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Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda in Prose
Sarga 2

In this chapter a raakshasa named Viraadha confronts Rama. The killing of this Viraadha is the first act of Rama in eliminating negative forces in his empire to establish Rama Raajya. This killing is also a gift to Sage Sharabhanga, whom he meets later, as per the meaning of verse I-1-41 of Samkshepa Ramayana contained in Bala Kanda. Rama thus started to act freeing the saints and sages in forests, and the forests themselves, from the cruelties of raakshasa-s. Viraadha is a demon by curse and a devotee Goddess Lakshmi, now incarnate as Seetha. Hence this raakshasa wanted to own his goddess and hence lifts Seetha into his hands so as to abduct her away from Rama. But Rama and Lakshmana overpower and eliminate him, rescuing not only Seetha, but also other saints and sages living thereabout, in the course of his undertaking deena jana parirakshana, protection of people in misery.


Then, on receiving the hospitality in that hermitage for that day, and on the next day before sunrise, Rama bade farewell to all of the sages, and thus entered into forests.

Filled with very many animal herds, frequented by bears and tigers, and ruined are the trees, creepers and bushes, and unsightly are the water ponds... The birds are not singing... but chirp whistling are the swarms of crickets... and Rama followed by Lakshmana, has seen that midst of that forest...

Seetha alongside, there... where the horrendous animals are housed, Rama saw a demon, who is akin to a mountain-peak, a man-eater with his lurid face... Deep eyed, huge mouthed, horrible with a monstrous belly, hideously misshapen, and a very soaring one that demon is... ugly and horrendous for sight...

Wearing the skin of tiger, wetted with fat and dampened with blood, frightening to all beings, like the wide-open mouth of Death... Three lions, four tigers, two wolves, ten spotted deer, and a head of an elephant... a big one with tusks and which is fouled with fat...  skewered onto an iron spear are those dead animals and he that demon is verily yelling with his deafening voice, and on seeing Rama, Lakshmana and Maithili...

That demon ran towards them very angrily, like Time, the Eliminator of people, and he knelling tremulous blare, as though to tremor the earth... By arms seizing Vaidehi he that demon gone afar, and said, "You two, wearing jute cloths like hermits, but you are with wife... and rendered few are your lives, for you entered this forest... Entered are you in Dandaka forests, wielding arrows, bows and swords... and also living with a wife withal, how saintly are you?

Comment: This demon Viraadha, could not comprehend their identity prima facie. By their physique and carrying the bows and arrows, knives etc., they look like warriors. By their dress, hairdo, pendants etc., they look like sages. He has so far not seen a warring sage, like Bhargava Rama or Parashu Rama. These two men dressed like sages but look like warriors and are moving in the deadly forests with a wife. 'vi+raadha', means without, love, a loveless one and in another context it means that vi= verily, raadha= adoring, like Raadha of Lord Krishna. He is said to adore Goddess Lakshmi, before he is cursed to become a demon, and finding that goddess in Seetha, he lifts her into his arms, like a baby. This demon while admonishing Rama and Lakshmana for flaunting the sainthood, for they are moving with weapons and a wife, he narrates about himself in next verses.

"Dishonest are your ways and sinful too... who are you... you two... disparaging the sainthood, and I roam over in the forest, this one... and I am a demon named Viradha... And I roam about thus, always with weapons to eat the flesh of sages... and this woman, with her best pelvic, she becomes my wife... Of you two sinful ones... I will draught your blood in a war..."

Comment: Here in the verse/sloka Viraadha said that Seetha would become his 'bhaaryaa'. bhaarya would translate into a 'wife'. It is said that Viraadha is a devotee of Goddess Lakshmi and it is not congruous for a devotee to say like that. Here, aascharya ramayana, another treatise of Ramayana, defines bhaarya as: bhaa= luminous; aryaaH= adorable. Hence his word should mean, "this luminary is my adorable one." Further he handles Seetha like a baby, as in 3-2-16, she is said to be 'Viraadha anka gata', gone into the arm-fold of Viraadha. She is grabbed very quickly by the peevish ones, like Viraadha or Ravana, for she is Goddess Lakshmi, the presiding deity of wealth.

And to his speaking thus in bad intent, of that Viradha, the evil minded... and on listening those arrogant words, Seetha, the daughter of Janaka, trembled  in fear as a plantain tree would, in a whirlwind... On seeing at Seetha, the auspicious one, gone into the arms of Viraadha, Raghava spoke this sentence to Lakshmana, with his face fully turning to pale.

"Oh! Gentle Lakshmana, See! Emperor Janak's daughter and my wife and who is auspiciously traditional, entered into the arm-fold of Viraadha... Well grown up in immense comfort is that princess, Seetha, the illustrious one, but now suffering in the hands of a demon... and what that is desired for us to happen... a mishap, and that which is a concomitant of the boons of mother Kaikeyi...

