Is This Narayana Himself? | RAMAYAN

 

72. IS THIS NARAYANA HIMSELF?


 RALLIED by Angada, the Vanaras recovered courage, reformed in battle order and prepared to receive Kumbhakarna. They hurled rocks at him and dealt heavy blows with trees plucked by the roots. But he disregarded them all and with a smile on his face went on dispatching the Vanaras with a methodic cruelty that was most terrifying. Some of them retreated to the newly built dam, while others tried to save themselves by concealing on the shore of the sea and the forests. 

Once again Angada had to encourage the Vanara chiefs and warriors and get them to reform and attack Kumbhakarna. 

Dwivida, Hanuman, Nila, Vrishabha, Sarabha and other chiefs attacked Kumbhakarna fiercely. But he disregarded them all and continued his ruthless slaughter of the Vanaras. Angada himself received a blow, as a result of which he fainted and fell on the earth. Sugriva was struck down. Picking up the unconscious Vanara King, Kumbhakarna carried him with joy towards Lanka. The Rakshasa army rejoiced greatly and raised a triumphant uproar. Kumbhakarna wished to make a present of the captive Vanara King to his brother Ravana. 

As Kumbhakarna went through the royal highway carrying in triumph the unconscious Vanara king, the Rakshasas and their women-folk, standing on the terraces, showered flowers and poured sandal paste. This incidentally revived Sugriva. He opened his eyes and wondered where he was and what had happened. He soon understood everything. 

He then began to bite with his teeth and tear with his nails the ears and nose of the Rakshasa who was carrying him. Worried thus Kumbhakarna threw him down intending to crush him with his feet. But when he was once on the ground, Sugriva jumped and flew off across the sky and arrived at the place where Rama was. 

Hanuman was sure that Sugriva would somehow come back. Foreseeing this escape of Sugriva, Hanuman had rallied the Vanara ranks and prepared them again for battle. 

Grim and gruesome with torn nose and ears, Kumbhakarna, like a great blood-red evening cloud, and raging like Death at the end of Time, returned to the battlefield with a huge iron mace in his hand. 

None could now stop Kumbhakarna. He began to kill and devour the Vanaras. The whole army began to disappear in this way. They tried to deter him by climbing on his mountain-like body and tearing at it with nails and teeth but without effect for he shook them off as if they were flies. None of the Vanara chiefs could hold him. 

Lakshmana tried with his arrows to obstruct his progress but the Rakshasa passed him by and rushed forward to face Rama himself. 

For a long time Rama kept aiming powerful darts at the Rakshasa. The arrow that pierced the seven sal trees and the adamantine body of Vali was powerless against Kumbhakarna. 

Sending sharper and stronger arrows, Rama wounded the arms and the feet of the Rakshasa, but nothing short of death would stop him. His legs were cut off, but legless he moved about on his stumps and went on with demoniac ferocity, fighting his brother's battle. 

At last, Rama cut off his head with an arrow. 

The severed head, carried by the force of Rama's arrow, rose into the sky and red with blood fell in Lanka like a hill with its forests aflame. The news was carried to Ravana. 

"Your brother Kumbhakarna, terrible like all-destroying Death at the end of Time, has entered the heaven of slaughtered heroes! He killed thousands of Vanaras and for a long time kept the army of Rama and Lakshmana in fear of destruction. But at last he was, slain by Rama himself, and deprived of arms and legs his mutilated body lies like a mighty tree disfigured by a forest fire. A part has fallen into the sea. Another big part blocks the entrance to the fortress. The severed head, flying across the sky, has dropped in the city and is lying there. Your beloved brother is gone to Heaven!" 

When the Rakshasas told this tale, Ravana felt that his own life had left him. He swooned. After recovering consciousness, he cried in grief and anger: "Ah mighty warrior! How could you go to Yama's world leaving me behind? My right hand is cut off! How did Rama kill you, you whom in the whole world no enemy dared approach? I see the gods rejoicing in their heavens at your fall. The Vanara are dancing with delight. Of what use is this kingdom to me? Why should I cling to life when my dear brother has left me? Yes, I have to torture and slay the man who killed this dear brother of mine!" 

Then with sudden and futile remorse he wailed: "Alas! Why did I refuse to listen to Vibhishana?" 

Trisiras and his other sons tried to console Ravana. 

"What is the use of lamentation" they argued. "You who have secured from Brahma strength and armor, why should you fear or lose yourself in grief?" And Trisiras himself set out for the battlefield. Many others eagerly followed him, riding on elephants and chariots. 

A great battle ensued. Narantaka, riding on horseback spear in hand, wrought havoc among the Vanaras and was proceeding towards Sugriva. Angada opposed him and killed him and his horse. 

Likewise, Devantaka and Trisiras were slain by Hanuman, and Mahodara by Nila. Atikaya fell a prey to Lakshmana's arrows. But before they died, these four had fought like four Yamas and caused enormous loss to the Vanara forces. 

When Ravana heard that Atikaya was dead, he was be wildered. 

"This is incredible! These my warriors, firm and mighty like mountains and irresistible like the ocean, have been slain one by one by these enemies. Those, who till now have never known defeat, have been defeated and lie dead in the battlefield. There stand my foes who have broken out of the serpent entanglements with which my peerless son Indrajit had bound them. I cannot explain the marvel of this man Rama's strength. May it be that he is Narayana himself?" 

Thus bewildered, Ravana lost heart. He wanted that the enemy forces should not enter the fortress and in particular should not enter the Asoka Vana. He supervised the defences again and returned to the palace, downcast and forlorn. 





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