Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Rama 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 Rāma

(ŚRĪ RĀMA). The seventh incarnation of Mahāviṣṇu, a very powerful king of the solar dynasty.


Descended from Viṣṇu thus: Brahmā-Marīci-Kaśyapa-Vivasvān-Vaivasvata Manu-Mahābāhu-Prasandhi-Kṣupa-Ikṣvāku-Vikukṣi-Śaśāda-Kakutstha (Purañjaya)-Anenas-Pṛthulāśva-Prasenajit-Yuvanāśva-Māndhātā-Purukutsa-Trasadasyu-Anaraṇya-Hryaśva-Vasumanas-Sutanvā-Traiyyāruṇa-Satyavrata (Triśaṅku)-Hariścandra-Rohitā va-Harita-Cuñcu-Sudeva-Bharuka-Bāhuka-Sagara-Asamañjasa-Aṃśumān-Bhagīratha-Śrutanābha-Sindhudvīpa-Ayutāyus-Ṛtuparṇa-Sarvakāma-Sudās-Mitrasakha (Kalmāṣapāda)-Aśmaka-Mūlaka-Khaṭvāṅga-Dilīpa (Dīrghabāhu)-Raghu-Aja-Daśaratha-Rāma.

Reason for his birth.

When Rāvaṇa was ruling over Laṅkā as a terror to the world, evils and cruelties like matricide, patricide, fratricide, killing of cows, hatred for good people, children’s death, abduction of women, killing of munis, thefts etc. became rampant. When the world became grief-stricken Bhūmidevī (Goddess of earth) assumed the form of a cow and took refuge with Indra in Svarga. She told him about the atrocities committed by Rāvaṇa and the other Rākṣasas. Then Indra took Bhūmidevī (cow) to Brahmā, who took them to Śiva at Kailāsa as killing Rāvaṇa was beyond his (Brahmā's) power. Śiva thought it improper on his part to kill Rāvaṇa and so he took Brahmā and others to Viṣṇu and submitted their grievance to him. Viṣṇu consoled them by saying as follows:—"I have decided to incarnate myself as the son of Daśaratha, king of Ayodhyā. You Devas also should take birth on earth to help me to kill Rāvaṇa and other evil Rākṣasas and to protect Bhūmidevī and the good people on the earth." (Kamba Rāmāyaṇa, Pūrva Kāṇḍa).


King Daśaratha of the solar dynasty ruled Kosala with Ayodhyā as his capital. Maharṣi Vasiṣṭha was his family preceptor. With the cooperation of eight ministers such as Sumantra and others he ruled the country in the path of supreme welfare and prosperity. A daughter, Śāntā, was born to him of his wife Kausalyā. Years passed by, yet he had no son. One of those days King Lomapāda, close friend of Daśaratha visited Ayodhyā. Lomapāda, who was childless requested Dasaratha for Śāntā and she was given as his adopted daughter by Daśaratha. Lomapāda gave her in marriage to Ṛṣyaśṛṅga, who had once caused rain-fall in Aṅga. (For details see under Ṛṣyaśṛṅga).

To have a son, Daśaratha took as his second wife Kaikeyī, daughter of the King of Kekaya and younger sister of Yudhājit. But she turned out to be barren. Then he married Sumitrā, daughter of the King of Kāśī. Even after many years none of the three wives of Daśaratha presented him with a son.

One of those days Da aratha went deep into the forest, hunting. While resting on the banks of river Sarayū he heard a sound like that of an elephant drinking water in the river. Without realising the fact that the voice was that of the son of a muni filling water in a pot for his aged parents, the King released an arrow against him. When Da aratha walked to the spot, he realised his mistake. He had hit unknowingly a brahminboy, a muni’s son. The boy lay wounded about to die. The boy explained to Daśaratha who he was and how he had come to the river to carry water to his aged parents. After telling the King details about him he breathed his last. Sobbing at his misadventure, Daśaratha went to the aged parents of the dead boy with the pot filled with water. The parents, who were blind thought that it was their son who was approaching them when Daśaratha revealed the sad story to them. After cursing Daśaratha that he too would die of separation from his son, the aged muni expired; his wife also died in his funeral pyre. The grief-stricken King returned to Ayodhyā.

Only Vasiṣṭha and Sumantra were told about the curse, which, though a cause for great sorrow, implied that Daśaratha would have sons. Vasiṣṭha, therefore, advised Da aratha to get the yajña, called putrakāmeṣṭi performed by Ṛṣya ṛṅga. Accordingly the King invited his daughter Śāntā and his son-in-law, Ṛṣyaśṛṅga to Ayodhyā, and the yajña began. Ṛṣyaśṛṅga made offerings in the sacred fire chanting the putrakāma hymn. Then a divine person arose from the fire with a golden vessel full of pudding (nectar of the Devas) and disappeared again in the fire after giving the vessel to Ṛṣyaśṛṅga. Ṛṣyaśṛṅga handed it over to Daśaratha, who as advised by the maharṣi divided the pudding between Kausalyā and Kaikeyī. They gave a part of their shares of the pudding to Sumitrā also. The three queens conceived, and in due course of time Kausalyā and Kaikeyī delivered a son each and Sumitrā two sons. The son of Kausalyā was named Rāma, the son of Kaikeyī, Bharata, and sons of Sumitrā were named Lakṣmaṇa and Śatrughna. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bālakāṇḍa).

Boons granted to Kaikeyi.

Before the sons were born to Daśaratha, the mighty asura called Śambara once attacked Devaloka. Daśaratha was at that time known as Nemi, and he was a great friend of Indra, and on his invitation Nemi, along with Kaikeyī, went to Devaloka in a chariot. Nemi killed the asura army within half an hour. Then Śambara assumed the form of ten Śambaras and attacked Nemi from ten points. In this context Nemi turned and twisted his chariot in all the ten directions at the same time and killed all the ten Śambaras and recaptured Svarga. It was from that day onwards that Nemi came to be known as Daśaratha.

In the fight with the Sambaras on all points Daśaratha’s chariot was so violently shaken that the key of its axle was about to slip off and fall down. Noticing the threatened danger Kaikeyī applied her finger to the proper place of the axle and thus averted the mishap. When Daśaratha knew about this timely action of Kaikeyī he was so very pleased that he asked her to choose any two boons she desired, and she asked him to keep the boons with him to be granted whenever she requested for them. Daśaratha and Kaikeyī took leave of Indra and returned to Ayodhyā. (Kamba Rāmāyaṇa, Bālakāṇḍa).

In the company of Viśvāmitra.

The four sons of Daśaratha grew up in Ayodhyā. Though they were equally friendly to one another, intimacy between Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa and also between Bharata and Śatrughna came to be thicker. Once Viśvāmitra decided to conduct a yajña for the happiness and contentment of all people. At the very commencement of the yajña, Rākṣasas, in batches, tried to spoil it, and Mārīca and Subāhu, sons of Tāṭakā were the leaders of the obstructionists. Viśvāmitra knew that Rāma was the most effective weapon against the Rākṣasas and requested Daśaratha to lend him Rāma’s help. Daśaratha felt sad about it and Viśvāmitra was getting excited over the former’s attitude when Vasiṣṭha advised Daśaratha to send Rāma along with Viśvāmitra. Accordingly Daśaratha sent Rāma to the forest in the company of Viśvāmitra. Lakṣmaṇa too followed his brother.

