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Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda in Prose Sarga 24

 

Rama perceives good omens of victory, but to safeguard Seetha he sends her away with Lakshmana to take shelter in a mountain's cave till the war is over. Then he adopts a furious nature to annihilate demons. Gods and divinities watch from heavens as to how a war can occur between one against fourteen thousand demons.

 

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While fiercely valorous Khara proceeded towards Rama's hermitage, Rama along with his brother Lakshmana has indeed seen the very same auguries which have earlier appeared to Khara. On looking at those very gruesomely bad omens, and perceiving them to be unpropitious to people, Rama spoke this sentence to Lakshmana. 

"Oh, dextrous Lakshmana, for the complete elimination of all the demons these great indications have arisen, as though betokening the annihilation of all beings. See them. On their part these clouds are hovering on the sky with stark reddish-grey tint, thunderously braying and copiously showering streams of blood. All my arrows too are incensed to fuming in an ecstasy towards a war, and dorsally gold-plated bows of mine are incessantly spurring to hook up those arrows, telling apart the impeding conflict. 

"Judging by the kind of wild birds that are shrieking here, danger is up ahead and coming upon us, along with uncertainty of our lives. This right hand of mine is indicating by its repeated throbbing that a critical and riotous conflict is going to occur, no doubt, but oh brave one, our victory and defeat to the enemies are also in vicinity, and for sure, your face is also appearing brightish and aglow, which itself is a good omen. 

"If the faces of those that are poised for a conflict loose lustre, deem that the death is looming large on their longevity too. 

"This nasty noise which we hear pertains to the uproar of demons, and even to the drumming of war drums by the demons of fiendish activities, and this is ear-splitting. 

"Preventive measures are to be effectuated for any imminent situation by any well-wishing person, or by a person with misgivings about a danger, or by a person of talent. 

The meaning can otherwise be rendered as: 'If any misgivings are caused by an imminent danger a well-wisher and intellectual person shall effectuate preventive measures...' but this becomes more self-centred and cannot become a maxim or axiom.

"Hence, wield your bow, keep arrows ready at hand, and taking Vaidehi with you seek shelter in a impassable cave of a mountain overgrown with trees. I wish you to gainsay me for this word of mine, my boy, have honour on my feet and be gone not before long. 

"You are a stalwart, a forceful one, and for sure you can eliminate them all, it is doubtless, but I long to eliminate all of the nightwalkers, personally" Rama said thus to Lakshmana. When Rama said to him that way, Lakshmana picked up his bow and arrows, and together with Seetha he took shelter in an unreachable cave. 

This episode of sending away Seetha and Lakshmana has got three reasons in the complex of She-He-Me. 1] One is that this Seetha is to be sent away from that prospective battlefield, because Seetha is untrained for warfare like Rama's third mother Kaikeyi. Secondly, whenever Seetha is present we see no killings or slayings in Ramayana, because she, as Goddess Lakshmi, condones any sinner and accords salvation. As such, there may be a probability of not only hindering war, but there may be her blessing to every demon with a free passage to heaven, of which Rama becomes a helpless onlooker. 2] Second reason is that this Lakshmana is intolerant of any assault on his brother or sister-in-law and colloids head-on with the aggressors, which may lead Lakshmana up to Lanka to confront even Ravana. That being the snakily aggressive nature of Lakshmana, Rama bids him to go away before any happening, or any further dialogue is given to Lakshmana. 3] Third is that Rama is the first one to promise the sages and saints to eradicate demons for himself, for which Seetha nags him not to wage a causeless war. Therefore, if Rama is going to hide in any cave camouflaged by trees along with Seetha, and Lakshmana goes on warring, the very character of Rama is at stake. Thus, as promised to sages and saints Rama alone wanted to trigger off the elimination process of demons. That is why Rama breathes fresh air saying "good riddance" in next verse.

On Lakshmana's entering into cave along with Seetha, Rama said to himself, "thank goodness, it is a good-idea!" and thus saying he donned his shield. 

Well bedecked in a shield that has fire-like brilliance that Rama shone forth like a fumeless conflagration up-shot in utter darkness. On raising his imposing bow and drawing arrows, that valorous Rama firmed up and stood there, filling all the directions with the tinny sounds of bowstring. 

Gods with gandharva-s and great-souled siddha-s along with carana-s have then met one another and came there aspiring to see the war. The great-souled sages and those that are known in worlds as eminent Brahma-sages, on their coming together those beings of pious exploits spoke to one another, among themselves. "Let good betide cows, Brahmans and those people that are abiding in all the worlds. Raghava shall be victorious in the war over the clansmen of Sage Paulastya, the nightwalkers." Thus they talked among themselves. 

Thus speaking they also well-said again, looking at each other "the demons of fiendish deeds are fourteen thousand in number and this virtue-souled Rama is solitary... what would be the result of this war!" Thus the sages discussed among themselves. Thus the assemblages of kingly-sages, siddha-s and the eminent Brahmans, along with gods that are staying in their aircrafts, tarried there in the firmament peering inquisitively at Rama. 

Immured in an aura of invincibility Rama is standing up to the war in its vanguard, and then on seeing at him all beings went into the throes of dread. That nonesuch aspect of Rama whose deeds are unharmful to any, has become the aspect of wrathful supreme-souled Rudra. 

The wrathful aspect of Rudra at the time of era ending has chanced on Rama to start the elimination of demonic clan and this is as observed by caaraNaa-s in firmament. caaraNaa-s are those divine beings that journey in heavens in their auspicious paths. Hanuma while jumping the ocean to Lanka treads the path of caaraNaa-s because their footpath is so auspicious. For this skaanda puraaNa has something to tell: rudra tejo vilasitam dv rma kalebaram | sakham cakra lam ca pinkam kheam eva ca | khavm ca ghanm amaru ba pa ankuam tath | cpam vajram khagam ca paraum trsa kraam | jaya riyam ca gangm ca dadu siddha cra | skndda pura According to Maheshvara Tiirtha.

While gods, gandharva-s, carana-s are conversing thus, then they have seen there the legions of the demons arriving from all over with boisterous noises, spouting cries of bravo, handling their grisly skins, shields, weaponry and war-flags, and onrushing at each other in disarray. With brassy twanging of bows, with the drumming of war drums, and even by their jumping, leaping and bouncing that area is filled with very loud and clamorous noise.

When highly brutish cacophony of demons started to fill the forest, that jangling even panicked the brutes ranging in that forest, and those beasts dashed off to other places where silence prevailed, without looking back. 

And that foolhardy army of demons which in simile is like an unnavigable ocean steered towards Rama handling many assault weapons.

 Casting his sight all-over even that war-expert Rama has seen that army of Khara lunging at a conflict. Rama stretched his awesome bow to examine the taut of bowstring, and even whipped arrows out of quiver, and then adopted a mask of extreme wrath to eliminate all the demons. 

Rama has no built-in feature of ire or wrath. He has to whip it up at times to show divine fury as a mask. From the start Vishnu is changing get-ups and when Milky Ocean was churned, He became Mohini, and from then on his role-play is continuous in al the incarnations. As said in Bala Kanda 1-1-18: kaalaagni sadR^ishaH krodhe 'resembles like fierce fire in anger...' thus it is a resemblance, not an actuality, even that is unbearable for a glance. atha yuddha samudyata ytudhnnidhnya satvaram udagra kopam viasya pracaa anila dodhyamna jvlkalpa yugnta anala kalpasya sakala jana duprekyasya - - dharmktam Even now, on seeing Rama's unsightly aspect, should these demons fall prostrate before him, there would no loss to their lives. But Khara, as his name itself indicates that he has an asinine mentality, will not yield.

And when he is enraged and blazing he became frightful-looking like the blazing Fire at the end of era, and on seeing such a Rama when he is pervaded with conflagration like anger, the pastoral deities are very much annoyed. 

The all-pacific aspect of that Rama then in his exasperation appeared to be like that of the all-ruinous Rudra, the wielder of bow called Pinaki, namely peaceful Shiva when enraged, at the time of Rudra's embarking on to ruin the Vedic ritual of Daksha Prajaapati. 

That army of raw-flesh eaters with their bows, embellishments, and chariots, and also with their armours, all glittering with the dazzle of flaming fire, varied into a sky-blue coloured cluster of clouds on which the dazzling sunrays will be glittering at the dawning of the sun. 

The metaphor of cloud-clusters with the demons is to explain that the clouds will evaporate on the advent of fire-like sun at his dawn or rising of Rama to war. The night-walking demons have their powers increased in evening times and dwindled in morning. Thus their fire-like armours will cease to exist when the real Sun's fire [or fire of Rama's arrows] starts to flame, their bows cease to exits if the rainbow-giver comes in, and their flagging ensigns will cease with the ensigncy of raising sun in sky, and ill becomes of them, the evil-doers, after a short while.

 

 

Thus, this is the 24th chapter in Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India. 

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2002, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : June 04]