the Ashoka grove. As he climbed up the
building, which was as large as a big hill, Hanuman tore it to pieces with his claws. The noise
made the debris crashing to the ground could be heard all over Lanka. Hanuman then
shouted, “May there be victory for Rama and Lakshman! My name is Hanuman, and I will
destroy Lanka within the very sight of the Rakshasas!”
Although the sound of Hanuman’s voice struck terror into their hearts, the one hundred
temple guards took up their weapons and surrounded him. Enraged, Hanuman broke off one
of the temple’s columns, and while assuming a terrifying aspect, he whirled it around so that
fire was generated as it struck the other pillars. While Hanuman proceeded to kill the guards
with that blazing pillar, the entire temple became engulfed in flames. Again and again,
Hanuman shouted, “Let there be victory for Rama, Lakshman, and all the monkeys!”
Jambumali then came on the scene, riding upon a chariot driven by donkeys, and the
twanging of his bow filled the sky with its vibrations. Without wasting time, Jambumali struck
Hanuman in the mouth with an arrow and in the arms with ten more. As blood covered his
entire face, the infuriated Hanuman tore up a huge rock and hurled it with great force.
Jambumali smashed it to bits with ten arrows, and so Hanuman uprooted a big tree and
whirled it around. Jambumali broke that tree to pieces with four arrows before it even left
Hanuman’s hands. The Rakshasa then pierced Hanuman’s arms with five arrows and his
chest with ten more.
Hanuman was undaunted, however, and he once again picked up his iron bar. After
whirling it around impetuously, Hanuman threw it with great force. The iron bar struck
Jambumali so violently that his head, legs, chariot and donkeys could no longer be
distinguished from one another.
Ravana became very agitated when he heard about Jambumali’s death. Next, he
ordered seven more sons of his chief minister to attack Hanuman, along with a large army.
When the Rakshasas approached the Ashoka grove, riding upon their chariots, they saw
Hanuman stationed at the garden’s arched gate.
In the shower of arrows that followed, Hanuman became momentarily obscured from
view but by leaping into the sky he avoided the onslaught. After roaring loudly, Hanuman
charged. Within moments, his hands and feet smashed innumerable Rakshasas, while
others were torn to pieces by his nails. Still others were crushed by the impact of Hanuman’s
chest and thighs, and some simply fell to the ground, having been stunned by Hanuman’s
roar. When all seven sons of the chief minister were killed, the remaining warriors panicked
and ran away. Hanuman then returned to the archway to await further combat.
Next, Ravana sent five of his leading generals, along with a large army, saying, “I want
you to capture this Hanuman, for he could not be a mere monkey. He must be some kind of
super-powerful being.”
Soon after, as the Rakshasas surrounded Hanuman, the general, Durdhara, released
five arrows that pierced him in the forehead. Infuriated, Hanuman swelled up immensely in
size, leaped into the sky, and then fell on Durdhara’s chariot like lightning striking a
mountain. Due to the impact, the chariot was smashed to pieces and Durdhara and the
horses fell down, crushed to death. Enraged at the death of their comrade, two other
generals, named Virupaksha and Yupaksha suddenly sprang into the air and struck
Hanuman in the chest with their clubs. Undaunted, Hanuman swooped down and uprooted a
tall Sal tree and then struck the two generals dead.
The two remaining generals, Praghasa and Bhasakarna, then came before Hanuman,
piercing him with their spear and dart. Although covered with blood, the enraged Hanuman
tore off the peak of a nearby mountain, along with all its animals and trees, and pounded the
two Rakshasas to pulp.
With the five generals out of the way, Hanuman effortlessly began destroying the rest of
the army. He killed the horses by wielding other dead horses and he crushed the elephants
with the help of other elephants. Hanuman struck dead the warriors with other slain soldiers
and he smashed their chariots by brandishing pieces of broken chariots. After covering the
ground with innumerable mutilated bodies, Hanuman once again stationed himself at the
garden archway.
When Ravana heard of this massacre, he simply glanced at his son, Aksha, who was
seated close by. Being eager to fight, the prince understood his father’s indication and
jumped up from his seat in the assembly. After mounting his chariot, which was drawn by
eight horses and could travel through the sky, Aksha went to the Ashoka grove. At a
distance he showered arrows upon Hanuman, and then, after coming close, a fierce duel
took place.
Aksha was very powerful, and while witnessing the encounter, the earth began to
quake, the sun became dim, and the wind ceased to blow.
When Aksha managed to pierce his head with three arrows, Hanuman began to expand
his body. The young prince was childishly proud of his strength and so he fearlessly came
before Hanuman like an elephant approaching a well that had become covered by grass.
After being struck with Aksha’s arrows, Hanuman assumed an awesome feature and leaped
into the air. Aksha closely followed him while constantly releasing his arrows, but Hanuman
dodged them while soaring through the sky.
Then, when an arrow pierced his chest, Hanuman mentally praised the skill of his
enemy, and thought, “Although just a young boy, this Rakshasa is fighting very heroically,
and so I do not wish to kill him. On the other hand, as the battle progresses, I can see that
his prowess goes on increasing. If I neglect him I may end up being defeated. Therefore, I
had better kill him at once, just as a fire that is spreading should be extinguished as quickly
as possible.”
While increasing his speed, Hanuman killed Aksha’s horses with a slap of his hand, and
when the disabled chariot fell to the ground, it smashed into pieces. Taking up his bow and
sword, Aksha jumped out of the broken chariot and ascended to the sky like a rishi on his
way to heaven after quitting his material body by the power of mystic yoga. Hanuman
dexterously caught Aksha by his legs, however, and after spinning him around and around,
he dashed him violently to the ground. With all his limbs broken and his chest crushed, the
son of Ravana gave up his life while vomiting blood.
The rishis watching from the sky gazed upon Hanuman with wonder, while Ravana’s
heart became filled with terror. As Hanuman waited at the gateway, the infuriated Ravana
checked his anger and summoned his eldest son, Indrajit.
The King of the Rakshasas then said, “In warfare, you are unparalleled, for you are my
equal. You conquered the King of heaven, along with all the demigods, and you received
weapons from Lord Brahma. Now, please go and do whatever is necessary to subdue this
mysterious enemy.”
Hanuman felt very happy to hear the twang of Indrajit’s bow as he came before him
riding upon his chariot. As Indrajit showered his arrows, Hanuman roared loudly and
expanded himself while ascending to the sky to avoid the onslaught. In the battle that
followed, Indrajit could not find any opportunity to pierce Hanuman with his arrows, nor could
Hanuman get the chance to strike Indrajit.
After witnessing the futility of his weapons, Indrajit considered Hanuman incapable of
being killed and so he began to think of how to capture him instead. With this in mind, Indrajit
employed a special brahmastra that immediately bound up Hanuman and made him fall to
the ground, practically unconscious.
Hanuman could understand that he was being bound by the power of Lord Brahma, in
the form of a weapon. At the same time, he could remember how he had received a
benediction from Lord Brahma that such a weapon would lose its effectiveness a short while
after being invoked. Because of this, Hanuman thought, “I cannot free myself just now, but
still, I have nothing to fear. Instead of considering this to be a setback, I should take it to be a
good opportunity to see Ravana first-hand. Even though I have been captured, I am
confident that by the benediction of Lord Brahma I will be able to free myself before long.”
Some Rakshasas then came and tied Hanuman with strong ropes and while doing so
they abused him with very harsh words. But, as soon as Hanuman was tied, the effects of
the brahmastra became nullified, for that weapon could not tolerate co-existing with another
means of bondage. Thus, Hanuman actually allowed himself to be tied up by the
Rakshasas, and he pretended to feel great pain, just so he would have the chance of
meeting Ravana.
Indrajit could see how Hanuman was feigning bondage after being freed form the
influence of the brahmastra. Indrajit thought to himself, “Hanuman’s capture has been
rendered useless by these thoughtless Rakshasas. Now that the brahmastra has been
nullified it cannot be invoked again against the same adversary.”
While Indrajit was pondering the matter in this way, the Rakshasas dragged Hanuman
into the presence of Ravana, while excitedly speaking amongst themselves. “Who is this
monkey-like creature? Someone questioned, while others angrily shouted, “Kill him at once!”
“Eat him up!” “Let’s roast him!”
Seeing Hanuman tied up, in front of him, Ravana asked his ministers to do the
interrogation. In reply to their questions, Hanuman said, “I am a messenger from Sugriva,
the King of the Vanaras, who sends you his best wishes for your welfare. The noble-minded
Sugriva hopes that you are conducting yourself according to religious principles, and that, as
a result, your kingdom is prospering.”
Hanuman was certainly angry at having been captured, and the knowledge that Ravana
had kidnapped Sita surely inflamed his rage. And yet, as he gazed upon the King of the
Rakshasas, seated upon his crystal throne, Hanuman thought, “With Ravana’s charm,
presence of mind, courage, splendor and auspicious bodily characteristics, he would have
surpassed even Indra in glory if he had not become averse to righteousness.”
Ravana was also agitated and angry, but at the same time, he felt apprehensive while
looking at Hanuman. He anxiously wondered, “Is this Nandi, the bull carrier of Lord Shiva,
who previously cursed me when I mocked him? Or, is this Bana, the King of the asuras,
disguised as a monkey?”
Prahasta, Ravana’s chief minister, then assured Hanuman, “If you simply tell us the real
reason why you have come here, we will let you go.”
Hanuman replied, “As a curious monkey, I came here to meet Ravana. But, I knew that
an insignificant creature like me would have a very hard time getting the King’s audience.
So, I destroyed the pleasure garden, hoping to be captured and brought into the royal
assembly. I never wanted to harm anyone, but when the Rakshasa soldiers attacked, I was
forced to kill them in self-defense.”
“Long ago, I received a benediction from Lord Brahma that I cannot be bound up by any
weapon or ropes. Because of this, you should understand that I purposely allowed myself to
be captured, and that the power of Indrajit’s brahmastra has already been nullified.”
“Now, please listen as I disclose to you the real reason for my coming here. My name is
Hanuman, and I have come as the envoy of Lord Rama, the son of Maharaja Dasharatha. I
had been searching a long time for his abducted wife, Sita, and it is my good fortune that I
have found her here. King of the Rakshasas, you should know for certain that there is no
one who is immune to the arrows of Rama and Lakshman. Not even the self-born Brahma,
Lord Shiva, or Indra would dare face Lord Rama on the battlefield.”
“Ravana, you are conversant with religious principles. One who is actually wise would
never court disaster by giving up the path of virtue. Please take my good advice and give
Sita back to Rama before it is too late. Previously, you had become immune to death at the
hands of demigods and asuras, by virtue of your severe austerities. Cannot you see that, in
the same way, your unrighteous act of kidnapping Sita will bring about disastrous results?
Even I could annihilate Lanka, and so, what to speak of Rama, who can dissolve the entire
universe and then recreate it as before.”
Hanuman’s speech made Ravana furious. As his reddish eyes rolled in anger, He
commanded, “Kill this monkey at once!”
But, in a gentle voice, Vibhishana advised, “My dear elder brother, it is not proper to kill
a messenger. You are certainly well aware of religious texts, but all such knowledge will be
made null and void if you let yourself become swayed by uncontrolled anger.”
Ravana did not like such free advice, and so he replied, “There is no sin incurred for
killing an evil-doer. Let Hanuman die!”
Vibhishana argued, “In shastra there is no injunction that a messenger can be killed.
Such a thing is unheard of! Only mutilation of the limbs, flogging, shaving the head, and
branding are punishments that can be administered.”
“My dear Ravana, great heroes like you never fall prey to the influence of uncontrolled
anger. I suggest that you try to kill the enemy who has sent Hanuman and not Hanuman
himself. Why don’t you send your army to fight with Rama and Lakshman, for it is They who
seek revenge?”
Becoming a little influenced by his pious brother, Ravana finally relented, saying,
“Monkeys always prize their tails very highly. Therefore, set fire to his tail and parade him
through the streets so that the people can see what kind of hero he is. After that, release
Hanuman so that he can return to his relatives with a burnt tail and thus suffer great
humiliation.”
Being so commanded, the Rakshasas first of all wrapped cotton rags around
Hanuman’s tail and then soaked the cloth in oil. When the rags were set ablaze, Hanuman
expanded himself in a fit of rage and began beating the Rakshasas by lashing his tail about.
The Rakshasas managed to grab hold of Hanuman and tie him more tightly, because he let
them do so, desiring to tour Lanka by day just to get a good look at its fortifications.
Soon after, the Rakshasas joyfully dragged Hanuman through the streets, announcing
to the people that they had captured a spy. As all of the women, children and aged curiously
came out to see the prisoner, the Rakshasi guards informed Sita of Hanuman’s plight. Sita
became very aggrieved upon receiving this news, and so she meditated upon Agni and
prayed, “If there is any pious credit earned by me as a result of my devotion and austerities,
let it be utilized so that the fire will seem cool to Hanuman.”
Just then, the sacrificial fire maintained by Sita began to burn mildly, and at the same
time, the fire on Hanuman’s tail burned coolly while Vayu blew ice-cold winds. Hanuman
wondered, “Why am I not being burned, even though the flames are blazing brightly. It feels
as if the Rakshasas have wrapped ice around my tail! This must be due to the mercy of
either Lord Rama or Sita!”
Hanuman then considered, “It is not at all befitting for a great warrior or a servant of
Lord Rama to be bound up and made a laughing-stock by these Rakshasas! Enough of this
humiliation!”
In the twinkling of an eye, Hanuman slipped out of his bonds by diminishing his size.
Then, jumping into the air with a shout, Hanuman instantly assumed his gigantic form and
picked up an iron bar that he found lying nearby. In a moment, he killed the guards, and then
he thought, “What else can I do to torment Ravana and the Rakshasas before returning to
Rama? Since my tail is ablaze, why not use it to engulf Lanka in a great conflagration?”
Having thus made up his mind, Hanuman jumped onto the roof of Prahasta’s palace
and set fire there. Then, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, he ignited a great fire all over
Lanka, avoiding only the palace of the pious Vibhishana. Hanuman went inside the palaces
as well, including Ravana’s, and because of the raging wind, the fire soon blazed out of
control. As the upper stories of the palaces crumbled and crashed to the ground, the intense
heat melted the gold and silver, which then mixed with pearls and jewels and flowed out into
the streets like lava.
There was a great uproar amongst the Rakshasas as they tried in vain to save
themselves and their possessions. Anguished cries grew louder as multitudes of Rakshasas,
horses and elephants were burnt. Due to the fat from the burning bodies, the fire blazed up
higher and higher, so that it appeared to be the time of universal devastation. In a state of
panic, the inhabitants of Lanka exclaimed, “Is this Agni himself ravaging our city, in the form
of a monkey? Or, is it Indra, Brahma, Time personified, or the unlimited energy of Lord
Vishnu who has come here to destroy us all?”
Finally, after circumambulating the entire city, Hanuman paused for a moment, and as
he gazed upon the ravaging fire he felt great satisfaction. Hanuman then began to think
about returning to Rama, and so he first of all went to put out the fire on his tail by dipping it
into the ocean. But, as he once again turned to look at the fire that consumed Lanka,
Hanuman suddenly became filled with a terrible apprehension while listening to the screams
of the dying Rakshasas.
“What a fool I have been to set fire to Lanka!” Hanuman thought. “What if Sita has also
been burnt? Oh, just see the result of uncontrolled anger, which is the most sinful condition
of the living entity because it causes him to act indiscriminately. What is there that an
enraged man will not do, or refrain from saying? A person under the sway of anger can
murder his own guru or parents, and insult the great souls. Only one who has learned to
control his anger actually deserves to be called a human being.”
“If I have caused Sita’s death, then I have killed my master as well, and so I shall have
to give up my life as atonement. To hell with the foolish nature of monkeys that produces
actions born of passion and anger. Passionate acts always give uncertain results, and in this
case I may have become the cause of mass destruction.”
“If Sita has died, Rama and Lakshman will no longer be able to live. Then, one after
another, Bharata, Shatrughna, Sugriva and many others will also give up their lives. Without
the shelter of these exalted personalities, all other living entities will gradually become
disinterested in life. Thus, it may be that I have unwittingly caused the destruction of the
entire world!”
But as Hanuman lamented in this way, he saw some auspicious omens and so
concluded, “The virtuous Sita could not have been harmed. After all, by the mercy of Lord
Rama, even I was not burnt by the fire, and so, what to speak of His beloved consort. The
purity of Sita’s character alone is sufficient to protect her. The strength of her austerities, her
devotion to truth, and her dedication to Lord Rama are more powerful than fire itself.”
The Siddhas, Charanas and other celestial beings had been praising Hanuman for his
heroic exploits. Now, to reassure him, they informed him that Sita was safe and sound.
Overjoyed and relieved, Hanuman rushed to where Sita was staying, and, upon seeing her,
he shed tears of happiness.
Sita said, “Dear Hanuman, please remain here for just one day. I get relief from my
burning grief by your association. After all, your return is uncertain, and so is my survival,
due to my intense unhappiness. It seems to me that Rama, Lakshman and the monkeys will
never be able to cross the ocean. Still, you must urge Rama to come here quickly and
rescue me, for I do not feel that I can survive much longer under these conditions.”
Hanuman tried to comfort Sita by assuring her that Rama would rescue her. Then,
having made up his mind to depart, Hanuman went to the top of Mount Arista. Being very
eager to return to Rama after the successful completion of his mission, Hanuman began
crushing the mountain with the pressure of his feet. As Hanuman expanded his size, the
mountain began to crumble, so that the Gandharvas, as well as the animals residing there
fled in fear.
When Hanuman took his mighty leap, the lofty mountain sank down to become level
with the earth. Thereafter, while sailing through the air, Hanuman once again touched the
Mainaka Mountain as a token of respect. At last, as he approached Mount Mahendra,
Hanuman began roaring in jubilation while waving his tail, for he was very anxious to meet
his monkey friends.
As they heard Hanuman roaring, all the monkeys waiting on the shore became very
eager to catch a glimpse of their hero. Jambavan then said, “Judging from his exuberance,
Hanuman must have been successful in his mission.”
All the monkeys excitedly jumped from tree to tree and mountain peak to mountain
peak, waving their cloths. Then, when Hanuman finally came into view, they stood up with
folded hands, in order to watch him descend upon Mount Mahendra.
Within a short while, the monkeys surrounded Hanuman, shouting with delight as they
presented him with fruit and roots. Hanuman first offered respect to his elders, and then to
prince Angada. In answer to their excited inquiries, Hanuman confirmed that he had found
Sita. The monkeys were overjoyed and so they embraced Hanuman again and again. While
praising him for his heroic deed, Angada sat down to talk with Hanuman.
At that time, Jambavan begged Hanuman to narrate the whole story of his jump to
Lanka, and so all the monkeys crowded around to hear, waiting with folded hands. Hanuman
first mentally offered his obeisances to Sita, and then described all that had happened in
great detail. Hanuman assured the monkeys that Sita was alright, and told them how she
had rebuked Ravana by telling him that he was not even fit to become Rama’s slave.
Hanuman concluded by saying, “Let us attack Lanka at once, and bring Sita back to
Rama at Kishkindha. I know that I can defeat all of the Rakshasas single-handedly, and so
can Angada. Think of how pleased Rama would be if we not only found Sita, but rescued her
as well! I could have brought Sita back here with me, but because I did not have your
permission, I restrained myself.”
Angada then said, “Once, out of respect for the Ashvini-kumaras, Lord Brahma gave
their sons, Mainda and Dvivida, a benediction, making them incapable of being killed in
battle. Because of this, these proud monkeys were able to defeat an entire army of
demigods and forcibly drink nectar (amrita). Because they are with us, I think we can easily
defeat Ravana. So, let us attack Lanka without delay, and return to Rama only after rescuing
Sita.”
But, Jambavan said, “O prince, your plan lacks wisdom. You have forgotten that we
were only ordered to find Sita and not fight for her recovery. Even if we were successful, I
think Rama would be displeased, for He vowed in front of all the monkeys that He would kill
Ravana and rescue Sita.”
Angada, Hanuman and the others accepted Jambavan’s advice, and so, without further
ado, they left for Kishkindha. On the way, the monkeys came to Madhuvan, a heavenly
forest belonging to Sugriva. Being eager to drink honey, they begged Angada to let them
stop for awhile. The monkeys then partook of fruit, roots and honey to their full satisfaction,
so that, within a short time, they all became intoxicated. While laughing, dancing and
singing, the monkeys sported in a very boisterous manner, and as a result, the nice garden
became a shambles.
Dadhimukha, the superintendent of the garden, became very angry, and when he came
and told the monkeys to stop, they insulted him with harsh words. Just to save the garden
from destruction, Dadhimukha tried to chastise some of the monkeys, pacify others, and
even strike some with his hand. But, this only made the intoxicated monkeys more infuriated,
and they responded by kicking him, biting him and scratching him with their claws.
Hanuman encouraged the monkeys, saying, “Enjoy yourselves as you like. I will stop
anyone who tries to check you.”
Angada echoed this sentiment, and so the emboldened monkeys fearlessly thrashed all
the guards that came to stop them from stripping the garden of its edibles. Thus, the
monkeys continued to act in various ways that are characteristic of those who become
intoxicated. Some lay down lethargically, while others of a coarser nature became very
boisterous and insulting.
In the scuffle that ensued, Angada threw Dadhimukha (who happened to be his grand
uncle) to the ground and beat him mercilessly. At last, Dadhimukha and the guards went to
complain to Sugriva, thinking that the King would severely punish the monkeys for their
misconduct.
When Dadhimukha arrived at Kishkindha, Sugriva could see that he was very agitated.
Then, in reply to the King’s inquires, Dadhimukha described the misbehavior of Angada and
his followers.
Just at this time, Lakshman came to see what was the matter, and so Sugriva told Him,
“Angada and his party are now at Madhuvan, and from the description of their raucous
behavior, is appears that their mission was successful. I am sure that Hanuman has found
Sita, otherwise, the monkeys would never dare to act with such abandon.”
Rama and Lakshman both felt exited to hear this, and Sugriva was also very happy. He
told Dadhhimukha, “Actually, your complaint conveys good news, and so the mischief of the
monkeys must be tolerated. Please return to Madhuvana and tell Angada and the others that
I want to see them right away.”
Taking this order upon his head, Dadhimukha sprang into the air. When he arrived at
Madhuvana, he found that all the monkeys were sober and discharging the transformed
honey as urine. Dadhimukha went to Angada and sweetly said, “Please forgive me for
having tried to forbid you from enjoying this garden. O Prince, your uncle was exceedingly
pleased to learn of your arrival, and he wants you to return to Kishkindha at once.”
Turning to his followers, Angada humbly said, “I suggest that we return to Kishkindha
without delay. Of course, even though I am the prince, I do not consider myself superior to
any of you. On the contrary, I fell completely dependent upon you. Therefore, I shall do
whatever you recommend. I am standing here, simply awaiting your order.”
Being very pleased by this statement, the monkeys replied, “O Prince, your humility is
just befitting an exalted personality, and it indicates your eligibility to receive further good
fortune. Let us not waste another moment, for Rama and Sugriva await our arrival.”
Soon after, the monkeys sprang into the air like so many stones shot from a catapult.
Sugriva saw them approaching in the distance and so he went to Rama and said, “Angada
has come! I know that he would never have dared return to Kishkindha if he had not found
Sita. And, he certainly would never have dared to devastate Madhuvana. That celestially
beautiful garden was given to my father, Riksharaja, by my grandfather, Lord Brahma.”
Angada’s party descended upon the slopes of Mount Prashravana. As they eagerly
came before Rama, Hanuman excitedly declared, “Sita is safe and sound. She has
remained fixed in her vows of chastity by never once accepting Ravana’s advances.”
After hearing this, Rama looked at Hanuman with glances that were laden with great
love and respect. The monkeys offered their obeisances to Sugriva, Rama and Lakshman,
and, being unable to contain themselves, they each repeated whatever they had heard from
Hanuman about Sita. Then, when the monkeys at last fell silent, Rama said, “Describe to Me
the exact location of Ravana’s abode, and tell Me more about Sita. How does she really feel
about Me now?”
The monkeys pushed Hanuman forward so that he could give the authoritative reply.
Hanuman first of all bowed toward the South, and then he narrated the events leading up to
his discovery of Sita.
Hanuman gave Rama the jewel from Sita’s head and said, “The devotion of Maharaja
Janaka’s daughter is completely fixed upon You without deviation. Because of this, in
separation from You, she can hardly maintain her life.”
At last, Hanuman related Sita’s three messages. The first one described how Indra’s
son, in the form of a crow, had scratched her breasts. The second described how Rama had
decorated her face with red oxide. The third was Sita’s conviction that, being tortured by the
Rakshasis, she would surely give up her life if Rama did not come to rescue her within a
month’s time.
As He listened, Rama pressed Sita’s jewel to His heart, while both He and Lakshman
shed incessant tears. Rama then expressed His grief by saying, “This jewel was presented
to Sita by her father at the time of our marriage. Long ago, King Indra had given it to
Maharaja Janaka, being pleased by his performance of sacrifices. O Hanuman, I have
become practically unconscious due to intense grief. Please repeat to Me Sita’s messages,
for they are just like cool water sprinkled on My head.”
Hanuman once again related Sita’s messages and concluded by saying, “I had offered
to carry her back to You, but she refused, for she was unwilling to voluntarily touch another
male. Then, again and again Sita told me, ‘You must act in such a way that Rama will
quickly come and rescue me. My grief is practically unbearable, and so I do not know how
much longer I will be able to go on living.’ ”
“ ‘O Hanuman, how will Rama, Lakshman and the monkeys be able to cross the ocean
to come here? I know that you are able to kill Ravana and bring me back to Rama. But, it is
my desire that Rama will come here personally to rescue me, so that His spotless reputation
will be further enhanced. I do not want to be returned to Rama the way I was brought to
Lanka- carried by another!’ ”
“I assured Sita that the other monkeys are superior to me, and can easily jump over the
ocean to Lanka. I also promised her, that, if need be, I would carry You and Lakshman on
my back. In this way, I was able to pacify Sita somewhat, but in consideration of her
precarious condition, I urge You to quickly devise some means whereby we can all attack
Lanka without further delay.”

Yuddha-kanda

Rama was extremely pleased with Hanuman, being grateful for the invaluable service
that he rendered. Just to praise him, Rama said, “Except for Garuda, no one else could have
done what you did. The best of all servants is the one who, when entrusted with some task
by his master, accomplishes more that what was requested. A mediocre servant is one who
never tries to do more than what is ordered by the master, even though capable of doing so.
That servant is the lowest of men, who, even though qualified, does not carry out the order
of the master.”
“Hanuman, you not only found Sita, but you comforted her with your words as well. You
surveyed the entire city of Lanka, you tested the strength of the great Rakshasa warriors,
and you struck fear into the heart of Ravana. Indeed, your service has practically saved My
life. It pains Me greatly that I am unable to properly reward you. Because I am living in exile,
the only thing that I can call My own is My ability to embrace you.”
Saying this, Rama affectionately pressed Hanuman to His heart. Then, turning to
Sugriva, Rama said, “Now we know where Sita is, but how will the monkeys be able to cross
the vast ocean? It suddenly seems to Me that all of our hopes and hard labor were useless!”
As Rama fell silent, plunged into deep thought, Sugriva replied, “My Lord, You should
cast off Your grief, just as an ungrateful person easily gives up kindness. For one who lacks
an enthusiastic spirit, all activities become sources of misery. And, for one who is bewildered
by grief, all endeavors end in failure. I am excited at the prospect of fighting with Ravana,
and I am convinced that the monkeys are up to the task. Why not somehow build a bridge
across the ocean? If the monkeys can just get to Lanka, I am sure that they will come out
victorious.”
Then, turning back to Hanuman, Rama said, “I can easily cross the ocean by utilizing
My mystic power, or, if I so desire, I can dry it up! Tell Me in more detail about Lanka’s
fortifications, as well as whatever other relevant information you may have gathered.”
Hanuman eagerly replied, “Lanka has four types of defenses. First of all, it is naturally
difficult to attack because it is situated high upon a mountain, encircled by a river, and
surrounded by dense forests. Then, there are artificial fortifications. High golden walls
surround Lanka, and there are four massive gates facing the four directions. Surrounding the
walls are wide moats, and four drawbridges span these moats, leading to each of the gates.
As I set fire to Lanka, I made it a point to break all the drawbridges and tear down many
sections of the walls.”
“My dear Lord Rama, I suggest that only the greatest warriors- Angada, Dvivida,
Mainda, Jambavan, Panasa, Nila and myself jump over to Lanka. In this way, we can defeat
Ravana without having to worry about transporting the entire army of monkeys across the
ocean.”
Rama replied, “It is My vow that I will personally go and destroy Lanka.”
Then, turning to Sugriva, Rama said, “The sun is now at the meridian, so that the
auspicious time called Abhijit has arrived. This is the opportune time to begin a military
campaign, and there is also trembling in my upper right eyelid, indicating victory. Let us
assemble all the monkeys so that we can begin our march toward Lanka at once!”
Lakshman and Sugriva applauded Rama’s suggestion, and within a moment, hordes of
monkeys began to emerge from the caves and wooded mountain slopes. Rama then
ordered Nila, “I want you to march in front of the army. Take some monkeys with you and
spread out in all directions, just in case there are enemy warriors waiting to ambush us. Any
weak Vanaras should be left behind because our conquest is a formidable one.”
Rama then arranged the army so that He would ride on Hanuman’s back in the center of
the formation, while Lakshman would ride on Angada. Sugriva passed on Rama’s orders to
the others, and it was not long before the army set out toward the South. The powerful
monkeys marched with great bravado, roaring like lions and leaping up and down.
Sometimes they somersaulted or rode piggyback, and sometimes they sportingly threw one
another about. Cheerful and playfully aggressive, the energetic Vanaras lashed their tails
about as they clamored up and down hills, uprooting plants and dislodging great stones.
While going along, Lakshman told Rama, “Just see the auspicious signs that have
become visible! There is a cool, fragrant breeze blowing from our back, and the forest
animals are making sounds indicating their satisfaction. The land itself seems to be in a
peaceful mood, and overhead, the sun is shining brightly.”
The army marched on, day and night, for they were very eager to fight for Sita’s
recovery. While going, the monkeys bathed and played in the mountain lakes, ate the fruit
and roots and drank the honey provided by the forests. At last, when they came to Mount
Mahendra, Rama climbed to the peak. From there He could see the vast ocean, stretching
out in the distance until it touched the horizon. After Rama rejoined them at the bottom of the
hill, the monkeys marched on until they came to the seashore.
Rama then told Sugriva, “Now we are faced with the very problem we had long feared.
How are we going to cross this expansive ocean? Let the monkeys set up camp in the
nearby forest while we sit down and devise some means for reaching Lanka.”
As they busied themselves making their camp, the hordes of monkeys appeared like a
second great ocean, agitated with tossing brown waves. The leaders of the monkeys gazed
with wonder at the vast ocean, which is the refuge of the asuras, and which goes all the way
down to the Patala planetary system. With wide-open eyes they stared at the fathomless
sea, infested with aquatic monsters, such as the huge Timi fish, and the Timingilas that can
swallow them. As if stunned with astonishment, the Vanara heroes beheld the impassable
expanse of wave-clashing, wind-whipped water, having Lanka at its far side.
While sitting at ease, Rama said to Lakshman, “Usually, grief gradually disappears with
the passage of time. But in My case, with the passing of each day, My anguish goes on
increasing because of separation from Sita. Lakshman, the most painful thing for Me is the
thought of how Sita’s allotted time is steadily slipping away. My heart burns with longing for
the time to come when I will be able to kill Ravana and rescue Sita. Only then will I be able
to cast off My grief once and for all, just as a person throws away his old, worn-out clothes.”
As Rama continued to vent His anguish by lamenting to Lakshman at great length, the
sun gradually sank below the horizon and darkness set in.
Meanwhile, in Lanka, after witnessing Hanuman’s devastating prowess, Ravana called
for a meeting of all the leading Rakshasas. After they had assembled, the Rakshasa King
said, “Impenetrable Lanka has been ravaged, my palace is in ruins, and many of the best
Rakshasa warriors are dead. According to authoritative opinion, the root cause of victory is
good council, and so that is why I have called all of you here.”
“There are three classes of men in this world. Before initiating any important work, a
wise man will take advice from those who are superior, as well as from friends who have a
common interest. Then, according to the advice received, he will exert himself to the best of
his capacity while depending upon Destiny for the result. The mediocre person thinks over a
matter by himself, considering things in the light of his own intelligence, and then acts
accordingly. The vilest of men are those with no faith in God, who act whimsically, without
any sense of duty. Being unable to properly judge that which is beneficial and that which is
harmful, such persons proceed blindly, saying, ‘I shall do it, no matter what!’ ”
“Similarly, there are three kinds of advice. Good advice is that which is given after an
objective study of the problem, and which is in agreement with religious principles. Mediocre
advice is that which is given after a heated discussion of the problem, and which places
more emphasis on limited self-interest than religious principles. Bad advice is that which is
given out of false pride, or to flatter, and which does not properly take into account
consideration of the ultimate consequences.”
“I am convinced that very soon Rama will attack Lanka, along with a vast army of
monkeys. His prowess was demonstrated at Janasthana, and so I have no doubt that He will
be able to cross the ocean without difficulty. My dear Rakshasas, all of you are very
intelligent, and so I want your advice about what should be done for our welfare.”
Being ignorant of Rama’s strength, and eager to please their master, the Rakshasas
replied, “O King, why should you be afraid? You are powerful enough to defeat all your
enemies single-handedly. Just remember how you defeated Kuvera, taking Lanka from him.
Please remember how Maya Danava fearfully handed over his daughter, Mandodari, to you?
Why should you worry? You can rest peacefully while your son, Indrajit, goes and kills Rama
and all the monkeys before they even cross the ocean. After defeating the demigods, Indrajit
arrested the King of heaven and kept him captive in Lanka. Then, only at Lord Brahma’s
request was Indra allowed to go free and return to his heavenly post.”
Ravana’s commander-in-chief, Prahasta, then said, “We have conquered the demigods,
Danavas, Gandharvas and Pisachas. Why should we be afraid of mere mortals? Hanuman
was only able to exert his prowess because we were not alert, considering him to be merely
a monkey.”
Durmukha stood up and declared, “I will not allow this insult to go unavenged! Wherever
they may be, in heaven, on earth, or within the sea, I shall rid the earth of every single
Vanara!”
While brandishing a club that was stained with flesh and blood, Vajradamstra angrily
shouted, “Who cares for a bunch of monkeys? It is Rama and Lakshman that I will crush to
death! O King, just give me the order!”
Kumbhakarna’s powerful son, Nikumbha, then bellowed, “All of you can remain here
with your master. I will go and single-handedly vanquish Rama and the monkeys!”
In this way, many of the Rakshasa heroes boasted of their prowess by assuring Ravana
that they could conquer the enemy single-handedly. While brandishing their weapons, the
agitated Rakshasas were on the verge of departing for battle, but Vibhishana politely
restrained them.
When all were seated and order was restored, Vibhishana said, “My dear elder brother,
the wise have advised that violence should only be resorted to after the other three tactics of
conciliation, gifts, and dissension have failed. Even then, violence will succeed only against
those who are evil, who are unwary, who are already under siege by another enemy, or who
are doomed by fate. Rama is supremely powerful and virtuous, and He is eager to fight for
revenge. In consideration of this, how can you hope to defeat Him? Sita’s abduction is the
root cause of our present crisis and so you had better return her to Rama before He
destroys Lanka and all of its inhabitants.”
After hearing Vibhishana’s advice, Ravana dismissed the assembly and retired to his
quarters. The next morning, Vibhishana came to Ravana as he was seated upon his throne,
listening to the brahmanas offer prayers for his welfare.
After taking his seat nearby, Vibhishana said, “My dear brother, ever since you brought
Sita here, many inauspicious omens have become visible. The sacrificial fire now gives off
sparks and smoke. Snakes are often found inside the kitchens and sacrificial arenas. The
sacrificial offerings are sometimes full of ants, and crows perch atop the palaces. Vultures
continually hover over the city, and female jackals can be heard crying out ominously every
morning and evening. This is all due your sinful act of kidnapping Sita.”
“Ravana, the only atonement for you is to return her to Rama at once. I am speaking
honestly, whereas your other ministers simply flatter you because they are afraid that you
will become displeased with them.”
Ravana was overwhelmed by the passionate desire to enjoy Sita, and so he became
angry upon hearing Vibhishana’s advice. Practically shouting, Ravana replied, “I am not
afraid of Rama or anyone else, and so I will never agree to return Sita! My dear younger
brother, you can now take your leave and go about your business.”
Ravana had become emaciated due to his unfulfilled passion for Sita, and because of
his abominable acts, even relatives had begun to disrespect him. Knowing that war was
immanent, the King of the Rakshasas wanted to further consult with his ministers and so he
ordered them to convene once again. When Ravana arrived at the assembly, riding upon his
chariot, everyone offered their obeisances to him by bowing their heads to the floor while
thousands of trumpets heralded his arrival. First of all, Ravana ordered Prahasta, “Make
sure that our army is prepared to defend Lanka from within and without.”
After Prahasta had left to put the army on alert, Ravana said, “My dear Rakshasas, I am
pleased to announce that, after sleeping for six months, Kumbhakarna has awakened and
now graces us with his presence. Please listen attentively, for I want all of you to fully
understand my position. As you know, I have become obsessed with a single-minded
attraction for lovely Sita. Truthfully, I am no longer the master of myself, for I have become
the slave of my passion for her.”
Then, just to enhance his public image, Ravana spoke untruthfully as follows: “Sita has
agreed to become my consort, but only after the expiry of one year, for that is the time she
has allotted for Rama to come and rescue her. It is for this reason that I have remained
patient, but now it appears that Rama, Lakshman, and a vast army of monkeys are
preparing to attack Lanka. Truthfully, I do not feel that two human beings and a band of
monkeys can pose much of a threat. Still, because one monkey, Hanuman, was able to
inflict so much damage, I must admit that victory is uncertain. That is why I have called all of
you together. I want you to advise me how I can kill Rama, and thus keep beautiful Sita for
myself.”
Kumbhakarna stood up and spoke sharply: “Foolish King, you should have consulted us
when you were planning to kidnap Sita, instead of acting impulsively. That would have saved
you from repenting later on. But, never mind, you can give up all your anxiety. I will
counteract your blunder by killing Rama and Lakshman and devouring all the monkeys.”
Mahaparshva then said, “O King, why should one decide not to taste the honey that was
procured with great endeavor after searching through a snake-infested forest? You can
forcibly enjoy Sita to your heart’s content. Who can stop you? No one is as powerful as you,
and so you can do whatever you like without fear.”
Ravana replied, “There is something in my past that I have always kept a secret. But,
now that you have asked about this, I will disclose to you an incident that happened long
ago. Once, I happened to see the incomparably beautiful Apsara, Punjikasthala, as she was
on her way to offer her respects to Lord Brahma. The very sight of the Apsara inflamed me
with desire, and so I forcibly grabbed her and raped her. After gratifying my urge, I let her go,
and she ran, naked, to the shelter of Lord Brahma.”
“The lord then became so angry when he learned what I had done that he cursed me by
saying, ‘You wicked King of the Rakshasas, your head will split into one hundred pieces if
you ever try to forcibly rape any woman again.’ ”
“Mahaparshva, it is out of fear of this curse that I do not drag Sita to my bed by force. I
am not afraid of Rama, though, for I know that I am the most powerful created being in the
universe. Rama is obviously ignorant of my prowess, and if He dares to attack me, I will
make short work of Him.”
Vibhishana then said, “My dear Ravana, can’t you see that Sita is just like a poisonous
snake that you have tied around your neck? Use your good intelligence and return Sita to
Rama before she becomes the cause of Lanka’s destruction and the annihilation of all the
Rakshasas. I can assure you that there is no Rakshasa warrior who will be able to stand
before Rama on the battlefield and live to tell about it.”
Prahasta then heatedly asked, “Why should we be afraid of a mere human being like
Rama, when we have nothing to fear from even the greatest demigods and asuras?”
As Ravana’s well wisher, Vibhishana replied, “Rama possesses unlimited and
inconceivable potency, on a level with Lord Vishnu Himself. Therefore, Prahasta, you will do
your king a great service if you dissuade him from fighting with Rama. Actually, you are
doing Ravana the greatest disservice by encouraging him to fight.”
Then, turning to Ravana, Vibhishana said, “I am only thinking of your welfare when I say
that you should return Sita to Rama. The minister who measures the relative strengths of the
King and his enemy, and then gives advice accordingly, is the true well-wisher.”
Being unable to tolerate his uncle’s words any longer, Indrajit excitedly interrupted,
saying, “Vibhishana, you are simply a coward and a eunuch! Your advice has no place in
this assembly, for it is devoid of courage and heroism. Previously, I dragged Indra and his
carrier, Airavata, to the ground, making all the demigods flee in fear. It will be easy for me to
kill two ordinary human beings like Rama and Lakshman.”
Vibhishana harshly replied, “You are a mere boy, and because your intelligence is not
yet developed, you cannot properly decide what is to be done and what is to be avoided.
You are actually Ravana’s enemy and not his son because you are dull-headed,
indiscriminate, uncultured and wicked. Sita should be given back to Rama, along with
abundant gifts, so that the Rakshasas may continue to live peacefully.”
Ravana also became tired of hearing Vibhishana’s advice. Just to chastise his youngest
brother, the King said, “It is better to live with an enemy or a poisonous snake than one that
claims to be a friend but is actually a traitor. Especially if that person is one’s own brother! It
now appears to be true that a man’s relatives are the ones that rejoice the most when he
encounters misfortune. Once, when some elephants saw hunters approaching, they recited
the following two verses:
Fire and weapons we do not fear,
The dangerous are the so-called near and dear.
They are the ones who take special pains
To make sure all of us are put in chains.

