22-2 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Lakṣmaṇa was greatly delighted to hear the above discourse on the discipline of Bhakti (Devotion) and bowed his head at the feet of the Lord. In this way some days were spent in discoursing on dispassion, spiritual wisdom, goodness and morality. Now Rāvaṇa (the notorious demon king of Laṅkā) had a sister, Śūrpaṇakhā (lit., a woman having nails as big as a winnowing fan) by name, who was foul-hearted and cruel as a serpent. She once went to Pañchavaṭī and was smitten with pangs of love at the sight of the two princes. At the very sight of a handsome man, be he her own brother, father or son, O Garuḍa, a (wanton) woman gets excited and cannot restrain her passion, even as the sun-stone emits fire when it is brought in front of the sun . Having assumed a charming form she approached the Lord and with many a smile addressed the following words to Him: “There is no man like you and no woman like me. It is with great deliberation that God has made this pair. I have ransacked the three spheres but have found no suitable match for me in the whole universe. It is for this reason that I have till now remained a virgin; my mind has been set at rest a bit only after seeing you.” The Lord cast a glance at Sītā and said only this much: “My younger brother is a bachelor.” She went to Lakṣmaṇa, who, knowing that she was their enemy’s sister, looked at his lord and spoke in gentle tones: “ Listen, fair lady: I am His servant and a dependant; thus you will have no comforts with me. My lord is all-powerful and the sovereign king of Kosalapura (Ayodhyā); whatever He does will be worthy of Him. A servant who aspires for happiness, a beggar who expects honour, a person addicted to some vice who hopes for riches, a profligate who seeks a blessed state after death, an avaricious man who covets fame and a proud man who expects the four prizes of life - all these men expect to get milk by milking the heavens.” “Again she turned and came to Śrī Rāma; but the Lord sent her back to Lakṣmaṇa. Said Lakṣmaṇa, “ He alone will wed you, who deliberately casts all shame to the winds.” Thereupon she went fretting and foaming to Śrī Rāma and revealed her frightful demoniac form. The Lord of Raghus saw that Sītā was terrified and made a sign to His younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa). (1 - 10)

With great agility Lakṣmaṇa struck off her nose and ears, thereby challenging Rāvaṇa through her to a contest as it were. (17)

Without nose and ears she wore a hideous aspect and looked like a mountain flowing with torrents of red ochre. She went sobbing to Khara and Dūṣaṇa: “Fie, fie upon your manhood and strength, brothers!” Questioned by them she told them everything in detail; hearing her report the demon chiefs gathered an army. Swarming multitudes of demons of diverse shapes rushed forth like hosts of winged mountains of collyrium on vehicles of various kinds. They were infinite in number and were armed with terrible weapons of various kinds. They placed at their head Śūrpaṇakhā shorn of her ears and nose and thus presenting an inauspicious sight. Numberless ill-omens of a fearful nature occurred to them; but the host heeded them not, doomed as they all were to death. They roared and bullied and sprang in the air; and the champions were filled with excessive joy to see the army. Said one, “Capture the two brothers alive and having captured them kill them and carry off the woman.” The vault of heaven was overhung with the dust raised by them. (Seeing this) Śrī Rāma called His younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa) and said,” “Take Janaka’s Daughter to some mountain-cave; a terrible array of demons has come. Therefore, remain on your guard.” Obedient to his lord’s command he withdrew (to a safe retreat) with Sītā, bow and arrow in hand. When Śrī Rāma saw that the hostile force had advanced, He smiled as He strung His formidable bow. (1 - 7)

As He coiled His matted locks into a tuft on His head after stringing His formidable bow, it seemed as if a pair of snakes were engaged in a conflict with countless streaks of lightning on a mountain of emerald. Having girded up His quiver at His waist, and clasping the bow with His long arms and putting His arrows in order, He looked at the enemy even as a lion (the king of the beasts) would glare at a herd of large elephants.

Valiant champions came rushing with all speed shouting “Seize him, seize him!” even as the demons close round upon the rising sun finding it all alone. (18)

