Neringa Ramayan, Compiled

I wrote this modernised version of Ramayan, for a dear pen-friend, Neringa. Reproduced here, compiled from emails, letters and some older blog posts…

 

PART 1

Most of you know of my [awesome, awesome!] penfriend from Vilnius, Neringa Zenkevičiūtė. So, intially, the format of our letters was, in addition to talking about life, culture, science and english, we would each tell each other one story or tradition or festival from our respective mythologies. After the usual descriptions [holi, diwali etc] I hit upon an ingenuous idea. I would tell her the whole of Ramayan, in parts. Apart from being my favourite epic, it has the advantage of being big, so I was set for the next few emails. It turned out to be larger than I expected, and I stopped in between [plan to re-start soon], to be continued later. Right now, I am at the stage where Hanuman finds Sita in Ashok Vatika. Till then, I will paste the [arbitrarily defined] chapters from our email conversations.

 

{{ EDIT : I finished the story and this post has the complete thing }}

                                             
… Chapter 1: Genesis of ram  [lol]
So, long long time ago, in place called Ayodhya which is in the northern parts of india, there was a wise and great king, dasarath.
Dasarath was a model king, he had 3 wives. 3 wives! you will now ask, how many children 😛 😛 😉
but sadly, he had no children. 😦
So, he decided to pray to the gods, and did a big huge pooja…
Out of this pooja (which is done on a yagna or pyre) comes out the fire god…
this guy tells the king, take this sweet and ask your queens to eat it. if they eat it, they will get pregnant. [!]
so, they eat and duly have the requisite 4 kids…
eldest = Ram… then, in order, Bharat, Laxman and Shatrughna.
amongst these, laxman is a big fan of ram.
so, they grew up, learnt the princely skills and in general had a jolly good time.
one day, a sage person came to dasaratha’s court. Vishwamitra. He said, some rakshas are doing harm to my prayer and meditation, send you son to kill them. Your son will learn under me and will be of great help to us. With a heavy heart, but the obligation as king, the king sent Ram and laxman with vishwamitra, the kids being in thier teens at this time.
they (obviously) killed the rakshas and learnt a lot new skills and literature under the sage. turns out, the sage and his disciples decide to go to this swayamwar in a nearby kingdom.
SWAYAMWAR ->
nice concept, from ancient india. Rich people and royal families, when their daughter had to be wedded, held a public function called a Swayamwar. Here, the family would hold a function, and a yagna [pyre puja]. They set a set of tasks for the possible suitors depending
on the family. then, after a day of festivities, after observing everyone, all the suitors would stand in a line, and the girl would get to choose. Whoever she chooses, would get to marry her.
so, nearby kingdom, there is swayawar. Being sages, they plan to attend the puja. They take our young and dashing princes along…
the task at the swayamwar is: The king, Janak, has a huge and venerated Bow. This bow orignally belonged to Shankar [one of the three principle gods] and is quite big and heavy. Janak says, any person who can string this bow can marry my daughter.
so, people try… no one succeeds… Actually, most of the people cant even pick it up.. its quite heavy..
those who can, can barely do so, let alone string it.
Our hero, Ram, steps up. He picks it up. While stringing it, he exhibits such strenght, that the bow splits up!
After this, Ram and the daughter, Sita are married off in a lavish ceremony.. [thier parents have no clue… and to top off the wierdness, since laxman is there too, the king marries off his younger daughter urmila to laxman!!!]
anyway, the princes retunr triumphant to Ayodhya and there is much pomp and ceremony and sita generally becomes the darling of the masses…
This is the initial happy part..
the next is a bit of a sad story, which i will relate in chapter 2…
later
 bye!!!
p.s. : All conversations pasted here [verbatim] after taking due permission from all parties involved. 🙂

 

 

PART 2

Unabridged. Verbatim. The highly awaited chapter 2, in the story of your intrepid God-person. The One. The Only. 


RAM. 

