Ravana, mostly known as the person who kidnapped Sita and was later killed by Lord Rama.Lets look at other aspects of him and try to find out the exact reason behind the abduction of Sita.
Ravana was a great scholar, a devout devotee of Lord Shiva. He knew about the scriptures. He even wrote a book Ravana Samhita, which is on astrology.
Even Lord Rama had once addresed Ravana as a “Maha Brahmin” (Great Brahmin).
He did great penance to please Lord Shiva and offered to give him his all heads. His name Ravana came from the fact that once he was pinned down by Lord Shiva under the Mount Kailash and his cry was defeaning.
He also had the boon from Brahma which gave him immunity against everyone, save human and monkeys.
From these facts, this is clear that Ravana was a learned, scholar person, who believed in hindu gods, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. This facts becomes unfathomable that he decided to kidnap the wife of the trinity, Lord Vishnu’s avatar Lord Rama.
If we look more into this, Ravana did not chose to pray Lord Vishnu, when he prayed Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Why? he could have chosen to pray lord Vishnu.
The reason for abduction
There is a reason. This reason comes from the fact of Ravana’s birth. Ravana was actually a devout follower of Lord Vishnu. Once he and his brother (Jaya and Vijaya) have caused some discomfort to a great Sage and they were subjected to his wrath. The events, which followed this incident ensured that Jaya and Vijaya will have to take three births and they need to killed by Lord Vishnu, before they can be closer to him.
So, in all probability, as he was a great scholar, he must knew that his salvation was in getting killed by Lord Vishnu’s avatara. That is sole reason, he did not ask from immunity from humans, because he knew this very well that Lord Rama has taken avatar in a human form.
Now again, he was a good ruler, there was no apparent reason that he would be under threat from anyone. After all, he was a great warrior as well. So how he could meet almighty. So, he created a reason, he did the unthinkable. He abducted Sita.
This was the masterstroke. Ravana first created rules, so that he could be only killed by a human. This human was an avatar of Lord Vishnu and capable of defeating him. Then he created a reason.
This way, he ensured that only Lord Vishnu will become the reason of his death. This was his ultimate wish, which he achieved.
Lord Rama first used Prasavapana for evaporating the nectar from his navel, and then decapacitated his head.
I would say, he was the great strategist and he executed his plans well, so that he achieved one more step towards unification with Lord Vishnu.
In the Ramayana, two monkey brothers are mentioned with importance. In fact, a complete chapter is devoted with the name of Kishkindha kand on them. The interesting story of these two brothers is as following.
Birth of Sugriva and Bali
Once Brahma threw smear from his eyes and a monkey Riksharaj appeared from the smear. He was instructed to wander in the forests and kill demons. Soon he got into a well and transformed into a beautiful lady.
When Lord Indra and Lord Surya saw the lady, they became attracted to her and thus Bali and Sugriva were born. These two brothers were very powerful and were asked to live in Kishkindha mountain by Lord Brahma.
Curse on Bali and Rishyamooka mountain
Soon, in course of time, Bali killed Dundubhi. Sage Matang had his hermitage at Rishiyamooka Mountain. When the stream of blood fell on his hermitage which resulted from killing of Dundabhi, he wondered about the reason. Suddenly a Yaksha came and revealed the secret behind the stream of blood. Indignant, sage Matang cursed Bali that he would die if he ever ventured on Rishiyamooka Mountain. That is the reason Bali could not visit Rishiyamooka mountain.
Boon on Bali
Brahma had given a boon to Bali which made him virtually impossible to defeat and kill. Whenever facing an enemy in a combat, Bali would get half of the strength of his opponent. He was killed when he was involved in a fight with his brother, Sugriva. (This episode is detailed in Kishkindha kand – The Ramayana)
Bali defeats Ravana
The might of Bali was such that he defeated and moved around while holding Ravana under his armpit. Ravana, the demon king of lanka and the main antagonist of the Ramayana, was a mighty ruler, but even he was helpless before Bali. So Ravana was weak before monkey (Bali) and Rama (human).
Once, Bali chased a demon Mayavi after killing his brother Dundabhi. Mayavi entered into a cave where Bali followed him. Bali too followed him into the cave. But before entering he cave, he instructed Sugriva to wait outside for a fortnight. He also said that if he did not come out of the cave after fifteen days, Sugriva would understand that Bali had been killed. After a month, He saw blood coming out of the cave and assumed that Bali was dead. Sugriva returned to the kingdom as a king. But Bali was alive. When he came back and saw Sugriva running the kingdom of Pampapuri,
he became furious. He drove Sugriva out and enslaved his wife as well. Sugriva was hiding in Rishiyamooka mountain, because of curse of Sage Matang, this place was safe.