Even as they beheld the Lord the invading warriors could not discharge their arrows; the whole demon host became powerless. Khara and Dūṣaṇa summoned their ministers and said, “This prince, whoever he may be, is an ornament of the human race. Of all the Nāgas, demons, gods, human beings and sages that exist (in this universe) we have seen, vanquished or slain many. But during our whole life, listen to us, our brethren all, we have never beheld such beauty. Even though he has disfigured our sister, he does not deserve death, peerless as he is among men. “Surrender to us at once the woman you have put in hiding somewhere and return home with your life, both you and your brother.” Deliver this message of mine to him and return immediately with his reply.” The heralds went to Śrī Rāma and delivered the message to Him, in reply to which Śrī Rāma smilingly said, “We are Kṣatriyas by birth and are given to hunting in the woods; wretches like you are the game that we are tracking. We are never dismayed at the sight of a mighty foe and would give battle to Death himself if he ever appeared before us. Though human beings, we are the exterminators of the race of demons and, though youthful in appearance, we are the protectors of the hermits and the torment of the wicked. If you have no strength to fight, you had better return home; I never kill an enemy who has turned his back upon the field of battle. When you have come up to fight, it would be the height of weakness to play wily pranks or to show compassion to your enemy.” The heralds returned forthwith and repeated all that they had been told. The heart of Khara and Dūṣaṇa was on fire when they heard it. (1 - 7)

Their heart was on fire and they exclaimed, “Capture him,” hearing which fierce demon champions rushed forth, all armed with bows and arrows, steel clubs, pikes, spears, scimitars, maces and axes. First of all the Lord gave His bow a twang - shrill, terrific and fearful - which deafened and distressed the demons and they had no sense left in them at that time.

Having learnt that they were confronting a powerful enemy, the demon warriors now rushed with caution and began to hurl missiles and weapons of various kinds on Śrī Rāma. The Hero of Raghu’s line, however, tore them into pieces as small as sesame seeds and then drawing the bow-string to His ear let fly His own arrows. (19 A-B)

Then the terrible arrows sped forth, hissing like so many serpents. Śrī Rāma got infuriated in battle and arrows, exceedingly sharp, flew from His bow. The demon warriors turned and fled when they found the arrows so very keen. The three brothers (Khara, Dūṣaṇa and Triśirā) now flew into rage: “Whoever flees from the battle-field will be killed by us with our own hands.” At this the warriors turned back, fully resolved to die, and made a frontal attack with weapons of every description. Perceiving that the enemy was exceedingly furious, the Lord fitted arrows to His bow and discharged many a shaft of the “Nārāca” type with the result that frightful fields began to be mowed down. Trunks, heads, arms, hands and feet began to drop to the ground here, there and everywhere. Pierced by shafts, they yelled and their trunks fell like mountains. The bodies of the warriors were torn into a hundred pieces and resorting to deceptive methods they stood up again. A number of arms and heads flew through the air and headless trunks ran to and fro. Birds like kites and crows and jackals wrangled in a cruel and awful way. (1 - 7)

Jackals wrangled; ghosts, spirits and fiends filled the bowls of skulls with blood: devils clashed the heads of slain warriors like cymbals and the Yoginīs danced. Śrī Rāma’s fierce arrows tore to pieces the leaders” breast, arms and heads; their bodies fell on every side but stood up again to fight with terrible cries of “Seize, capture!” Vultures flew away with the end of entrails in their claws, while goblins scampered with the other end held in their hands; one might fancy numberless children of the town of the battle- field were flying kites. A large number of champions, that had been smitten or knocked down or whose breast had been torn, lay moaning. Finding their army in distress leaders like Triśirā, Khara and Dūṣaṇa turned towards Śrī Rāma. Countless demons hurled furiously against the Hero of Raghu’s line, arrows, spears, iron clubs, axes, javelins and daggers all at once. In the twinkling of an eye the Lord warded off the enemy’s shafts and sent forth His own arrows, planting ten shafts in the breast of each champion of the demon host. The leaders fell to the ground but rose again and joined in the fray. Yet they would not die and played very many tricks. The gods trembled with fear when they saw that the demons numbered fourteen thousand, while the Lord of Ayodhyā was all alone. Finding the gods and sages alarmed, the Lord, who is the Controller of Māyā (Cosmic Illusion), wrought a great miracle. The demons saw one another in the form of Śrī Rāma, so that the enemy’s warriors fought among themselves and perished. (1 - 4)

They quitted their body crying “Rāma! Rāma!!” and thereby attained the state of eternal bliss. Falling back upon this device the Ocean of Mercy killed the enemy in an instant. The gods in their exultation rained down flowers and kettle-drums sounded in the heavens. And hymning their praises one after another they all left, shining in their cars of various patterns. (20 A-B)