“…
anyway, its about time i tell you Ramayana chapter 2.. 
i am a bit bored working today, this will be good time pass…


ok, so let me recap first
Ayodhya city, prosperous kingdom, king has no sons, prays, gets 4 sons, one is our hero ram, ram is trained, just married and a crowd favorite.


So, Part 2: Politics 
if you remember, king dasarath had 3 wives. one of these, Kaikeyi was a really awesome person. Once, in battle, king dasarath’s charioteer died of arrow wounds. in a curious turn of events, the young queen turned up and took up the reins and guided dasarath to eventual victory. So great was her contribution that the king said, from here on, i declare you my favourite queen, and i bestow upon you 2 boons, whatever you wish. in addition to being a badass fighter lady the queen was also prudent and intelligent. She said thank you , but i will take a rain check and ask you of those boons later, when and if i need them…


So, thats the back story, and the situation in Ayodhya was generally quite happy happy , with ram and sita accepted to be the successors to the the Raghuwansh [“the clan of Raghu ” thats their family name] throne. the mood was overall quite happy with a young and beloved prince about to enter manhood and all that…


now this kaikeyi had an evil servant, a hunchback named manthara. She started poisoning the mind of kaikeyi with tales of some bullshit, but slowly slowly she turned her to the idea that her son, Bharat, should be king and not ram. So adept manthara was at this this that Kaikeyi started thinking that this was her own idea, and it is but natural that her son should be king. After all, she was Queen No 1 and all that. 


Bharat and his half brother Shatrughna were holidaying with their uncles when ram came back with sita and this talk of ram becoming king started. Wasting no time, kaikeyi sought the king’s audience and reminded him that he owed her 2 wishes. She asked him to banish ram to the jungles in exile for 14 years and in his place make bharat king. 


the king was flabbergasted, to say the least. How had his fav queen turned evil vamp almost overnight? but more than this was his horror at having to send his own son into exile ignominiously. but a trait of the raghunwansh king was they would always uphold ‘dharma’ and his word was his word. he had to keep it. ‘dharma’ is a set of rules you follow, depending upon your station in life. A king is a public figure, a leader of men. keeping his word is one of the most important rules he has to follow. 


so, reluctantly, he calls his son and tells him the thing. Now ram is an even greater person, following his dharma as a prince, listen to your father. so, with a smile on his, saying whatever my father says is correct, agrees to the terms…


Ram went home and started packing. Sita, being the dutiful wife, without saying anything, started packing with him. Nothing he said could persuade her otherwise. Same happened to lakshman, he too left everything and decided to go with ram [poor urmila, lakshaman’s wife 😦 was left alone]


So they set out. so great was the king’s sorrow, he died as soon as his sons and daughter in law were out of the city limits. Around this time, bharat came back from his holiday. Expecting the city to be happy and preparing for ram’s coronation, he was shocked to see a city mourning. Dual shocks of losing their fav son and awesome king on the same day had rendered the city quite senseless with shock. 


As soon as he entered his chambers, he was greeted with the news by his mother, that she had eliminated his competition and his father was also dead and he would be king. This dude was scandalized! i mean, imagine coming home to this situation!


Poor guy, trying to save his bro from the exile, immediately set out to bring him back. Initially, the citizens were against him, but seeing his distress, they joined him. a large crowd started out in the direction of ram sita and lakshman.


Meanwhile, Lakshaman noticed from afar, a large crowd following them , with bharat at the head. He was enraged, thinking that bharat, not satisfied with just exile , was coming to kill his brothers. ram restrained him long enough for bharat to explain his mission, to try and persuade ram to come back.