Lord Rama assured Sugriva that he will help him here. He also cut the seven palm trees with one shot of his arrow convincing Sugriva of his strength. He believed that Bali’s crime was unpardonable as he has taken his brother’s wife. He asked Sugriva to invite Bali for a duel. Bali beat him badly as Rama could not differentiate one from another as both brothers looked alike.
Rama asks Sugriva again to invite Bali for a duel and this time to wear a garland. During the battle, Rama kills Bali with an arrow passing through his heart.
Post Bali’ death
After the death of Bali, Sugriva became the ruler of Kishkindha. Bali’s son Angad, given important duties in the war against Ravana. Sugriva married Tara. Initially Sugriva forgot his promise made to Rama, but Laxman came as a messenger and asked him for help. Tara, one of the panchkanyas, coaxed Sugriva to help Rama.
Searching for Sita, Rama and Laxman Shabri’s ashram. Shabri offers fruits which have been tested by her so the Lord does not get a bitter fruit.
Shabri advises them to go further southwards to Pampa lake and to Kishkindha where they would get help.
On Shabri’s advise, Rama reached Kishkindha while looking for Sita. Sugriva was sceptical of the two brothers and he asked Hanuman to assess their intentions. Hanuman disguised himself as a brahmin but Rama identified him due to his chain around the neck.
Hanuman fell upon his feet.
He showed them the ornaments and jewels which were thrown by Sita while she was abducted. Rama recognises them of Sita’s.
Hanuman took them to Sugriva. Sugriva was driven out by Vali. Vali also took Sugriva’s wife. Rama befriended Sugriva. Rama promised to help him.
Vali had a boon which made him unconquerable. Sugriva promised that he will help in finding Sita. Ram asks Sugriva to invite Vali for a fight. He also asked him to wear a garland because both brothers looked identical.
Rama kills Vali by piercing an arrow through his heart
Vali accuses Rama of wrongdoing. Rama explains that he has committed the crime of abducting his brother’s wife. And Kishkindha, a state of Bharat’s kingdom, lies in his jurisdiction. His crime was unforgiveable, so he had to execute this task of killing him.
It is said that Rama promised Vali to give him a chance to avenge his unjust murder. Vali is believed to be born as Jara, the hunter, who became the cause of Shri Krishna’s death.
Vali understood and Rama forgives him.
Tara (Vali’s wife) is inconsolable. Tara invokes the power of her chastityand curses Rama so that he will soon lose Sita after he regains her. She declares that Sita will return to the earth. Tara additionally curses Rama that in his next birth, he will be killed by Vali. Rama pacifies her.
Sugriva crowned as king. Angad (Vali’s son) was anointed as the heir.
Rama also taught him nuances of statesmanship.
He advised Sugreev to rule justly. Then Sri Rama along with Laxmana went to live at Pravarshan Mountain.
Few months passed. Sugriva forgot his promise. Rama gets restless and advises Laxman to visit Kishkindha.
Tara asks Sugriva to help Rama and Laxman.
Sugriva instructed Hanumana to send the messenger in all directions and to bring the news of Sita within fifteen days. Angad told sugriva that Hanuman can only find Sita. Sugriva asks Hanuman to search. Hanumana then gathered all the monkeys and went to Sri Rama to seek his permission.
Rama blessed them for successful accomplishment of their mission. He also gave his ring to Hanumana.
Now Hanuman and his army of monkeys moved in search of Sita. They searched Sita in the caves of every mountain but did not find her.
Jambvant consoled Angad saying that Rama was not an ordinary human being. He also said him not to worry, as everything would be resolved by Sri Rama’s blessings.
They reach seashore. At the seashore Sampati ( brother of Jatayu) bumped into Hanuman. He told him about Sita and she is in Lanka.
When Jambvant saw that there was nobody who could cross over the ocean, he praised and urged Hanumana to cross the ocean. Hanuman had a curse that he would only realize his strength and capabilities when told by someone.
Jambvant praises Hanuman
When Hanumana listened to Jambvant he realized his latent strength. His body expanded like a mountain. Hanumana then sought Jambvant advice.
Jambvant instructed him to just return back after seeing Sita in Lanka. He said that the rest would be accomplished by Sri Rama.
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana spent thirteen years in exile. These years were no way less eventful than other kandas in Ramayana. Since they have spent this in a forest called Dandakaranya, this chapter is also called as Aranya kand, as Arnaya means forest.
