Sep 01 2017
Tathas śūrphaṇakhaāvākyāt udyuktān sarva rākshasān
Kharaṃ triśirasam caiva dūṣaṇaṃ caiva rākṣasam
Nijaghāna raṇe rāmaḥ teṣāṃ caiva padānugān.
Meaning – After seeing the disfigured Surphanaka and hearing her woes, demons Khara and Dooshana were angered, and together with their entire army of soldiers attacked Rama who killed them all at one go.
Wailing and screaming horridly in a manner that violently shook all the mountains, Soorphanaka with the blood dripping from her nose and ears ran from there and appeared before her brother Khara. She narrated about Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana and the treatment that was meted out to her by them. She declared that as a vengeance for this treatment, she wanted to drink their blood.
Incensed with Rama and Lakshmana, Khara immediately ordered 14 ferocious and mighty rakshasas to go and kill Rama. Soorphanaka personally led the way towards Panchavati and pointed out to them the cottage of Rama and Lakshmana. Seeing the demons at his doorstep Rama instructed Lakshmana to take care of Seeta while he tackled them.
Soorphanaka was cheering the demons and instigating them towards the war. The 14 demons rushed towards Rama who was standing there all alone, and attacked him simultaneously by throwing upon Him 14 powerful spears. Rama, the brave warrior, took up his bow and suddenly sent forth 14 powerful golden arrows, which went forth and shredded the 14 spears into pieces in a matter of a few seconds. Further these arrows pierced the chests of those ferocious demons who, like huge trees, crashed and fell to the earth instantly. Blood was gushing from their bodies. All the demons were dead and Shoorphanaka was alone in the battlefield.
Letting out a terrible roar, in seething anger, Shoorphanaka fled from there. Seeing his sister who was approaching him in uncontrollable anger and grief, Khara was surprised. He said, “My dear sister, just a few minutes ago you set out from here with 14 of my brave warriors. Why have you returned so soon? Why are you inconsolably grieving?”
Shoorphanaka said, “Brother, what do you know about the might of this Rama? He has killed all the warriors. You should set out right now and kill this Rama who has entered our Dandaka forest. If you do not kill that enemy Rama now then, here in front of you I shall give up my life”. This way, and in many other ways she persuaded and instigated Khara to go to war with Rama.
This declaration of Shoorpahanaka made in front of the entire assembly of demons was very embarrassing to Khara. He declared instantly, “Shoorphanaka, I will not express my anger in wasteful words. I will prove it through my actions. I will avenge your defeat right now itself”.
He immediately called for 14000 demons to assemble then and there. He mounted the magnificent chariot that was brought by Dooshana. Leading these 14000 warrior demons, Khara majestically set out for a war with Rama. At the time of setting out for the war there were many inauspicious and evil omens that were very demoralizing to the army. Yet undaunted, Khara enthusiastically motivated and cheered the demons and took them along. Khara himself experienced ill-omens. His left shoulder vibrated. His eyes were filled with water. He was tormented by unbearable headache. Yet he laughed them off and with full arrogance and confidence marched forward.
Around the same time, the right shoulder of Rama vibrated. He could see many auspicious good omens. He said to Lakshmana, “Take Seeta to the cave within the forest. You guard her zealously. This is the time for war. I will go and face the demons”.
The fact that Rama was going to wage a war with the demons caused great excitement and commotion in heaven. All the Gods were eagerly witnessing the war from their plane. This was a war in which one man faced fourteen thousand demons.
The demons bombarded Rama and attacked him from all directions with spears, swords, boulders, rocks and the like. Rama adjusted the string of his bow and moved in a circular direction, letting out his arrows. Dooshana ran towards him in rage and Rama directed his arrow towards Dooshana and killed him. He thereafter killed many army generals and other leaders. Step by step he eliminated all the demons. Thereafter Trishiras, the three-headed demon attacked Rama. Using 3 arrows, Rama knocked out all the three heads of Trishiras and killed him. Now only Khara remained. He was demoralized by the fact that mighty and cruel demons such as Dooshana and Trishiras were killed. He shivered inwardly. Yet he fought unabatedly.
After a duel, Rama threw Khara to the ground and said, “O demon, King Bharata has instructed me to destroy all the sinners who are torturing the great saints here. All the great saints that you had earlier killed are now seated in their divine planes and will enjoy your destruction”. Saying so, Rama used the arrows given by Indra and killed Khara.
Through the usage of the words ‘King Bharata’ Rama highlighted the righteous manner (dharmic) in which Bharata was ruling Ayodhya. He even displayed the deep love that he had towards his brother. This war has many dharma sookshmas embedded within it.
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Sep 01 2017
Tena tatraiva vasatā janasthāna nivāsinī
Virūpitā śūrpaṇakhā rākṣasi kāmarūpini
Meaning– Sri Rama, set up his residence in Janasthāna, which was the outpost for the rakshasas. He had the nose and ears of the demoness Śurpaṇakha, cut off.
Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana took weapons from Maharishi Agastya and walked towards Panchavati. On the way, they came across a very huge bird. It said, “My name is Jatayu. I am the friend of your father Dasharatha.” Thereafter it explained its entire story.
Further Jatayu said, “Rama, if you wish I will help you. This is an extremely dangerous forest. When you brothers go into the forests on errands, I shall look after Seeta”. Rama embraced Jataayu out of love.
He thereafter proceeded towards Panchavati. At one spot, they found a garden of flowers. All the trees and plants were blossoming with varied coloured flowers. Fragrance from the flowers filled the air. Deer were playfully sprinting about everywhere. Chirping of the birds could be heard clearly. Realizing that this place was Panchavati, Rama asked Lakshmana to find a suitable location and to build a cottage for their residence. He said, “Lakshmana, this place is beautiful. The blossoming flowers, the deer, the birds and the majestic River Godavari that is flowing by, makes it an ideal place to live. Let us live here with Jatāyu as our companion”.
Based on Vastu shastra, Lakshmana expertly and quickly built a very beautiful and comfortable cottage. Praising and admiring Lakshmana’s feat, Rama said, “When I watch you, Lakshmana, I do not ever feel that our father is no more”. Saying this, Rama accompanied by Seeta, entered the cottage.
Autumn passed and winter made its appearance. They were spending their days joyfully in Panchavati. One day, Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta bathed in the Godavari. Rama and Lakshmana offered tarpana (water oblations) to the Devatas and the pitr-devatas (fore fathers) and conducted their sandhya vandana worship. Having completed their daily worship, they returned to the cottage. Rama was engrossed in playfully spending his time with his brother and Seeta.
Unexpectedly at that time, Surphanaka, the sister of Ravana, arrived there. Her eyes fell on the handsome Rama. She was lovesick. She couldn’t move her eyes away from him. She just stood still, admiring him and drinking in that beauty. She lost her heart to Rama. Seized by love, she walked towards Rama and enquired about him. Rama introduced himself and told her his entire story of exile. He then enquired about her.
She replied, “I am Surphanaka, the sister of the mighty demon Ravana. The mighty Kumbhakarna, who sleeps all the time, is also another brother of mine. Virtuous Vibhishana, powerful Khara and Dhushana are all my brothers. Without a care for any of them, I fearlessly wander in all these forests. I have accepted you as my husband. Accept me as your wife. This very moment I shall devour this ugly woman Seeta and your brother Lakshmana. Both of us can then, wander through these mountains, joyfully, holding hands. We can visit all the gardens here. Let us roam around the vast Dandakaranaya and enjoy ourselves”.
Rama chuckled and pointed towards Lakshmana and said, “Do you know that this brother of mine is very handsome, possesses many great traits and is very valorous. He has never enjoyed the companionship with his wife. He has not got a chance to wander in these forests, hand-in hand with a wife. He is fit to be your husband. Approach him. It will be better if you hold his hand and roam about”.
Surphanaka immediately turned towards Lakshmana and declared her love for him and made a self-declaration that she was the most charming woman. Lakshmana said, “O beautiful one! I am after all a servant here. If you marry me, you will only be a servant maid here. A lady as beautiful as you deserves to be the wife of my elder brother, whom I serve. He will keep you happy. Approach him”.
Surphanaka thought that it would be best if she could quickly devour Seeta, so that Rama would then happily accept her. She hastily rushed towards Seeta, with this intent. Rama intercepted and loudly said, “Lakshmana, jests and jokes should not be entertained with cruel who are of base character. Arrogance and pride have peaked in this wicked woman. Ensure that no calamity befalls Seeta. Just disfigure this wicked woman”.
Without delaying even a second further, in the presence of his elder brother, Lakshmana chopped off Surphanaka’s nose and ears. The next second, Surphanaka turned into a ghastly demoness.
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Sep 01 2017
Pratijñāta śca rāmeṇa vadha ssaṃyati rakṣasām
ŗṣīṇā magnikalpānāṃ danḍakāraṇya vāsinām.