“From cows we derive milk, in brahmanas we find tapasya, in women we see fickleness,
and from relatives we are put into danger. Vibhishana, you are envious of me and that is why
you cannot tolerate the honor that is given to me. If anyone else had spoken as you did, I
would have killed him immediately! But, I will only say this much- wretched brother, you are a
disgrace to our noble family!”
Vibhishana also became angered while being rebuked like this. Club in hand, he rose
up into the air, along with his four followers, and declared, “O King, although you are my
superior, I can no longer tolerate your words, for you have chosen to follow the path of
irreligion. Flatterers that only speak agreeable words are easy to find. On the other hand,
persons who actually speak for one’s benefit, even when the truth is unpalatable, are rarely
seen.”
“Ravana, I only advised you in the hopes of saving you from being killed by Rama. Still,
you have rejected my advice. Of course, you are free to do as you like, but I will no longer
remain here with you.”
Vibhishana and his followers departed, and within an hour they reached the place where
Rama was staying. When the monkeys saw Vibhishana hovering overhead, Sugriva told
Hanuman, “These Rakshasas must have come here to try and kill us!”
The monkeys quickly picked up rocks and uprooted trees, while awaiting Sugriva’s
instructions. Vibhishana then announced, “King of the monkeys, I am Ravana’s youngest
brother. I repeatedly advised the King to return Sita to Rama, but he simply rebuked me with
harsh words. I have left my wife and children to come here and take shelter at Lord Rama’s
lotus feet. Please inform Him of my intentions.”
Sugriva then went to Rama and said, “One of the enemy Rakshasas has come here. He
says that he has deserted Ravana, but I feel that he cannot be trusted. You can never trust a
Rakshasa, and so I think that he must be a spy. If we trust him, then, when least expected,
he may do us great harm. I suggest that we immediately kill him.”
Rama went and asked the others to give their opinions. The monkeys replied, “My dear
Lord Rama, You know everything. Therefore, we can understand that You are inquiring from
us just to give us respect.”
Angada then suggested, “If we can use this Rakshasa to our advantage, then we could
accept him with great caution. But, if he poses too much of a threat, then it is better that we
turn him away.”
Sharabha suggested, “Let us assign someone to spy on the Rakshasa. After being
thoroughly examined, if he is found to actually be our ally, he should be welcomed.”
But, Jambavan warned, “This Rakshasa should be regarded with great suspicion”, and
Mainda advised, “He should be thoroughly interrogated before we make up our mind.”
The wise Hanuman, who was also gifted with the art of fine speech, then said, “We do
not have time to test Vibhishana. But, in my opinion, he has come here in all sincerity to take
shelter of Lord Rama. He has understood that Ravana is wicked and that Rama is the
supreme emblem of purity and righteousness. His peaceful demeanor and considerate
speech are indications of the honesty of his purpose, for a deceitful person cannot remain so
perfectly composed. It is not possible for anyone to fully conceal his inner intentions. One’s
facial expressions always give some clue to one’s thoughts. I think that Vibhishana can be
accepted as our ally without reservations.”
Rama was very pleased with Hanuman’s speech, but still, Sugriva argued, “Since
Vibhishana has deserted his brother at a time of adversity, it can be understood that there is
no one whom he would not betray.”
Rama replied, “I believe that Vibhishana has genuinely rejected Ravana. After all, such
dissension often occurs in royal families. Let us welcome him as our ally.”
Sugriva meekly protested, “Maybe he was sent by Ravana. Just to be on the safe side,
we should immediately capture or kill him. Otherwise, if we trust him, he may turn on us at
any moment.”
Rama smiled and said, “Do you really think that this Rakshasa could harm Me? With the
mere tip of My finger I could kill all the Rakshasas and asuras. Now, please listen attentively
as I narrate to you a story.”
“Once, there was a hunter who caught a pigeon in his snare and then approached a
nearby tree to rest. The pigeon’s wife was living in that tree and when she saw that the
hunter had come to her residence, she offered him all hospitality. Because she had nothing
else to feed the hunter, the female pigeon offered him her own flesh, just to fulfill her duty in
the matter of receiving a guest.”
“Sugriva, if the female pigeon acted like this, then what must I do? Revealed texts again
and again say that when an enemy arrives with folded hands, he must be protected by all
means.”
“Besides this moral consideration, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is My
eternal principle that if any living being takes shelter of Me, even once, saying ‘I am Yours’,
then I award that person freedom from all fear. Even if Ravana were to come here and
surrender to Me, I would give him all protection.”
Sugriva’s heart became filled with love while hearing this sublime statement. As tears
fell from his eyes, he admitted, “O Rama, Your words and deeds are always just befitting
Your supreme position. I also feel that Vibhishana is sincere, and so let us make friendship
with him without delay.”
After being assured of safety, Vibhishana descended to the earth and fell down flat at
Lord Rama’s lotus feet. Then, in full surrender, he explained, “I am Ravana’s youngest
brother and my name is Vibhishana. I tried to give my brother good instruction, for his
benefit, but he responded by rebuking me harshly. Because of this, I have abandoned my
home, family and possessions, and left Lanka for good to engage in Your unalloyed
devotional service. I now place my life in Your hands, and beg You to bless me with Your
causeless mercy.”
While gazing upon him lovingly, as if drinking him with His eyes, Rama replied by
requesting Vibhishana to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy. Vibhishana
then said, “Because of the benedictions he received from Lord Brahma, Ravana has
become immune to death at the hands of demigods, Gandharvas, Daityas, Danavas and
Nagas. Only human beings can possibly kill Ravana. Because he considered them too
insignificant, Ravana did not bother to ask Lord Brahma for immunity from death at their
hands.”
“Ravana’s younger brother, Kumbhakarna, is as big as a great mountain, and as
powerful as Indra. Prahasta, the commander-in-chief of the Rakshasas, once defeated the
Yaksha hero Manibhadra at Mount Kailash. Ravana’s son, Indrajit, is equal to his father in all
respects. He wears impenetrable armor, and after propitiating the fire god he is able to make
himself invisible on the battlefield. Besides these, there are millions of other Rakshasas,
headed by Mahodara, Mahaparshva and Akampana, and all of them are very fierce and can
change their forms at will."
Rama then said, “Vibhishana, I am well aware of Ravana’s prowess. I give you My
word, that after killing him and all the other Rakshasa warriors, I will install you upon the
royal throne at Lanka.”
In response, Vibhishana assured Rama that he would help Him to conquer Lanka.
Rama was very satisfied with His devotee. After warmly embracing Vibhishana, Rama
ordered Lakshman to go and bring water from the sea so that He could immediately perform
the installation ceremony. By witnessing the extraordinary mercy of Lord Rama upon the
Rakshasa, all the monkeys became ecstatic and shouted with joy.
Hanuman and Sugriva then said, “Vibhishana, we feel confident about combating the
Rakshasas, but we are perplexed about how to cross over the vast and unfathomable sea.
Perhaps you could advise us.”
Vibhishana replied, “I suggest that Rama call upon the presiding deity of the ocean,
since previously, His forefather, King Sagara, had excavated the earth and thus extended
his domain in the process. Due to this past service rendered, the ocean will certainly help
Rama to accomplish His mission, out of a sense of gratitude.”
Sugriva then relayed this idea to Rama and Lakshman. Rama considered it to be a very
good proposal. Still, just to honor Sugriva, He said, “I will do whatever you and Lakshman
decide.” Sugriva and Lakshman agreed with Vibhishana, and so Rama immediately went to
the beach and sat down on a mat made of kusha grass, His face turned toward the sea.
Meanwhile, a spy named Shardula spotted the monkeys and then reported to Ravana
how the army had set up camp, covering a vast area. The Rakshasa King then sent his
envoy, Shuka, to deliver a message to Sugriva.
Taking the form of a bird, Shuka flew to where Sugriva was staying, and from the sky,
he delivered Ravana’s message as follows: “I have never done you any harm and so why
are you preparing to attack Lanka? Because the kidnapping of Sita has nothing to do with
you, it would be better for you to return to Kishkindha and continue living there peacefully.”
As he was speaking, some of the monkeys jumped into the air and captured Shuka.
After dragging him to the ground, the monkeys cut off his wings and beat him severely.
Shuka cried out, “O Rama, those who adhere to righteousness never indulge in killing
an envoy.”
Rama intervened, and, after being released, Shuka again rose up into the sky and
asked Sugriva if he had any message for Ravana.
Sugriva then said, “You can reply to your master as follows: ‘Ravana, you are just like
the stool of your dynasty, for you wish to enjoy the faithful wife of another. As a
consequence, when my army of monkeys swarms over the sea to Lanka, Rama will kill you,
along with all your relatives.’ ”
Angada then said, “This bird does not appear to be an envoy. I think he is a spy who will
convey information about the strength of our army to the enemy. Therefore, we should arrest
him at once.”
Taking this as an order, the monkeys sprang into the air, and after capturing Shuka,
they bound him with ropes. Shuka again appealed to Rama, and so the Lord mercifully
assured him that he would be released as soon as they reached Lanka.
Thereafter, with folded hands, Rama solicited the presiding deity of the ocean as He
continued to sit on a kusha grass mat. Rama was determined to reach Lanka by any means,
and so He was prepared to kill the ocean god if he refused to co-operate. Finally, when, after
three days and nights there was still no response from the Ocean, Rama became infuriated.
Addressing Lakshman, Rama said, “I can now practically see that, in this world, the
good qualities of patience, forgiveness, simplicity and politeness are useless when dealing
with wretched people who have no trace of virtue! In this world, such persons give more
respect to someone who is impudent, aggressive, harsh in speech, and who runs here and
there, advertising himself with self-praise. Because of My mildness and forbearance, the
Ocean considers Me to be impotent and so does not even deign to come before Me.”
“Lakshman, give Me My bow so that I can teach this Ocean a lesson! Just look as I dry
up all the water so that the monkeys can march to Lanka on foot without difficulty.”
His anger blazing like fire, Rama grabbed His mighty bow. After stringing it, when Rama
twanged the bow with great force, the earth began to tremble. Rama shot His arrows deep
into the water, causing the ocean to become agitated with high, tossing waves, terrifying the
living creatures within.
Then, when Rama invoked the supremely powerful brahmastra, Lakshman put his hand
on Rama’s bow and said, “My dear brother, please restrain Your anger and do not release
any more arrows. There must be some more noble means of drying up the ocean so that the
monkeys can march to Lanka.”
From their position in the sky, the great brahmarshis were terrified because of Rama’s
exhibition of great anger. Ignoring Lakshman’s plea, Rama picked up the brahmastra arrow
and loudly threatened, “I will dry up all your water so that you will remain a desert of sand. O
god of the sea, since you are too proud to render Me service, I will utilize My own prowess
so that the monkeys can cross you on foot!”
When Rama angrily drew back His bowstring, heaven and earth began to tremble as
darkness enveloped the entire sky. Celestial winds raged with fury, uprooting tall trees and
tearing off the peaks of mountains. Lightning streaked across the sky, as did hundreds of
meteors, and thunder could be heard reverberating in all directions. The ocean overflowed,
filling all beings with terror, but Rama remained unmoved, fixed in His determination.
Suddenly, the ocean-god rose up from the water and came before Rama, surrounded
by many serpents with flaming mouths. As giant alligators, tortoises and fish were being
thrown up by the billowing waves, the presiding deity of the ocean stepped onto the shore.
Following him were the presiding goddesses of numerous rivers, such as the Ganga and
Indus. Decorated with gold ornaments and a garland of red flowers, dressed in red cloth, and
encircled by clouds and wind, the Ocean approached Rama with folded hands.
The god of the ocean said, “O gentle descendent of Raghu, earth, water, fire, air and
ether are all eternally imbued with their natural characteristics. Being a great reservoir of
water, I am by nature unfathomable and uncrossable. Rama, it is for You alone that I will
make a concession that will enable You to cross over my water. If You construct a bridge, I
will make it float by supporting its weight with my energy. In this way the hordes of monkeys
can attack Lanka, so that You can recover Your dear wife, Sita.”
While standing with the brahmastra arrow pulled back to His ear, Rama replied, “First,
tell Me where I can shoot this arrow, for having placed it on My bowstring, I am unwilling to
withdraw it.”
The Ocean personified said, “To the north, there is a holy place known as Drumakulya,
where a fierce tribe of sinful thieves called Abhiras are living. They drink the water of the
ocean, and I am repulsed by their sinful touch. My Lord, I would be very pleased if You
would let Your powerful arrow fall there.”
Rama released His arrow, as requested, and it fell at Drumakulya. After the brahmastra
pierced the earth, water from Rasatala gushed through the crevice, and as a result, the
entire subterranean region became dried up. The place where the arrow fell became known
as Marukantara, and Rama gave the place this benediction: “This land will become verdant
with fruit, honey and all kinds of herbs. It will be excellent for raising cattle, and those who
reside here will remain free from all disease.”
The Ocean personified then said, “My dear Rama, here is Nala, the son of the celestial
engineer and architect, Vishvakarma. This powerful monkey is Your great devotee, and he is
as talented as his father. He can oversee the construction of Your bridge.”
After saying this, the presiding deity of the ocean disappeared from view. Nala then
came before Rama. After offering his obeisances, he said, “Forbearance, conciliation and
gifts are wasted upon persons who are ungrateful. I know that the ocean-god has granted
You passage only out of fear of punishment, and not from a sense of gratitude.”
“My Lord, once long ago, my father, Vishvakarma, gave my mother the benediction that
she would have a son equal to him in all respects. For this reason, I possess all of
Vishvakarma’s architectural and engineering skill, and so I am quite capable of building the
required bridge. Although I always had these talents, no one knew of them before. This is
because I was never asked about such things and I do not like to speak about my own
abilities. Now, first of all, I suggest that the monkeys gather the required materials so that we
can begin work as soon as possible.”
Thereafter, under Rama’s supervision, all the monkeys entered the forests. After tearing
off great rocks, uprooting trees, and unearthing whole hills, they brought them to the shore.
When all these huge stones and trees were thrown into the ocean, the water splashed up
high into the sky, creating a magnificent sight.
In this way the bridge was constructed, and it was one hundred yojanas long and ten
yojanas wide. The surface was made smooth by lining up tree trunks and covering them with
branches full of blossoming flowers. While work was going on, Vibhishana and his ministers
kept guard on shore, and during the first day, fourteen yojanas were completed. Twenty
more yojanas were built the second day, and on the third day twenty-one yojanas were
added. Twenty-two yojanas were constructed on the fourth day, and the work was
completed on the fifth day.
The demigods and celestial rishis had assembled in the sky just to behold the wonderful
bridge, which looked like the milky way, spanning the deep blue sea. Sugriva then requested
Rama and Lakshman to mount upon the backs of Hanuman and Angada. Within a short
time, the entire army, consisting of thousands of crores of monkeys, began their march.
When they reached Suvela Mountain on the northern shore of the island of Lanka, the
monkeys became jubilant. Sugriva set up camp and at that time, all the great demigods and
rishis came there. While individually bathing the King of the monkeys with water from the
sacred rivers, they blessed him for obtaining victory.
Rama then embraced Lakshman and said, “Make sure that the army stays on constant
alert. I can see evil omens that predict the death of many great heroes among the monkeys,
bears and Rakshasas. Just see how fierce winds are stirring up clouds of dust! The earth
sometimes trembles and dark clouds are raining blood! The evening twilight is very heavily
tinged with red and the wild animals are crying out in pitiful tones. Lakshman, I think that we
should immediately begin our march!”
The monkeys were soon mobilized, and as they approached Lanka, all the Rakshasas
heard their loud roars. While gazing upon the golden city, magnificently perched upon the
top of Trikuta Mountain, Rama’s mind turned to thoughts of Sita. Rama then gave orders to
the military commanders to arrange the army in a human-shaped formation with Himself and
Lakshman at the head. All the monkeys picked up big trees and massive boulders. When
they came closer to Lanka, Rama ordered Sugriva to release Shuka.
Shuka went and presented himself before Ravana. When the King saw how Shuka’s
wings had been cut off, he laughingly inquired, “Who has done this?”
Shuka replied, “I delivered your message to Sugriva, but as I was doing so some of the
monkeys captured me, and while beating me savagely they cut off my wings. It was only by
the mercy of the virtuous Lord Rama that I was released. O King, the army of monkeys has
already come here to rescue Sita. You had better return her to Rama, or else attack the
monkeys before they swarm over our boundary walls.”
Ravana angrily replied, “I will never give up Sita! I will kill Rama and all of His monkey
soldiers! But I must admit that I am quite amazed that the monkeys could build a bridge in
order to come here! Now, I want you and Sharana to disguise yourselves as monkeys and
secretly enter the enemy ranks, just to estimate their strength.”
Shuka and Sharana obediently went to where the monkeys had set up camp. However,
due to the vastness of the army, which was spread out throughout the forest, the mountains,
and along the shore, the two spies could not even begin to estimate the number of soldiers.
The alert Vibhishana then spotted the two disguised Rakshasas and after capturing them he
brought them to Rama.
Being afraid for their lives, Shuka and Sharana stood before Rama with folded hands
and pleaded, “We have not come here of our own accord. We were sent by Ravana to
ascertain the strength of Your army.”
Rama laughed and replied, “If you have accomplished your mission, then you can return
to Ravana right away. But, if you have not finished your observations, you can continue your
work without fear, being guided by Vibhishana. In return for our hospitality, I only request you
to deliver this message to Ravana. ‘At dawn tomorrow morning, I and My army of monkeys
will destroy Lanka and kill all the Rakshasas.’ ”
Out of gratitude, Shuka and Sharana offered obeisances to Lord Rama and said, “May
You be victorious!”
They then returned to Ravana and said, “We were captured by Vibhishana but then
mercifully released by the pious and magnanimous Rama. Due to its vastness, it was
impossible for us to estimate the extent of the enemy army. However, we can assure you
that Rama, Lakshman, Sugriva and Vibhishana can uproot Lanka and carry it away if they
choose to do so, even without the help of the other monkeys. In fact, we are convinced that
Rama alone could single-handedly destroy all the Rakshasas and their city. Therefore, we
advise you to return Sita to Rama and establish an alliance of friendship with Him.”
Ravana replied, “I will never give back Sita, even if all the demigods and asuras
combine together to attack me. You are only speaking such rubbish because you are afraid
after being mistreated by the monkeys. What have I got to fear?”
Afterwards, Ravana climbed up onto the roof of his palace, along with his two spies, in
order to get a good view of the enemy. Ravana asked Sharana to point out and identify the
chief monkeys. In response, Sharana showed his master all the great heroes, headed by
Hanuman, Sugriva, Angada, Mainda, Dvivida, Sveta, Panasa, Vinata, Gavaya, and finally,
Dhumra, the commander-in-chief of the bears, and his younger brother, Jambavan. While
pointing them out, Sharana described their physical characteristics and residences, and
praised their incomparable prowess.
Next, while describing the extent of the enemy, Sharana explained the Vedic system of
counting as follows: 100,000 are one lakh. 100 lakhs equals one crore. One lakh of crores is
called a shanka, and one lakh shankas is called a maha-shankha. One lakh maha-shankhas
is called a vrinda, and one lakh vrindas is called a maha-vrinda. One lakh maha-vrindas is
called a padma, and one lakh padmas is called a maha-padma. One lakh maha-padmas is
called a kharva, and one lakh kharvas is a maha-kharva. One lakh maha-kharvas is called a
samudra, and one lakh samudras is an ogha. One lakh oghas is called a mahaugha, and the
army of monkeys is described by Sharana as consisting of at least 100 crores of
mahaughas.
Ravana became highly enraged and agitated at heart after seeing Rama, Lakshman,
and all the monkey heroes. As Shuka and Sharana hung their heads down, Ravana
chastised them severely, although trying to restrain his anger.
Ravana said, “You are supposed to be my ministers, and yet you are praising the
enemy. Your speech is most unpalatable. Both of you are stupid, being ignorant of the
political science. I must be very fortunate to have retained my sovereignty so long, despite
being guided by such ignoramuses as you. How can you speak so foolishly? Do you not
have any fear of death? It is only the memory of your past service that keeps me from killing
you this very moment!”
Shuka and Sharana became very ashamed while hearing Ravana chastise them.
Hoping to pacify their master, they replied, “O King, may victory be yours!” Shuka and
Sharana then departed. Mahodara was standing nearby, and so Ravana ordered him to
bring some more spies. After awhile, Shardula and others arrived while pronouncing
benedictions for Ravana’s victory. After being ordered to go and ascertain the enemy’s
plans, these spies circumambulated Ravana and then went to where Rama was staying.
Although they were disguised as monkeys, Vibhishana soon detected them and had them
arrested. Some of the monkeys began beating the enemy spies, but as before, when it came
to His attention, Rama mercifully ordered them to be released.
After returning to Lanka in a stupefied condition, Shardula and his followers came
before Ravana and reported, “The army of monkeys is now camped near Suvela Mountain,
but it is incapable of being spied upon. Soon after our arrival, Vibhishana detected us. It is
only by the grace of Rama that we were able to return here alive.”
“O King, it seems to us that Rama is capable of destroying not only all the Rakshasas,
but the entire universe as well. In any case, you must either return Sita to Rama at once, or
else quickly prepare to fight with His army before they reach Lanka’s boundary walls.”
Ravana thought about Shardula’s words for awhile and then said, “I will never return
Sita, under any circumstance!”
After retiring to his private quarters, Ravana called for Vidyujjihva, who was a master of
conjuring tricks.
Ravana told him, “I want you to create an illusory head of Rama, as well as a perfect
imitation of His powerful bow, and an arrow. I am going now to the Ashoka grove to see Sita,
and you should also go there and remain hidden. Then, when I call for you, bring me your
magical creations.”
Ravana went to the Ashoka grove, being very eager to see Sita. Coming before the
anguished daughter of Maharaja Janaka, Ravana announced, “Rama has been killed by my
commander-in-chief and so now you should give up your stubbornness and become my
beloved queen. I will tell you exactly what happened. After crossing the ocean, night set in,
and so, being exhausted, Rama, Lakshman and all the monkey soldiers fell asleep on the
shore.”
“In the darkness, the great Rakshasa warriors went and began slaughtering the
monkeys. Prahasta cut off Rama’s head as He soundly slept. Lakshman, Hanuman and
many other monkey chiefs were also killed, while others managed to run away. Noble lady, I
have brought Rama’s severed head here just to convince you that I am telling the truth.”
Ravana then ordered one of the Rakshasi guards to call for Vidyujjihva, and so, after a
moment, the magician came there, holding an illusory head of Rama, as well as a bow and
arrow. Ravana said, “Look at the blood-stained head of your husband!”
Turning to Vidyujjihva, he said, “Give Sita Rama’s severed head. Let her see the
remains of her mortal husband.”
As commanded, Vidyujjihva placed the illusory head at Sita’s feet and then hastily
departed. Ravana took the imitation bow, and after throwing it in front of Sita, he
commanded, “Submit to me now, for you have no other hope!”
The features of the illusory head exactly resembled Rama’s, and so, when she saw it,
Sita cried out piteously, “O Kaikeyi, this is the result of your evil-minded plans. Now, your
cherished goal is fulfilled and so you must be very happy!”
Sita was sobbing convulsively so that her whole body trembled. After speaking, she fell
down unconscious onto the ground, like a banana tree uprooted by a strong wind.
Then, after some time, when she came to her senses, Sita sat down beside the illusory
head and began to lament as follows: “O Rama! Without You I have become a widow, and
so my life has also come to an end! What greater disaster could befall a woman than the
death of her husband before her own? Oh! I am most abominable, for it is I that have caused
the death of my husband! It is for my sake alone that He crossed the ocean and died without
even a fight. Little did Rama know that when He married me, He wedded His death as well! I
am sure that in a previous life I obstructed the marriage of some poor girl so that now I am
suffering in this life. Oh Rama! Have you departed for the next world without me?”
Sita turned to Ravana and said, “Take me to where Rama’s body is lying. When I place
my body upon His, you can kill me so that I can attain the same destination as my husband.”
Just at that moment, a messenger arrived and informed Ravana that Prahasta was
urgently requesting his presence at a meeting of all the ministers. Ravana left, and as soon
as he was gone, the illusory head and bow also vanished from Sita’s sight.
Upon entering the assembly, Ravana immediately ordered his army to become
mobilized, and so, without further discussion, preparation for war commenced. At this time,
Vibhishana’s wife, Sarama, came to the Ashoka grove to console Sita. Sarama had already
befriended her at Ravana’s urging, for he was afraid that Sita might die prematurely due to
her intense grief.
Sarama said, “I was hiding behind a bush, and so I could see and hear everything. Let
me assure you that Rama is not dead. The head that you saw was an illusion created by the
Rakshasa conjuring art. The truth is that Rama has arrived at Lanka, along with Lakshman
and a huge army of monkeys, and they are this minute preparing to attack Ravana. That is
why the Rakshasa King suddenly left in such an agitated state. He knows that he cannot
defeat Rama and the monkey heroes who are under His protection.”
“Even from here I can hear the Rakshasas making preparations, because soon there
will be a terrible war between the two armies. Do not worry, Sita, for Rama will kill Ravana
without a doubt. If you would like to give Rama a message, I can go now and deliver it to
Him.”
Sita was greatly relieved to hear this. She replied, “Sarama, instead of this, go at once
and find out Ravana’s plans. Is he going to return me to Rama or is he going to fight with
Him?”
Sarama went to the assembly, and while remaining hidden she overheard Ravana’s
conversation with the ministers. After accomplishing her mission, she returned to Sita and
told her, “As I was eavesdropping, many elder ministers advised Ravana to return you to
your husband. For this purpose, they elaborately described Rama’s prowess, just to
convince him. Ravana’s mother, Kaikashi, then spoke to her son, urging him to make
peace.”
“Ravana remained adamant, though, and I could very well understand that he is only
willing to give you up at the time of death. Even as the meeting was going on, Ravana could
hear the sound of conch shells and drums and other noises made by the monkeys. Then,
Malyavan, Ravana’s maternal grandfather, was the next to speak.”
Malyavan said, “A wise king never fights with an enemy that possesses superior
strength. Therefore, I advise you to return Sita to Rama and establish peaceful relations with
Him. Otherwise, Ravana, you can rest assured that virtue has taken the form of the enemy,
just to conquer your evil self. Because you persecuted the great rishis, their power of
austerity is now directed against you for your destruction. The benedictions that you received
from Lord Brahma did not give you immunity from death at the hands of human beings or
monkeys. Because of this, you should carefully consider what a dangerous position you are
now in. My dear grandson, heed my good advice.”
“Many inauspicious signs have become visible, indicating the destruction of Lanka.
Threatening clouds are pouring down blood. Our horses and elephants have tears in their
eyes. Carnivorous animals freely wander in the gardens, crying out ominously. In their
dreams, the Rakshasas see black women with yellow teeth, plundering their houses and
standing before them, laughing. Dogs are eating the sacrificial offerings and one species of
animal is seen mating with a member of another species. Time personified, appearing in a
huge black form with shaved head, is seen peering into all the houses of Lanka every
morning and evening.”
“Ravana, I consider Ram to be Lord Vishnu Himself, appearing in human form.
Therefore, you had better go and surrender to Him so that you can rid yourself of this
calamity.”
Sarama continued, saying, “Ravana could not accept this good advice, however. He
angrily replied, ‘You are a rascal, for you are taking the enemy’s side. You are very eager to
glorify Rama’s prowess, but what do you think of me? I can understand that you are praising
the enemy because you are envious of me, or because you have been won over to His side,
or else because you are afraid of Him. But, I can assure you that you will soon enough
witness Rama’s death at my hands.’ ”
“Malyavan remained silent. After offering proper benedictions to the King, he retired to
his quarters. After this, Ravana made arrangements for Lanka’s defense by posting
Prahasta at the eastern gate, Mahaparshva and Mahodara at the southern gate, Indrajit at
the western gate, Shuka and Sharana, along with himself, at the northern gate, and
Virupaksha in the center of the city. The King then dismissed his ministers and retired to the
interior of his palace.”
Meanwhile, as Rama and the army of monkeys approached Lanka, they discussed
amongst themselves about how they could best besiege the city. Vibhishana said, “Along
with my ministers- Anala, Sampati, Panasa and Pramati, I took the form of a bird and
surveyed Ravana’s military arrangements. My dear Rama, I am confident that, just as
Ravana had previously defeated Kuvera by invading Lanka along with 60 lakh Rakshasas,
you will also gain victory with the help of these hordes of monkeys.”
Rama then ordered, “Nila will lead the attack on Prahasta at the eastern gate. Angada
will lead the attack against Mahaparshva and Mahodara at the southern gate. Hanuman will
will lead the assault att the western gate. Lakshman and I will spearhead the attack on
Ravana at the northern gate. Sugriva, Jambavan and Vibhishana will stay in the center of
our army to provide assistance wherever needed. I want only seven of us to fight in the form
of human beings- Lakshman, Vibhishana, his four ministers, and I. The others should retain
their forms as monkeys, for that will enable us to easily distinguish them from the
Rakshasas.”
The sun was beginning to sink below the horizon, and so Rama, Lakshman and the
monkey leaders climbed to the peak of Suvela Mountain to spend the night. From the
mountaintop they got a splendid view of Lanka, even though darkness had already set in.
With its innumerable twinkling lights, the city looked as if it were suspended in the sky, and it
could be seen that the Rakshasas were prepared to fight.
The next morning, in full daylight, everyone was amazed to see the heavenly city with its
array of flowering gardens filled with celestial trees and singing birds. Lanka was beautifully
situated on a leveled peak of Trikuta Mountain, and it was huge. The walled city proper was
ten by twenty yojanas, and in the center stood Ravana’s magnificent palace, supported by
1000 pillars. As Rama gazed at the city with great admiration, He happened to spot Ravana,
perched atop the northern gate. Having a canopy over his head, Ravana was being fanned
by his personal servants.
Sugriva had ordered many of the monkeys to go on ahead, jumping from mountaintop to
mountaintop, to occupy Lanka’s outer gardens. When Sugriva also spotted Ravana, he
impetuously jumped from the peak of Mount Suvela right to where the Rakshasa King was
sitting. After momentarily gazing at Ravana with great disdain, Sugriva announced, “I am a
servant of Lord Rama, and I will kill you this very day!”
Saying this, Sugriva suddenly pounced on Ravana, knocking off his crown in the
process. Although startled, Ravana managed to grab hold of Sugriva, and while uttering
similar threats, he threw the monkey King down to the ground. Sugriva bounced back like a
rubber ball, and after grabbing hold of Ravana, he threw him down with great force.
A fierce wrestling match took place, as the two heroes scratched one another with their
nails, so that both became covered with blood and perspiration. After striking one another
with their fists, and wrestling for a long time, Sugriva and Ravana suddenly fell down from
the gate into the area between the boundary wall and the moat. Jumping to their feet, the
two continued to fight, gradually exhibiting the complete art of wrestling.
Finally, Ravana realized that he would not be able to defeat Sugriva by mere physical
strength, so he began to utilize his mystic powers. Understanding this, Sugriva decided to
abandon the fight. After bounding into the air, he returned to where Rama was staying.
Sugriva felt very blissful at having performed such a heroic feat and his followers
enthusiastically jumped up and down. Rama went and embraced Sugriva, but at the same
time, He chastised him out of love.
Rama said, “You have acted rashly, for you dared to do something without My sanction.
Besides this, a King should never take such a risk, because the death of a ruler is a great
calamity for the entire nation. Sugriva, if Ravana had killed you, I certainly would have killed
him in retaliation. Then, after installing Vibhishana upon the throne at Lanka and Bharata
upon the throne at Ayodhya, I would have given up My life for having allowed you to be killed
in My presence.”
Sugriva replied, “After seeing that rascal Ravana, the abductor of Sita, I could not bear
to ignore him.”
Rama then said, “Never mind. You wonderfully displayed your heroism, and all the
monkey soldiers have become inspired by your courageous example.”
Then, turning to Lakshman, Rama said, “By observing various omens, I can understand
that there will soon be a great destruction of prominent monkeys, bears and Rakshasas. So,
let us attack Lanka without wasting any more time.”
Rama climbed down Suvela Mountain and after reviewing his troops He began the
march to Lanka, bow in hand, while the monkey that followed him uprooted trees and picked
up boulders. Before long, they arrived at the city’s boundary walls. Rama stationed Himself
outside the northern gate, Nila took up his position outside the eastern gate, Angada went to
the southern gate, and Hanuman approached the western gate. Sugriva placed his army in-
between the northern and western gates, and in this way the monkeys completely
surrounded the walled city, awaiting the encounter.
The Rakshasa warriors were astonished to see how an apparently unlimited number of
monkey soldiers had completely surrounded Lanka, having situated themselves between the
moat and boundary walls. With weapons in hand, the leaders fearfully rushed to Ravana’s
palace to inform the King of how the city was about to be besieged. After receiving this
report, Ravana hastily went out onto the balcony to survey the situation.
When he saw how the entire earth had become brown, due to being covered by
multitudes of monkeys, the Rakshasa King also became highly astonished. For a long time,
Ravana stood motionlessly staring at Rama, wondering what he should do next.
Rama then ordered Angada to go and deliver a message as His envoy. Leaping high
into the air, Angada quickly came before Ravana, who was now sitting atop the northern
gate, surrounded by his ministers.
While staying somewhat apart, he announced, “My name is Angada, the nephew of
King Sugriva, and successor to the throne at Kishkindha. I have come here as an envoy to
deliver the following message spoken by Lord Rama: ‘King of the Rakshasas, now that all of
your pious credits have become exhausted, I am going to kill you in retaliation for the
atrocities that you have committed against the rishis. If you do not voluntarily surrender to
Me at once, I will rid the entire earth of Rakshasas. Either submit to Me, or else come before
Me so that I can purify you with the onslaught of My deadly arrows. If you are unwilling to
return Sita and bow before Me, then I advise you to take a good look at Lanka, for it will be
your last.’ ”
Ravana’s rage flared up when he heard this, and he ordered his ministers to capture
Angada and kill him. When four Rakshasas came to seize him, Angada allowed them to do
so, for he wanted to display his superior prowess. Suddenly, Angada jumped onto the top of
Ravana’s palace, carrying with him all four Rakshasas that clutched his arms. Due to the
force of his leap, however, the Rakshasas lost their grip and fell to the ground within the
sight of Ravana. Angada proceeded to kick the palace roof so that it began to crumble while
Ravana stood there, gazing helplessly.
Having thus vexed the Rakshasa King, Angada let out a loud roar and then returned to
where Rama was standing. Having witnessed Angada’s prowess, Ravana began to foresee
his own destruction and thus he sighed heavily, again and again.
At this time, Rama’s mind once again turned to thoughts of poor Sita, and so He
ordered His army, “Make short work of the Rakshasas!”
Hearing this command, the monkeys shouted in response, “All victory to Rama and
Lakshman!” Lanka resounded with the vibration. The monkey warriors started scaling the
defense walls after breaking them with their trees and stones. Seeing this, Ravana ordered
his troops to advance quickly, and so, amidst a terrible roaring sound, the fierce conflict
commenced.
The Rakshasas struck the monkeys with their clubs and other weapons, while the
monkeys countered by using trees and stones, as well as their claws and teeth. Stationed on
top of the defense wall, the Rakshasas pierced many monkeys with their weapons. At the
same time, numerous monkeys jumped up and forcibly dragged the Rakshasas down to the
ground so that the earth soon became a muddy mixture containing flesh and blood.
As Hanuman fought with Jambumali, Angada with Indrajit, Nila with Nikumbha, and
Sugriva with Praghasa, the bodies of the slain warriors were carried away by the rivers of
blood that were created by the massacre.
Indrajit struck Angada with his mace, but the prince deftly grabbed it out of his hands
and smashed it against his chariot. Jambumali pierced Hanuman with a spear, but the son of
Vayu jumped onto the Rakshasa’s chariot and killed him with a slap of the hand. Rama,
Sugriva and Nala killed numerous Rakshasas, and thus the heroic army of monkeys inflicted
heavy losses upon the enemy. In that fierce battle, numerous trunks of both Rakshasas and
monkeys were seen darting here and there, adding to the ghastliness of the scene.
Finally, night fell. In the darkness, the monkeys questioned, “Are you a monkey?” When
someone was found to be an enemy, he was then attacked with great antagonism. Although
the Rakshasas were more easily visible because of their golden armor, it was their nature to
become more enlivened at night. Thus, both sides suffered heavy losses.
Hordes of Rakshasas attacked Rama in the darkness, and their loud roaring created a
tumultuous noise. Keeping the giant monkey, Golangula, on one side, and Jambavan’s
brother, Dhumra, on the other, Rama lit up the night sky with His golden arrows. At this time,
Angada managed to smash Indrajit’s chariot and kill his driver. The injured Indrajit
abandoned his disabled chariot and then vanished from view as the demigods and celestial
rishis watched from their positions in the sky.
While remaining invisible, the enraged Indrajit proceeded to shower down arrows in the
form of serpents. Due to a benediction Indrajit had received from Lord Brahma, these snake-
arrows were able to bind Rama and Lakshman so tightly that They were hardly able to
move. Rama dispatched ten of the foremost monkeys, including Hanuman, Nila and
Angada, to search for Indrajit. But, as the monkeys sprang into the air, exploring all
directions, the invisible Indrajit pierced them with innumerable arrows. Simultaneously, he
showered arrows upon Rama and Lakshman until blood flowed profusely from Their
wounds, covering Their entire bodies.
Indrajit then announced, “Rama and Lakshman, listen to me. Even Indra cannot see me,
and so what to speak of others. Now, it will be my great pleasure to dispatch You both to the
abode of Yamaraja with my unceasing torrents of sharp arrows.”
As Indrajit continued to pierce Rama and Lakshman, there finally remained no space to
place a finger in between the arrows that completely covered Their bodies. At last, when
Rama’s bow dropped from His hand as He fell to the ground, Lakshman gave up all hope of
survival and fainted. Seeing this pitiful sight, all the monkeys became exceedingly
despondent and tears came to their eyes.
As the leaders of the monkeys came and surrounded Rama and Lakshman, Indrajit
ecstatically announced to his followers, “The two mighty warriors have fallen victim to my
magical snake-arrows that are imbued with the power of Brahma. Not even Indra and all the
demigods could save Rama and Lakshman now!”
The Rakshasas enthusiastically responded by shouting, “Rama is dead! Indrajit has
single-handedly conquered the enemy!”
Convinced that Rama and Lakshman were dead, Indrajit joyfully departed for Ravana’s
palace, intoxicated by his victory. Sugriva and Vibhishana came to where Rama and
Lakshman were lying motionless, soaked with blood and breathing only slightly. Sugriva was
especially pained to see how the two brothers were completely enmeshed in the serpentine
arrows, and so Vibhishana took special care to comfort him.
While wiping the tears from Sugriva’s eyes, Vibhishana said, “O King, I know that Rama
and Lakshman can be revived. Please rest assured that They will not die. Guard Rama
carefully while I rally our army and restore the monkeys to confidence.”
Meanwhile, as all the foremost monkeys guarded Rama and Lakshman, Indrajit went to
Ravana and reported the news of his victory with great pride. When Ravana heard that
Rama and Lakshman had been killed, he jumped to his feet and lovingly embraced his son
while saying, “My dear boy, how did you accomplish this most difficult feat? Tell me
everything!”
Indrajit replied, “While remaining invisible in the sky, I first of all bound up Rama and
Lakshman with my serpentine arrows. Then I deeply pierced Them until They lay lifeless
upon the ground. All the monkey warriors have now given up fighting out of hopelessness.”
Thinking that Rama and Lakshman were dead, Ravana gave up all fear and anxiety.
After dismissing Indrajit, he called for the Rakshasis that guarded Sita. Confident that she
would now submit to him, Ravana jubilantly said, “Rama and Lakshman have been slain by
my incomparable son, Indrajit. I want you to immediately go and convey this news to Sita
and then take her in the Pushpaka chariot so that she can see for herself how her husband
is lying dead upon the battlefield.”
After dismissing the Rakshasis, Ravana had the news of Rama and Lakshman’s deaths
broadcast all over Lanka for the pleasure of the citizens. When the Rakshasi guards
informed Sita of her husband’s death, she felt a terrible shock and fell to the ground while
sobbing hysterically.
The Rakshasis then helped Sita onto the Pushpaka chariot, along with their leader,
Trijata, and within a moment, they rose up high into the sky. While flying over the battlefield,
Sita could see a large number of slain monkeys and Rakshasas. Then, she suddenly saw
Rama and Lakshman, lying upon the ground and surrounded by many grieving monkeys.
Sita could hear the Rakshasas rejoicing as she gazed upon Rama’s arrow-riddled body and
cast-aside bow.
Being unable to contain her grief, Sita began to wail aloud while lamenting her fate as
follows: “Formerly, learned brahmanas who were masters of astrology and palmistry had
assured me, saying, ‘O fortunate princess, you will bear sons, and you will never have to
suffer as a widow. In the future, you will become the queen of an illustrious king who will
perform many great sacrifices.’ Now that Rama is dead, I can understand that these
brahmanas were all liars and cheaters.”
“The brahmanas used to assure me of my good fortune by describing my auspicious
bodily features, saying, ‘O princess, you have fine dark hair, and your eyebrows are curved
and not joined. Your closely set teeth are even, and your rosy fingers and toes have no
space between them. Your thighs are rounded, shapely and hairless, and your ample
breasts touch one another. Your navel is deep, your skin is very soft, and your complexion is
fair and brilliant. All your toes touch the ground as you walk, and on the soles of your feet are
