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Lesson 14

The journey to the seashore / Vibhishana becomes an ally / The unique bridge Ram Setu / Preparation for the war / The war begins / The journey to the seashore

Ramayan – Lesson 14

Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sugreeva were anxiously awaiting their arrival. The monkeys who had gone in other directions had already returned disappointed, Sugreeva was on tenterhooks,wondering why Jambavantha, Hanumantha and other monkeys of that group had not returned. As soon as they did return, they were surrounded by all the Vanaras. Hanumantha prostrated to Sri Rama,Lakshmana and Sugreeva and said, My Lord, Seeta Devi is safe. They were all overjoyed.They said to themselves,  Hanumantha has seen Seeta Devi and returned.

Sri Rama said, Hanumantha, you have brought the most gratifying news. Tell us all about what happened. Hanumantha narrated all that had happened from the time he left Kishkinda, and gave Sri Rama Seeta Chudamani. The ring powerfully reminded Sri Rama of Seeta, and tears dropped from his eyes. Hanumantha went on : I have assured Seeta Devi that within a month she would hear in Lanka the roar of the Vanaras and the twang of Sri Rama bow. I have assured her that she will see the rakshasas perishing like moths in a fire and that Lord Sri Ramachandra would liberate her and take her with him.

The story of Hanumantha feats made Sri Rama rejoice. He affectionately embraced Hanumantha. He then said to Sugreeva, Sugreeva, we now know where Seeta is. We must go to the Lanka. We must kill Ravana and recover Seeta. I need your help. Sugreeva replied, Sri Rama, not only I and this my army, but my entire kingdom will be at your command. Tell us what we are to do. He continued, I have an army of monkeys numbering lakhs and lakhs. Let us surround Lanka. Let us cut off Ravana heads and rescue Seeta Devi. Sugreeva enthusiasm pleased Sri Rama. He said, We shall act as you have said. But, before we attack the enemy we must know several things like how big his army is and how well protected his fort is. This is very important in waging a war. Hanumantha probably knows something about Ravana forces and his fort. Let us find out from him. He then turned to Hanumantha.

Hanumantha replied, Sri Rama, Lanka is prosperous in every way. It is full of excited elephants,horses, chariots and rakshasa warriors. The doors of the main entrance of Lanka have powerful iron bars and are strong and secure. Lanka has four such entrances. And at these entrances have been placed huge automatic machines which rain stones and arrows on the enemies.

There is a spacious and secure fort all round Lanka. There are fearful trenches around the fort. A flood of chilly water flows always in these trenches. There are ruthless crocodiles in this water. There are several temporary bridges, in order to provide means of contact with the outside world. Should a hostile army attack, these bridges are removed with the help of powerful machines. Thus enemy forces are prevented from entering Lanka.

Lanka is situated on the Trikut peak, and, therefore, it is impossible to attack it without being seen by the Lanka soldiers. A dangerous forest surrounds Lanka. Thus it is a fort surrounded by water, a fort resting on a peak, a fort surrounded by a forest, and a fort built of stone; it is thus a fourfold fort. There is no approach by water. Therefore Lanka is totally impregnable.

Ten thousand guards protect the eastern entrance. They are mighty warriors, and swords and lances are their weapons. One lakh warriors, supported by the four-winged army, guard the southern entrance. At the western entrance are stationed ten lakh soldiers. They are equipped with swords and shields. A force numbering a crore protects the northern entrance; it is supported by the four-winged army, too. There are mighty generals like Prahasta and Indrajithu to fight for Ravana.

Sugreeva said, Hanumantha, you have described the might of Ravana army. But you cannot have returned without performing some exploit. Tell us about it and delight us. Hanumantha modesty bent down his head and said, My Lord, I have destroyed the temporary bridges across the trenches and thrown them into the trenches themselves. So Lanka is deprived of its waterway. I have demolished the walls of the fort and so Lanka has lost its built fort. I have set fire to Lanka and scared the inhabitants. I have destroyed a big part of the force at the northern entrance. I have shut up the secret passages of the fort. So, all we have to do is to somehow cross the sea; once that is done, take it that our Vanara heroes have wiped out Lanka. If Angada, Mainda, Dwivida,Jambavantha, Panasa, Nala and the commander Neela enter the city of Lanka it is as good as destroyed. So let us first reach the seashore.

