Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “ravana goes to the nether regions to challenge yama” and represents Chapter 21 of the Uttara-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., Uttara-kanda].

Chapter 21 - Ravana goes to the Nether Regions to challenge Yama

“Reflecting thus, the foremost of the ascetics departed with a light step for Yama’s abode in order to acquaint him with what had taken place and there he found the God Yama before a fire, dealing out justice to every being according to his deserts.

“Then Yama, becoming aware of the presence of that great Rishi Narada, offering him a comfortable seat and the Arghya, according to tradition, said to him:—

“‘O Devarishi, is all well or is righteousness in jeopardy? Wherefore hast you come hither, you who art revered by the Gods and Gandharvas?’

“Thereupon Narada, that blessed Rishi, answered him saying:—

“‘Hear what I have to tell you and do what you considerest fitting! That ranger of the night, named Dashagriva, is coming here to overthrow you by the force of his will, though you are invincible. It is on this account that I have come hither in all haste, fearing what would befall you, O Lord Who bearest the Rod.’

“At that instant, they beheld the Rakshasa’s chariot, bright as the sun, approaching in the distance; and the mighty Dashagriva advancing in the dazzling Pushpaka Car dispelled the darkness of the region of death.

“On all sides that long-armed hero beheld those who were eating the fruit of their good and evil acts and he observed the soldiers of Yama and his attendants, ferocious beings of formidable and hideous aspect. He saw those undergoing torment emitting loud cries, giving themselves up to bitter lamentations, devoured by worms and fierce dogs, uttering shrieks that rent the ears, filling all with terror; and those who were crossing the Vaitarani River, which flowed with blood, sinking at each step into the burning sands which scorched them; and malefactor being cut to pieces in the Asipatra Wood or plunged in the Raurava region or the Ksharanadi or slashed with Kshuradharas, crying out for water, tortured by hunger and thirst, emaciated, afflicted, pale, their hair in disarray, besmeared with mud and filth, stricken and demented, running hither and thither. And Ravana beheld them in hundreds and thousands on the way, and he saw others in palaces, where songs and musical instruments could be heard, disporting themselves as the result of their good deeds. And milk was supplied to those who had given kine in charity and rice to those who had distributed rice, and dwellings to those who had bestowed dwellings on others; each reaping the fruit of his own deeds. Others among the virtuous were surrounded by youthful women adorned with gold, precious gems and magnificent pearls, resplendent in their own radiance; all these appeared to the long-armed Ravana, Lord of the Rakshasas.

“Then those who were in torment as a punishment for their evil deeds, were audaciously liberated by the Rakshasa who was powerful and valiant, and those phantoms, suddenly receiving that unexpected clemency, set free by that mighty monarch, rushed upon him, and a great clamour arose, whereupon the soldiers belonging to Dharmaraja, who were full of courage, ran to that spot.

“Armed with arrows, iron bars, spears, maces, lances and picks in their hundreds and thousands, they attacked the Pushpaka Car bravely. Seats, upper galleries, floors and arches were rapidly demolished by those warriors who fell upon it like a swarm of bees; but the celestial aerial car, though broken, was indestructible and resumed its former shape through Brahma’s power. That great army of the magnanimous Yama was not to be counted and the advance guard alone numbered a hundred thousand warriors.

“Trees, rocks, missiles in their hundreds were thrown in profusion with all their strength by those valiant followers of Dashanana and by the king himself. Although their limbs were covered with blood and lacerated by every kind of missile, the ministers of the foremost of the titans fought like giants and the foremost of warriors, the intrepid soldiers of Yama and Ravana’s followers struck each other with redoubled blows, O Prince. Thereafter, leaving their adversaries, Yama’s forces rushed on Dashanana with their spears, and the King of the Rakshasas, his body streaming with blood, shone like an Ashoka Tree in flower.

“Meantime, spears, maces, javelins, lances, darts, arrows, rocks and trees poured from the mighty bow of that courageous warrior. A formidable shower of trees, stones and weapons of all sorts fell on the forces of Yama and thereafter on the earth.

“Having severed all those missiles and repelled that hail of projectiles, the soldiers of Yama struck that redoubtable titan, who fought single-handed against hundreds and thousands and they all surrounded him like a mass of clouds round a mountain and, with their Bhindipalas and their spears, they assailed him with such force that he could scarcely breathe. His coat of mail severed, cut to pieces midst rivers of blood flowing from his person, full of rage, he abandoned Pushpaka and leapt to the earth. Furnished with his bow and arrows, he expandedin energy in the combat and speedily regaining his senses, full of fury, he stood there like a second Antaka. Placing the celestial shaft, Pashupata on his bow and bending it, he cried ‘Stay! Stay!’ and, stretching the cord up to his ear, he loosed that missile in the fight, as Shankara when attacking Tripura.

“And that dart with its circle of fire and smoke resembled a blazing fire that, growing, consumes a forest during the summer season. With its crown of flames, that shaft, loosed by that eater of flesh, ranged the field of battle freely, reducing the bushes and trees to ashes. Then the soldiers of Vaivasvata fell like the standards of the Great God Indra, consumed by the violence of the blaze, and that Rakshasa of formidable prowess, with his companions uttered a great roar which convulsed the earth.”

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