the auspicious marks of lotus flowers, indicating an exalted royal birth. Combined with your
lotus-petal eyes and gentle smile, all these symptoms indicate that the highest good fortune
awaits you.’ Oh, of what use are these auspicious marks now that my husband is dead?
Without Rama, my good fortune has come to an end!”
Trijata approached Sita and said, “Princess, you can rest assured that Rama and
Lakshman are not dead, for this Pushpaka chariot will never carry a widow. Look at the
monkeys. They are not in a state of confusion. They are guarding Rama and Lakshman with
great care. What would be the necessity of this if Rama and Lakshman were dead? Even
from here I can see the luster in Rama and Lakshman’s faces which departs at the time of
death. Sita, do not grieve unnecessarily, for it is certain that your husband is still alive.”
Sita became a little encouraged by Trijata’s talk. She was then brought back to the
Ashoka grove. By meditating upon the piteous condition of her husband, though, she once
again fell into the pit of hopelessness and despair.
Meanwhile, Rama regained consciousness. Seeing Lakshman by His side, soaked with
blood and without any sign of life, Rama exclaimed with great anguish, “Even if I succeed in
recovering Sita, the whole endeavor will be rendered useless if Lakshman dies! I could
always find another consort to replace the daughter of Maharaja Janaka, but I could never
find such a helpful friend like Lakshman! If Lakshman dies, then I will also give up My life, for
I cannot bear the thought of returning to Ayodhya without Him. How could I dare face His
mother after letting Him die on the battlefield in My presence?”
Turning to Sugriva, Rama said, “The monkey warriors should now retreat, for without
Lakshman and I to protect them, they will be highly vulnerable. Noble King of the Vanaras, I
want to express My unlimited gratitude to all of you for your sincere friendship, and the
wonderful valor that you have displayed while risking your lives in My service.”
Tears came to the eyes of all the monkeys who heard Rama’s sweet and pathetic
words. Vibhishana then returned, after having restored the army to confidence. When
Vibhishana saw Rama and Lakshman, lying upon Their beds of arrows, he broke down and
cried. Sugriva embraced him and said, “You should not doubt that Rama and Lakshman will
soon recover and go on to defeat Ravana in battle.”
Sugriva then said to his father-in-law, Sushena, “You should arrange for Rama and
Lakshman to return to Kishkindha so that they can safely recover from their wounds. Let all
the monkeys accompany them. I will remain here alone. After single-handedly defeating
Ravana, I will return to Kishkindha with Sita.”
Sushena replied, “Long, long ago, when there was a war between the demigods and the
Daityas, the demons were able to kill many of the celestials by means of their mystic
illusions. Brihaspati was able to revive all the slain demigods, however, by using mantras
and special medicinal herbs.”
“I suggest that Panasa and Sampati go to the ocean of milk, for they are familiar with
these herbs, which are called Sanjivakarani and Vishalya. Created by Lord Brahma, the
Sanjivakarani herb brings a practically dead man back to life, and the herb called Vishalya
instantly cures all wounds created by arrows. These herbs can be found on the Chandra and
Drona Mountains, which had risen up in the middle of the milk-ocean as it was being
churned for the purpose of producing nectar. Perhaps Hanuman should go there since he
can make the journey in the shortest time.”
As Sushena was speaking, a fierce wind began to blow, bringing with it dense clouds
and streaks of lightning. The sea became agitated with high waves, and the mountains
appeared to tremble. As tall trees were being knocked down and blown into the ocean, a
gigantic bird-like creature suddenly appeared. Upon his arrival, all the snake-arrows that
were binding Rama and Lakshman instantly fled. This creature came and wiped Rama and
Lakshman’s faces with his hands, and just by his touch, Their bodies regained Their normal
bright, shining complexions and renewed strength. When the mysterious bird raised Him up
and embraced Him in great happiness, Rama lovingly said, “We are both eternally indebted
to you. If you think that We are worthy, please inform Us of your identity.”
The gigantic bird replied, “I am Your eternal servant, Garuda, the son of Vinata. Even all
the demigods with Indra at their head could not have released You from the bondage of
Indrajit’s snake-arrows. These snakes are the sons of Kadru, and were converted into
arrows by Indrajit’s mystic power, which he received from Lord Brahma.”
“My dear Lord, You should be careful while fighting with the Rakshasas, for they are
very tricky, whereas heroes like Yourself are straightforward. I now wish to depart, but before
doing so let me assure You that You will come out victorious and get back Your beloved
Sita.”
Garuda circumambulated Rama, and after embracing Him once again, he soared up
into the sky. When they saw that Rama and Lakshman had completely recovered from their
wounds, all the monkeys jumped for joy. With great ecstasy they beat upon drums, lashed
their tails about, and roared like lions, creating a great tumult. After once again taking up
trees and huge boulders, the monkeys stood ready to fight.
When Ravana heard the joyful uproar of the monkeys, he could guess that Rama and
Lakshman had recovered. Just to make sure, he ordered some Rakshasas to go and
ascertain the reason for the monkeys’ bravado. After climbing up onto the defense wall, the
Rakshasas saw that Rama and Lakshman were alive and well, and so they fearfully rushed
back to break the news to Ravana. His doubts having been confirmed, Ravana became very
anxious, so that his majestic face turned pale.
Becoming enraged, the King ordered the great warrior, Dhumraksha, to go and attack
Rama. After hurriedly mobilizing his army, Dhumraksha mounted upon his chariot, which
was drawn by donkeys. Then, while exhibiting his great pride by laughing robustly, he
headed for the western gate, where Hanuman was stationed.
As Dhumraksha rode through the streets of Lanka, a big vulture came and sat on his
chariot, while other carnivorous birds perched on his flagpole. Suddenly, someone threw a
headless trunk in his path, and the clouds began pouring rain mixed with blood. Dhumraksha
became fearful by seeing these ominous signs, but still, he courageously approached the
monkey soldiers, who were eager for combat.
A fierce battle began. The monkeys smashed the Rakshasas with their huge rocks and
trees, and tore them to shreds with their sharp teeth and nails. But, because of the monkeys’
superior prowess, the Rakshasa army began to panic and run away from the battlefield.
Seeing this, Dhumraksha flared up with rage and began to afflict the monkeys so
severely that they also began to flee here and there. This angered Hanuman, and taking up
a huge rock, he hurled it violently against Dhumraksha’s chariot, smashing it to pieces. The
Rakshasa saved himself by jumping to the ground, and Hanuman continued to go on a
rampage. Picking up a huge slab of stone, Hanuman once again rushed at Dhumraksha.
The Rakshasa advanced to meet him, and then deftly smashed him on the head with his
club. Hanuman hardly minded the blow, however, and when he hurled the rock upon
Dhumraksha’s head, the Rakshasa hero fell down dead with all his limbs shattered.
Dhumraksha’s army fearfully fled back to the shelter of Lanka, and Ravana next sent
Vajradamstra to fight. This Rakshasa hero led his army to the southern gate where Angada
was stationed. But, while going, he saw showers of meteors streaking across the sky and
ferocious she-jackals that belched fire. Still, Vajradamstra took courage and so a heated
battle followed between the monkeys and Rakshasas.
When Angada hurled a huge boulder, smashing his chariot to pieces, Vajradamstra
jumped to safety. Angada quickly took up another huge rock and smashed it onto
Vajradamstra’s head, causing him to fell to the ground unconscious, clasping his mace to his
chest while vomiting blood. Quickly regaining consciousness, Vajradamstra came before
Angada and struck him severely in the chest with his club.
The two great warriors then fought with their fists, and as they gradually became
exhausted, blood began to flow from their mouths. After a brief lull, Angada took up a tree
trunk while Vajradamstra picked up a sword and shield. After fighting for some time, both fell
to their knees in exhaustion. Seizing the opportunity, Angada summoned all his strength,
and after grabbing the Rakshasa’s sword, he stood up and sliced off his head.
Upon seeing their general slain, the remnants of the Rakshasa army fled back to the
shelter of Lanka. Ravana next called for Akampana and said, “You are well-versed in the
use of all kinds of weapons, and your eagerness for battle is second to none. Go now and
exterminate the army of monkeys. Do away with Rama and Lakshman once and for all!”
While going, Akampana’s left eye began to twitch convulsively, his voice became
choked, and his horses appeared to be depressed. Without minding these inauspicious
signs, Akampana entered the battlefield. In the gruesome encounter that followed, the dust
raised by the opposing armies became so thick that no one could tell who was their friend
and who was their foe. Thus, monkeys began killing monkeys while Rakshasas killed other
Rakshasas.
When Hanuman approached him to fight, Akampana sent forth torrents of arrows.
Hanuman simply laughed, however, and then tore off a huge mass of rocks from a mountain
peak. Then, as he rushed forward, whirling the rocks around with one hand and roaring
loudly, Akampana easily tore the crag to pieces with his arrows. At this, Hanuman flared up
with rage, and after uprooting a huge ashvattha tree, he rushed impetuously at the
Rakshasa.
When they saw Hanuman in this fierce aspect, smashing all the chariots and trees that
stood in his path, the Rakshasa soldier ran from the battlefield. Akampana stood fast,
though, and as Hanuman approached, he pierced him deeply with fourteen arrows. Still,
Hanuman did not waver, and coming right up to Akampana, he smashed the rocks on the
Rakshasa’s head, making him fall down dead to the ground.
As the leaderless Rakshasas retreated to the safety of Lanka, Rama, Lakshman and the
monkey warriors came and surrounded Hanuman, showering upon him their heartfelt
congratulations.
It was before noon when Ravana heard about Akampana’s death, and the news visibly
disturbed him. The Rakshasa King then called for his ministers and took a tour of Lanka to
inspect the city’s fortifications. Turning to his minister-in-chief, Ravana said, “Prahasta, only
you, me, Kumbhakarna, Indrajit and Nikumbha are capable of defeating the monkeys. We
are very hard pressed, and so I want you to be the next to attack the enemy.”
Prahasta replied, “O King, previously I had advised you to return Sita to Rama. But, now
that war has actually been declared, I want you to know that I am prepared to lay down my
life for your sake.”
Prahasta eagerly mobilized his army, so that within an hour he mounted upon his
chariot and departed. While going, Prahasta saw carnivorous birds circling counter-
clockwise overhead. Meteors streaked across the sky. Female jackals howled ominously. A
vulture came and perched atop his flagstaff as cold piercing winds blew and dark clouds
showered rain mixed with blood. The whip repeatedly slipped from the chariot driver’s hands
and the horses stumbled, even though the path was level. Prahasta’s bodily luster faded,
and yet, as the monkeys and Rakshasas roared challengingly at each other, he confidently
advanced toward Sugriva’s army, like a moth rushing into a fire.
In the battle that followed, Prahasta slaughtered the monkeys in great numbers with his
torrents of arrows. When Nila came to challenge him, Prahasta’s arrows pierced right
through his body and entered the earth. Still, Nila was undisturbed. As Prahasta rushed
toward him, Nila uprooted a huge tree and managed to kill his horses and break his bow.
Picking up a club, Prahasta jumped down from his disabled chariot and the two continued to
fight hand to hand.
Prahasta struck Nila violently with his club, so that blood streamed from the wound.
Without wavering, Nila countered by striking Prahasta in the chest with a tree. Not minding
the blow, Prahasta rushed at Nila, as he was quickly picking up a boulder. When Prahasta
came near, Nila smashed the rock on his head. As the boulder shattered to pieces,
Ravana’s commander-in-chief fell to the ground, mortally wounded. The Rakshasa army
then panicked, retreating to Lanka, while Lakshman came to congratulate Nila.
When Ravana learned about Prahasta’s death, his heart became afflicted with an
unbearable torment. Addressing his ministers, the Rakshasa King said, “I can no longer
remain disdainful of my powerful enemies. Therefore, I shall now personally enter the
battlefield.”
Ravana mounted his splendid chariot, and surrounded by his army, he came out of the
city to fight. When Rama saw the huge Rakshasa army approaching, He questioned
Vibhishana about it. Then, when Rama caught sight of Ravana, He exclaimed, “Due to his
extraordinary effulgence and prowess, it is difficult for Me to look at the Rakshasa King! Still,
it is certainly My good fortune that he has come within view so that I can at last vent the
anger that I have restrained for so long.”
Ravana had kept a large army inside Lanka, warning them to be on the alert, in case the
monkeys take advantage of his absence. As he came out from the city, Ravana divided the
monkeys into halves while Rama and Lakshman took up Their bows in anticipation. The
battle began when Sugriva picked up a mass of rocks, and after suddenly darting forward,
hurled it impetuously at Ravana. The Rakshasa King effortlessly smashed the rocks to
pieces with his arrows and then released another shaft that deeply pierced Sugriva. When
Sugriva fell to the ground, moaning in pain, the Rakshasas jumped up and down while
shouting jubilantly.
Six more monkey chiefs picked up boulders and rushed at Ravana, but again he easily
tore the rocks to pieces. Ravana proceeded to wound these heroic monkeys, while at the
same time slaughtering numerous others with his showers of arrows. Finally, being very
hard-pressed, the monkeys took shelter of Lord Rama.
When Rama proceeded toward Ravana, Lakshman came and implored Him for
permission to fight first, single-handedly. Rama gave His consent, and as Lakshman
approached Ravana for battle, Hanuman assisted Him by hurling rocks to foil the Rakshasa
King’s arrows. Then, being unable to contain himself, Hanuman suddenly darted toward
Ravana.
With his right arm raised above his head, Hanuman challenged, “The benediction that
you received from Lord Brahma does not grant you immunity to death at the hands of
monkeys. I will now strike you dead with a single blow of my mighty fist!”
Ravana replied, “I invite you to hit me once as you like. Then, I will strike you dead!”
Hanuman said, “Why are you speaking so foolishly? Don’t you remember how easily I
killed your son Aksha?”
At this, Ravana suddenly darted forward and slapped Hanuman on the chest, making
him stagger backward. When Hanuman recovered his balance, he angrily retaliated by
violently smacking Ravana with the palm of his hand. Ravana was visibly shaken, and so the
demigods and rishis that were watching from the sky applauded Hanuman. And, when
Ravana recovered himself, he also praised Hanuman as being a worthy adversary.
But, Hanuman said, “I can now understand that my prowess is very insignificant, for you
are still alive and well. Now, if you still consider me to be a worthy opponent, hit me once
more.”
The enraged Ravana pounded Hanuman in the chest with his clenched fist, making him
reel backwards once again. Then, leaving Hanuman aside, Ravana turned his attention to
Nila and began piercing him with a steady stream of arrows. Although greatly harassed, Nila
picked up a boulder and hurled it at Ravana. As the King of the Rakshasas was engaged in
breaking it to pieces, Hanuman recovered but restrained himself, for he was unwilling to
attack someone who was engaged in combat with another.
As Nila tore up one tall tree after another, Ravana cut them to pieces with his arrows
while oppressing other monkey soldiers at the same time. Then, to avoid Ravana’s arrows,
Nila shrank to a tiny size and jumped onto his flagpole. The Rakshasa King flared up in
anger upon seeing this trick. As Nila proceeded to dart from Ravana’s bow to the flagpole
and back again, Rama, Lakshman and Hanuman were astonished to see this. Ravana also
appreciated the daring feat, but by invoking a powerful fire weapon, he was able to strike
Nila in the chest, making him fall to his knees.
With Nila out of the way, Ravana next approached Lakshman. After an exchange of
harsh words, Ravana released seven arrows that Lakshman easily tore to pieces. Becoming
excited, Ravana released showers of arrows, but Lakshman continued to neutralize all of
them.
Lakshman then took the offensive by shooting arrows at the astonished Ravana, but the
Rakshasa King was also able to cut them to pieces. Finally, Ravana released a brahmastra
that pierced Lakshman in the forehead, making Him fall to the ground. It was with great
difficulty that Lakshman recovered, and after picking up His bow, He renewed His attack on
Ravana. Lakshman was able to break Ravana’s bow, and then He pierced him with three
powerful arrows. Ravana fainted to the ground, his body soaked in blood. It was with a great
deal of effort that he regained his composure and raised himself up once again.
Desiring to put an end to his adversary, Ravana picked up a lance that had been given
to him by Lord Brahma and violently hurled it. Although Lakshman tried his best to
counteract it with his weapons, that powerful lance pierced his chest, causing him to fall onto
the ground in great pain. As Lakshman was losing consciousness, Ravana came to arrest
Him. But, as the Rakshasa King was about to grab Him, Lakshman remembered that He is a
direct expansion of Lord Vishnu, and as a result, He began to exhibit His unlimited prowess.
Because of this, even though Ravana was capable of lifting up a mountain, he could not pick
up Lakshman even by exerting all his strength.
As Ravana was getting back on his chariot, Hanuman suddenly darted forward and
struck him violently on the chest with his fist. While blood flowed from his ten mouths, twenty
ears and twenty eyes, Ravana fell down unconscious onto the floor of his chariot, causing all
the monkeys to shout with joy. Hanuman then went to where Lakshman lay injured. Out of
affection, Lakshman made Himself light so that Hanuman could carry Him to where Rama
was staying. At that time, the lance came out from Lakshman’s body, its mission
accomplished, and returned to Ravana’s chariot.
Meanwhile, Ravana regained consciousness. He once again took up his bow at the time
when Lakshman got up, His wounds entirely healed by the inconceivable potency of Lord
Vishnu. Because Ravana had struck down so many monkeys, Rama decided to personally
approach him for combat. At Hanuman’s request, Rama mounted upon his shoulders and
then proceeded with great haste toward the Rakshasa King while challenging him to fight.
Feeling great enmity toward Rama, Ravana first of all showered his arrows upon
Hanuman. But, since Hanuman remained undeterred, Rama was able to come right up to
Ravana’s chariot and smash it to pieces. Then, shooting an effulgent arrow, Rama deeply
pierced Ravana in the chest, making him reel dizzily and drop his bow.
Then, after cutting off Ravana’s flag, Rama declared, “You have performed a heroic feat
by killing innumerable monkeys on the battlefield. But, because of this, you must be
exhausted and so I will refrain from killing you. You may return to Lanka to rest, and then
later on I will fight with you once more.”
His defeat and Rama’s words crushed Ravana’s pride. As he returned to Lanka with his
head hanging down, Rama and Lakshman went and extracted the arrows from the wounded
monkeys’ bodies. Having witnessed Ravana’s humiliation, the demigods and rishis stationed
in the sky rejoiced, feeling confident that their mission would soon be accomplished.
Ravana sat down despondently upon his throne. After summoning his ministers, he
explained, “Long ago, when I had received benedictions from Lord Brahma, he warned me
to beware of human beings. Then, once later on, a king in the line of Ikshvaku named
Anaranya cursed me by saying, ‘In the future, someone will appear in my dynasty who will
kill you, along with all your relatives.’ ”
“Later on, Vedavati cursed me after I raped her, and in fact, I believe that she has
become the daughter of King Janaka, just to bring about my destruction. Another time, when
I lifted Mount Kailash, Uma became frightened and so she cursed me by saying, ‘Wicked
Rakshasa! A woman will one day become the cause of your death!’ After that, I once
laughed at Nandishvara because of his monkey-like facial features, and he angrily cursed
me, saying, ‘Your entire dynasty will be destroyed by an army of monkeys!’ Rambha,
Punjikasthala, Nalakuvara and Lord Brahma all cursed me for raping innocent women. Now I
can see that the seeds of my past sins are finally bearing fruit.”
“Quickly, go and awaken Kumbhakarna, for there is no one who can excel him on the
battlefield. He fell asleep nine days ago, due to the curse of Lord Brahma, and he normally
sleeps for six months without interruption. But, what is the use of his unparalleled prowess if
he does not come to help me now?”
The ministers went with a large crew to Kumbhakarna’s residence, but they were
perplexed as to what method they could employ to awaken him before his natural time.
Taking with them enormous quantities of food, as well as other articles such as perfumes
and garlands, the Rakshasas entered Kumbhakarna’s cave-like, subterranean abode, which
measured one yojana in length and breadth.
As soon as they opened the door to Kumbhakarna’s room, they were blown back by the
hurricane-strength winds that were being exhaled from his nostrils. At last, after entering the
room with great difficulty, the Rakshasas began their attempts to awaken the sleeping giant.
First of all, mountains of meat and vats of blood were placed before the sleeping
Kumbhakarna. Then, the Rakshasas smeared sandalwood paste and perfumes all over his
body, which was entirely covered with bristly hair. Even though the Rakshasas loudly
praised his glories, Kumbhakarna continued to sleep soundly. Next, the Rakshasas tried
roaring loudly, blowing conch shells and beating drums next to Kumbhakarna’s ears. They
clapped their hands and stomped their feet. They screamed, they wailed, and they shouted.
They clanged on gongs, crashed cymbals and pushed and pulled his arms and legs. And
yet, despite all this, Kumbhakarna did not stir.
Next, the Rakshasas picked up big hammers and clubs and beat Kumbhakarna’s body,
while others pounded him repeatedly with their fists. The problem was that it was very
difficult to stand before Kumbhakarna when he exhaled, because of the fierce wind that blew
from his nostrils. Because of this, the 10,000 Rakshasas that surrounded Kumbhakarna
appeared to move back and forth like waves of the ocean, as he breathed in and out.
Next, strong elephants, horses, camels and donkeys were prodded to walk over
Kumbhakarna’s body, while some of the Rakshasas beat his limbs with big logs. Still,
despite all this, the colossal Kumbhakarna was not aroused from his sleep. Finally, the
Rakshasas became angry and frustrated, and so they began to pull Kumbhakarna’s hair and
bite his ears. They even tried pouring buckets of water in his ears, but still, he did not stir.
The Rakshasas then beat Kumbhakarna with clubs studded with nails, while making 1000
elephants walk over his body. Only then did the giant Rakshasa awaken, for it felt to him as
if someone had gently touched him.
Famished and still drowsy, Kumbhakarna stretched his arms and yawned. Although
some of the Rakshasas were still throwing boulders on him, he could not even feel this.
Yawning again and again, Kumbhakarna got up, appearing like Kala himself awakening for
the destruction of all beings. He greedily ate all the meat and drank all the blood that had
been put in front of him, and when the Rakshasas saw that he was satiated, they came
before him with folded hands.
With eyes still clouded by sleep, Kumbhakarna glanced at them and angrily inquired,
“Why did you wake me untimely? I am sure that some great danger has overtaken you that
only I can counteract. Otherwise, no one would dare come here and disturb me.”
A minister named Yupaksha replied, “Lanka has been besieged by an army of huge
monkeys, led by Rama and Lakshman. Many Rakshasa heroes have already been killed,
and when Ravana went to fight he was released after being defeated by Rama.”
Kumbhakarna said, “I will go at once and drink Rama and Lakshman’s blood! After
having thus eliminated the cause of his fears, I will go and present myself before Ravana.”
Mahodara suggested, “You had better see Ravana first to receive his orders. After all,
he is your elder brother and the King as well.”
Some of the Rakshasas then reported to Ravana, “After great endeavor, we have
succeeded in awakening Kumbhakarna. Would you like to see him first, or should he directly
go and fight with Rama?”
Ravana replied, “Let Kumbhakarna come here first, so that I can properly honor him.
Just make sure that you supply him with enough meat and wine so that he comes here in a
good mood.”
Kumbhakarna got up and washed his face. As Ravana instructed, the Rakshasas
brought in mountains of food along with 200 buckets of wine. After guzzling all this,
Kumbhakarna’s energy became replenished.
Thereafter, when the colossal Rakshasa came out of his subterranean cavern to meet
his elder brother, the monkeys were astonished to him. Some immediately fell to the ground
out of extreme fright. Others, who were more courageous, took shelter of Rama, while those
who were not so courageous, ran away in all directions. Kumbhakarna had expanded his
already gigantic size, just to make the enemy afraid.
When Rama saw him, He exclaimed, “Never in My life have I seen such a gigantic living
entity! Vibhishana, who is this monster that towers above us like a second Mount Meru?”
Vibhishana replied, “This is the son of the sage, Vishrava, named Kumbhakarna. He is
the biggest of all the Rakshasas, and he has defeated even the lord of death, Yamaraja.”
Vibhishana then informed Rama of Kumbhakarna’s history as follows: As soon as he
was born, Kumbhakarna began to hungrily devour thousands of living creatures. Because of
this, the created beings took shelter of Indra. The King of heaven became enraged when he
learned what was happening. Thereafter, when Indra attacked and released his thunderbolt,
Kumbhakarna was knocked unconscious. But, after quickly recovering, he tore out one of
Airavata’s tusks and smashed it against Indra’s chest, hurting him severely. The depressed
King of heaven then took all the created beings and went to see Lord Brahma.
After offering obeisances, they complained, “The son of Vishrava, named
Kumbhakarna, is tormenting the rishis and kidnapping many men’s wives. Besides this, he is
devouring us at such a rate that we will soon become extinct! ”
Lord Brahma absorbed his mind in meditation, and when, by his mystic vision, he saw
Kumbhakarna, he became greatly alarmed at the sight. After pondering over the situation,
Lord Brahma went to Kumbhakarna and said, “You have been created for the destruction of
the world, but now is the time for universal maintenance. So, for the welfare of all living
beings, you shall remain continually buried in deep sleep from this day on.”
Kumbhakarna immediately became overpowered by Lord Brahma’s curse, and so he
fell down right there, in the presence of his elder brother.
Ravana then pleaded, “O Brahma, you have cut down a tree that was just about to bear
fruit. O supreme teacher within the universe, it is not proper for you to curse your great-
grandson like this. Of course, I know that your words cannot be futile, but you should at least
allow Kumbhakarna some fixed time for sleeping and for awakening as well. ”
Lord Brahma replied, “I shall grant your wish. Kumbhakarna shall sleep continuously for
six months, and then awaken for one day. At that time, he can wander over the earth and
devour whatever he likes before once again being forced into another prolonged slumber.”
Vibhishana then concluded his narration by saying, “Ravana has awakened
Kumbhakarna prematurely because of being hard-pressed in battle. Just by seeing this
monstrous Rakshasa, our monkey soldiers have been thrown into a state of confusion. I
therefore suggest that we tell the monkeys that Kumbhakarna is just a tall mechanical
device, and in this way they will give up their fear.”
As Kumbhakarna entered Ravana’s palace, Rama ordered Nila to rally the monkeys
and attack the city gates. Fierce fighting was thus going on as Kumbhakarna, along with
thousand of his followers, came before Ravana, who was seated upon the Pushpaka chariot
in a disturbed state of mind. Ravana became enlivened to see his brother, however, and
after seating him by his side, he warmly embraced him. Kumbhakarna then asked, “Ravana,
what is it that I can do for you?”
Ravana replied, “As you know, Rama has attacked Lanka with a huge army of monkeys,
and many of the foremost Rakshasas have been killed in the fight. My dear brother, I am
depending upon you to kill Rama and Lakshman, for I can see no one else who is capable of
doing so.”
Kumbhakarna laughed heartily and then said, “What was predicted by Vibhishana and
other intelligent ministers has now come to pass. My dear brother, you are a rascal for
having ignored the good advice of your sincere well wishers. Vibhishana and Mandodari
were correct when they advised you to return Sita to Rama. O King, it is still not too late for
you to rectify your mistakes, although the decision is certainly yours alone.”
Ravana became angry while hearing this. Restraining his rage, he replied, “It is futile for
you to talk like this now that the battle is in full swing. My dear brother, even if I did make a
mistake by kidnapping Sita, I request you to nullify the error by manifesting your unparalleled
prowess.”
To pacify his brother, Kumbhakarna sweetly replied, “O King, do not worry. I promise
that I will kill Rama and Lakshman, as well as all the monkeys, headed by Sugriva and
Hanuman. These so-called heroes have played havoc with our army only because I was
absent from the battlefield. Now you will see just how insignificant the enemy is in the face of
my supreme might.”
Desiring to please Ravana, Mahodara interrupted Kumbhakarna and said, “You are
arrogant and foolish for daring to criticize your elder brother. He is the King, and so he can
do whatever he likes. There was nothing wrong in Ravana’s kidnapping Sita, because kings
are naturally inclined to exhibit their prowess by performing such acts. Proud giant, let me
assure you that you will not be able to defeat Rama simply by dint of your strength, as you
are claiming.”
Turning to Ravana, Mahodara said, “O King, I have devised a nice plan for winning Sita.
Let Kumbhakarna and I, along with other Rakshasa heroes, attack Rama all at once. If we
are able to kill Him, victory will be ours. But, if we cannot defeat Rama, we can still come
back to Lanka and claim that we have devoured Him. This false story should then be
broadcast all over Lanka to the accompaniment of drums and the rewarding of soldiers and
servants. In this way, the rumor will soon reach Sita.”
“Ravana, while Sita is drowning in the ocean of grief, you should go there. Tempt her
with promises of royal opulence and comfort, and try your best to gain her confidence. At
that time, Sita will feel that she is without any other protector, so I am sure that she will
submit to you at last. O King, if you fight with Rama, you will surely lay down your life upon
the battlefield. But, if you take my advice, you can win Sita without a struggle.”
Kumbhakarna then spoke harshly, “Mahodara, your words would only appeal to
cowardly kings. I have already made up my mind to kill Rama, and my determination cannot
possibly go in vain. The rest of you have bungled the war so that Lanka has become
divested of much of its population. Now, I will rectify the situation, and I don’t need anyone
else’s help.”
Ravana heartily laughed and said, “What you say is true. Mahodara must be very afraid
of Rama. Kumbhakarna, no one can stand before you when you enter the battlefield,
enraged. Please go now and fight and thus put an end to our anxieties. Do not go alone,
though. Surround yourself with a large army so that you will be even more invincible.”
Ravana felt rejuvenated after considering the prowess of his colossal brother. Then, as
Kumbhakarna picked up a fierce dart and prepared to depart, Ravana came and placed a
golden necklace and flower garlands around his neck. After putting on a suit of impenetrable
armor, Kumbhakarna circumambulated Ravana and bowed down before him. Ravana
embraced Kumbhakarna and offered his blessings in return.
As he approached the battlefield, Kumbhakarna expanded his body to become 600 bow
lengths in height and 100 bow lengths in width. And yet, even though he was determined to
kill Rama and Lakshman and devour all the monkeys, Kumbhakarna began to see many
fearful omens. Meteors streaked across the sky, his left arm throbbed and his left eye
twitched. A vulture came and alighted on the spear that he carried in his hand. But, under
the sway of destiny, the puffed-up Kumbhakarna did not pay any attention to these
inauspicious signs.
When Kumbhakarna entered the battlefield by stepping over the defense wall, all the
monkeys panicked and ran away. Angada managed to rally the army, and so they
proceeded to shower Kumbhakarna with numerous trees and boulders. But, all these
missiles simply shattered when they struck the giant Rakshasa’s body. In retaliation,
Kumbhakarna created a great slaughter of the monkeys, so that once again, they panicked
and fled. In the stampede, some of the monkeys fell from the cliffs into the ocean while
keeping their eyes closed out of fear.
Angada then tried to encourage the monkeys by saying, “It is better to die gloriously in
battle than to flee in the hope of living a life of ease. Such cowards have to pass their lives
being ridiculed by their relatives, and such insults are more painful than death.”
Still, the monkeys continued to flee, considering their lives to be very dear. Only when
Angada assured the monkeys that Rama would kill Kumbhakarna did they gradually turn
back toward the battlefield.
Thereafter, when the monkeys attacked Kumbhakarna, he struck down thousands of
them each time he wielded his gigantic club. At the same time, the huge Rakshasa grabbed
as many as thirty monkeys in his arms and stuffed them into his mouth. Dvivida threw a
huge boulder at Kumbhakarna, and when it missed the mark and landed upon the Rakshasa
army, it crushed many soldiers.
From the sky, Hanuman tried to throw huge slabs of stone upon Kumbhakarna, but the
colossal Rakshasa easily tore them to pieces with his hands. Then, when Kumbhakarna
picked up a spear and rushed at the monkeys, Hanuman blocked his path and hurled a
great mass of rocks. Kumbhakarna avoided the blow, however, and when he threw the
spear in retaliation, it pierced Hanuman in the chest, causing him to vomit blood while crying
out in great pain.
While the Rakshasas rejoiced at seeing Hanuman’s plight, the monkeys scattered in all
directions. Rishabha, Sharabha, Nila, Gavaksha and Gandhamadana then pounced upon
Kumbhakarna all at once. Still, the giant Rakshasa felt their powerful blows to be no more
severe than loving caresses. Kumbhakarna caught hold of Rishabha, and after squeezing
him in his hand, he threw him unconscious onto the ground. Kumbhakarna then struck the
other four monkey heroes, making them all fall down wounded.
Seeing this, the other monkeys became infuriated and attacked Kumbhakarna all at
once by the thousands, climbing over his body as if it were a great mountain. While the
monkeys bit him with their sharp teeth, he grabbed them as fast as he could and stuffed
them into his gaping mouth.
In this way, as Kumbhakarna ranged over the battlefield, he devoured innumerable
monkeys, although some of them managed to escape through his nostrils and ears after
having entered his mouth. As the monkeys took shelter of Lord Rama, Angada suddenly
rushed at Kumbhakarna and flung a big rock on his head. This only served to enrage the
giant, however, who then rushed at Angada while hurling his spear. Angada dodged the
spear and while doing so he slapped Kumbhakarna on the chest, making him fall to the
ground in a daze. Kumbhakarna quickly recovered, and after standing up he smacked
Angada with the back of his hand, making him fall down, almost bereft of consciousness.
Kumbhakarna picked up his spear and rushed at Sugriva, who quickly grabbed a
boulder to meet his onrushing foe. But, when Sugriva hurled the rock at Kumbhakarna’s
chest, it merely shattered to pieces. Seeing this, the Rakshasas shouted with joy while the
monkeys became despondent. Then, while roaring tumultuously, Kumbhakarna violently
hurled his spear.
Hanuman had been watching the duel very attentively, and upon seeing Sugriva’s plight
he suddenly jumped into the air. After catching the spear in his hands, Hanuman broke it in
half over his knee. The monkeys roared with delight upon seeing this, while Kumbhakarna
began to feel a little disheartened. Still, in great agitation, he tore off a mass of rocks and
hurled it impetuously at Sugriva. When it struck him, Sugriva fell down unconscious, and so
Kumbhakarna quickly went and picked him up. After tucking him under his armpit, the giant
began to carry him back to Lanka.
Seeing this, Hanuman thought, “If Sugriva is taken prisoner, our cause is lost. I must
expand myself to become as huge as a mountain and then kill Kumbhakarna!”
But, the next moment, Hanuman considered, “I am sure that Sugriva will regain
consciousness very soon and manage to free himself. If the King has to be rescued by
another, he will certainly become disheartened.”
Kumbhakarna entered Lanka with Sugriva in his grips, while the citizens rejoiced,
showering fried grains and scented water upon the victorious hero. These offerings helped
Sugriva regain consciousness, and after sizing up the situation he began to struggle to get
free. First, Sugriva tore off Kumbhakarna’s earlobes with his sharp nails. Then he bit off the
Rakshasa’s nose while splitting open his sides with his toes. Sharply pained, Kumbhakarna
angrily threw Sugriva to the ground and began to beat him. But, Sugriva bound up into the
air and returned to Rama’s side in an instant.
Being famished, the enraged Kumbhakarna picked up a huge hammer and once again
entered the enemy ranks so that he could eat the monkeys. Taking handfuls of monkeys and
Rakshasas as well, he stuffed them into his mouth while streams of blood and fat poured out
from the corners. Although the panic-stricken monkeys tried to take shelter of Rama,
Kumbhakarna ran here and there, encircling hundreds of them at a time with his
outstretched arms. Lakshman then came to attack Kumbhakarna, showering His arrows.
The giant Rakshasa easily deflected these, however and said with disdain, “I want to
fight with Rama, and not with His younger brother!”
In reply, Lakshman pointed to Rama, and so Kumbhakarna proceeded toward Him.
Rama quickly invoked a Rudra weapon at the onrushing giant. When that weapon
penetrated Kumbhakarna’s chest, he staggered, dropping his club and strewing his other
weapons here and there. Many monkeys then pounced upon Kumbhakarna, hoping to take
advantage of his setback, but the Rakshasa beat them back with his fists. After getting up,
Kumbhakarna grabbed a mass of rocks and rushed toward Rama once again. Rama quickly
tore the rocks to pieces with seven arrows, and the falling debris knocked down more than
200 monkey soldiers.
Lakshman then said to Rama, “Kumbhakarna is so intoxicated because of drinking
blood that he is devouring the monkeys and Rakshasas without discriminating between
them. I think that thousands of monkeys should go and climb all over Kumbhakarna’s body.
Being weighed down, he can easily be defeated.”
Thereafter, innumerable monkeys proceeded to crawl over Kumbhakarna’s body. As the
Rakshasa tried to shake them off, while simultaneously rummaging around, looking for some
to eat, Rama took the opportunity to rush forward. With His bowstring stretched back to His
ear, Rama challenged, “You worst of Rakshasas, just stand before Me for a moment so that
My arrows can dispatch you to the abode of Yamaraja!”
Looking up, Kumbhakarna was overjoyed to see Rama in front of him. While laughing
gleefully, he exclaimed, “What good fortune! Since You have so kindly given me this
opportunity, I will devour You at once!"
As Rama sent forth showers of arrows, Kumbhakarna, without being disturbed, picked
up a terrible mace, hoping to kill his enemy without further delay. In response, Rama invoked
a powerful Vayu weapon that shot forth and severed Kumbhakarna’s right arm that was
grasping the gigantic club. The colossal Rakshasa screamed with agonizing pain, and when
the arm fell to the ground, it crushed to death an entire division of monkey soldiers. Having
become mad with rage, Kumbhakarna tore up a large tree with his left arm and rushed at
Rama. The Lord invoked a mighty Aindra weapon that severed Kumbhakarna’s left arm, and
when it fell to the ground, both monkeys and Rakshasas were crushed.
Even though he was without arms, Kumbhakarna rushed madly at Rama while roaring
hideously. With two arrows, Rama cut off his huge feet. Still, Kumbhakarna opened his
terrible mouth and hobbled frantically toward Rama in the hopes of devouring Him. As
Kumbhakarna steadily approached, Rama filled up his gaping mouth with so many arrows
that he began to gasp for breath. Finally, as Kumbhakarna began to topple while losing
consciousness on account of extreme pain, Rama discharged another Aindra weapon. After
illuminating all directions as it streaked across the sky, this wonderfully effulgent weapon
tore off Kumbhakarna’s head.
As the gigantic trunk of Kumbhakarna’s body crashed into the sea, crushing to death
huge aquatics, the severed head, which shone like the full moon, fell down onto the King’s
highway in Lanka, demolishing big palaces as well as sections of the defense wall. From the
sky, the demigods shouted ecstatically, and all the monkey soldiers glorified Rama’s victory
as if they had five mouths. Rama felt very blissful for having accomplished such a heroic
feat.
When Ravana heard the news of Kumbhakarna’s death, of how his body was half-
submerged in the sea, and of how his head was blocking the city gate, it was too much for
him and he fainted, slumping down onto his throne.
After regaining consciousness, Ravana moaned, “Without Kumbhakarna, life has no
meaning for me. What a fool I was not to have listened to the good advice of my pious
brother, Vibhishana!”
One of Ravana’s sons, Trishira, then said, “My dear father, please do not lament like
this. I am immensely powerful and I have weapons that were given to me by Lord Brahma.
My brothers- Devantaka, Narantaka and Atikaya are also extremely powerful, expert in the
conjuring arts and they can fight while flying in the sky. We will all go together and kill Rama,
Lakshman, and the monkey warriors. Now, please give up your despair!”
Ravana became somewhat enlivened by Trishira’s assurances. After decorating his four
sons with ornaments and garlands, the King sent them to fight, along with Mahaparshva and
Mahodara. As the six Rakshasa heroes went out of the city followed by an enormous army,
the soldiers on both sides roared impetuously. Before long, the battlefield became difficult to
traverse because of being littered with dead bodies, severed limbs, smashed chariots, trees
and boulders.
When ordered by Sugriva to attack Ravana’s son, Narantaka, Angada approached him
unarmed while challenging, “Why are you wasting your time fighting with common monkeys?
Throw your spear at my chest if you consider yourself to be a great hero!”
Biting his lip with rage, Narantaka hurled his spear, but when it struck Angada’s chest it
broke and fell to the ground. Angada quickly darted forward and smashed his clenched fist
on the head of Narantaka’s horse. The horse fell down dead with a fractured skull, forcing
the infuriated Narantaka to jump to the ground. He then retaliated by hitting Angada violently
on the head with his fist. As blood poured forth from the wound, Angada reeled back dizzily.
Then, quickly regaining his composure, Angada rushed forward and smashed Narantaka
with his fist. That forceful blow completely smashed the Rakshasa’s chest, making him fall
down dead onto the battlefield.
Rama was very pleased and astonished by the prince’s great prowess. But, Mahodara
could not tolerate the death of his nephew, and so, along with Devantaka and Trishira, he
angrily rushed at Angada. When he saw the three Rakshasas approaching, Angada tore up
a giant tree and hurled it at Devantaka. Trishira easily cut the tree to pieces with his arrows,
and so Angada proceeded to send forth more trees and boulders, but all to no avail.
Mahodara came up to Angada, riding upon an elephant, and struck him in the chest with
his spiked club. Angada was not the least disturbed by the blow, and he retaliated by
violently striking the elephant with his hand. When the elephant fell down dead, Angada tore
out one of its tusks and hurled it at Devantaka, wounding him severely. Devantaka soon
recovered, though, and struck Angada with his club, making him fall down to his knees. As
he got back on his feet, Trishira struck Angada in the forehead with three arrows, and so Nila
and Hanuman rushed to the prince's aid.
Devantaka rushed at Hanuman, wielding his club. Hanuman leapt into the air to avoid
the blow, and at the same time struck the Rakshasa in the head with his clenched fist. With
his skull smashed in, Devantaka fell down dead onto the battlefield.
Meanwhile, as Trishira released torrents of arrows at Nila, Mahodara mounted upon
another elephant to continue fighting. As all his limbs became pierced, Nila momentarily lost
consciousness. Then, after recovering, he tore off some rocks from a mountain peak.
Springing into the air, Nila suddenly smashed them on Mahodara’s head. Seeing Mahodara
fall down dead right before his very eyes, Trishira became mad with rage. As Trishira began
showering his arrows, Hanuman retaliated, but the three-headed Rakshasa tore all his
weapons to pieces.
Becoming frustrated, Hanuman jumped up onto Trishira’s horse and tore at its hide with
his sharp nails. Trishira tried to pierce Hanuman with his spear, but the son of Vayu grabbed
it out of his hands and broke it in half. Trishira then quickly drew his sword and slashed
Hanuman across the chest. Yet, in spite of being wounded, Hanuman retaliated by slapping
Trishira in the chest, making him fall off his horse, dazed. Hanuman then jumped from the
horse and after picking up the sword that had fallen from Trishira’s hand, he loudly roared.
This was intolerable for Trishira. He quickly jumped up and punched Hanuman in the
chest. Hanuman became enraged, grabbed one of Trishira’s necks, and then severed all
three of his heads, one after another, with his sword.
As the monkeys roared triumphantly, Mahaparshva angrily picked up his iron club while
Rishabha came to challenge him. Mahaparshva struck Rishabha in the chest with his club,
making him fall to the ground. Rishabha got up, and after rushing at Mahaparshva, he struck
him severely in the chest with his fist. The Rakshasa collapsed to the ground, soaked with
his own blood. Then, as Mahaparshva struggled to recover his strength, Rishabha grabbed
his iron club.
After a brief exchange of words, Rishabha struck Mahaprarshva in the chest. As blood
gushed from his wounds, the Rakshasa tried to grab back his weapon. But, before
Mahaparshva could do so, Rishabha brought down the spiked club on his head, making him
fall down to the ground dead, his eyes and teeth completely crushed.
As the Rakshasa army fled in fear, the gigantic Atikaya launched an attack on the
monkeys, riding upon his chariot. When the monkeys saw the colossal Rakshasa, they
thought that Kumbhakarna had come back to life and so they fearfully took shelter of Lord
Rama.
Rama was also surprised to see the giant, and so He inquired about him from
Vibhishana. Vibhishana explained, “This monstrous Rakshasa is the son of Ravana and
Dhanyamalini and his name is Atikaya. After performing severe austerities, he received
benedictions from Lord Brahma, making him extraordinarily powerful. Rama, in previous
battles Atikaya was able to counteract Indra’s thunderbolt and Varuna’s nooses. Therefore,
You should kill him at once before he exterminates the entire army of monkeys.”
In the battle that followed, Atikaya fought with the monkeys for awhile. Then, leaving
them aside, he rushed at Rama while challenging Him with insulting words. This greatly
angered Lakshman, who then rushed at Atikaya.
The gigantic Rakshasa was astonished to hear the twanging of Lakshman’s bow, but he
nonetheless selected an arrow and said, “You are a mere child and so You had better leave
the battlefield while You are still able to do so. Why are You foolishly coming before me, as if
You want to give up Your life?”
This made Lakshman’s anger flare up more brightly, and so He replied with similarly
harsh words. Then, as Atikaya placed his arrow upon his bowstring, the demigods appeared
overhead, being curious to witness the duel. As the Rakshasa proceeded to release his
arrows, Lakshman broke them with His own. Lakshman then pierced Atikaya’s forehead with
an arrow, making him tremble violently. After recovering, Atikaya praised Lakshman for
being a worthy opponent.
As the fighting continued, Atikaya released an especially powerful arrow that pierced
Lakshman’s chest. Although bleeding profusely, Lakshman took out an arrow and
empowered it with a mantra pertaining to the fire god, Agni. When Lakshman shot that
arrow, Atikaya employed a Surya weapon to neutralize it. While soaring through the air,
these two arrows collided and reduced each other to ashes before falling to the ground.
Atikaya then released a Tvasta weapon and so Lakshman counteracted it with an Aindra
weapon. Next, Atikaya discharged a Yama weapon and Lakshman countered with a Vayu
weapon.
Lakshman proceeded to send forth a steady stream of arrows but they simply bounced
off Atikaya’s armor and fell to the ground. Then, as Lakshman continued shooting His
arrows, Atikaya pierced Him in the chest with a single shaft, making Him fall to the ground,
unconscious.
When Lakshman recovered, He continued His assault, killing Atikaya’s horses and
driver. But, despite shooting His most powerful arrows, He could not even slightly wound the
son of Ravana. At this time, Vayu appeared before Lakshman and said, “This armor, which
was given to Atikaya by Lord Brahma, is impenetrable. Because of this, You should use
Your brahmastra to vanquish Your enemy.”
Lakshman fitted that ultimate weapon onto his bowstring and discharged it. Atikaya shot
numerous arrows in an attempt to counteract the brahmastra, and then, when he saw that it
was unimpeded, he hurled spears, clubs and axes. But this was also to no avail, and the
brahmastra struck off Atikaya’s enormous head. As the severed head rolled upon the
ground, the dejected Rakshasas rushed back to the shelter of Lanka, while the monkeys ran
to Lakshman, congratulating Him.
After receiving news of Atikaya’s death, Ravana became very aggrieved and depressed.
In a mood of hopeless, he brooded, “Rama and Lakshman are inconceivably powerful! They
have already killed the best of my warriors! Now, I can understand that Rama is Lord
Narayana Himself, appearing in human form. Although I had previously been informed of
this, I had considered such talk to be the ravings of cowards and fanatics. Who will be able
to defeat Rama?”
Seeing his father with tears in his eyes and overwhelmed with lamentation, Indrajit
spoke up, “As long as I am still alive, there is no reason for you to grieve like this. My dear
father, I promise that I will kill Rama and Lakshman this very day!”
After receiving his father’s blessings, Indrajit first went to his sacrificial altar. There, he
grabbed a goat by the neck and threw it into the sacrificial fire as an offering. At once, the
fire flared up brightly, indicating victory for Ravana’s pet son. Then, from out of the flames
arose Agni, to personally accept the sacrificial offering. Indrajit then chanted mantras that
enabled himself and his chariot, which was drawn by donkeys, and well as all his other
paraphernalia, to remain invisible. After dispatching his army, Indrajit ascended to the sky,
and while remaining invisible, he began raining down arrows upon the monkey soldiers.
The monkeys tried to retaliate by hurling stones and trees in the direction from which the
arrows were coming, but Indrajit tore all these to pieces. He then invoked the brahmastra,
causing heaven and earth to tremble, and the countless arrows produced by that supreme
weapon pierced all the great monkey warriors, making them fall to the ground. While
remaining invisible, Indrajit continued to shower down spears, swords and axes upon his
enemy.
The bewildered monkeys could only see the shining weapons falling from the sky, but
they could not locate their assailant. Even Hanuman, Sugriva, Jambavan and Nila fell to the
ground wounded, and Rama and Lakshman also appeared to be eclipsed by Indrajit’s
weapons.
Undisturbed, although covered with arrows, Rama then said, “Lakshman, I can
understand that Indrajit is releasing arrows that are surcharged with the power of Brahma.
As long as this powerful Rakshasa remains invisible, no one will be able to defeat him.
Therefore, I think it is best if We just tolerate his attack. Then, when Indrajit sees that We
have fallen unconscious, he will surely consider himself to be victorious and return to Lanka
to inform Ravana.”
Thus it came to be that Rama and Lakshman were seriously wounded by Indrajit’s
arrows and fell to the ground unconscious. Seeing that his enemies were vanquished,
Indrajit shouted with joy and then returned to Lanka, to tell his father the good news.
The monkeys became exceedingly depressed upon seeing Rama and Lakshman’s
condition, but Vibhishana informed them, “You should not lament like this. Rama and
Lakshman have voluntarily put Themselves in this helpless condition just to honor the
weapon of Lord Brahma. Very soon They will once again rise up to vanquish the enemy.”
Hanuman then offered his respects to the brahmastra and suggested, “The fighting has
subsided and night has fallen. Our first business should be to go and restore the remaining
monkey soldiers to confidence.”
Hanuman and Vibhishana took up torches and began wandering over the battlefield.
They saw Sugriva, Angada, Nila, Nala and another 670 million monkeys lying upon the
ground, having been struck down by Indrajit’s brahmastra. After searching for Jambuvan,
they found him so severely wounded that he was unable to see. Still, Jambuvan inquired, “Is
Hanuman still alive?”
Vibhishana asked, “Why have you inquired about Hanuman first, passing over Rama,
Lakshman, Sugriva and Angada?”
Jambavan replied, “If Hanuman is alive, then the army is still intact, even if it appears to
be massacred. But, if Hanuman is dead, the entire army is destroyed, even if all the soldiers
appear to be well.”
Hearing this, Hanuman came and clasped Jambavan’s feet, saying, “You can rest
assured that I am fine!”
Jambavan then instructed, “Go quickly to the Himalayas and locate the Rishabha
Mountain. In between Rishabha and Kailash is an effulgent mountain that is covered with
powerful medicinal herbs that illuminate all directions. You must gather four of these herbs
and bring them back here. They are- Mritasanjivani, which can restore even a dead person
to life; Sialyakarani, which is used while extracting weapons and for healing wounds;
Suvarnakarani, which restores the body to its original luster; and Sandhani, which is used for
healing fractured bones and joining severed limbs. If you can procure these herbs then all
the monkey heroes who lost their lives can be revived.”
Hanuman was very happy to receive this command, and he began to swell up with
increased energy. After going to the peak of Trikuta Mountain, he squatted down in
preparation for a tremendous leap. Due to the pressure, the mountain peak crumbled, and
the falling trees burst into flames on account of friction. Lanka’s palaces began to collapse,
as the entire city shook, and because of this, all the citizens became very afraid.
First of all, Hanuman jumped to the Malaya Mountain on the other side of the sea. After
further expanding himself, he bowed to the Sungod and then took a gigantic leap into the air,
drawing up huge rocks and trees in his wake.
While soaring through the air at great speed, Hanuman soon sighted the Himalayan
Mountains with their golden peaks. He saw the seat of Lord Brahma, the abode of
Hayagriva, the residence of the presiding deity of the brahmastra, as well as the residences
of Indra, Yama, Kuvera and Agni. Then, after finding Mount Rishabha and Mount Kailash,
Hanuman located in between them the mountain that Jambavan had described, and he was
astonished to see its blazing effulgence.
Hanuman frantically searched all over the mountain for the required herbs. But, since
the plants had hidden themselves upon sensing the arrival of an intruder, he could not locate
them. At last, becoming frustrated, Hanuman roared ferociously and then angrily challenged,
“Mountain, if you act in such a way as to impede the service of Lord Rama, I will smash you
into millions of tiny pieces!”
When there was no response, Hanuman ripped off the top of the mountain, sprang into
the air, and quickly flew the 1000 yojanas back to Lanka. As all the monkeys shouted with
glee, Hanuman came in for a landing upon the peak of Mount Trikuta.
Thereafter, when Rama and Lakshman were made to inhale the fragrance of the herbs,
all Their wounds were immediately healed. The herbs were then administered to all the
wounded monkeys, and as a result, they sprang to their feet, as if rousing up from a sound
sleep. In fact, even those monkeys that had been killed were instantly revived to perfect
health.
After the accomplishment of his mission, Hanuman quickly returned to the Himalayas
and put the mountain peak back in its proper place. This whole episode took place in just
one day, and when Hanuman returned to Lanka, it was already dark.
Sugriva then said, “My dear Hanuman, since all the dead Rakshasas have been thrown
into the ocean by the order of Ravana, we cannot estimate how many enemy soldiers have
been killed. Still, we know that all of Ravana’s sons, except Indrajit, have been killed, and so
Lanka is practically defenseless. I suggest that we all take up torches and invade the city at
night, just to throw the enemy into chaos.”
Soon after, the monkeys began their march to Lanka. When they came to the city gates,
the Rakshasa guards fled in fear, and so they were able to enter Lanka without a fight. With
torches in hand, the monkeys ran through the streets, setting all the palaces ablaze. Within a
short while, fire raged on all sides while thousands of building toppled to the ground. The
whole of Lanka was in a state of confusion as burnt Rakshasas and animals ran wildly in all
directions, wailing in anguish.
At this time, Rama twanged His bowstring, and the sound could be heard above the
clamor, and it struck terror into the hearts of the Rakshasas. Rama destroyed Lanka’s
principal gate with showers of arrows, and upon witnessing this destruction, Ravana became
highly enraged. He dispatched the sons of Kumbhakarna- Kumbha and Nikumbha, along
with many other leading Rakshasa warriors, including Yupaksha, Sonitaksha, Prajangha and
Kampana. Both the Rakshasas and monkeys were eager for battle, so the fighting that
followed was very fierce.
Angada killed Kampana and then severed Prajangha’s head with his hand. After this,
Yupaksha and Sonitaksha wrestled with Mainda and Dvivida. Dvivida tore at Sonitaksha’s
face with his nails, and then, after throwing him to the ground, he crushed him to death with
his knees. Mainda pressed Yupaksha tightly in his arms, squeezing the life right out of his
body, so that he fell down dead on the spot.
Kumbha then severely wounded Mainda and Dvivida, and upon seeing the plight of his
two maternal uncles, Angada became enraged. He rushed at Kumbha to gain revenge, and
then a fierce duel took place between the two. After receiving numerous wounds, Angada
fainted onto the ground, and so some of the monkeys went to inform Rama. The Lord then
dispatched Jambha and Sugriva to come to Angada’s aid. After showering one another with
weapons, Sugriva managed to come within reach of Kumbha’s chariot.
All of a sudden, Sugriva jumped up, snatched the bow right out of Kumbha’s hands and
broke it in half. After jumping back to the ground, Sugriva said, “Kumbha, you have certainly
exhibited great prowess on the battlefield today. Your father was naturally endowed with
great prowess, whereas Ravana achieved superior prowess by dint of the benedictions he
received from Lord Brahma. You are powerful in both ways. I could have killed you just now,
but because you are exhausted due to fighting, I will let you return to Lanka to rest. Next
time, we can fight under fair conditions.”
Kumbha appreciated Sugriva’s noble words, but without accepting the offer, he
suddenly grabbed the monkey King in his strong arms. As the two squeezed each other in
their embrace, the earth began to sink down due to the immense pressure exerted upon it.
Finally, Sugriva lifted up Kumbha and threw him into the ocean, causing waves as high as
mountains to swell up in all directions. Kumbha sprang back onto the land, and after rushing
forward impetuously, he threw Sugriva down to the ground and began striking him in the
chest with his fists. Although his armor became smashed and blood gushed from his
wounds, Sugriva clenched his powerful fist and pounded it on Kumbha’s chest with all his
might. As a consequence, Kumbha fell to the ground, mortally wounded.
After seeing his brother slain, Nikumbha roared so loudly and brandished his club so
brazenly that all the monkeys and Rakshasas became stunned with fright. When Hanuman
came before him, Nikumbha struck him in the chest with his massive club. But, the only
consequence of this mighty blow was that the club shattered into many pieces.
Hanuman quickly responded by smashing his clenched fist against Nikumbha’s chest,
making him stagger backwards. After recovering, Nikumbha captured Hanuman in his arms
and began to carry him away. Hanuman soon freed himself and then threw Nikumbha
violently to the ground. After pouncing upon the Rakshasa, Hanuman crushed him with his
knees while simultaneously twisting his head right off from his trunk. Upon witnessing this
ghastly but heroic feat, the elated monkeys shouted with joy.
After receiving the news of Kumbha and Nikumbha’s death, Ravana ordered the son of
Khara named Maharaksha to go and fight with Rama and Lakshman. Although he boasted
excessively about his prowess, as Maharaksha approached the battlefield, inauspicious
omens heralded his defeat. The whip slipped out of his driver’s hands and then his flagpole
fell to the ground. His horses began to falter, as if in a depressed mood, as tears glided
down from their eyes. Although a dense dust storm suddenly arose, bringing with it gloomy
darkness, Maharaksha ignored all these omens and confidently entered the battlefield.
When the fighting began, many monkeys fell down dead onto the ground, having been
pierced by Maharaksha’s arrows. Then, as the Rakshasas roared triumphantly and the
monkeys began to flee for their lives, Rama took up His bow. As Rama sent forth His arrows,
the enraged Maharaksha challenged Him with harsh words. But, Rama simply laughed at
the puffed-up Rakshasa and exclaimed, “You proud fool! There has never been a war that
was won merely by the use of words!”
Maharaksha released a steady stream of arrows, but Rama tore them to pieces with His
own. Coming close by, the two began to fight furiously, as the demigods assembled
overhead to witness the spectacular duel. Although Rama and Maharaksha deeply wounded
each other, their strength only seemed to go on increasing. So many arrows were released
by them that no one could see the battlefield clearly. Then, flaring up with rage, Rama split
Maharaksha’s bow in half, smashed his chariot to pieces, and killed his driver and horses.
Jumping down from the broken chariot, Maharaksha grabbed a spear that had been
presented to him by Rudra, and hurled it impetuously at Rama.
Rama was able to cut the spear to pieces with His arrows. Then, as Rama carefully
fitted an Agni weapon onto His bowstring, Maharaksha madly rushed at Him with his fist
upraised. But before Maharaksha could reach him, Rama released His celestial arrow, and
when it pierced the Rakshasa’s heart, he fell to the ground, dead. Seeing that their leader
had been slain, the Rakshasa army beat a hasty retreat back to Lanka.
Ravana then ordered Indrajit to re-enter the battlefield, and so the prince first went to his
sacrificial altar. After pouring libations of ghee into the sacrificial fire, Indrajit grabbed a live
goat by the neck and threw it in as an offering. As before, Agni personally came to accept
the offering as the sacrificial fire blazed up brightly. Indrajit then mounted upon his chariot,
after protecting it and all his weapons with the potency of Lord Brahma.
Thereafter, Indrajit showered his arrows upon Rama and Lakshman while remaining
invisible in the sky. The sons of Dasharatha tried to counter-attack with celestial weapons,
but none of them could even touch the powerful son of Ravana. Then, using his mystic
power, Indrajit created darkness, and when he resumed showering arrows, Rama and
Lakshman became pierced all over Their bodies. By aiming in the direction from which the
streams of arrows were falling, Rama managed to pierce Indrajit, but the son of Ravana
remained undaunted.
Finally, Lakshman became so frustrated because of His helplessness that He declared,
“I will now invoke the brahmastra to destroy all the Rakshasas once and for all!”
But, Rama replied, “My dear brother, while engaged in fighting with one enemy, it is not
proper to kill others who are not taking part in the battle. I am also very eager to put and end
to this powerful Rakshasa. Be patient. Let Us discharge more of Our celestial weapons at
him.”
Indrajit could understand that Rama intended to finish him off quickly and so he hastily
returned to Lanka. Then, after a little while, he once again came out of the city riding upon
his chariot, and this time he remained visible and was accompanied by an illusory Sita,
sitting by his side. Seeing Indrajit coming, all the monkeys, headed by Hanuman, rushed to
attack him. But, when they saw that Sita was seated on his chariot, they became
exceedingly depressed.
While the monkeys looked on helplessly, Indrajit drew his sword and grabbed Sita by
the hair. The illusory Sita cried out, “Rama! Rama!” and then Indrajit struck her violently with
his fist. Feeling unbearable agony, Hanuman shouted, “You are the most abominable and
evil-minded of all the Rakshasas. Rest assured that very soon you will be punished in the
hell that is reserved for the killers of women!”
After saying this, Hanuman rushed at Indrajit, followed by many other monkeys, but the
Rakshasa repelled them with his arrows. Indrajit then declared, “Watch me now as I kill Sita,
for that which gives pain to the enemy must be done by someone who is endeavoring to win
a war!”
Having said this, Indrajit took his sword and violently slashed the illusory Sita diagonally
so that she at once fell onto the ground in a pool of blood. Indrajit then taunted Hanuman by
saying, “Sita is dead, and so all of your endeavors for retrieving her have proved to be a
waste of time and energy.”
For some time, Hanuman attempted to retaliate. Then, he thought, “Since Sita has been
killed, it would be best for the monkeys to retreat for the time being so that I can report to
Rama and receive His instructions.”
When Hanuman left the scene of battle, Indrajit returned to his sanctuary, Nikumbhila, to
make offerings in the sacrificial fire for the benefit of the Rakshasas. When Hanuman met
Rama, he informed Him of how Sita had been mercilessly slain by Indrajit. As soon as He
heard this, Rama fainted onto the ground, and so the monkeys hurriedly came and sprinkled
water on Him.
Lakshman picked Rama up in His arms and lamented, “What terrible misfortune! It
appears that good and evil have changed roles! Or, maybe it is that virtue is not strong
enough to give a good result without the help of prowess. I think that it is best just to depend
upon one’s strength and forget all the so-called considerations of morality. I hereby vow to
destroy all of Lanka this very day, including Indrajit and Ravana! O Rama, please remember
Your divine position as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and thus give up Your excessive
sorrow.”
At this time, Vibhishana came there. When he saw the grief-stricken Lakshman with
Rama lying unconscious upon his lap, Vibhishana anxiously inquired, “What has happened?”
As Lakshman proceeded to explain about Sita’s death, Vibhishana interrupted, saying,
“It is not possible that Sita has been killed by Indrajit, for Ravana would never voluntarily part
with her. The Sita that you saw was only an illusory creation. Lakshman, you should
immediately go to Nikumbhila and kill Indrajit while he is making sacrificial offerings. It you
do not attack him now, he will once again be able to make himself invisible after finishing his
rituals, and thus he will be invulnerable.”
Rama was too aggrieved to clearly understand what Vibhishana was saying and so He
asked him to repeat himself. Vibhishana then elaborated, “Long ago, Indrajit had performed
severe austerities by which he satisfied Lord Brahma. When Brahma awarded Indrajit the
brahmastra and flying horses, he predicted, ‘You will be killed by an enemy as you engage in
performing sacrifices at Nikumbhila.’ Now, if Lakshman does not go and kill Indrajit, he will
become so powerful that surely all the monkeys will be slain.”
Rama then ordered, “Lakshman, go and attack Indrajit. Take with you Hanuman,
Vibhishana, and the rest of the army.”
Lakshman touched Rama’s lotus feet, and after once again vowing to kill Indrajit, He
departed. As He approached Nikumbhila, Lakshman saw innumerable Rakshasas guarding
it, and so Vibhishana advised, “Let their army be attacked first. Then, when the Rakshasas
are hard-pressed, Indrajit will appear.”
Thus it so happened that when Indrajit saw how his army was being attacked, he
mounted upon his chariot, even though his sacrifices remained incomplete. As Indrajit
engaged in battle with Hanuman, Vibhishana took Lakshman to the spot underneath a
banyan tree where Indrajit would offer oblations into the sacrificial fire before invisibly
entering the battlefield. Vibhishana knew that Indrajit would soon come to complete his
rituals, and so he urged Lakshman to wait there and kill him upon his return.
Lakshman did as advised, and sure enough, Indrajit soon returned. When Lakshman
challenged him to fight, Indrajit saw Vibhishana and angrily said, “You, my own uncle, have
come here to do me harm! I am the favorite son of your elder brother. Don’t you have any
feelings for family members? You are also born in the dynasty of Rakshasas. Have you no
pride of birth? Wicked fool! Can’t you see how those who actually follow religious principles
must despise you for betraying your own kinsmen, by joining the side of the enemy? Is there
no difference between living with one’s own family and licking the feet of strangers? A
person’s worst relative is always better than an outsider. Only you could act so
treacherously!”
Vibhishana replied, “Nephew, if you are so concerned with dharma, then why do you
now reproach me, your elder? It is true that I have been born in the family of Rakshasas, but
my nature is quite different. I hate impudence and cruelty. It is your father and not I who has
caused this breach in our family. According to religious injunctions, it is one’s duty to
renounce all connections with sinful persons, even if they happen to be family relations.”
“One who kidnaps another’s wife is most abominable, and should be cast off as much
as a snake that clings to one’s body. To mistrust friends, to have sexual relations with the
wife of another, and to steal another’s property- these three faults always lead to destruction.
Therefore, Ravana is doomed, and along with him, you and all of Lanka will be destroyed.
Indrajit, you are just a proud, foolish and ill-mannered boy. Say whatever you like, but soon
you will lay down your life, being pierced by Lakshman’s arrows.”
Lakshman was mounted upon Hanuman, and after an exchange of challenges a fierce
duel began. After some time, Indrajit appeared to become pale and weak, on account of
Lakshman’s onslaught of arrows. Vibhishana then urged Lakshman to make short work of
His adversary. When Lakshman released some more powerful arrows, the son of Ravana
became momentarily dazed. But after quickly recovering, Indrajit chided, “Remember how
you were defeated by me before!” He then pierced Lakshman with seven arrows, Hanuman
with ten and Vibhishana with 100.
Lakshman simply laughed, however, and once again proceeded to cover Indrajit with so
many arrows that his golden armor was shattered to pieces. The Rakshasa retaliated with
1000 arrows, so that Lakshman’s armor also became somewhat damaged. Thus, neither
could gain the upper hand as the fighting continued for a long time, both being determined to
gain victory. Innumerable arrows pierced right through their bodies and entered the earth, so
that both warriors were soaked with blood. Besides these, there were countless arrows that
had been counteracted, and they were seen spread all over the ground like so much kusha-
grass.
Vibhishana did not want to fight with his nephew, and so he attacked other Rakshasas.
Jambavan went on the rampage, as the fighting between the two armies became very
heated. Hanuman put down Lakshman so that he could join the melee. As the sun sank
below the horizon, he continued to exterminate the Rakshasas by the thousands. Darkness
came early because the sky was covered by the incessant flow of arrows. Indeed, Lakshman
and Indrajit worked so quickly that the onlookers could not detect the movement of their
arms.
Lakshman then beheaded Indrajit’s driver, and so the Rakshasa had to control the reins
while simultaneously discharging his arrows. This gave Lakshman an advantage, and so
gradually, Indrajit began to lose heart. Four monkey warriors then jumped on Indrajit’s four
horses and tore them to shreds with their sharp teeth and claws. These monkeys proceeded
to smash the chariot, and so Indrajit was forced to dismount. In the dense darkness,
Lakshman began to close in, and so Indrajit ordered his army to keep the monkeys busy
while he re-entered Lanka to get a new chariot.
After some time, when Indrajit returned to the battlefield with renewed enthusiasm, he
began striking down the monkeys by the thousands, causing the survivors to take shelter of
Lakshman. Lakshman then broke Indrajit’s bow in half, and pierced his chest with five
arrows. In the fierce fighting that followed, Lakshman flared up in anger and beheaded
Indrajit’s driver, throwing the horses into confusion. Although he tried to retaliate, Indrajit
found that all his arrows simply bounced off Lakshman. Considering Lakshman’s armor to be
impenetrable, Indrajit concentrated on striking Lakshman in the forehead. Lakshman quickly
responded by hitting Indrajit in the face with five arrows.
Indrajit pierced Vibhishana’s face with three arrows. Then, in a fit of rage, Vibhishana
rushed at his nephew. With his club, Vibhishana pounded Indrajit’s horses to death. After
jumping down from his disabled chariot, Indrajit hurled a spear at his uncle. At this point,
Lakshman intervened by cutting the spear to pieces with his arrows. Then, after Vibhishana
pierced his chest with five arrows, Indrajit placed a terrifying Yama weapon onto his
bowstring. Upon seeing this grave danger, Lakshman invoked a wonderful arrow that had
been awarded to Him by Kuvera in a dream. When the two weapons were released, they
collided in mid-air, lighting up the entire sky very brightly. There was an earth-shaking
explosion as the weapons shattered into hundreds of pieces amidst crackling sparks and
billows of smoke.
Next, Lakshman invoked a Varuna weapon that Indrajit neutralized with a Rudra
weapon. Taking the offensive, Indrajit discharged an Agni weapon, but Lakshman
successfully counteracted it with a Surya missile. Indrajit then put an Asura weapon on his
bowstring, and immediately numerous swords, lances, clubs, chakras and axes issued forth.
But, by employing a Rudra weapon, Lakshman was able to subdue the attack. At this point,
Indrajit began to lose heart. Sensing this, Lakshman carefully picked up a very powerful
weapon belonging to King Indra.
As Lakshman placed this invincible arrow on His bowstring and drew it back to His ear,
He prayed, “O chief of the celestials, if Rama is truly the unrivaled Lord, and the shelter of
truth and virtue, let this weapon kill Ravana’s son.”
After being released by Lakshman, that effulgent arrow soared swiftly through the sky
and then cut off Indrajit’s head. This incomparable son of Ravana had been the greatest
impediment for Lord Rama’s army. The monkeys shouted with joy and jumped up and down,
while the panic-stricken Rakshasas fled in all directions.
In the sky, the demigods and great rishis uttered ecstatic exclamations, praising
Lakshman for his victory. As flowers showered from heaven upon Lakshman- Vibhishana,
Hanuman and Jambavan came to congratulate him. While lashing their tails about and
dancing with great joy, the monkeys shouted again and again, “Jaya Lakshman! Jaya Shri
Rama!”
Lakshman was exhausted and wounded, and so He was leaning on Vibhishana and
Hanuman when He came before Rama and circumambulated Him. Vibhishana then narrated
the account of Indrajit’s death, and while listening to it, Rama experienced great
transcendental pleasure.
After smelling Lakshman’s head and congratulating Him with great affection, Rama said,
“Indrajit was just like Ravana’s right arm. Now that he has been killed after three days and
nights of battle, the Rakshasa King will surely come out to fight.”
Lakshman was tormented with pain due to his numerous wounds, and so Rama ordered
Sushena to treat him, along with the multitudes of other monkey soldiers. When Sushena
made Him inhale the aroma of a certain herb, Lakshman was delighted to find that all His
pain vanished, and His wounds immediately healed.
Meanwhile, Ravana’s ministers came and informed him of how Indrajit had been killed
by Lakshman, with the assistance of Vibhishana. Ravana fainted as soon as he heard the
news, and it was only after a long time that he regained consciousness. The King then
lamented very bitterly over the death of his beloved son, who was to be his successor, and
while doing so he became possessed of a violent anger.
In this state of mad rage, Ravana decided to take revenge by killing Sita, and at that
time his appearance was so ferocious that the other Rakshasas hid out of fear. Being eager
for battle, Ravana called for his impenetrable armor and the bow and arrows that had been
given to him by Lord Brahma at the completion of his severe austerities.
Ravana then declared, “What Indrajit did as a conjuring trick, I shall now factually do,
just to torment the enemy!”
Saying this, Ravana violently unsheathed his sword and rushed toward the Ashoka
grove, followed by Mandodari and several ministers. Although these well wishers tried their
best to restrain him, Ravana soon came before the terrified Sita while waving his sword
about menacingly.
Sita could understand that Ravana intended to kill her, and so she wondered, “What has
happened to make the wicked Rakshasa King come here like this, before my allotted twelve
months has elapsed? Has he become too frustrated by my constant refusals? Or, is he
going to kill me out of desperation, being unable to defeat Rama and Lakshman? I should
have taken Hanuman’s advice and let him carry me back to Rama on his back. Then, I never
would have been put into this horrible situation!”
Feeling compassion for the grief-stricken Sita, a pious minister named Suparshva spoke
to Ravana, “O lord, you have studied the Vedas and observed the strictest vows. How can
you even think of harming a woman? Let Sita be, and instead, vent your terrible wrath upon
your real enemy. Today is the fourteenth day of the dark lunar fortnight. Tomorrow, as the
new moon emerges, march against Rama and His monkey hordes, to obtain victory. I am
sure that after killing Rama, you will be able to enjoy Sita to your heart’s content. Why should
you prematurely frustrate your ardent desire in this way?”
Ravana accepted this flattering advice. After giving up the idea of killing Sita, he
returned to his palace. Later on, as he sat down morosely upon his throne, Ravana, being
still highly aggrieved on account of the loss of his dear son, gave the following order: “I want
all the remaining Rakshasas to go at once and attack Rama. If they are unable to kill Him,
then tomorrow I will personally go and fight.”
It was just before dawn when all the Rakshasas rushed out of the city to fight with the
monkeys. By sunrise, a furious battle raged on all sides. When the Rakshasas succeeded in
striking down multitudes of enemy soldiers, the monkeys ran to the shelter of Lord Rama’s
lotus feet. Rama then employed a spectacular Gandharva weapon that issued forth streams
of arrows. The showers of arrows became so dense that the Rakshasas could no longer see
Rama. They could only see the results of His onslaught- the destruction of innumerable
Rakshasa soldiers.
By the influence of the Gandharva weapon, Rama sometimes became invisible. At other
times, the Rakshasas saw 1000 Ramas standing before them in all directions. Within the
span of just over an hour, 200,000 foot soldiers, 18,000 elephant warriors, 14,000 cavalry,
and numerous chariot fighters in the Rakshasa army were slain. At last, the survivors fled
back to Lanka while the demigods in the sky ecstatically praised Rama for His victory.
Rama then told the monkey leaders, “You should know that such ability to employ
celestial weapons is only within the power of Lord Shiva and Myself.”
Meanwhile, in Lanka, the widows of the slain Rakshasas grouped together and piteously
lamented the deaths of their husbands. While wailing aloud they cried out, “We curse
Shurpanakha, for she is the root cause of the enmity between Rama and Ravana that has
destroyed our race. So many times in the past Rama defeated the Rakshasas, and so
Ravana should have been aware of His invincibility. Why did not our foolish King accept
Vibhishana’s good advice, and thus avoid this wholesale destruction?”
As he listened to the lamentations of the Rakshasa women, Ravana became mad with
anger. While hissing like a trampled serpent, he ordered his ministers, “Prepare my army for
battle at once! Today I will kill Rama, Lakshman, and all the monkeys with my torrents of
arrows. Bring my chariot and make sure that every surviving able-bodied Rakshasa soldier
follows me.”
At Ravana’s command, 100,000 chariots warriors, 300,000 elephant warriors, 60 million
horse soldiers, and uncountable foot soldiers assembled. Ravana then mounted upon his
celestial chariot, which was drawn by eight horses and was equipped with numerous
weapons belonging to the principal demigods. He was heralded by a tumultuous fanfare of
blowing conch shells and trumpets as well as shouts of encouragement from the citizens.
When the monkeys heard the uproar, a great fear entered their hearts. Then, as Ravana
left Lanka through the northern gate, a gloomy atmosphere prevailed, for the sun did not
shine brightly. Dark clouds appeared overhead, raining blood, and all of a sudden, Ravana’s
horses stumbled. The King’s left eye twitched, his left arm throbbed, his face grew pale, and
his voice became hoarse. Meteors streaked across the sky and a vulture came and perched
upon Ravana’s flagpole. And yet, without minding these evil omens in the least, the King of
the Rakshasas continued to advance toward his doom.
When the fighting began, Ravana created havoc, for none of the monkeys could stand
before his onslaught of arrows. Sugriva then rallied the monkeys, and while Ravana turned
his attention to Rama, Virupaksha rushed at the monkey king, riding upon an elephant.
Sugriva tore up a giant tree and violently smashed the elephant, throwing it backwards.
Virupaksha jumped down from the wounded elephant, picked up his sword and shield
and angrily rushed at Sugriva. Sugriva hurled a boulder at the onrushing foe, but Virupaksha
dodged it and then slashed him with his sword. Being momentarily dazed, Sugriva fell to the
ground, but then sprang up again and punched Virupaksha in the chest. This only served to
enrage the Rakshasa, who then cut off Sugriva’s armor and gave him a kick that made him
fall over backwards.
Once again, Sugriva sprang to his feet, but when he tried to give Virupaksha a slap, the
Rakshasa artfully dodged it and struck him on the chest with his fist. Flaring up with rage,
Sugriva looked for an opportunity to strike. Then, he suddenly brought down the palm of his
hand on Virupaksha’s forehead with all his might. That powerful blow made blood pour out
profusely from all nine holes of Virupaksha’s body as he slumped down dead onto the
ground.
Meanwhile, as Ravana advanced toward Rama, he invoked a Rahu weapon that
created a great destruction of monkeys. Lakshmana, who was fighting by Rama’s side, ran
forward to intercept Ravana with His torrents of arrows. Ravana easily counteracted these
arrows, and leaving Lakshman aside, he approached Rama.
A fierce duel followed between Rama and His archenemy, their volleys of arrows
covering the entire sky. The monkeys and Rakshasas suspended their fighting for the time
being, just to witness the spectacular contest.
Ravana struck Rama in the forehead with an arrow. Remaining undaunted, Rama
retaliated by discharging a Rudra weapon. And yet, even though innumerable arrows issued
forth, they simply bounced off Ravana’s impenetrable armor without causing him the
slightest harm.
Ravana then invoked a mystic Asura weapon, so that countless arrows having the
heads of lions, tigers, vultures, serpents and alligators rushed toward Rama with their gaping
mouths wide open. Even though Rama employed an Agni weapon that melted Ravana’s
arrows in mid-air, thousands of monkey soldiers were slain. Still, Rama and the monkey
chiefs were pleased because that weapon was well known as being one of Ravana’s most
formidable.
Next, Ravana invoked a Rudra weapon that had been created by Maya Danava, and as
a result, numerous maces, lances, thunderbolts and nooses issued forth in a steady stream.
Rama quickly foiled the Rudra weapon with His Gandharva weapon, but then Ravana
discharged a brilliant Surya weapon. As a result, enormous, effulgent chakras shot forth in
all directions.
With a display of inconceivable skill, Rama shattered all these chakras with His arrows,
but as He did so, Ravana pierced Him in the chest with ten powerful arrows. Rama did not
flinch, however, and He retaliated by piercing Ravana with numerous arrows.
Then, desiring to enter the fray, Lakshman shot seven arrows that cut down Ravana’s
flag. With another arrow, Lakshman severed the head of Ravana’s driver and with five more
he shattered his bow.
At this time, Vibhishana rushed forward and killed Ravana’s horses with his mace, thus
forcing his enraged brother to jump down from his chariot. Then, when Ravana angrily
hurled a lance at Vibhishana, Lakshman cut it to pieces with three arrows as it soared
through the air. Ravana then picked up a magical spear that had been made by Maya
Danava. Seeing how Vibhishana’s life was in danger, Lakshman quickly showered so many
arrows upon Ravana that he became stunned while standing with the spear in his hand.
Ravana then told Lakshman, “Because You have dared to rescue Vibhishana, the spear
that was meant for him will now take away Your life.”
After saying this, Ravana roared like a lion and hurled Maya Danava’s mystical spear.
As it unerringly soared through the air toward Lakshman, Rama requested the spear to
become ineffectual. Nonetheless, the spear pierced through Lakshman’s chest and stuck
into the ground, making the son of Sumitra fall down to the ground seriously wounded.
When Rama saw Lakshman’s piteous condition, He became exceedingly despondent
and His eyes filled up with tears. While suppressing His intense grief, Rama went and
extracted the spear from Lakshman’s body, even as Ravana showered his arrows upon Him.
After breaking the spear in half, Rama raised up Lakshman in His arms and tearfully
embraced Him.
After ordering Hanuman and Sugriva to guard Lakshman, Rama angrily declared, “I will
now exhibit My full prowess against the wicked Ravana so that he will soon lay down dead
upon the battlefield. All the monkeys can go and sit at their ease upon the mountaintops. Let
them become spectators, along with the demigods, as I perform a wonderful feat that will be
glorified until the dissolution of the material world!”
Thereafter, Rama attacked Ravana with a vengeance. As they proceeded to cover each
other with torrents of arrows, the sounds produced by the twanging of their bows was
astonishing to hear. The infuriated Rama soon overpowered Ravana, though, and so the
Rakshasa King left the battlefield out of fear for his life.
Rama then returned to where Lakshman was lying, and with great anguish He told
Sushena, “Just by looking at My wounded brother, My strength withers. Without Lakshman,
victory will have no meaning for Me. If He dies, then I will follow Him, just as He followed Me
when I was exiled to the forest.”
In a reassuring tone of voice, Sushena replied, “Rama, Lakshman is not dying. Just see
how His facial luster has not faded, and His eyes still sparkle brightly. Hanuman must
immediately be dispatched to the Mahodaya Mountain, so that he can bring the herbs called
Vishalyakarani, Sanvarnyakarani, Samjivakarani, and Samdhani. By this medicinal treatment
Lakshman can immediately be restored to good health.”
Once again, Hanuman made a quick leap to the Himalayas, but when he arrived at the
Mahodaya Mountain he could not recognize the required herbs. Finally, out of frustration, he
tore off the entire mountain peak. While holding it in both hands, Hanuman bounded into the
air and returned to Lanka. After placing the mountain peak near Sushena, Hanuman lay
down to rest for a moment and said, “I could not recognize the proper herbs, and so I
decided to bring the whole mountain.”
Sushena praised Hanuman very highly and then went to look for the required herbs.
After finding them, he crushed the herbs into powder, and when Lakshman was made to
smell them, He instantly became cured of all His wounds. When Lakshman stood up, Rama
firmly embraced Him and said, “It is My good fortune that You are well. Lakshman, without
You there would be no use in recovering Sita or even maintaining My life any longer.”
Lakshman replied, “My dear brother, please do not indulge in such grief any longer.
Quickly make good Your vow to kill Ravana and then install Vibhishana as the King of
Lanka.”
Meanwhile, Ravana mounted upon another chariot and rushed out from the city, being
eager to fight with Rama. Rama picked up His bow and began to shower arrows upon
Ravana, and the fighting became very aggressive. From the sky, the demigods exclaimed,
“This battle is not being fairly fought, because Rama is standing on the ground while Ravana
rides upon his chariot!”
Taking this cue, Indra called for Matali and ordered him to take his chariot to where
Rama was stationed upon the battlefield. Matali then came before Rama, driving Indra’s
golden chariot that was drawn by 1000 horses, having a greenish complexion.
The celestial charioteer then announced, “My dear Lord, King Indra requests You to
kindly accept this chariot. Inside, You will find Indra’s bow and armor, as well as an
incomparable spear and various celestial arrows. Rama, please mount this chariot at once,
for the demigods are very aggrieved to see how You have to fight while standing upon the
ground.”
After circumambulating Indra’s chariot, Rama mounted upon it, and thereafter, a thrilling
duel took place between Him and Ravana. When Ravana released a Gandharva weapon,
Rama quickly neutralized it with another Gandharva weapon. Ravana next discharged a
Rakshasa weapon that took the form of innumerable serpents with blazing, wide-open
mouths. In response, Rama released a Garuda weapon that transformed into countless
golden eagles, and they quickly ate up all of Ravana’s snake-arrows. This inflamed
Ravana’s anger. He rapidly retaliated by discharging 1000 arrows at Rama, numerous more
that pierced Matali, a single one that knocked down Indra’s flag, and many more that
afflicted the horses. It appeared as if Rama was being put into great difficulty, and so the
demigods and monkey warriors became very anxious.
Rama then assumed a very ferocious form of anger, and because of this, the earth
began to quake. Many evil omens were visible, so that all beings, including Ravana, became
afraid. Numerous demons then appeared in the sky to encourage Ravana, just as the
demigods were rooting for Rama. As if in response, Ravana picked up a dreadful dart and
roared so ferociously that heaven and earth began to tremble. He then shouted, “Rama,
prepare Yourself, for now You are going to die!”
After saying this, Ravana hurled that terrible weapon, and as it soared through the sky it
made a loud roaring noise and was encircled by lightning. Rama released innumerable
arrows in an attempt to intercept that awesome missile, just as Indra tries to stop the fire of
devastation that occurs at the end of the kalpa, by pouring down torrential rain. Then, as
Rama saw that the onrushing dart was consuming His arrows, He picked up the celebrated
spear of Indra and hurled it. While soaring through the air, that spear illuminated all
