Chapter 8(b)
The Siege


ramagold.jpg (27175 bytes)Finding no means of escape, and overcome by affection for the brother, Kumbhakarna got ready. They placed cauldrons of toddy and mounds of meat before him, so that he might breakfast on them. Gulping the whole lot in a moment, Kumbhakarna proceeded to the battlefield. Seeing him enter the fray, Vibhishana, his younger brother, ran forward from Rama's camp and fell at his feet in humble reverence. Rising up, he announced himself by name. Kumbhakarna beamed in joy; he embraced his brother with loving tenderness. Vibhishana was the first to speak. He said, "Brother! Ravana insulted me in open court and kicked me out of the Audience Hall. I considered all aspects of this affair and counseled him in various ways. He discarded my advice and gave ear to power-mad foolish ministers; he hurled unbearable abuses on me, within the hearing of those persons. I could not suffer the shame of it. I surrendered to Rama, and, knowing that I was helpless and innocent, he accepted me and granted me refuge". At this, Kumbhakarna replied, "Well, Brother! The shadow of Death is already on Ravana. How then can he pay heed to good counsel? Surely, you have done well to fulfill the goal of your life. You are not Vibhishana now, you are Vibhushana (the shining jewel, the most splendid ornament) of the Rakshasa clan! You have ennobled and purified the clan by serving so ardently the very Ocean of Happiness, the Crown of the Raghu Dynasty, Rama. Go. Serve him with sincere zeal. Brother! I have to engage in battle regardless of the fate in store for me. I am also nearing Death. Ravana knows that my heart is not with him. I advise you to give up loyalty to this side or that, but, confine yourself to loyalty to Rama". Receiving this advice and the blessings of his brother, Vibhishana returned to the presence of Rama. He told Rama, "Lord! That mountain of a Rakshasa is Kumbhakarna; he is a ferociously brave fighter. He has come to engage you in battle". 

When the Vanaras heard these words, they were so angry that they spouted fire and leaped under the leadership of Hanuman on the enemy forces. They threw huge trees and enormous boulders at him. But, Kumbhakarna stood firm and unaffected. The Vanara attack was like hitting a mad elephant with an eyelash! Boiling with anger, Hanuman administered a mighty blow with his clenched fist and Kumbhakarna reeled. But, recovering soon he returned the blow, and felled him to the ground. Nala and Nela now joined the fight; they too could not withstand the might of Kumbhakarna. Fear seized the Vanara hordes. Sugriva and Angada had their share of the mighty Kumbhakarna's onslaught and they rolled on the ground. At last, Kumbhakarna squeezed Sugriva under his arm and carried him off the field. Kumbhakarna asserted that, by carrying the King off, he had vanquished the Vanara Army. [See also: SB, Canto 7, chapter 10:36,37]

Meanwhile, Hanuman regained awareness of the state of things; he found Sugriva was not around; so, he got anxious to discover his whereabouts. While being carried away, pressed under the arm of the mighty Kumbhakarna, Sugriva recovered consciousness and he tried his best to wriggle out of the hold. Hanuman found him engaged in this desperate bid and ran to render him help. However, Sugriva separated himself from his captor and started a valiant fight against him. He bit off the nose and ears of Kumbhakarna, and the monster had, as a consequence, enormous difficulty to breathe. Soon, a horde of Vanaras yelling "Victory to Rama" "Victory to our Master", surrounded Kumbhakarna and rained rocks, hills and trees on him. The infuriated demon leaped on the Vanaras and catching whomsoever he could lay his hands on, he crunched them and swallowed them. Many were crushed to death. Thus Kumbhakarna was able to scatter the Vanaras in panic. 

At this, Rama told Lakshmana and others that the time had come when he had to enter the field; his intercession could not be delayed any longer. "Lakhsmana! Bring that 'inexhaustible' arrow-sheath hither", He said. Bearing the command of Rama on his head, he brought the sheath immediately and placed it in his brother's hands. Armed with the Kodanda Bow, Rama walked into the battle area, like a lion towards its prey. Lakshmana, Sugriva, Hanuman and Jambuvan followed him. The arrows from Rama's bow flew fast like winged serpents straight at the foe. They spread all over the place and penetrated the four quarters. They destroyed millions of heroes and warriors in the enemy ranks. Unable to stand the onslaught of the arrows, the Rakshasas fled. The stream of arrows never got dry, every arrow that was shot returned back into the same sheath after inflicting the injury intended. Realizing that Rama was out to exterminate the Rakshasas forces, Kumbhakarna was terribly enraged; he roared like a wounded lion and jumped into the midst of the fray. The Vanaras were alarmed; they fled in fear. Finding that no other plan was feasible, Rama aimed an arrow at Kumbhakarna and sliced off his hands at the shoulders. At this, the monster shone like the Mandara Mountain, when its wings were sliced off by the Lord of Gods, Indra. He rushed towards Rama with a shriek. Rama drew the bowstring full behind the ear and let go a bunch of arrows under that struck with deadly force all over his face. Kumbhakarna reeled at the impact but did not fall. So, Rama shot another arrow which severed his head and felled it to the ground. When the head was sliced off, the trunk continued to run for some distance, and to prevent this movement, Rama shot another arrow which cut it in twain. 