In exile, Rama, Sita and Laxman spent thirteen adventurous years in the forest.While travelling, they met Sage Atri, Sage Sarbhang and Sage Agatsya before reaching Panchavati, where they stayed for most part of exile.
Jayant, son of Indra, took the form of a crow and tested the lord. He suffered. Lord Rama used brahmastra on the crow.
Rama, Sita and Laxman built cottages and they lived along the banks of Godavari. The place where they lived was called Panchavati.
In their 14th year of exile, a demoness Surpanakha, sister of Ravana, came to Panchavati. She got infatuated by Ram and his handsome appearance. She asked him to marry her, Ram refused saying that he was bound to Sita in wedlock, and asked her to approach Laxman instead.
Lakshmana also refused her, Surpanaka flew into a rage and rushed to kill Sita. Lakshama intervened and cut her nose and ears off.
Her brothers, Khar-Dushan marched towards Panchavati and attacked Ram. They were killed in the battle.
The demon Akampan survived and told this story to Ravana in lanka.
Ravan advises Mareecha to take the form of a deer. He wanted to abduct Sita.
Sita requests Rama to bring the deer for him. Rama initially rejects her appeal but subscribes later on. He asked Laxman to take care of Sita.
Ram follows and kills Maricha. Before being killed, He asks for help from Laxman in voice of Ram. Sita perplexed, sends Laxman for help. Laxman denies but yields to constant appeals from Sita.
Laxman draws the Laxman rekha before following rama and advised Sita to do not cross in any eventuality.
Ravana, disguised as a brahmin, came for alms. He says that he cannot receive alms unless she comes out of the line drawn by Laxman. Sita crosses Laxmanrekha.
Jatayu, the friend of Dashrath, also living in Panchavati, dies while fighting with Ravana.
Ravana takes Sita to lanka. Sita throws her ornaments to leave trace of the route.
Gods are rejoiced that end of Ravana is close though they are also worried for Sita. Thus we see that despite being expected as most peaceful time in their life, this chapter or Aranya Kand proved to be most defining in the lives of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana.
This is the end of the Aranya kand from the Ramayana.
Ramayana is one of the most riveting epics from India. This story of Lord Rama has been told and retold in several languages from ancient India and is still relevant. The Ramayana is not only the story of Rama, but this is also a story of other people. For instance, Lakshman, Bharat and Hanuman. We can’t forget Sita, Urmila, Vibheeshana alongwith Kaikeyi and Manthra.
Following are some of the interesting facts from this epic.
1. Author of The Ramayana is Sage Valmiki. There are many more versions of this epic are available by various writers. Valmiki’s version is thus also known as Valmiki Ramayana. Another famous version is by Tulsidas, known as Ramcharitmanas.
2. This great epic is composed of rhyming couplets called ‘shlokas’, employing a complex meter called ‘anustup’. These verses are grouped into individual chapters called ‘sargas’, wherein a specific event or intent is told. The ‘sargas’ are again grouped into books called ‘kands’.
3 The whole story of the Ramayana is written in seven chapters, also known as kands. These are
Uttar Kand – Rama’s life as king in Ayodhya, the birth of his two sons, Sita’s test of innocence and return to her mother, and Rama’s demise. This kand completes the story of the ramayana.
4 Rama ( the principal character of the ramayana), and his brothers were born as the result of putra-kameshti yagya by Dashratha. At the end of the yagya, a bowl of dessert was given to Dashratha, which was distributed among his wives. Sumitra was fed twice, so she gave birth to twins. Dasharatha was born in the line of Ikshvaku (“the first king of the Ikshvaku dynasty and founder of the Solar Dynasty of Kshatriyas in Vedic civilization in ancient India”).
5. Rama is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, a dashavatar.
6 In their childhood, Rama and Laxman helped Vishwamitra and took care of Maricha and Subahu. Rama points his bow at the two, and with one arrow kills Subahu, and with the other arrow flings Mareecha thousands of miles away into the ocean
7. Sita is considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Laxmi. She is also believed to be the daughter of Bhoomi devi (earth). Sita was also known as Vaidehi. An interesting fact about Sita is that she is also considered to be a reincarnation of Vedvati, whom Ravan had tried to molest while she was under penance, so as to become the consort of Lord Vishnu. She then cursed Ravana to become the cause of his destruction in her next birth.
8. Laxman or Lakshman is an incarnation of Sheshnaag or Adi Shesha. He also accompanied Lord Vishnu as Balrama in the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
9. Laxman never slept during the Rama’s exile. He is also known as Gudakesh, meaning, the one who has defeated “sleep”.
10. Laxman killed three sons of Ravana. While his killing of Meghnaad is more popular, other sons of Ravana were Prahast and Atikay.