directions and then collided with Ravana’s dart, shattering it to pieces that fell harmlessly to
the ground.
Rama and Ravana continued to assail one another with showers of arrows so that blood
flowed from the wounds that covered their bodies. Still, being undaunted, Rama laughed
disdainfully and rebuked Ravana by saying, “Kidnapper of Sita, you are a first-class fool for
considering yourself to be a great hero. Factually, you are a great coward, for you only dared
to take away My wife after luring Me far away. How can you be proud of overpowering a
poor, defenseless woman in the absence of her husband? Ravana, today you will meet your
deserved end, so that the body that you are so attached to will become food for vultures and
jackals.”
After saying this, Rama attacked Ravana with redoubled energy and greater dexterity.
This was combined with the volleys of stones that were hurled by the monkeys. Within a
short time, Ravana became dazed and bewildered at heart, so that he could no longer
properly take up and discharge his weapons. Seeing this, Ravana’s charioteer drove him
swiftly away from the battlefield, beyond the reach of Rama’s arrows.
But, when Ravana came to his senses, he chastised his driver, saying, “By your
shameless action I can understand that you consider me to be impotent and a coward! By
acting independently you have spoiled my reputation. Take me back to the battlefield at
once!”
The chariot driver replied, “O King, I took you away from the fighting for your welfare.
You had lost all your strength, and the horses had also become exhausted. Many
inauspicious omens were visible as well, and so I did what I considered to be my foremost
duty.”
Ravana became pacified by his charioteer’s words and then ordered, “Go quickly to
where Rama is staying! Once Ravana has made up his mind he does not turn back until he
has completely destroyed his enemies!”
Meanwhile, in Ravana’s absence, Agastya Rishi came to see Rama, knowing that He
had become fatigued from fighting. After being properly honored and welcomed, Agastya
Rishi said, “My dear Lord Rama, kindly receive from me the Aditya-hridaya prayer that is
meant for satisfying the Sungod. This mantra bestows great blessings and cleanses one of
all sins. One who chants this hymn prolongs his life and remains always fixed on the eternal
path of religion:
‘O deity of the sun, I offer my obeisances unto you. You are the chief of the demigods,
on account of your unlimited effulgence that maintains the entire universe. You are
worshiped by both demigods and asuras, for obtaining ultimate welfare. You are the
reservoir of universal energy and the source of life for all beings. As such, you perfectly
represent the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, as His empowered expansion. Men who know the
Vedas therefore worship you as Lord Narayana, situated within the sun, by chanting suitable
prayers three times daily. It is you alone who destroy the dense darkness of this universe,
and thus I bow down to you, O splendorous one! Again and again I offer my obeisances unto
you, the eye of the Supreme Lord and witness of the world’s activities.’
“Rama, if you recite this mantra while worshiping the Sungod as the all-in-all, You will
certainly be able to conquer over your enemy. Anyone in difficulty who worships Surya with
this prayer never comes to grief.”
After the departure of Agastya Muni, Rama felt rejuvenated. He sipped water three
times while uttering the holy name of the Lord. Then, facing the sun, Rama recited the
Aditya-hridaya prayer, and as He did so He felt great transcendental bliss. Afterwards, Rama
picked up His bow and advanced toward Ravana, determined to kill him in an all-out effort.
At this time, Surya spoke to Rama from the sky, urging Him, “Do not delay! Go quickly!”
Rama then ordered, “Matali, drive quickly to where Ravana is staying, but at the same
time be very cautious.”
Then, remembering that He was speaking to Indra’s charioteer, Rama felt embarrassed
and so He apologized, “I am very sorry to have instructed you as if I were your master. It is
just that I am eager to kill Ravana, so please excuse My offense.”
Matali was very touched by Rama’s wonderful display of humility. As he maneuvered
Indra’s chariot close by Ravana’s side, Rama and his adversary began to exchange arrows.
Soon, the fighting became very intense. Clouds rained blood upon Ravana’s chariot, and a
flock of vultures followed him from behind. A huge meteor fell nearby and so all the
Rakshasas became exceedingly despondent, while Ravana became convinced that he
would soon die.
On the other hand, very pleasing signs appeared before Rama, and so He became
convinced that victory would soon be His. In the duel that followed, Rama and Ravana
gradually exhibited the entire wealth of their respective prowess The competition became so
intense that both armies became stunned with amazement. Indeed, all the soldiers stood
motionless, just like paintings, and because they were so absorbed in watching the fight,
they did not even think of attacking one another.
When Ravana tried to knock down Indra’s flag, Rama deflected his arrows with His own.
Then, because He was determined to match Ravana, blow for blow, Rama knocked down
the Rakshasa King’s flag. Ravana then pierced Indra’s horses, but when the celestial steeds
did not even stagger, he became angry and frustrated.
At last, Ravana resorted to the Rakshasa power of illusion to send forth clubs, discs,
trees, and mountain peaks. Rama was able to counteract all these before they reached His
chariot, and so they fell upon the army of monkeys. Rama and Ravana continued to dispatch
thousands of weapons at each other, and as they collided in the air, they fell down onto the
battlefield.
In this way, the fighting continued for about an hour. Rama matched Ravana, blow for
blow, while all created beings looked on, their minds astonished with wonder.
Both drivers also displayed great skill. But, when the chariots came side by side, Rama
forced Ravana’s four horses to turn away by piercing them with four arrows. This incited
Ravana’s anger, and so he repeatedly pierced Rama in retaliation. Rama remained
undisturbed, and thereafter, the exchange of all varieties of weapons became so feverish,
that the fighting that took place was unparalleled in the history of warfare.
Sometimes Ravana fought in his ten-headed feature, and at other times he fought in his
normal form, having one head. On one occasion, Rama managed to sever Ravana’s head
with an arrow. But, as that head fell to the ground, a duplicate one miraculously cropped up
in its place. Rama then severed that head, but once again, another one immediately
manifested itself as a replacement. Again and again Rama cut off Ravana’s head, until,
altogether one hundred such heads lay on the battlefield.
Because each time a new head appeared to replace the old one, Rama began to
wonder, “With these arrows I formerly killed Maricha, Khara and Viradha. I pierced seven Sal
trees and killed the invincible Vali. These arrows had humbled great mountains and agitated
the fathomless sea. How is it that they are now ineffectual against Ravana?”
The duel continued at a furious pace. Both combatants were obsessed with the desire
for killing the other. In fact, several days and nights passed without any break in the fighting.
At last, when Matali saw that Rama was not gaining His desired victory, he inquired,
“Why are you simply fighting defensively? My Lord, are You not aware of Your limitless
potencies? The hour of doom has now arrived for the King of the Rakshasas. Why don’t You
employ the divine brahmastra?”
Being thus reminded of this ultimate weapon, Rama picked up the arrow that Agastya
Rishi had formerly given Him at the time of their meeting in the Dandaka forest. That arrow
had been constructed personally by Lord Brahma for Indra’s use, and later on it was
presented to Agastya. Garuda supplied the feathers of that wonderful arrow and the sharp
head combined the energy of the Firegod, Agni, and the Sungod. Mount Meru and Mount
Mandara contributed their gravity to the arrow’s weight, and its shaft was made from the
subtle ethereal element.
This brahmastra weapon was omnipotent and infallible, and its dazzling effulgence
made it rival the splendor of the sun. After empowering the brahmastra with the required
mantras, Rama placed it upon His bowstring. As the monkeys gazed upon that flaming
arrow, their hearts became filled with delight, while a dreadful fear penetrated the cores of
the hearts of all the Rakshasas.
As Rama pulled the bowstring back to His ear, the earth trembled and the heavens also
appeared to become disturbed. When Rama released the brahmastra, it sped through the
air like death itself, and then violently fell upon the chest of the wicked Ravana. After piercing
right through the King of the Rakshasa’s heart, that effulgent arrow entered deep into the
earth, taking his sinful life along with it. As that awesome brahmastra came and re-entered
Rama’s quiver, Ravana dropped the bow from his hand and fell down dead from his chariot.
With great, transcendental ecstasy, the monkey warriors loudly proclaimed Rama’s
victory as they attacked the fleeing Rakshasa army. From the sky, the demigods shouted,
“Sadhu! Sadhu!” (“Well done! Excellent!”), as they completely covered Rama’s chariot with
showers of flowers, and beat upon their celestial drums.
Now that Ravana was dead at last, the demigods and great rishis felt blessed relief and
a peace of mind that they had not enjoyed for a long time. A cool and gentle, fragrant breeze
began to blow, and the sun spread its rays very serenely, so that happiness seemed to
pervade all directions. Sugriva, Angada, Vibhishana and Lakshman were the first to come
and pay their homage unto Lord Rama. But, when Vibhishana saw his elder brother lying
dead upon the ground, he broke down and cried in an outburst of intense grief.
Meanwhile, news of Ravana’s death spread throughout the inner apartments of the
royal palace. Ravana’s wives came out of the city and entered the battlefield, their hair
disheveled and dress and ornaments in disarray. Overcome by unbearable grief and wailing
aloud, some of the women rolled in the dust like madwomen, while others went and
embraced different parts of Ravana’s dead body.
Crying out, “O my lord! O my husband!” one of the ladies hung around Ravana’s neck,
while others clutched at his feet, rubbed his wounded chest, threw up their arms in despair
or fainted away, being unable to bear the grief.
Amidst the sounds of loud wailing, these lamentations were heard: “Oh, dear husband,
by ignoring our good advice, as well as that given by Vibhishana, you have brought about
your destruction. Now that you are dead, our lives are also finished, for the wife has no other
support than her husband. This is the inevitable end for such a cruel and hardhearted person
like you. Who else would have dared to kidnap Sita and keep her by force, against her will?”
Ravana’s favorite queen, Mandodari, lamented, “My dear husband, even though you
were so powerful, you could not stand before Lord Rama. You were too proud because of
your acquired prowess, and so you became a great burden for the earth. You foolishly could
not understand that it was Lord Vishnu Himself who had descended upon the earth as Lord
Rama, in order to relieve her of that burden.”
“O Ravana, your sinful passion for Sita has turned out to be the cause for the
destruction of all the Rakshasas. You always masqueraded as a great hero, but you were
actually proven to be a coward when you deceitfully kidnapped Sita. Still, despite your
abominable character, I do not see how I shall be able to go on living in your absence.”
Finally, Mandodari fainted with her head upon Ravana’s chest. Her co-wives then lifted
her up and revived her. At this time, Rama ordered Vibhishana, “You should begin the
funeral rites for your elder brother without further delay. Only after the cremation of Ravana’s
body will it be possible to comfort his widows.”
Vibhishana replied, “I do not want to perform the funeral ceremonies for a man who
kidnapped the wives of others, who was merciless and tyrannical, and who was inclined
toward irreligion. Of course, Ravana was my elder brother, and so it is my duty to respect
him. But, on the other hand, because his actions were like those of an enemy, I feel that he
does not deserve my worship.”
Rama said, “Vibhishana, I approve of your words because they uphold the cause of
virtue. Still, I would like you to cremate your brother’s body. After all, despite his faults,
Ravana was a great hero. And, it is a fact, that with the death of his body, all hostilities have
now ended.”
Vibhishana went inside the city to make arrangements for Ravana’s funeral. After
bringing his maternal grandfather, Malyavan, Vibhishana placed Ravana’s body on the
funeral carrier and then proceeded, along with other Rakshasas who carried the firewood.
Going toward the south, the party arrived at a consecrated place where they cremated
Ravana’s body according to the Vedic injunctions. Thereafter, Ravana’s wives were
consoled, and then everyone returned to Lanka.
Having given up His transcendental anger, Rama now assumed a gentle appearance
and laid aside his bow, arrows and armor. The demigods departed from their positions in the
sky and returned to their abodes, and while going they chanted the glories of Lord Rama
with great satisfaction. After receiving due honor from Lord Rama, and permission to depart,
Matali ascended into the sky upon Indra’s chariot and returned to the heavenly kingdom.
After coming to Their camp, Rama ordered Lakshman to perform Vibhishana’s
installation ceremony. In turn, Lakshman gave golden vessels to the chief monkeys and
ordered them to go quickly and fetch water from the four seas. Soon after, Lakshman
performed the installation ceremony strictly according to the Vedic injunctions, and all the
citizens of Lanka came to the sacrificial arena with presentations of auspicious articles. After
receiving these gifts, Vibhishana offered them to Lord Rama.
Rama then told Hanuman, who was standing nearby with folded hands, “Please go and
find out how Sita is, and inform her that I have killed Ravana. After doing so, return here with
any message that she may give you.”
After taking permission from King Vibhishana, Hanuman went to the Ashoka grove.
There, he found the grief-stricken Sita, surrounded by hideous Rakshasis.
Standing meekly in front of Sita, Hanuman said, “Your husband has sent me here to
give you this message: ‘After many sleepless months, I have finally been able to accomplish
My vow to rescue you. Now that your oppressor, the King of the Rakshasas, is dead, you
can give up all your anxiety.’ ”
Upon hearing this, Sita became so happy that she could not reply for some time. When
Hanuman asked why she remained silent, Sita said, “I can hardly speak because I am so
elated. Hanuman, what you have told me is unlimitedly more valuable than any amount of
gold or jewels.”
Standing with folded hands, Hanuman suggested, “If you so desire, I can kill all these
hideous Rakshasa women who have tormented you for so long. In fact, I would take great
pleasure in avenging all the suffering that you had to undergo. I simply await your
permission.”
By nature, Sita was very kind to the downtrodden. So, she replied, “They are only
foolish maidservants who had to carry out the orders of the King. Whatever I had suffered
was the result of my own misdeeds, and these Rakshasis acted only as instruments in the
hands of destiny.”
“Hanuman, perhaps you have heard this old adage that was once spoken by a bear: ‘A
great man never takes into account the offenses that are committed against him. Indeed, he
vows that at all costs he will not return evil with evil.’ The story goes like this:
There was a hunter being chased by a tiger, and so he climbed up into a big tree. It so
happened that there was a bear perched upon one of the branches. Seeing this, the tiger
said, “This hunter is our common enemy. Therefore, you should push him out of the tree so
that I can eat him.”
The bear replied, “This hunter has taken shelter of my home, and so I will not do
anything to harm him. To act in such a way would be most unrighteous.” After saying this,
the bear went to sleep.
The tiger then told the hunter, “If you push the bear out of the tree so that I can eat him,
I promise that I will not harm you.”
Being swayed by the tiger’s words, the hunter pushed the sleeping bear. But, as he was
falling, the bear managed to grab onto a branch and save himself. The tiger then said to the
bear, “Because this hunter tried to kill you, you should retaliate by pushing him out of the
tree.”
And yet, even though the tiger appealed to the bear in this manner, again and again, he
refused, saying, “A great person never takes into account the sins of one who has offended
him. Instead, at all costs, he keeps his vow to never return evil for evil, because he knows
that good conduct is the ornament of virtuous persons.”
Before departing, Hanuman asked Sita if she had any message for Rama. Sita replied,
“My only words are this- ‘I long to see my dear husband, who is known to be always very
affectionate toward His unalloyed devotees.’ ”
Hanuman said, “Rest assured that you will see Rama, along with Lakshman, this very
day. Now, please grant me your permission so that I can return to Rama without further
delay.”
Hanuman went and related Sita’s message and after doing so, he urged Rama to go
and meet Sita at once. “Because she has suffered so much and longs to see You, You
should go to the Ashoka grove immediately,” Hanuman pleaded.
Upon hearing this appeal, tears came to Rama’s eyes. Then, with His eyes cast
downward, Rama ordered Vibhishana, “Have Sita brought to Me, after having bathed,
dressed, and decorated herself with celestial ornaments.”
Vibhishana went to the Ashoka grove, and through the Rakshasa women he made his
presence known to Sita. Then, after very submissively approaching her, Vibhishana said,
“Rama would like to see you. First of all please bathe and dress yourself in these celestial
clothes and ornaments. Then, mount upon the palanquin that I have brought, for that is
Rama’s desire.”
Sita replied, “I want to see Rama immediately. I do not want to bathe first.”
However, Vibhishana advised, “You had better do as Your husband has ordered, for
that will bring you all auspiciousness.”
Sita then went to bathe, and after dressing herself very nicely, she was placed upon the
palanquin and brought before her husband. When Vibhishana came before Rama, he saw
that the Lord’s head was bowed down, as if He were absorbed in deep thought.
Vibhishana announced Sita’s arrival, and in response, Rama asked that she be brought
to Him at once. Hordes of monkeys had come there out of curiosity, just to get a glimpse of
Sita. Vibhishana and his four assistants began pushing them back, so that Sita could
approach Rama privately. Because of this, there was a great commotion.
Due to His strong affection for His faithful servants, Rama became annoyed to see this,
however, and so He told Vibhishana, “Do not harass these monkeys. There is nothing wrong
if a chaste woman is seen in public during a time of adversity or war, a svayamvara, a
sacrifice or a wedding. Please allow the monkeys to see Sita if they so desire.”
Rama then ordered, “Let Sita get down from the palanquin and come to Me on foot.”
As Vibhishana escorted Sita, all the monkey chiefs could understand that Rama was in
a very stern and grave mood. They were very surprised that not only was Rama making Sita
walk within public view, but that His demeanor was so severe as well. Sita innocently
approached Rama with great shyness, as if she were shrinking into herself. Then, when Sita
saw the handsome face of her beloved husband, her miseries immediately vanished, so that
her face shone brightly like the full moon.
Then, as Sita continued to gaze upon Him with great love and affection, Rama began to
give vent to His pent-up inner feelings. Rama’s heart was tormented by fear of stain to the
impeccable reputation of His dynasty, and because of this, He addressed Sita as follows, in
an angry tone of voice.
Rama said, “I have fulfilled My vow to win you back and thus avenge Ravana’s insult to
My honor. But, you must understand that My great endeavor to kill the King of the
Rakshasas was not actually for your sake. I did this just to vindicate My good name, and that
of the Ikshvaku dynasty.”
“Truthfully, your appearance before Me is not at all pleasing. You are free to go
wherever you like. No cultured man will accept a wife who has been embraced by another
man, or who has lived in someone else’s house. I am sure that no woman could have
remained with Ravana for so long without having been enjoyed by Him. Ravana was
obsessed by lust for you. How could he have controlled himself and refrained from enjoying
you by force? By killing Ravana I have regained My honor. But there is no need for Me to
have any more attachment for you. You are now free to do as you like. Fix your mind upon
Lakshman, Bharata, or anyone else whom you may choose.”
While listening to this speech, Sita bent her head low with shame. Having formerly
heard only loving words from Rama, His talk seemed like arrows piercing her heart, and thus
she began to bitterly weep. Being in the presence of so many spectators, it was very difficult
for Sita to endure her husband’s reproaches.
Finally, after wiping the tears form her eyes, Sita replied in a faltering voice. She said,
“How can You dare speak about me in such an irresponsible manner? Never for a moment
did I give up my chastity by body, mind, or words. My character is pure and so You should
not judge me as if I was an ordinary woman. Although I am called Janaki, the daughter of
King Janaka, my birth was transcendental, for I appeared from within the earth.”
“Rama, if all along You had cruelly planned to reject me in this way, then why didn’t you
inform me when Hanuman came here as a messenger? If I had known that You did not
intend to take me back, I would have immediately given up my life and thus avoided many
months of unbearable suffering. You could have avoided this ghastly war that has taken the
lives of countless Rakshasas and Vanaras. What was the need of demanding so much
service from your allies? Rama, why are You acting like this? Does my pure devotion for You
mean nothing?”
Sita then turned to Lakshman and said, “Please build a large fire for me to enter, for this
is the only path that remains for one who has been rejected by her husband in public.”
While suppressing His agitation, Lakshman looked at Rama, and when He saw that His
elder brother approved of Sita’s words, He went to prepare the fire. In fact, Rama looked so
stern and intense that no one dared to even talk to Him, and so what to speak of try to pacify
Him.
Thereafter, when the fire blazed up brightly, Sita first of all circumambulated Rama.
Then, after coming before the fire with folded hands, Sita bowed down to the brahmanas
and demigods.
She then offered the following prayer to Agni: “O god of fire, because my heart has
never turned away from Rama, please protect me. Although I have never been unfaithful to
Rama in thought, word or deed, He accuses me of being polluted. Therefore, O lord of fire,
seer of all within the three worlds, I request you to become the witness of my purity.”
After saying this, Sita circumambulated the fire. Then, as a huge crowd looked on with
wonder, she entered the flames with a fearless mind. Within the blazing fire, Sita, who was
adorned with dazzling gold ornaments, shone with a golden radiance. As soon as Sita was
within the flames, all the women present screamed with horror and a loud cry of anguish
arose from the assembled monkeys and Rakshasas. Amidst all these sounds, Rama
appeared to become very thoughtful. At that time, all the principal demigods hurriedly
appeared before Him, riding upon their celestial vehicles.
Then, as Rama stood before them with folded hands, the demigods, headed by Lord
Brahma and Lord Shiva, said, “O Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Ramachandra, we
are very pained to see how You are neglecting Your eternal consort, Mother Sita. You are
the creator of the universe and the Lord of all the demigods. Why don’t You recognize Your
divinity instead of rejecting Sita, as if You were a common man?”
Rama replied, “I consider myself to be an ordinary human being, the son of Maharaja
Dasharatha. But, if there is something more to be said, then perhaps you, Lord Brahma, can
disclose it.”
Lord Brahma then said, “My dear Lord Rama, I will now reveal Your real identity. You
are directly Lord Narayana, and thus You are identical with all the forms of Vishnu-tattva.
You are a plenary expansion of Lord Shri Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of
Godhead, and thus You are the cause of all causes. You are the universal form, the support
of the cosmic manifestation, and all of the demigods are Your parts and parcels, or in other
words, Your eternal servants. Sita is none other than Lakshmi herself, the supreme Goddess
of Fortune. Both of you have appeared on the earth for accomplishing the destruction of
Ravana. Now that this mission has been accomplished, You may return to Your
transcendental abode in the spiritual sky, after ruling over the earth for as long as You
desire.”
As soon as Lord Brahma finished speaking, the fire-god, Agni, emerged from the
flames, carrying Sita in his arms. As Agni placed Sita before Rama, everyone was amazed
to see how her body, bright red dress, ornaments and hair showed absolutely no sign of
being even slightly burnt.
Then, in his capacity as one of the universal witnesses, Agni announced, “Rama, here is
Your dear wife, Sita. She is completely pure and devoid of even the least tinge of sin. Sita
was never the slightest bit unfaithful to You by word, thought or glance, and so what to
speak of action. Therefore, My dear Lord Rama, You must accept Sita without reservation
and give up Your harsh speech and behavior.”
Rama was very pleased to hear this testimony, and as tears of joy fell from His eyes, He
replied, “Agni, it was necessary for Sita to undergo this trial by fire in order to convince the
masses of people of her purity. If I had prevented Sita from entering the fire, people would
have criticized Me for accepting her without first proving her chastity. They would have
concluded that I had only taken her back because of being under the influence of lust to
enjoy her.”
“Actually, I knew all about Sita’s purity, and I knew that Ravana could never have
polluted her, for she is fully protected by the prowess of her righteousness. It was only to
prove Sita’s chastity to the world that I appeared to neglect her. Factually, Sita is not
different from Me, for she is directly My internal potency, the hladhini-sakti. Just as sunlight,
being not different from the sun, is inseparable from the sun, so there is no possibility of My
rejecting Sita.”
Actually, Rama felt great transcendental bliss while being reunited with Sita, for His
pastimes were all manifestations of His internal potency, and had been enacted for the
purpose of relishing spiritual relationships.
Lord Shiva then addressed Rama, saying, “My dear Lord, by slaying the incomparably
powerful Ravana, You have performed a wonderful feat that will be glorified throughout the
three worlds until the time of dissolution.”
Then, while pointing toward the sky, Lord Shiva said, “Rama, look up and see how Your
father is waiting, seated upon his celestial chariot. After having been delivered by Your
mercy, he now resides in the planet of Indra, the King of heaven. Go quickly, along with
Lakshman, and be reunited with Maharaja Dasharatha, for he has come here just to see
You.”
Rama and Lakshman went and bowed down before Their father. Feeling extremely
delighted, Maharaja Dasharatha took Rama on his lap and said, “My residence in heaven
does not give me any real pleasure. Rama, only now that I am able to see You do I feel
happy. Kaikeyi’s words, demanding Your exile, have always remained imprinted on my
heart. Only now that Your period of exile has ended do I feel somewhat relieved. I yearn to
see Your return to Ayodhya and installed as the Emperor, after being reunited with Bharata. I
can now understand that You are the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, and that You had descended
upon the earth for the purpose of vanquishing Ravana.”
Rama replied, “My dear father, I also feel greatly relieved now that My period of exile is
over and My mission has been accomplished. But still, there is one thing that I wish that you
would grant Me. May you now withdraw the harsh words that you had spoken at the time of
My banishment, disowning Kaikeyi and Bharata.”
Maharaja Dasharatha readily consented, saying, “Let it be so.” Then he fondly
embraced Lakshman and declared, “My dear son, because of the dedicated service that You
have rendered to Rama, I feel eternally indebted to You. You should know that Your elder
brother is directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appearing in human form, for the
welfare of the world. He is worshipful even by the greatest demigods, and so what to speak
of ourselves.”
Maharaja Dasharatha then told Sita, “Please do not bear any grudge against Rama for
having tested your purity. You can rest assured that your remarkable behavior will earn you
a place in history as the most glorious woman the world has ever seen.”
Having thus spoken, Maharaja Dasharatha remounted his celestial chariot and
ascended to heaven. Then, as Rama stood before him with folded hands, Indra said, “My
audience can never go in vain, and so I wish that You would take a benediction from me.”
Rama was pleased to hear this, and He requested, “King of the celestials, please bring
back to life all the monkey warriors who died in My service. In addition, let all the trees in the
places where these great heroes dwell become full of fruit, even when out of season.”
Indra replied, “Although this boon is very difficult for even me to grant, I shall happily do
so.”
Immediately, all the monkeys who had died in the battle began to rise up from the
ground, and since all of their wounds were completely healed, it appeared to them as if they
were awakening from a deep sleep. But, when they saw Rama and all the demigods before
them, the monkeys could understand that they had gotten back their lost lives, and so they
felt supremely delighted.
Indra then ascended to heaven, followed by all the demigods. Rama and the monkeys
passed the night at that place. The next morning, Vibhishana came to see Rama, along with
numerous maidservants who carried all kinds of paraphernalia for His bath.
However, Rama ordered, “My dear Vibhishana, summon all the monkeys, headed by
Sugriva, and let them utilize this royal luxury. As long as I am separated from Bharata, who
is practicing severe austerities on My behalf, such opulence does not appeal to Me. My only
request is that you arrange for My speedy passage back to Ayodhya, for to travel there by
foot would be an arduous journey.”
Vibhishana replied, “I can enable You to reach Ayodhya this very day by making use of
the Pushpaka chariot. But, I request that You, Sita and Lakshman remain here for some
time, along with the army of monkeys, so that I can royally entertain all of you before Your
departure.”
Rama replied, “I certainly cannot refuse your hospitality, and yet, because My anxiety to
meet Bharata, My mother and My step-mothers is so great, I beg that you allow Me to depart
without delay.”
Vibhishana quickly went and brought the Pushpaka chariot. This wonderful vehicle had
originally belonged to Kuvera, before it had been forcibly taken away by Ravana. The
Pushpaka chariot was built by Vishvakarma and was made mostly of gold, and had seats
made of vaidurya gems. This aerial chariot could travel anywhere, following the mental
indications of its driver. When Rama and Lakshman saw the chariot awaiting Their
commands, They were astonished. But, before departing, Rama requested Vibhishana to
present gifts of gold and jewels to all the monkey soldiers. Then, after mounting the
Pushpaka chariot, along with Lakshman and Sita, Rama addressed those who surrounded
Him.
Rama said, “There is no way I can repay all you monkey warriors for your heroic fighting
on My behalf. Your unflinching devotional service will always serve as an inspiration for
future devotees. Your glories will forever shine brightly. Now, please return to Kishkindha
and live there happily under Sugriva’s leadership. Vibhishana, you should accept the
responsibility for ruling over Lanka at once, because the citizens have become bereft of their
king.”
While standing before Rama with folded hands, Sugriva and Vibhishana pleaded, “O
Lord, please allow us to accompany You to Ayodhya. After seeing the coronation
ceremonies, we will return home.”
Rama replied, “There is nothing that would please Me more than to return to Ayodhya
along with all of My dear friends. Both of you can get up onto the Pushpaka chariot, and let
all the other monkey heroes and Rakshasas come along as well.”
Finally, after all were comfortably seated, the Pushpaka chariot rose up majestically into
the air. While the monkeys, bears and Rakshasas were enjoying the flight, Rama pointed out
all the sights to Sita. Rama said, “Just see the great battlefield where all the heroic
Rakshasas lay dead, having been killed just for your sake. There is Ravana, there is
Kumbhakarna, there is Indrajit, and there is Prahasta. Over there is the bridge called
Nalasetu, over which we had crossed the ocean to Lanka. There, on the far shore, is
Setubandha, where Lord Shiva had appeared to Me, and where the construction of the
bridge had begun. From this time on, Setubandha will be a very sacred place, capable of
washing away all of one’s accumulated sinful reactions.”
Then, when Rama pointed out Kishkindha, Sita said, “I would be pleased if I could
return to Ayodhya in the company of all the wives of the monkey chiefs.”
Rama granted Sita’s wish, and after halting the chariot, He instructed Sugriva and
others to quickly go and bring their wives. When everyone was once again seated, the
journey continued.
Rama then pointed out, “There is Mount Rishyashringa, where I met Sugriva, and
nearby, you can see the heavenly Lake Pampa, which is full of bluish lotus flowers. Further
on, you can see the River Godavari, and on its banks, the ashram of Agastya Rishi. Sita,
there is the spot where Ravana kidnapped you! There is Chitrakoot, where Bharata came to
meet Me. There is the River Yamuna, and there is the mighty Ganga, where King Guha’s
capital, Shringaverapura, can be seen.”
In this way, Sita, Rama and Lakshman remembered Their entire forest life, in reverse
order, as They retraced their way back home to Ayodhya. Finally, the River Sarayu came
into view, and then, at last, the outskirts of Ayodhya.
Before entering Ayodhya, Rama stopped at Bharadvaja Rishi’s ashram, so that He
could inquire about the welfare of His relatives before meeting them.
After heartily welcoming Rama and receiving His obeisances in return, Bharadvaja said,
“In Your absence, Bharata has been living a life of severe austerities, wearing deerskin and
tree bark and keeping matted hair. He has been ruling the kingdom as Your subordinate by
keeping Your shoes upon the royal throne. Rama, by dint of my mystic power I know
everything that has happened during Your exile. I am very pleased that You have removed
the burden of the earth, and so I would like to award You with any benediction that You may
desire.”
Rama happily replied, “Let all of the trees along the way to Ayodhya become full of fruit
and flowers. Let streams of honey flow from these trees, exuding the fragrance of nectar.”
As soon as these words were spoken, all the trees along the road to Ayodhya
immediately became filled with sumptuous fruit. When they saw this miraculous
transformation, thousands of monkeys quickly jumped down from the Pushpaka chariot and
began feasting to their full satisfaction. Rama was always thinking of how He could reward
the monkeys for the selfless service they had rendered, and so He felt very happy to have
received this opportunity to please them.
Then, turning to Hanuman, Rama said, “I would like you to go and inform Guha of My
arrival. After that, go to Nandigrama. I want you to describe to Bharata all the events
surrounding Sita’s abduction and her subsequent recovery. Watch the expression on
Bharata’s face very carefully as He hears about My arrival. Then, report back to Me before
we leave this place. If Bharata wants to rule the kingdom, whether it be due to attachment for
position and its resultant power, or attachment to royal luxuries, or even because of Kaikeyi’s
urging, I am happy to allow Him to do so.”
Hanuman took a human form and departed, travelling through the air. First, he went and
informed Guha that Rama would come to meet him after spending the night at Bharadvaja’s
ashram. Then, upon his arrival at Nandigrama, Hanuman saw Bharata dressed in tree bark
and having matted hair. Bharata had been living in a small cottage, subsisting only upon fruit
and roots, and he appeared to be very miserable and emaciated.
Hanuman approached Bharata and announced, “I have come here as a messenger
from Rama. He inquires about your welfare, and He wants to inform you that He will return to
Ayodhya very soon.”
When Bharata heard these nectarine words, his face lit up with great delight. Having
become exhilarated with transcendental emotion, he suddenly fainted onto the ground. After
coming to his senses, Bharata stood up and embraced Hanuman with great satisfaction.
While bathing Hanuman with torrents of tears, Bharata said, “Because you have brought me
this wonderful news, I will immediately reward you with 100,000 cows, 100 villages and 16
virgin girls to marry. Please sit down and tell me everything that happened during Rama’s
exile.”
Hanuman narrated everything. When he heard about Rama’s immanent return, Bharata
exclaimed, “My long-cherished desire is finally going to be fulfilled!”
Bharata then ordered Shatrughna to make all the arrangements for Rama’s reception.
Sumantra and the other ministers soon arrived at Nandigrama, riding upon elephants, and
Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi came riding on palanquins. Engineers and work crews also
arrived, to begin constructing a new road connecting Nandigrama with Ayodhya.
After all the arrangements were made, Bharata picked up Rama’s sandals, a white royal
umbrella and chamaras. Then, accompanied by many brahmanas, he went out from his
cottage amidst the blowing of conch shells and beating of drums, to wait for Rama’s arrival.
Meanwhile, because the news had spread like wildfire, practically the entire population
of Ayodhya came to Nandigrama in the expectation of seeing Rama. But then, after some
time, when there was still no sign of His arrival, Bharata told Hanuman, “I hope that you are
not exhibiting your frivolous monkey nature by joking with me.”
Hanuman then pointed out to Bharata clouds of dust in the distance that were being
raised by the approaching monkeys. Just then, tumultuous roaring sounds became distinctly
audible as well. When Hanuman sighted the Pushpaka chariot in the distance, he shouted,
“Here comes Shri Rama!” A loud clamor arose as the restless crowd of people sighted the
Pushpaka chariot, appearing like the full moon in the sky.
Then, as everyone got down from their horses, elephants and chariots, out of respect,
Bharata began to worship Rama from a distance. With folded hands, Bharata recited many
prayers to the Lord, and then He offered various articles. Finally, when Bharata could
distinctly see Rama, who was glowing magnificently while seated at the front of the
Pushpaka chariot, He bowed down with great reverence.
When the celestial airship landed, Bharata rushed forward and climbed aboard to greet
His elder brother. Rama immediately got up from His seat, and after embracing Bharata with
great affection, He took Him upon His lap.
Afterwards, Bharata greeted Lakshman and Sita, and then, while embracing Sugriva he
said, “Although We are four, you are now just like Our fifth brother.” At this time, Rama
approached His mother, Kaushalya, and lovingly clasped her feet. Then, one after another,
He greeted Sumitra, Kaikeyi and Vasishtha, as all the citizens came forward to welcome Him
with folded hands.
Bharata then approached Rama, carrying His wooden shoes in His hands. As He
carefully placed those slippers on Rama’s lotus feet, Bharata said, “Here is the kingdom that
I was overseeing in Your absence. By Your mercy, Ayodhya is flourishing and the treasury,
storehouses and army have all increased tenfold. My duty is now over and so I hereby
relinquish everything to You.”
After this, Rama ordered the Pushpaka chariot to return to its original owner, the god of
wealth, Kuvera. That celestial vehicle then ascended into the sky, heading toward the North.
When Rama sat down at the lotus feet of His spiritual master, Vasishtha, Bharata came and
requested, “My dear elder brother, please install Yourself on the royal throne without further
delay, and then resume a life of royal luxury.”
Rama gave His consent and so barbers were immediately summoned and His matted
hair was shaved off. After bathing, Rama dressed in a royal style, while the three mothers
similarly dressed Sita and the wives of the monkeys. Then, at Shatrughna’s command,
Sumantra came to Rama with a lavishly decorated chariot. Rama graciously mounted upon
it, Bharata took up the reins and Shatrughna held the royal white umbrella. On either side of
Rama stood Lakshman and Vibhishana, waving a fan and a chamara, and from the sky, the
demigods and celestial rishis glorified Him with carefully chosen words.
As Rama proceeded toward Ayodhya, a huge procession followed Him, and all the
monkeys, appearing in human form, rode upon elephants. When Rama entered His capital,
He saw how all the citizens had come out of their houses and lined the streets to welcome
Him. Men and women, the elderly and the children gazed upon Rama as if they were getting
back their long-lost lives.
While waving their cloths and jumping with excitement, the people shouted, “Our
beloved prince has returned! All glories to Lord Rama, the maintainer of His devotees!”
Amidst the playing of musicians and the chanting of Vedic mantras by the brahmanas, Rama
reciprocated by glancing lovingly over His subjects. While approaching his father’s palace,
Rama greeted His ministers and described to them the political alliances He had made with
the monkeys and Vibhishana.
Rama ordered that His palace be given for Sugriva’s use, and so Bharata took the King
of the monkeys by the hand and led him there. Then, at Bharata’s request, Jambavan,
Hanuman, Gavaya and Rishabha brought water from the four seas while five hundred other
powerful monkeys brought water from five hundred sacred rivers. These vessels of water
were placed before Vasishtha.
Soon after, the rishi had Rama seated along with Sita upon a royal throne. Then, with
the assistance of Vamadeva, Jabali, Kashyapa, Katyayana, Sujagya, Gautama and Vijaya
Rishis, Vasishtha performed the abhisheka, and the first bathing was done by the
brahmanas. Next, unmarried virgin girls got the chance to bathe Rama, and then the
ministers, leading warriors, and lastly, vaishyas, one after another. After the final bathing,
Vasishtha had Rama sprinkled over with herbs by the four Lokapalas and other chief
demigods, who were witnessing the coronation from the sky.
When Rama sat on the golden throne bedecked with valuable jewels, Vasishtha came
and placed the royal crown on His head and decorated His body with gold ornaments. This
crown had been worn by all the Kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty, and was made by Lord
Brahma especially for the coronation of Vaivasvata Manu.
Then, at Indra’s prompting, Vayu came and placed a garland made from one hundred
golden lotus flowers around Rama’s neck. The god of air also presented a celestial necklace
made of pearls and jewels. Shatrughna held the umbrella over Rama’s head while Sugriva
and Vibhishana fanned Him from both sides.
At the completion of the ceremony, as the Gandharvas sang and the Apsaras danced in
ecstasy, Rama gave away 100,000 cows in charity to the brahmanas, as well as 300 million
gold coins and all varieties of precious jewels. Rama gave a celestial necklace of gold and
jewels to Sugriva, and He gave Angada a pair of bracelets that were adorned with diamonds
and vaidurya stones. To Sita, Rama presented the necklace that had been given to Him by
Vayu, as well as many lavishly decorated dresses.
Sita had a very strong wish to give something to Hanuman as a token of her
appreciation for all that he had done for her. With this in mind, she unclasped the necklace
that Rama had given her and then looked at the Lord questioningly. Understanding her
intention, Rama requested Sita to give the necklace to Hanuman and so she happily went
and placed it around his neck.
All the monkey chiefs were given valuable clothing and ornaments, and in this way the
coronation of Lord Rama came to a successful conclusion. Being greatly satisfied at heart,
all the monkeys returned to their respective kingdoms and Vibhishana also departed for
Lanka. After all had left, Rama said to Lakshman, “My dear brother, now that I have been
installed upon the royal throne, I wish to install You as My successor.”
And yet, despite being repeatedly addressed by Rama in this way, Lakshman remained
silent, for He refused to accept the proposal. Rama could very well understand Lakshman’s
mind, and so, at last, He conferred the title upon Bharata.
Thereafter, Rama ruled the earth from His capital, Ayodhya, for 11,000 years. During
that period, Rama performed numerous sacrifices, including one hundred ashvamedha-
yagyas. During the reign of Lord Rama, there were no widows to lament the loss of their
husbands, there were no diseases, and there were no thieves. In fact, even wild animals
gave up their natural enmity and did not kill one another. All the citizens were fully righteous,
and they considered Rama their Lord and master, and beyond that, their very life and soul.
Everyone lived for thousands of years and had many sons. All talk was centered about
Rama alone. Thus, the entire earth appeared as if it had been transformed into the kingdom
of God, Vaikunthaloka.
Lava and Kush concluded their narration by saying, “Anyone who daily listens to this
transcendental history, known as Ramayana, will become completely freed from all sinful
reactions. This sacred narration grants prowess, longevity and victory to those who subdue
their passions and hear with faith.”
“The reader of Ramayana, if a woman, will receive sons- if a king, will conquer the
earth- if a traveler, will reach his destination- and if a sinful person, will be cleansed. This
sacred narration should be repeated again and again, for not only does it bestow all material
benedictions upon the hearer, but it pleases the Supreme Personality of Godhead, an
accomplishment that is far beyond the limited interests of religiosity, economic development,
sense gratification, and impersonal liberation. By the development of unalloyed love for the
Supreme Lord Ramachandra, one ultimately achieves eternal shelter under the shade of His
lotus feet in the eternal spiritual sky.

