The Giant is Roused | RAMAYAN

 

71. THE GIANT IS ROUSED 


WHEN Ravana returned humbled and dejected, the gods rejoiced foreseeing the speedy end of their troubles. Ravana entered the fortress, ashamed and anxious. After deliberating a while, he recovered his courage and ordered his sleeping brother Kumbhakarna to be roused. 

As the result of a curse, Kumbhakarna used to sleep for months together and he had gone to sleep just a few days before the events last narrated. Ravana asked his ministers to spare no efforts to rouse Kumbhakarna at once and get him ready for battle. 

"All my penances have proved futile. It looks as though the prophecy of the rishis will be fulfilled," thus said Ravana to himself, but rooted in his determination to fight to the last he issued orders as if he were certain of ultimate success: "Let the warriors guard the fortress on all sides. My brother is sound asleep. He sleeps blissfully, unaware of my anxiety. He will not wake up for months together if left alone. It is only nine days since he started sleeping. Rouse him at once. If he wakes up and goes to the battle, the enemy will be surely scattered. Who can stand before my Kumbhakarna? If he wakes up and opposes my enemies in battle, I need have no fear." 

Ravana's officers and their servants accordingly went to Kumbhakarna's palace. They knew that as soon as he opened his eyes, he would be rapaciously hungry. So they first prepared and piled up mountains of food for him. Then they made a great din beating drums and blowing conches. 

Many Rakshasas exhausted themselves pushing and shaking the huge body of the Rakshasa. The noise that they made with their shouts and drums and trumpets filled the sky and frightened all the birds and beasts of Lanka, but Kumbhakarna in his sleep heard nothing. The Rakshasas worked hard at rousing him. They made elephants walk on his body. They took cudgels and belabored him. 

At last his eyelids opened slightly and as one might brush away a mosquito while still asleep he pushed them all aside and yawned. Kumbhakarna was thus disturbed in his sleep which otherwise would have been months long. 

But before be could find out the cause for this, he began to eat and drink. The heaps of meat and the pots of blood and wine kept ready for him were finished. When his hunger was somewhat mitigated the Rakshasas approached him to acquaint him with the situation. 

Ravana's minister Yupaksha said: "My Lord, we have been defeated in battle and stand in grave danger. You will remember the quarrel about Sita. The Vanaras with Rama and Lakshmana have arrived and are breaking through the fort. They have slaughtered and defeated our army which never knew defeat before. Lanka is surrounded by the Vanara host as by an ocean. Ravana himself went to battle but he retired from the field having had the worst of it. It was our good luck that he escaped with life." 

Hearing this, Kumbhakarna was beside himself with rage. "This very instant I shall go and destroy this enemy. I shall kill the Vanaras and drink the blood of Rama and Lakshmana. After finishing this first, I shall go and wait on the king." 

The ministers were delighted to hear this furious speech but pleaded with Kumbhakarna that he should first see the King and take counsel with him as to what should be done. 

Kumbhakarna agreed, washed his face and then strode in sombre majesty to the hall of the king of Lanka. 

The Rakshasas standing on the royal highway felt new courage and joy as they saw him pass and bowed low before him and showered flowers on him. He entered the palace and stood in the presence of Ravana. Rejoicing at the arrival of his peerless brother, Ravana stepped down from his throne and embraced him. 

"What can I do for you, brother?" asked Kumbhakarna. "Why did you get my sleep broken? What makes you afraid? Tell me who is tired of life and wants to be turned into a corpse!" 

"Brother! You do not know what has happened," said Ravana. "You were lost in sleep. The man Rama has become a real menace to me. He has built a dam across the sea we considered inviolate and now the Vanara army surrounds Lanka like another sea. Our warriors who sortied out and met them have been defeated and almost annihilated. It is for you now to save us from destruction and I know you can do it. You have put the gods to rout. I know your love for me. I know your keenness and your courage in battle. Go at once and annihilate these enemies and help us in our need and save Lanka." 

Kumbhakarna, when he heard Ravana's words of anxiety, was moved at first to fury against the enemy but soon he remembered the whole story and Ravana's vainglorious confidence in his invincibility and that made him smile a little bitterly. 

He said: "Excuse me, my brother. The warning we gave you when you consulted us went unheeded. Our fears have come true. You rejected the good advice we gave you. Now, you suffer the consequences of your error and your sin. You brought away Sita. What else can happen when, driven by lust, one acts without thinking. If you so desired, and you had the confidence and strength, it would have been wise first to have slain Rama and Lakshmana and then seized her. You have done things without due thought and in the wrong order. When one acts without seeking or regarding the advice of wise and faithful friends and kinsmen, it is no wonder if he runs into danger and ruin. Did you not know that these things must follow? Should not a king understand who gives him good advice and who bad?" 

Ravana did not like all this lecturing. He had no use now for lessons in ethics or politics. His face flushed with anger but he controlled himself and said: "Brother! The time is now past for such talk. What I need now is not your criticism but your prowess. What is done has been done and it is useless discussing whether it was just or unjust, wise or unwise. The question now is what we should do in our present predicament. It is your duty now to use your strength and skill and ward off the present disasters resulting from past errors. He is a true friend and a true kinsman who helps one out of the trouble that has been brought on oneself, maybe because of folly. If indeed you care for me, the time is now to show it by helping me instead of commenting on my conduct. I depend on your strength and prowess. Out of your infinite courage, give me comfort." 

Kumbhakarna was moved by this appeal. "Have no more care," he said. "I am your brother and can never forsake you. Rest assured that Rama and Lakshmana are dead. I shall scatter and slay their monkey army. I shall fling at your feet the head of Rama and you shall see the Vanara King's blood flowing on the battlefield. Rama can only approach you, if he does, over my dead body and that is not possible, for no one can vanquish or slay me." 

Kumbhakarna's pride swelled. "No matter who the enemy is," be cried, "I shall destroy him. Be he Yama or Surya or Agni, I shall eat them all up." In this mood he rushed out to the field of battle. 

The sudden waking from deep slumber had completely upset his temper, but when his consuming hunger and thirst had been appeased, he had recovered his balance and spoke wisdom to Ravana. Again seeing Ravana's plight, fraternal affection and pity made him forget everything else. 

Ravana was pleased. "O my true warrior! O my brother! What a friend in need I have in Kumbhakarna!" he exclaimed, confident that Kumbhakarna would return triumphant and he now felt like one recovering from a mortal sickness. 

Kumbhakarna armed with his great spear was about to go to battle alone, but Ravana stopped him and sent an army to aid him. He covered his brother's big body with jewels and garments and blessed him saving: "Go, my hero! Destroy the enemies and return victorious." 

Tall and mighty-limbed Kumbhakarna, covered with shining jewels, was radiant like Trivikrama himself. He circumambulated his brother, bowed and marched out spear in hand at the head of a great army, amidst the plaudits of the Rakshasas, and under a shower of flowers and good wishes. 

As the huge form of Kumbhakarna, a giant even among the Rakshasas, was seen stepping across the fortress-wall like Yama at the end of Time or some great natural cataclysm, the Vanaras were frightened and started fleeing in all directions. With great difficulty their chiefs rallied them and put them in battle formation.





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