Inviting Battle | RAMAYAN

 

54. INVITING BATTLE 


AFTER taking leave of Sita, Hanuman sat for a while on the top of the garden wall and began to think: 

"What can I do to put courage into Sita and some fear into Ravana and his friends to shake their arrogant confidence? It would be good to leave them some souvenir of my visit, some indication of what the future has in store for them. It is clear I must instill some fear into Ravana to prevent him from troubling Sita in the meantime. Fear is the only argument they understand. Ravana has untold wealth and one cannot part his friends from him. Hence sama (conciliation), dana (buying over) and bheda (sowing discord) are useless in this case. I should therefore do something terrible to frighten them, and warn them, not to ill-treat Sita. Yes, I must do this before I go away." 

At once he began to grow and assumed a huge form and began to lay waste the grove. Trees fell cracking to the ground, bowers collapsed, tanks and artificial hills were disfigured and destroyed. The beautiful Asoka Park soon became a mass of ruin from which the deer and the birds fled in fear. The slumbering Rakshasis woke up and were bewildered to see this unaccountable sight. 

Hanuman sat on the top of the wall of the garden, a huge figure of wrathful menace, waiting for the answer to his challenge. The Rakshasis quaked with terror at the sight of this stranger and some ran to tell Ravana the news. Some approached Sita and asked: "How did this huge monkey come here? You should know who he is. Did he say anything to you? Tell us the truth. Do not be afraid to speak out." 

"How do I know what can happen in this charmed world of Rakshasas?" Sita answered, parrying, the question. "This monkey is probably one of the Rakshasas and you are likely to know more about him than I." The Rakshasis fled in fear from the park and reported to Ravana what had happened. 

"O king! A huge monkey terrible to look at has laid waste the royal garden. It was in secret talk with Sita." 

Of course they omitted to add that they had fallen asleep and given a chance for Sita to talk to the monkey. 

"We tried our best to get some information from Sita," they added. "We asked her who he was, and how he came there, and what he told her. But she refuses to answer. You should seize and slay this creature. Do send a strong foe. The beautiful grove is completely devastated except for the Simsupa tree under which Sita is seated. Its spreading branches have suffered no damage. The monkey which laid waste the tanks and bowers has spared the habitation of Sita. There must be a reason for this. We suspect that this is not an ordinary wild animal. It must have been sent by some enemy of yours, either Indra or Kubera. Or could it have anything to do with Rama? How did this monkey dare to talk to Sita? He must be a messenger from Rama. Do send your warriors to capture this terrible beast." 

Ravana was furious on hearing that his favorite park, set apart for his queens, had been destroyed. His eyes glowed like twin torches and hot tears rolled down from them like drops of burning oil. 

He turned to the bodyguards standing beside him ever eager to do his bidding and ordered them at once to go and destroy the monster-monkey. A strong force started to execute the king's commands, armed with maces and spears and other weapons. 





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