Uttara-kanda

Some time after Rama’s coronation, many great rishis came to Ayodhya to personally
worship Him and glorify His transcendental pastimes. The sapta-rishis; Vasishtha,
Kashyapa, Atri, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja arrived at the royal
palace, as did Kaushika, Kanva, Agastya and Dhaumya. When the gatekeeper informed
Rama that all these foremost rishis had arrived, He had them escorted into the royal court
and then stood up with folded hands to greet them. Rama had special seats brought for the
sages and then offered them all hospitality, while inquiring about their welfare.
In turn, the rishis said, “Rama, You have greatly satisfied us by descending to the earth
to exhibit Your magnanimous pastimes. Now that Ravana is dead, we feel relief and
happiness, for he was a great impediment to the progressive welfare of the world. Not only
Ravana, but many other Rakshasas, such as Khara, Maricha, Kumbhakarna, Atikaya,
Nikumbha and Kumbha were terrorizing all living beings, and so we are very grateful to Your
for having destroyed them.”
“We are especially thankful that Indrajit is no more, for there was no one comparable to
him. Except for You and Lakshman, he was incapable of being killed by anyone within the
three worlds.”
Politely interrupting the sages, Rama curiously asked, “Why are you praising Indrajit as
being even more powerful than Ravana or Kumbhakarna?”
On behalf of the sages, Agastya Rishi replied by narrating at length the history of the
Rakshasas. Pulastya was the son of Lord Brahma. He went to perform austerities as
Trinabindu’s ashram and later on married the rishi’s daughter. Their son was Vishrava, the
name indicating that he was very fond of listening to the recitation of the Vedas. Vishrava
married Bharadvaja’s daughter, and their son was named Vaishravana.
Later on, as a reward for his austerities, Lord Brahma made Vaishravana the fourth
Lokapala. Besides being awarded the post of Kuvera, the lord of wealth, Vaishravana was
given the Pushpaka chariot.
After this, Vaishravana asked his father to designate a place as his residence. Vishrava
replied, “My dear son, you may reside at the city of Lanka, which is located on the Trikuta
Mountain and which was built by Vishvakarma for the Rakshasas. Lanka is now vacant,
because long ago the Rakshasas fled out of fear of Lord Vishnu and took up residence in
Rasatala.”
Rama then requested, “Please tell me the history of the original Rakshasas. How
powerful were they in comparison to Ravana? Why were they driven away from Lanka by
Lord Vishnu so that they had to reside below the earth?”
Agastya continued his narration. In the beginning of creation, one class of beings was
called Rakshasas, and their two leaders, Heti and Praheti were naturally inclined toward
virtue. Heti married Bhaya, who was a very fierce woman, and their son was named
Vidyutkesha. When he grew up, Vidyutkesha married Shalakatankata. The mother
abandoned her son, however, for she had only desired to have sex with her husband and
not receive a child.
Lord Shiva and Parvati rescued this son, named Sukesha, and after receiving
benedictions from them he became very proud. Later on he married Devasvati and begot
three sons, named Malyavan, Sumali and Mali. Knowing that their father had become
powerful as a result of receiving benedictions, they went to perform austerities for this
purpose.
When Lord Brahma came to fulfill their desires, they said, “O lord, may we become long-
lived, and let us become so powerful that we will strike terror into the hearts of all our
enemies. Give us the ability to become invisible, and let us three brothers always have love
for one another.”
Lord Brahma consented, and thereafter, Malyavan, Sumali and Mali began to torment
the demigods and asuras alike. Being enlivened by their leaders’ prowess, the Rakshasas
went to Vishvakarma and requested him to give them a place of residence. Vishvakarma
informed the Rakshasas that he had already built Lanka, by the order of King Indra, and that
it was a city surrounded by walls of gold. At Vishvakarma’s urging, they took up residence
there.
Later on, the wife of Mali gave birth to four sons who became the ministers of
Vibhishana. The wife of Malyavan gave birth to many children, including Virupaksha, and the
wife of Sumali gave birth to Suparshva, Prahasta and others. All these offspring became
very proud like their fathers. At last, being greatly harassed, the demigods approached Lord
Vishnu for shelter. Lord Vishnu assured them that He had already decided to kill the sons of
Sukesha, because they had proudly overstepped the bounds of propriety.
Thereafter, a great battle took place between Lord Vishnu and the sons of Sukesha. In
the fight, Mali was beheaded by Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshana chakra, and after fleeing, the
Rakshasas abandoned Lanka and entered the nether regions.
Agastya then said, “Malyavan, Sumali and Mali were more powerful than Ravana and
the other Rakshasas that were killed by You. Still, being descendents of Pulastya, they were
nonetheless very powerful. Rama, it can only be concluded that you are Lord Narayana
Himself, for no one else could have killed these Rakshasas.”
Vaishravana then began to reside at Lanka. One day, as Sumali was wandering over
the earth in search of a suitable husband for his daughter, he happened to see Vaishravana
flying overhead in his Pushpaka chariot. Being very impressed by the celestial vehicle,
Sumali returned to the lower regions and then made up his mind to give his daughter,
Kaikashi, to Vishrava. Under Sumali’s instructions, Kaikashi approached Vishrava as he was
engaged in performing a sacrifice.
As Kaikashi shyly stood before him with her head bent down, scratching the ground with
her toes, Vishrava inquired, “My dear young girl, who are you? What is your purpose in
coming here?”
Kaikashi replied, “I am the daughter of Sumali and my name is Kaikashi. Whatever else
you may wish to know, I request you to find out by utilizing your spiritual prowess.”
Vishrava then went into a trance of meditation, and after reading Kaikashi’s mind, he
said, “I can understand that you want to receive sons from me. I will grant your wish, but
because you have approached me at an inauspicious time, your sons will become fierce
Rakshasas.”
Kaikashi begged, “I do not want to have such sons from you. Therefore, please be
merciful to me.”
Vishrava then granted, “As a concession, your youngest son will become famous as a
very pious man.”
Thereafter, in due course of time, Kaikashi gave birth to a hideous child possessing ten
heads and twenty arms, a huge mouth and long teeth. Because of his ten heads, the child
was called Dasagriva.
Then, after some time, Kumbhakarna was born. This child had the largest body on
earth. Then, an ugly daughter named Shurpanakha was born, and lastly, Vibhishana.
One day, Kuvera (Vaishravana) came to see his father, Vishrava, and when Kaikashi
saw him, she urged her own son, Dasagriva, to become as powerful and glorious as his half-
brother. After hearing these words, Dasagriva became very envious of Kuvera and decided
to become greater than him in all respects.
With this in mind, Dasagriva went to Gokarna, along with his younger brothers. There,
he executed unprecedented austerities, and as a result, Lord Brahma became very pleased
with him. Dasagriva went without water for 10,000 years, and at the end of each 1000 years
he offered one of his heads into the sacrificial fire. In fact, it was when Dasagriva was just
about to offer his last head that Lord Brahma appeared there to reward him for his
austerities.
When Lord Brahma urged him to accept a benediction, Dasagriva replied in a voice that
was choked up due to excessive joy, “O lord, I have only one fear, and that is of death.
Please grant me the boon of immortality.”
Lord Brahma said, “It is not possible for anyone within the material creation to have
absolute immortality. Even I will have to die one day, and so I request you to ask for
something else.”
Ravana then begged, “Grant me immunity from death at the hands of Nagas, Daityas,
Danavas, Rakshasa and demigods. I do not require immunity from others like human beings
and animals, for I consider them to be no more of a threat than the straw in the street.”
Lord Brahma granted all this, and also restored Dasagriva’s heads. Then he told
Vibhishana, “You may also accept a benediction from me, according to your desire.”
Vibhishana replied, “My dear lord, since you are pleased with me, the goal of my life has
already been achieved. My only wish is that my mind may always remain steadily fixed upon
the path of virtue, even amidst the greatest difficulties.”
Lord Brahma replied, “Because you are by nature inclined to righteousness, even
though born as a Rakshasa, I will grant you immortality on the level of the chief demigods.”
Next, when Lord Brahma was about to offer Kumbhakarna a benediction, the demigods
who had accompanied him pleaded, with folded hands, “This Rakshasa is very evil-minded,
and he has already devoured numerous Apsaras, rishis and others. His only business is to
terrorize the entire universe. Since he has already created so much havoc without any
benediction, after receiving your mercy he will surely devour the three worlds. O lord, we
request you to somehow cast a spell of delusion over Kumbhakarna while using the pretext
of granting him a benediction.”
After carefully considering the demigods’ request, Lord Brahma mentally summoned his
consort, the goddess Sarasvati, and so she immediately came and stood by his side.
Goddess Sarasvati inquired, “O lord, what service can I render?” Lord Brahma requested, “I
want you to become the speech within Kumbhakarna’s mouth.”
Thus it came to be that when Lord Brahma asked Kumbhakarna to accept a
benediction, the gigantic Rakshasa replied, “If you wish to fulfill my desire, then allow me to
sleep for many, many years.”
Lord Brahma assented, saying, “So be it!” Then, just as Lord Brahma was about to
depart, Kumbhakarna came to his senses and wondered, “How did these disastrous words
come from my mouth? I must have been bewildered by the demigods!”
When Sumali learned that his three grandsons had received benedictions from Lord
Brahma, he gave up all fear of Lord Vishnu and came to meet Dasagriva. Sumali explained
how Lanka originally belonged to the Rakshasas, and asked Dasagriva to take it back from
Kuvera.
At first, Dasagriva refused, saying, “My dear maternal grandfather, you should not speak
like this, for Kuvera is my elder half-brother.”
Sumali remained silent, but later on Prahasta approached Dasagriva and said, “You
should know that for great heroes there is no question of letting feelings of brotherly
relationship get in the way of one’s self-interest. Just consider the rivalry of the sisters, Diti
and Aditi, the wives of Kashyapa. O foremost of Rakshasas, you will not be the first one to
fight against his brother for sovereignty.”
Actually, Dasagriva was very pleased with the idea of conquering Lanka. Going to
Trikuta, he first of all sent Prahasta as an envoy to politely ask Kuvera for the return of Lanka
to the Rakshasas. Vaishravana replied, “This place has been given to me by my father, and
so I am unwilling to give it up. But, if Dasagriva likes, he can come here and share Lanka so
that we can live without enmity.”
After Prahasta’s departure, Vaishravana went to his father and told him about
Dasagriva’s intentions.
Vishrava then said, “Dasagriva has already come here, asking me to give him Lanka.
But, I rebuked him harshly for his greediness. Due to the benedictions of Lord Brahma,
Dasagriva has become too proud, so that he can no longer distinguish between persons
whom he should respect and those whom he need not. And now, because of my
displeasure, he has become even more wicked-minded. I recommend that you leave Lanka
and go live at Kailash, so that you can avoid antagonizing your arrogant half-brother.”
Kuvera vacated Lanka, and when Prahasta informed him of this, Dasagriva went there,
along with the Rakshasas. Once, while roaming in the forest, Dasagriva met Maya Danava,
who then gave his daughter, Mandodari, to him in marriage. At that time, Maya Danava also
gave Dasagriva the spear that had severely wounded Lakshman. After some time,
Mandodari gave birth to Meghanada, who later on became known as Indrajit.
Dasagriva continued to torment the demigods and rishis, and so, out of family affection,
Kuvera sent a messenger to his half-brother, warning him that he had better mend his ways.
This only enraged Dasagriva, though, and soon thereafter, he came to attack Kuvera. After
an intense encounter, Dasagriva severely wounded his half-brother and then took
possession of the Pushpaka chariot.
While proceeding to the birthplace of Kartikeya, a clump of golden reeds in the
Himalayas, Dasagriva was surprised to find that the Pushpaka chariot stopped ascending
the mountain and would not go any further. Nandishvara then appeared at that spot. This
confidential servant of Lord Shiva was dwarfish in size, misshapen in appearance, bald, and
very fearful to look at. He ordered Dasagriva, “Turn back at once, for Lord Shankara is
sporting on this mountain.”
Hearing this, Dasagriva became enraged. Getting down from his chariot, he demanded,
“Who is this Shankara?” Then, as he looked up, Dasagriva saw Nandi with the face of a
monkey, standing near Lord Shiva and holding a flaming spear in his hand. Upon seeing the
bull-carrier of Lord Shiva in this feature, Dasagriva laughed loudly with great disdain.
In response, Nandi angrily cursed Dasagriva, saying, “In the future, powerful monkeys
will annihilate your entire race! Of course, I could kill you at once, if I so desired, but I will let
you be destroyed by your misdeeds instead.”
Dasagriva did not care for Nandi’s words, and so he replied, “Because you have rudely
stopped my chariot, I will retaliate by killing your master, Lord Shankara!”
After saying this, Dasagriva put his hands underneath the mountain and started to lift it.
As the mountain began to shake, Parvati stumbled, making her cling tightly to her lord.
Mahadeva then sportingly pressed down the mountain with his big toe, and as a result,
Dasagriva’s arms were crushed.
As Dasagriva continued to cry out in great pain, the entire three worlds trembled so that
even King Indra stumbled while walking on the road. Upon seeing their master’s plight,
Dasagriva’s ministers advised him to take shelter of Lord Shiva, who is also known as
Ashutosh, because he is easily pleased. Having no other alternative, Dasagriva bowed his
head and began to glorify Lord Mahadeva by reciting mantras from the Samaveda.
One thousand years passed in this way, and then Lord Shiva became pleased to
release the pressure of his toe so that Dasagriva could remove his arms. Because of the
fierce cries that Dasagriva uttered as his arms were being crushed, Lord Shiva gave him the
name Ravana. Or, from another point of view, Dasagriva became known as Ravana
because his loud crying had caused even the demigods to cry out in fear.
Thereafter, Ravana’s only business was to challenge heroic kshatriyas. The prudent
kings surrendered to Ravana, and the rest were easily defeated. One day, as Ravana
traveled through a forest near the Himalayas, he saw a beautiful young girl with matted hair
and dress of deerskin. Being attracted, Ravana laughed aloud and exclaimed, “The practice
of austerities in the forest is contradictory to your youthful beauty. My dear young girl, who
are you? Why are you living a life of penance here in the forest?”
The girl replied, “I am the daughter of the brahmarshi, Kushadvaja, and my name is
Vedavati. Many qualified men and even demigods have asked for my hand in marriage, but
my father has turned them all down. He feels that only Lord Vishnu would make a suitable
son-in-law. When he heard about this, Shambhu, the King of the Daityas, came and killed
my father in his sleep. My mother entered the fire when my father was cremated.”
“Ever since that time, I have installed Lord Narayana within my heart and have been
performing severe austerities in the hopes of attaining Him as my husband. Ravana, by dint
of my mystic prowess, I know everything about you. Now, please depart without further ado.”
Getting down from his chariot, Ravana said, “My dear lovely girl, I request you to
become my wife. After all, in comparison to me, who is Lord Vishnu?”
Vedavati indignantly replied, “Who, other than you, would dare to speak disrespectfully
about Lord Narayana?”
But, even as she was speaking, Ravana suddenly grabbed Vedavati by the hair.
Inflamed with anger, she immediately transformed one of her arms into a sword and cut off
her hair, thus setting herself free.
Then, while lighting a fire, Vedavati said, “After having been touched by you, I no longer
desire to live. I am not going to curse you, for that would decrease my accumulated ascetic
merit. Instead, I will take another birth in a divine manner, just to bring about your
destruction.”
As Vedavati entered the fire, flowers showered down upon her from heaven. After giving
up her body, Vedavati next appeared from a lotus flower. Ravana quickly went and caught
hold of her, and after forcing her to get onto the Pushpaka chariot, he returned to Lanka.
When Ravana showed the girl to his ministers, they warned him not to keep her, as she
would become the instrument for his destruction. Taking heed of this advice, Ravana threw
Vedavati into the sea.
Thereafter, upon reaching the shore, she came to the sacrificial ground of Maharaja
Janaka by utilizing her mystic power. Then, when the King was leveling the ground with a
plough, the girl appeared from a furrow as a baby. Thus it so came to be that the Vedavati
who appeared in Satya-yuga became Janaki in the Treta-yuga.
Once, as Ravana wandered about, he came to Ayodhya and challenged King Anaranya.
After a fierce battle, Ravana fatally wounded his adversary. Then, as the King lay dying on
the battlefield, he cursed Ravana by saying, “In the future, one of the descendents in my
dynasty, named Rama, will kill you!.” While this oath was being pronounced, flowers rained
from heaven, and the demigods could be heard beating their drums.
Thereafter, Ravana went to fight with Yamaraja. He would have certainly been
vanquished, but Lord Brahma came and dissuaded Yama from using his Kala-danda.
Ravana defeated the sons of Varuna, and while returning to Lanka he kidnapped the virgin
daughters of many kings, rishis, demigods and asuras. If Ravana saw any girl whom he
found attractive, he would first kill all her relatives and then forcibly take her on his chariot. In
this way, Ravana’s chariot became filled with hundreds of girls, all of whom cried piteously
out of fear and grief.
Being greatly saddened because of their plight, the kidnapped girls cursed Ravana by
saying, “May the destruction of this wicked Rakshasa one day come about because of a
woman!”
As soon as the girls said this, flowers fell from heaven. After being cursed by these
virtuous women, Ravana immediately began to lose his bodily luster. During one of his
conquests, Ravana had unwittingly killed the husband of his sister, Shurpanakha. After his
return to Lanka, she came there. Falling down at Ravana’s feet, she wailed, “How cruel and
heartless you are to your own sister! By killing my husband you have made me a widow!”
To pacify Shurpanakha, Ravana replied, “Do not be aggrieved, for I shall gratify all your
desires. Please forgive me. In the heat of battle I could not distinguish between friend and
enemy, and so I accidentally killed your husband.”
Ravana sent Shurpanakha to live under the protection of her cousin, Khara, in the
Dandaka forest. After that, Ravana set out to conquer the demigods. He reached Kailash as
the sun was setting and so he set up camp there. As he sat at leisure on top of the hill,
Ravana surveyed the beautiful forests and lakes that served as the sporting grounds of the
demigods. He could hear the singing of the Apsaras coming from Kuvera’s palace, and the
heavenly atmosphere was exceedingly pleasing, being enhanced by gentle, fragrant
breezes.
At that time, the Apsara Rambha happened to pass nearby. When Ravana saw her
beautiful bodily features, which were enhanced by her attractive dress and tinkling
ornaments, he became so eager to enjoy her that he jumped up from his seat and grabbed
her by the hand.
Being pierced by Cupid’s arrows, Ravana said, “O exquisitely beautiful one, your
sweetly smiling face, your full and well-rounded breasts, and your shapely hips and thighs
have combined to steal away my mind. Now that I have seen you, I cannot bear to let you
go. Who is there superior to me that you are on your way to meet? Accept me as your
husband and remain with me, for it would be a waste of your incomparable beauty to have it
enjoyed by anyone else.”
Rambha angrily replied, “You should not speak to me like this, for you are just like my
father, and I, your daughter-in-law.”
Ravana argued, “Only the wife of one’s son can be considered a daughter-in-law.”
Rambha then said, “Yes, this is correct. But you should know that I am the lawful wife of
your brother’s son, Nalakuvara, and I am on my way to meet him right now. Therefore, King
of the Rakshasas, please follow the path of righteousness and let me go.”
Being uninterested in good advice, Ravana replied, “Your argument only applies to
women with one husband. Since the Apsaras have no actual husbands, I do not have to
consider you in the light of such morality.”
After saying this, Ravana forcibly pulled Rambha down onto a flat rock and raped her.
Finally, after she was released, her hair and dress all disheveled, Rambha ran to her
husband, Nalakuvara, and told him what had happened. Nalakuvara became outraged to
hear about Ravana’s misconduct, but to verify Rambha’s story, he went into a trance of
meditation. Then, after ascertaining the truth, Nalakuvara touched water and pronounced the
following curse: “Ravana’s head will split into seven parts if he ever again tries to forcibly
enjoy a woman against her will!”
The demigods were overjoyed to hear this declaration, and so they showered flowers
upon Kuvera’s son. When Ravana learned of the curse, he gave up all inclination to have
sexual relations with women who did not feel inclined to have him.
The next morning, Ravana mobilized his forces and attacked the abode of Indra. After
sending the demigods to fight, Indra approached Lord Vishnu and said, “Due to the
benedictions of Lord Brahma, I feel hopeless in combating Ravana. My dear Lord, please
empower me with sufficient energy to kill Ravana or else please take up the matter
Yourself.”
Lord Vishnu replied, “There is no need for you to be afraid. Go and fight with Ravana,
even though it is not possible for you to kill him. I do not wish to slay him just now, but when
the time is ripe, I will not only kill Ravana but all his relatives as well.”
In the battle that followed, Meghanada fought with Indra’s son, Jayanta. They appeared
to be equally matched, but then Ravana’s son resorted to the use of Rakshasa illusion,
making Jayanta feel ill at ease. In the darkness, the fighting became exceedingly gruesome
and confused, and so Puloma, the father of Indra’s wife, Sachi, came and forcibly grabbed
his grandson by the hair and dragged him away from the battlefield.
Seeing this, the demigods panicked, and so Indra joined the fray. In response, Ravana
came to fight with the King of heaven. At this time, Meghanada invisibly entered the ranks of
the demigods and came before Indra. By releasing showers of arrow, Meghanada finally
exhausted his adversary. Then, he bound up Indra by dint of the mystic power that he had
acquired by the benedictions of Lord Brahma. The demigods became disheartened, and
Ravana ordered his son to take the captive Indra to Lanka.
Lord Brahma then took the demigods with him and went to Lanka. While remaining
stationed in the sky, Lord Brahma said to Ravana, “Because the prowess and valor exhibited
by your son was very wonderful, let him be known as Indrajit from this day onward. Now, I
request you to release the King of heaven, and in exchange I will reward your son with an
incomparable benediction.”
Upon hearing this, Indrajit exclaimed, “I will give Indra his freedom in exchange for the
boon of immortality.”
Lord Brahma replied, “It is not possible for any of the created beings to have
unconditional immortality. My dear prince, please ask for something else.”
Indrajit then said, “Then, here is my request. At the time of battle, if I offer oblations into
the sacrificial fire, let a chariot emerge from the flames. For as long as I am seated on that
chariot, let me be immune to death. In other words, only if I engage in battle without having
finished my chanting of mantras and offering of oblations will I be subject to destruction.
Some people seek immortality through the performance of austerities, but I have done so
simply by exhibiting my prowess!”
Lord Brahma granted Indrajit’s request, and so the King of heaven was released. Rama
then inquired, “O best of rishis, was there ever a kshatriya who was able to defeat Ravana?”
Agastya Rishi then narrated how the Haihaya king, Kartaviryarjuna, had captured
Ravana and tied him up, after a fierce duel. When Pulastya Muni went to Mahismati and
asked for his grandson’s release, Kartaviryarjuna immediately consented.
Some time later on, Ravana came to Kishkindha and wished to fight with Vali. When
informed that Vali was not present, having gone to the shore of the Southern Ocean, Ravana
went there. The Rakshasa King saw Vali engaged in silent meditation, being absorbed in
saying his prayers. Desiring to capture the monkey, Ravana began to tiptoe silently toward
him from behind. But, Vali could see Ravana out of the corner of his eye.
While remaining undisturbed, Vali thought, “I will capture this Rakshasa when he comes
near and keep him under my armpit. Then, while leaving him dangling there, I will complete
my worship by visiting the other three oceans.”
Although Ravana approached from behind, Vali could hear his footsteps. When the
Rakshasa King came close, Vali suddenly whirled around and caught him. Then, after
pressing Ravana tightly in his armpit, Vali sprang into the air toward his next destination.
Finally, upon returning to Kishkindha, Vali felt exhausted from carrying Ravana such a great
distance and so he put him down in a garden. While laughing disdainfully, Vali asked the
dazed Rakshasa King to identify himself.
With genuine admiration Ravana introduced himself and said, “The astonishing speed
with which you travel through the air is only matched by three others- the mind, Vayu and
Garuda. O King of the monkeys, you are a truly exceptional hero, and so it is my strong
desire to establish friendly relations with you.”
A sacred fire was lit, and when their friendship was thus formally established, Vali and
Ravana embraced one another warmly. Ravana continued to reside at Kishkindha for one
month as the honored guest of the monkey chief.
Rama then said, “Great rishi, Ravana and Vali were certainly very powerful heroes. But,
I feel that Hanuman’s prowess excels theirs. During My conquest of Lanka it was he alone
that enabled Me to come out victorious and recover Sita. I shall never be able to express
how indebted I am to Hanuman, the best of all My unalloyed servants.”
“O great sage, there is a doubt in My mind that I would like for you to dispel. When there
was enmity between Vali and Sugriva, why didn’t Hanuman vanquish Vali? I think that
Hanuman could not have been aware of his actual prowess. Otherwise, how could he have
stood by idly and watched Sugriva suffer? Foremost of rishis, you know all mysterious truths.
Please narrate to Me the wonderful pastimes of Hanuman so that My doubt can be
removed.”
Hanuman was among those who were listening to this conversation, and he
experienced great transcendental happiness upon hearing Rama’s words. Agastya Muni
replied, “It is a fact that there is no one who can equal Hanuman in terms of strength, speed
or intelligence. However, it so happened that he forgot his actual prowess, and how this
came about will be understood from the story of his life.”
Vayu, the god of air, through Anjana, the wife of Kesari, a monkey chief who formerly
resided on Mount Meru, begot Hanuman. After delivering the child, Anjana went to gather
fruit for him. But, in his mother’s absence, the baby began to cry, and at that time the sun
rose over the horizon. When the baby monkey saw the luminous orange globe, he thought
that it was some kind of fruit, and so he sprang into the air to catch it.
When the demigods saw the son of Vayu flying swiftly through the air, they were
astonished and declared, “Even the mind or Garuda cannot move so fast! If this monkey can
exhibit such prowess as a baby, then what will he be like when he grows up?”
Vayu followed his son to protect him from the scorching heat of the sun. When the baby
monkey approached, Surya mercifully refrained from burning him in consideration of his
childish innocence, as well as the future mission that he would execute on behalf of Lord
Rama. Because of this, the son of Vayu was able to sit next to Surya on his chariot. But, just
at that time, Rahu came to attack the sun. Instinctively, the baby monkey grabbed Rahu, but
that worst of celestials managed to slip out of his grip.
Rahu then approached Indra and complained, “Although I have been allotted the sun
and the moon as the means for appeasing my hunger, it appears that my share had been
taken by someone else. Just now, when I approached the Sungod, I saw that he was being
attacked by another Rahu.”
Indra was astonished to hear this, and so he mounted upon Airavata and started out for
the sun. Rahu had gone on ahead, and when the son of Vayu saw him coming, he
considered him to be a fruit and so sprang from Surya’s chariot to catch him. Rahu began to
flee, crying out for Indra’s protection, and so, the King of heaven, who was approaching
nearby, gave him assurances. Then, when the baby monkey spotted Airavata, he took the
elephant to be an enormous white fruit and so swiftly rushed toward him. When Indra saw
this, he released his thunderbolt, making the baby monkey fall down dead upon a mountain.
This enraged Vayu, who then took his son’s body and withdrew to a mountain cave.
Because Vayu ceased to act as the air of respiration, all living beings began to suffocate,
and their bowels and bladders became obstructed. With bloated bellies, the demigods
hurriedly approached Lord Brahma and anxiously informed him of their plight.
Lord Brahma then said, “It is due to Vayu’s anger that you are now suffering. Just try to
understand the importance of the Windgod. Although he possesses no perceivable gross
body, he moves within the bodies of all created beings. In fact, without air, a material body is
no better than a block of wood. I suggest that we all go and pacify Vayu, for the welfare of
the world.”
Lord Brahma then led the demigods to where Vayu was staying. The Windgod was
tormented by grief at the loss of his son and was still holding his body in his arms. After Vayu
offered him obeisances, Lord Brahma affectionately placed his hand upon the baby
monkey’s head, and as a result, he was immediately brought back to life. Vayu then
resumed circulating within all creatures.
Lord Brahma said, “In the future, this child will act for your welfare, and so all of you
should award him benedictions.”
Indra took off his garland of lotus flowers and put it around the baby monkey’s neck. The
King of heaven said, “Because of his broken jaw, this child will henceforward be known as
Hanuman. By my benediction, he no longer need fear my thunderbolt.”
The Sungod announced, “I hereby donate one percent of my brilliance to Hanuman. In
addition, I grant him full knowledge of shastra, along with an eloquent speaking ability.”
Yamaraja then said, “I will grant Hanuman immunity to my kala-danda, and freedom
from disease.”
Kuvera declared, “Let Hanuman be immune to my mace, and may he never become
tired in battle.”
Lord Shiva said, “I give Hanuman the boon that he will never be killed by me, nor by any
of my weapons.”
Vishvakarma announced, “I award Hanuman the benediction that he cannot be killed by
any weapon that I have made.”
Lastly, Lord Brahma said, “I grant Hanuman a long life, magnanimity, immunity to the
brahmastra, and immunity to the curses of brahmanas.”
Lord Brahma then turned to Vayu and said, “This child will be able to change his form at
will, and he will be unconquerable. He will be able to travel wherever he likes and at
whatever speed he chooses. In the future, he will perform glorious activities that will aid in
the destruction of Ravana, and by doing so he will become very pleasing to Lord Rama.”
After the departure of the demigods, Vayu placed Hanuman under the care of his
mother, Anjana. Because of receiving so many benedictions, Hanuman was bursting with
energy, and so he began to act fearlessly, even to the extent of offending prominent rishis by
interrupting their sacrifices and breaking their paraphernalia. When Hanuman indulged in
these pranks, the rishis tolerated him, for they knew that he was immune to death from their
curses. Hanuman’s foster-father, Kesari, and his real father, Vayu, tried their best to
discipline him. Still, Hanuman continued to transgress the bounds of propriety.
Finally, the rishis became a little angry and cursed him by saying, “For now, you will
remain ignorant of your real prowess. Later on, when it is recalled to your memory at the
proper time, you will once again become cognizant of your full power.”
Thereafter, being forgetful of his prowess, Hanuman wandered through the forests in a
peaceful mood. At this time, Riksharaja, the king of the monkeys, succumbed to death due
to old age, and so his eldest son Vali became the next ruler, while Sugriva was installed as
his successor.
From childhood, Hanuman and Sugriva were best friends. Then, when hostility broke
out between Vali and Sugriva, Hanuman was not aware of his real prowess and so he did
not attempt to help his friend.
Another result of his forgetfulness was that Hanuman gradually became more interested
in the cultivation of knowledge than the exhibition of brute force. In order to learn all
departments of Vedic knowledge, he used to follow the Sungod the full distance from where
he rises to where he sets. By asking innumerable questions, Hanuman became as learned
in the Vedas as Brihaspati.
Agastya Rishi thus described the glories of Hanuman, and while listening, Rama,
Lakshman and all the monkeys and Rakshasas felt highly astonished. Thereafter, when the
assembled rishis came to take their leave, Rama said, “Now that I have been installed as the
Emperor, I wish to perform many sacrifices for the welfare of the world. It is My request that
all of you return at that time, for I want to perform these sacrifices under your supervision.”
After happily giving their consent, the rishis departed. Since it had already become dark,
Rama dismissed all those who had assembled and retired for the night. The next morning,
after being awakened by professional singers who recited His glories, Rama first of all
bathed and then sat down to perform Agnihotra sacrifices. After that, Rama visited the
palace temple, and from there, He went to the royal court. While seated upon His throne,
surrounded by His ministers, servants and twenty of the monkey chiefs, Rama administered
the state government in an exemplary manner.
Maharaja Janaka was one of the many kings who had come to Ayodhya to attend
Rama’s coronation. After some days, Rama approached him and said, “My dear father-in-
law, you should take your leave now and return to Vidarbha so that it does not become
neglected. Bharata and Shatrughna will escort you, along with a large army.”
Maharaja Janaka consented, and at that time Rama honored him by giving him many
valuable presents. In turn, whatever the King received, he gave to his beloved daughter,
Sita. Rama then addressed His maternal uncle, the Kekaya king, Yudhajit: “Your father is
very old, so you should return home now. Lakshman will accompany you, along with an
army.”
Yudhajit gave his consent, and next, Rama bid farewell to His friend, the King of Kashi.
Altogether, Rama said good bye to three hundred kings and princes who had come to
Ayodhya to celebrate His coronation. After returning home, all these kings sent their escorts
back with many valuable gifts for Rama. When he received all these presents, Rama
immediately gave them to Sugriva, Vibhishana and the other monkeys and Rakshasas.
One day, Rama took Hanuman and Angada upon His lap and told Sugriva, “These two
great heroes deserve every possible honor.”
After saying this, Rama took off the ornaments that were decorating His body and put
them on Hanuman and Angada.
Rama then said to all the monkey heroes that were present there, “You are all not only
My very dear friends, but you are just like My own brothers.”
While saying this, Rama embraced all the monkeys and gave them presents. The
monkeys remained at Ayodhya for more than a month, and they happily passed their time
feasting and relishing the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord
Ramachandra. Due to their great love for the Lord, the time passed so quickly that it seemed
to the monkeys to be no more than an hour.
At the time when Rama requested Sugriva to return to Kishkindhya and Vibhishana to
Lanka, Hanuman came before Him and offered the following prayer: “O my Lord, may my
devotion for You always remain steady, and may my love for You never become diverted
toward anyone else. In addition, may my life continue for as long as the narration of Your
transcendental pastimes is recited upon this earth. Truthfully, only by hearing the recitation
of Ramayana will I be able to mitigate the unbearable pangs of separation from You.”
Rama got down from His throne, and while embracing Hanuman, He declared, “Your life
will continue for as long as the Ramayana is recited, and the Ramayana will be recited for as
long as the earth continues to exist. My dear Hanuman, I shall never be able to repay you for
the service that you have rendered. I will remain eternally indebted.”
After saying this, Rama took off the necklace of pearls and vaidurya stones that
decorated His chest and placed it around Hanuman’s neck. All the monkeys then got up
and, one by one, bowed down at Lord Rama’s lotus feet. Then, when Rama embraced
Sugriva and Vibhishana, the eyes of all the monkeys filled up with tears, and because their
minds became bewildered due to ecstatic feelings of impending separation, they could not
speak distinctly. Finally, the monkeys departed, and although Rama also felt great pangs of
separation from His friends, He was happy that they would once again be united with their
family members.
Later that afternoon, Rama heard a voice from the sky, and when He looked up, He saw
that it was the Pushpaka chariot addressing Him. The chariot informed Rama, “I returned to
Kuvera as You had ordered. But, the lord of wealth told me, ‘Because Rama has conquered
Ravana, you now rightly belong to Him.’ I have been sent by Kuvera to render service to
You. Please accept me without hesitation.”
Rama worshiped the Pushpaka chariot with offerings of flowers, incense and
sandalwood paste, and then said, “If I am ever in need of your service, you can appear to
Me when called for. In the meantime, you are free to go wherever you please.”
Being so directed, the Pushpaka chariot departed in order to wander at its own
discretion. Sometime after this incident, Bharata came to Rama and began to glorify His rule
of the kingdom as follows: “Although just a little more than a month has passed since Your
coronation, there is already a complete absence of disease, untimely death, and labor pains
for women. The clouds are showering rain at the proper time, and all the people are in a
joyous state of mind.”
Rama felt very pleased while listening to Bharata’s nectarine words. He was very
satisfied to hear this confirmation of the fact that all living entities can attain the highest
fulfillment of life in a God-conscious kingdom. The winter passed, and with the arrival of
spring, Rama spent much of His time along with Sita in the lovely palace gardens. During the
day, Rama would dutifully carry out the state administration.
Then, in the evenings, He would sit with Sita in the shade of a large Ashoka tree.
Surrounding them, the Apsaras sang and danced amongst the flowering campaka, bakula
and sandalwood trees. Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Sita, the goddess
of fortune, passed each day enjoying newer and newer delights, for their pleasure in each
other’s association went on expanding unlimitedly.
One day, understanding Sita to be pregnant, Rama expressed His great happiness by
saying, “O lovely princess, is there any desire within your heart that you feel has not yet
been fulfilled? Please inform Me if there is, and I will gratify your wish without fail.”
Sita smilingly replied, “O Lord, in Your association, all my desires have been abundantly
fulfilled. But, since You are asking, I must admit that I have a strong desire to visit the
ashrams of the rishis that are situated along the banks of the Ganga. I would like to go and
offer my obeisances to all the great sages who are living there.”
Rama replied, “My dear Sita, rest assured that you will very soon have the opportunity
to visit the rishis in the forest.”
Later in the day, Rama entered the royal assembly and began to pass His time by joking
and light conversation with His advisors. Then, turning to Bhadra, Rama asked, “What do the
citizens talk about these days? What do they say about Sita, Bharata, Lakshman and
Shatrughna? How do they feel about our mother, Kaikeyi, and what do they think of Me?
After all, kings are always the subject of people’s criticism.”
With folded hands, Bhadra replied, “My Lord, everyone praises Your victory over the
ten-headed Ravana. They consider You to be the greatest of all heroes.”
Still, Rama urged, “I want you to tell Me truthfully all that is being said. Only by knowing
things as they are can one cut down his faults and weaknesses and thus endeavor for self-
improvement. Bhadra, there is no need for you to be afraid. I have already understood that
envious people are spreading rumors about Me throughout Ayodhya. I have personally
heard some people criticize Me for foolishly taking back a woman who had remained for so
long in the house of another.”
After hearing this, Bhadra first of all bowed down to Rama. Then he replied, “Whether
good or bad, I do not know, but this is what people are saying in the market places and city
streets: ‘Rama has performed an extraordinary feat by bridging the ocean and vanquishing
the powerful Ravana. Still, has it never occurred to Him that He has brought home a woman
that was abducted by the Rakshasa King and forced to sit on his lap? Does Rama not feel
disgust while enjoying a woman who remained with Ravana for almost one full year?
Whatever a king does, the subjects must follow, and so now we have to tolerate
unfaithfulness from our wives.’ O Lord, it is these and other similar words that the people of
Ayodhya speak about You.”
Rama felt shocked and dismayed upon hearing this. He asked the other ministers if
what Bhadra had spoken was true, and they all confirmed that it was so. Actually, Rama
knew perfectly well of Sita’s complete purity and innocence. Nevertheless, He could not
tolerate the shame of having to hear how people were mocking Him in this way. Because of
this, Rama made up His mind to abandon His unsuspecting wife. He then called for
Lakshman.
Rama said, “Lakshman, what I have to say is very painful, but please listen to Me with
great care and attention. I have just learned that many of the citizens are criticizing Me for
bringing Sita back from Lanka. Just see how distressed I have become! I have appeared in
the royal dynasty of Ikshvaku, and so I would rather die than have any stain of dishonor
become attached to My name. After killing Ravana, I had also considered, ‘How can I take
Sita back to Ayodhya?’ It was to allay these fears that I made the princess of Vidarbha enter
the fire in the presence of all the demigods and great rishis. At that time, Vayu and Agni had
declared that Sita was pure, and within My own heart I knew that she was chaste. So, I
happily accepted Sita, but now rumors are being spread everywhere, and I am being blamed
in My own kingdom.”
“O Lakshman, as long as one’s misbehavior is the subject of rumors, he has to suffer
great humiliation and defamation. Improper activities are always condemned, and that is
what motivates the noble-minded toward good acts. I am ready to give up My life, if
necessary, in order to avoid public scandal. In fact, I am ready to renounce even you, My
dear brother, if it is required for insuring My good name and reputation. So, what to speak of
Sita! I feel as if I am drowning in an ocean of sorrow! Never before have I experienced such
misfortune!”
“Lakshman, tomorrow at dawn I want you to take Sita to the banks of the Ganga and
give her a tour of all the ashrams of the great rishis. Then, when you come to Valmiki’s
ashram, which is on the banks of the River Tamasa, I want you to abandon her and come
back to Ayodhya alone.”
“My dear brother, you must carry out My order without any argument, for even the
slightest hesitation on Your part will make Me very displeased with You. In fact, let it be
known that anyone who objects to My decision will immediately become My worst enemy!
Just a little while ago, Sita told Me that she wants very much to visit all the ashrams along
the banks of the Ganga. Now, go and fulfill her desire.”
Lakshman became brokenhearted while hearing Rama speak, but since he was the
very obedient servant of his elder brother, he gave his consent without hesitation. Early the
next morning, Lakshman went to Sita and said, “Your husband has ordered Me to fulfill your
desire. I will escort you to the banks of the Ganga so that you can worship the great rishis
who are residing there. Sumantra is ready with the chariot, and so I request you to come at
once.”
Sita was delighted. After putting on her finest dress and most exquisite jewelry, she told
Lakshman, “I will distribute these, along with other gifts, to the wives of the great sages.”
Lakshman helped Sita onto the chariot, and they quickly departed. But, as they
proceeded, Sita anxiously said, “Lakshman, my right eye has begun to twitch and my mind
feels strangely uneasy. I suddenly feel very weak, and the world seems to look so gloomy. I
hope that Rama is alright.”
Sita offered prayers to the demigods for the welfare of her husband and other relatives.
Lakshman then replied in a voice that was choked up because of his tears, “I hope that you
do not meet with any misfortune.”
By evening, Sita, Lakshman and Sumantra came to the River Gomati, and so they spent
the night there. Early the next morning they continued their journey, and by afternoon they
came to the Ganga. But, after dismounting, Lakshman broke down and cried, for He could
no longer contain His grief.
With great concern, Sita inquired, “Lakshman, what’s wrong? Now that we have
reached our destination You should be happy! Your sadness makes me feel very uneasy.
Has just two days separation from Rama brought You such anguish? I love Rama very
dearly, but still I am not disturbed like You! Lakshman, please compose Yourself. We have
to cross the Ganga so that we can meet the great rishis. After that, we can quickly return to
Ayodhya, for I also miss Rama very much.”
After wiping the tears from his eyes, Lakshman arranged for a boat and then escorted
Sita across the Ganga. When they reached the other side, Lakshmana tearfully confessed,
“O princess of Vidarbha, the all-good Lord Rama has entrusted Me with a very painful task,
and by performing this duty I will become infamous in the eyes of the world. It would have
been better if I had died rather than execute your husband’s order! Noble lady, please
forgive Me for what I am being forced to do.”
After saying this, Lakshman fell to the ground and began to weep very bitterly. With
great agitation, Sita asked, “Lakshman! What is the matter? I cannot understand what You
are saying. Please tell me clearly what is troubling You. Is there some great misfortune that
has befallen Rama and You do not have the courage to tell me?”
Lakshman stood up, and with His head bowed low, He replied in a faltering voice,
“While sitting in the royal court, Rama learned that vicious rumors had been circulating
throughout Ayodhya, accusing Him of acting with impropriety. Everywhere, people blame
Rama for having accepted you back and this stain on His reputation pains Him unbearably.
Sita, I know that you are faultless, and so does Rama. Please do not misunderstand your
husband. He is being forced to relinquish you in order to maintain the good name of the
Ikshvaku dynasty.”
“O Princess, do not be heart-broken, for the abodes of the brahmarshis that are situated
here on the banks of the Ganga are celestially beautiful. You should take shelter of the great
sage Valmiki, for he was a good friend of your father-in-law, Maharaja Dasharatha. Always
think of Rama within your heart, and remain unflinchingly devoted to Him. In this way, you
will attain the highest happiness. Of this there is no doubt.”
Upon hearing of her cruel fate, Sita immediately fainted onto the ground. When she
came to her senses, Sita piteously cried out, “Now I can see that this life has been awarded
to me simply for suffering! What great sin did I commit in the past? What poor girl’s marriage
did I obstruct, so that now Rama is casting off His innocent wife? I faithfully followed my
husband into exile and remained content despite all kinds of hardships. Lakshman, how will I
be able to survive here alone? What will I tell the rishis when they ask me why I was
abandoned by my husband? What wrong have I done? I would gladly end my life at once by
throwing myself in the Ganga, but that would bring about the end of Rama’s dynasty.”
Finally, after becoming somewhat composed, Sita told Lakshman, “I know that You are
simply carrying out Your duty, and so I do not blame You. Go back to Ayodhya and offer my
respects to my mothers-in-law. Touch the feet of my husband and deliver this message to
Him: ‘O Rama, You know that my devotion has always been fixed upon You without
deviation. You know of my chastity and unfailing love, and yet, out of fear of dishonor and
shame, You have rejected me. O Rama, my Lord and only refuge, You should not do this!’ ”
“ ‘My dear husband, I do not grieve so much for myself, for I know that I am faultless.
And, for a chaste woman, the husband is as good as God. Therefore, I must accept
whatever You order as being for my welfare, even if it means giving up my life.’ ”
Lakshman circumambulated Sita and got onto the boat. After reaching the other side,
He mounted upon the waiting chariot. Then, as Lakshman set out for Ayodhya, He turned
His head, just to have one last glimpse of Sita. Sita also sorrowfully gazed at Lakshman as
He receded into the distance. Then, being all alone and unprotected, Sita gave full vent to
her grief by falling onto the ground and sobbing uncontrollably.
Lakshman then said, “Sumantra, what terrible pain Rama will have to suffer now that He
has abandoned His dear wife. It seems as if that great destroyer of Rakshasas is Himself
under the control of cruel Destiny! I am sure that the sorrow that Rama will feel now will far
exceed that which He experienced while living in exile by the order of His father.”
Sumantra was able to pacify Lakshman, and after spending the night on the banks of
the river they resumed their journey early the next morning. Meanwhile, some of Valmiki’s
disciples happened to see Sita weeping. They ran to their guru and said, “Come quickly!
There is a woman who resembles the goddess of fortune, sitting alone in the forest and
crying!”
By dint of his mystic power, Valmiki could understand everything. He rushed to the spot
where the bereaved Sita sat and very humbly approached her. Valmiki mildly spoke as
follows: “Devoted wife of Lord Rama and daughter of Maharaja Janaka, by the strength of
my austerities, I know all that happens within the three worlds, and thus I can understand
your plight as well. Please do not be afraid. Near my ashram some female ascetics reside,
and they will care for you very devotedly, as if you were their daughter. Please come with me
now. Consider this to be your new home.”
Valmiki took Sita and placed her under the care of the lady ascetics. Meanwhile, after
arriving at Ayodhya, Lakshman entered the royal palace. There, He saw Rama sitting in a
terribly distracted state of mind, shedding tears while absorbed in a state of deep
contemplation. Upon seeing this, Lakshman’s eyes also filled up with tears.
After bowing down, Lakshman spoke as follows, in a voice that was laden with great
sorrow: “My dear brother, in accordance with Your order, I abandoned Sita on the banks of
the Ganga near Valmiki’s ashram. Rama, there is no use in giving way to such grief. After
all, in this world, meeting and separation are concomitant factors. It is inevitable that one’s
wife, son and one’s very life must one day be given up. Because of this, intelligent persons
always pass through life’s journey with an attitude of detachment.”
“My dear brother, Your unlimited prowess controls the three worlds. Why then do You
not suppress this despondency? Cast off this weakness! Otherwise, more rumors will
circulate. What will people think?”
Rama became pacified by Lakshman’s words, and thus He gradually cast off His grief.
Rama then said, “My dear Lakshman, for the last four days I have completely neglected My
royal duties. Now, please summon the ministers, priests and people in general with whom
there is business. The King who does not daily look after the state administration is certainly
doomed to suffer in hell!”
After this, Rama and Lakshman engaged in pleasant conversation while Rama related
the history of many former illustrious kings. Rama then hastened to the royal assembly,
being eager to attend to the duties of state administration. He ordered Lakshman, “Go now
to the palace gate and bring here all those who have come with their petitions.”
Lakshman soon returned, and said, “My Lord, it appears that there is no one in the
kingdom of Koshala who is in need of anything.”
But, Rama insisted, “Go once more and look carefully. I do not want to be accused of
even the slightest tinge of negligence. Nor do I want the least bit of irreligiosity to go
undetected in My kingdom.”
This time, Lakshman noticed a dog sitting near the palace gate. Its head was bleeding,
and while staring at Him with a fixed gaze, the dog whined mournfully. “What is the matter”,
Lakshman asked. “Why have you come here. You can tell me everything without fear.”
The dog replied, “I wish to speak directly with Lord Rama, whose lotus feet award one
fearlessness, and who is the shelter of the distressed.”
Lakshman said, “If you have something to say, then you are welcome to come in and
speak to the King Himself.”
But, the dog replied, “I am a very low-born creature, and so I am unworthy of entering
temples, the houses of brahmanas and royal palaces. The King is the embodiment of all
religious principles, the representative of all the demigods, and the benefactor of all living
beings. Without His permission, I cannot dare to come before Rama.”
When Lakshman went and reported the matter, Rama immediately commanded,
“Whoever it may be, go and usher him in without delay.”
The dog then came very humbly before Rama and said, “O Lord, the King is the
representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus he is the savior of all
creatures. While others sleep peacefully, the King remains alert, always working for the
welfare of everyone.”
“But, on the other hand, because everything depends upon him, when the King is
negligent, his subjects very soon perish. The King is the upholder of religious principles, and
thus he simultaneously curbs down the forces of evil. Those who follow religious principles
experience happiness in this life as well as the next. For this reason, the King receives great
merit for sustaining dharma.”
“O Rama, You are a model religious King. With my head placed at Your lotus feet, I
seek Your mercy. Do not become angry at what I have to say.”
Rama reassured the dog by saying, “Go on! You can speak without fear!”
Being thus encouraged, the dog explained, “A mendicant brahmana named Sarvatha-
siddha has injured my head, even though there was no fault on my part.”
Immediately, Rama had His men go and summon Sarvatha-siddha. Soon after, when
the brahmana came before Him, Rama inquired, “Why have you struck this dog? What was
his fault? Anger is one’s deadly enemy. It is like a sharp sword that slashes away all of one’s
virtues. Anger nullifies one’s long-accumulated merit of austerity. Therefore, the wise rid
themselves of anger by neglecting it in thought, speech and act. O brahmana, one’s true
character cannot remain hidden, no matter how hard one tries to conceal it. Misdeeds will
always betray those who have not conquered the forces of lust, anger and greed.”
The brahmana replied, “I was wandering about, begging for alms, when I came upon
this dog, squatting in the middle of the road, blocking my path. I told him, ‘Make way!’ but he
got up so slowly that I struck him on the head with my staff. I was famished, and so my
anger became easily aroused. O King, I admit my guilt. You should punish me as You see
fit, just to save me from falling down into a hellish condition of life.”
Rama turned to His ministers and asked, “What should the punishment be? Justice
must be done, for nothing instills more confidence in the minds of the people than the
administration of fair punishment to all wrong-doers.”
Bhrigu, Angiras, Vasishtha, Kashyapa, and others who know religious principles replied,
“A brahmana is never to be punished. This is the unanimous opinion of those who are
conversant with raja-dharma. Still, Rama, You are the ultimate judge, for You are the Lord of
the entire universe. You are Lord Vishnu Himself and thus whatever is spoken by You is
eternal religion.”
At this point, the dog interrupted, saying, “O King, you had asked, ‘What can I do for
you?’ If You really wish to act in a way that would please me, kindly appoint this brahmana to
the post of acharya of the Kalanjara monastery.”
Rama fulfilled the dog’s request and so the delighted brahmana, Sarvatha-siddha,
became honored as a spiritual leader and was placed atop a magnificently decorated
elephant. Being greatly upset, the ministers protested, “O King, this cannot be considered
punishment! Instead of putting the brahmana to shame You have awarded him an exalted
position!”
Rama replied, “You do not understand the intricate law of karma, but the dog does.”
Being prompted by Rama, the dog explained, “In my last life I was the head of the
Kalanjara monastery. I duly worshiped the demigods and brahmanas, I performed my
sacred duties very carefully, and I nicely maintained all the servants and maidservants. And
yet, despite so much care and attention, I took my next birth as a dog, due to some unknown
fault.”
“Now, just consider this brahmana, who cannot even control his anger. He is certainly
unfit to be an acharya. For his audacity in accepting such a position, he will degrade seven
generations of his family. How can a man who is not able to control his temper be put in
charge of brahmanas, cows, and deity worship? Anyone who steals from the brahmanas,
demigods, women or children is doomed, as is one who takes back a gift that was freely
given. In fact, the very thought of stealing from the demigods and brahmanas will send a
man to the lowest of hells!”
After saying this, the dog suddenly disappeared, while Rama and the others sat there,
awestruck with wide-open eyes. Although previously born in a very high family, that living
being had somehow been forced to accept the body of a dog. After leaving the royal court at
Ayodhya, the dog went and gave up his life by abstaining from food and water, in the hopes
of attaining a better next birth.
One day, some rishis, headed by Chyavana, came to see Rama. They informed him
that the son of the Daitya Madhu, named Lavanasura, was now residing at Madhuvana and
was oppressing the sages who were living there. Rama assured the rishis that He would
dispose of Lavanasura and then Shatrughna begged for this assignment. Rama replied,
“Shatrughna, let it be so! I will crown You at once as the King of Madhuvana.”
After dispatching his army, Shatrughna set out for Madhuvana, and on the third day, he
reached Valmiki’s ashram. That night, as Shatrughna stayed with Valmiki, Sita gave birth to
twin sons at midnight. After receiving this news from his disciples, Valmiki went and
performed some rituals with kusha-grass, for the purpose of warding off ghosts and
Rakshasas. Valmiki then had some elderly people rub the body of the first-born child with the
tips of kusha-grass, and the younger twin with the lower end of kusha-grass. Thus, the elder
boy became known as Kush, and the younger one, Lava (meaning “lower end”). Shatrughna
was very happy to learn that twin sons had been born to Lord Rama and Sita.
The next morning, Shatrughna resumed His journey. After killing Lavanasura,
Shatrughna continued to reside at Madhuvana and built a great city there. After twelve
years, He decided to return to Ayodhya, and on the way, He came to Valmiki’s ashram. After
being very warmly received by the rishi, Shatrughna sat down and listened as Lava and
Kush recited Valmiki’s composition, Ramayana, to the accompaniment of musical
instruments.
The poetic expressions were so enrapturing, and the descriptions of Lord Rama’s
transcendental pastimes so vivid, that tears came to Shatrughna’s eyes. Even the soldiers
became entranced while hearing these events of the past, for they appeared to be re-
enacted right before their very eyes. One person exclaimed to another, “How wonderful this
recitation is! It appears as if we are dreaming! My dear Shatrughna, please ask Valmiki who
has composed this wonderful song.”
Shatrughna replied, “My dear soldiers, we should not question the rishi about this,
because many wonderful occurrences take place at his ashram. We should not be so
astonished or express our curiosity unnecessarily.”
That night, while resting, Shatrughna could think of nothing else than the sweet lyrics
that He had heard describing the pastimes of His worshipful brother, Lord Rama. The next
morning, Shatrughna departed after taking Valmiki’s leave, and soon thereafter, he arrived
at Ayodhya. Upon entering the royal palace, Shatrughna saw Rama, appearing like a second
Indra, surrounded by His ministers.
After bowing before His elder brother, Shatrughna said, “My dear Rama, I have carried
out Your command and killed the wicked Lavanasura. Ever since that time, I have been
residing at Madhupuri (modern day Mathura), and by Your mercy it has become an
exceedingly prosperous city. My dear brother, I feel very sad because of being separated
from You for the last twelve years. Therefore, I beg that You now give me permission to
reside in Ayodhya without going anywhere else in the future.”
Rama warmly embraced Shatrughna and replied, “My dear brother, You should not
speak like this. A heroic kshatriya must not express such sorrow or feel any inconvenience
while living in a distant kingdom. It is the duty of a King to rule over his subjects according to
religious principles, and so You will have to return to Madhupuri. Of course, you may visit
Ayodhya from time to time and thus see Me. My dear Shatrughna, you are dearer to Me than
life itself. Please stay here for seven days before setting out.”
One day, an elderly brahmana, coming from a village outside Ayodhya, arrived at
Rama’s palace, carrying the body of his dead child in his arms. Delirious with grief, the
brahmana wept continuously while crying out, “O my son! My dear child! What terrible crime
did I commit in a previous life so that I deserve the death of my only son? He is just a child,
not yet fourteen, and now his mother and I will have to die out of grief. What wrong did I do?
I have never spoken a lie, nor done any injury to man or animal.”
“Never before in the kingdom of Rama has a son died before his parents. Therefore, the
death of my son must be due to some fault of Rama Himself. It is a well-known fact that only
when the King becomes negligent in performing his duties do such anomalies occur. Rama,
You must return my innocent son to me or else my wife and I will give up our lives at Your
doorstep. In this way, You will become guilty of killing brahmanas. O King, You claim to be a
great ruler in the line of Ikshvaku. How will You be able to go on living happily when the
great sins that You have perpetrated continue to haunt You?”
Upon hearing of the brahmana’s plight, Rama hurriedly summoned His advisors-
Markandeya, Maudgalya, Kashyapa, Katyayana, Jabali, Gautama and Narada. Then, after
seating the great rishis and offering them obeisances, Rama informed them of the elderly
brahmana’s accusations.
Narada then siad, “O King, I shall disclose to You the reason for this child’s death. Then,
You can act in whatever way You see fit. In the Krita-yuga, everyone was brahminically
qualified, and by performing austerity, they achieved liberation from material bondage. In
that golden age, wisdom was the rule, and there were no untimely deaths. Then, at the
beginning of Treta-yuga, the four social divisions were created. The kshatriyas were almost
as qualified as the brahmanas and so both of them were allowed to practice tapasya. In the
Dvapara-yuga, irreligiosity will increase, and thus many irregularities will be introduced. As a
concession, the vaishyas will also be allowed to perform austerities, but the shudras will be
strictly forbidden from doing so. Thereafter, in Kali-yuga, even shudras will be allowed to
perform austerities, for in that degraded age, there will be practically no qualified brahmanas,
kshatriyas or vaishyas.”
“Rama, it is a serious offense for a shudra to practice austerities in this age, and it just
so happens that there is one such person in Your kingdom. There is a shudra who is
executing very severe penance, and he is the cause of this child’s death. O King, irreligiosity
is the state’s worst enemy. Therefore, the ruler who fails to punish wrongdoers deserves to
suffer in hell. You must find this culprit at once, so that religious principles may be upheld,
and the brahmana’s son restored to life.”
Being pleased with this advice, Rama ordered Lakshman, “Go at once to the palace
gate. Tell the brahmana to preserve the dead body of his child in a vat of oil after applying
the necessary herbs.”
Rama mentally summoned the Pushpaka chariot, and after leaving Ayodhya in the care
of Lakshman and Bharata, He departed to search for the offender. After searching in the
West, North and East, Rama traveled in the South. There, near the Servile Mountain, beside
a large lake, Rama spotted an ascetic hanging head downward, engaged in executing
severe penance.
“What great austerity! What fixed determination!” Rama exclaimed. “Tell me, O
formidable one, who are you? I am Rama, the son of Dasharatha, and you have aroused My
curiosity. For what purpose are you undergoing so much trouble? Are you seeking the
heavenly planets, or have you some other goal? Are you a brahmana, a heroic kshatriya, a
vaishya or a shudra? Please tell the truth.”
From his head-downward position, the ascetic replied, “Illustrious King, I was born from
the womb of a shudrani. And yet, despite this handicap, I am performing austerities in the
hopes that in my next life I can attain the planets of the demigods. My name is Shambuka.”
Shambuka had hardly finished speaking when Rama suddenly unsheathed His sword
and slashed off his head. From the sky came shouts of “Well done!” and “Excellent!” as
flowers rained down on all sides. Being exceedingly pleased, the great demigods appeared
before Rama and declared, “O Lord, You have done us a great favor! By performing this
noble act, You have insured that this shudra will not go to heaven in violation of religious
principles.”
With folded hands, Rama replied to Indra, “King of heaven, if you are truly pleased with
Me, then bring the brahmana’s son back to life. It was due to My fault that the boy died, and
so I promised his father that I would restore his life. O best of the demigods, please allow My
words to hold true.”
Indra happily replied, “My dear Lord, You can rest assured that the child is already
revived and reunited with his parents. He regained his life as soon as the shudra’s head fell
to the ground.”
Later on, Rama desired to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice, but He was dissuaded from
doing so by Bharata, who said, “My dear elder brother, all the kings of the earth look upon
You just like a father. You should not do anything that will cause them suffering. All these
kings are fully obedient to You and so You should not threaten them with destruction.”
Rama gladly accepted Bharata’s advice and then Lakshman proposed that He perform
the Ashvamedha-yagya instead. Rama gave His consent.
Meanwhile, Valmiki called for Lava and Kush, and instructed them as follows: “I would
like for you to go out now and continue reciting Ramayana throughout the land. Go to the
homes of brahmanas, the ashrams of rishis, and the palaces of great kings. Sing Ramayana
while wandering through the city streets and while travelling through the countryside.”
“First of all, I want you to go to Ayodhya. If Rama invites you to recite Ramayana before
the assembled brahmanas, then do so. Do not accept any payment in return, but simply say,
‘What good is gold for those who simply subsist on fruit and roots?’
If Rama inquires, ‘Whose sons are you?’ then reply, ‘We are Valmiki’s disciples’. Sing
the verses of Ramayana very sweetly, and make sure that nothing displeases the King, for
He is considered to be like a father to all living beings.”
Lava and Kush replied, “We shall do as you say.” That night, they slept peacefully with
Valmiki’s advice firmly fixed in their hearts. Thereafter, it so came to pass that Lava and
Kush began to recite the epic Ramayana, accompanied by stringed instruments, at
Ayodhya. The twins’ voices had a transcendental sweetness that made their recitations
appear to be more melodious than the singing of the Gandharvas. The audience was
enthralled by their artistry, and Rama also listened with great curiosity.
Turning to one another, people remarked, “Except for their matted hair and deerskin
dress, these boys exactly resemble Lord Rama!”
When Lava and Kush suspended their recitation for some period, Rama ordered
Lakshman, “Give these noble-minded boys 20,000 gold coins, costly garments and whatever
else they may desire.”
But, when they were offered these gifts Lava and Kush refused them, saying, “What is
the use of gold for ascetics who live on fruit and roots?”
Highly astonished, Rama inquired, “My dear boys, how many parts are there to this epic
poem, and which learned rishi has composed it?”
The twins replied, “O King, the great sage Valmiki is our spiritual master, and he is the
author of this great literature that narrates the entire history of Your life. The poem consists
of six parts, and one additional part describes Your concluding pastimes. If You so desire,
we will recite the entire Ramayana during the intervals of Your great sacrifice.”
Thereafter, Rama listened with unbounded pleasure as Lava and Kush recited
Ramayana for many days. Then, at last, Rama positively concluded, “These must be the
twin sons of Sita. There is no doubt about this!”
Rama’s heart melted due to great affection for His sons. Finally, after considering the
matter very deeply, Rama called for messengers of impeccable etiquette and gave them the
following order.
Rama said, “Go at once to Valmiki’s ashram and tell him this, ‘If Sita is actually
blameless, if her character is faultlessly pure, let her come here with your permission, so that
she can prove her innocence before all the assembled citizens.’ Then, hurry back with Sita
and Valmiki’s replies. Let Sita come tomorrow at dawn to establish the truth of her chastity in
My presence.”
When Sita heard Rama’s message, she could not accept the proposal, for she
considered such a public trial to be a great humiliation. Then, finally, after coming to a firm
decision in her mind, Sita dressed in reddish cloth and started out for Ayodhya, along with
Valmiki. A large crowd had gathered from all corners of the Koshala kingdom. In fact, all the
demigods, headed by Lord Brahma, as well as other celestials and great rishis, came to
witness the trial of Sita’s purity.
Valmiki then arrived, followed by Sita, her head bent low and her hands joined in
supplication. Tears filled her large eyes, and Lord Rama was firmly fixed within her heart.
While the assembled citizens restlessly murmured in anticipation, Valmiki approached
Lord Rama and said, “O son of Dasharatha, here is the impeccably righteous Sita, whom
You abandoned out of fear of public scandal. She has come here to prove her purity, and
thus she awaits Your command.”
“Rama, I, who have never uttered a lie, make the following declaration: ‘If Sita is tainted
by even the slightest guilt, may the results of my accumulated austerities prove to be
eternally fruitless.’ Although You loved Sita deeply, and were convinced of her innocence,
You discarded her out of fear of public opinion. By dint of my spiritual vision, I can
understand Sita’s perfect purity, and so I have come here to proclaim this truth before You.”
Rama gazed upon Sita for a moment. Then, He announced to the assembly, “So be it! I
accept as truth all that the great rishi has said. Previously, the demigods had testified to
Sita’s purity, and so I happily brought her back to Ayodhya. Still, people began to criticize
Me, and so with great reluctance I sent her away. Now, I have decided that if Sita can prove
her innocence before this assembly, then I shall once again accept her as the wife that I
dearly love.”
Everyone fell silent and fixed their eyes upon Sita, who stood with her gaze lowered and
her head bent slightly downward. After a short pause, Sita began to speak within the hearing
of all assembled there.
Sita said, “O goddess of the earth, please hear my petition. If, since the time of my
marriage, I have never thought of anyone but Rama- if I have never loved any man but my
husband- then grant me shelter. In thought, word and action, if I have only dwelt in Rama,
and no one else, then give me a place within you, so that I need not experience the shame
of facing these slanderous people!”
As Sita was speaking, the earth suddenly opened, and from out of the crevice the
goddess Bhumi majestically arose, seated upon a celestial throne that was borne by divine
serpents. The goddess smilingly welcomed Sita and took her in her arms, in order to seat
her on the throne by her side. Then, as all beings, in the sky and on the earth, looked on in
astonishment, the celestial throne began to descend into the bowels of the earth.
There was an uproar as all beings uttered exclamations of wonder, praising Sita for this
glorious confirmation of her purity. From the heavens, the demigods showered flowers, while
singing and playing on musical instruments.
After Sita disappeared from sight, Rama picked up a staff that had been used during the
sacrifice, and while leaning on it He gave vent to His intolerable grief.
As tears welled up in His eyes, and anger flared up within His mind, Rama lowered His
head and declared, “Earth, you had better return My Sita immediately, or else open up once
more so that I can be reunited with her. Sita is your daughter and so I am your son-in-law.
Give Me Sita without delay or I will crush your mountains, burn your forests and then smash
you into atoms!”
Lord Brahma then said, “My Lord, please remember Your identity! You are the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, and Sita is the goddess of fortune! She has entered
the planet of the Nagas, and very shortly she will be reunited with You in Your
transcendental abode, Vaikuntha.”
“O Supreme hero, Lord of the universe and sustainer of all that lives, why must I remind
You of Your divine position? Rama, give up Your grief and hear from Your sons the
concluding portion of the great narration that describes Your transcendental pastimes. This
epic poem, which was composed by Valmiki, will spread Your glories throughout the three
worlds for as long as the universe continues to exist.”
Having said this, Lord Brahma disappeared from view. Rama then went to Valmiki’s
ashram, along with Lava and Kush. After passing the night, grieving over the loss of Sita,
Rama summoned all the rishis and then requested His sons to recite the Uttara kanda of
Ramayana.
Rama then returned to Ayodhya, but He soon found life to be barren without His
beloved wife. Rama had a golden deity of Sita made, and whenever He performed some
religious function, He had the murti occupy the wife’s place next to Him. Rama continued to
rule the kingdom strictly according to religious principles, and thus rains showered forth
regularly, crops were abundant, and everywhere were signs of prosperity.
Many years later, Kaushalya passed away, and then Sumitra and then Kaikeyi, so that
they became re-united with Maharaja Dasharatha in the transcendental realm. Some time
thereafter, Yudhijit, the King of Kekaya, came to see Lord Rama at Ayodhya, requesting Him
to conquer over the Gandharva King, Sailusha, who resided north of the River Indus.
Rama immediately appointed Bharata’s two sons, Taksha and Pushkala, as rulers of the
Gandharva kingdom. Bharata then proceeded with a large army and established Taksha in
Taxila and Pushkala in Pushkalavati. Five years later, Bharata returned to Ayodhya. Rama
then appointed Lakshman’s two sons, Angada and Chitraketu, the rulers of Karupatha, after
having brought that territory under subjugation. Lakshman had accompanied his two sons,
and after an absence of one year, He returned to Ayodhya.
Since the time for the closing of Lord Rama’s earthly pastimes was near at hand, Time
personified came to Ayodhya one day, disguised as a wandering ascetic. After arriving at the
palace gate, Time announced to Lakshman, who was standing there, “I am a messenger
from Brahma. I have come on a very important mission, and so I desire to see Lord Rama at
once.”
After He had very respectfully seated Time upon a golden throne, Rama inquired, “Holy
one, what is the nature of your visit? What is the message that you have come to deliver?”
The messenger replied, “O King, if You honor the wishes of Lord Brahma, then our
meeting must be held in private, for his words are not meant for the ears of others. Let it be
known for certain that anyone who overhears our conversation will soon meet with death.
Rama, You must promise that if anyone comes and interrupts our meeting, You will
unhesitatingly give up all connection with him.”
Rama replied, “Let it be so!” Then, turning to Lakshman, He ordered, “Dismiss the
doorman. I want you to personally guard the entrance, for this meeting must be in strict
privacy.”
When the two were alone, Death, in the form of a messenger, related Lord Brahma’s
message as follows: “My Lord, You have appeared within this world at our request, to relieve
the burden of the earth. Now that Ravana has been killed, and You have ruled the earth for a
sufficient period of time, You may return to Your transcendental abode, if You so desire. O
all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are the source of my strength and my
very existence as well. Let me therefore offer You my most respectful obeisances.”
Rama smilingly replied, “You have spoken well. May there be all good fortune for you.
Now, please go and tell Brahma that because I have fulfilled the purpose of the demigods, I
will very soon return to My abode in the spiritual sky.”
But, it so happened that while Rama and the messenger were conversing, Durvasa
Muni came to the royal palace. When Lakshman went to receive him, the rishi insisted, “I am
here on very urgent business and so I want to see Lord Rama at once.”
Lakshman replied, “Rama has given me very strict orders that He cannot be interrupted
under any circumstance. O foremost of rishis, please wait a bit.”
Hearing this, Durvasa lost his temper. With fiery eyes, he screamed, “Go and announce
my presence at once! If you are so foolish as to disobey me, then I will curse Rama,
Bharata, You, the entire Ikshvaku dynasty, and all the people of the Koshala kingdom as
well! Lakshman, I am trying to restrain myself, by my patience is wearing thin!”
Lakshman knew that to interrupt Rama’s conversation with Kala would soon bring about
His death. Still, when He thought about Durvasa’s curse, He concluded, “It is better if I alone
suffer rather than cause everyone’s ruination.”
Lakshman entered the room, and when Rama was informed of Durvasa’s arrival, He
took leave of Kala and hurriedly went to meet him. As He stood before Durvasa Muni with
folded hands, Rama inquired, “O foremost of ascetic brahmanas, what can I do to please
you?”
Durvasa replied, “O righteous King, I have just completed a thousand-year fast. What
can You give me to eat?”
Rama quickly provided Durvasa with a sumptuous feast, and as a result, the rishi
became very pleased. But, after Durvasa’s departure, Rama remembered the promise that
he had made to Kala, and so a horrible fear overwhelmed Him. Fearing the loss of His most
intimate associate, Rama stood motionlessly, as if deprived of all reason, His head bowed
down dejectedly.
Lakshman then approached His aggrieved brother and cheerfully said, “Rama, do not
lament for that which is inevitable, being under the control of supreme destiny. Duty must be
carried out without attachment or aversion. Therefore, keep Your promise and banish Me
without hesitation.”
Rama summoned His ministers, and after describing all that had happened, He asked
for their advice. Vasishtha said, “My dear Rama, by dint of my ascetic prowess I could
foresee all this happening to You. Now, You must keep Your promise. Otherwise, Your
lifelong adherence to righteousness will be blighted. With the decay of religious principles,
the world gradually comes to perish. Therefore, stick to Your vow of truthfulness and banish
Lakshman.”
Rama appeared to think over the matter very deeply. Then, He announced to the
assembly, “In order to adhere to righteousness, I hereby order that Lakshman be banished
from Ayodhya.”
All the ministers applauded Rama’s decision. Lakshman then went to the banks of the
River Sarayu and began to absorb His mind in the practice of mystic yoga. Finally, when the
time became ripe, King Indra appeared there, riding upon a celestial chariot. Without leaving
His body, it being spiritual and transcendental, Lakshman ascended to heaven amidst the
singing of Gandharvas, the dancing of Apsaras, and showers of fragrant flowers.
After Lakshman’s disappearance, Rama decided to install Bharata on the royal throne
so that He could be free to follow the son of Sumitra’s path. Bharata refused to sit on the
throne, however, because He preferred to accompany Rama to the forest rather than enjoy
the kingdom without Him. First, Rama divided His kingdom among His sons, giving Kush the
northern part of Koshala and Lava the southern part. After the coronation ceremony was
completed, Rama very affectionately embraced His twin sons and then gave them vast
amounts of gold and jewels, thousands of chariots, and countless horses and elephants.
When the citizens learned of Rama’s intention to retire to the forest, they became
determined to follow Him wherever He might go, for their grief due to impending separation
was unbearable. Shatrughna was also bent upon following Rama, so that when the Lord
finally went out of the city, there was a great procession behind Him. In fact, out of love and
devotion, every living entity followed Rama to the forest, so that not even an animal could be
seen in Ayodhya.
As Rama walked along, everyone could see that He was exhibiting a mood of complete
detachment and indifference, as if He were preparing to give up this world. All of Rama’s
potencies appeared in their personified forms in order to accompany Him on this momentous
occasion. Shri walked on Rama’s right and Bhumi walked on His left. Shakti walked in front,
and innumerable other energies followed Rama, including Omkara, Gayatri, and the Vedas.
Next in the procession came Bharata, Shatrughna and Their families. With them were the
brahmanas who attended to the sacred fire. Behind the brahmanas walked the rest of the
citizens, according to their positions, and last of all came the animals.
When He reached the banks of the Sarayu, Rama paused, and at that time, Lord
Brahma with all the demigods appeared overhead in their celestial chariots. The sky was
thus lit up with a heavenly radiance, and gentle, sweet-smelling breezes began to blow. The
Gandharvas and Apsaras sang and danced, while the rest of the residents of heaven rained
down the most fragrant flowers.
After some time, as Rama proceeded to enter into the water, Lord Brahma offered these
prayers: “O Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are now concluding Your earthly
pastimes, and are preparing to return to Your transcendental abode, which is beyond this
material world. You are the eternal Lord Vishnu, and although You appear in various
incarnations, Your body is unchanging and original. It is You alone who are the cause of all
causes and the support of all existence. Everything is part and parcel of You, for You are the
Supreme Absolute Truth, the source of all emanations.”
“O Lord, You have so kindly appeared to remove the burden of the earth, and so let us
now offer our respectful obeisances unto You, again and again.”
Followed by Bharata and Shatrughna, Lord Rama thus returned to His eternal abode in
the spiritual sky. In fact, not only the sons of Dasharatha, but all of their followers, attained to
the Vaikuntha planet where Lord Rama eternally resides.
Thus concludes this transcendental narration of the pastimes of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, known as Ramayana, which was composed by the great rishi and
devotee, Valmiki. Only persons who have implicit faith in the Supreme Lord should recite
Ramayana, for it is not different from Him. The hearing of even a single verse has the
potency to eradicate all sins committed by a person that day. For this reason, those who
seek liberation from the cycle of repeated birth and death always relish this great
transcendental literature.
The recitation of Ramayana grants one all of the fruits of dharma, artha, kama and
moksha, and beyond that, it helps one advance toward life’s ultimate goal, the development
of pure love of God. May the readers of this book become blessed and inspired in Krishna
consciousness. May the transcendental forms of Sita and Lord Ramachandra remain forever
situated within their hearts.

