The Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “lakshmana slays the titan atikaya” and represents Chapter 71 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 71 - Lakshmana slays the Titan Atikaya

Witnessing the rout of his great army, causing the hair to stand on end, and the death of his brothers the equals of Shakra in prowess and, beholding his two uncles Yuddhonmatta and Matta, the foremost of the titans, struck down in the fight, the illustrious Atikaya, who resembled a rock, the humbler of the pride of Devas and Danavas, he who had been favoured by Brahma, fell into a transport of rage.

Ascending his chariot, glittering like a hundred suns, that enemy of Indra hurled himself on the monkeys and, stretching his bow, that titan, wearing a diadem and adorned with sparkling earrings, proclaimed his name, emitting a tremendous shout. The proclaiming of his name, the leonine roar and the fearful twanging of his bow-string struck terror in those monkeys and they, beholding that gigantic warrior, reflected:—‘Kumbhakarna has come again’ and, in their panic, took shelter one with the other. At the sight of that apparition, like unto Vishnu taking the three strides, the simian warriors, seized with fear, fled in all directions and in the presence of Atikaya, those monkeys, bewildered, sought refuge with the one who is the refuge of all, the elder brother of Lakshmana.

At that instant, Kakutstha beheld the titan, like unto a mountain, standing in his chariot, afar off, armed with a bow and roaring like a cloud at the time of the dissolution of the worlds. Seeing that monster, Raghava, struck with astonishment, re-assuring the monkeys, enquired of Bibishana, saying:—

“Who is that archer, as high as a hill, with yellow eyes, standing in his vast chariot, harnessed to a thousand horses amidst sharp picks, javelins, gleaming and pointed darts, who shines like Maheshwara among the Bhutas and who is surrounded by glittering spears that fill his car like tongues of the Fire of Death, blazing like a cloud riven by lightning, his best and golden-backed bow illumining his marvellous car on all sides, as Shakra in the heavens? This tiger among titans diffuses a brilliant light over the battlefield as he, the prince of warriors, advances in a chariot reflecting the sun’s rays. On the point of his standard, Rahu has lent him his splendour and his arrows like unto the rays of the sun light up the ten regions; his triply-curved bow, inlaid and backed with gold, resounding like thunder, is as resplendent as Shatakratu’s! With its standard, banner, carriage and the four outriders who escort it, that vast chariot thunders like a storm cloud. Eight and thirty quivers lie in the car with dreadful bows furnished with yellow cords! Two shining swords illumine its sides, their hafts measuring four palms and they are assuredly ten palms in length. With his red garlands, this hero of the size of a mountain, dark of hue, his great mouth like unto death, resembles the sun veiled by cloud! Who is this titan leader with his arms loaded with golden bracelets?”

Thus questioned by Rama, the descendant of Raghu of immense energy, the extremely illustrious Bibishana answered:—

“It is the valiant son of that king who is without equal in might, Dashagriva of great splendour, the younger brother of Vaishravana of terrible exploits, the mighty Ravana, Lord of the Titans. Full of reverence for his elders, renowned for his strength, the most skilful of those versed in the science of arms, he is able to fight on horseback or on the back of an elephant, either with a spear or bow and, whether it be a question of destruction or of sowing dissension or of making peace, of bestowing gifts, of using diplomacy or of strategy, he is highly esteemed. His mother was Dhanyamalini and he is named Atikaya.

“Having found favour with Brahma through his chastity and austerity, he has obtained possession of marvellous weapons with which he has overcome his enemies and Svyambhu granted him invulnerability to Gods and Danavas and bestowed this celestial armour on him and a chariot reflecting the sun’s rays. A hundred times has he triumphed over Gods and Danavas, rescued the titans and exterminated the Yakshas. In battle, that intrepid warrior stayed Indra’s thunderbolt with his darts and repelled the noose belonging to the Lord of the Waters, Varuna. He, Atikaya, the most powerful of the titans is the intelligent son of Ravana and the subduer of the pride of Devas and Danavas. Speedily direct thine efforts against him, O Lion among Men, lest, with his arrows, he annihilate the monkey race!”

At that instant, the mighty Atikaya, shouting again and again, stretching his bow, hurled himself on the monkey host.

Beholding that fearful monster, standing in his chariot, the greatest of car warriors, the foremost of the illustrious monkey leaders advanced to meet him, and Kumuda, Mainda, Nila and Sharabha, coming together, also went out with trees and rocks.

