Rāmāyana | Āraṇya Kaṇḍa | Chapter 23

23. Khara's March

[Right from beginning Khara's army saw very bad omens. Though they were bad omens, Khara decided on the war. Sages and Devas assembled in the sky to see the war.]

A fierce dark cloud of the colour of donkey, rained dreadful inauspicious water of red colour on the marching army. 23.1

Those great horses which can move with high speed which were yoked to the chariot, when they were travelling in the royal path on which flowers were spread stumbled and fell down. 23.2

When the Sun took its position on the sky, its middle part was dark and the edges were of colour of blood and it moved like a fire brand created ring. 23.3

On the flag flying on the golden staff, a very frightening vulture with a huge body settled down. 23.4

Beasts and birds, that live on flesh collected in Janasṭhāna, in a harsh voice produced different wrong signals and screamed. 23.5

The fearsome jackals running towards light, giving out very frightful sound indicated inauspiciousness to the Rākṣasas. 23.6

The clouds looking like scattered mountains poured rain of the blood red colour was fearsome and the sky looked different from normal sky. 23.7

A terrible darkness spread all over and was frightening and produced horripilation, even the four directions and the intermediate directions were not bright. 23.8

Even before the time for sun set, the twilight was red appearing like a raw wound and the wild animals and birds like Kanka birds, Jackals and eagles produced horrifying sounds facing Khara indicating their great fear. 23.9

Jackals which appeared scared ran towards Khara screeching as if fire was produced from their mouth. These ill omens indicate inauspiciousness and provided dreadful evidence of what is likely to happen. 23.10

The Ketu planet was seen at the end of Sun appearing like a rod of iron and that great planet sun appeared to be eclipsed on days other than new moon by Rāhu and it appeared it speedily lead the sun to darkness. 23.11-23.12

Even before night fall the stars shined like fire flies, which lead to disappearance of fishes and birds. The lotus in the ponds dried up and fruits and flowers started falling from the trees. 23.13

Without any strong wind, a brownish cloud of dust rose up and the Saarika birds thoughtlessly started singing, "Vichi Kuchi." 23.14

The thunderstorm accompanied by falling of the meteors gave a sight of dreadfulness and mountains and forests were shaken up. 23.15

The left shoulder of Khara who was sitting shouting in the chariot, throbbed excessively and being shaken violently his throat throttled. 23.16

While he was examining all over, his eyes were filled with tears and his forehead started to have pains but in spite of all this he did not return back. 23.17

Seeing that great disturbance causing horripilation, Khara laughingly addressed all his Rākṣasas and told. 23.18

"Though I see terrifying events boding calamity like a strong and valorous man dealing with the weak, I do not take them seriously." 23.19

"Using my sharp arrows I can even bring down the stars from the sky and if I am angry I can even make the death die." 23.20

"I do not want to return back without killing Rāma who is proud of his strength and his brother Lakshmana, using my sharp arrows." 23.21

"Let my sister become contented by drinking the blood of Rāma and Lakshmana, due to whom this great conflict arose." 23.22

"I have never faced defeat in any war and all of you are aware of it and you all know that I am not telling a lie." 23.23

"I can even kill the angry Indra, the king of devas riding on intoxicated divine elephant Airāvata and armed with Vajra and what of these petty human beings." 23.24

Hearing that great roar of Khara, the Rākṣasas of the great army became incomparably happy though they were falling in to the trap of death. 23.25

Sages, devas, Gandharvas, Sidhas, Chāraṇas and other great people assembled on the sky with a desire to see the war. 23.26

Those blessed people who were assembled there spoke among themselves "Let the cows and Brahmins associated with good people be safe." 23.27

"Let Rāma win over the clan of Pulastya like Vishnu, the holder of wheel won earlier over the Rākṣasas." 23.28

When those great sages were talking with each other on many more aspects and devas riding on their planes were eagerly waiting, they saw the Rākṣasas who were nearing the end of their life.23.29-23.30

Khara driving in a chariot went fast along with his great army and seeing that the Rākṣasas also travelled with great speed. 23.31

Syenagami, Pruthugreeva, Yagnasatru, Vihangama, Durjaya, KaraviRākṣasa, Parusha, Kalakarmukha, Methmali, Mahamali, Sarpasya, Rudhirasana and Mahaveerya - all twelve of them walked along with Khara. 23.32-23.33

That army of Rākṣasas, who had high speed, who were desirous of war and who were very strong marched with speed towards the sons of the king, like the garland of planets march towards Sun and moon. 23.34

This is the end of Twenty Third Sarga of Āraṇya Kanda which occurs in Holy Rāmāyaṇa composed by Vālmīki as the First Epic.