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Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda in Prose
Sarga 4

Rama and Lakshmana come to know about the curse of Viradha. Viradha desires to die in the hands of Rama according to the amendment given by the cursing authority, and thus he will be killed and relieved of his curse by Rama.  At the time of release from his curse, Viradha advises Rama to go to Sage Sharabhanga, who can advise Rama properly. It is said whenever a superior being is approached, he shall not be neared empty-handedly. So elimination of Viradha, first act of Rama to safeguard the diinajana parirakshana in Dandaka forests, is the gift that Rama takes to the Sage Sharabhanga, in next chapter. This is not a separate chapter in Baroda edition. But in Gorakhpur and Eastern versions it is a separate one.

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On seeing them the scions of Kakutstha, Rama and Lakshmana, being carried off, the best of Raghu dynasty, Seetha screamed in a high-pitched voice on Viradha's grabbing away those two great-shouldered ones... Seetha said, "He, that Rama of Dasharatha... the truth-abiding, virtuous, and a pure one, is carried off by the demon who is ferocious in his look, along with Lakshmana... Wild bears, tigers and panthers aspire to eat me away... Hail, great demon...thieve me instead...  release Kakustha-s..."

On hearing Vaidehi's that utterance, Rama and Lakshmana, the valorous ones, readily started in taking measures to kill that evil-minded demon. That ferocious one's left arm is verily severed by Soumitri while Rama rent the right arm of that demon.

He, that demon with his arms destroyed is despaired and quickly fell-down onto the ground swooning, and that dark-cloud like demon is like the mountain demolished by the Vajra, the Thunderbolt of Lord Indra... With their fists, hands and feet, they battered that demon, and also even heaving him again and again on the ground, they entirely pounded on him.

He is sheared by many arrows, two swords and though pounded entirely in many ways on the ground, that demon is not killed. On seeing him, that infeasible and un-eliminable, mountain-similar demon, the sublime Rama and the bestower of shelter in fear, spoke this sentence to Lakshmana...

"Oh! Manly-tiger Lakshmana, this demon is impossible to be overpowered by weapons in a war... hence we bury the demon... For this elephantine and ferocious demon... Lakshmana,  in this forest, an elephantine pit of very great depth be dug, for this reprobate demon...

Rama, saying thus to Lakshmana that 'A trench shall be dug...' then invasively placed his foot on the throat of Viradha, and that valiant one stood there, awaiting the dig of the grave.

On hearing that said by Raghava, that demon Viradha spoke well this way in humble words to Rama, the finest one from Kakustha dynasty... "Dead I am, oh! Manly-tiger and verily equalling Lord Indra in your strength... fallacious I am... to not to know you earlier, oh! Best among men... Kausalya's well-born one, oh Rama, sire, you are now known by me, Seetha also, the propitious one, and Lakshmana, the great renowned one too... By curse, I entered this ghoulish demon's body, and I am a gandharva [celestial] named Tumburu and Lord Kubera cursed me verily...  When entreated by me, he that great renowned  Lord Kubera said to me, 'When Dasharatha's Rama kills you in a fight...  then you will attain your nature of celestial body, and go to heavens...' thus cursing me for not presenting myself in the service of King Kubera, to me he, that Lord Kubera said in anger... Thus said by King Vaishrana, namely Lord Kubera, who cursed me when I was interested in Rambha, and did not attend my duty... and by your grace... released I am from the curse, a hideous one indeed...

Comment: The celestial beings are called sura and their antagonists are a-sura. There are many sura beings living in heavens and netherworlds. To name a few, they are uraga, garuda, gandharva, kimpurusha, siddha, saadhya, vidyaadhara, chaaraNa, apsara, yaksha, guhyaka, bhuuta, khechara and the like. Of them gandharva-s are amiable beings for their expertise in performing arts. The apsara beings are the divine courtesans and among them are four apsara beings of high order. They are Rambha, Urvashi, Menaka and Tilottama. These four are instrumental to Lord Indra, to incite and allure sages from their austere penance, lest they may win over the Lordship on heavens from Lord Indra. The present gandharva, namely Tumburu, in his courting with Rambha had belated his services to Lord Kubera, the Chief Divinity for Wealth Management. Hence Lord Kubera cursed this gandharva to become the demon called Viradha, but yet this Tumburu alias Viradha is the devotee of Goddess Lakshmi. The antagonists of sura are a-sura beings and all sorts of demons, monsters, etc., come under this category and they are not devils or Satan's stooges, but they equal the capabilities of sura beings. Prof. Ranade observes that "Dr. R.G. Bhandarkar, in an important article in the B.Br.A.S. Journal makes the following interesting suggestion. The Sanskrit equivalent of the word demon viz., 'Asurya' may here refer to the 'Assyrian' country. 'Assyrian and 'Asuryan' being philologically identical, the 'y' and the 'u' being interchangeable as in Greek..."

"To the heavens of mine I wish to go... Be safe ye all! Oh! The Firestorm of the enemies... Here dwells the virtuous and efficacious Sage Sharabhanga... At one and half yojana-s of distance from here dwells that sage, Sire, and he is a great saint and sun like in his radiance, and you reach him quickly for he advises you opportunely...

"Thus bury me well in a pit Rama, and you go safely, for those demons whose vitality is lost... this is the age-old custom... Those that are inhumed in pit, to them there will be the worlds of manes..." and thus saying to Rama, that Viradha who is hurt by arrows... he became heaven-worthy on leaving his body, and Raghava on hearing those words of the demon, verily ordered Lakshmana...

