The Ramayana (Rama and Ravana) story in pictures – Yuddha Kand (3)

Yuddha Kand (3) from Ramayana

In this article, events pertaining to final war are described. Ravana sends spies to Rama’s camp, and Rama makes his own strategies. He even devises that what would be the appearance of his army when fighting with Ravana’s might.

Ravana sends Shardula to assess Rama’s strength

The demon king, Ravana sent another spy to obtain information on Rama and his army. But Shardula was discovered by monkeys and after thoroughly beaten, he was taken to the court of Rama. He was eventually saved when Rama intervened. Shardula then advises Ravana to return Sita to Rama.

Ravana dwells
Ravana dwells

To this, Ravana becomes very angry and says that he will not return Sita, come what may be. He further details the strength of various warriors in Rama’s side, including Hanuman, Angad, Neela, Sugreeva, Jambavant and others.

Sarama tells Sita of Ravana intentions

Sita asks Sarama to go secretly to Ravana and get to know what he is doing as well as report to her back about Ravana’s decision about the matter of releasing her or continuing to keep her captive. Sarama secretly hears the conversation of Ravana with his ministers and reports to Sita that Ravana is not inclined to set her free. Sarama consoles Sita, saying that Rama with his sharp arrows will kill Ravana and take her back to Ayodhya.

 

Malyavan, the maternal grandfather of Ravana, advises for peace

Hearing that Rama’s troops have reached lanka, the grandfather of Ravana, advises to return Sita to Ravana, but Ravana did not oblige. Malyavan indicates that Rama is not an ordinary human being, and he is surely going to defeat and kill Ravana, so this is the best course of action to return Sita. Ravana turns his deaf ear to the words of Malyavan and even abuses him that the latter exaggerating the strength of Rama. Ravana further says that he will not restore Seetha to Rama and that Rama and his army will not go back alive, having crossed the ocean and reached Lanka.

Malyavan advising Ravana
Malyavan advising Ravana

Ravana strategies for safety of Lanka

Ravana assigns Prahasta and others to guard the four main gates of Lanka against the inroads of the enemy. Vibheeshana provides this information to Rama and upon hearing Ravana’s plans, Rama makes his own plan to counter Raavana’s designs.

Rama plans to invade Lanka

Rama appoints commanders for performing various tasks once they decided to attack Lanka. Nila was asked to attack from the east. His task was to attack Prahasta. At the south, Vali’s strong son Angad was entrusted to oppose Mahaparshva and Mahodara. Hanuman to enter from the western gate. Rama decided than he alongwith Laxman will lead the aggression from northern gate. In the centre, he appointed Jambavant and Vibheeshana to take care of the army.

Rama startegises with his commanders
Rama startegises with his commanders

Rama’s another masterstroke

At this point of time, Rama advises his army to never take human form. Rama, Laxmana and Vibheeshana and his four companions will only fight in human form. Monkeys were instructed to remain in monkey’s form and it will serve as a sign of recognition. No demon will ever assume a form of monkey as it would be lowly for them to do so.

Rama and his commanders observe Lanka from Mount Suvela

Rama expresses his desire to Vibheeshana and Sugriva to halt on Suvela mountain for that night, and to envision the City of Lanka. Rama along with Laxman, Vibheeshana , Sugriva and his army ascend the mountain and witness the beauty of Lanka. They halt on that mountain-resort for the night.

Rama observes Lanka
Rama observes Lanka

Sugriva fights Ravana

Just then, Sugriva notices Ravana and he jumps from the summit of the mountain and then sprang to the top of the gate (where Ravana was). He then fights with Ravana for a long time. After that he comes back and joins his troops. Rama reprimandsSugriva not to repeat such reckless acts in future on the ground of he being a king.

 

Sugriva and Ravana
Sugriva and Ravana

The Ramayana (Rama and Ravana) story in pictures – Yuddha Kand (1)

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana

Yuddha Kand (1) or Lanka Kand

This is the last and the longest chapter of Valmiki Ramayana which is the story of Lord Rama. This is also known as Lanka Kand. Since this is a long chapter, this story will be presented in a series of  articles. This is very interesting article where great demons were slain by Human and monkeys. Ravana, incidentally, did not seek immunity from these from his famous boon from Brahma

 

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana
Rama and Ravana – The Ramayana

Rama welcomes Hanumana

After Hanumana succesfully locates Sita in Lanka and performed the act of burning the city of Lanka, He returns to Kishkindha. Rama listens to the whole story and praises Hanumana acknowledging the fact that this feat was not possible by ordinary people.