While walking in the forest Viśvāmitra related many old stories to Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa. They crossed river Sarayū, passed by many āśramas of munis and reached the Pāla forest. Here Viśvāmitra imparted to Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, who felt too weak on account of hunger and thirst the two mantras Balā and Atibalā, which would ward off hunger and thirst. He also taught them the use of certain rare arrows. Śrī Rāma was specially taught the use of a divine arrow called Jṛmbhakāstra.

Tāṭakā killed.

While Viśvāmitra was relating to them the story of Tāṭakā, who dwelt in the forest, they saw the fierce Rākṣasī coming fast with a long spear in her hand. She threw a big rock at Viśvāmitra. Rāma shattered the rock with an arrow. Next, Tāṭakā dashed forward against Rāma roaring furiously, and Rāma, with another arrow killed her. The soul of the dead Tāṭakā assumed the form of a Gandharva woman and ascended to heaven.

Salvation to Ahalyā.

Rākṣasas like Subāhu lined up to obstruct the yajña, which Viśvāmitra began after the killing of Tāṭakā. Rāma killed Subāhu; Mārīca ran away in fright and hid himself in the sea. Rāma drove away the other Rākṣasas.

Next, Viśvāmitra, hearing about the Svayaṃvara of Sītā, daughter of King Janaka started for his palace with Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, and on the way he told the boys many Purāṇic stories. They bathed in the river Gaṅgā and a short walk took them to the vacant āśrama of Gautama. The great muni called Gautama had once lived in this āśrama with his dutiful wife Ahalyā and their son Śatānanda, an erudite scholar in all sciences. Indra, who lost his head over the great beauty of Ahalyā went to the āśrama one midnight in the form of a cock and crew. Thinking it was already dawn Gautama went to the river for bath when Indra assumed the form of the muni, entered his bed room and slept with Ahalyā. When Gautama understood the fraud thus played upon him, he cursed her into a stone. She was to resume her old form when, during Tretāyuga, Śrī Rāma trod upon the stone. Accordingly, as soon as Rāma trod on the stone Ahalyā cast off her form as stone and resumed her old form as Ahalyā. Immediately Gautama and Śatānanda also appeared on the scene. Ahalyā ascended to the sky as a devī.


Vlśvāmitra came to king Janaka’s palace with Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa. Janaka’s daughter Sītā and his younger brothers' daughters Māṇḍavī, Ūrmilā and Śrutakīrti were living in the palace as sisters and very good friends. One day the princesses who were playing in the garden could not pluck jasmine flowers from a height. Sītā then brought the Śaivacāpa (Śiva’s bow) from the weapon-room and shot down Jasmine flowers with it. As Janaka watched Sītā’s action of shooting with the Śaivacāpa an idea came into his head. He announced that the hero, who succeeded in shooting with Śaivacāpa, would be given Sītā in marriage.

Just as Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were inseparable companions Sītā and Ūrmilā were always to be found together and Māṇḍavī and Śrutakīrti were particular friends. Śrī Rāma shot an arrow from Śiva’s bow and he was selected as Sītā’s husband. Janaka informed Daśaratha of the marriage and he came with his attendants. Bharata married Māṇḍavī, Lakṣmaṇa, Ūrmilā and Śatrughna, Śrutakīrti. After living in Mithilā for sometime Daśaratha and others returned to Ayodhyā. Viśvāmitra went to the Himālayas for rest.

Paraśurāma’s threat.

Daśaratha and others on their way back to Ayodhyā passed the Videha kingdom and reached the suburbs of Bhārgavāśrama. All of a sudden a shining form of a brahmin with Kṣatriya effulgence appeared in front of the procession. Vasiṣṭha understood that it was Paraśurāma and Daśaratha and others were alarmed. Paraśurāma approached Śrī Rāma who was viewing the former with quiet serenity. Paraśurāma was very angry that Rāma broke the bow of Śiva who was his (Paraśurāma's) preceptor. All Rāma’s conciliatory talk failed to pacify Paraśurāma, who spoke thus to Rāma: "You, impudent fellow! you insulted me and my preceptor. All right, let me see your power. Take this my bow, and shoot with it."

Śrī Rāma took hold of the bow and bent it easily and fixing an arrow on it asked Paraśurāma to point out the target for it. As Paraśurāma feared that if the arrow was sent, it might crush the whole univese, he asked Rāma so choose the result of his (Paraśurāma's) tapas as target for the arrow. Both the bow and the arrow were of Viṣṇu’s power. That power as well as his own Vaiṣṇava power, Paraśurāma transferred to Śrī Rāma and having thus fulfilled the object of his incarnation Paraśurāma went to Puṇyāśrama for permanent tapas.

Ruin of the country.

Daśaratha decided to install Śrī Rāma as crown prince. The people whole-heartedly welcomed it. During the night previous to the coronation, while the wives of Daśaratha were gladly discussing the happy incident, Mantharā, the tale-bearing maid of Kaikeyī advised her mistress to prevail upon Daśaratha to exile Rāma into the forest and install Bharata as crown prince. Mantharā also reminded Kaikeyī about the boons, which had been promised to her by Daśaratha during the devāsura war. Kaikeyī fell into the trap thus set by Mantharā. Kaikeyī put on a wrathful face and shut herself up in a room. When Daśaratha enquired of her the reason for her anger she asked him to make her son Bharata, the crown prince and exile Rāma for fourteen years' life in forest. The king fainted when he heard the demand But, Śrī Rāma, on hearing about it, put on an anchorite’s apparel and got ready to start for the forest. Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa also got ready to follow Rāma into the forest. While the entire population of Ayodhyā stood there weeping, Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā wearing the forest-dwellers' garb started for the forest.

Death of Daśaratha and Bharata’s decision.

As soon as Sumantra, who had accompanied Rāma and others returned to Ayodhyā, Daśaratha expired on account of unbearable grief caused by Rāma’s exile. Messengers brought to Ayodhyā Bharata and Śatrughna from Kekaya where they were put up with their uncle Yudhājit at the time of their father’s death. But, they were kept in the dark of all that had happened in their absence till their arrival at the palace. Bharata, who heard of everything from his mother was greatly upset and got ready to go to Rāma in the forest. Śatrughna too got ready to accompany him. Arundhatī and Vasiṣṭha in a chariot in the fore-front, Kausalyā and Sumitrā in another chariot just behind the first one, Bharata and Śatrughna behind them—in this manner the great journey into the forest started. Leaving all others behind him, Bharata went forward and prostrated before Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa at Citrakūṭa. Śrī Rāma broke into tears on hearing about the death of their father. But in spite of Bharata’s pressing request Rāma refused to return to Ayodhyā. At last Bharata yielded to Rāma’s injunction and returned to Ayodhyā with the latter’s sandals. But he did not enter the palace; instead he built an āśrama at Nandigrāma and worshipping Rāma’s sandals lived there.

Trip to Pañcavaṭī.

From Mount Citrakūṭa Śrī Rāma and others started towards the forest. When they continued their journey after visiting the Sage Atri’s āśrama a Rākṣasa called Virādha ran away carrying off Sītā. Rāma killed Virādha and regained Sītā. Then they visited the āśrama of sage Śarabhaṅga in the Kumuda forest. Therefrom they went to the Mṛkaṇḍu forest where they visited maharṣi Agastya, and there Rāma took the vow to kill Rāvaṇa and other evil Rākṣasas and thus render the land safe for sages to perform tapas. Agastya presented to Rāma a Vaiṣṇava bow, a Brāhma arrow and a Śaiva quiver. Rāma kept them with Agastya himself to be given to him when required. Then Agastya gave Rāma a divine ornament such as was not available in all the three worlds. Rāma tied it round Sītā’s neck. Taking leave of Agastya, Rāma and others went to the Daṇḍaka forest. It was on a high peak of Mount Mahākrauñca in the forest that Jaṭāyu, brother of Sampāti and a very close friend of Rāma lived. Rāma and Jaṭāyu renewed their old frindship and decided to be of mutual service in future. After that Rāma and others rested themselves on the banks of the near-by Godāvarī.

Stay at Pañcavaṭī.

Pañcavaṭī was on the southern bank of the Godāvarī. Five vaṭas (peepal trees) of the same size stood there in a circle, and so the place was called Pañcavaṭī. (See under Pañcavaṭī). Śrī Rāma decided to build his āśrama at the centre of those trees. Lakṣmaṇa cut down an ebony tree there to put up a parṇaśālā (hut) At once the log disappeared and the dead body of a Rākṣasa youth was found there. It was the corpse of Śambhukumāra, son of Śūrpaṇakhā. He was performing tapas there to propitiate Śiva when he was overcome by the beauty of Sītā and to look at her from a hidden spot he had assumed the form of the ebony tree. It was him that Lakṣmaṇa had cut down. Śrī Rāma understood the situation and explained to his wife and brother about the trickeries of the Rākṣasas. Then the parṇaśālā was constructed and they lived there. Hearing about the coming of Rāma all the sages of the Daṇḍaka forest visited them. They lived in Pañcavaṭī for thirteen years.

Test by Parameśvara (Śiva) and Pārvatī.

Parameśvara and Pārvatī, who knew that many tricky changes would occur in the thirteenth year of the life of Rāma and Sītā there, decided to submit them to a test. The object of the test was to see whether Rāma and Sītā would recognise each other under all circumstances. When Sītā one day entered the river Godāvarī to fetch water, she saw two swans enjoying themselves in a lotus pool in the middle of a sand-shoal in the river. When Sītā went near the pool she saw Rāma bathing in it. But on a closer look she recognised that it was not Rāma, but Śiva, in the guise of Rāma, who was bathing there. To befool Sītā Śiva, who was disguised as Rāma, told her:—Dear one! Please come to me quickly. Why were you so late?

Sītā:—Oh, Deva! salutations. Why did you alone come to the bath?

Rāma:—I had to come alone as Devī did not come with me at once and was late in coming.

Sītā:—Why did not the Devī come? You two are unique. Devī might be alone at Kailāsa just now. It was not good that you did not bring her also with you.

Śiva: Oh great Devī! salutations to your divine greatness. Let me return to Kailāsa after saluting Śrī Rāma. Hail unto thee.

Meanwhile Śrī Rāma was waiting impatiently for Sītā to return. Then Sītā approached him looking into a lotus flower she held in her hand and also throwing, off and on, amorous glances at him. (She was in fact Pārvatī in the guise of Sītā). And she told Rāma:—My Lord! you would excuse my delay in returning. The delay was due to my tarrying there to look at the play of two swans. Śrī Rāma looked closely and recognised that it was not Sītā and replied as follows:—Oh Devī! my salutations. Did you come alone? Where is Deva? How is it that you are separated from him? Mahādeva and Mahādevī are one and inseparable. Then how this separation? Sītā (Pārvatī):—Salutations. Thou art omniscient and omnipotent. I return to the presence of Śiva.

The incident of Śūrpaṇakhā.

Śūrpaṇakhā was the wife of a Rākṣasa called Vidyujjihva. Once in a war which Rāvaṇa, Vidyujjihva and other Rākṣasas fought at Devaloka Vidyujjihva was killed by mistake. Rāvaṇa, therefore, permitted Śūrpaṇakhā to choose whomsoever she liked as her husband, and she went about the world in search of a suitable husband. She liked some persons, but they did not like her, and vice versa. Thus she was roaming about discontented. She was also on the look-out for an opportunity to take vengeance on Lakṣmaṇa for killing her son, Śambhukumāra.

Śūrpaṇakhā, who heard about the beauty of Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa came to Pañcavaṭī disguised as Lalitā. Śrī Rāma alone was there in the āśrama at the time and she told him that she was love-sick. Śrī Rāma rejected her prayer on the plea that he was already married. Then she approached Lakṣmaṇa with the same request. He too refused to oblige her. Then she saw Sītā there and decided to shatter her married life and also to make a present of her to Rāvaṇa. She also thought that if Sītā were got rid of she would have Rāma for husband. Maddened by such thoughts she rushed into the āśrama. But, Lakṣmaṇa drove her out. Then, carrying Lakṣmaṇa with her she rose into the sky and he cut away both her ears, breasts and nose. Thus disfigured she resumed her form of Rākṣasī. She flew away in the sky roaring loudly.

Khara killed.

Having heard about the disfigurement of Śūrpaṇakhā Khara sent fourteen Rākṣasas to Rāma’s āśrama. Lakṣmaṇa killed them very easily. Next, Khara, his brothers Dūṣaṇa and Triśiras with fourteen thousand Rākṣasa soldiers came to fight Rāma. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa killed them also. This saddened Śūrpaṇakhā very much and she reported the entire affair to Rāvaṇa at Laṅkā. She told him that Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were very courageous warriors and he was not to enter into direct fighting with them, but was to abduct Sītā whose loss would cause Rāma’s death. She also assured Rāvaṇa that if Rāma died, Lakṣmaṇa would himself end his life.

Sītā abducted.

Next day a spotted deer was found playing near the āśrama. Sītā desired to have the deer and Śrī Rāma, after asking his brother to take care of Sītā, followed the deer, which enticed him to a great distance in the forest. At last, finding it difficult to catch the deer alive, Rāma shot an arrow at it. Hit by the arrow the deer transformed itself into a gigantic Rākṣasa and fell down dead crying. "Oh! Sītā O! Lakṣmaṇa, a Rākṣasa is killing me. Come and save me."

The Rākṣasa, who thus fell a prey to Rāma’s arrow was really Mārīca, uncle of Rāvaṇa. Mārīca had gone in the form of a deer to Rāma’s āśrama at the instance of his nephew to cheat Rāma. Sītā heard the false cry of Mārīca and asked Lakṣmaṇa to hurry up to the spot for Rāma’s protection. Lakṣmaṇa at first did not want to leave Sītā there alone and go after Rāma. But, when she used hard and cruel words against him Lakṣmaṇa quitted the āśrama and went into the forest. When Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were thus absent at the āśrama an old Sannyāsin came for alms at the courtyard. Sītā, who came out to offer alms was forcibly carried away by Rāvaṇa (the sannyāsin was Rāvaṇa in disguise) in his puṣpaka aerial chariot to Laṅkā. On the way Jaṭāyu saw Rāvaṇa and put up a fight with him to get Sītā released. But, Jaṭāyu had to fall down wounded by the sword of Rāvaṇa and he lay there awaiting Rāma’s arrival.

Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa returned to the āśrama only to find Sītā missing. While they advanced some distance lamenting over the loss of Sītā they saw Jaṭāyu lying in the forest, his wings cut, but happy in expectation of salvation and repeating the name of Rāma. Jaṭāyu gave Rāma all details about Sītā and then gave up his body and ascended to Vaikuṇṭha.

Salvation to Kabandha.

Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa moved towards the south in quest of Sītā. An asura woman called Ayomukhī, sister of Śūrapadma tried to entice Lakṣmaṇa, who went alone to a pool to fetch water. When Lakṣmaṇa resisted and kept away from her allurements, she tried to carry him away into the sky. But, he drove her away disfigured. When the brothers continued their search for Sītā they were caught in the arms stretched out in semi-circular form. It was a Rākṣasa called Kabandha, and they cut away one arm each. At once the fierce Kabandha (headless body) form disappeared and a Gandharva youth appeared in his place. After offering mokṣa to Kabandha Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa continued their search for Sītā. (See under Kabandha).

Salvation to Śabarī.

Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa reached Śabaryāśrama and were duly received by the female hermit Śabarī. She presented them with fruits. Not only that, she personally tasted each fruit for its quality and then gave the best to the guests. Rāma was so very pleased with her pure devotion that he offered her salvation. (For details see under Śabarī).

Rāma-Sugriva alliance.

Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa bathed in the Pampā river and thus refreshed they travelled upto the height of Mount Ṛṣyamūka where Sugrīva lived with Hanūmān as his Prime Minister. Sugrīva, who saw Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa coming, deputed Hanūmān to find out whether they were friends or foes. Hanūmān, in the guise of a brahmin boy talked with them, who related their story from the abduction of Sītā. Having understood the matters Hanūmān resumed his actual form and carried Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa on his shoulders into the presence of Sugrīva.

Sugrīva related to Rāma the story of his expulsion from Kiṣkindhā by Bāli, his elder brother. Sugrīva wanted a powerful ally to recapture the country. Similarly Śrī Rāma too wanted a powerful ally to regain Sītā. So both the parties entered into an alliance, Rāma undertaking to kill Bāli and restore his kingdom and his wife to Sugrīva and Sugrīva undertaking to search for and find out Sītā for Rāma.

Though the above pact was made, Sugrīva was doubtful about Rāma’s capacity to honour his part of the contract, and Rāma, knowing this suspicion of Sugrīva, wanted to dispel it. The mountain-like body of Dundubhi, the Rākṣasa killed by Bāli, lay there in a big heap of bones and at the instance of Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa threw it into the distant southern sea with the big toe of his left foot. Sugrīva was wonder-struck at this feat of Lakṣmaṇa and praised him. Yet Sugrīva was not quite cured of his doubt and Rāma wanted to further convince him of their prowess.

There were seven big trees there known as Saptasālas. Bāli used to wrestle with the trees due to his overflowing vitality and power. (See under Saptasāla). Śrī Rāma went near the trees and suddenly fixed an arrow on his bow-string and shot it by drawing the bow, with the big toe of his right foot pressed against a rock. The arrow cut down the seven trees at one and the same time and then automatically returned to its quiver. Sugrīva was taken aback by this marvellous show of power.

Exhibition of ornaments.

They came again to Ṛṣyamūkācala and Sugrīva placed before Rāma a bundle of ornaments and said that it was dropped down by a weeping woman from an aerial chariot, which had, a few days back, passed above the mountain. Rāma recognised them as Sītā’s ornaments, shed tears and sat there motionless for some time. At last Sugrīva and Lakṣmaṇa consoled him and he handed over the bundle of ornaments to Lakṣmaṇa.

Kingdom restored to Sugrīva.

The very next day Sugrīva took Rāma to Kiṣkindhā, and the former challenged Bāli for a combat. Rāma, from a distance, viewed the fierce fight between the brothers, but he could not do anything as it was impossible to distinguish between Bāli and Sugrīva on account of their very close resemblance. Sugrīva, who was defeated in the first round and retired from fight felt angry towards Rāma, but was soon satisfied with Rāma’s explanation for his inaction. To distinguish Sugrīva from Bāli Śrī Rama, the next day, put a garland on the former’s neck and wearing the garland Sugriva challenged Bāli a second time to a duel. Though Bāli’s wife, Tārā, this time prevented him from accepting the challenge Bāli paid no heed to her protests and rushed forth for the duel.

Bāli and Sugrīva fought again, and this time Rāma from his concealment behind a tree shot an arrow at the chest of Bāli. The arrow felled him. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa then came into the open and Bāli spoke disparagingly to Rāma about shooting the arrow from concealment. Rāma answered him saying that if he had seen him (Rāma) face to face he would have become his devotee and he had to shoot Bāli from his hiding place as it was not proper to kill one’s devotees. At last, after handing over charge of his wife and son Aṅgada, to Sugrīva, Bāli breathed his last. Śrī Rāma decided to crown Sugrīva as King and install Aṅgada as crown prince and returned to Ṛṣyamūkācala for rest after entrusting, under the supervision of Lakṣmaṇa, Hanūmān and Jāmbavān with the duty of making preparations for the coronation. Though Sugrīva invited Śrī Rāma to Kiṣkindhā when preparations for coronation were over, the latter declined the invitation gracefully and deputed Lakṣmaṇa to represent him at the ceremony. Lakṣmaṇa installed Sugrīva as the Mahārāja, Aṅgada as crown prince, Rumā as queen and Tārā as queen-mother. Also, Hanūmān was appointed as Sugrīva’s minister. Those things over, Lakṣmaṇa returned to Rāma at Ṛṣyamūkācala.

Lakṣmaṇa’s wrath.

The next four months were rainy period. Even after that Sugrīva did not make necessary arrangements to search for Sītā. At Rāma’s instance Lakṣmaṇa went to Kiṣkindhā to enquire about the reason for the delay. The monkeys were alarmed by the grave appearance of Lakṣmaṇa and Tārā came out and apologised to him. Arrangements were soon finalised for the quest of Sītā. Armies of many lakhs of monkeys were deputed to the eight regions to search for Sītā. Suṣeṇa was appointed chief of the army for the west, Śatabali for the north, Vinata for the east and Aṅgada for the south. As the south was the chief place for the search, monkeys like Hanūmān, Jāmbavān, Vivida, Nala, Nila, Kumuda, each of them an expert in various ways, were appointed chiefs of different matters. Every chief and his assistant was given suitable instructions by Lakṣmaṇa and Sugrīva, and accordingly the army of monkeys began its march under the leadership of Hanūmān.

Words of recognition.

To convince Sītā that it was really the emissary of Rāma who went to her the latter imparted to Hanūmān the following three sentences for timely use.

(i) "When I took leave of you for life in exile in the forest you (Sītā) who were then in the inner apartment dressed in ordinary fashion came out in the same dress prepared to follow me saying 'I too...' feigning anger'.

(ii) When, for out life in the forest, we had left the city and approached a shrubbery, Śītā in her childish ignorance and goodness of heart told me "This place will do for our forest life."

(iii) While she was one day massaging my leg in our bedroom she threw away from her finger the ring studded with stones. When I asked her the reason for it she answered me as follows:—This ring studded with stones may prove to be of danger to me. When your feet touched the hard granite rock it turned out into a world beauty (Ahalyā). Under the circumstances how much more beautiful would be the woman, who would be created by the touch of your foot on the beautiful stone of the ring? And, because of that beauty you may...me...and then...". We two—I and Sītā—alone knew about the above incident.

Carrying thus Śrī Rāma’s signet ring and words of recognition Hanūmān went along with the army, which started for the south. Sugrīva gave one month’s time to the searching parties to find out Sītā and warned them that their throats would be cut if they failed in their mission.

Saw Svayamprabhā.