When the Lord of Raghus had vanquished the foe in battle, the gods, human beings and sages were all rid of fear. Then Lakṣmaṇa brought Sītā back; and as he fell at His feet the Lord joyously clasped him to His bosom. Sītā fixed Her gaze on His swarthy and delicate form with utmost affection; but Her eyes knew no satiety. Thus dwelling at Pañchavaṭī the blessed Lord of Raghus performed deeds that delighted gods and sages alike. Perceiving the destruction of Khara and Dūṣaṇa, Śūrpaṇakhā approached Rāvaṇa and instigated him (against Śrī Rāma). In great fury she rated him in the following words: “Discarding all thought of your realm and exchequer you drink and sleep day and night and take no heed of the enemy, who is now at your very door. Sovereignty without political insight, wealth divorced from virtue, noble deeds that have not been offered to Śrī Hari (God) and learning which does not beget discrimination is nothing but fruitless labour to the man who has gained such kingdom or wealth, to the doer of the noble acts and to the student respectively. A recluse is quickly undone by attachment, a king by evil counsel, wisdom by conceit, modesty by drinking, friendship by want of love, and man of merit by vanity: such is the maxim I have heard. (1 - 6)

“An enemy, a malady, fire, sin, a master, and a serpent are never to be accounted trifles.” So saying and with profuse laments she set to weeping. In her distress she threw herself down in Rāvaṇa’s court and with many a tear said, “ Do you think, my ten-headed brother, that I should be reduced to this state even though you are alive?” (21A-B)

On hearing this the courtiers rose in great bewilderment; taking her by the arm they lifted her up and comforted her. Said the king of Laṅkā, “Tell me what has happened to you. Who has struck off your nose and ears?” “Two sons of Daśaratha, the lord of Ayodhyā, who are lions among men, are out for hunting in the woods. The estimate that I have formed of their doing is that they will rid the earth of demons. Relying on the might of their arm, O ten-headed Rāvaṇa, the hermits roam about the woods without fear. Though quite young to look at, they are terrible as Death, the staunchest of archers and accomplished in many ways. Both brothers are unequalled in might and glory; devoted to the extermination of the wicked, they are a source of delight to gods and sages. The elder of the two who is an abode of beauty, is known by the name of Rāma; he has with him a young belle. The Creator made that woman the very embodiment of loveliness; a hundred million Ratis (consort of the god of love) are trifles before her. It was his younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa) who chopped off my ears and nose and made a mock of me when he heard that I was your sister. When Khara and Dūṣaṇa heard of it, they went to avenge the wrong done to me; but Rāma slew the whole army in a trice!” The ten- headed demon (Rāvaṇa) burned all over (with rage) when he heard of the destruction of Khara, Dūṣaṇa and Triśirā. (1 - 6)

Having consoled Śūrpaṇakhā he boasted of his strength in many ways; but he retired to his palace full of great anxiety and could not sleep the whole night. (22)

“Among gods, human beings, demons, Nāgas and birds,” he thought, “there is none who can withstand my servants. As for Khara and Dūṣaṇa, they were as powerful as myself; who else could have killed them, had it not been the Lord Himself? If therefore the Lord Himself, the Delighter of the gods and the Reliever of Earth’s burden, has appeared on earth, I will go and resolutely fight with him and cross the ocean of mundane existence by falling to His arrows. Adoration is out of question in this (demoniac) body, which is made up of the principle of ignorance, (Tāmasa). Therefore, such is my firm resolve in thought, word and deed. And if they happen to be some mortal princes I shall conquer them both in battle and carry off the bride.” Having thus made up his mind, he mounted his chariot and drove off alone to the spot where Mārīca was living by the sea-shore. Now, hear, Umā, the delectable account of the device that Śrī Rāma employed. (1 - 4)

When Lakṣmaṇa had gone to the woods to gather roots, fruits and bulbs, Śrī Rāma, the very incarnation of compassion and joy, spoke with a smile to Janaka’s Daughter: - (23)

“Listen, my darling, who have been staunch in the holy vow of fidelity to me and are so virtuous in conduct: I am going to act a lovely human part. Abide in fire until I have completed the destruction of the demons.” No sooner had Śrī Rāma told Her everything in detail than She impressed the image of the Lord’s feet on Her heart and entered into the fire, leaving with Him only of a shadow of Hers, though precisely of the same appearance and the same amiable and gentle disposition. Lakṣmaṇa too did not know the secret of what the Lord had done behind the curtain. The ten-headed Rāvaṇa approached Mārīca and bowed his head to him, selfish and vile as he was. The meekness of a mean creature is a source of great trouble like the bending of a goad, bow, snake or cat. The sugar coated speech of a villain is as alarming, Bhavānī (Pārvatī), as the flowers that blossom out of season. (1 - 4)

After doing him homage Mārīca respectfully enquired of him his errand: “Wherefore, my son, are you so much disturbed in mind that you have come all the way alone?”(24)