The seed of doubt

As Rama spoke about the enormity of the task which was performed by Hanumana, he gets worried that how his army of monkeys will reach Lanka, which was so difficult to reach. The vast ocean was the biggest hurdle. Sugriva comforts Rama  and he tells that the monkeys are efficient, strong and loyal to Rama. With help of the monkeys, surely they will be able to reach lanka and defeat Ravana.

 Rama gets the information on Lanka from Hanumana

He asks Hanumana to provide him with the information on Lanka. Hanumana, skilled in oratory skills, describes the city of Lanka in detail. This city was strongly defended and as the vast sea is between them, it becomes truly impregnable. He elaborates that this city is surrounded by water and built on a mountain, it has four fold defenses including forest and artificial fortification.  Lanka is abounding with horses and elephants and is extremely difficult to conquer. Deep trenches and Sataghnis too as well as engines of war of every kind adorn Lanka the city of wicked Ravana.

Rama in consultation with monkeys
Rama in consultation with monkeys

Rama departs with army of monkeys for Lanka

 After getting the details form Hanumana, He chooses an auspicious hour to start his journey for his quest to take Sita back. They reach the seashore and Lord Rama confidently states that he will destroy the city of Lanka in no time. The time has now come to defeat Ravana and get Sita back. He also appoints generals for the army, notably Nila, Jambavant, Angad and others. They reached the seashore and faced the most pertinent question – How to cross the vast ocean?

Rama remembers Sita , Ravana had a meeting with his ministers

At this point, He remembers Sita as he longed for her companionship. While in Lanka, Ravana assembles his ministers and discusses the current situation. To this, the ministers respond that he should be thinking too much about Rama. The Rakshasas are a strong group and they can easily defeat anyone. Ravana, himself has the honour of defeating Kubera and Indra, should be able to defeat and kill Rama, if need arises. Thus, Ravana was made confident by his ministers.

Vibheeshana’s word of advice

Vibheeshana, the wise brother of Ravana, advises to return Sita to her husband, as this act was not justified. But Ravana could not listen to him, and he sends him away. Ravana goes back to his assembly and asks all his warriors to be present at once. He then asks Prahast to defend the city of Lanka with his warriors.

Kumbhkarna reprimands Ravana but remains on his side

Ravana talks about his infatuation to Sita, his powers of battlefield, his boon and yet again, he is thoughtful of the devastation done by a single monkey. Kumbhkarna reprimands that the time of thinking is lost. If this act of consultation with us was done at the beginning of this action itself (of bringing Sita here), it would have been worthy of you. A king who performs king’s functions with a mind duly ascertained by justice, will not repent thereafter. He then said that he will kill Rama and Lakshmana and ensure that the victory is of Ravana’s.

Vibheeshana praises Lord Rama

Vibheeshana praises Lord Rama and he tells everyone about the power and prowess of Rama. He tells that he is a great warrior and equally a great archer. His arrows never miss their mark and he is expert in warfare. He advocates that Sita should be returned to Rama with honour. He also says that  If the beloved wife of Rama is not given away of your own accord, the city of Lanka will indeed perish. All our valiant demons too will perish.

Vibheeshana is admonished by Ravana and Indrajit

After hearing these words from him, Indrajit, son of Ravana criticizes him for underestimating the power of Ravana. He also says that Why are you frightening us?  At one time, the competent Devendra, the lord of three worlds, was indeed tossed down on the floor by me. All the flocks of celestials were cast into fear and all of them fled to different quarters. Airavata (Indra`s elephant), which was making noise discordantly, was hurled down by me on the floor. Ravana also gets angry and humiliates him before everyone.

Ravana and Vibheeshana
Ravana and Vibheeshana

Vibheeshana gets angry and leaves Lanka

Hearing a mouthful from Ravana and Indrajit, Vibheeshana loses his temper and flies wielding a mace in his hand, soared high into the sky, along with four other demons. Vibheeshana together with four of his companions reach Rama’’s place. Halting in the sky itself, Vibheeshana asks him to give refuge to him.

This was opposed by Sugriva, Angad, Jambavant and others. But Hanuman has different ideas. He trusted Vibheeshana and advocated his inclusion to Rama’s side. Finally, Rama says that he cannot refuse a person who has come to him, and there is merit in the person as he is speaking truth. Thus Vibheeshana is inducted into Rama’s side.

Sita swayamvara

Sita Swayamvara

King Janak was the ruler of the kingdom of Videha. Its capital city was Mithila. Janak was not only a brave king, but was also very well-versed in the Shastras and Vedas.  His daughter was Sita who grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm and possessed the greatest of womanly virtues.

The condition of Swayamvara

When Sita became of marriageable age, the king decided to have a Swayamvara, which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the God Shiva. Whoever could wield the bow and string it, could marry Sita.

Why the condition was chosen

In earlier part of her life, Sita while playing with her sisters had unknowingly lifted the table over which the “Shiva Dhanush” had been placed; which was something no one in the palace could do. This incident was however observed by King Janaka and he decided to make this incident as the backdrop for swayamvara.

Rama fulfils the condition

Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya, successfully broke Shiva’s bow as he picked it up. And with the breaking of the bow, Janak proposed Sita to Rama in marriage. On the approval of Sage Vishwamitra, Janak sent his messengers to Ayodhya to convey the message to Dasharatha. Upon hearing the story of how his son Rama not only lifted the bow of Shiva, but also broke it, Dasharatha was overjoyed. He gladly accepted the marriage proposal of Rama and Sita.

Rama breaking Shiva's bow during Sita Swayamvar
Rama breaking Shiva’s bow during Sita Swayamvar

Angry Parshurama comes to the palace

At this point, Parshurama arrives at the palace and demanded to know that who has broken the bow of Shiva. He told Rama that Vishvakarma made two identical bows and gave them to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and Rama has broken the former. Parshurama said if Rama could string the bow of Vishnu then only he will accept the greatness of Rama. Rama took it up and strung it and placed an arrow asking Parashurama to where to target the arrow now. Parshurama realized that this person is no ordinary person and he himself is an avatar of Vishnu. He silently retreated from the swayamvara place.

Rama and Parshurama's confrontation
Rama and Parshurama’s confrontation

Marriage of Sita and Rama is solemnised

King Janak at that time gave lot money and other valuables that one can’t even imagine as dowry for Sita. As dowry, King Janak gave several lakh cows, expensive carpets and hundreds of silk clothes for Sita. The dowry also included elephants and horses covered with gold ornaments and chariots with many guards and servants. For Sita to not miss her friends, Janak also sent 100 female helpers as dowry with his daughter.Apart from all this, Janak also gave her daughter 1 crore gold coins, diamonds, pearls and ruby.

Rama and Sita wedding
Rama and Sita wedding

 

Ram Navmi festival

Festival of Ram Navmi

Ram Navmi, is a Hindu festival celebrating birth of Lord Ram.

Ram Navmi
Lord Ram birth is celebrated in Rama Navmi festival
Lord Ram is believed to be seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Shri Ram Navmi is celebrated on ninth day(navmi) of chaitra month of hindu lunar year, in waxing moon (shukla paksha). This festival is celebrated with immense joy and enthusiasm all over India. In South India, this day is celebrated as wedding anniversary of Lord and Sita.

Legends around this festival

In Ramayan, Dasarath was king of Ayodhya. He had three wives, Kaushalya, Sumithra and Kaikeyi. King Dasarath was nat blessed with a child, so he and the people of Ayodhya were worried as they had no heir to their kingdom. Rishi Vasistha, suggested him to perform, Putra Kamesti Yagna, to get desired child.
King Dasarath agreed to this and went to meet Maharshi Rushya Shrungain, who gave his concent to solemanise the yagna. As a result of yagna, Fire God appeared and handed a bowl of payasam to king Dasarata, and asked him to give it to his wives. He gave one half to Kaushalya, other half to Kaikayi. And they two gave one half each of their payasam to Sumithra.
After few days all the three Queens conceived Dasratha’s child. On the ninth day (Navami) of Chaithra month of Hindu calendar , at noon Kaushlya gave birth to Lord Sri Ram, Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharath, and Sumithra gave birth to twins, Lakshman and Shatrughan.
This was a great day in Ayodhya and since then this day is calebrated as Ram Navmi festival.