11. Lord Shiva explained that Laxman would have escaped Shakti easily, but to respect the weapon, he took this on his chest.
12. The laxmanrekha episode is not mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana. This is mentioned by Mandodri in Lanka kand in Ramcharitamanas.
13. Laxman was the twin brother of Shatrughana. Their mother was Sumitra.
14. Lord Rama left this earth by taking the Jal Samadhi in Sarayu river.
15. During Sita Swayamvara, Rama broken the bow of Shiva to win her hand.
16. Parshurama challenged Rama to string the bow of Vishnu. Which Lord Rama easily did and asked him to tell him to where he should release the arrow. Parshuram realized that Rama is no ordinary man. This is worth noting that both of these warriors were incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
17. The shiva dhanush was easily moved by Sita during her childhood. King Janak observed this and this incident set the condition of Sita swayamvar in the Ramayana.
18. Lord Rama helped Sugriva to get back the kingdom of Kishkindha. He helped Sugriva to defeat his brother, Vali. He later married Tara, Vali’s wife. Tara is one of the Panchkanya. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, is also a panchkanya from the Ramayana.
19 Rama, Laxman and Sita spent the vanvaas in Dandakaranya forests.
20 Laxman’s wife was Urmila. There is not much written about her, but she also made a supreme sacrifice while staying back in Ayodhya, while Laxman accompanied Rana and Sita for vanvaas. Urmila was Sita’s younger sister. Urmila slept both his and her shares of sleep so that Laxman remained awake protecting Rama and Sita. She slept for the whole period of exile (14 years) and only woke up when Laxmana returned to Ayodhya.
21 Tara was an apsara produced from the churning of ocean. During the churning, Vali was from gods side.
22. Jambavantha was created by Brahma, to assist Rama in his struggle against Ravana. During a duel with Ravana, he hit Ravana and Ravana became unconscious. He also reminded Hanuman of his prowess, so he could cross the ocean and visit Lanka.
23. Vali was famous for the boon that he had received, according to which anyone who came before him lost half his strength to Vali, thereby making Vali invulnerable to any enemy.
24. Vali had defeated Ravana as well. Once Ravana called Vali for a fight. He took Ravana in his tail and took him around all the world. Humbled, Ravana called for a truce.
25. Hanuman, because of boons from Surya, laghima and garima, could take various forms. He used them to defeat Sursa, Lankini, Cat in the Ramayana.
26. Lord Hanuman is one of the 7 chiranjeevs. These immortals will live till the beginning of the next Satya Yuga. Hanuman slain the demon Kalanemi, while fetching sanjeevani herb. Kalanemi was sent by Ravana. Hanuman rejected a pearl necklace gifted by to him by Sita saying “I don’t accept anything that does not contain Ram.” To prove his point he ripped his chest to show the presence of Ram in his heart.
27. Hanuman also defied Sun from rising before time as it would have killed Laxman.
28. Hanuman was also shot by Bharat while flying over Ayodhya. Hanuman accepted the arrow as Lord Rama was written over it. Since he was shot on a leg, he had a limp.
29. Shatrughan is supposed to be the incarnation of Vishnu’s conch. Shatrughna was married to Shrutakeerti, the daughter of King Kusadhbojan and his wife. Shrutakeerti was the cousin of Sita, daughter of King Janaka.
30 Shatrughana killed Lavanasura, a demon who was the son of Madhu. It is believed that Madhu is where Mathura is situated today.
31. Bharat was the husband to Mandavi, daughter of King Janaka’s brother Kushadhvaja and thus a cousin of Sita, who was wife of Rama. They had two sons, Taksha and Pushka. Thus, in the Ramayana, wives of all brothers were related.
32. Bharat is considered to be born in the aspect of the Sudarshana Chakra, the most famous of Vishnu’s Panchayudhas.
33. Ravana’s grandfather was Pulastya, one of the seven great sages or Saptarishis. His father was himself a great sage Vishrava. Ravana once broke his arm to construct a musical instrument to sing songs of praise for Shiva. It was called the Ravan Hatta. While Ravan lay dying Ram asked Laxmana to go up to him to learn all that Ravana had to offer since Ravan was a Brahman.
34. His mother was the princess of Daityas. Her name was Kaikesi. Kaikesi father was Sumali. Ravana was half Brahmin and half asura.