Sri Rama was thrilled to hear Hanumantha saga. With an overflowing heart he said, Hanumantha feats are astounding. Who can cross the roaring sea with its leaping waves? Vainatheya who is well known as Garuda, Vayudeva who sustains all life, and this Hanumantha the son of Vayudeva – except these three who can accomplish such an exploit? Anjaneya has accomplished most efficiently the task his king and friend, Sugreeva, assigned to him. The officer who not only carries out efficiently the mission assigned to him but also performs the challenging tasks which unexpectedly devolve upon him, without being asked to do so, comes to be recognized as the cream of mankind.

The officer who does just what he has been asked to do is of the middle level. But he who, despite receiving good guidance, fails, is of the worst category. Hanumantha performance of deeds is both timely and heroic; he is, therefore the greatest among the great. But how unfortunate, I have nothing to give to so great a person. Well, embracing him is all the reward I can nowpresent. He then embraced Hanumantha.

Sri Ramachandra then said, Sugreeva, let us delay no longer. Muster your forces. Let us swiftly journey towards the sea.

Sugreeva collected his forces of Vanaras. The vast army of monkeys assembled. Crores of monkeys came together so that wherever one looked one saw only the heads of monkeys. The monkey army looked like an ocean. In their zest they jumped about; We shall cross the sea and make mincemeat of the rakshasas, Like Hanumantha we shall also burn Lanka – so they shouted exultantly.

Sugreeva introduced the foremost leaders of his army to Sri Rama : This is Jambavantha, the son of Gadgada, exceptionally valiant. He is the king of bears. This is Sushena, my uncle, that is, my mother brother, He is the son of Varuna. The Vanara there is Dadhimukha, the son of Chandra,the Moon God. These three, Sumukha, Durmukha and Vegadarshi are the sons of Brahma. Prince Angada is the son of Vali. Mainda and Dwividha are the sons of Ashwini Gods. Gaja, Gavaksha,Gavaya, Sharabha, Gandhmadana – these are the sons of Yama himself. Also, the sons of God Surya called Jyothimukhas and Sududrdhara, the son of Vasu, are in this army.

Sri Rama, this Vanara who is facing Lanka and roaring, is the Commander-in-Chief of all my forces,Neela. The Vanara standing over there with a banner is Nala, the son of Vishwakarma. He is the king of the Vanaras residing in Chandana. The Vanara radiant in white is the other commander, Shwetha. This general, Kumuda, is the ruler of the kingdom on the banks of the Gomathi. This general, Rambha, travels around in the Krishnagiri, Sahya and Sudarshana ranges. Another general, Sharabha, commands Vanaras known as the Viharas. This valiant general, Panasa, is the king of the Vanaras in the Pariyatra regions. Look, here is another son of Gadgada; he is Dhumra. I have an army of crores of monkeys with powerful generals like Dambha, Sannadana, Krathana of the Himalayas, Pramathi who dwells on the banks of the Ganga, Gavaksha the commander of the Singaleekas, Kesari the king of the Vanara heroes of Mount Meru, and Shatabali the valiant Vanara of Kanchanagiri. Let us go to Lanka and slay Ravana.

Sri Rama was greatly pleased with the mighty army of Sugreeva. He asked Sugreeva to put it on the march. The vast army moved like an ocean overflowing its banks. At Sugreeva request, Sri Rama sat on the shoulders of Hanumantha, and Lakshmana sat on the shoulders of Angada. Bursting with enthusiasm to fight, the great army moved towards Lanka.

On the way the army crossed dense forests, rivers, pools and ponds. The forests were full of different kinds of trees like the thilak, the ashok and the neral. The Vanaras advanced, enjoying the fragrance of flowers and tasting the fruits which hung in bunches from the boughs. They brought down the beehives which they saw in clusters and drank honey. The Vanara army proceeded, killing wild animals and breaking the trees which obstructed their way and flinging rocks this way and that, making a tumultous progress.

In the course of their journey they reached Mahendragiri. They stood on the peak and looked round. They saw the vast sea. They came to the sea. The sea, full of fish and whales, was in a tumult. The waves dashed against the rocks on the shore. They saw the blue sky above and the blue sea beneath. As far as the eye could see it was all the sea, the sea, and blue.

The sight of the sea troubled Sri Rama. He grew dejected, wondering if they could cross the vast sheet of water stretching before them. He said to Sugreeva, Let us halt our forces here. This mass of water is boundless and is dangerous. We have to think of a plan. Let the army camp here tonight.We shall ponder over how we can cross the ocean. So that night they camped there.

The roar of the sea grew louder as the night advanced. It began to roar with triumphant insolence.The sea turned turbulent as the winds lashed it. The noise of the waves dashing against the rocks was deafening. Terrifying creatures like whales and serpents were swimming in the sea. There was a certain beauty even in this terror. The moon light rested on the seafoam and the sea looked like the Ksheera Sagar  the milky ocean.

Watching the arrogance of the sea Sri Rama said, Did you watch the sea, Lakshmana? Can we reach Lanka? Lakshmana replied, Brother, how surprising! You are apprehensive. You are the mighty hero who slew Tataki, Subahu, Kabandha, Khara and Dushana – all rakshasas. You have rushed forward undaunted, in the most unnerving situations. That becomes heroes like you. It does not become you to entertain any other kind of thoughts. Be not worried; let us consider how we can cross the sea.

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Vibhishana becomes an ally

After Hanumantha created a commotion in Lanka and departed Ravana called his counsellors for consultation. All the courtiers, ministers and generals assembled. Ravana addressed them; Heroes, a monkey called Hanumantha entered our Lanka city and caused a turmoil. A single monkey has wrought greater havoc than a huge army could have done. It is a matter of disgrace that our army could not check its ravages. The monkey discovered Seeta whom we had hidden. It killed thousands of our rakshasa soldiers and even set fire to Lanka itself. In a short while it will bring Rama to start an onslaught. How on earth did this happen? And how shall we arrest this course of events?

There were very able generals in Ravana army. They were war-enthusiasts. They had never known defeat on the battlefield. And so confidently they said, Maharaja, war does not scare us. Let Rama come to fight. We shall surely defeat him. Indrajittu, Ravana son, was a formidable warrior. He said, Maharaja, let us not wait until Rama comes here. Let us go where he is. Let us give a thrashing

to him and his army of monkeys. The court was full of talk about war. Everyone was reminded of the battlefield. And every one boasted of his prowess.

Vibheeshana was the younger brother of Ravana. He was just and righteous. From the beginning he had blamed Ravana for abducting Seeta. He had advised Ravana : It is not right to kidnap the wife of another man. If the ruler himself strays from the path of virtue the subjects, too, become unrighteous. Besides, the curse of Seeta will ruin Lanka. Send her back. But Ravana ignored his advice. When a person indulges in evil, no one advice appeals to him. It will be like rain pouring on sharp-edged rock. That is precisely what happened when Vibheeshana advised Ravana.

When the rakshasas began to brag about their prowess in the crowded royal court, Vibheeshana could not contain himself. He said, You rakshasas, wait a little. Do not boast of your valour. You may have taken part in mighty wars and even overcome great warriors. But what happened to your much-vaunted prowess when a monkey came to Lanka and ravaged the city, a few days ago? You are bragging ever so much now, why did you not avert the rampage of a single monkey? Be sensible and stop your mad talk.

He then turned to Ravana and said, Brother, follow my advice at least now. Seeta Devi is no ordinary woman. She is an incarnation of Shakthi or the Goddess of Might; so I feel. Restore her at once to Sri Rama and beg his forgiveness. He is righteous. He will be magnanimous and forgive you. Do not disdain him taking him for an ordinary man. The inspiration of his name sufficed to enable Hanumantha to leap over the ocean; Hanumantha disgraced us. If Sri Rama so wills, he can burn the entire city of Lanka and leave nothing but ashes behind. Because of your wrong-doing, your wives, children and subjects will all have to endure great wretchedness. There is only one way of averting this catastrophe, and that is to restore Seeta to Sri Rama.

Indrajithu could not brook Vibheeshana words. He said, Uncle, put an end to such futile talk. Some fellow called Rama, some monkey called Hanumantha; do you seek to frighten us with their names? Vibheeshana, you know not my prowess. I shall shatter that Rama and his army in a trice. I have vanquished Indra and other gods in battle. What is this Rama? There is no question of being awed by such fellows and restoring Seeta.

Vibheeshana answered, Indrajithu my child, you are speaking without discrimination. The hour of disaster is also the hour of perverse thinking. That is your state now. A single arrow of Rama can burn Lanka, so fiery it is.