Now ram couldnt go, since this was his father’s dying order. How could he not follow that? so bharat said, ok. I will run the kingdom in your stead, but i wont sit on the throne. Give me your footwear. He took ram’s sandals, put them on his head, and with due honors, installed them on the throne, ruling in his brother’s stead for 14 years. [side note: this was noble gesture on bharat’s part, but poor ram had to live 14 years in the jungle, without shoes! hehehe kidding…]




thus ends the preamble to the actual adventures of ram , which start in the jungle, which i will continue in the next chapter..


phew! this story takes more time to write than i thought! 🙂 🙂 🙂 . but its fun to do it for a friend 😀 
…”

 

PART 3

Ramayana, Chapter Three: The premiseso, to recap: dasarath, has no sons, then has four sons, then by machinations of his wife, sends his awesome son ram to the jungle, in exile, and bharat is the ruler in his stead.

last time we saw Ram, he was wandering in the jungle sans shoes, [ 😀 😀 ] with wifey Sita and bro Laxman. So, he roamed and roamed, saw a suitable place, and asked laxman to build a camp in this place. This place was a jungle named dandakaranya. In this jungle, they build camp at Panchwati. literally, this means:

panch : five
wati: banyan tree

so, this is a place with 5 banyans… this place is still there, in the old parts of the city of Nashik, where my parents live, there is still a place called panchawati and it has 5 banyan trees.

so, they build camp here, and start living. after a while, they strike up a routine, and are living quite happily.

meanwhile, in the kingdom of lanka, [this is the island in the south of india, the country of Sri Lanka or Ceylon] there is a brave and valliant king of the rakshas.. Ravana.

He was a very good king to his subjects, Lanka was enjoying its most prosperous period in this time. It was so rich, it was known [still called by some] as “sone ki lanka” that is , “the lanka of gold” or “the land of gold, called lanka” . he had defeated Kubera [who was the earlier ruler of Lanka, and Ravana’s half brother], the God of wealth, in battle and had amassed his wealth and all that…

now, i will describe Ravana’s family in some detail:

His wife: Mandodari, a dutiful and pious wife, who was as good and brave and a follower of dharma as her husband

His Son, Indrajeet: An extremely capable and skilled warrior who had learnt everything about warcraft there was to learn, he was also skilled in the magical techiniques…

His Brother, Kumbhakarana and Vibhishana

Now these Three brothers share a peculiar story… They had, during thier  youth, all prayed to the gods, for boons…

Kumbhakarna got the ability to sleep for long periods of time [quirky fellow]

Vibhishana was a devoted kinda guy, he asked for eternal servitude to the gods…

Ravana was very passionate and dedicated. In order to impress brahma, who he was praying to, he cut his head off, [curiously, a new one would appear everytime] and give the head up as offering to the god. This is he did 9 times, giving brahma 9 of his heads as offering.

Brahma was happy, came to offer him his boon.. Ravana asked for eternal life, which brahma said no to. But in lieu of this, he gave him the next best thing. He gave him a pouch of nectar, which he could keep in his navel and as long as it was there, he couldnt die. Also, brahma gave him back his 9 heads. So, Ravana has 10 heads, which is kinda symbolic of many things. That he was a learned fellow, very intelligent etc etc…

so, ram and ravana are quite similar to each other. both are strict adherents of Dharma, highly skilled and learned fellows. Only thing is, ram has control over his senses, being an incarnation of the gods. Ravana, being a rakshas, doesnt have that.

Now, back to ram/laxaman/sita.

There, In dandakaranya, there lived a rakshas lady named surpanakha. She saw these three people there and immediately fell in love with the handsome and comely Ram… Rakshas have the ability to shape-shift, and she made herself into a beautiful lady and tried to snare Ram with her charms.

Ram was amused at first and humoured her for a bit. Then he told her that he was already married to and loved Sita. She said she was a rakshas and would eat sita, after which she and ram could live happily ever after. by this point Ram was pretty much pissed off at her and told her to go to laxaman and he would take care of her.

Laxman also toyed with her a bit [seems a bit cruel, but her intentions werent pure either.. 😛 ] but when she talked about killing his beloved sis-in-law, he got angry, picked up a sword and chopped off her nose..