35. Kaikesi chose Vishrava as her husband in quest to mother a son who was incomparable.
36. Vishrava was the father of Kubera. Thus Ravana was the half brother of Kubera. Ravana conquered Sri Lanka from Kubera and became the King of Lanka.
37. Ravana was also an excellent veena player and the sign of his flag had a picture of veena on it.
38. Ravana had four brothers. Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna and Ahiravan and Mahiravan. Khara and Dushan are also believed to be his brothers.
39. Kumbhakarna was considered pious, intelligent and brave that Indra was jealous of him. Along with his brothers, Ravana andVibhishana, he performed a major yajnaand penance for Lord Brahma. When the time came for asking a boon (blessing) from Brahma, his tongue was tied by goddess Saraswati (acting on Indra’s request). So instead of asking “Indraasana” (seat of Indra), he asked for “Nidraasana” (bed for sleeping).
40. Kumbhakarna had two sons, Kumbha and Nikumbha, who too fought in the war against Rama and were killed.
41. Ravana also asked for absolute invulnerability from and supremacy over gods, heavenly spirits, other rakshas, serpents, and wild beasts. He did not ask for protection from mortal men, as he did not think that they would cause him any harm.
42. Rama and Laxman were abducted by Ahiravan. Ahiravan was the brother of Ravana and king of patala (netherworld). The two brothers were saved by Hanuman.
43. Following the capture of Lanka, Ravana pleased Shiva with his penance. Shiva said to pinned Ravana with his toe, but he offered his ten heads to appease Shiva. Pleased with his resilience and devotion, Shiva gave to him the divine sword Chandrahas
44. Ravana was cursed by Nandi that Lanka would be destroyed by a monkey. Later Hanuman put Lanka into flames.
45 Hanuman defeated his son Makardhwaj when he was guarding Rama and Laxman and rescued the two brothers.
46. Hanuman killed Ahiravan and Mahiravan by taking his panchroopi form.
47. Ravana did severe penance to appease Brahma. Brahma blessed him with nectar which could keep him alive as long as it lasted.
48 Vibheeshana told this about to Rama when in the battlefield, every time Rama cut his head, another head sprang up. On his advise, Rama first dried the nectar using Prasvapana and later killed him. This is important to know that the ramayana puts importance to Vibheeshana, who left his brother and helped the cause of Dharma.
49. Sita remained with Agni when Ravana abducted her. When Ravana came to kidnap mother Sita and she saw him, she took shelter of Agni. The fire-god covered the body of mother Sita, and in this way she was protected from the hands of Ravana. The fire-god, Agni, took away the real Sita and brought her to the place of Parvati, goddess Durga. An illusory form of mother Sita was then delivered to Ravana. The original Sita went to the abode of the fire-god. During Agnipariksha, illusory Sita entered the fire. At that time Agni brought the original Sita from his abode and delivered her to Lord Ramachandra.
50. Sita summoned Bhoomi devi to take her back after completing the Agni pariksha.
51. Rama and all his brothers left their abode by taking Jal samadhi in Sarayu river. This completes the story of the Ramayana.
52. The stripes on the back of squirrels is supposed to be Ram’s caress for their dedication to help construct the bridge to Lanka.
The Ramayana story is told by sage Valmiki in various kandas. This is the story which is told in Ayodhya kand and is primarily around Rama’s vanvaas. Kaikeyi and Manthra were the central characters towards Rama’s vanvaas.
Manthra and Kaikeyi
Manthra advising Kaikeyi to ask for Bharat’s ascendance to throne. Kaikeyi had two boons from Dashrath. Dashrath was the king of ayodhya and Kaikeyi’s husband.
Kaikeyi in kopa bhavan
She asks Dashrath for two boons. These boons have been given to her when Dashrath was helped by Kaikeyi in Dev Asur sangram. He was wounded in the battle field and Kaikeyi rode her to safety and later, tended him. Pleased with her, Dashrath asked her for two boons. She has now asked for Bharat’s coronation and Rama’s banishment.
Rama is exiled for fourteen years and Bharat becomes the king of Ayodhya. Dashrath dies as he could not cope up with the parting of Rama. Dashrath had a curse earlier because of that he had to leave this world in this manner.
Once while hunting, he accidentally killed Shravan Kumar. Shravan kumar was a dedicated son who was serving his blind parents. When Dashrath told this unfortunate incident to them, they cursed him saying that he would also suffer for his son as they are suffering because of him.
Dashrath’s was inconsolable when Rama, laxman and Sita were preparing to go to the forests.
Rama, alongwith Laxman and Sita go to forest to abide with their father orders.
