Bijoy Misra

January 25, 2023

Evil acts are done in the world because they are doable. Trickery and deceit are tools for doing evil, as is the forceful subjugation of people. Empirically, subjugation and denial of freedom are against the natural order of the universe. Once a human becomes selfish, their erratic mind controls their action, and errors compound: this in turn leads to the individual’s destruction. So was with Rāvaṇa.

Rāvaṇa could not believe that Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa had escaped from the noose created by Indrajit, and was worried that Indrajit’s invincibility was at risk. He ordered an able General called Dhūmrākṣa to check on the two brothers. Dhūmrākṣa followed Rāvaṇa’s orders and started out with a massive brigade of rākṣasas equipped with every conceivable weapon. He himself entered the battlefield through the western gate, riding a golden chariot pulled by donkeys.

He intended to confront Hanūmān, but the monkeys were eager to take him on. A spectacular battle ensued, with the rākṣasa army and their weapons on one side, and the monkey army with rocks and trees on the other. The monkeys crushed the rākṣasa army though the monkey army also lost some of their own in the battle, Hanūmān threw a giant stone and shattered Dhūmrākṣa ’s chariot, then crushed Dhūmrākṣa himself, by hurling a large, sharp, pointed rock, resembling a mountain peak!

Rāvaṇa next ordered General Bajradaṁṣṭra to take on the monkeys. Bajradaṁṣṭra assembled mighty troops, exited through the southern gate, and battled with Aṅgada. But Aṅgada outmaneuvered Bajradaṁṣṭra’s troops with his tree and stone ballistics, then used his sword to cut off Bajradaṁṣṭra ’s head.

Undaunted, Rāvaṇa ordered the mighty General Akampana to enter the battlefield, to “skillfully eliminate the two brothers as well as the Monkey Chief Sugrīva.” The Akampana Army fought with the monkey Army. Kumuda, Naḻa, Mainda and Dvivida of the monkey army put up a fierce fight. The sky was obscured with a cloud of brown dust. Akamapana slaughtered a lot of monkeys. Seeing Akampana’s success, Hanūmān joined in, carrying trees as his weapons. Akampana was hit with a massive tree thrown by Hanuman and perished.

Rāvaṇa, the strategist, next wanted to take control by engaging his core fighters. He counseled Commander Prahasta to get ready, and tried to coax him by saying “Death in an adventure is more inviting than an average life!” Prahasta retorted: “War has been thrust upon us because you did not return Sītā to Rāma.” However, Prahasta was aware of the reality of the situation, and said, “You have always been kind to me, and I will fight for your cause!” He entered the battle with a massive force. With the frenzy of his entry, Rāma asked Vibhīṣaṇa “Who is he?” Vibhīṣaṇa explained and narrated Prahasta’s ferocity. But the rakshasa had no escape from the diligent Nīla, who succeeded in hurling a giant rock at Prahasta’s head! Prahasta also perished.

Prahasta’s death shocked Rāvaṇa, who looked nervous. “We should not underestimate the enemy’s strength. I will enter the battle today, and paint the earth with the monkeys’ blood!” he vowed. He entered the battle with royal fanfare, causing damage to the monkeys; he also hurt Lakṣmaṇa. Rāma eventually subdued Rāvaṇa but allowed him to return to Laṅkā, perhaps thinking that Rāvaṇa would come to his senses and return to Sītā. It was not to be.

Rāvaṇa ’s mind churned. “My penance and prayers protect me against all except humans! Will my end come at the hands of the mortal Rāma?” he wondered. He ordered that his brother Kumbhakarṇa be aroused. Kumbhakarṇa entered the battlefield. Monkeys dispersed away, in Vālmīki’s words as the “clouds break up in strong winds!” Kumbhakarṇa caused massive damage to the monkey troops but was eventually eliminated by Rāma. Kumbhakarṇa ’s severed head fell into the ocean, “crushing alligators and other aquatic creatures deep into the earth.”

Rāvaṇa ’s sons Narāntaka, Devāntaka, Triśirā, and Atikāya sympathized with their father and assured him that they would use their might. Narāntaka battled with Aṅgada, while Hanūmān took care of Devāntaka and Triśirā. Atikāya showed a lot of bravado but was eventually eliminated by Lakṣmaṇa. This made Rāvaṇa extremely nervous. He alerted his guards to keep an eye on Sītā and protect her against the monkey intruders. “Watch for them at dusk, midnight, and at sunrise. Remain constantly alert!”