THe city i was talking about, where my parent live, is named Nashik. nose in sanskrit is ‘Nasika’ . so you see the connection there too…

it turns out, this buxom lass, this rakshas surpanakha, was actually ravana’s sister. She ran to another brother of hers, Khara, who sent 7 of his rakshas friends to kill these humans…

ram and laxaman dispatched them easily. Then , seeing that 7 weren’t enough, he got together 700,000 soldiers, leading them himself and went to fight ram . [talk about an over reaction! 🙂 ]
But, as can be expected, they were all killed by our heroes as well…

this time, surpanakha went to ravana’s court in lanka, and asked him to revenge the death of her brother and her nose. Ravana had an airplane, “pushpak vimana” whiich he used to immediately go to dandakaranya and see for himself who it was who did this to his sister.  One look at sita, and he was filled with lust for her. he immediately hatched a plan to make her his. He found an old rakshas, his maternal uncle, who he forced to imitate a beautiful golden deer and cavort near sita and run away..

as soon as she saw the deer, she fell in love with its coat, and she asked ram to get it. Ram, exasperated, asked laxaman to protect sita, and ran after the deer.

the deer [maareech] ran quick and fast, but after much running, ram killed it with an arrow. Maareech imitated ram’s voice, shouting out “laxaman, help me please!”

sita, upon hearing this, quickly ran to laxaman, asking him to go and help his brother. laxaman was torn between his brother’s orders and his sis-in-laws pleading. Although he had complete faith in his brother’s ability to take care of himself, he had t relent to his sis-in-law’s crying. He took up an arrow, marked out a circle around the hutment. This was a Laxaman rekha or “laxaman’s line” . anyone who crosses the laxaman rekha, without laxaman’s permisssion, is burnt by flames which come from the line.

so, thus protected, he goes in search of his brother. Ravana, hiding in the forest nearby, is happy that everything is going according to plan , and, in the guise of a mendicant, approaches sita’s hut.
He asks for alms, and she says, i will keep the stuff outside, you come and pick it up.

in india, mendicants are highly respected people and people dare’nt disrespect them .

Ravana [as a mendicant] flew into a mock rage and said how dare you disrespect me and say such a thing.

afraid of committing a sin, she rushed out of her hut, ventured to the edge of the line and offered him alms and food.

seizing the opportunity to seize her, ravana pounced on her and kidnapped her. He put her onto his airplane and flew away to lanka…

meanwhile, laxaman reached Ram and both, seeing maareech was the deer [rakshas turn to the original form on their death] realized it was a trap and rushed back to their hut. seeing the signs of an obvious kidnalpping, they were stricken with sorrow….

they immediately rushed out in all directions, looking for Sita.

after some time, they saw a hideous vulture lying on the ground. In his grief stricken state, ram assumed this was the vile creature who had taken his sita. he drew his arrow to the vulture and told him to tell all, at the pain of death.

The Vulture, it turned out, was the brother of the lord of vultures. He was Jatayu, an old friend of Dasarath, Ram’s father. He saw ravana making away with sita and tried valiantly to fight him and rescue the damsel in distress. Ravana cut away his wings in the battle and Jatayu fell to the ground. Ram, sorry for assuming this noble creature had done him wrong, gave him some water to drink and made sure his last minutes would be in a safe and comfortable position.

so now, i we are at a position where ram knows ravana has kidnapped his wife, and in the next chapter he will mount a rescue mission…

ciao!

PART 4

Ramayana: Chapter 4- Alliances

As always, I will begin with a quick recap…

Dasrath – king of ayodhya – has no kids – then 4 kids – eldest is Ram [the hero] – one of the queens wreaks havoc – ram, sita and laxman go in exile – are kinda happy – sita gets kidnapped – a dying vulture tells ram who took her.

So,
Grief stricken, ram and laxman are trying to re-concile themselves to the situation.

meanwhile, i will tell you a side story…

Pawan Putra Hanuman ki Jay! [Hanuman, son of the wind, is Awesome!]

This is the story of two brothers, Vali and Sugriva. These are the vanars or monkey people [another class of people like humans and rakshas and gods etc]. attaching a photo of hanuman, a major player in this story later, who is a vanar or monkey person. this photo depicts a later scene from our story, i will come to that later.

So, vali and sugriva. Now Vali is the elder brother and the king of the vanars. these vanars are brawny creatures, known for their strength and valour. So, once, when a terrible demon [like the bigfoot or kingkong  or something] comes and troubles theri kingdom, both brothers set out to kill him.

terrible fight ensues and all that… the demon flees into a cave. Vali tells sugriva that he is going in, and sugriva should put a stone at the entrance and block it so that it cant escape. once he has slayed it, he will call from inside, that would be the signal for sugriva to open up.

sugriva agrees, and stands guard. After a while, he sees blood seeping out from under the stone. Afraid that the demon has killed his brother, he flees from there, in the hope that atleast the demon would die cooped up in the cave [as he has blocked the entrance]. he is kind of an asshole of a brother.

sugriva returns to his palace, triumphant at having defeated the demon and promptly installs himself as the king. he takes over vali’s possessions, wife and kids and all.

Now, it turns out, the blood was vali’s but he aint dead. in fact, he had killed the demon, in a very awesome fight [which, sadly, no one could see, inside of a cave being dark and all 😉 ] . so,  after a few days, vali manages to dislodge the rock at the mouth of the cave and comes back to his kingdom to find his brother has usurped all. he immediately assumes his brother has plotted against him and betrayed him. he banishes sugriva from the kingdom and takes his family under his protection.

so, end of side story.

now, ram and laxman are roaming the forests to find out where ravan has taken sita, and in the same forest, they meet sugriva.
he tells them his sad story, tells them it was all a misunderstanding and being an asshole and a non-brave person is not a crime after all. But the clincher is, that he promises ram, that if ram helps him defeat vali, he would help him find sita.

so, the moral of this is, in politics, you have to make ugly allainces with ugly people to achieve good things. So ram allies with sugriva. Sugriva goes to the capital and challenges vali to a duel to death. They fight and just as sugriva is losing, ram fires an arrow from behind a tree into vali, and sugriva wins.

Vali accuses ram of breaking the rules and cheating, basically doing a thing outside of his dharma or principles. here, as a lesson to all readers, ram expounds on how this wasnt breaking his dharma but was acting exactly according to it. he had promised to help sugriva. It basically says that you cant do stuff that is good for someone, even according to dharma, isnt good for everyone. You have to make a choice and live with it, that whatever you do, everyone cant be taken into account. if you help someone, someone else is going to be affected, maybe for the worse and you cant help him too. etc etc

So, sugriva gets back his kingdom and family. in a rage, he plans to kill off vali’s widow and son. ram stays his hand and reminds him that these are his family. mortified, sugriva installs Angad, vali’s son, as prince in waiting and gives vali’s widow an honoured place etc.

now, all done, sugriva starts enjoying his kingly lifestyle once more. In this, he forgets about his promise to ram about helping him and lending the manpower of the vanar army to look for sita [which is what ram needs, more eyes to look for his wife.]

Ram asks laxaman to go to sugriva and his wife, tara, to make them see the light and not renege on his promise. Sugriva laughs off an angry laxman [who is held back by tara]. The wise wife, tara, realises the urgency of the situation and convinces sugriva to make good his promise. he does and how that helps our heroes, we will see in the next chapter, titled “hanuman” .

 

PART 5

 

Ramayana: Chapter 5 : Hanuman

Quick recap:  old king, no kids, gets kids, eldest is Ram, awesome dude, one queen plots, kicks ram out to place her son at the throne, ram with brother laxman and wifey sita out in the jungle for 14 years, sita is kidnapped, ram is distraught, allies with sugrive to find her.
Now, hanuman.
So, now that sugrive is back to his senses, he call out to all monkey people [vanars] to come and assemble, and help ram.
Ram distributes them in 4 groups, to go in 4 directions. To each group, he gives a few of his ornaments  [ rings, amulets etc] so that if they meet sita, they could convince her to come with them.
we will limit ourselves to one of these groups, the group that went south. This consisted of Vali‘s son Angad, A wise old bear-man Jambuwant and Hanuman. Now this Hanuman is a general in the army, a very strong person and all. They get ram’s ring, which Jambuwant keeps safely.
So, they set out in search of sita, southwards and encounter the sea. Go here to look at the actual map, http://davidderrick.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/adams-bridge.jpg [Ceylon = sri lanka = lanka = ravana’s kingdom]
At the sea front, they fall to the ground disappointed, as there is endless sea before them and no sight of sita. Just at this moment, a huge, ugly wingless vulture comes up to them, licking his chops, proceeds to try and eat them. Jambuvant says, “what creatures these vultures! one this ugly creature, about to eat us all, and one the brave and valint Jatayu, who gave his life trying to save sita.”
At these words the vulture stops, and says “jatayu? you know of him? tell me more…”
Jambuvant proceeds to tell him the story of how noble jatayu laid down his life fighting ravana. The vulture bursts into tears… “that jatayu is my brother! I am Sampati, lord of Vultures… when we were young, we would fly higher and ever higher. once, jatayu flew so high, the sun began to burn his wings. i spread my wings over him to protect him, and got burnt in the process. Hence the winglessness. i thank you for giving me news of my brother. This sita you talk of, i know where she is held captive. King Ravana has held her captive in his kingdom across the sea.”
they duly thank him and he goes off, full of grief for his brother. Now angad is worried. He asks jambuvant, if ravana is on the other side of this sea, how can we get there?
Jambuvant says, this is the time to tell hanuman his true story. he says to hanuman “You are Hanuman, son of the cursed angel Anjani, incarnate of lord shiva and son of wind god, Pawan. You have supreme strength and divine prowess. When you were small, you didnt know the extent of your own power. you once flew up to the sun and swallowed it whole. The gods wished to punish you, but wind god got angry. he wouldnt blow and the earth suffered due to this standoff between the gods. So they reached a truce, whence you would go unpunished, but you would have no knowledge of your true power. It was ordained onto me to tell you this and return to you the knowledge of your power at the appropriate time.”
He tells him this and hanuman Becomes awesome. better than superman of batman, this is HanuMan 🙂 lol .
So, hanuman learns that he can change size at will, become really huge or really tiny. He also possesses super strenght and eternal life [he is one of 8 people in indian mythology who (suffer) have this eternal life ] .
So, he at once become huge and takes a huge leap, landing at sri lankan shores.
But, before he reaches lanka, he has to pass a test. there is a serpent demon, Surase, in the sea. She says “you are food for me, you cant go any further without going into my mouth.”
 Hanuman, intelligent that he is, becomes as small as a thimble and goes into her mouth. then comes back out and says, now that i have gone into your mouth, let me pass. She is pleased with his wit and lets him pass.
Reaching lanka, he becomes really tiny, and goes past the gaurds and starts looking for sita in this magical and rich city of lanka. Known as सोने कि लंका [sone ki lanka] or the lanka of gold. All houses have loads of gold on them, everyone is quite rich.
finally, he reaches a garden , known as ashok vatika, where he sees a lady, who looks like it is sita. he is about to investigate, when suddenly ravan comes up to this place with his entourage bearing something on a plate. he crouches down on some branches and bides his time, looks on.
Now, ravan has been trying to seduce sita, and induce her to submit to him so that she could be his. This time, he resorts to Rakshas magic. he recreates a severed head of a ram, and shows it to her. He tells her that he has killed her husband and she should submit to him. Brave sita, though quaking with fear inside, puts up a brave face and says nothing. Ravan decides to give her some time and goes away. As soon as he goes away, she breaks down and starts to cry.
Now sita is a sweet person. Even the rakshashi [female rakshas] gaurds she has like her. One of them cant bear her crying, and goes and tells her of ravan’s treachery. Sita is relieved, and goes to sleep.
Hanuman waits till nightfall, for the gaurds to sleep, and appears in front of sita, with ram’s ring. She is skeptical at first, as she thinks maybe this is another one of ravana’s tricks. but, he convinces her and gets ready to whisk her away to safety.
She forbids him to do this, as she feels ram should be the one to rescue him. Not from a misplaced sense of propriety, but she feels it is appropriate that way. By kidnapping the prince’s wife, ravana has challenged not just Ram, but the royal family. So, Ram should defend his honor and duly rescue her himself. only then would the stain on the family be wiped of or something.
point to be noted. how, even in times of extreme duress, everyone thinks of dharma first and then of their own life. This is how highly valued principles are. Were. Should be.
So, back to the story. So hanuman decides to do a little recon and frighten off the lankans. He deliberately gets caught and lets the soldiers take him to ravana’s court. here i will end this chapter and we will continue with his adventures later.
PART 6