Bharat requests him to come back. But Rama refused as this was his duty to obey his father’s orders. Bharat then asks for his sandals and he put Rama’s sandals on the throne of Ayodhya. He then conducted the governance in the name of Lord Rama.
In Indian mythology, there are two major epics. The Ramayana, and the Mahabharat. In Treta yuga, the story of Rama and his wife Sita, is the main story around which the Ramayana is written. This epic was written by Sage Valmiki, who himself was a robber, but later mended his ways to become a sage.
Dashrath organizes Putra Kameshti Yagya
King Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya organised yagna with a desire for son. Agni, the god of fire presented him with a bowl of kheer(sweet rice). Upon comsumption of kheer, Dashratha would beget sons.
The Kheer or payasam, thus obtained, was distributed among Dashrath’s three wives, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. Soon enough, these queens have been blessed with sons, Rama, Bharat, Laxman and Shatrughan.
Learning at Sage Vasistha’s ashram
Sage Vasistha was the teacher of four brothers. He taught them all the skills required by them as the princes.
Helping Sage Vishwamitra
Rama and Laksham helped sage Vishwamitra. Rakshasas were creating problems for him. Sages were unable to perform yagna. Sage asked Dashrath to give Rama and Lakshman to help him. Dashrath was initially worried. Persuaded by Vasistha, he agreed. This helped the princes as Vishwamitra trained them in warfare. Both brothers killed Taraka and Subahu among other demons.
Swayamvar of Sita and liberation of Ahalya
Vishwamitra received invitation from King Janak for Sita’s swayamvar. He asked Rama and Lakshman to accompany him.
Along the way, they came to a place where Ahilya was present in a form of stone. Rama liberated her on advise of sage. She was serving a curse of sage Gautam, who was her husband.
At Mithila, the challenge of Sita swayamvar was to tie the string of Shiva’s bow. Many warriors including Ravana has failed in even moving the bow. However, Rama could easily lift the bow. While trying to string the bow, it broken into two pieces. Sita got Rama as her husband.
However, this brought Lord Parshurama to the ceremony. There was the classic confrontation between two avatars of Vishnu. Rama succeeded in pacifying Parshurama.
Wedding of Rama and Sita
Finally, the wedding of Rama and Sita took place. All four brother were married. Lakshman was married with Urmila, Janak’s second daughter and Bharat and Shatrughna with Mandavi and Shrutikirti, the daughters of Janak’s younger brother Kushadhwaj.
Long before the advent of nuclear weapons, we heard it many times in Indian mythology and ancient texts that not only powerful weapons existed, but they were also used by various people. Some of these weapons had the power to annihilate the whole universe. This provides us with some fascinating reading, as we can related to these weapons with modern warfare.
Lord Rama and his weapons
Probably the most written and popular is the Brahmastra, which is has found mention in Mahabharat and The Ramayana. This was the most potent and could be used once in the lieftime. Lord Ram earlier intended to use this against Sagar (Sea god),as he wanted to ocean to give way to Lanka. Sagar was not yielding when Rama requested him, so as the last measure, he resorted to use the Brahmastra. Sagar promplty complied. By this time, the Brahmastra was invoked, so Rama has directed it towards a place, where it could do minimal harm.
Ravana’s killing: Lord Rama used prasvapna as the means to evaporate the amrita (nectar) from Ravana, which was the reason Ravana was not dying. This important advice was given by Vibheeshana to him.
In the war, he used Gandharvastra to kill 14000 asurs, as this weapon compelled asuras to think that the next person fighting to them is Rama. Thus they fought with each other and killed themselves. Only two people knew to use this weapon, Rama and Ravana, though Ram only had the knowledge to neutralize this.
Earlier, in his student days, Lord Rama used Manava upon Maricha.
Lakshman and his weapons
Lakshman used various weapons in this war. He has killed Ravana’s son Meghnad. He used Varunaastra which Meghnaad failed. He used Sauryaastra to neutralize Meghnaad’s Aagneyastra . Then Lakshman had to use powerful weapon named Maheshwar to stop Meghnad’s asur weapon. Meghnad was killed when Lakshman used Indrastra. Prior to that Meghnaad used his powerful weapon Shakti, due to which Laskhman was unconscious on battle field. Hanuman brought Sanjeevani to revive him.
Meghnaad managed to imprison Rama and Laxmana in Naagpaash. Hanuman sought the help of Garud to free Rama and Lakshman. This is a very interesting and important incident, where the gods have been rendered helpless and had to seek help of mortals. Thus this mythology story is a teacher which teaches us to be humble, as help is needed by gods too.