Ravana then said, Vibheeshana, I suffered you all these days because of my affection for you as my younger brother. I forgave all that you said. But you are now crossing all limits. On the pretext of eulogizing the prowess of your Rama, you are insulting the valour of our soldiers. You live in my kingdom and you are a traitor to us; this cannot be forgiven. Your glorification of Rama seems to indicate that you have joined the enemies. By all means, go to him. I am not prepared to let treasonous fellows stay in my kingdom. All my counsellors are of the view that Seeta should not be restored and that we ought to face Rama on the battlefield. I shall follow their view. Our soldiers are valiant, and they will triumph.

Vibheeshana said, Brother, your intelligence is clouded. What you have done is evil. Even though I point it out to you, you refuse to mend your ways. I do not wish to tarry with such sinners. I am going to Sri Rama. You are elder to me. I shall give you all the affection and respect due to you. But I cannot, for that reason, be hand in glove in your evil doings. I cannot do evil. If the mission of defending righteousness demands it, I will even take your life. From today our relations are cut asunder. Then he left Lanka with four of his loyal companions and made his way to the camp of Sri Rama and Lakshmanaon the seashore.

Vibheeshan arrived at Sugreeva camp and announced, I am Vibheeshana, younger brother of Ravana. Pained by my brother evil act I have abandoned him and come here. Grant me shelter. Sugreeva went up to Sri Rama and said, A certain rakshasa has arrived. He says his name is Vibheeshana, and that he is Ravana younger brother. He says he has come to seek shelter here.But how can we trust somebody who comes from Ravana camp? Sri Rama pondered over his words for a moment and then asked the other Vanaras, How do you feel about this? I will abide by your opinion.

The Vanara leaders replied, Sri Rama, our opinion is not important in this. You, our leaders, consider this and take a decision. During a war the supreme leader word is law. Others should bow to his decision. That is our duty. Then Hanumantha said, My Lord, if you permit, I should like to put in a word. True it is that Ravana is now the monarch of Lanka; yet there are some there who do not see eye to eye with him. Vibheeshana is one of them. It seems to me that it is to our advantage that there is now a rift between the brothers and that Vibheeshana seeks to join us. We can obtain all the information we need about the enemy forces from him. And, if we promise to make him the king of Lanka when Ravana is dead he will surely stand by us. It is, therefore, to our advantage to welcome him.

Sri Rama replied, Hanumantha, ever word you have spoken is true. Even if we can find just one person who can give us information about the enemy, he will be an asset. And so we should welcome Vibheeshana. Besides, he has rebelled against Ravana wickedness and has come to join us. That is another reason to welcome him. Moreover, he seeks refuge here. It is our duty to welcome and protect those who surrender to us. So I receive Vibheeshana with open arms. At these words Sugreeva and the other Vanaras rejoiced. They brought Vibheeshana to Sri Rama.

Vibheeshana bowed to Sri Rama. He said respectfully, Sri Rama, I am supremely happy to have met you. Hanumantha has probably already spoken to you about me. My name is Vibheeshana. I am the younger brother of Ravana and Kumbhakarna. I was unable to check the wicked deeds of my elder brother and therefore have come to you seeking refuge. Sri Rama replied, Vibheeshana, I am pleased with your devotion to righteousness. I welcome you with all my heart to our camp, and embraced him.

Sri Rama went on, Vibheeshana, I have to wage a war against your brother. Therefore, tell me all about the army in Lanka. Vibheeshana answered, Ravana is a redoubtable hero. In valour he equals Indra. The Commander of his army is Prahasta. He has overcome the commander of Kubera himself in battle. Indrajithu, the son of Ravana, is a most valiant warrior; he has an impenetrable armour. He is also a master of illusory warfare. He has secured several astras. In addition to these, there are several mighty generals likeMahodara and Mahaparshwa, in Ravana army. Ravana has crores and crores of soldiers. Sri Rama said, Very well, no matter how big his army may be, we shall thrash it on the battlefield. We shall slay Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Indrajithu and Prahasta. We shall crown you king of Lanka. Vibheeshana voice was choked with emotion.

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The unique bridge Ram Setu

16ram 16

The waves of the overflowing sea were dashing against the rocks. Then Vibheeshana said, Sri Rama,you belong to the dynasty of Sagara. You are, therefore, a kinsman of the king of the ocean.Offer a prayer to him, and he will help you. The suggestion appealed to Sri Rama. He lay down on Kusha grass spread on the shore, and meditated on the God of the Ocean. As he lay with his arm for his pillow, all the Vanaras assembled to see the great man.  Lord, respond to the prayers of Sri Rama, so they appealed to the king of ocean.

