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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 then 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, and his elimination of negative forces starts with the elimination of Viradha. 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, the 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 those two very dexterous scions of Kakutstha, and the best ones from Raghu dynasty, namely Rama and Lakshmana, grabbed and being carried off, Seetha screamed in a high-pitched voice.

"He that truth-abiding, virtuous, and the flawless Rama of Dasharatha is carried off along with Lakshmana by the demon with a ferocious look... wild bears, tigers and panthers aspire to eat me away... oh, best demon, thieve me instead and release Kakutstha-s... Hail to thee..." Said Seetha. 

On hearing Vaidehi's that utterance those valorous ones Rama and Lakshmana speedily busied themselves in eliminating that evil-minded demon Viradha. Soumitri indeed severed the left arm of that ferocious one, while Rama rent the right arm of that demon. When his arms are mutilated that demon similar to a dark-cloud is frustrated, fainted, and fell onto ground, like the mountain demolished by the Thunderbolt of Indra. They battered that demon with their fists, hands and feet, and even by heaving and hurling him again and again they entirely pounded on him on the ground. Though that demon is battered with many arrows, even sheared off with two swords, and even though he is entirely pounded on the ground he is not killed. 

On observing that the mountain-similar demon is ineradicable that easily, then Rama, the sublime one, and the bestower of shelter in fear, spoke this sentence to Lakshmana. 

"Oh! Manly-tiger Lakshmana, it is impossible to overpower this demon with weapons in a confrontation, hence, lets bury this demon... Lakshmana, a very deep pit be dug for this furious and ferocious reprobate in this forest, as though for an elephant..." On saying to Lakshmana that a trench shall be dug... then Rama repressively placed his foot on the throat of Viradha, and stood by. 

On hearing that said by Raghava, demon Viradha sincerely spoke these humble words to Rama, the finest one from Kakutstha dynasty. 

"Dead I am, oh! Manly-tiger and a coequal of Indra in your strength... I have fallaciously not identified you earlier... oh, best one among men... oh, sire, now I have known you to be Rama, the son of Kausalya... and even propitious Seetha and greatly renowned one Lakshmana are now known to me... By curse I had to enter this ghoulish demon's body, but I am a celestial gandharva, named Tumburu and Kubera cursed me... 

"When entreated by me, he that greatly renowned Kubera said to me, 'When Dasharatha's Rama kills you in a fight... then you will attain your nature of celestial body and you will go to heavens... King Kubera thus cursed angrily me for not presenting myself in his service when I was interested in a celestial dancer Rambha, and indeed he alone said this curse-clearance to me... And by your grace I am released from this utterly hideous cruse, and now I wish to go to my own heavenly abode, oh, firestorm of enemies, let safety betide you all... 

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 Indra, to incite and allure sages from their austere penance, lest they may win over the ship on heavens from Indra. The present gandharva, namely Tumburu, in his courting with Rambha had belated his services to Kubera, the Chief Divinity for Wealth Management. Hence 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..."

Oh, Sire, att one and half yojana-s of distance from here Sage Sharabhanga, a great saint of virtue, and an efficacious sage with sun-like resplendence dwells, you shall quickly approach him for he advises you opportunely... Rama you go safely on burying me in a pit... this is the age-old custom for those demons that lost vitality... those that are inhumed in pit, to them there will be the worlds of manes..." And on saying thus to Rama that Viradha who is hurt by arrows became heaven-worthy on leaving his body. 

And Raghava on hearing those words of the demon ordered Lakshmana, Lakshmana, a very deep pit be dug for this furious and ferocious reprobate in this forest, as though for an elephant... On saying to Lakshmana that a trench shall be dug... then Rama repressively placed his foot on the throat of Viradha, and stood by. Then, on taking a digging tool Lakshmana dug a deep pit beside the great soul Viradha. 

On releasing his throat from the stamping of Rama, he that long eared, lurid voiced Viradha is ensconced in that pit while he is still blaring with his horrific voice. 

Those deftly victorious ones Rama and Lakshmana who compose themselves in a given fight, both have gladly raised that Viradha, a ghoulish one in fight, a terrifying demon who is still blaring, with all their might and hurled him into the pit. 

On observing the indestructibility of that demon with any weapon, however sharp it might be, those two best ones among men that are very expertly skilled have thought over well and undertook the elimination of that great demon in a pit. 

Viradha himself preferred his death at the hands of Rama and desired for a long to be killed by Rama and that forest walker himself appraised that, "Killing me with any weapon is impossible..." 

On listening to that which is said by Viradha, Rama resolved his mind to cast him into pit, and when that mighty demon is being flung into the pit the whole forest blared with that demon's cries. 

Rama and Lakshmana felt happy by way of their look in burying Viradha in the pit of the earth, and on burying him they two felt rejoiced for gone is the fear in that great forest, and within the pit they have also concealed him with boulders in order to make it a burial-chamber to the departed soul. 

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 who have dazzling golden bows have eliminated that demon and retrieved Seetha, and they gladly journeyed on in that great forest like the two entities abiding on the skies, namely the Sun and Moon. 

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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The Episode of Viradha

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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 Viradha as a one to one fight, herein Rama affronts and kills him straight. But in Valmiki Ramayana, Viradha 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, in which Viradhas episode is explained detailedly. The skaanda puraana puts it as: 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 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 in skaanda puraana, at the end of this Viraaadha episode, the 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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1998, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised - March 04]