The Terrible Envoy | RAMAYAN

 

55. THE TERRIBLE ENVOY 


THE Rakshasa warriors saw with amazement a mighty Vanara seated on the garden gate, who at their approach grew to still bigger size and formidable menace. 

"Oh! You have come, have you?" he said and, jumping down, brandished his tail, and striking the ground with it, roared till the four quarters shook. He snatched the huge iron bar from the gate and, armed with this weapon, began to attack them all. 

He sprang and leaped in all directions and, whirling the iron rod, struck the Rakshasas down, one by one. After finishing them thus, he resumed his seat on the top of the pillared entrance, and roared once again. 

"Long live Rama! Long live Lakshmana!" he loudly proclaimed. "Long live King Sugriva! Oh! Ye Rakshasas of Lanka, your doom are near. The great warriors Rama and Lakshmana and King Sugriva have sent me here to destroy you. Come on in your thousands. I stand here ready to hurl you to destruction. I have saluted Sita and received her blessings. And now I am going to destroy your city!" 

All Lanka heard the thunder of his words and quaked in terror. When the news reached Ravana that the warriors sent against Hanuman were all slain, he opened wide his fierce eyes in amazement and wrath. 

"What is it you say?" he yelled, and called Jambumali, the matchless warrior, son of Prahasta. And be said to him. "Go at once! Punish this monkey and report to me." 

The Rakshasa Jambumali took some time to put on armor and to take up weapons and get ready to meet his foe. Meanwhile, Hanuman was not sitting still. He climbed to the top of a temple in the park and stood there, shining against the horizon like a second sun suddenly risen in the sky. He magnified his body still further and looked like a golden mountain range up in the heavens. 

His roar filled the city of Lanka and raised echoes from all the eight quarters. The hearts of the Rakshasas trembled in fear. 

"Long live Rama! Long live Lakshmana! Long live King Sugriva! I have come as an envoy of the King of Kosala. I have come to destroy Lanka. I am Hanuman, son of Vayu, come here to utterly destroy the enemies of Rama. I have vowed before Sita and received her blessings. Know that I possess the strength to vanquish a thousand Ravanas. Big boulders and uprooted trees I shall aim at the Rakshasas and destroy them. That is what I have come here for!" 

The sentries in the temple took up various weapons and attacked him. Hanuman jumped down and plucked up a big pillar, supporting the temple, and stood there like the destroyer. Whirling his massive weapon easily as though it was a willow wand, Hanuman struck down and slew the sentries. The temple, from which the pillar had been removed, collapsed. As Hanuman struck the ground with the pillar, sparks of fire flew all around. 

"In Sugriva's army there are monkeys much mightier than I and they will soon be here," he roared. "You and your king and your city will be destroyed by them, root and branch. Your king has incurred the enmity of the Lord of the Ikshvaku race, has he not? Lanka is nearing its end. Destruction awaits the Rakshasas. The God of Death is approaching Ravana." 

Jambumali arrived at last. With wide, glaring eyes and ugly, irregular teeth dressed in scarlet, with large golden rings in his ears, bow in hand, garland round his neck, sword at his hip, he came in a chariot rattling like thunder. Hanuman set eyes on the chariot dragged by enormous mules. And he got ready. 

Seated in his chariot, Jambumali bent his bow and aimed a few arrows at Maruti who was seated on the wall. They wounded his face and drew blood, which added to the beauty of his face. It was as if a red lotus had suddenly blossomed in the heavens. The wounds enraged Hanuman, who picked up a big boulder and flung it at the chariot. 

He uprooted a sal tree and, twirling it, flung it at Jambumali. Then he plucked out a huge iron rod from the temple and aimed it at the chariot and reduced it to splinters and crushed the huge body of Jambumali into a shapeless mass, in which neither head nor limbs could be distinguished. 

The issue of this battle was duly reported to Ravana. He was struck with wonder. ""This is indeed something strange," he said to himself. "This murderous brute is not an animal, certainly not a mere monkey. It is some new creature devised by my old enemies the gods to annoy me." 

And be ordered mighty commanders to go with a great army to capture the creature and produce it before him. 

The Rakshasa chiefs went forth in a great array of chariots. In full force they attacked Hanuman, who was as before stationed on top of the entrance and was laughing aloud in disdainful unconcern. 

They showered missiles on him that mostly glanced harmlessly off his adamantine frame. With each dart or arrow that struck him, he grew in stature and fierceness. And ranging all round with energy pelted them with rocks and huge tree boles, till all the leaders lay crushed and slain, and the survivors fled in panic and despair. 

Having killed or put to fight the entire contingent of Rakshasas, Hanuman roared in triumph and Lanka trembled at the roar. He resumed his seat on the stonebattlement on the top of the garden-gate. Hearing of the defeat of the force sent to capture Hanuman and the slaughter of five of his best commanders, fear for the first time entered Ravana's heart. "It is extraordinary that a solitary monkey should have this devastating valor and purposeful malevolence," Ravana thought with anxiety. "This is clearly a conspiracy of the gods." 

But he kept his concern to himself and laughed derisively. He looked round at all the members of his great council. His son the heroic Aksha stood foremost, eager for battle, and the proud father bade him go forth to battle against the tremendous foe. Radiant with youth and health and glowing with high courage at this opportunity of distinguishing himself, Aksha went forth in a shining chariot, confident of victory. 





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