Aṅgada, Hanūmān, Jāmbavān and others during their search came to an extensive forest. They were dead tired with hunger and thirst. The leader of the party looked about for something to eat and drink when he saw small birds flying up from a distant pit. From drops of water falling from the wings of the birds it was inferred that the pit contained water. When Hanūmān and others entered the pit (cave) and walked a great distance they came to a spacious garden. They were astonished to find a solitary beauty there, and she related to them her autobiography as follows:—

I am the faithful maid of Rambhā. The powerful asura called Caturāsya wanted me to procure Rambhā for him and he got this garden city built by Mayācārya, the architect of the Daityas, for me as reward for my service to him in the matter of Rambhā. Various kinds of gems light this place and creepers and trees supply food materials. Catuārsya, I and Rambhā alone were living here. But, Indra came to know of it, came here, killed Caturāsya and took away Rambhā with him. He cursed me to lead a solitary life here as punishment for having helped Caturāsya. I prayed for redemption from the curse and Indra told me, that after thousands of years a company of monkeys would come here in search of Sītā and that after entertaining them with food I must see Rāma and then return to Svarga. I have thus been awaiting your arrival and now I am leaving the place, which will vanish as soon as I quit it. All of you, please stand there with eyes closed and I shall send you back to the place where you were before coming here.

Accordingly the monkeys stood there with eyes closed and when they opened their eyes there was neither the garden city nor Svayamprabhā there but they were standing in the old plain. Svayamprabhā appeared before Rāma, praised him and then went to Svarga.

Met Sampāti.

The monkeys again went southward, reached Mahendragiri and descending on its southern side came to the shores of the southern sea. They could advance no further to the south. They were suffering from great hunger and thirst and if they returned with no tangible information about Sītā, Sugrīva would kill them. They preferred death by fasting on the seashore to death by the sword of Sugrīva.

Having decided thus the monkeys spread darbha grass on the extensive plain of Mahendra mountain and lay on the grass to die. In a large cave in the mountain was living Sampāti. The huge bird Sampāti was starving without food and was not able to fly as it had lost its wings. But it dragged itself to the mouth of the cave and saw the monkeys lying there awaiting death, and it thought of eating the monkeys one by one. The monkeys, who understood this idea of Sampāti cursed their fate and sang the praise of Jaṭāyu.

Hearing the word 'Jaṭāyu' Sampāti approached the monkeys, who related to him the object of their journey. Being told about the death of Jaṭāyu. Sampāti shed tears and told the monkeys as follows:—

Jaṭāyu was my younger brother. Our mother was Mahāśvetā and father Sūryadeva. On account of the boon of our parents I was King of all the birds and Jaṭāyu the crown Prince. As our brotherliness grew thicker our haughtiness due to our power and speed also increased. Once we flew up towards the orbit of the Sun to see him, our father. In his youthful enthusiasm my younger brother, Jaṭāyu, climbed higher up in the sky leaving me behind. Due to the heat of the Sun his wings lost their power and energy. Then, to save him, I flew up above him and shaded him. Therefore he could descend to the earth without his wings being burned and thus killed. But, my wings got burned and I fell down on the Mahendra mountain and got my legs broken. Thus I lost the power either to fly or to walk.

I stayed here as the attendant of Niśākara Maharṣi, who could divine the future also. He told me the story about Rāma’s incarnation. He told me further that monkeys in search of Sītā would come here when I should tell them where Sītā was and that then I would regain my health."

After telling the monkeys the above facts Sampāti, with their cooperation, performed the obsequies of Jaṭāyu. Then the King of birds (Sampāti) raised its head and surveyed the ocean and he saw the following: Mountain Subela in the heart of the southern sea; the plain at the heights of the mountain constituting the base of Laṅkā; in the centre of Laṅkā there was Rāvaṇa’s capital; nearby the ladies' quarters; near the quarters the aśoka garden; at the centre of the garden the śiṃśapā tree and under the tree Sītādevī.

As soon as Sampāti had finished telling the monkeys the above details he regained his health.

Sampāti told the monkeys another story also as follows:Rāvaṇa once abducted a Yakṣa beauty from Alakāpurī and carried her away in his Puṣpaka Vimāna. Sampāti clashed with Rāvaṇa on his way and destroyed his plane. But the plane, which was self-generating came again into existence. Sampāti threw away by its beak the Candrahāsa (Rāvaṇa’s sword) and kicked his crown down. At last, at the request of Rāvaṇa, he and Sampāti signed a non-aggression pact. That was the reason why Sampāti could not fight Rāvaṇa in person.

Hanūmān saw Sītā.

Aṅgada said that for the search for Sītā in Laṅkā as told by Sampāti, some one should jump across the ocean. Though many a monkey tried to do so it was Hanūmān, who succeeded in crossing the sea. At one jump he reached the heights of Mahendragiri whence he took another jump forward. But, midway Surasā, mother of the nāgas, swallowed him, and he came out through her ear and continued his journey towards Laṅkā. When he had advanced some more distance an evil spirit called Chāyāgrāhiṇī obstructed his way by a mysterious attack on his shadow. Hanūmān quickly understood what had happened and killed the evil spirit with one kick of his left foot. He again continued his flight. But, he very soon became weak and exhausted. Then Mount Maināka emerged from the ocean and fed Hanūmān with fruits and roots. He reached Laṅkā at dusk. He defeated Laṅkālakṣmī, who tried to prevent his entry into the city. In fact Laṅkālakṣmī was Vijayalakṣmī, who had been cursed by Brahmā. (For details see under Vijayalakṣmī). After defeating her, who was thus absolved from the curse, Hanūmān saw Sītā seated under the aśoka tree. But, none saw him as he was perched on a tree.

Hanūmān’s return.

That night Rāvaṇa dressed in all splendour visited Sītā and tried to secure her favour by soft words and cajolery, all to no purpose. Then he threatened her with punishments, which too proved to be of no avail. After instructing the Rākṣasa women that Sītā should be somehow brought round within a month’s time, Rāvaṇa returned to his palace.

Rākṣasīs surrounded Sītā and described to her the greatness and various merits of Rāvaṇa. Sītā continued to sob. Then came there Trijaṭā, daughter of Vibhīṣaṇa, the great devotee of Viṣṇu, and Saramā, to console Sītā. Trijaṭā had boundless devotion towards Rāma and great love for Sītā. She repeated to Sītā certain dreams she had had.

Left to herself Sītā began saying to herself various things regarding her past. She roferred to her infancy, beginning of youth, wedding, stay at Ayodhyā, forestlife and life in Pañcavaṭī and wept over her recurring thoughts about them. Hanūmān, who heard Sītā’s soliloquy completed Sītā’s story by relating, from his place on the tree, about Jaṭāyu’s salvation, salvation given to Kabandha and Śabarī, alliance with Sugrīva, killing of Bāli, expedition of the monkeys in search of Sītā, meeting with Sampāti, himself (Hanūmān) crossing the sea and his finding out Sītā. Hearing the words of Hanūmān, Sītā looked up in astonishment. Immediately Hanūmān came down the tree and presented the signet ring at Sītā’s feet. When she examined the ring her hands shook and tears dimmed her eyes. Hanūmān talked to her in detail and told her that he would, if only Sītā permitted him, carry her on his shoulders to Rāma. He told her further that if she did not welcome the idea of thus returning to Rāma, he would return with Śrī Rāma and others, defeat Rāvaṇa in war and take her back. Sītā was not convinced about the power and prowess of Hanūmān. He then increased his body in size so that his limbs grew into the size of a mountain, hands into that of trees, head into that of a mountain peak, tail into that of a river etc. His breathing became akin to a storm. Then he roared in such a manner that even the very ends of the world shook and the people of Laṅkā were awakened by it.

