Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Kabandha included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Kabandha

General information.

The demon who attacked Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa while they were wandering in Daṇḍakāraṇya after the abduction of Sītā by Rāvaṇa.

Previous history of Kabandha.

There was a King of Gandharvas called Śrī. He had a son named Danu. Danu was known as Viśvāvasu also. Viśvāvasu once performed a penance to propitiate Brahmā for long life and Brahmā appeared before him and blessed him with immortality. Arrogant of this acquisition he roamed about as he pleased.

One day he attacked Indra and the latter furious at his impudence used the Vajrāyudha on him and the head and thighs of Viśvāvasu were squeezed into his body. Viśvāvasu pleaded that he should be given some way to take his food. Indra then granted him two very long hands and a mouth on his belly. Then Viśvāvasu spent his days in a forest near the Mataṅgāśrama in Krauñcāraṇya bearing the name Kabandha (Headless trunk). Indra added that he would attain his real form when Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa cut his hands.*

A favourite pastime of Kabandha was to frighten the sages. One day he attacked a sage called Sthūlaśiras and that sage cursed him saying that he would retain his ugly figure for ever. The demon pleaded for relief and the sage said that he would regain his original figure when Rāma cut his hands and left him in the desolate forest. From that day onwards Kabandha lived there waiting for Śrī Rāma. (Sarga 70, Araṇya Kāṇḍa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa).

Kabandha meets Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa.

Jaṭāyu was lying half dead by a blow from the sword of Rāvaṇa and Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa went to him and talked to him. He gave them some information regarding Sītā before he died. After burning the body of Jaṭāyu in a funeral pyre Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa went westwards. They entered the Krauñcāraṇya and reached Mataṅgavana. There they saw a great cave. A huge demoness attacked them near that cave and seeing the beautiful form of Lakṣmaṇa she invited him for amorous plays. Lakṣmaṇa cut off her ear, nose and breasts. Then they entered deep into the forests. Bad omens greeted them. Before long they saw Kabandha rushing towards them. He is described thus in the Mahābhārata:

"He was as big as a mountain, dark as a black cloud, with pointed hairs all over his body and looked fierce with a voice as loud as thunder. He had an eye on his stomach, round and yellow, emitting a glare like a fire-flame. Looking wicked he thrust his big tongue out of his huge mouth licking the sides."

The demon stretched out his big hands and caught hold of Śrī Rāma in his right hand and Lakṣmaṇa in his left hand. Finding themselves helpless in his hands Lakṣmaṇa implored Rāma to flee away from the demon leaving him alone. Śrī Rāma cut off Kabandha’s right hand and Lakṣmaṇa cut off the left hand. Kabandha then asked them who they were. Kabandha told Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa his previous story and then fell dead. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa burnt the dead body in a funeral pyre. He rose up in the air as the Gandharva King of old and advised Śrī Rāma to go to Sugrīva for knowing more about Sītā. (Sargas 70 to 72, Araṇya Kāṇḍa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa).

*) "I am the son of Śrī named Danu" says Kabandha to Lakṣmaṇa in Śloka 8, Chapter 71, of the Araṇya Kāṇḍa of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. In Śloka 42, Chapter 279 of Araṇya Kāṇda, Kabandha says, "I am a gandharva, Viśvāvasu and came to be born in a demonaic womb by the curse of a brahmin."

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