Then that mighty titan, prince of warriors, broke those rocks and trees and all the monkeys resisted him, but that virtuous hero of appalling stature, pierced them with iron darts. Overwhelmed by that hail of missiles, their limbs dislocated, demoralized, they were unable to endure the furious assaults of Atikaya and that hero sowed terror amidst the hosts of the valiant monkeys, as a lion, proud of its youth and strength, stands amongst a herd of deer; nevertheless that Indra among the titans desisted from striking any who were defenceless.

Thereafter with his bow and quiver, he rushed on Rama and addressed him proudly, saying:—

“Here I stand in my chariot with my bow and arrows in my hand! I do not contend with common soldiers but he, who desires it and is willing, I challenge, here and now, to combat!”

This speech incensed Saumitri, the slayer of his foes, and, in his rage, he sprang forward with a smile of disdain, bow in hand. Provoked, he advanced, taking an arrow from his quiver and placing himself before Atikaya, stretching his great bow so that the earth, the sky, the sea and the four quarters resounded with the formidable thrumming of the bowstring and terror seized those rangers of the night.

Hearing that dreadful twanging of Saumitri’s bow, the powerful and valiant son of that Indra of Titans was astounded and, enraged on beholding Lakshmana advancing towards him, he took out a sharp dart and spoke thus:—

“Go hence, O Saumitri, you are but a child without any experience of warfare; why dost you seek to measure your strength with mine, who am the equal of Death! Nay, assuredly the force of these arrows loosed by mine arm may not be withstood by Himavat himself nor the earth nor the heavens. You are seeking to rouse the Fire of Dissolution which, to your good fortune, is now sleeping. Throw away your bow and go hence! Do not sacrifice your life by advancing to meet me! Nevertheless if you are determined not to turn back then stay and, yielding up your life, enter Yama’s abode! Behold my whetted shafts, which wrought of refined gold, subdue the boasting of mine adversaries and resemble Shiva’s trident. This arrow also, resembling a serpent, shall this instant quaff your blood as the king of the beasts drinks the blood of the lord of the elephants.”

Speaking thus, in rage, the titan placed an arrow on his bow and that speech of Atikaya’s,full of wrath and threats, infuriated Lakshmana who was brave and virtuous by nature so that he answered him proudly and with dignity, saying:—

“Superiority is not measured by speech nor is bragging indulged in by men of worth! Here I am armed with my bow, an arrow in mine hand, manifest your prowess, O Wretch! Reveal thyself in deeds and cease to blow thine own trumpet! He who conducts himself with courage is said to be a warrior! You are furnished with every kind of weapon, art mounted on your chariot and hast a bow; now manifest your valour either with arrows or with magic darts! I shall cut off thine head with my whetted shafts as the wind detaches the ripe fruit of the palm from its stem I Soon mine arrows, decorated with refined gold, shall drink your blood, that their points will cause to flow by piercing your limbs. You have said ‘He is but a child’ but let not this thought cause you to underestimate me. Old or young, know that it is death who is about to enter into combat with you. Vishnu, while yet a child, covered the Three Worlds in his three strides!”

These words of Lakshmana, fraught with sense and reason, exasperated Atikaya, who laid hold of an excellent dart. At this, Vidyadharas, Bhutas, Devas, Daityas, Maharishis and Guhyakas of great soul, gathered to witness the duel.

Thereafter Atikaya, provoked, placed an arrow on his bow and loosed it on Lakshmana and it ate up space, as it were, but that sharpened arrow like unto a venomous snake, in the form of a crescent, as it flew was severed by that slayer of his foes and, seeing his dart broken, Atikaya, in a paroxysm of rage took out five arrows at once, and that ranger of the night loosed them on Lakshmana, but before they reached him, the younger brother of Bharata shattered them with his whetted shafts.

Having severed those missiles with his sharpened darts, Lakshmana, the slayer of his foes, selected a pointed arrow, the brilliance of which sent forth flames and placed it on his excellent bow, then bending it with force, he struck the forehead of that prince of the titans.

That shaft, sinking into the brow of the terrible titan with the blood that covered it, resembled the King of the Serpents entering a mountain and, as the formidable gateway of Tripura shook, when struck by Rudra’s shaft, so did that titan falter at the impact of Lakshmana’s weapon. Breathing heavily, that colossus reflected ‘Assuredly the arrow thus loosed proves to me that you are a worthy adversary!’ Thinking thus, he opened his mouth and, stretching his great arms, leaning on his seat, urged his chariot forward.

