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Author Topic: HINDUISM - THE RAMAYANA  (Read 1115 times)
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« on: July 05, 2007, 01:40:51 pm »


The Plot Thickens

While being abducted, Sita flapped her limbs like a caged bird, shrieked and shouted but there was none to come to her rescue. On the way she left a trail by dropping her ornaments. When Ravana was intercepted by Jatayu, a devotee of Rama, who put up a fight, the latter eventually lost the battle and fell down. Ravana thereafter reached his capital without any disturbance and confined Sita to a garden in his palace, called Ashoka-Vatika.

Rama returned to find Panchavati without its soul, its life, its Sita. He suspected foul play and went round asking for the whereabouts of Sita from birds and beasts, plants and trees, wailing and weeping like an ordinary man. Rama is never projected as the Supreme Lord of the universe who knew the past, the present and the future, but as a mere mortal, although as an ideal man. While looking for Sita the trail of ornaments led the two brothers to Jatayu who told them all about the abduction of Sita by Ravana and then he breathed his last on Rama’s lap.

Ravana was a strange foe. He was well-read knowing all the Vedas and Sastras, unbeaten in argument and having great knowledge of various arts and sciences. Indian artists therefore show him as a person having the wisdom of ten wise men—with ten heads. In spite of being so learned and wise, he committed the contemptible act of taking away forcibly another man’s wife. Therefore the artists add a donkey’s head to the personality of Ravana demonstrating his folly. Ravana retained his propriety, however, in dealing with the captive Sita. She was put under the charge of dreadful demonesses who cajoled her, compelled her, threatened her to accept Ravana as her husband. Nothing availed, and Sita stood like a rock in her faithfulness and loyalty to Rama. Credit must be given to the mighty king Ravana who on his frequent visits to Sita in Ashoka Vatika always, awaited her acceptance and never for once touched her person.

At the other camp, once Rama came to know that Ravana had taken away Sita, a search was launched to find the exact spot where she was confined. The job was performed by his great devotee, Hanuman, son of Vayu (wind God) who had acquired several Siddhis (miraculous powers) like assuming several forms ranging from the tiniest and the lightest to the largest and the heaviest. He took the ring of Rama as a token to establish his identity and dropped the ring from a tree under which Sita was sitting. Sita was delighted to receive a message from Rama and gave an ornament in return as a token of her message to her Lord.

Before returning, Hanuman was caught by the henchmen of Ravana who tried to burn him alive but Hanuman assumed a huge form and in turn caused enormous damage to Lanka. When Ravana’s brother Vibhishana advised Ravana to return the captive, Ravana disgracefully turned him out of the court. Thus Vibhishana surrendered to Lord Rama and became his devotee for ever.

Rama did not take any precipitate action. An emissary, Angada, son of Bali, was sent to the court of Ravana asking for the return of Sita to avoid bloodshed. Angada was told by Ravana that he would prefer a fight to avenge the dishonour done to his sister than to patch up by returning Sita.

Vibhishana had joined the forces of Rama and with the help of king Sugreeva, a huge army was raised and a bridge laid across the sea to reach Lanka. Feverish preparations followed on both sides but before starting the war Rama sought the blessings of Lord Siva for his success. Hanuman was asked to bring the idol of Lord Siva from a particular holy place but the Brahmins said that the Yajna could not be performed by Lord Rama unless his wife was by his side. A message was sent to Ravana to spare Sita for a short while so that worship could be performed according to the scriptural rites. There lies the greatness of the foe who agreed to send Sita temporarily and equally the magnanimity of Rama who duly returned her after the Lord had been worshipped.

There are instances after instances which point to the ideal character of not only Lord Rama but of many individuals, especially the main actors who participated in this drama. It is difficult to decide who excels whom. Even a tribal woman who wanted to entertain Rama by offering him plums, tasted each to ensure that only the sweet ones were eaten by the Lord, although it is refuted by some scholars giving a different meaning as Lord Rama is considered Maryada Purushottama. Friends, foes, brothers, devotees and others all leave an indelible impression upon the mind of the reader and tender ideal advice about one’s duty in a variety of human situations. In fact almost all conceivable situations have been covered and without being didactic, the advise dawns upon the person through a concrete example.

I leave it to scholars to conduct research and find out the veracity of various incidents, persons and places. The grain is to see how a particular individual acted in a given situation, and draw lessons therefrom. As Longfellow sang:

Lives of great men all remind us.
We can make our lives sublime.

The day of reckoning arrived and the great battle began between the forces of good and evil. There were many ups and downs in the battle. At one point Lakshmana was mortally wounded and there were less chances for his survival. But he was revived by the Sanjivini herb brought by Hanuman from the Himalayas. Thousands of Vanaras of Rama’s Army were killed by Meghnatha, the son of Ravana, who at last was slain in the battle by Lakshmana. Ahiravana, another son of Ravana, who was in the Patal Loka took away Rama and Lakshmana through his Maya to be sacrificed at the altar of Devi. However, they were rescued by Hanuman, and Ahiravana was killed by Hanuman. Kumbhakarana, a great warrior and brother of Ravana, was also killed by Lord Rama on the battlefield.

Ravana was a bitter foe and a man of miracles. It is said that he could assume many forms and bodies. Rama was hard put to finish him off. Eventually, his brother Vibhishana let out the secret that Rama should shoot an arrow at his navel which contained the elixir of his life and unless the elixir was drained off Ravana would not die.

At last the end came and Ravana fell dead on the ground. Sita was rescued and taken to Ayodhya in Pushpaka Vimana, an aerial car. They were received by the people of Ayodhya and brother Bharata who had ruled the country in his absence as a regent. Rama was crowned king amidst great rejoicings.
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