The wretched Rāvaṇa proudly repeated the whole story to him and added, “Assume the false appearance of a wily deer, so that I may be able to abduct the princess.” Mārīca, however, remonstrated, “Listen, Rāvaṇa: though disguised as a man, He is the lord of the whole animate and inanimate creation. There can be no quarrel with Him, dear son; we die when He would have us die and live only by His sufferance. Those very princes had gone to guard the sacrifice of the sage Viśvāmitra, when Śrī Rāma (the Lord of Raghus) smote me with a pointless arrow, that threw me at a distance of 800 miles in an instant. It will not be good to antagonize them. I find myself reduced to the position of an insect caught in the nest of a Bhaṅga (a wasp-like winged creature) inasmuch as I behold the two brothers wherever I look. Even if they are human beings, dear son, they are remarkable heroes nonetheless; and opposition to them will not avail. (1 - 4)

“But can he possibly be a man, who recklessly killed Tāḍakā and Śubāhu, broke Śiva’s bow and slew Khara, Dūṣaṇa and Triśirā?” (25)

 “Therefore, considering the welfare of your race you had better return home.” When he heard this he flared up and showered many abuses on Mārīcha. “You fool, you presume to teach me as if you were my preceptor. Tell me which warrior in this world is a match for me.” Then Mārīcha thought to himself, “It does not do one good to make enemies of the following nine, viz., one skilled in the use of a weapon, he who knows one’s secret, a powerful master, a dunce, a wealthy man, a physician, a panegyrist, a poet, an expert cook.” Either way he saw he must die: hence he sought refuge in the Lord of Raghus. “If I argue further, the wretch would kill me; why, then, should I not be killed by Śrī Rāma’s arrows?” Pondering thus in his mind he accompanied Rāvaṇa, unremitting in his devotion to Śrī Rāma’s feet. He felt extremely delighted at the thought that he would be able to behold his greatest friend (Śrī Rāma), even though he would not reveal his joy to Rāvaṇa. (1 - 4)

“My eyes will be rewarded when I behold my most beloved lord to my great exultation and I shall fix my thoughts on the feet of the All-merciful accompanied by Sītā and His younger brother. To think that Śrī Hari, the Ocean of Bliss, whose very wrath confers final beatitude and who, though subject to none gives Himself up entirely to the will of His devotees, will fit an arrow with His own hands to His bow and slay me!”

“As He runs after me on foot, carrying His bow and arrow, I shall again and again turn in order to get a sight of my lord! No one else is so blessed as I am.” (26)

When the ten-headed Rāvaṇa drew near to the forest (in which Śrī Rāma had taken up His abode), Mārīcha assumed the false appearance of a deer, so very wonderful as to defy description, with a body of gold artistically inlaid with jewels. When Sītā saw the exquisitely beautiful creature, most lovely in every limb, She said, “Listen, my gracious Lord Śrī Rāma (Hero of Raghu’s line), this deer has a most charming skin. Pray kill this animal, my lord, and get me the hide, true as you are to your word.” Thereupon the Lord of Raghus, even though He knew all the circumstances (that had led Mārīca to assume the semblance of a deer) arose with joy to accomplish the object of the gods. Casting a look at the deer He girded up His loins with a piece of cloth and taking the bow in His hand fitted a shining arrow to the same. The Lord cautioned Lakṣmaṇa: “A host of demons, brother, roam about in the woods. Take care of Sītā with due regard to your strength and circumstances and making use of your intellect and discretion.” The deer took to flight at the sight of the Lord and Śrī Rāma ran after it pulling His bow-string. How strange that He whom the Vedas describe in negative terms such a “not that” and whom Śiva is unable to catch hold of even in meditation, ran in pursuit of a false deer! Now close at hand. The very next moment it ran away to some distance; at one time it came into view, at another it went out of sight. Thus alternately revealing and concealing itself and practising every kind of wile, it took the Lord far away. Now Śrī Rāma took a steady aim and let fly the fatal shaft, when the animal fell to the ground with a fearful cry, first calling aloud to Lakṣmaṇa but afterwards mentally invoking Śrī Rāma. While giving up the ghost it manifested its real form and lovingly remembered Śrī Rāma. The omniscient Lord, who could see the love of his heart, conferred on him the state which cannot be easily attained to even by the sages. (1 - 9)

The gods rained down flowers in abundance and sang praises of the Lord: “The Lord of Raghus is such a friend of the humble that He conferred His own state (divinity) on a demon.” (27)

As soon as He had slain the wretch the Hero of Raghu’s line turned back, the charming bow in his hand and the quiver at His waist. When Sītā heard the cry of distress, She was seized with excessive fear and said to Lakṣmaṇa, “Go quickly, your brother is in great peril.” Lakṣmaṇa answered with a smile, “Listen, mother! By the very play of Śrī Rāma’s eyebrows the entire creation is annihilated; could He then everle dreamed of being in danger?” But when Sītā urged him with words that cut him to the quick, Lakṣmaṇa’s resolution - for such was Śrī Hari’s will - was shaken, He entrusted Her to the care of all the sylvan gods and the deities presiding over the quarters and proceeded to the place where Śrī Rāma, a veritable Rāhu to the moonlike Rāvaṇa, was. Availing himself of this opportunity, when there was none by the side of Sītā, the ten- headed Rāvaṇa drew near to Her cottage in the guise of a recluse. He, in fear of whom the gods and demons equally trembled, so much so that they could neither sleep by night nor eat their food by day - that very Rāvaṇa proceeded on his mission of thieving looking this side and that like a cur. Even so the moment a man sets his foot on the path of vice, O Garuḍa (king of birds), his bodily glow, reason and strength completely disappear. Having invented alluring stories of various kinds he not only showed Her the course which was dictated by political wisdom but also used threats and made love to Her. Said Sītā, “Listen, O holy father: you have spoken like a villain.” Then Rāvaṇa revealed his real form; and She was terrified when he mentioned his name. Sītā plucked all Her courage and said, “Stay awhile, O wretch; my lord has come. Even as a tiny hare would wed a lioness, so have you wooed your own destruction (by setting your heart on me), O king of demons.” On hearing these words the ten-headed Rāvaṇa flew into a rage, though in his heart he rejoiced to adore Her feet. (1 - 8)

Full of rage, Rāvaṇa now seated Her in his chariot and drove through the air in great flurry: he was so much afraid that he was scarcely able to drive. (28)

“Ah! Lord of Raghus, peerless champion of the world, reliever of distress and delighter of the suppliant, ah! the sun that gladdens the lotus-like race of Raghu, for what fault of mine you forgat showing mercy? Ah! Lakṣmaṇa, the fault is none of yours; I have reaped the fruit of the temper I showed.” Manifold were the lamentations that Videha’s Daughter uttered. “Though boundless his mercy, my loving lord is far away. Who will apprize the lord of my calamity? An ass would eat the sacrificial oblation!” At the sound of Sītā’s loud wailing all created beings, whether animate or inanimate, felt distressed, Jaṭāyu (the king of vultures) heard the piteous cry and recognized (from Her voice) that it was the spouse of Śrī Rāma, the Glory of Raghu’s race, who was being carried away by the vile demon (Rāvaṇa) like a dun cow that had fallen into the hands of some barbarian. “Sītā, my daughter, fear not; I will kill this demon.” The bird darted off in its fury like a thunderbolt hurled against a mountain. “Why do you not stop, O villain? You are proceeding fearlessly as if you have not yet known me!” When he saw the vulture bearing down upon him like Death, the ten-headed monster turned towards him and reflected, “Is it Mount Maināka or can it be Garuḍa (the king of birds)? The latter, however, knows my strength as also his lord (Bhagavān Viṣṇu)!” When the bird drew near, he recognized it and said, “It is no other than the aged Jaṭāyu; he has come to drop his body at the sanctuary of my hands.” At this the vulture rushed in the excitement of his fury, exclaiming: “Listen, Rāvaṇa, to my advice and return home safely, letting Janaka’s Daughter alone. Otherwise despite your many arms what will happen is this: in the most terrible flame of Śrī Rāma’s wrath your whole house will be consumed like a moth.” Bellicose Rāvaṇa, however gave no answer. The vulture (Jaṭāyu) thereupon rushed wildly on and clutching the demon by his hair pulled him from the chariot so that he fell to the ground. Having placed Sītā in a safe retreat, the vulture turned once more towards Rāvaṇa and striking him with his beak tore his body. For nearly half an hour Rāvaṇa lay unconscious. Much annoyed at this the demon now angrily drew his most dreadful sword and cut off Jatāyu’s wings. Invoking Śrī Rāma and having accomplished marvellous feats, the bird fell to the ground. Rāvaṇa took Sītā once more into his car and drove off in haste, greatly alarmed. Sītā was borne through the air lamenting like a frightened doe caught in the trap of a hunter. Perceiving some monkeys perched on a hill She dropped some cloth uttering Śrī Hari’s name. In this manner Rāvaṇa took Sītā away and kept Her in the Aśoka garden. (1 - 13)

The wretch tried every kind of threat and endearment but failed miserably. At last he kept Her under an Aśoka tree strongly guarded. (29 A)