One, three, five and seven were the arrows selected by that lion among the titans and, placing them on his bow and drawing it, he let them fly and those shafts, bright as the sun, seemed as it were to set the firmament ablaze. Meantime, unmoved, the younger brother of Raghava severed them with the aid of innumerable whetted darts. Seeing those arrows broken, the son of Ravana, enemy of the Lord of the Gods, incensed, took hold of a sharp weapon and, placing it on his bow, he loosed it with great force against Saumitri, who was advancing towards him, striking him on the breast. Wounded in the breast by Atikaya, Saumitri began to bleed profusely, like an elephant discharging its temporal juices, and that prince plucked out the shaft and threw it away; thereafter he selected a sharp dart to which he joined a mantra-charged arrow and set Agni’s weapon on his bow whereupon both bow and arrow spat forth flames. Thereupon Atikaya, endowed with great strength, took up Rudra’s weapon and fixed an arrow with a golden haft, resembling a serpent, on his bow.

Then Lakshmana loosed that powerful weapon, his flaming and redoubtable missile on Atikaya like Antaka wielding the Rod of Death. Seeing that shaft joined to the Agneya dart the Ranger of the Night loosed Rudra’s shaft joined to Surya’s weapon, and those two missiles rushed towards each other in space and their flaming points made them appear like infuriated serpents. Devouring each other, they fell on the earth, their fire extinguished, reduced to ashes and bereft of their splendour, and having set the sky ablaze, they lay without lustre on the earth.

Thereafter Atikaya, enraged, discharged the Aishika Reed joined to Twashtar’s Weapon, but the mighty Saumitri severed it with Indra’s shaft. Seeing the reed broken, that prince born of Ravana, enraged, joined a spear to Yama’s Weapon and that ranger of the night hurled it at Lakshmana who destroyed it with the Vayavya Weapon.

Then, like a mass of cloud letting loose its rain, Lakshmana, in anger, covered the son of Ravana with a rain of missiles and those shafts coming in contact with Atikaya’s coat of mail which was encrusted with diamonds, had their points shattered and fell on the earth. Seeing them rendered fruitless Lakshmana, the slayer of hostile warriors, covered his adversary with a thousand arrows. Inundated by that hail of shafts, Atikaya, that mighty warrior, whose cuirass could not be pierced, remained unmoved and that hero was unable to inflict a wound on the titan.

Thereafter the Wind-god approached him and said:—“Because of the boon received from Brahma, that warrior is clothed in impenetrable armour, do you therefore strike him with the Brahma Weapon, else he may not be slain, his mail being proof against aught else!”

On hearing Vayu’s words, Saumitri, the equal of Indra in prowess, instantly took up a dart of incredible velocity and joined it to Brahma’s Weapon. Having placed that excellent weapon with the foremost of arrows furnished with sharp points on his bow, every region, the sun, moon and the great planets were struck with terror and the heavens and earth also shook. Then, having fixed the Brahma Weapon on his bow, that missile, the stem of which being like death’s messenger and equal to lightning, Saumitri let it fly on the son of Indra’s foe. And Atikaya beheld that shaft loosed by the mighty-armed Lakshmana, swift as the tempest, with its haft encrusted with gold and diamonds, falling upon him and beholding it, immediately struck at it with his innumerable shafts but that arrow, swift as Suparna himself, flew towards him with extreme velocity and seeing it draw near, like Death at the time of dissolution, Atikaya struck at it with lances, spears, maces, axes, picks and arrows with unrelenting energy, but those weapons of marvellous aspect were rendered fruitless by that flaming dart, which, striking him, severed his head with its diadem.

Cut off by Lakshmana’s arrow, the head instantly fell on the earth with its crown like unto the peak of Himavat. Then those rangers of the night, who had escaped the slaughter, beholding the body lying on the ground, its raiment and adornments in disarray, were thunderstruck and, their features distored, those unfortunate beings, exhausted with fighting, suddenly began to emit piercing and inarticulate cries. Thereafter those titans, who surrounded their dead leader, terrified, without paying him honour, fled towards the city.

The monkeys, however, their faces shining like full-blown lotuses, in their delight, all paid homage to Lakshmana on account of the success he had won in striking down that formidable adversary who was renowned for his prowess and theretofore invincible.

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