Meaning – Rama promised these supreme ascetics, who were glowing like fire, that he would kill the demons and give them relief.
The prayers of these eminent sages touched the heart of Lord Rama. By observing the heaps of bones, he could assess the might of the demons. He realized that he had to exercise the greatest caution and vigilance in the matter pertaining to demons.
The sages had said that he was their king and protector. They even opined that he was the Lord himself. The demon Viradha, when leaving for his heavenly abode, had praised Rama and said that, in might and strength, he was at par with Lord Indra and that he was the Lord of this entire universe. He had even begged Rama to bless him by accepting all his tapo balam (power of penance). Maharishi Agastya had addressed him as the Lord of the entire creation and handed over to him all the weapons.
To visit our elders and to seek their blessings is a tradition (achara), and a way of showing our respect towards them. Everyone should put this into practice. This increases longevity. It is mandatory to stand up and receive our elders when they visit us.
In this case, aged, eminent and revered sages had approached Rama and begged him to save them. Rama was embarrassed that great saints, who shower their blessings upon the entire world, were approaching and beseeching him to save them. Immediately he fell on their feet and offered his prostrations and said, “Please forgive me. I will kill all these asuras and rākṣasās who are troubling you. I will protect you. Why do you have to beg of me for this? You can just order me and I will act in accordance to it. No doubt I came here to fulfill my father’s promise. But my duties do not end with it. To punish the wicked and protect the pious is my dharma. Hence I will surely fulfill your desire. By killing these demons, I will be blessed with a wonderful result. It is a divine secret. Please remain calm. There will be no obstacle for your yagnas and yaagas. From now on, you will witness the anxiety and fear in demons. You will see them running for their lives”.
In a profound deep voice, Rama continued, “O Great sages. From now on you will see my strength and the valour of my brother Lakshmana. I vow to free these forests from demons”.
Later on, explaining to Sita, Rama said, “I will fulfill my promise during my lifetime. Sita, you know of my satyavrata (vow of truthfulness). You are aware that I do not go against my word. Moreover, in this case, it is these eminent and revered saints who asked for my help. I have given them my word. I will never go back on it. Even if they had not begged of me for help, I would have protected them. It is my dharma”.
Om Seeta Ramabhyaam namaha.
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Sep 01 2017
Sa teṣām pratiśuśrāva rākshasānām tathā vane
Meaning – In those forests flooded in demons, Rama consented to the request made by the sages.
Various groups of eminent sages who were self-realized and were glowing with divine luster and who were known as Vaikhānaasa, Vālakhilya, Samprakshāla, Mārichipāh, Patrāhārah, Salilahāra, vāyu bhakshakah, ākāśa nilayāh and others pproached Rama and beseeched him to save them from the demons.
All these great eminent sages had undertaken the most stringent practices and austere upasana (worship) of the Supreme. The destruction of Viradha was a proof of Rama’s skill and might. Viradha had boons due to which he could not be killed using any weapon. As a result of this, eliminating him from this earth was almost an impossible task. Yet if Rama could kill him, then it surely meant that he was the mightiest amongst men.
Sharabhanga was a very great sage whose spiritual accomplishments were such that Indra, the Lord of Heaven, and other Devatas used to frequent his residence. When such a great sage, sought to offer all his punya (merit) to Rama, the latter very politely refused. What more was needed to prove the greatness of Rama’s character? This news spread very quickly throughout the forest. The sages were convinced that only Rama, who belonged to this Raghu vamsha (clan), could give them respite from their sufferings.
Hence they approached Him and said, “O Lord, your vow of truthfulness (satyavrata) and devotion to your father are immeasurable. Whether you reside in Ayodhya or are in exile in these forests, to us, to us you are the king. You will be bestowed with everlasting fame for having protected us. We are your children who are living in the forests. You possess the might and the skill needed to tackle these demons.
Please do not presume that we are superior due to our penance. We do not touch weapons. We have overcome anger. We have complete control over our indriyas (senses). Yet, you have to protect us. In the forests, between the Rivers Mandakini and Pampa, the demons are indulging in the worst atrocities and are mercilessly killing all saints. You are our sole refuge. Please look around. Everywhere you can see heaps of bones, which are the remains of the dead saints. All this is the work of the demons. Rama, please have mercy on us. We, the forest dwellers have no other shelter. We are unable to withstand this anymore.
Please destroy these demons, Rama. This is our prayer to you. Punish the sinners. Establish dharma. Please look at us with compassion, O Lord Rama. We seek your protection. We seek refuge under you, O Lord. Again and again we pray for relief”.
From this earnest prayer made to him, Rama could understand the plight of the saints. His heart wrenched in pain. He made up his mind that he has to grant protection to these great saints, who, at all times selflessly give away their entire accumulated power of penance (tapas shakti) for the welfare of this world. It deeply pained him that those saints, who endlessly abide by dharma and achara (good traditions), and who ensure that others around them also adhere to dharma, had to fac such life-threatening situations. He resolved then and there to help these sages. He firmly announced to them his decision to destroy the demons and offered them his protection.
Om Seeta Ramabhyaam Namaha.
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Sep 01 2017
Vasata stasya rāmasya vane vanacaraissaha
ŗṣayo bhyāgaman sarve vadhāyāsura-rakṣasām.
Meaning– When Rama was residing in Sarabhanga Maharishi’s ashram, the saints who residing nearby, approached Rama and requested him to destroy the demons who were troubling them and to give them relief.
During this period of exile, whenever Rama visited the hermitage of any great sage, the saints who lived in the nearby territories used to approach him in large groups and list out the atrocities of the demons and how they were harassing them. They would request Rama to relieve them from this torture. Just with the vision (darshan) of Rama, they would feel comforted. The confidence that such difficult days were about to end, would surge in them. Even those ascetics, who were suffering the most in the hands of the demons, would return happily reassured of their longevity.
Undoubtedly a divine secret rests behind all this. Else, why would so many ascetics approach Rama and seek the same thing? The divine secret was the destruction of the demons in the hands of Rama.
A huge difference exists between demons such as asuras and rākṣasas. Kabandha and others were asuras. Ravana and his group were rakshasas. Those who misused the powers acquired through yoga and penance (tapas), consumed human flesh and indulged in heinous atrocities were termed as rākṣasas. ‘Asu’ means life force and ‘ra’ means to pull. Hence those who pulled away the life force of others were Asuras.
In those days, the population of both these types of demons was very high. Having secured the protection of Ravana, who was invincible, these asuras and rākṣasās derived great pleasure in tormenting every person they came across. Unhesitatingly they chewed and gulped down any person who resisted their atrocities. They damaged and destroyed hermitages when they passed by. They prevented sages from conducting any Yagnas and Yaagas and caused many obstacles in their mission.
These demons were itching to fight, but the Devatas (Gods) with whom they wanted to fight, were invisible to their eyes. To force the Devatas to descend, it was essential to torture sages and saints. The holy offerings made through Yagnas and Yāgas (sacrificial rituals) is the only food consumed by the Devatas. Therefore, it was essential to ensure obstruction to the proper completion of these homas and yagnas. With this, the Devatas would be starved for food. The demons derived great delight in thus taking revenge upon the Devatas.
With this plan in mind, these demons mercilessly tortured all those who indulged in conducting Yagnas and Yāgas, not only on earth, but in all the three planes of existence. They mainly targeted the the sages, Gandharvas, Yakshas (celestial beings) and the Brahmins.
Demon Ravana had very intelligently sought a boon that he could not be killed by any celestial beings such as Yaksha, Gandharva, Devata, rakshasas, asuras, Garuda and other heavenly spirits. Contemptuous of men, he did not seek invincibility from them. Herein lied the trick. That is why Paramatma had to incarnate as a human being.
Ravana, who had thus secured invincibility from all the powerful forces, now offered protection to all demons in all planes of existence. This backing from Ravana made the demons ruthless. They recollected all the past defeats they had suffered in the hands of the Devatas and realized that this was the most opportune time to settle scores. They wrecked havoc in all the three planes (lokas). On earth, they targeted the saints and ascetics who were highly devoted to the Gods.
The saints who were all knowing, knew that the Supreme Lord had incarnated as Rama and that all the rakshasas including Ravana, would meet their end in His hands. So, with the aim of securing the welfare of the world, all of them gathered together and approached Rama when he was staying at the hermitage of Sage Sharabhanga. There they beseeched Him to destroy the demons and to save them.
Rama was very well aware of the reason behind this appeal made to him. The decision to destroy the demons was made while he was in Vaikuntha itself. Towards this, Maharishi Agastya who was also all-knowing, gifted him with those powerful weapons. For this reason, Rama was very happy to receive them.
Om Seeta Ramabhayaam Namaha.
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