Rāmāyana | Ayodhyā Kaṇḍa | Chapter 96

96. Lakṣmaṇa sees Bhārata's Army

[There was a great disturbance in the forest because of the sound created by marching army. Lakṣmaṇa finds out that it is due to Bhārata's army. He gets agitated thinking that Bhārata is coming to kill them.]

Having shown Sītā, the princess of Mithilā the river and the mountain and gratifying her with meat, Rāma sat on the mountain slope. 96.1

The soul of Dharma, Rāma told Sītā who was seated with him, "This sacred meat has been roasted in fire and made in to savoury." 96.2

When they were sitting like this, the sound and dust raised by the approaching army reached the sky. 96.3

When this was going on, greatly scared by the great sound and getting afflicted, the baffled leader of elephant herds started running along with their herds. 96.4

Rāma heard the great sound generated by the army and saw the leaders of elephant herds fleeing away. 96.5

Seeing the beasts running away and hearing the sound, Rāma addressed Lakṣmaṇa, the son of Sumitrā who was bursting with energy. 96.6

"What a great surprise, Lakṣmaṇa who is the worthy son of Sumitrā, I am hearing fearful and tumultuous rumbling sounds of clouds. Please see." 96.7

'"Herds of elephants in the forests, buffaloes in great woods and wild animals frightened by lion are running here and there." 96.8

"Has any king or prince come in this forest for hunting or has any other ferocious animal entered in to the forest. It is proper that you find out." 96.9

"Oh Lakṣmaṇa this mountain is difficult to enter even for the birds and it is only proper that you find out exactly the reason for this." 96.10

That Lakṣmaṇa hurried climbed a tall flowering Sāla tree and glanced in every direction and first examined the east side. 96.11

And then seeing to the north, he saw a vast army consisting of chariots, horses and elephants, with well-equipped foot soldiers. 96.12

After having told Rāma about the army decorated with chariots with flags and teeming with horses and elephants, he said the following words. 96.13

"Oh gentle Rāma, put off the fire, let Sītā take refuge in a cave, put on the armour and get ready with your arrows and bows." 96.14

The tiger among men Rāma replied to Lakṣmaṇa "Oh son of Sumitrā, look carefully at the army. Whom do you think it belongs?" 96.15

When Rāma told him like this Lakṣmaṇa who was raging like a fire and wanted to reduce that army in to ashes replied. 96.16

It is evident that the son of Kaikeyi after being consecrated and endowed with the prosperity, desiring the kingdom to be clearly his, is coming to slay both of us. 96.17

"On the top of the chariot there is a huge shining flag with the picture of a huge Kovidara tree with huge trunk." 96.18

"This great tree with a very large trunk and with many branches is the Kovidara and is on that flag of the chariots of that army." 96.19

"Those people who have mounted their horses are running swiftly and following their flags. And those people who are riding on the elephant look cheerful." 96.20

"Let us take hold of our bows and stand on this mountain or let us stay fully prepared for the battle here itself." 96.21

"Oh Rāma, will the Kovidara flag come in to our possession in this war? Will I be able to see Bhārata who has been the reason for this bad state of me, you and Sītā?" 96.22

"Oh valorous Rāma, that valorous Bhārata on whose account you were perpetually banished from the kingdom has come here as a foe. And it appears to me that he should be slain." 96.23

"Oh Rāma, I do not see any fault in killing Bhārata. Killing someone who has caused to harm to us earlier is not against Dharma." 96.24

"Oh Rāma. Earlier Bhārata has not bothered about Dharma and caused you harm and when such a person is slain, you will rule this earth." 96.25

"Let Kaikeyi who desires to have the kingdom, see her son being slain by me in the battle, like a tree is being harmed by the elephant." 96.26

"I shall also kill Kaikeyi along with her attendants and relatives and let the earth get rid of this great blot today." 96.27

"Oh One with honour, let me get rid of my suppressed anger and dishonour today and offer this army of enemies, like thickets to the fire." 96.28

"Today I will wet the forests of Chitrakūṭa with the bloodshed by the enemies when I slay them with sharpened arrows." 96.29

"Let the wild animals of these forests drag the elephants and horses, whose hearts are pierced by my arrows." 96.30

"By killing the armies of Bhārata in this great forest, without any doubt I shall discharge the debts to my arrows." 96.31

This is the end of Ninety Sixth Sarga of Ayodhyā Kanda which occurs in Holy Rāmāyaṇa composed by Vālmīki as the First Epic.