"For this elephantine and ferocious demon... Lakshmana, for him in this forest, an elephantine pit of very great depth be dug, for this reprobate demon... " Rama, saying thus to Lakshmana that 'a grave shall be dug,' then invasively placed his foot on the throat of Viradha, and that valiant one stood there, awaiting the dig of the grave.

Then taking a digging tool, Lakshmana, the great soul, dug a profound pit beside Viradha, where his body is lain on the ground under Rama's foot... Releasing his throat from his trample, Rama raised that long eared, lurid voiced Viradha, and ensconced him into the pit... that blaring one with his horrific voice...

In war with him, those deftly victorious ones, Rama and Lakshmana composing themselves in that fight, gladly hurled that terrifying and blaring demon, raising him with all their might, into the pit...

On seeing that great demon unkillable by any sharp weapon thus, those best men...and also noticing that he be killed in a trench, those two expertly skilled ones, done the killing of Viradha in a pit righteously... Viradha himself preferred his death and desired for a long to be killed by Rama and that forest walker himself appraised that, "I shall not be killed by wielding any weapon, and thus it will be..." Rama listening to that alone spoken by Viradha, resolved in mind to cast him into the pit and also when flinging that mighty demon into the pit the whole forest verily blared with demon's cries...

Happy in their look are Rama and Lakshmana on burying Viradha in the pit of the earth and they two are gladdened, for gone is the fear in that great forest. Within the pit they also heaped boulders to make it a burial-chamber to the departed celestial being.

Comment: Everywhere Rama patiently performs these funeral rites, whether it is demon, eagle or a monkey, if dead in his presence. Here also, Viradha's grave is covered with stones and boulders, as a kind of Stonehenge.

Then they two, taking their dazzling golden bows and Seetha also, verily journeyed in that great forests and gladdened are they, like the Sun and Moon subsisting in the skies.

Comment: The simile of sun and moon is of some importance. It will not be clear as to, who is compared with Sun and who with Moon, unless some ancient commentaries are touched. Rama is compared with Chandra, the Moon, because, Moon will not travel without his wives. All the celestial stars are the wives of the Moon, and they twinkle before the Moon's arrival, in order to welcome him into the night. Hence Rama is suffixed with Chandra, compounding to Sri Ramachandra. On the other hand, Sun does not travel along with his wife, namely Chaya, the Shadow, but she always will be at his hind. We the living beings are in between the Sun and his wife Chaya. If we face Sun in the morning times, she will be at our back, and in the evenings, when the Sun is at our back, Chaya, shadow will be in front of us, reminding us of our lengthening shadow of life. Thus we are in between the light and shadow. The Sun is also called karma saakshi, Witness of Deeds. Our own shadow, shortens with the ascending Sun and lengthens as the dusk of our day or life increases. Hence Sun's travel is wife-less one, and Lakshmana is thus compared with the Sun, for he does not have his wife travelling with him now. And Lakshmana is another karma saakshi Witness of Events in the Ramayana. In another way of commenting it is said that both of them are said to be moon-like in their appeasing personalities and sun-like in their radiant valour.

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Endnote

The episode of Viraadha assumes some importance in Hindu mythology. It may be observed that Viraadha drops down Seetha, lifts and carries Rama and Lakshmana far away from Seetha, where Rama and Lakshmana kill Viraadha. 

aadhytma rmaayana, which occurs in the 61st chapter of brahmaanmda puraana, also narrates this episode of viraadha but as a one to one fight, wherein Rama affronts and kills him straight. But in Valmiki Ramayana, Viraadha takes away Seetha first and then Rama and Lakshmana, too. A question arises as to why the demon should snatch Seetha away and later carry Rama and Lakshmana to a distant place from Seetha. It is part of the scheme that Rama kills no demon or sinner  in the presence of Seetha, including Ravana, for she is that benevolent one to all the sinners and pardons them if surrendered in faith at her feet, as an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Our concern here is with skaanda purana, a Shiva Puraana, wherein Viraadhas episode is explained and amplified.The skaanda puraana puts it thus: --

so'pi tm jnak dv ghra sajta vikrama |
iya par mah akti seya svargasya kraa
asy vibodho mokepi kraa bandhanepi ca |
tasmt im bhajiyami diy prpta hi daranam |
iti darana mtrea vimuktm augha pajara

bhakti yukto jarahra ea st caitanya rpi|

On seeing Seetha Viraaadha thought, "She is the Supreme goddess through whom heavens can be obtained by salvation and also release from the bondage of demons body On just seeing Her, relieved is this body cage, so with all my devotion, I steal Her." etc. Hence vi+raadha meant to be verily, devout, like Radha of Lord Krishna. When chased and hurt by Rama and Lakshmana, the demon releases Seetha, but carries both the brothers away. For this distancing Rama and Lakshmana from Seetha, it is said that Rama does not kill any demon in the presence of Seetha, for she graciously condones the mischief of the demons, if they are true devotees.

Again at the end of this Viraadha episode in skaanda puraana, phala shruti Fruit of Listening it is narrated as: --

yo virdha vadha nitya oti rvayeti v |

tasya ppni sarvi vinani na saaya ||

"Those that always listen or let listen, all their sins are absolved, undoubtedly  .. skaanda pauraana

 

Thus, this is the 4th chapter in Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana,the First Epic poem of India. 

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2001, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao