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.
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 Ravanas 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.
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’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.
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.
Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is normally associated with peace, calmness and patience, but there are instances where this incarnation of Lord Vishnu has been angered. At one hand, these present a message that though above mentioned virtues are sought after, but when it demands, anger should also be exercised.
This incident is well known and documented, just happened after Sita swayamvar. After knowing that someone has broken Shiva’s bow, Parshurama stormed into the scene and demanded to know who has done this. This angered Rama a great deal and he shown his prowess by lifting the another bow and pointed the arrow towards Parshurama and demanded – Where should I release this arrow? Parshurama instantly understood and went away. This is a classic case of dealing with anger which was abated by anger.
In his quest of winning back Sita, Rama and his army of monkeys has to cross the ocean. For this, they wanted to made a bridge which could lead them to Lanka. But the problem was that the sea was not calm to allow such as endeavour. Rama requested Sagar (Sea god) for three days and when it did not relent, Rama decided to dry the sea with the weapon Brahmastra. The Sea god then pleaded for mercy and Rama anger could be subdued.
This is not exactly Rama who got angry with Sugriva, rather Laxman. After getting the throne of Kishkindha back, Sugriva apparently forgotten about his promise to help Rama to search Sita. Rama send Laxman as his messenger to Sugriva. After Laxman gave him a mouthful and Tara also told Sugriva that it is the time to fulfill his promise, Sugriva sends out his most trusted lieutenant Hanumana to search Sita.
With son of Indra
During their stay at Chitrakoota, Kakasura, Indra’s son in disguise, had committed an outrage on Sita’s modesty. When Rama came to know of it his anger knew no bounds and he used a blade of grass as the Brahmastra. The offending crow now fled from pillar to post and found that in all the three worlds there was none who could protect it. It came back to Rama and fell at his feet. Rama told the crow that the effect of the Brahmastra could not be taken away and in accordance to the crow’s plea, the right eye became the target to save its life.
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
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 Baali 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.
Lord Hanuman is one of the 7 chiranjeevs. These immortals will live till the beginning of the next Satya Yuga.
The stripes on the back of squirrels is supposed to be Ram‘s caress for their dedication to help construct the bridge to Lanka.
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.
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.
Sita’s name while in exile was Vaidehi.
Vashishtha and Vishvamitra both were Ram’s gurus. And both hated each other at one point of time.
Lakshman is the avatar of Shesha Naga. The mount of Vishnu.
The Ramayana, the most read epic in Hindu mythology contains some very interesting facts, known and unknown. The ramayana is not only the story of Rama, but this is also a story of other people also. For instance, Laxman, Bharat and Hanuman. We can’t forget Sita, Urmila, Vibheeshana alongwith Kaikeyi and Manthra.
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).
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. Hanuman slain the demon Kalanemi, while fetching sanjeevani herb. Kalanemi was sent by Ravana.
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.
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, everytime 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.