Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Shurpanakha 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 Śūrpaṇakhā

Rāvaṇa’s sister.

1) Viśravas, son of Brahmā and Kaikasī daughter of Sumālī lived in the forest called Sleṣmātaka. Once Kaikasī had a sexual union with Viśravas at an untimely hour. As a result of this union, Kaikasī gave birth to four children at intervals of one Yāma each. These children were, Rāvaṇa, Kumbhakarṇa, Vibhīṣaṇa and Śūrpaṇakhā. (Kamba Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa).

Domestic Life.

Śūrpaṇakhā was married to the Rākṣasa, Vidyujjihva. The son who was born to the couple was named Śambhukumāra.

The Kālakeyas were the brothers of Vidyujjihva. At the time of Rāvaṇa’s return after his triumphal march, a battle took place between him and the Kālakeyas. The Kālakeyas fell under the sword of Rāvaṇa. Enraged at the death of his brothers, Vidyujjihva encountered Rāvaṇa. In the battle that followed, Vidyujjihva was killed. On hearing about her husband’s death, Śūrpaṇakhā went to Rāvaṇa wailing and lamenting. Moved to pity at the sight of her tears, Rāvaṇa said:— "Dear Sister! You may travel through the three worlds and accept any man you like as your husband. Is there any one who would not wish to become my relative? Go and marry a husband suited to you. If any one turns down your proposal, just inform me. I shall come and make him your husband."

Śūrpaṇakhā was pleased. She at once started going round the three worlds with Khara, Dūṣaṇa and Triśiras. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa; Kambarāmāyaṇa, Araṇya Kāṇḍa).

Before Lakṣmaṇa.

Śūrpaṇakhā’s son, Śambhukumāra was performing tapas to Śiva in Daṇḍakāraṇya. It was at this time that Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa arrived in the forest, accompanied by Sītā. They reached the place called Pañcavaṭī in Daṇḍakāraṇya. Śrī Rāma wished to set up his hermitage in the middle of the five "vaṭa" trees in Pañcavaṭī.

At the very sight of Sītā, Śambhukumāra fell in love with her. He stood there in the form of a tree. While building the hermitage, Lakṣmana felled that tree and thus Śambhukumāra was killed. (See under Śambhukumāra).

The widowed Śūrpaṇakhā, in her search for a suitable husband happened to reach and settle down at the southern border of Daṇḍakāraṇya. She had failed in her search so far.

It was at this stage that she came to know of Śrī Rāma and his party. She disguised herself as Lalitā and entered Śrī Rāma’s āsrama. The sight of Śrī Rāma made her a victim to carnal passion. She submitted her desire to him, but he turned down her prayer. The disappointed Śūrpaṇakhā left the āśrama at once. But she appeared again in front of Sītā. Feeling that so long as Sītā was alive, Śrī Rāma would not be prepared to court her, Śūrpaṇakhā rushed furiously at Sītā.

Lakṣmaṇa who was watching the whole scene, suddenly rushed to the spot and pushed her out of the āśrama. He cut off her ears, nose and breasts.

Śūrpaṇakhā, bleeding profusely from her mutilation, hastened to her brother Rāvaṇa to inform him of the calamity. In obedience to Rāvaṇa’s command, Khara, Dūṣaṇa and others who came and encountered Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, were also slain in the battle. (Kamba Rāmāyaṇa, Araṇya Kāṇḍa).

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