Thursday, 24 September 2015

303. The epical war started.

                 Hearing with all his twenty ears the tumult, din, uproar, fracas, commotion, pandemonium, babel etc., Ravana was piqued as well as disturbed with an annoying pain around his heart which was fluttering exasperatingly giving him a sense of apprehension. While he was considering what to do about that, some rakshashas barged in unceremoniously without seeking any prior permission to enter, and informed him that the city had been besieged by Rama along with his vanaras. Hearing that news, Ravana completely forgot about his heart trouble, went out of his chamber to see for himself with his own twenty eyes what was happening.
        Ravana became immensely angry to see the city of Lanka, with its mountains, groves and forests being covered by innumerable troops of vanaras and bears raring for action. Seeing the earth looked all brown with innumerable vanaras, Ravana became worried of the thought in all his twenty heads "How can they all be exterminated?"
      Being a highly renowned, capable and valorous leader,  he quickly regained his confidence. Ravana looked Rama and his troops of vanaras without any inhibition. He saw that Rama with full delight was moving forward (on the back of a vanara) along with his army and saw Lanka being guarded on all sides and thronged with rakshashas.
      Seeing that city of Lanka duly decorated with banners and flags, Rama remembered Seetha with a distressed heart. He said to himself, "Here is that daughter of Janaka, whose eyes resemble those of a fawn, tormented with grief, emaciated, with a bare ground as her bed and suffering here."
       As thoughts on Seetha was troubling him, Rama with great difficulty pushed away from his mind such thoughts so that he can concentrate on the war on hand.  He then issued commands to the vanaras to destroy the enemies forthwith. Hearing those words of Rama, who was unwearied in action, the vanaras vying with one another filled the air with their roars resembling those of lions.
       All the vanara generals shouted in unison at their troops "Tear asunder this Lanka with mountain-peaks or with fists or both." And they themselves lifting up mountain peaks and huge rocks and plucking up various kinds of trees, stood prepared for the attack.
          The troops, forming themselves into columns, began to scale the heights of Lanka, while Ravana stood gazing. Those vanaras, of golden hue with coppery countenance, carrying Sala trees and mountain-peaks, marched ahead towards the city of Lanka, ready as they were to lay down their lives in Rama's service. Those vanaras demolished innumerable defensive walls and arches with blows of the trees, mountain-tops and fists. The vanaras filled the moats containing clear water with sands, mountain-tops, grasses and logs of wood.
      The commanders scaled the walls of Lanka, taking with them battalions of vanaras in thousands, in crores and even hundreds of crores. The vanaras systematically tearing up the golden arches and breaking down the gates that equaled the peak of Kailasa the mountainous abode of Shiva the Lord of Destruction. The vanaras looking like elephants hurled themselves towards that Lanka, springing, leaping and roaring and growling and shouting "Victory to the mighty Rama and the valiant Lakshmana!" and "Victory to Sugreeva protected by Raghava!" and  rushed towards the defensive walls of Lanka.
           The generals Virabahu, Subahu, Nala and Panasa were allotted positions for them. In those positions they set up encampments for multitude of military divisions there. The mighty Kumuda, surrounded by a crore of vanaras, who behaved like conquerors, stood besieging the eastern gate while remaining stationed in north-east. Surrounded by other vanaras, the vanaras called Prasabha and the mighty armed Panasa  joined Kumuda. The strong and valiant vanara, Shatabali accompanied by twenty crores of vanaras, approached the south-east and stood there, to obstruct the exit.
        The mighty vanara Sushena, the father of Tara, Vali's widow, going to the western gate from their stationed position in the south-west surrounded by crores and crores of vanaras, stood besieging that gate. Rama along with Lakshmana and Sugreeva, seeking the northern gate while remaining stationed in the north west stood besieging that gate.
        Accompanied by a crore of bears having terrific rage, Dhumra, brother of Jambavan, the king of bears of great prowess and the annihilator of enemies, took up his position by the side of Rama. Vibhishana with mace in hand, clad in defensive armour and accompanied by his watchful ministers, took his position where the mighty Rama is stationed.
         Gavaksha, Gavaya, Sharabha and Gandhamadana galloping on all sides, defended the army of vanaras.
         Ravana the lord of rakshashas with his mind filled in anger, then commanded for the decamping of the entire army immediately. This command coming from Ravana lips, created a tremendous clamour among the rakshashas. By beating with sticks of gold, the rakshashas stirred up on every side, kettle drums whose discs were white as the moon. Hundreds and thousands of sonorous conches  blared forth, blown with their cheeks extended to the full, by the most ghastly rakshashas. With their handsome limbs equipped with conches, those rakshashas shone like clouds bordered with lightning accompanied by rows of cranes.
    The battalions rushed forth under Ravana's instructions like the rushing forth of the ocean, which is swollen by the clouds, at the time of universal dissolution. Then, from every side a clamour arose from the army of vanaras, reverberating in the  Malaya mountain with its ridges, plains and caves. The sound of conches and drums made by the rakshashas and the lion like roars of those vanara warriors re-echoed over the earth, sky and sea. With the trumpeting of elephants, the neighing of the horses, the clattering of the chariot-wheels and the sounds of the foot-steps, the sound of the conches reechoed over the earth, sky and sea.
       In the meantime, a terrible struggle ensued between the rakshashas and the vanaras, just like the one between devas and asuras. Exhibiting their native prowess, the rakshashas began to strike all the vanaras with their flaming maces, spears, harpoons and axes. The vanaras swiftly retaliated  with trees, mountain-tops, nails and teeth, shouting with their war cry "Victorious is king Sugreeva". Then, some other terrifying rakshashas on their part, shouting "Be winsome! Be victorious!", proclaimed their own respective names. While some rakshashas standing on walls hacked at the vanaras standing on the ground below with hooks and harpoons. The vanaras who were thus attacked, leapt into the air and dragged down the rakshashas on the walls and seized their weapons. That tumultuous combat between the rakshashas and the vanaras transformed into a fierce tussle, leaving a mire of flesh and blood.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

302. Rama sends Angada to Ravana.

         Seeing Sugreeva back without any serious damage to his body, Rama embraced him warmly.  He (Rama) admonished him mildly "Thank God! You have come back safely without any serious injury. In case some serious bodily injury happened to you then our entire project will be completely jeopardized. If you had some misfortune, I would have had nothing to do with Seetha, Bharata, Lakshmana or Shatrughna or even with my own person. Such a reckless act with such a rashness done by you is not becoming of a king. In future consult me when you think of embarking any such acts.
         "Let me tell you what I would do if you had not returned. As per my pre-determined resolve I, having killed Ravana in fight along with his sons and his forces, would install Vibhishana as the king of Lanka, and placing the kingdom of Ayodhya in the hands of Bharata and renounce my life."
       Hearing Rama's words, Sugreeva replied with tears flowing from his eyes   "O, my dear Rama! Seeing Ravana who had taken away your consort and being conscious of my own strength, I just acted  on impulse without thinking."
         Hearing the reply of Sugreeva, Rama smiled with a nod. And then turning to Lakshmana he said "O, Lakshmana! Beside these fresh waters and trees laden with fruit, let us divide this multitude of troops, drawing it up in a battle array and remain alert. I foresee a terrible calamity, boding universal destruction and death to the intrepid bears, vanaras and rakshashas. 
             "O, Lakshmana! In the disk of the sun, a small halo with a black mark, fiery, shorn of its radiance and of coppery hue is seen. The stars are not appearing as they should be, duly foretelling their intention to hasten a final dissolution of the world. Crows, eagles and vultures are whirling round at a lower level. Jackals too are howling inauspicious sounds.
             "The earth, crowded with rocks, darts and daggers discharged by vanaras and rakshashas, will become a slime of flesh and blood. Now surrounded by the vanaras from all sides, let us poise for an attack on that well defended citadel ruled by Ravana, quickly and swiftly."
          Then Rama climbed down from that mountain-peak and held a review of his army and satisfied himself that it would be verily difficult for an enemy to conquer it.
        Rama along with Sugreeva made ready their army and commanded it to advance for the battle. Rama marched in front, wielding a bow, towards the city of Lanka. Then, Vibhishana, Sugreeva, Hanuman, Jambavan the king of bears, Nala, Nila and Lakshmana accompanied Rama.
             That great army of bears and vanaras followed Rama. Vanaras looking like elephants, took hold of mountain-peaks and hundreds of well-grown huge trees as their arms. 
        They reached the city of Lanka, garlanded with banners, beautiful and splendid with pleasure-gardens, having an unusual rampart which was inaccessible with its elevated arched door-ways and invincible even by the suras. Reaching the city of Lanka ruled by Ravana, Rama the son of Dasharatha accompanied by Lakshmana, halted near the northern gate.