"By Kaikeyi's boons and her desire for a mishap for us, is well effectuated quickly and today only, Lakshmana... for she is not happy with the kingdom for her son... a foresighted lady... By whom, a dear one for all beings, suchlike me is sent forth to forests... and today that  desire is fulfilled to my middle mother, Kaikeyi...

Comment: Kaikeya is not the middle queen mother to Rama. She is the third queen. Hence the word madhyama should mean, the third. In Maha Bhaarata, Arjuna is said to be Kuntii suta madhyama, where Arjuna is the third son of Kunti.

"Others touching Seetha... there is no higher grief than this  to me, Soumitri... than father's demise or grabbing away my kingdom, like that...

Comment: Here Rama says that 'my' kingdom is grabbed away, and now the grabbing away of Seetha is more painful, even somebody touching Seetha, the most. Rama did not loose heart to regain his kingdom. He underwent the course of what his father ordered and is definite of return to Ayodhya to rule back his empire. In the next canto Kishkindha, Vali the monkey hero questions Rama, as who he is to enter Kishkindha. To that Rama replies "All the Bharata Khanda, Bharata continent belongs to us, the Ikshwakus, and presently the emperor is Bharata, and hence on behalf of my emperor Bharata I slay you." There he is again confident of returning to capital after completing his exile. Hence claiming this kingdom as 'my' kingdom does not alter his status of emperor, though not now, but after the completion of exile, he is to become one. Again Rama weighed the agony in terms of his father's death and grabbing away of his kingdom. Raajya Lakshmi, Kingdom Wealth is nothing before his wife, Wealth of Fortune, i.e. Bhaagya Lakshmi. Hence Rama is more bothered about his fortune wife than the retrievable kingdom, or the death of an aged father.

On saying thus by Rama, whose tears of lament are over flooding, Lakshmana said, in his anger, hissing like a forestalled snake...

Comment: Such portrayal of Lakshmana as a fundamentally angry person like a hissing snake and sharp tongued one etc., are attributed in mythology to the serpentine character of aadi SheSa, the thousand headed serpent on which Lord Vishnu reclines. The mythological derivation is that Lakshmana is the incarnation of aadi SheSa while Bharata and Shatrughna are the incarnations of the conch shell and disc that adorn the two upper hands of Lord Vishnu.

"Why fretting like derelict, when you are the master for all the beings, and  insimilitude Lord Indra... and adherent by me, Oh! Rama, what for you worry yourself? By me, the enraged one... by my arrow, felled now is that demon Viradha, and gone are his lives and the earth drinks his blood... In desiring the kingdom, my anger that which is verily chanced on Bharata , and that anger will be well bolted on that Viradha, like Lord Indra releasing His Vajra weapon on a mountain... By my shoulders' strength speedily accelerated shall this superb arrow be... and falling on that giant chest to decamp life from his body, and then he shall fall onto the ground swirling... "  Thus spoke Lakshmana to Rama.


Dandaka aranya -Dandaka Forest

The forest Dandaka Forest wherein Rama is trekking is a dominion of their kingdom, but a deserted forest. One named Danda, the last son of Ikshvaaku, was performing all demonic activities in their kingdom. His father Ikshvaku received many a complaint about Danda’s deeds from his subjects, and angered at his erring son Danda and banishes him from the kingdom.

Danda took refuge in Vindhya mountain range and built a kingdom and a beautiful capital for himself called Madhumanta. He rubbed shoulders with all the demons thereabout and thus became a disciple of Sage Shukraachaarya, the guru of demons. One day when Sage Shukraachaarya is not in hermitage, Danda reaches there, and sees Araja, the elder daughter of the sage Shukra, and molests her, in spite of her repeated protests. Later when Sage Shukraachaarya comes to know about it, gets enraged and curses Danda, to fall down along with his entire kingdom under a mud storm around that Madhumanta capital for a period of seven consecutive days.

Then there is a mud storm for seven days and entire kingdom went under mud, later to become a forest called Dandaka. The place to where the curse fearing people fled from that Madhunata to further south is called Jansthaana. At later time, when Rama’s peregrination started, these two places,Dandaka forest and Janasthaana, are under the domain of Ravana, and Ravana made one demon named Khara, as the protector of this dominion Jansthaana.

This is the place where Rama built his hermitage Panchavati, at which Demoness Surpanakha arrives, and from where Ravana abducts Seetha. When Rama asks the forest dwelling sages for a quiet place to live on, the sages in Dandaka forest, will make Rama constantly move southward, till he reaches Janasthana, indirectly directing Rama to eradicates the demonic influence over these places, which once belonged to Rama’s kingdom.


Thus, this is the 2nd chapter in Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India. 

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© 2001, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao