Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “hanuman describes the strength of lanka to rama” and represents Chapter 3 of the Yuddha-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., Yuddha-kanda].

Chapter 3 - Hanuman describes the Strength of Lanka to Rama

These words of Sugriva, judicious and full of good sense, pleased Kakutstha who said to Hanuman:—

“By the power of mine austerities, I am well able to cross the ocean by throwing a bridge over it or even drying it up. What are the fortifications of this inaccessible Lanka? Describe them fully to me, I wish to hear all about them as if I had myself beheld them, O Monkey. How are its gates manned; what is the strength of the army; what kind of moats surround it and how are the retreats of the titans constructed? You didst explore Lanka at your leisure when opportunity arose, now in the light of thine observations give me exact and complete information thereon.”

Thus interrogated by Rama, Hanuman, the Son of Maruta, the most eloquent of narrators, said:—

“Hear, O King, I will tell you the extent of the defences, of the moats and the number of troops guarding that city. I will describe to you the opulence of those titans and the great prosperity of their capital due to Ravana’s austerities; I will tell you also of the formidable ocean and the many regiments of infantry and the strength of the cavalry”.

After this preamble, the foremost of monkeys began to relate lucidly everything he knew and said:—

“Filled with happy people, Lanka abounds in elephants intoxicated with Mada juice and is swarming with chariots and titans. It has four immense gateways that are extremely high and furnished with strong doors which are closed with massive iron bars. Catapults, darts and stones are placed near at hand, capable of repelling the assaults of the enemy and the valiant titans have heaped in readiness, formidable spears in their hundreds.

“The city is encircled by a high golden wall difficult to scale, lined within with precious gems, coral, emerald and pearl. On all sides awe-inspiring moats of great splendour, filled with icy water, have been dug, which are deep and abounding in crocodiles and fishes. At the entrance to these dykes there are four long draw-bridges furnished with innumerable weapons and five great cannons are placed round about which defend the entries against the approach of the enemy, whose battalions would be flung by these engines of war into the moats on every side. The most important of these bastions, impossible to force, is of unsuperable strength and dazzling with its pillars and fulcrums of gold.

“Endowed with great physical strength, O Prince, Ravana is avid for combat, ever on the alert and constantly reviewing his forces. Lanka is therefore impregnable, it is a celestial citadel that inspires terror. Surrounded by water, built on a mountain with its fourfold defences, it is situated on the other side of the impassable ocean, O Rama, where no vessel can approach it, as it offers no harbourage anywhere. Built on the summit of an inaccessible rock, Lanka, where horses and elephants abound, resembling the City of the Gods, is extremely difficult to conquer. With its moats and Shataghnis, its engines of war of every kind, that capital of the wicked Ravana is unique.

“The eastern gate is defended by ten thousand men, all skilled warriors armed with spears, the foremost of swordsmen; the southern gate is guarded by a hundred thousand warriors, there a whole army of seasoned fighters is assembled; ten thousand troops armed with swords and shields, all accustomed to the wielding of weapons, defend the western gate; the northern gate is protected by a million men who are mounted in chariots or who ride on horses; they are the sons of distinguished families. Titans to the number of hundreds and thousands occupy the centre of the city with one million tested troops in addition.

“I have destroyed the ramparts and filled up the moats and, having tom down the walls, have set fire to the town, therefore, if we can find some means of crossing Varuna’s domain, the city is ours; let the monkeys deliberate on the matter.

Angada, Dvivida, Mainda, Jambavan, Panasa, Nala and the General Nila will fall upon Ravana’s capital with its hills, woods, moats, archways and ramparts and bring Sita back to you, O Raghava, what need is there of the rest of the monkeys? Come, give the command quickly to the whole army of these valiant monkeys and, at a propitious hour, let us set out!”

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