Suddenly, a splendour arose from the body and advancing towards Rama merged in him. The Rakshasa attained liberation without performing any Sadhana or Japa (Recitation of Name) or Thapa (Austerity for Sense Control and Mind-Control). While alive, he shone like an incomparable hero on the battlefield; dead, he attained the highest state of Mergence with God. Rama stood on the field, with a sprinkling of sweat drops on his lotus face; his body revealed a few drops of Kumbhakarna's blood that had fallen on it during the fight. It was the hour of dusk; both armies had a fierce hot day of ferocious fight. So, they retired into their camps. The Grace bestowed by Rama reinforced the spirits of the Vanaras. Like fire fed by dry grass, the flame of their ardour rose high. 

The Rakshasas lost strength, night and day. Ravana bewailed inconsolably. He was a cobra that had lost its crest-jewel. Pressing his brother's severed head to his bosom, he wept aloud. Meghanada, his son, tried to soothe him in various ways; "Tomorrow I shall demonstrate before you my heroic might. I shall, in a trice, smash this Vanara horde out of shape. I shall confer on you joy immensely greater than the grief you are burdened with today", he boasted. Very soon, dawn broke. Ravana was informed by messengers that the bears and monkeys had surrounded the city. This drew the indomitable warriors among the Rakshasas into the struggle; they marched forth to meet the enemy. Each fought with whomsoever he encountered to the utmost of his skill and strength. The whole of that day, the fury was indescribably frightening. Meghanada ascended his magic chariot and rose into the sky. His challenging roar thundered like clouds in the doomsday sky. That roar felled the Vanaras to the ground, as if by a mighty blow. The earth shuddered at its echo. In a moment, he contrived a pseudo-Sita and, seating her in the chariot, he came down along the battlefield! Hanuman noticed this before every one else. And accosting him, Meghanada shouted, "Listen, Hanuman! This Sita, to recover whom, you are waging this war, I am killing her this moment. Look. With her death, this war must end", and, drawing his sword, he cut her to pieces and cast them away, Hanuman was plunged in vengeful rage; he called upon the Vanaras to fight on, with no thought of survival, and exterminate the Rakshasa brood. The Vanaras attacked them so ferociously that the Rakshasas fell back into the city. 

Hanuman approached Rama and reported to him the wicked deed performed by Meghanada. As soon as he heard the news, Rama pretended to be affected by it; he was not unaware of the fact that it was a pseudo-Sita contrived through the magic skill of the Rakshasas; still, he acted as if he was just a 'man among men'. Lakshmana too was down with despair; he grieved at the loss of the Mother of all the Worlds, and sat despondent at the futility of continuing in this world. Hearing reports of what had happened, Vibhishana rushed to the presence of Rama. He said, "Master! You know the truth of this. The entire incident is a fake. Sita is alive and guarded with great care. Ravana alone can have access to the place where she is kept under guard. Meghanada has only designed a 'Sita' and killed her in order to deceive us into despair. Among us Rakshasas such tricks are very common; I know how they revel in such mean stratagems". Rama and Lakshmana were happy when they heard him, and they appreciated his exposure of the secret tactics of the Rakshasas. In order to confirm the statement of Vibhishana and to satisfy himself all the more, Hanuman assumed another form and entering Lanka City unnoticed by any one, he went to the park where Sita was kept under guard, and returning, he assured the Vanaras that all was well. This urged the Vanaras to greater enthusiasm in battle. 