         Rama noticed various types and multitude of weapons and shields being handled by the warriors there. Nila, the valiant army-chief of vanaras together with Mainda and Dvivida reached and halted before the Eastern gate. Angada of very mighty prowess, together with Rishhabha, Gavaksha, Gaja and Gavaya took charge of the Southern gate.
       The strong vanara Hanuman together with Prajangha, Tarasa and other warriors, guarded the western gate. Sugreeva, along with some of  the chiefs of vanaras equal to the strength of Garuda as well as Vayu  were stationed  in the middle of the fort.
          Thirty six crores of vanaras commanded by the highly renowned generals under the direct command of Sugreeva  was giving a lot of pressure to the rakshashas guarding that post. Meanwhile, under Rama's command, Lakshmana along with Vibhishana distributed a crore each of his vanaras at each gate.
        Behind Rama and not far from him, Sushena together with Jambavan, followed by a multitude of forces, stood at the intermediate post. Those lions among the vanaras, possessing the teeth of tigers, taking hold of trees and rocks, waited delightedly for the signal to demonstrate their might and capability.
        All of them were lashing their tails feverishly, using their jaws and nails as weapons, trembling in every limb in anticipation and had their faces set grimly. Some were having the strength of ten elephants, some a ten times of that and some were equal to the strength of a thousand elephants. And some were having the strength of an ogha* of elephants. Some were endowed with the strength of ten times of that. Some others there were chiefs of vanaras, having an immeasurable strength.

      * In Ramaana time
A hundred thousand crores is reckoned as a Shanku. A hundred thousand Shankus are said to be one Maha Shanku. A hundred thousand Maha Shankus are called one Vrindam here. A hundred thousand Vrindas are said to be one Maha vrindam. A hundred thousand Mahavrindas are called one Padmam here. A hundred thousand padmas are said to be one Mahapadmam. A hundred thousand Mahapadmas are called one Kharvam here. A hundred thousand kharvas are said to be one Mahakharvam. A hundred thousand Mahakharvas are called one Samundram. A hundred thousand Samudras are said to be one ogha here. A hundred thousand oghas are acclaimed a one Mahaogha. 

       Marvellous and astonishing was the gathering of those troops of vanaras there, like a swarm of locusts. By the vanaras who reached Lanka and by those stationed already beneath its walls, the air and earth seem to be completely filled. A hundred divisions of one lakh each of bears and vanaras poured towards the gates of Lanka, while others proceeded to fight on every side.
        Those vanaras covered the mountain on every side. A crore of them ranged round that city. Even winds were unable to penetrate Lanka which was being surrounded on all sides by the heroic vanaras holding tree trunks and huge stones in their hands.
        The rakshashas, who in their valour equaled Indra the ruler of gods, seeing themselves besieged, as by clouds, were struck with sudden terror. The advancement of the vanara troops created a tremendous clamour resembling the roar in the ocean beating against its shore. By that great tumult, the entire Lanka with its ramparts, arches, hills, woods and forests began to tremble.
       That army of vanaras led by Rama, Lakshmana and Sugreeva looked even more invincible than that of suras and asuras put together. Having thus ranged his forces, with a view to destroy the rakshashas, Rama who knew about the four expedients (to be used against an enemy in the shape of conciliation, gift, sowing dissension and punishment) employed in succession, took counsel again and again with his counsellors before arriving at a decision. Calling to his mind the duty of the kings, Rama in consultation with Vibhishana, summoned Angada the son of Vali and told him "My dear gentle Angada, go through the city of Lanka without fear and anxiety and approaching Ravana, the unfortunate rakshash devoid of sovereignty and who has lost his splendour because of his inclination to die, convey this admonishment from me 'O, Ravana the Ranger of the Night! In your reckless arrogance, rishis, devas, gandharvas, apsaras, nagas, yakshas and kings have been oppressed by you. From now on, that arrogance, born of the boon you received from Brahma, shall be subdued.
           "The time has now come for the world to be cleansed of you. If you come out into the open and fight and die in battle, your sins will be washed away and you will gain a place in the world above as a hero. But if you love your life, humbly restore Seetha to me, her lord and beg for forgiveness. 
         " 'I shall inflict a fitting penalty for your ruthless abduction of my consort. I am now stationed along with the army of vanaras at the gate of Lanka. Slain by me, you will attain the region of Gods of all the great sages and all the royal sages.
        " 'O, the worst rakshash! Demonstrate the same courage and magic that you did employ in bearing Seetha away from me. If you do not make an appeal to my clemency by returning Seetha, I shall make this world devoid of all rakshashas. This pious minded Vibhishana, the foremost of rakshashas has joined me. Surely, this illustrious rakshash will obtain the kingdom of Lanka, which will henceforth be free from troubles.
        " 'You, a sinful rakshash having stupid followers around you, cannot indeed enjoy the kingdom forever by this unrighteousness. O, rakshash! Otherwise, get ready for a battle, by gathering courage and laying hold of your valour. Having been slain by my arrows in combat, you will be laid in peace.
       " 'Even if you range the three worlds in the form of a bird, you will not return alive, when you come into my range of sight. I give you this salutary counsel to prepare for your obsequies. Let Lanka be obliged to be seen well by you as your last sight, as your survival tomorrow is in my hands. ' "
           Hearing the words of Rama, who was unwearied in action, Angada the son of Tara, leapt into air like the god of fire personified and forged ahead. Reaching Ravana's palace in an instant, the illustrious Angada saw Ravana, seated coolly along with his ministers.
       Angada, wearing golden bracelets, descended. He told Ravana in the presence of his ministers "I am the son of Vali, Angada by name. I have come as a messenger from the king of Koshala, Rama of imperishable exploits. Has my name ever reached your ears? I, hereby convey the message of Rama who is born in Raghu dynasty and who augments the joy of Kausalya 'O, obnoxious rakshash! Come forth and enter into combat. Prove to be the representative of your race!
       " 'I shall kill you along with your ministers, sons, cousins and other relatives. You being dead, all the three worlds will be rid of fear. Now, I shall uproot you, a thorn to rishis and an enemy to devas, danavas, yakshas, gandharvas, urgas and rakshshas. If you do not restore Seetha honourably, by bowing respectfully before me, you will be slain and Vibhishana will be crowned as the king of Lanka.' "
        Hearing these harsh words from Angada, Ravana the Lord of the rakshashas was infuriated. The enraged Ravana shouted at his  his attendants, commanding them "Let this stupid vanara be seized and put to death." Hearing Ravana's words, four terrible looking rakshashas seized Angada who, in his splendour, resembled a blazing torch.
         The prudent and heroic Angada, the son of Tara did not offer any resistance. He coolly allowed himself to be seized, so that he could surprise everyone there by demonstrating his prowess to the host of rakshashas including Ravana. When verily seized by those attendants who held him firmly by clinging his both arms, Angada leapt on to the pinnacle of the palace that resembled like a mountain.
        All those four rakshashas were shaken out by Angada's  unexpected, swift, abrupt, hasty, impulsive and unforeseen leap and fell on the ground there under the eyes of their king. That roof of the palace, trampled by Angada, crumbled like a peak of Himalayan range shattered long ago by lightening, before Ravana's gaze. After destroying the roof of the palace, Angada proclaimed his name again and with a triumphant roar, rose into the air. Causing restlessness to all the rakshashas but delight to the vanaras, Angada returned to Rama, who was stationed in the middle of the vanara forces.
         Ravana became absolutely angry seeing the damage to the roof of his palace. A piercing feeling in the region of his heart made him feel that this incident forecasts his own destruction in the near future, and as such he became verily despondent.                                 Surrounded by many vanaras, roaring with delight, Rama on his part was proceeding ahead for the battle.
          Sushena one of the highly valiant vanaras, was stationed there like the head of the mountain surrounded by innumerable vanaras, who were able to change their form at will. As per the orders of Sugreeva, the invincible Sushena was patrolling the gates and wandering like a moon among the stars. Seeing hundreds of divisions of those vanaras encamped under the walls of Lanka, marshaled on the shores of the sea, the rakshashas were amazed and some of them were terror-struck while others, overjoyed at the prospect of fighting.
      However, seeing the entire extensive space between the walls and the moat being occupied by the valiant vanaras, like unto a second rampart, all the rakshashass cried out, "Woe! Alas!". Seeing the reaction of that appalling tumult in the capital city of the rakshashas, the soldiers of Ravana seized hold of their great weapons and sallied forth like the winds that blow at the dissolution of the worlds.