Ramayana of Valmiki

by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597

This page is entitled “rama and lakshmana meet ayomukhi and kabandha” and represents Chapter 69 of the Aranya-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Aranya-kanda].

Chapter 69 - Rama and Lakshmana meet Ayomukhi and Kabandha

Having performed the purificatory rites in honour of Jatayu, the two princes entered the forest in quest of Sita, proceeding in a south-westerly direction. Armed with sword, bow and arrow, those offshoots of the House of Ikshvaku followed a hitherto untrodden path, overgrown with bushes, trees and creepers of various kinds, which was difficult of access, with dense thickets on either side and of sinister appearance; nevertheless the two mighty warriors pressed on through that vast and dangerous wood.

Having traversed Janasthana and covered a further three leagues, those brothers, endowed with great energy, penetrated into the thick woodlands of the Krauncha Forest, which resembled a group of clouds and presented a smiling aspect with its many brilliant flowers and the herds of wild deer and flocks of birds that inhabited it.

After exploring this forest, anxious to behold the Princess of Videha once more, sometimes halting to bewail her disappearance, the two brothers resumed their journey, and covering a distance of three leagues came to the hermitage of Matanga.

Having searched the whole forest filled with fearful beasts and birds and planted with innumerable trees and dense thickets, the two sons of Dasaratha beheld a cave in the mountain, deep as the region under the earth where eternal darkness reigns.

Then those two Lions among Men, approaching that cave, perceived the vast shape of a female titan of hideous appearance. Fearful of aspect, she was an object of terror to weaker creatures with her loathsome countenance, vast stomach, sharp teeth, immense stature and harsh voice.

This monster subsisted on the flesh of ferocious beasts and now appeared before Rama and Lakshmana, her hair dishevelled, and addressed them, saying:—

“Come let us pass the time in dalliance together.” Thereafter she laid hold of Lakshmana, who had preceded his brother and added:—

“I am named Ayomukhi, I am thine; do you become my lord, O Hero! Let us give ourselves up to a long life of pleasure on the summits of the mountains and among the islands in the rivers.”

Hearing these words, the Slayer of his Foes, Lakshmana, full of wrath, drew his sword and cut off her ears, nose and breasts. Her ears and nose being severed, that terrible titan ran away with all speed, and when she had disappeared, the two brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, Scourgers of their Foes, hastily pressed on and entered the dense forest.

Thereafter the mighty Lakshmana, full of loyalty, charm and nobility, addressed his resplendent brother with joined palms, saying:—

“I am conscious of a violent throbbing in my left arm and my mind is filled with apprehension, whilst on every side I perceive inauspicious omens; do you therefore hold thyself in readiness, O Great One, and follow my counsel; these different portents foretell imminent danger. The Vanchulaka bird is emitting fearful cries which indicate a speedy victory for us.”

Thereupon the two brothers courageously began to explore the entire forest, when a terrible clamour arose appearing to rend the trees; such was the uproar that it seemed as though a mighty wind had suddenly swept through the forest.

Seeking to ascertain the cause of this disturbance, Rama, armed with a sword, bow in hand, advancing with his younger brother, beheld a titan of vast proportions, possessing huge thighs, standing before him. Headless, his mouth in his belly, covered with bristling hairs, in stature equal to a mountain, his complexion that of a dark cloud, terrible to look upon, his voice resounded like thunder.

Shining like a lit torch, he seemed to emit sparks; his single eye, furnished with yellow lids opening in his breast, was strange and hideous and this monster, possessed of enormous teeth, was licking his lips. Despite their ferocity and size, he fed on bears, lions, deer and birds, catching them with his great arms at a distance of four miles. With his hands he seized hold of flocks of birds and herds of deer, which he put into his mouth.

Having observed them a mile off, he obstructed the progress of the two brothers and stood awaiting them. That colossal, hideous and dreadful creature of sinister aspect, with his trunk and vast arms, fearful to behold, stretching out, seized the two valiant brothers and gripped them with all his strength.

On account of his coolness and courage, the valiant Raghava remained unmoved, but Lakshmana, being a mere stripling and volatile by nature, began to tremble, and that younger brother of Raghava said to him:—

“O Hero, behold how I have fallen into the power of this titan; do you leave me as an offering to the evil forces and go your way happily; you will soon be re-united with Vaidehi, this is my firm conviction! O Kakutstha, when you have regained the kingdom of your forbears and art installed on the throne, remember me!”

At these words, uttered by Lakshmana, the son of Sumitra, Rama answered:—“Have no fear, O Valiant One, persons of your valour are never perturbed.”

Meanwhile the headless titan, of huge arms, the foremost among the giants, said to them:—

“Who are you, whose shoulders resemble a bull’s, armed with great swords and bows? It is fortunate indeed for me that by chance you have come within my range in this dangerous place. Say for what reason you have come here, where I wait ravaged by hunger, you who are armed with arrows, bows and swords and resemble bulls with pointed horns? Having approached me, your death is imminent.”

Hearing the words of the wicked Kabandha, Rama, his face growing pale, said to Lakshmana:—

“We have fallen from one danger into a greater one, O Hero; this ill chance may cost us our lives without our being able to rejoin our beloved Sita. The power of destiny over all beings is inexorable, O Lakshmana! See, O Lion among Men, how ill-fortune drives us to the last extremity; there is nothing that weighs so heavily on man as destiny. Even the brave, the mighty, the great and skilful warriors on the field of battle, overtaken by destiny, are swept away like banks of sand.”

Thus spoke that heroic and illustrious son of Dasaratha, filled with distress, his eyes fixed on Saumitri, while in his soul his composure was fully established.

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