Meghnaad’s boon and his death – Meghnaad had this boon that he could not be killed after performing a yagya. After completing the yagya, he would have received a rath (chariot) and while sitting on this, he could not be killed. Rama was told by Vibheeshan of this fact and Rama ordered him, Lakshman and Hanuman to go and stop this yagya. There was a precondition that he could not touch any weapon when performing this yagya.
There they disturbed his yagya and did not allow him to complete the yagya. So he had to get up in the middle of the yagya and fought with Lakshman and Hanumaan only with Yagya utensils. He was very angry with Vibheeshan, his uncle. He had saved a Divine Astra, Yamastra, to kill him, so he used it to kill him, but Kuber had already warned Lakshman about it, so Lakshman countered it and saved himself. Meghnaad used his three most fierce Astra (Brahmastra, Pashupatastra and Vaishnavastra) at Lakshman but to his surprise none of them even touched him; rather Vaishnavaastra circumambulated Lakshman before disappearing.
Meghnaad realized that Lakshman was no ordinary man, so he briefly disappeared from the battle ground and came to his father, told him everything and requested to make peace with Rama. But Ravana rebuked him for being coward, so Meghnaad again came to the battle after bidding good bye to his parents and wife. He fought with Lakshman fiercely and then was killed by Indrastra.
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Indian or hindu mythology talk about interesting stories of births as well. We find instances where great characters came to earth in different way. One common way is that eating dessert or fruit results in birth of a child.
We find this once in the period of The Ramayana and once in the period of Mahabharata.
Birth of Rama (An incarnation of Vishnu Dashavatar)
Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya, has three queens but he was deprived of children. He resorted to penance and after a dedicated worship and havana, messenger of Brahma offered him divine dessert, which was supposed to give sons to Dasharatha. He distributed the dessert to his queens and they soon became pregnant and later became the proud mothers of Ram, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan. This is how, one of the dashavatars of Vishnu, Rama was born.
Birth of Jarasandh
Jarasandha was the king of Magadha. Jarasandh’s father has done severe penance to get a son. His father got a Magical mango from a sage. It was told that the his queen will get pregnant upon eating the fruit. He distributed the fruit in two halves and gave each half to his two wives. Both delivered a half of a baby , born dead.The king ordered the two halves to be thrown. A demon called Jara was wandering nearby and she noticed the pieces and joined them into one. The baby came alive. It was named as Jarasandh in the honour of the rakshasi. The boy became a very strong man. He defeated and captured 86 kings and kept them prisoner, intending to execute all of them in a sacrifice, once the number reached hundred. This will make him invincible and the ruler of world. For the success of Rajasooya yagya, Krishna, Arjuna and Bheema, went to him disguised as Brahmins and asked him to choose one of them to fight him. He rejected Shri Krishna saying that he was of inferior birth. He also denied Arjuna for a fight because he thought he was a child. He chose Bheema as he appeared suitable for a fight. The fight lasted a long time, thirteen days. Finally, acting upon Krishna’s advise, Bheema tore Jarasandha into two pieces, and tossed the pieces (cut lengthwise) facing opposite directions. This is how Jarasandha was killed in the same way he was born. Thus, as a result of killing of ruler of Magadh, Jarasandh, the path of
Rajsooya yagya was cleared. Yudhishthira later completed the Rajsooya yagya. This story is from the times of Mahabharata.
Birth of Drona
Drona was born in a vessel. Sage Bhardwaj produced reproductive fluid after seeing an apsara Ghritachi. He preserved this is a vessel (droon). Drona was thus developed from this fluid. Drona would later boast that he had sprung from Bharadwaja without ever having been in a womb. Even Drona’s wife, Kripi, was gestated outside a womb. Kripi and her brother Kripacharya were the children of the great archer, Shardwan. Indra felt threatened by him and sent an apsara to lose his control over his brahmacharya, thus saving his throne. This story is again from the times of Mahabharata.
Birth of Kauravas
Few people know that Kauravas birth was unnatural as well. Gandhari longed for hundred sons, and Vyasa granted her a boon that she would have these. She was unable to have any children for a long time and she eventually became pregnant, but did not deliver for two years, after which she gave birth to a lump of flesh. Vyasa cut this lump into a
hundred and one pieces, and these eventually developed into a hundred boys and one girl, Dushala.
Birth of Karna and Pandavas
Kunti was the mother of first three pandavas. When she was young, the sage Durvasa told her a mantra with which Kunti could summon any deva and have a child by him. When Kunti asked why he gave her this mantra, he told her that it would be useful to her later in life. Kunti, out of curiosity tried the mantra before her marriage and became the mother of Karna. She had to let her son go and he was brought up by Adhirath.