Ram navmi festival celebrations

Temples are decorated, special hawans are performed, along with the chanting of vedic mantras.
Image of baby Ram is placed on cradle and is rocked by devotees, with singing of bhajan and kirtan. Many Hindu keep fast for the day followed by feasting in the evening. Along with LOrd Ram people also worship Sita (his wife), Laxman (his brother) and Hanuman (his ardent devotee). In the evening a special Ram Navmi procession is taken on street.
In South India, Sitarama Kalyanam, i.e.ceremonial wedding of the Lord Ram and Sita are performed by the priests at the temple. At the end of the day the deity is taken to a procession on the streets, with great fanfare and accompanied by group chanting of name of Rama.
The important celebrations on this festival take place at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, thronged by thousands of devotees, and Rathayatras, the chariot processions, also known as Shobha yatras of Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman, are taken out at several places, including Ayodhya where thousands of people take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu.

Panchkanya

Panchkanya – five reverred ladies in Indian mythology

[quote]Daily remembering the five maidens great,Ahalya, Draupadhi, Kunti,Thara and Mandodari will destroy the greatest sins[/quote]

In Hindu mythology, panchkanyas have been given special importance. These are Ahilya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari. One unknown fact here is that all these ladies have been subjected to indecent behaviours from men or some of have been married twice, but we still give them their due. This is in contrast to today’s societies when faults of others are conferred on them. Read on, you will appreciate the fact.

 

Ahilya

Ahilya was the consort of Sage Gautam. She was made by Brahma and was surreal beautiful. Indra, the king of natural forces, had lecherous dreams about her. Once sun and moon assisted Indra in confusing Gautam that it is morning (while it was night). While Gautam was away for morning ablutions, Indra, disguised as Gautam, approached Ahilya and proposed sexual desires in front of her. By her penance powers, Ahilya realized that it is Indra himself who came down for her. Filled with pride, she got subdued by the lust. Finally, Gautam, on return, caught them and cursed. He cursed Ahilya to become a stone for an indefinite period of time. She was later rescued[read here] by Lord Rama.
Liberating Ahilya by Rama
Liberating Ahilya by Rama

Draupadi

 

Draupadi was born from the sacrificial fire with the objective of being the cause of the destruction of the Kauravas. Her bold step was that she agreed to be the wife of five husbands at a time when polygamy was rampant. She became the cause when the Kauravas tried to have her disrobed in full court. Thereafter she exhorted her husbands to war till finally her mission was accomplished. Though all her five sons were killed in the war. Read more on Draupadi.

Draupadi could have fourteen husbands

Draupadi cheer haran by Dushashan
Draupadi cheer haran by Dushashan

Kunti

Kunti was the classical unwed mother. As a girl she was taught an unusual mantra by Durvasa and immediately summoned Surya and bore his son Karna, whom she discarded in the river to avoid ostracism. Married to an impotent husband she, with his consent, summoned Dharma, Pawan and Indra and had sons, Yuddhishthir, Bhim and Arjun, through them. She had to go through the trauma of Arjun killing Karna only after which she revealed the secret of her eldest son.

Birth of Karna and Kunti letting him go away
Birth of Karna and Kunti letting him go away

Mandodari

Mandodari was the wife of the most powerful king Ravana. She was the only person who had the courage to speak out against her husband when he abducted Sita. Because of her intervention Sita’s stay in captivity was comfortable. An obscure version of the Ramayana states that she was Sita’s mother. She gave birth to Sita after she drank the blood of some sages that Ravana had killed. After the death of her sons and husband in battle she married her brother-in-law Vibhishan who had been crowned the new king.

Mandodari persuades Ravana to release Sita
Mandodari persuades Ravana to release Sita

Tara

Tara was the wife of one of the strongest personages of his time, the Vanara king Vali. She was known for her diplomacy and was the counterweight to Vali’s hotheadedness. Unfortunately Vali rarely heeded her and this resulted in his death at the hands of Rama. Quick to realize the gravity of the situation she maneuvered things so that she became the wife of Vali’s brother Sugriva on the condition that her son Angad becomes heir to the throne.

Tara curses Lord Rama
Tara curses Lord Rama

Tara is also said to have cursed Lord Rama, which was fulfilled in his next incarnation, Shri Krishna.