Sītā was now absolutely convinced of Hanūmān’s bona fides and faithfulness. She handed over to him her Cūḍāmaṇi (ornament worn on the head) to be given to Rāma and also told him the following three words of recognition so that Rāma might be all the more convinced.

(1) When Rāma first came to the garden near the palace in Mithilā I (Sītā) saw his reflection in the blue mirror in the veranda of my palace and the beauty of the reflection attracted me. I looked towards the garden to see the original of the reflection. Then he (Rāma) was looking down into the waters of the glass pond. He also saw my face reflected in the water and suddenly he looked at me. Our eyes met and in all shyness I hurried to and hid myself in the ladies' quarters.

(2) Before our wedding I sent him through a faithful maid, a love letter to which he gave me a suitable reply.

(3) After our wedding while we were living in Ayodhyā when one day I returned to our bedroom after a long chitchat with my younger sisters, my lord (Rāma) was lying on the cot in feigned sleep. Quietly I went up to him and kissed him on the lips. Because of the pressure on his lips and as my breast then touched his chest he pretended to have suddenly woken up and embraced me.

Having received thus from Sītā the Cūḍāmaṇi and these words of recognition Hanūmān took leave of Sītā and with her implied sanction went about to have a look at Laṅkā. At one place he heard Vibhīṣaṇa reciting Viṣṇu’s names. After wishing that this house of the devotee should turn into a royal abode he passed Vibhīṣaṇa’s house. Then he came to Rāvaṇa’s palace and gathered information about the Rākṣasa power. "Now I must see Rāvaṇa in person, let him know personally the fact of my visit and I would give him righteous advice"—with this object in view Hanūmān began destroying the garden. He drove away the Rākṣasas, who came to punish him and some of them were killed. At last Meghanāda (Indrajit) attacked Hanūmān. Hiding in the sky he shot the Brahmāstra against Hanūmān, who yielded to it. The Rākṣasas took Hanūmān captive to Rāvaṇa. He freed himself of the cords that bound him, extended his tail which he shaped into circles, one over the other so that the last one rose more in height than Rāvaṇa’s throne and seated himself on its top. Rāvaṇa and Hanūmān then began a conversation. Rāvaṇa, who got angry at the disrespect shown to him by Hanūmān, ordered the latter to be killed, but Vibhīṣaṇa opposed it saying that to kill emissaries and messengers was worse than killing one’s own mother. Finally Rāvaṇa ordered that Hanūmān’s tail be set fire to and he be insulted and humiliated.

Immediately Rākṣasas began to cover Hanūmān’s tail with clothes. But, ths tail began growing longer and longer with the result that no quantity of clothings sufficed to completely cover the ever-extending tail. At last the Rākṣasas poured oil over the tail and set fire to it. Then Hanūmān broke loose from captivity and jumped up into the air causing universal disaster by fire in Laṅkā. The fire did not affect the palace of Vibhīṣaṇa and also the platform around the Śiṃśapā tree where Sītā sat. After thus burning down Laṅkā Hanūmān extinguished the fire on his tail by dipping it in the ocean. Taking leave once again of Sītā, Hanūmān crossed the sea and reached Mahendragiri.

Rāma-Rāvaṇa war.

Śrī Rāma and Sugrīva, who received Hanūmān’s report about his visit to Laṅkā started for it with an army of monkeys. They camped on the shores of the south sea. Rāvaṇa held a meeting of his war council attended by his brothers and others. He expelled Vibhīṣaṇa, who opposed war and advised his brother to return Sītā to Rāma and to apologise to him. Vibhīṣaṇa quitted Laṅkā and took refuge with Rāma.

Rāma and others, who had assembled on the sea-shore decided to build a bund to Laṅkā. The first thing Rāma did, for the successful conclusion of the expedition, was to install a Śivaliṅga at Rāmeśvara. (See under Rāmeśvara). Then he prayed to Varuṇadeva for a passage across the sea. But, Varuṇa did not present himself and Śrī Rāma, angry with him, shot the āgneya (fiery) arrow into the heart of the sea when Varuṇa appeared, saluted him and advised him to build a bund across the sea. As a reward for Varuṇa Śrī Rāma, as requested by the former, killed with one arrow all the Rākṣasas, who lived in Gāndhāra island on the north-western shore of the ocean. Varuṇa returned to his abode. The construction of the bund was begun under the leadership of Sugrīva with Nala as chief planner and Nīla as his co-planner. Jāmbavān and Hanūmān functioned as supervisors and other monkeys as workers. Mountains, hills, rocks etc. were brought from various quarters and the construction of the bund was begun.

Meanwhile, Rāvaṇa sent a great magician called Marutta disguised as King Janaka to Sītā to convert her to the side of Rāvaṇa. But, the attempt failed. Rāvaṇa then sent his two expert spies, Śuka and Sāraṇa disguised as monkeys to Rāma’s camp. Jāmbavān and Hanūmān captured and brought them before Sugrīva. Weepingly they both sought refuge in Rāma, who set them free. They returned to Laṅkā and reported matters to Rāvaṇa, who felt a desire to have a look at Rāma for which purpose he, with his attendants, climbed to the top of the northern tower. Rāma, who knew about it by his spies climbed the heights of Subela mountain whence he stared at Rāvaṇa. Their eyes met in anger seeing which Sugrīva by one leap reached Rāvaṇa and kicked off to Rāma the crown from the central head of Rāvaṇa. After performing something like a destructive dance on Rāvaṇa’s head Sugrīva by another leap returned to Rāma.

Full of disappointment Rāvaṇa returned to his palace. His father-in-law, Mālyavān, tried his best to dissuade Rāvaṇa from war, all to no purpose. Rāma sent an emissary to him to ask him to send Sītā back. Rāvaṇa declined to oblige, and immediately war began. During the first day of the war, the majority of the Rākṣasas including their great leaders like Mahābāhu, Mahāpārśva, Mahodara, Mahākāya etc were killed. On the second day the Rākṣasa army under the command of Atikāya, son of Rāvaṇa, set out from the northern tower to fight. Lakṣmaṇa killed Atikāya with Brahmāstra. The other two Rākṣasa-commanders were Triśiras and Meghanāda. Lakṣmaṇa encountered them. When the latter failed to win by righteous fighting he resorted to cunningness. That too did not bring victory to him, and then he hid himself in the sky and shot the nāgāstra given to him by Śiva against the enemy. That arrow rendered Lakṣmaṇa, Sugrīva and all the monkeys unconscious. At that time Vibhīṣaṇa was away to arrange for food.

When Vibhīṣaṇa returned with food he was taken aback to find Lakṣmaṇa and others lying in an unconscious condition. Rāma was informed about the matter and when he came to the battle-ground and saw Lakṣmaṇa, Sugrīva, Hanūmān and all the others lying there unconscious he lost self-confidence for a short while and remarked that it was all the result of his having put faith in Vibhīṣaṇa, Rāvaṇa’s brother whom he had put in charge of the battlefield. This comment of Rāma pained Vibhīṣaṇa much; but Śrī Rāma soon treated him kindly.

