Rāmāyana | Yuddha Kaṇḍa | Chapter 57

57. Rāvaṇa Sends Prahasta

[Rāvaṇa decides to send Prahasta to the battle field. He tells Rāvaṇa that he should have returned Sītā. With a huge army, in spite of bad omens, he comes out of the eastern gate.]

When he heard about the killing of Akampana, the king of Rākṣasas after becoming very angry, with a depressed face looked over all his ministers. 57.1

After thinking for a little time and holding discussion with his ministers that Rāvaṇa spent the forenoon going round the city and inspecting his army. 57.2

That city decorated by flags and banners was guarded by large numbers of Rākṣasas and filled with innumerable troops. 57.3

Rāvaṇa, the king of Rākṣasas after seeing his town besieged, at the critical time spoke to Prahasta who was an expert in war. 57.4

"Oh expert in war, I do not see any other hope for deliverance of this city which is besieged and devastated except war." 57.5

"Either myself or Kumbhakarṇa or yourself who is my army-chief or Indrajit or Nikumbha and none else could carry the burden of this great task." 57.6

"For that reason, you take hold of a large army and placing yourself in its middle, go ahead and achieve victory over the monkeys." 57.7

"As soon as you take your decision, the monkey army which is not stable would run away on hearing the roaring of Rākṣasa chiefs." 57.8

"The monkeys are unsteady, misbehaved and fickle-minded. They cannot tolerate your sound, similar to elephants cannot tolerate the lion's roar." 57.9

"As soon as Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa see that their army is running away, being without any support, they would fall in your hands unwillingly." 57.10

"A suspected danger is preferable to the definite one. Though it is for us or against us, please tell what you consider as good for us." 57.11

When Rāvaṇa told like this to Prahasta who was his commander-in-chief, he spoke to Rāvaṇa similar to Usana the guru of Rākṣasas speaking to Maha Bali. 57.12

"Oh king, earlier we had discussed about this matter with our wise ministers and after discussion, difference of opinion arose between us." 57.13

"To return Sītā was proposed by me as preferable and not to do war, as I could foresee this." 57.14

"I suggested that we return Sītā as a preferable alternative and not doing so meant war between us." 57.15

"I am not bothered about my wives, riches and sons but am going to sacrifice my life for your sake in this battle." 57.16

The commander in chief after having spoken like this to his king Rāvaṇa, told like this to army captains who stood before him. 57.17

"Gather a very large army of Rākṣasas and today flesh eating birds and animals would feast upon the dead bodies of enemies struck down by me by my sharp arrows." 57.18-57.19

As soon as they heard these words those very strong captains of the army assembled a very huge army in front of the house of that Rākṣasa. 57.20

Within in a very short time, the city of Lanka was filled by those elephant like Rākṣasa soldiers who were armed with many weapons. 57.21

When some of those Rākṣasas propitiated the fire God and Brahmins a ghee scented breeze started wafting in that city. 57.22

Some of those of those Rākṣasas wore garlands of different shapes chanted with some sacred formulae. 57.23

With bows and armours those Rākṣasas marched when Rāvaṇa was watching them and went and stood surrounding Prahasta. 57.24

Then, Prahasta who got ready with his weapons and armour, after saluting the king and striking a terrible kettle-drum, mounted his chariot, which was kept ready, yoked with extremely swift horses, well controlled by a charioteer, emanating a noise resembling that of a large cloud, actually shining like moon-light, un-defeatable with a flag bearing an ensign of snake, with a good collision-guard, with nice wheels and decorated with a net of pure gold smiling as it were in its magnificence. 57.25-57.27

As per the orders of Rāvaṇa, speedily Prahasta climbed the chariot and left city of Lanka along with a huge army. 57.28

When that commander-in-chief started the sound of kettle drums and conches filled the entire world. 57.29

The Rākṣasas with huge forma and bulky bodies proceeded ahead of Prahasta shouting with dreadful sound. 57.30

Narantaka, Kumbhahanu, Mahanadi and Samunnata, attendants of Prahasta sallied forth, surrounding him on all sides. 57.31

He came out of the eastern gate along with a very horrifying well divided army, which resembled the herd of elephants. 57.32

In the middle of that ocean like large army, Prahasta marched appearing like God of death at time of final deluge. 57.33

Along with the very loud war cries raised by them, all the beings of the city of Lanka also made very fearful answering cries. 57.34

In the cloudless sky there appeared birds which eat flesh and blood and flew from left to right around the chariot. 57.35

Fearful jackals vomited forth fire and flames, howling repeatedly. A meteor fell from the sky and the wind blew harshly. 57.36

The planets were in opposition to each other and lost their brilliance. The clouds, with their raucous sound, showered blood on Prahasta's chariot and dampened those who were walking in front of it. 57.37-57.38

A vulture which was facing south landed on the flag of Prahasta and started making noises seeing both directions depriving of the war time lustre. 57.39

When the charioteer who was Suta entered the battle ground, the goad from his hand slipped and fell on the ground several times. 57.40

The rare splendorous lustre that enveloped Prahasta vanished and immediately the horses stumbled and fell on the ground. 57.41

Seeing Prahasta who was well known for his valour and excellent character advancing to the battle field, different type of monkey armies advanced towards him. 57.42

After that, an exceedingly tumultuous clamour arose among the monkeys as they tore up the trees and seized them as well as took hold of huge rocks. 57.43

Both the armies of the yelling Rākṣasas and the roaring monkeys were delighted, impetuous and powerful with impatience to slay each other and were challenging each other with great shouts. 57.44-57.45

After that evil minded Prahasta marched towards the monkey army, hoping for victory, with accelerated speed, just like the grass hopper marches fast towards the fire. 57.46

This is the end of Fifty Seventh Sarga of Yuddha Kanda which occurs in Holy Rāmāyaṇa composed by Vālmīki as the First Epic.