Later, after marriage, she bore three more sons and shared the mantra with Madri, who became the mother of Nakula and Sahdev.
Death stories from Mahabharata and The Ramayana – Indian Mythology
Though this topic seems a bit unusual, but there are enough incidents in Indian mythology, especially in Mahabharat and in the Ramayana, which compel me to write an article on the matter. These are a bit peculiar, so they warrant your attention. Interested? Read on…
Death of Ravana
Ravana’s – A character from the Ramayana
This is the story from the period of the Ramayana. Ravana has obtained a boon from Lord Shiva that he shall not be slain by the Devas, the divine beings, Gandharvas, the Yakshas or by the Rakshasas. He did not include human beings into the list. Lord Vishnu took birth as a human in the form of Rama, and thus Ravana could be killed.
Jayadrath was brother in law of Kauravas. He had a boon from Lord Shiva that he can stop all Pandavas for a day in a battle except Arjuna. He did so on thirteenth day of the Mahabharata war and did not allow pandavas to come into the chakravyuha. Arjuna’s son knew to enter the chakravyuha and he was trapped there as Pandavas could not follow him. Abhimanyu died a glorious death while defending Yudhishthira.
Arjuna vowed that the next day, he will kill Jayadrath or set himself on fire. The next day, Shri Krishna has to resort to his exploits when he made the sun to disappear using his Sudarshan chakra. Seeing this, Jayadratha came out of hiding to celebrate Arjuna’s defeat. At this point of time, Shri Krishna withdrew the chakra and told Arjuna – Here is the Sun and here is Jayadrath, so kill him. Arjuna duly obliged and thus Jayadrath was killed in the Mahabharata war.
Here is another story, Jayadrath was granted a boon by his father, sage Vridhakshtra that whosoever causes Jayadrath’s head to fall, his head will be burst in 100 pieces. Shri Krishna directed Arjuna to cut his head in such a way that it falls in the lap of his father. You know what could have happened next?
Hirankashyap had a boon from Brahma that “I should die neither in the morning nor in the evening, neither inside of my house not outside of my house, neither n earth nor in sky, not by any creature created by you and not by any weapon.”
Lord Vishnu took the form of Narasingh avatar and killed him in a place and at a time which fulfilled above prophecy. Bhagwan Narsingh’s head was of a lion and his body was of a human being (He was not the creature created by Lord Brahma). He immediately attacked Hiranyakashyap and fought with him. He fought till it was evening (neither day nor night). At that time he picked him up, took him to the door (neither inside the house nor outside the house), kept his body on his lap (neither on Prithvi nor in the sky) and ripped his stomach with his nails (not with any kind of weapon).
Bhasmasur obtained a boon from Shiva that any person who is touched by Bhasmasur on his head, will burn into ashes immediately. After obtaining this, he tried to test this on Shiva. Shiva had to flee and he sought Bhagwan Vishnu’s help in this. He soon appeared before him in a form of beautiful lady, Mohini. Mohini asked Bhasmasur to match him while dancing and she will marry him. During the competition, she put a hand on her head, Bhasmasur obliged and immediately turned into Ashes.
Pandu had a curse from Sage Kindam. Kindam died when he was spending time with his wife in the guise of deer. Pandu was hunting and he accidentally killed the couple. They cursed him that he will die similarly. Later, a day in forest, Pandu was with his wife Madri and forgot about the curse. Soon, both of them died as a result of the curse. This story is from the days of Mahabharat.
This story is from Mahabharat period. Jarasandh was killed in the same way he was born, in two pieces. Mighty Bhima, one of the Pandavas, fought a one to one battle with him and torn him in two pieces and threw them in opposite directions. Jarasandh was born in two halves after his father distributed the divine fruit to two of his wives. He was immensely powerful and was planning to become immortal when Krishna intervened. The fight between Bhima and Jarasandh reached and end only after Shri Krishna advised Bhima to throw the two halves of Jarasandh in opposite directions. Shri Krishna, the central character of Mahabharat, has been instrumental in many such incidents.
Death of Bali or Vali
In the period of the ramayana, bali and sugriva were two brothers. Bali has the boon that he will get the half strength of his opponent in any battle. Thus it was impossible to beat him by fighting with him. Bali has also done injustice to his brother Sugriva. Ram, decided to help him and asked Sugriva to fight with his brother with a garland. Thus Rama identified Sugriva and killed Bali with an arrow from hiding. Sugriva, later helped Rama when he searched his wife, Sita and his vaanar sena helped in fighting the war with Ravana.