Even the Devas who witnessed the scene were alarmed. But Rāma sat there for sometime immersed in meditation and then a light emerged from his right eye, shot towards the north and disappeared in the horizon. At once Garuḍa appeared on the scene from the west and removed with his beak the nāgāstra from Lakṣmaṇa’s body. Lakṣmaṇa jumped up from his unconscious state; Sugrīva and others also regained consciousness. In the fighting that followed all the Rākṣasa leaders were killed. It was Hanūmān, who killed Kumbhakarṇa. At the time of his death Kumbhakarṇa made a last request to Rāma, i. e. his head should be cut off and thrown into the sea as otherwise the Rākṣasas would laught at him to see the head from which the ears have been bitten off by monkeys. Accordingly Rāma got Hanūmān to throw Kumbhakarṇa’s head into the sea.

Then Śrī Rāma told Lakṣmaṇa thus: Today I shall fight Indrajit. The war shall not continue yet further. Today Indrajit and tomorrow Rāvaṇa should be killed and the next day we will return to Ayodhyā. Lakṣmaṇa answered:—"I shall fight Indrajit. I have told Vibhīṣaṇa that I will kill Indrajit within three days."

With Śrī Rāma’s blessings Lakṣmaṇa began fighting again. Indrajit shot Nārāyaṇāstra which attracted by the 'seven-letter-Mantra' (Namo Nārāyaṇāya) of Lakṣmaṇa circled him thrice and entered his quiver. The Rākṣasa minister called Mahodara converted his elephant into Airāvata and himself changed into Devendra and encountered Lakṣmaṇa. Saying that he had no quarrel with Indra and would not fight him Lakṣmaṇa put down his bow, and Indrajit, exploiting the situation shot Brahmāstra against Lakṣmaṇa under cover of the clouds. Lakṣmaṇa, Sugrīva and others fainted. Then Śrī Rāma was in the army-camp, worshipping weapons to render them more powerful. Rāma returned to the battle-ground to find Lakṣmaṇa and others in life-less condition and crying like a mere ignorant fellow he lay by the side of Lakṣmaṇa. Vibhīṣaṇa, who returned with food prayed for the grace of Devas. Indra appeared, gave to Vibhīṣaṇa Gaṅgā water in a golden vessel and asked it to be given to Hanūmān and Jāmbavān, who, though unconscious were not dead.

Vibhīṣaṇa did so and both Hanūmān and Jāmbavān regained consciousness. Jāmbavān told Hanūmān that if mṛtasañjīvinī (herbal medicine which will put life back into the dead) were brought from the distant Himālayas before dawn the next day all the dead ones like Lakṣmaṇa and Sugrīva could be brought back to life. (See under Mṛtasañjīvinī). Accordingly Hanūmān started for the Himālayas. Meanwhile Indrajit had told Rāvaṇa about his victory, and as suggested by the latter Rākṣasa women took Sītā to the battlefield in the Puṣpaka Vimāna, showed her Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and others lying there in a life-less condition and told her that all of them were dead. Sītā wept aloud, but Trijaṭā consoled her by saying that the Puṣpaka Vimāna would not carry widows and therefore Rāma was not dead.

Hanūmān returned before dawn the next day. As he could not distinguish mṛtasañjīvinī he had brought with him a mountain peak where the four medicinal plants, Śalyaharaṇī, Viśalyakaraṇī, Sandhānakaraṇī and Mṛtasañjīvinī grew. Jāmbavān distinguished mṛtasañjīvinī from the others and carried the four herbs into the battlefield. Contact with the air, which carried the smell of mṛtasañjīvinī brought the dead back to life. Viśalyakaraṇī removed all the arrows from their bodies and Sandhānakaraṇī healed the wounds.

Lakṣmaṇa again went out to fight Indrajit. Reluctant to fight with the former, Indrajit resorted to a new magical trick. He created an artificial or illusory Sītā and with her seated in a chariot he rose up in the sky and said as follows: "Rāvaṇa has abandoned Sītā who brings about humiliation to the Rākṣasas and ruin to Laṅkā. So, I cut her to pieces." So saying he cut into two, by one stroke of his sword, Sītā, who cried Oh! my lord! oh! brother." Blood fell on the battlefield and Indrajit disappeared. Though Rāma and others were alarmed by all these, Vibhīṣaṇa explained that it was all the magic of the Rākṣasas, and in the fierce fighting that followed Lakṣmaṇa killed Indrajit. By now all the important and prominent Rākṣasas were killed. At last Rāvaṇa himself entered the battlefield. His first encounter was with Lakṣmaṇa. Then the fighting turned into one between Rāma and Rāvaṇa. The former broke the bow of Rāvaṇa and did not want to fight with the weaponless Rākṣasa King. Next day Rāvaṇa brought Pātāla Rāvaṇa and Kumbhodara to Laṅkā. Both of them entered Rāma’s camp during night, but Pātāla Rāvaṇa, who realised that nothing could be achieved there returned to Pātāla with Kumbhodara. He built a tunnel from Pātāla upwards to earth, where in the fort created by Hanūmān’s tail twisted in a circle lay Śrī Rāma and others. The tunnel opened into this 'fort', and Pātāla Rāvaṇa and his brother made Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa unconscious by making them inhale sammohana medicine and carried them off into Pātāla. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were laid in the court-yard of a Kālī temple to be sacrificed to Mahākālī the very same night. Arrangements for the sacrifice were completed.

Hanūmān had been frequently looking inside the fort. As soon as the absence of Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa was noticed, Sugrīva and others, under the leadership of Vibhīṣaṇa reached the Kālī temple through the tunnel. In the fighting that followed Hanūmān killed Pātāla Rāvaṇa and Aṅgada killed Mahodara. The only son of Pātāla Rāvaṇa, Sumālī, was crowned King of Pātāla. Rāvaṇa entered the field again against Rāma. Rāma shot the Mahendra arrow against Rāvaṇa. The arrow, which represented in itself the effulgence of Mahendra, the hardness of diamonds, the intensity of fire and Viṣṇu’s glow cut off the ten heads of Rāvaṇa. His physical body fell on earth and his spirit ascended to heaven.


Rāma and others, who were pleased with the turn of events, crowned Vibhīṣaṇa King of Laṅkā. Trijaṭā was put in charge of dressing Sītā in new clothes. Apsarās appeared on the scene. Śacīdevī presented to Sītā a chain, Urvaśī an ornament for the head, Menakā, two bangles, Rambhā a waist-let, Tilottamā a set of chains for the feet, and Anasūyā, wife of Atri, a Cūḍāmaṇi. When she wore all these ornaments Sītā appeared to be equal to Lakṣmīdevī in grandeur and charm. She was brought in a palanquin to Śrī Rāma by Vibhīṣaṇa and others. Rāma was taken aback by the glamorous dress, ornaments etc. of Śītā, and immediately a suspicion arose in his mind, and he kept mum after asking Lakṣmaṇa to do whatever Sītā wanted. As soon as she heard those words of Rāma, Sītā asked Lakṣmaṇa to light a funeral pyre saying that the woman suspected by her husband should not live and so she (Sītā) would quit her life in the very presence of Rāma.

Lakṣmaṇa cast a pathetic look at Rāma; but his face exhibited no change of feeling. He granted Sītā’s request by his silence. Those present there awaited developments with bated breath. Lakṣmaṇa, with the help of the monkeys got a pyre ready. After going round Rāma with folded hands Sītā leapt into the glowing fire. Within a very short time three divine forms emerged from the fire, Svāhādevī, Sītādevī and God Agni.