Meghanada returned to the battle very soon. He rained on the Vanaras this time not only sharp arrows, but spears, maces, axes, pestles, and boulders. The Vanaras heard terror-striking shouts and commands reverberating all around them. "Beat", "Hold" etc., but they could not see who were obeying those orders and beating them, hacking them and holding them fast! It was an eerie experience which spread confusion among them. They were unable to decide whence the danger came and where they had to turn for refuge. Even redoubtable heroes like Nala, Nila, Angada and Hanuman were filled with fear. Meghanada aimed arrows at Lakshmana, Sugriva and Vibhishana and pierced their bodies. But they fought against him nevertheless with unabated fury. Meanwhile, Meghanada engaged Rama himself in battle. He showered hissing serpent-arrows on him. It was the renowned Dragon Weapon, the Sarpastra. And, Rama the Supreme Actor come in the Human Role, the mighty Hero who destroyed Khara, Dooshana and their phalanxes, allowed himself to be bound by the effects of that powerful weapon, the Sarpastra! In order to give due respect to that Divine Dragon and to demonstrate its potency, he permitted it to harm him! This may seem strange, but this is the story of Rama, come with attributes, qualities, and limitations. So people with limited capacities of thought, word and deed cannot discover this Truth. The Vanaras were rendered helpless and worried, because Rama had been overpowered by the weapon of the Dragon. Meghanada was overjoyed; he rushed among the Vanaras, spouting vulgar abuse. 

Jambuvan saw him. "O you Vicious Worm! Stop", he cried. Meghanada brushed him aside, saying. "Fie on you, I had ignored you so far, as too old to deserve attention. Of what avail are your words to me? Move away". He threw a trident at Jambuvan, which was luckily caught by him and thrown back at Meghanada himself. The aim was so correct and the throw was so forceful, that the trident hit him straight on the heart; the wounded man circled round himself a few times and fell on the ground. Jambuvan rushed to where he fell; he held the feet together and swung him round very fast before he dashed him on the ground. "Now, say, whether I am an old man. Judge whether I have strength of youth or the weakness of old age". Jambuvan challenged Meghanada. Meghanada did not die, he rose with great difficulty and moved away. He had not fulfilled his boast, and so, he felt ashamed to show his face before his father. He went straight to a garden named Nikumbala, where many Rakshasas had performed penance and endured austerities in the past. 

Four courtiers of Vibhishana who were watching incognito the movements of the enemy leaders came to know about this and they reported the fact to him. He hurried to Rama and said, "Master! I listened to a bit of news just now; Meghanada is about to perform a malignant Yajna to propitiate evil powers. If he completes the ceremonials, it will be hard to defeat him. We will have to hurl obstacles". Rama appreciated the suggestion, and was pleased with his words. He summoned Hanuman and Angada and told them, "Brothers! Go! Disturb and disorganize the Yajna which Meghanada is observing". He turned to Lakshmana and said, "Lakshmana! You have to defeat this fellow on the field of battle. Note that gods are grieving on account of his iniquities". No sooner had he ordered so, than Vibhishana, Sugriva and Hanuman - the three - collected a huge force of Vanaras and followed Lakshmana in order to give him support. Lakshmana armed himself with the bow and the ever-full arrow-sheath, and after prostrating before Rama, he moved out of the camp, with Rama installed in his heart. Angada, Nala, Nila and other generals walked behind Hanuman. 

When they reached the Nikumbala Park, they found the Sacrifice already on and the flesh and blood of buffaloes being offered in the ritual fire. So, they started disturbing the ceremonies. Meghanada did not however desist; then they began to loudly caricature the hymns uttered by them to propitiate the Forces, but, that did not persuade the priests to stop the rituals. So, the infuriated Vanaras rushed into the sacrificial area, and catching Meghanada by the hair, they pulled him to the ground and kicked him. Meghanada took hold of the trident and pounced upon them. Angada and Hanuman fell on him, and were hit with the trident. The blow was so hard that both of them rolled on the ground. Lakshmana came to their rescue; he broke the terrible trident in two, Angada and Hanuman recovered soon and hit Meghanada with all their strength. However, the Rakshasa did not quail; he did not show any sign of the impact. Lakshmana rained deadly arrows on him, as if he were the God of Death come to kill him. Each one attacked him as if raining thunder-bolts. So, using his magic skill, Meghanada rendered himself invisible. He assumed many a mysterious role and escaped. The patience of Lakshmana ran out at last; he fixed sacred arrows on his bow, and, invoking on it the might and majesty of Rama aimed it at Meghanada, wherever he might be. That arrow entered the heart of Meghanada and ended his life. Since, he had in his mind, during the last moments the image of Rama and Lakshmana, Angada, Hanuman and Vibhishana extolled his bravery and the way he died. Hanuman lifted his body lightly on his shoulders and carrying it to the City Gate of Lanka, placed it there and returned. Lakshmana approached Rama and prostrated at his feet. Rama was pleased at his success; he listened to the detailed narrative of the events at Nikumbala Park. He fondled his brother with great affection.



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