Three days passed but the Sea God did not appear. Everyone was surprised and also grieved. They exclaimed unhappily, Why does the Sea God not respond to the devout prayers of our master? Sri Rama was enraged. The legs and arms of the mild-looking Rama grew rigid, and his chest rose. His eyes grew red with rage. He frowned. He thought, I worshipped the Sea God with such devotion and yet he has not appeared. How arrogant he must be! Very well, I will not fail to teach him a lesson. Then he said, Lakshmana, did you see how haughty the Sea God is? He did not respond to our prayer, he took no note of us. That means he has failed to be righteous. This, perhaps, is the way of the world. If we conduct ourselves as good persons, people take us to be weaklings and cowards. But if a wicked man is domineering people respect him. The King of the Sea has slighted me. I will teach him a lesson. So saying he took up his Kodanda and twanged the bow. He said, Lakshmana, watch my prowess. With a single arrow I will dry up the ocean. The fish and the other sea creatures which dwell in the sea will suffer untold torment and die. Snakes and whales will be charred to death. There will be no need to build a bridge. With a scaffolding of arrows I will cover the sea; every one can walk upon it as on the ground. The gods were frightened when they heard Sri Rama words. The Sun hid himself behind clouds out of fear. A meteor appeared in the sky. Fire appeared in the sea. A whirlwind broke out, as if the sea was trembling. The waves rose in mad fury and dashed against the rocks. The gods appealed, Sri Rama, do not be enraged.

Then the Sea God rose from the waters. He was wearing sparkling celestial ornaments and a crown.He came up to Sri Rama and embraced him. He said, Sri Rama, shed your rage. I shall help you cross the sea. I shall ensure that no cruel animal harms you when you cross the sea. I will also see to it that nothing sinks in the waters when you build the bridge. There is a Vanara, Nala by name, in your army. He is the son of the divine architect, Vishwakarma. He is good at building bridges. Let him build the bridge. May good fortune attend you! Sri Rama was very pleased. He thanked the Sea God. He then said to Sugreeva, Let the task of constructing the bridge begin straightway.

At once the Vanaras began the task with great zest. They entered the vast forest near by where there were trees of different kinds. They uprooted several trees and brought them and covered the sea. They also brought huge boulders. When the boulders were pushed into the sea the sea was disturbed. The water rose to the very skies. The Vanaras began to construct the bridge. Nala moved about briskly, supervising the work. Within five days, the zestful Vanaras built a bridge a hundred yojanas long and ten yojanas wide. Their joy beggared words when the bridge was ready. They all clapped and whirled and shouted in rapture.

Sugreeva said, Sri Rama, we should not now delay. The bridge is ready. We can easily reach Lanka.Let us start at once. You can sit on the shoulders of Hanumantha and Lakshmana can sit on the shoulders of Angada. Let the entire Vanara army set out for Lanka. Let us reach Lanka and start the war

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Preparation for the war

Under the guidance of Vibheeshana Sri Rama army marched towards Lanka. Some walked on the edge of the bridge, some in the middle. Some swam. The earth and the sky were filled with the noises of the Vanaras on the march. Even the roar of the overbearing sea was drowned by the noises of the army. The Vanara army reached the southern coast of the sea.

Then the heroic Sri Rama divided his forces in battle array according to accepted martial policy.Angada and Neela stood ready at the head of their unit in the chest of the formation; so did Rishabha in the south and Gandhamadana in the left. Jambavantha and Sushena stood in the middle.Sugreeva was at the rear, to protect the army. With Lakshmana by his side, Sri Rama himself was at the front. So the mighty army stood ready for battle.

Ravana sent two of his ministers, Shuka ans Sarana, to assess the forces of Sri Rama. They panicked at the sight of Sri Rama and his huge army. They were certain that if they fought, they would be doomed. They returned to Ravana court. They said Dread Lord, give up all hope of victory in this war. Sri Rama army is vast like the sea. It has thousands of invincible and valiant Vanara heroes. We cannot survive. The Vanara heroes are huge like the banyan tree. They are countless. There are thousands of heroes as formidable as Hanumantha who came to Lanka and caused distress. There are mighty generals like Sugreeva, Angada, Mainda, Dwivida, Durmukha,Neela, Jambavantha, Didhimukha, Sumukha and Vegadarshi. Each one of them is capable of vanquishing the gods and the danavas. And the valour of Sri Rama is beyond the reach of words. Therefore, Ravaneshwara, let us not engage in war. A war spells our doom. Return Seeta Devi at once to Sri Rama and save Lanka.

