The Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “the duel between ravana and yama; brahma intervenes” and represents Chapter 22 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 22 - The Duel between Ravana and Yama; Brahma intervenes

“Hearing that great tumult, the Lord Vaivasvata realised his enemy had triumphed and that his army was destroyed.

Knowing his forces were slain, his eyes red with anger, he addressed his charioteer, saying:—

“‘Take my chariot there speedily!’

“Thereupon the driver brought the vast celestial car of his most powerful master and that exceedingly energetic one ascended it. And Mrityu, the destroyer of the Triple World of perpetual change, with a lance and mallet in his hand and Time as his Rod, stood at Yama’s side; and that divine weapon blazed like fire.

“Beholding Kala [i.e., Time as Death] highly enraged, inspiring terror in the whole universe, the Three Worlds were agitated and the inhabitants of heaven were seized with fear. Thereafter the charioteer urged on his steeds that were the colour of blood, and drove his thundering chariot to meet the Lord of the Rakshasas; and, in an instant, his horses, the equals of those belonging to Hari, carried Yama with the speed of thought to the scene of the combat.

“Seeing that terrible chariot that Mrityu accompanied, the followers of the foremost of the Rakshasas took to their heels, saying:—

“‘It is impossible for us to contend with him!’ In their cowardice, beside themselves with terror, they fled away, Dashagriva, however, in the presence of that chariot that spread terror in the Universe, remained unmoved and experienced no fear.

“Coming within range of his adversary, Yama, in fury, loosed arrows and darts piercing Ravana’s vital parts but he, master of himself, let fly a hail of shafts on Yama’s chariot, as a cloud lets fell its waters, and though the Rakshasa was unable to repel those great shafts that fell in hundreds on his mighty breast, yet he experienced no ill effect; nevertheless, after a fight lasting seven days, and all those missiles of various kinds that Yama, the Scourge of his Foes, loosed upon him, Ravana, averting his face, became distraught and a terrible struggle ensued between Yama and the Rakshasa, each eager to triumph and neither turning back in the fight.

“At that time, Devas, Gandharvas, Siddhas and great Rishis with Prajapati at their head, assembled on the field of battle, for the duel taking place between the Lord of the Rakshasas and the King of the Dead appeared like the dissolution of the worlds.

“Ravana, stretching his bow, like unto Indra’s thunderbolt, filled the whole of space with his shafts and he struck Mrityu with four barbed arrows and his driver with seven, thereafter with his swift arrows piercing Yama in his vital parts a hundred thousand times.

“Then, from the mouth of the enraged Yama, a circle of flame issued, accompanied by wind and smoke, verily a fire of wrath.

Beholding that marvel in the presence of Gods and Danavas, both Mrityu and Kala were transported with rage and Mrityu, in a paroxysm of anger, said to Vaivasvata:—

‘Suffer me to destroy this wicked Rakshasa! This very day, in accord with the natural law, this Rakshasa shall cease to be! Hiranya-kashipu, the fortunate Namuchi, Shambara, Nishandi, Dhuma-ketu, Bali, Virocana, the Giant Shambhu, mighty monarchs, Vritra and Bana, the Rajarishis versed in the Shastras, Punnagas, Daityas, Yakshas and troops of Apsaras, with the earth and its mountains, rivers and trees and the great ocean, have all been destroyed by me at the end of the World cycle, O Great King. Those beings and others in great numbers, who were powerful and invincible, have been annihilated by my glance, how much more easily can I bring about the death of this ranger of the night? Let me go therefore, O Virtuous Lord, that I may destroy him! No creature, however powerful he may be, can survive if my glance falls upon him. This power is not mine own; it is a natural law that on whosoever I cast my glance, O Kala, he does not live even for an instant.’

“Thus spoke Mrityu and the illustrious Lord of Justice answered:—

“‘Calm thyself, I shall slay him!’ Then the Lord Vaivas-vata, his eyes red with anger, lifted up the Rod of Death that never misses its target, that Rod to the sides of which the snares of destruction are attached, and he seized hold of a hammer like unto a flash of lightning, which, by its aspect alone, extinguishes the breath of living beings, how much more when it falls on them! That weapon surrounded by flames, that huge mace, that seemed to consume the Rakshasa, emitted sparks when that mighty being took hold of it. Then, as the God prepared to smite Ravana, the Grandsire of the World appeared suddenly and said:—

“‘O Great-armed Vaivasvata, O You, whose courage is immeasurable, know that you must not strike the ranger of the night with your Rod. I have bestowed a boon on him, O King of the Gods, you must not render it void for I have pledged my word! Verily he who makes me appear as a deceiver, whether he be God or a mere mortal, renders the Triple World guilty of deceit! That terrible weapon, if loosed in anger, will strike down all beings, irrespective if they are dear to me or no. Inevitable destruction and death to all follows on that Rod of Death of immeasurable splendour created by me! Undoubtedly, O My Friend, you should not let it fall on Ravana’s head, for once it falls, none will survive even for an instant. Should it fall on the Rakshasa Dashagriva, whether he die or does not die, either way, deceit will have been practised! Therefore turn aside that uplifted Rod from the King of Lanka and confirm my good faith in deference to the worlds!’

“Thus addressed, the virtuous Lord of Death, Yama answered:—

“‘I shall restrain the Rod as you are our Master, but, as I may not slay mine adversary who is protected by your boon, what shall I do now in the fight? I shall render myself invisible to the Rakshasa!’

“So speaking, he vanished with his chariot and horses.

“Thereafter, Dashagriva, master of the field, proclaimed his name and, re-mounting Pushpaka, emerged from Yama’s abode. Vaivasvata, however, with the Gods, preceded by Brahma, joyfully returned to die Celestial Region, as did the great Muni Narada also.”

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