Rāmāyana | Sundara Kaṇḍa | Chapter 18

Chapter: 18
Rāvaṇa’s Arrival

[Here the description of the passionate Rāvaṇa who woke up and came to Asoka forest along with his wives to see Sītā is given. Rāvaṇa is described as valorous but spoiled by his passion and his women are described as virtuous, good and devoted to him.]

When he was examining with care the forest, which was in full flower and also searching for the daughter of Videha, the night was about to come to an end and the dawn was in making. 1

In the end of night, he heard the recitation of Vedas by the Brahma Rākṣasas, who were well versed in all the six parts of Vedas and who had done great fire sacrifices. 2

(Brahma Rākṣasas are highly learned Brahmins who due to the wayward life they lead and sins they committed are not able to attain Pitṛi Loka after their death. It is believed that they are very learned and have occult powers.]

At that time the very strong and great Hero, the ten headed one (Rāvaṇa) was woken up with the good luck, by singing songs which were sweet to hear and also verses praising him. 3

That famous King of Rākṣasas having woken up at the correct time wearing displaced cloths and garlands thought of the daughter of Videha. 4

That egoist Rākṣasa because God of love affected him, was not able to keep his passion to Sītā under control. 5

He, carrying with him his unparalleled fame, wearing all ornaments entered Asoka forest, which was having hangings made of gold in which gems were inlaid, which had fallen fully ripe fruits, which was dense with trees, which was giving happiness to the mind and eyes, which was having statues of deer, which was full of different varieties of trees, which was having several wonderful birds full of zest, which was filled with lotus ponds and which was shining with various types of flowers and saw it round. 6-9

That Rāvaṇa was followed by a very big group of ladies similar to Indra being followed by deva and Gandharva maidens. 10

Some of those ladies were carrying in their hand white threaded fan, some had golden lamps hanging on a chain and some had round ornamental discs. 11

(The Chāmara, the white threaded fan had a handle and was used to fan Kings.)

Some with water in golden vessels preceded him and some with back turned swords and carpets followed him. 12

At that time one intelligent lady took a gem studded pot with water in her right hand and walked with him. 13

(When great personages walked, someone walked before him and sprinkled water on his path, so that, the road is not dusty.)

Another walked behind him with an umbrella, which was having a golden handle, which was white, like a swan and which was shining like a full moon. 14

With eyes made red by lack of sleep and wine, those great wives of Rāvaṇa followed their heroic husband like the streaks of lightning following the clouds. 15

Those darling wives of Rāvaṇa who were wearing mixed up garlands and bangles, who were having a dishevelled looks, whose hair has been unloosened, whose face was full of droplets of sweat, whose body was made wet by sweat, whose hair was adorned by flowers, who were tottering because of loss of sleep and due to effects of wine, who were having pretty faces, who were having eyes causing passion and who were great ladies followed the Rākṣasa King because of their respect and passion towards him. 16-18

This very strong Rāvaṇa who was the husband of those ladies had come under the control of passion became a bad individual and because he had lost his heart to Sītā and was following a path of utter selfishness. 19

Hanuman the son of Wind god heard the jingling sound of the anklets and waist belts of those great ladies. 20

Hanuman saw Rāvaṇa who was capable of very great deeds, who had unimaginable strength and masculinity, who shined on all the four directions by the light of many lamps held in the front which were fed by perfumed oils, who was full of passion, egoism and bad conduct, who was having long red eyes, who was a personification of the god of love without his rope and who was wearing well washed white cloths with a colour of foam of milk hanging from his shoulders but pushed to one side, entered the garden. 21-24

Hiding in branch with profuse leaves and hidden by leaves and flowers, Hanuman started examining Rāvaṇa with care. 25

When the chief of monkeys was examining Rāvaṇa thus he saw the youthful pretty great wives of Rāvaṇa. 26

That famous King, surrounded by that bevy of beauties, entered the garden of the harem, which was full of animals and birds. 27

That Hanuman saw the very strong King of Rākṣasa who was the son of sage Vishravas, who was holding his two ears upright like spears, who was well ornamented, who was visibly drunk by passion, and who was surrounded by his ladies like the stars surrounding the moon. 28-29

(Malyavan, the maternal grandfather of Rāvaṇa, wanted the Rākṣasa clan to win over Devas. He induced his daughter Kaikasi to attract Sage Vishravas, who was the son of Pulastya and father of the God of wealth, Kubera. She became the mother of four children as a result. The eldest was Rāvaṇa.)

That monkey chief who was endowed with great power saw Rāvaṇa who was glittering by the rays of his power. 30

That greatly resplendent monkey chief who was the Son of God of wind decided without any doubt that" This individual was earlier seen by me in the centre of the city, in a great palace asleep and so this must be the great hero Rāvaṇa.", and he jumped and ran away. 31

 (The awesome look of Rāvaṇa induced fear even in a great hero like Hanuman. The poet wants us to compare the weak and tender Sītā in such a circumstance.)

That monkey chief was greatly resplendent but being disturbed by the great power of Rāvaṇa, he further withdrew deep in to hiding. 32

That Rāvaṇa with a great desire to see Sītā, who had jet-black hair, jet black eyes and attractive wide waist, neared her. 33

Thus ends the Eighteenth chapter of Sundara Kanda in the Rāmāyaṇa which is the first epic written by Vālmīki.