His suspicions having thus vanished Rāma welcomed Sītā back and the next day they left for Ayodhyā in the Puṣpaka Vimāna. Vibhīṣaṇa, Sugrīva, Hanūmān and others followed them. After reaching Ayodhyā Rāma returned the Puṣpaka to Kubera. Bharata came back from Nandigrāma. In the presence of all relations and others concerned the coronation of Rāma as king took place. Bharata was appointed crown Prince, Lakṣmaṇa Commander-in-chief of armies and Śatrughna, Finance minister.

Sītā abandoned.

Under Rāma’s rule the country overflowed with milk and honey. Nobody had to fear anything from enemies. He made Sītā kill Sahasramukha Rāvaṇa. (For details see under Sahasramukharāvaṇa).

Śrī Rāma used to go about the country in disguise to enquire about the welfare of his subjects. On a particular dawn he happened to be standing outside the house of a washerman. The washerman scolded his wife, who had gone out of the house that night for something. He suspected that she had gone to meet her paramour. He bluntly told his wife that he was not prepared to act like Rāma, who had accepted Sītā, though she had lived with another person. Śrī Rāma, who heard the above talk, returned to his palace very sad. After thinking about for a long time he decided that it was his duty to abandon Sītā in the interests of his subjects. Then Sītā was in the seventh month of her pregnancy. She had on the previous day, expressed a desire to go to the forest areas once again. Rāma considered this as the most suitable opportunity to abandon Sītā in the forest and Lakṣmaṇa was entrusted with the matter. That day at Sun-rise Lakṣmaṇa took Sītā in a chariot to the suburbs of Vālmīki’s āśrama, abandoned her there and returned to the palace. (According to the Rāmāyaṇa written by Kamba, a Tamil author, it is said that Sītā was left in the suburbs of Gautama’s hut. There, Sītā who was pregnant was looked after by Ahalyā, the wife of Gautama.) Weeping aloud Sītā fell down. Young munis—Vālmīki’s disciples—saw her and took her to the āśrama. At the āśrama she delivered two sons, Kuśa and Lava.


After abandoning Sītā in the forests Rāma led a sad life for five years. Yet, he decided to perform an Aśvamedha yajña. As soon as Rāma thought of him, Hanūmān appeared and he was deputed to invite Vibhīṣaṇa, Sugrīva and others from Laṅkā and Kiṣkindhā and the feudatory princes and armies from other countries.

Sugrīva was put in charge of the armies, Vibhīṣaṇa in charge of finance, and central authority was vested in Lakṣmaṇa. Then the yājñic horse, accompanied by the army, was let loose to travel all over the country. Accompanied by cavalry, the elephant division, infantry and the chariot-force the horse went about the various kingdoms. The army, on its way back to Ayodhyā with presents collected from many kingdoms, encamped for rest near Vālmīki’s āśrama when Kuśa and Lava tied the yājñic horse, which was strolling there unfettered. Consequent upon this action of Kuśa and Lava a fight broke out between them and the king’s army in which the latter got defeated. Even the arrows of Lakṣmaṇa failed to have any effect on the boys. The boys having not returned even though it had become very late in the evening, the āśramites went in search of them and it was only when they came to the scene of fighting did Lakṣmaṇa and others know who the boys really were.

During this period of time infants' death was very much on the increase in Ayodhyā. It was believed that such deaths increased when Śūdras did tapas, and to find out if any Śūdra was engaged in tapas Rāma flew over the Daṇḍaka forest where he found a Śūdra called Śambūka performing tapas hanging down from the branch of a tree with his head down. Rāma killed him and his spirit got salvation. Afterwards, appreciating the beauties of the forest Rāma came near Vālmīki’s āśrama where he and Sītā met face to face. Kuśa and Lava also came there and they noticed with surprise the change in appearance brought about in their mother and Rāma on their meeting each other. When they heard from Hanūmān the real facts about Rāma they withdrew their arrows and prostrated at the feet of Rāma.

Śrī Rāma then, with the consent of all and in accordance with his own desire, took back Sītā and returned with her to Ayodhyā. Lakṣmaṇa and others followed him. Kausalyā and others received Sītā most heartily. Śrī Rāma, who till then was having no wife, had made a golden image of Sītā for the purposes of the a vamedha. Now, since the real Sītā was with him the idol was an unnecessary thing. The Aśvamedhayajña went off very well.

The end.

Śrī Rāma’s reign became all the more prosperous. It was during this period that Rāma, as desired by the munis in the Yamunā plain, killed Lavaṇāsura, son of Madhu in the great city called Durga in the centre of the Madhu forest. (For details see under Lavaṇa). After Lavaṇa’s death, a sect of Gandharvas called Śailūṣas, who lived on the shores of the eastern sea, proved to be enemies of Ayodhyā. Śrī Rāma annihilated them also. Kaikeyī began getting jealous of the prosperity and happiness of Sītā. One day when Rāma had gone to hunt in the forest, Kaikeyī closely questioned Sītā over particulars in Laṅkā and prevailed upon her, overruling her unwillingness, to draw a picture of Rāvaṇa. Sītā drew on a piece of 'sitting-plank' Rāvaṇa’s figure with the ten heads. Kaikeyī took away the picture on the pretext of exhibiting it in the ladies' quarters, and gave it to Rāma, when he returned from hunting, to sit on at the time of Pūjā (worship). Rāma got angry to find Rāvaṇa’s picture drawn on the 'sitting plank'. Kaikeyī then told him that it was Sītā, who had drawn the picture and also that she usually praised Laṅkā and Rāvaṇa. Rāma pronounced the death penalty on Sītā for having drawn Rāvaṇa’s picture. The inmates of the palace shuddered to hear the judgement. When Lakṣmaṇa seated Sītā on the floor to kill her, Bhūmidevī (earth) rent itself open into two and carried her off through the opening.

Śrī Rāma grew sadder and sadder following the disappearance of Sītā. Ill omens began to appear in Ayodhyā in increasing measure. One day a divine Ṛṣi whom the people of Ayodhyā had not seen till then, came to Rāma’s palace. He told Rāma that he had to impart certain secrets to the latter and after making Rāma vow that no one would enter the room while they were conversing and that if any one did come when they were talking, he should either be killed or forsaken for ever, he began to talk with Rāma in a secluded spot. Rāma posted Lakṣmaṇa at the entrance with the strict injunctions that nobody should come into their presence. Within a short time great munis like Sanaka came there and told Lakṣmaṇa that they wanted to see Rāma. They were not prepared to wait even for a short time as requested by Lakṣmaṇa, but threatened ruin to the royal family. Lakṣmaṇa then, was prepared to suffer the consequence, and went to Rāma and told him about the arrival of Sanaka and others. Rāma, in keeping with his vow, banished Lakṣmaṇa immediately. But, when Rāma came out and looked for Sanaka and others no one was to be found anywhere there. When he returned to the inner apartment the Ṛṣi also was not to be seen. In fact they were Kāla and his emissaries deputed by Brahmā to recall Rāma as the object of his incarnation was already achieved.

Rāma, who had already been suffering mental agony on account of Sītā’s departure, lost all peace of mind as Lakṣmaṇa’s banishment followed Sītā’s departure. He decided to put an end to his life for which purpose he went to the river Sarayū. All the dependants followed him. While the great mass of people who thronged both the banks of the river burst out into weeping Śrī Rāma and his followers drowned themselves in the waters of the Sarayū, and their spirits attained Vaikuṇṭha. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Kamba Rāmāyaṇa and Tulasīdāsa Rāmāyaṇa).

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