Their words angered Ravana. He said, Enough of your impertinence. I only asked you to have a look at Rama army and report. I did not seek your advice. I am set on fighting.

A rakshasa, Malyavantha by name, stood up and said, Ravana, listen to my few words. A king should be learned, should be acquainted with ethics and should be righteous. Such a monarch will remain on the throne for a long time. If a war looms inevitable he takes note of the enemy strength. If the enemy is stronger, he enters into an agreement. Otherwise, he fights. Sri Rama forces are stronger than ours. It would be prudent to seek an agreement.

Besides, what is a war? It is a clash between two kings or groups. And, what leads to a war? One of the two does wrong, and the other suffers injustice. So they fight. That means, a war is a conflict between two principles, Justice and injustice. You are leading an immoral life; you are doing wrong.Therefore, in this war yours is the unrighteous side, and Sri Rama is the righteous side.When there is a clash between righteousness and unrighteousness, righteousness will surely triumph. Therefore, if there is a war, surely Sri Rama will win.

Ravana, you have a boon – that gods, and danavas cannot kill you. But in the world. there are living beings of many types besides the gods and the danavas. Men, monkeys and bears, too, can be formidable. Their roar sets even our daring generals trembling.

Moreover, frightening omens are being seen inside Lanka and around it for some days. Horses neigh offensively and shed tears. Animals like the vulture and the fox send forth frightening cries. It has been raining blood. All these foreshadow dangers.

Sri Rama is no ordinary man. If he were an ordinary man, why would crores and crores of monkeys co-operate with him? How did Hanumantha acquire the strength to leap across the ocean? How could the army of monkeys build a unique bridge in a few days?

Take note of all this. Go to Sri Rama and restore Seeta Devi. Seek his forgiveness. He is merciful; he will forgive your offence.

Malyavantha words drove Ravana to a towering fury. His eyes grew red. Rolling his eyes he replied,Malyavantha, what is all this idle talk? What means this eulogy of a trivial man? Why do you exaggerate Rama prowess and decry my strength? Are you against me? Are you envious because I am the sovereign? I shall never restore Seeta whom I have brought here with great difficulty. I am determined to fight. Let Sugreeva fight; or let it be Lakshmana, or Rama himself, I shall despatch them all to the realm of Yama. He then ordered his generals to prepare the army for a war. His army made itself ready and stood in battle array.

Vibheeshana, now in Rama camp, saw Ravana army. He said to Rama, Ravana army is ready to fight. This is the formation. Prahastha is stationed in the west, Mahaparshwa and Mahodara are stationed in the south, and Indrajithu, Ravana son, in the south, ready with their armies. Ravana himself stands in the north. Ravana army comprises a thousand elephants, ten thousand chariots, twenty thousand horses and more than a crore sodiers. Rama said, Let us maintain the present formation, and march against Lanka. Let Neela face Prahastha. Let Angada encounter Mahodara and Mahaparshwa. Let Hanumantha fight with Indrajithu. I myself will challenge Ravana; I have vowed to kill him. Let Lakshmana accompany me. The Vanaras were eager to reach Lanka and begin the battle. They spent the night on a mountain, Suvaladri, near by. Next morning they entered Lanka.

The city of Lanka stood on a peak, the Trikuta Shikhara. It had been built by Vishwakarma. It was a hundred yojanas long and thirty yojanas wide. It had a big encircling wall. Four towers shone in four corners. Storied houses and palaces added to the splendour of the city. The tall buildings, spacious palaces and wide highways filled the monkeys with wonder. There were lovely gardens.

They were radiant with champaka, palmyra and punnag trees. The gardens glowed with flowers and fruits of many kinds. A stream flowed in every garden, and peacocks sported by them. Cuckoos sang. The monkey army surrounded Lanka even as it drank in its beauty. The leaders of the monkey army were all valiant. Some had the strength of ten or twenty elephants. They could break into pieces huge boulders with their fists. They could uproot and hurl huge trees. The mighty army was all eagerness to shatter Lanka.

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The war begins

Sri Rama, in the van of the army, looked round. Only the heads of monkeys were to be seen as far as the eye could see. Having looked once again at the army of monkeys bigger than the sea, Sri Rama summoned the Vanara leaders. Sugreeva, Angada, Anjaneya, Neela and others came. Sri Rama said, We are now ready to fight. The enemy forces also are ready. But let us give Ravana one more opportunity before the battle starts. Let us send Angada as our emissary.