Rāvaṇa ’s valiant son Indrajit was always on standby. “Do not despair father, you are safe as long as Indrajit is alive!” Indrajit initiated his mystic ritual to gain access to a special missile that was a boon awarded to him. When invoked with the proper initiation, the missile was a “sure-shot” against the enemy. Indrajit entered the battle, and shot off the missile: in five days, “sixty-seven crore” monkeys lay bleeding and unconscious. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were also severely wounded.

Jāmbavān instructed Hanūmān to proceed to the Himalayas and fetch life-saving medicinal plants, whose fragrance helped bring the monkeys back to life. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were also healed by the application of the herbs. Having been brought to life, Sugrīva ordered the monkeys to invade Lanka: they entered Lanka holding lighted torches in hand and set fire to the city. A massive fight ensued, during which quite a few monkeys perished. and Laṅkā burned a second time.

Two sons of Kumbhakarṇa - Kumbha and Nikumbha - along with several other rākṣasas - Yūpākṣa, S’oṇitākṣa, Prajaṁgha, and Kampana - furiously jumped to the battlefield. But their enthusiasm was short-lived: Sugrīva, Aṅgada, and Hanūmān took care of them. Stalwart monkeys like Mainda and Dvivida rose to the occasion. Rāvaṇa then summoned Makarākṣa, the son of Khara. Khara was killed by Rāma in the Janasthāna forest, near Pañcavaṭī. “I am ready to take revenge, O Rāma!” Makarākṣa yelled. Rāma aimed a missile of lightning fire at the rākṣasa ’s heart and killed him.

The relationship between smartness and misconduct is unknown, but sometimes success in life leads to selfishness and arrogance, and one may lose sight of the larger society. Some people believe that they can dictate their own destiny, and they remain undeterred, despite massive losses and misfortune. This was the case with Rāvaṇa. His long years of penance and occult practices had led him to gain the skills needed to outfox enemies. However, Rāma proved to be an exception. Rāvaṇa did not want to read what his losses in the battlefield signaled, and was preparing to continue to fight, with the false aspiration that he could win! Human lust is dangerous and has no limits!

Rāvaṇa encouraged Indrajit to acquire his mystic weapons and engage Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa in battle. Indrajit undertook fire drills to concentrate his mind on the battle. He succeeded in making himself invisible. Rāma flooded the field with his arrows, but Indrajit was not in sight. Seeing that Rāma’s weapons could be invincible, Indrajit created a fake Sītā, who was identical to the real one, placed the model on his chariot, and indicated that she was being cruelly tortured. Then he slaughtered the fake Sītā. As the news spread, it had the desired depressing effect: Rāma fainted upon hearing the news, and Lakṣmaṇa was agitated. But Vibhīṣaṇa came on the scene and explained to them the dirty tricks perpetrated by the rākṣasas.” Sītā ’s death is as absurd as the ocean drying up! Rāvaṇa would not allow her to be killed!” Vibhīṣaṇa consoled.

He continued: “Indrajit is busy with rituals at the Nikumbhila forest. If he succeeds in completing the ritual, he will obtain the power of becoming totally invisible, and will thus become invincible. We must make all efforts to interrupt and kill him. Let Lakṣmaṇa proceed immediately with a battalion of troops, and do the needful!” With Rāma’s permission, Lakṣmaṇa proceeded, along with Vibhīṣaṇa, Hanūmān, and Jāmbavān. Indrajit and his rākṣasa troops fought back valiantly but were eventually tamed. Lakṣmaṇa destroyed Indrajit’s chariot, killed the horses, and beheaded the charioteer. Indrajit changed chariots and became more violent. Lakṣmaṇa recited the prayer: “In the name of virtuous Rāma, let this missile destroy Rāvaṇa ’s son!” He then fired the Indra missile, which missile killed Indrajit.

With the fall of Indrajit, the monkeys rejoiced. The rākṣasa s disappeared “as the light disappears after sunset!” “The sky became clear and the air was calm. The gods rejoiced! And learned people could travel without anxiety!” A bloodied Lakṣmaṇa, along with Vibhīṣaṇa, Hanūmān and Jāmbavān, met Rāma. Vibhīṣaṇa related Lakṣmaṇa’s heroic acts. Rāma was beholden to his brother, hugged him, and expressed his gratitude. “Killing Indrajit is equivalent to killing Rāvaṇa !” he acclaimed. He ordered the monkey physician Suṣeṇa to help treat the battle wounds. All were treated with the fragrance of natural herbs and restored to health!

Let Sai bless all!