The appearance of Lord Ramachandra


(Ramnavami)

The appearance of Lord Ramachandra from the book (Valmiki) "Ramayana".

The great tract of land known as Kosala extended along the banks of the Sarayu River. This
land was verdant, prosperous and rich in grain. Within this vast territory was the renowned
city of Ayodhya, built by the desire of Vaivasvata Manu, the ruler of mankind. This glorious
city was ninety-six miles long and twenty-four miles wide. It was well laid out, and its
beautiful, straight roads were perfumed with scented water sprayed from the trunks of
intoxicated elephants. Every day, the damsels of the celestial planets hovered above it in
their beautiful airplanes and showered it with flowers.
The arched gateways of Ayodhya were made of marble, and the gates were wrought with
gold and silver and embedded with precious jewels. Cannons and catapults, capable of
repulsing any enemy, protected the city walls. The marketplaces were well planned, and
seven-story houses symmetrically lined the streets. Adorned with multi-storied palaces and
surrounded with exquisite gardens, Ayodhya resounded with the vibrations of musical
instruments, rivaling Amaravati, the abode of the heavenly king, Indra. Throughout the city,
bards and singers recited the glories of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, and dancers acted out the Lord's pastimes for everyone's benefit.

Within Ayodhya were many beautiful gardens abounding with flowers and shaded by fruit
trees. Blue, red, and golden lotuses filled the ponds, and fountains shot water high into the
air. Gentle breezes carried the aromatic spray from the fountains, cooling the citizens by
their touch, and making even a hot summer day seem like spring. The sounds of cranes and
peacocks could be heard everywhere. The water flowing through Ayodhya's streams and
rivulets tasted as sweet as sugarcane sap, and it was used not only for drinking but for
irrigating numerous mango orchards. Many houses and
palaces, perfectly designed, were built of precious stones and decorated with flags and
festoons. Their beauty rivaled the palaces of Vaikuntha. Thousands of warriors protected the
great city: skilled archers, well versed in the use of weapons, and chariot fighters who were
able to fight with thousands of men at a time.

The streets leading into Ayodhya were always filled with travelers. Kings and princes from all
parts of the world came to render their annual tribute and pay respects to the King of
Ayodhya. Traders from near and far flocked
to the markets to barter.

Brahmana priests could often be seen pouring ghee into sacrificial fires and chanting Vedic
hymns, proclaiming the glories of Lord Vishnu. Having mastered their senses and devoted
themselves to truth, these brahmanas were blessed
with all good qualities.

Maharaja Dasaratha was the emperor of the entire world and was a great rajarsi, considered
almost on the level of a maharsi He was a formidable warrior, capable of fighting alone with
an unlimited number of opponents. Because he and the citizens were completely pious,
Ayodhya was the picture of perfect Vedic civilization. Every imaginable opulence was
exhibited in perfection, and material miseries, coming from the results of sinful life, were
practically nonexistent. In Ayodhya, the four social orders, namely the brahmanas, ksatriyas,
vaisyas and sudras, participated cooperatively for the
peace and prosperity of the kingdom. No one cheated and no one was miserly. Arrogance,
atheism, and harsh behavior and speech were conspicuous by their absence.

Even though Maharaja Dasaratha possessed such fantastic opulence and prestige, he
remained unhappy. Try as he may, the King was unable to beget a son to continue his
dynasty. Finally, after much deliberation, King Dasaratha decided to perform a horse
sacrifice for the purpose of getting a son. With this in mind he sent his chief minister,
Sumantra, to call for his family priests.

When the brahmanas, headed by Vasistha and Vamadeva, assembled, Maharaja Dasaratha
addressed them, saying, ''O best among the twice born, for many years I have ardently
desired to beget a son. However, all my efforts have been in vain. Because I am without an
heir, I can no longer feign happiness. Indeed, my days seem wasted and are filled with grief.
Thus, after much careful consideration, and with your kind permission, I have decided to
perform a horse sacrifice. Because you are fully knowledgeable in scripture, I am confident
that you will be able to lead me on the proper path.''
The priests unanimously approved of Maharaja Dasaratha's idea to perform the horse
sacrifice, and thereafter, the king ordered his ministers to make all necessary arrangements
without delay. Sumantra then took Maharaja Dasaratha
aside to narrate the following story (about Rsyasrnga)...

Maharaja Dasaratha was very pleased to hear this story from Sumantra. Then, without
delay, he went with his retinue to the kingdom of Anga. There, he was received by Maharaja
Romapada with great respect, and at that time the king of Anga informed Rsyasrnga that
Dasaratha was his real father-in-law. After enjoying Romapada's hospitality for about one
week, Maharaja Dasaratha addressed his friend as follows: ''For a long time I have been
morose on account of not having a son to perpetuate my illustrious dynasty. Now, I beg you
to allow Rsyasrnga to come to Ayodhya to perform a horse sacrifice on my behalf.''

Romapada happily agreed, and Maharaja Dasaratha soon returned to his capital with
Rsyasrnga and Santa. Then, when spring arrived, Maharaja Dasaratha humbly approached
Rsyasrnga, begging him for instructions regarding the performance of the horse sacrifice.
Thus, preparations for the sacrifice commenced and a site was selected on the northern
bank of the River Sarayu. The system was for an emperor to send a challenge horse all over
the world
to establish his supremacy over subordinate kings. The horse would be accompanied by
soldiers of the emperor, and upon its arrival in a kingdom, the local king would either have to
offer tribute to the emperor's representatives, or fight to capture the horse. Any ruling prince
or king was at liberty either to express his tacit willingness to obey the emperor,
or to accept the challenge and thus disobey the supremacy of the particular emperor. One
who accepted the challenge had to fight with the emperor's men and establish his own
supremacy by victory. The defeated challenger would
have to sacrifice his life, making place for another king or ruler. Only when the horse
returned after touring the world, with no more challengers left, could a horse sacrifice begin.

Understanding that King Janaka would be the future father-in-law of his sons, Maharaja
Dasaratha sent him the first invitation. Likewise, other subordinate kings were requested to
attend the sacrifice. After one full year, the challenge horse returned to Ayodhya, having
wandered over the earth under the protection of 400 princes. Only then could the sacrifice
begin.

After the preliminary rites had been performed Maharaja Dasaratha's eldest queen,
Kausalya, circumambulated the challenge horse, which was tied to one of the sacrificial
stakes. Then, with three strokes of a sword, she severed
the horse's head, as prescribed by scriptural injunction.

Thereafter, Rsyasrnga offered the fat of the dead horse into the sacrificial fire. Maharaja
Dasaratha was directed to inhale the fumes, to free him from all sins. Then, the assisting
priests offered the limbs of the horse into the sacrificial fire, bringing the three day sacrifice
to an end. Maharaja Dasaratha then gave away the four directions of the earth in charity to
the four chief priests. The brahmanas returned the gifts, however, saying, ''O king, we are
devoted to Vedic study and the performance of austerities, and have no interest in ruling
over a kingdom. Therefore, please give us other gifts like cows and gold.''

Rsyasrnga then approached Maharaja Dasaratha, saying, ''My dear king, you will surely
receive four glorious sons. However, I propose that a separate sacrifice, known as Putresti,
be performed for that purpose.''

Maharaja Dasaratha readily assented, soon the sacrifice was begun. Meanwhile, in the
higher planets, the chief demigods approached Lord Brahma and explained, ''O grandsire,
because of your benedictions, Ravana has become so powerful that he is harassing
everyone at will. Even we cannot subdue the wicked Raksasa. Therefore, we request you to
personally devise the means for his destruction.''

Lord Brahma considered the situation and then replied, ''At the time of asking for
benedictions, Ravana did not bother to ask for immunity from death at the hands of human
beings, for he considered them to be too insignificant.''

While Brahma was thinking how Ravana could be killed, Lord Vishnu suddenly appeared,
riding on His carrier, Garuda. As effulgent as many suns, Lord Vishnu appeared in His four-
armed form, dressed in bright saffron garments and carrying His disc, conch, club and lotus
flower.

The demigods worshipped the Supreme Lord with great reverence and then requested, ''O
master of the universe, please come to our rescue by dividing Yourself into four, becoming
the sons of Maharaja Dasaratha for the purpose of killing Ravana.''

Lord Vishnu replied, ''Rest assured, there is no longer any need to be afraid. I will soon
incarnate to rule over the earth for 11,000 years after vanquishing your enemy, the king of
the Raksasas.'' After saying this, Lord Vishnu disappeared as the demigods looked on with
wonder. Meanwhile, from the sacrificial fire of Maharaja Dasaratha, there appeared an
exceptional being of dark complexion with all auspicious bodily features. This personality
appeared to be unlimitedly powerful. He was decorated with transcendental ornaments, and
in his hand he carried a large golden pot of sweet rice. That divine person then told
Maharaja Dasaratha, ''I am a messenger of Lord Vishnu.''

With folded hands, the king replied, ''O Vishnuduta, please order me to perform whatever
service I can render.''

The servant of Lord Vishnu said, ''This pot of sweet rice is the reward for your two sacrificial
performances. Give portions to your three wives to eat. Through them you shall beget four
sons who will forever perpetuate your fame.''

Maharaja Dasaratha happily accepted the sweet rice and circumambulated the Vishnuduta.
After Lord Vishnu's messenger disappeared from view, Maharaja Dasaratha quickly gave
portions of the sweet rice to his wives, for he was eager to have sons.

Maharaja Dasaratha gave Kausalya one half of the sweet rice, Sumitra one fourth, and
Kaikeyi one eighth. Then after some deliberation, he gave the remaining eighth to Sumitra.
All three wives were overjoyed, for they were confident that they would soon become
mothers.

The three Queens eagerly ate their shares and soon thereafter, each felt the presence of
divine offspring within their wombs. When Maharaja Dasaratha understood that his wives
were pregnant, he too became very satisfied. Meanwhile, Lord Brahma ordered the
demigods as follows: ''Beget partial manifestations of yourselves to assist Lord Vishnu in His
forthcoming incarnation. The children which you produce in the form of monkeys (by uniting
with Apsaras, she-monkeys, and female Yaksas, Nagas, Vidyadharas and other celestial
beings), must be capable of assuming any form at will and
must possess all other mystic powers. In addition, they must be very intelligent, highly skilled
in the use of weapons, having prowess almost equal to Lord Vishnu, and possess ethereal
bodies.''

After receiving the order of Lord Brahma, Indra begot Vali, Surya begot Sugriva, Brhaspati
begot Tara, Kuvera begot Gandhamada, Visvakarma begot Nala, Varuna begot Susena,
and Vayu begot Hanumana. Besides these principal monkeys, many thousands of others
took birth to assist Lord Vishnu in His mission. All of them were gigantic like mountains and
were very eager to fight with Ravana. Like the demigods who begot them, these monkeys
were born
just after conception. They were so powerful that they could agitate the ocean with their
impetuous energy.

There were three classes of these created beings: bears, monkeys, and monkeys that had
long tails like cows. Because there were more than ten million of these monkeys and bears,
the earth soon became overrun with them as they wandered throughout the forests, eating
wild fruits and various roots.

After the completion of the Putrsti sacrifice, the demigods (who personally came to accept
their offerings) and the priests, Rsyasrnga and Santa, departed for their respective
residences. Then, after a pregnancy of twelve months, on the ninth day of the waxing
(bright) fortnight in the month of Caitra, Kausalya gave birth to a son. This divine child had
reddish eyes and lips, long arms, and was decorated with all auspicious markings. The son
of Kausalya represented one-half of the potency of Lord Vishnu.

Soon thereafter, a son representing one-fourth of the prowess of Lord Vishnu was born of
Kaikeyi, Maharaja Dasaratha's youngest queen. Then, two days after the appearance of
Kausalya's son, Sumitra gave birth to twins, each representing one-sixth of the potency of
Lord Vishnu. All four of the newborn children highly resembled one another and were
exceedingly effulgent and pleasing to behold. Indeed, upon the appearance of Maharaja
Dasaratha's four sons, the demigods showered flowers from heaven, while the Gandharvas
sang and played musical instruments as the Apsaras danced. In Ayodhya there was a great
festival, as musicians, dancers and actors crowded the streets, with all the citizens
participating in the merrymaking.

SrI RAma ashTottara satanAmAvaLi

asya srI rAmacandranAmAshTottara satamantrasya brahmA rshih |


anushtup chandah | jAnakI vallabhah srI rAmacandro devatA | om bIjam |
namah saktih | srI rAmacandrah kIlakam | shri rAmacandraprItyarthe
jape viniyogah |

om namo bhagavate rAjAdhirAjAya paramAtmane hrdayAya namah|


om namo bhagavate vidhyAdhirAjAya hayagrIvAya sirase svAhA |
om namo bhagavate jAnakI vallabhAya namah sikhAyai vashatt |
om namo bhagavate raghunandAyAmitatejase kavacAya hum |
om namo bhagavate kshIrAbdhi madhyasthAya nArAyaNAya netratrayAya voushaT |
om namo bhagavate satprakAsAya rAmAya astrAya phaT |
iti shadanganyAsah |
evam angulinyAsah kAryah |

atha dhyAnam

mandArakrti puNya dhAma vilasad vakshasthalam komalam


sAntam kantamahendra nIla rucirAbhAsam sahasrAnAmam
vande'ham raghunandanam surapatim kodaNda dIkshAgurum
rAmam sarva jagat susevita padam sItA manovallabham

1. sahasrasIrshNe vai tubhyam sahasrAkshAya te namah |


namah sahasrahastAya sahasra caraNAya ca ||
[ 1. sahasrasIrshNe namah 2. sahasrAkshAya namah
3. sahasrahastAya namah 4. sahasra caraNAya namah ]

2. namo jImUtavarNAya namaste visvatomukha |


acyutAya namastubhyam namaste seshasAyine ||

[ 5. jImUtavarNAya namah 6. visvatomukhAya namah


7. acyutAya namah 8. seshasAyine namah ]

3. namo hiraNyagarbhAya pancabhUtAtmane namah |


namo mUlaprakrtaye devAnAm hitakAriNe ||

[ 9. hiraNyagarbhAya namah 10. pancabhUtAtmane namah


11. mUlaprakrtaye namah 12. devAnAm hitakAriNe namah ]

4. namaste sarvalokesa sarva duhkha nishUdana |


sankha cakra gadA padma jatAmukuta dhAriNe ||

[ 13. sarvalokesAya namah 14. sarva duhkha nishUdanAya namah


15. sankha cakra gadA padma jatAmukuta dhAriNe namah ]

5. namo garbhAya tatvAya jyotishAm jyotishe namah |


om namo vAsudevAya namo dasarathAtmaja ||

[ 16. garbhAya namah 17. tatvAya namah 18. jyotishAm jyotishe namah
19. vAsudevAya namah 20. dasarathAtmajAya namah ]

6. namo namaste rAjendra sarva sampat pradAya ca |


namah kAruNya rUpAya kaikeyIpriyakAriNe ||

[ 21. rAjendrAya namah 22. sarva sampat pradAya namah


23. kAruNya rUpAya namah 24. kaikeyIpriyakAriNe namah ]

7. namo dAntAya sAntAya visvAmitra priyAya te |


yajnesAya namastubhyam namaste kratupAlaka ||

[ 25. dAntAya namah 26. sAntAya namah 27. visvAmitra priyAya namah
28. yajnesAya namah 29. kratupAlakAya namah ]

8. namo namah kesavAya namo nAthAya sArngiNe |


namaste rAmacandrAya namo nArAyaNAya ca ||

[ 30. kesavAya namah 31. nAthAya namah 32. sArngiNe namah


33. rAmacandrAya namah 34. nArAyaNAya namah ]

9. namaste rAmacandrAya mAdhavAya namo namah |


govindAya namastubhyam namaste paramAtmane ||

[ 35. rAmacandrAya namah 36. mAdhavAya namah


37. govindAya namah 38. paramAtmane namah ]

10. namaste vishNurUpAya raghunAthAya te namah |


namaste anAthanAthAya namaste madhusUdana ||

[ 39. vishNurUpAya namah 40. raghunAthAya namah


41. anAthanAthAya namah 42. madhusUdanAya namah ]

11. trivikrama namastestu sItAyAh pataye namah |


vAmanAya namastubhyam namaste rAghavAya ca ||

[ 43. trivikramAya namah 44. sItAyAh pataye namah


45. vAmanAya namah 46. rAghavAya namah ]

12. namo namah srIdharAya janakIvallabhAya ca |


namastestu hrshIkesa kandarpAya namo namah ||

[ 47. srIdharAya namah 48. janakIvallabhAya namah


49. hrshIkesAya namah 50. kandarpAya namah ]

13. namaste padmanAbhAya kausalyAharshakAriNe |


namo rajIvanayana namaste lakshmaNAgraja ||

[ 51. padmanAbhAya namah 52. kausalyAharshakAriNe namah


53. rajIvanayanAya namah 54. lakshmaNAgrajaya namah ]

14. namo namaste kAkutstha namo dAmodarAya ca |


vibhIshaNa paritrAtarnamah sankarshaNAya ca ||

[ 55. kAkutsthaya namah 56. dAmodarAya namah


57. vibhIshaNa paritrAtre namah 58. sankarshaNAya namah ]

15. vAsudeva namastestu namaste sankarapriya |


pradyumnAya namastubhyam aniruddhAya te namah ||

[ 59. vAsudevaya namah 60. sankarapriyAya namah


61. pradyumnAya namah 62. aniruddhAya namah]

16. sadasat bhaktirUpAya namaste purushottama |


adhokshaja namastestu saptatAla harAya ca ||

[ 63. sadasat bhaktirUpAya namah 64. purushottamAya namah


65. adhokshajAya namah 66. saptatAla harAya namah ]

17. kharadUshaNa samhartre srI nrsimhAya te namah |


acyutAya namastubhyam namaste setubandhaka ||

[ 67. kharadUshaNa samhartre namah 68. srInrsimhAya namah


69. acyutAya namah 70. setubandhakAya namah ]

18. janArdana namastestu namo hanumadAsraya |


upendra candravandyAya mArIca-mathanAya ca ||

[ 71. janArdanAya namah 72. hanumadAsrayAya namah


73. upendra candravandyAya namah 74. mArIca-mathanAya namah ]

19. namo vAli-praharaNa namah sugrIva-rAjyada |


jAmadagnya mahAdarpa HarAya haraye namah ||

[ 75. vAli-praharaNAya namah 76. sugrIva-rAjyadAya namah


77. jAmadagnya mahAdarpa harAya namah 78. haraye namah ]
20. namo namaste krshNAya namaste bharatAgraja |
namaste pitr-bhaktAya namah satrughna pUrvaja ||

[ 79. krshNAya namah 80. bharatAgrajAya namah


81. pitr-bhaktAya namah 82. satrughna pUrvajAya namah ]

21. ayodhyAdhipate tubhyam namah satrughna sevita |


namo nityAya satyAya buddhyAdi-jnAnarUpiNe ||

[ 83. ayodhyAdhipataye namah 84. satrughna sevitAya namah


85. nityAya namah 86. satyAya namah 87. buddhyAdi-jnAnarUpiNe namah ]

22. advaita brahma-rUpAya jnAna-gamyAya te namah |


namah pUrNAya ramyAya mAdhavAya cidAtmane ||

[ 88. advaita brahma-rUpAya namah 89. jnAna-gamyAya namah


90. pUrNAya namah 91. ramyAya namah
92. mAdhavAya namah 93. cidAtmane namah ]

23. ayodhyesAya sreshThaya cin-mAtrAya parAtmane |


namo'halyoddhAraNAya namaste cApa bhanjine ||

[ 94. ayodhyesAya namah 95. sreshThaya namah


96. cin-mAtrAya namah 97. parAtmane namah
98. ahalyoddhAraNAya namah 99. cApa bhanjine namah ]

24. sItArAmAya sevyAya stutyAya parameshThine |


namaste bANa-hastAya namah kodaNda-dhAriNe ||

[100. sItArAmAya namah 101. sevyAya namah


102. stutyAya namah 103. parameshThine namah
104. bANa-hastAya namah 105. kodaNda-dhAriNe namah ]

25. namah kabhanda-hantre ca vAli-hantre namos'tu te |


namastestu dasagrIva prANa samhAra kAriNe ||

[ 106. kabhanda-hantre namah 107. vAli-hantre namah


108. dasagrIva prANa samhAra kAriNe namah ]

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu delightfully ordered Shri Murari Gupta (none other than
Hanuman) to recite some poems composed by Shri Gupta himself. Shri Murari Gupta began
to recite Ramastaka and the Lord, who was greatly pleased, at
once regarded himself as Ramacandra. With a sweet smile Prabhu wrote the name
"Ramadasa" on the forehead of Murari Gupta.

By the order of Mahaprabhu, Murarigupta recited his own composition "Shri Ramastaka".

(1) "I adore the Supreme Lord Ramacandra who is worshipped by the residents of the
three worlds; Whose face is as beautiful as a spotless moon, Whose ears are adorned with
beautiful kundalas, shining more brilliantly than the stars named Brhaspati and Sukra; and
whose crown is bedecked with the gleaming Kiritamani jewel which glows like the shining
rays of the sun."
(2) "I worship Shri Ramacandra, the only guru of the three worlds, Whose eyes are as
beautiful as blossoming lotus', Whose lips are like beautifully red bimba fruit. His nose is
charming and His smile defeats the soft rays of the moon."

(3) "I worship the only guru of the three worlds, Shri Ramacandra, whose neck is as
charming as a conch, and Whose complexion is like that of a blue lotus. His effulgent
necklaces of pearl and gold are likened to the sky, where lightening flashes next to white
swan-colored clouds."

(4) "I praise Shri Ramacandra, by whose side is seated the bright golden complexioned
Sita who holds a lotus flower in Her raised hand. That lotus clasped by Her five beautiful
fingers is possessed of morethan five hundred leaves."

(5) "I sing the glories of Shri Ramacandra, the only guru throughout the three worlds, in
front of whom stands the great archer Shri Laksmana, formerly known as Shesha (or Great
Spirit), whose beautiful golden complexion is enhanced by numerous ornaments and who is
known as a devout servant of his elder brother."

(6) "I glorify Shri Raghava, the killer of the demons Ravana, Khara, Trisira and Kavandha.
He is the destroyer of the corruptor's of Shri Dandakaranya: the killer of Vali: and the friend
of Sugriva."

(7) "I worship the only guru of the three worlds, Shri Rama, who has taken the hand of
Sita after breaking the Haradhanu. While one his way from Mithila to Ayodhya, Shri
Ramacandra, for the pleasure of his father, destroyed the pride of Parasaurama. "

Being pleased to hear the glories of Shri Raghunandana Rajasimha, the Supreme Lord
Gaurasundara, placed his feet on the head of Shri Murari Gupta and wrote on his forehead,
"It is My desire that henceforward you shall be known as Ramadasa." Murari Gupta was
overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. In the morning Prabhu and all the devotees returned to
their own houses. Who can understand the hidden meaning and true intentions behind the
Lord's transcendental activities.

-------------------------

Shrila Prabhupada wants us to fast until evening and have light ekadashi style
preparations to break the fast with).

710407LE.BOM Lectures

So this process should be adopted, how to become sukrtina. Sukrti means yajna-dana-tapa-
kriya. One must perform sacrifices as prescribed in the sastras, and they must give in charity
their hard-earned money for Krishna's cause. That is called dana. Yajna, dana, and tapasya.
Tapasya. Just like tomorrow is Shri Rama-navami. The tapasya will be that all the devotees
will observe fasting from morning till evening. This is called tapasya. Just like Ekadashi day--
there is no eating sumptuously. Simply you take little fruits and flowers. Try to avoid that
also. You don't take even water. That is
really ekadashi. But because we cannot do it--in the Kali-yuga the time is different--therefore
we are allowed to take little fruit and milk, which is called anukalpa. These are different
methods of tapasya. And yajna. This yajna, sankirtanaih prayair yajnaih, yajanti hi su-
medhasah. In this age you cannot perform that big asvamedha yajna, gomedha yajna,
rajasuya yajna, so many other yajnas. It is not possible. First of all, you have no means to
perform such yajnas, hundreds and hundreds of tons ghee required for putting into the
sacrificial fire. You have not even a drop of your ghee. So forget all those yajnas. In this age,
yajnaih sankirtanaih prayaih.
8-03-26.Letter: Mukunda

Please accept my blessings. I am sorry I am delayed to reply your letter dated March 14,
1968, which I received over a week ago. I am very glad that you are repentant even for
some action which is not sanctioned by me. This attitude is very nice and improves one in
progressing on the path of devotional service. The Rakhi Bandhan ceremony observed by
you under instruction of Prasad isn't approved by our Vaishnava rituals. Of course, such
ceremony is observed among the Hindu community as a socio-religious convention. But in
our Vaishnava community there is no such observance. Now,
forget the incidence, and in future don't be misled by some unauthorized person. Our next
ceremony is Lord Ramacandra's Birthday, on the 7th of April. It should be observed in the
same way as Lord Chaitanya's Appearance
Day, namely, fasting up to evening and then accept Prasadam, and all our ceremonies
should be performed with continuous Kirtana, of Hare Krishna, Hare Rama. That will make
all our functions successful.

68-03-28.Letter: Mahapurusa

So far the Advent Day of Lord Rama Candra, it should be celebrated as Lord Chaitanya's
Birthday was done. Fasting up to evening, and then take prasadam, and chant Hare Krishna
whole day, and be engaged in reading and chanting off and on, chant for some time, then
read for some time, then again have Kirtana and so on, throughout the day. If you have not
got a Ramayana, then you can read Bhagavad-gita or Shrimad-Bhagavatam, that is all right.

770326r2.bom Conversations

Prabhupada: Rama-navami is upavasa up till the... Go to observe fasting up to the evening.


Tamala Krishna: So moon.
Prabhupada: Sunset.