He then said to Angada, Angada, go to Ravana and give him this message : Ravana, I am here as Rama emissary. Our entire army is ready for battle. One word from Rama, and the entire whole of city of Lanka will be mere ashes. Your entire kingdom will have to suffer for your folly. You yourself, Kumbhakarna, Indrajithu and others will fall to our arrows. Therefore, at least now, act justly.Surrender Seeta Devi to Rama. Avert the war. You will still be the king of Lanka. And the needless death of thousands will be averted. If, even then, Ravana turns a deaf ear, we shall fight and smash the enemy.

When Sri Rama had spoken, Angada leapt to the sky and went to Ravana. Even as Ravana wondered how this monkey had come up to him Angada said, Ravana, I am the son of Vali. My name is Angada. I am the commander of Sugreeva forces. I am here as Sri Rama emissary. Having introduced himself he gave Ravana Sri Rama message. Ravana flew into a rage. He said, No, that can never be. I shall not restore Seeta Devi. I am not afraid of Rama. I am ready to fight. Angada returned to Sri Rama and conveyed Ravana reply.

Sri Rama said, Advice is wasted on fools. They invite ruin. Ravana himself is an example. We have no choice but to fight. The declaration of war is inevitable. He then turned to Sugreeva and nodded.

Sugreeva understood his mind. He turned to the army of monkeys and said, Begin the onslaught.The monkeys, who were restless with unbearable eagerness, roared like lions with enthusiasm. They uprooted trees and pulled out boulders and brought them. Even as the rakshas watched, they climbed up the wall. They assailed the rakshasas with the trees and the boulders they were carrying. They rolled down rocks and made mincemeat of the rakshasas. They scratched the faces of the rakshasas and confounded them.

This kind of warfare was unknown to the rakshasas. They could not cope with the sudden onslaught of crores of monkeys. They took some time to recover from this attack and then began to counter attack with their weapons. They had many kinds of weapons. In addition to maces, bows, spears and swords they had weapons which they had secured from the gods as boons. Besides, they were all expert warriors. They had mastered several weapons by decades of practice. They had fought with the mightiest of gods.

But the Vanaras had no weapons. Trees, mounds and hillocks and boulders were their weapons.Their teeth and nails were their special astras. But they had a weapon surpassing all these – the power of Sri Rama name. The moment they repeated Sri Rama name they felt inspired. New energy surged through their bodies. Besides, they were aware of the great truth that they were battling against injustice and unrighteousness. Not an iota of a selfish motive tainted their fight.I must prosper, I must acquire a kingdom, I must win fame – there was no such greed or pettiness in them. This war is for the establishment of righteousness. It is our duty to participate in it – so they felt, and staked their very lives on the battlefield.

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Examination on Lesson – 14

Choose answers to all the questions. All the best !!

Q1. Why did Vibhishan leave Ravana ?

Ans: a) Because he was jealous of him b) Because he feared for his life c) Because he did not get to be the King of Lanka d) Vibhishan did not wish to stay with Ravana as Ravana continue to sin without mending his ways

Q2. Why did Shri Rama accept Vibhishana in his camp ?

Ans: a) Because he was Ravana’s brother b) Because he was seeking refuge in Shri Rama and he would be able to give away secrets of the enemy Ravana c) Because Vibhishan was a Rakshasa d) Becuase Sugreev suggested so

Q3 Why did Shri Rama decide to attack the Sea God ?

Ans: a) Because Sea God would not help in finding the way to cross it despite Shri Rama’s requests b) Because Sea God was Shri Rama’s enemy c) Because Sea God was Ravana’s friend d) Because Shri Rama wanted to show his prowess

Q4. Who was given the responsibility to build the bridge across the sea ?

Ans: a) Hanuman b) Sugreeva c) Nala d) Angada

Q5. The city of Lanka was built by –

Ans: a) Vishwakarma b) Ravana c) Kubera d) Kumbhakarna

Q6. Who was sent as an emissary to Ravana to give him a last chance to mend his ways ?

Ans: a) Hanuman b) Sugreeva c) Vibhishana d) Angada

Correct Answers below

Examination 14

Q.1 Ans d)

Q.2 Ans b)

Q.3 Ans a)

Q.4 Ans c)

Q.5 Ans a)

Q.6 Ans d)

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