Chapter 6: Pyrotechnics 🙂

Ok,
Quick recap:  old king, no kids, gets kids, eldest is Ram, awesome dude, one queen plots, kicks ram out to place her son at the throne, ram with brother laxman and wifey sita out in the jungle for 14 years, sita is kidnapped, ram is distraught, allies with sugrive to find her. Hanuman, strongman from sugrive’s army, flies to lanka, finds sita. assures her safety and gets caught delibrately to recon the city of the enemy.
So, here we are. in the court of our villian, ravana. A monkeyman, all tied up, is brought into the court. to everyone’s amazement, as soon as he is bought in, hanuman frees himself, makes a seat for himself out of a coiled tail, and sits. Sits as if her was sitting on a throne.
Ravana is furious. Hanuman directly addresses him, tells him he is a diplomatic messenger from ram, and that ravana should immediately release sita. Furious, ravana orders the monkey to be killed. executed. His younger brother vibheeshana along with a few senior ministers immediately rush to him and try to talk him out of it. it is not courteous to kill a diplomatic messenger. against protocol. Ravana heeds their pleas. he has an idea. “Get oil, old rags. Bind his tail and burn it! I wont kill you, but i sure will make you suffer for your insolence.”
Sita came to hear this, somehow. She immediately lit a pyre and started praying to the fire god. Meanwhile, the wind god [hanuman‘s father, also appealed to the fire god, not to hurt hanuman] Moved, the fire god made sure that thoughhanuman‘s tail burned bright and true, he felt no pain due to it 🙂 [how nice!]
they lit his tail and left him on the sea shore. Seeing that it wasnt hurting, hanuman grew in size [remember he has the power fo changing his size, from miniscule to very huge.] This big hanuman leapt back into the city, over rooftops. spiderman style, he jumped from building to building. Quick as lightning and big as kingkong, no one could do anything. before you knew it, all of lanka was ablaze, on fire. He saw that all was burning, made sure sita was safe, took her leave and dunked into the sea. His fire extinguished, he leapt back and flew to India, back to angad and jambuvant who were waiting for him there.
They bought back this joyous news to ram. Ram literally cried tears of gratitude when he heard this awesome news. now he knew where she was. all they had to go was to go and win her back.
Sugrive called all his generals, assembled his army and all of them marched down to the sea, to confront the big rakshas, to see if they could get sita back.
to be continued next time 🙂
PART the last one
Analysts in the audience feel free to dissect my writing style as it has changed over the course of these 7 posts…
So, as usual, lets start with a recap:
We had Ram, dutiful son of Dasharath. Banished with wife Sita and brother Lakshman. lives happily in the forest. Wife kidnapped by wily intelligent villain. Much gnashing of teeth. Alliance made with the monkey kingdom under dubious circumstances. The story is coming to fruition as Hanuman locates Sita, burns half the city down.
Last time we left Sugrive and his army ready to march down to Lanka, to confront Ravana and return Sita to her lawfully wedded husband. This bit is basically the climax fight sequence.
So Ram and his posse reaches the shores of the sea. Not everyone was Hanuman and could jump the sea to reach the island kingdom on the other side. A seemingly irrational Ram gets angry with the sea for obstructing his path and nocks and arrow and threatens to shoot the sea. Somebody call the psychoanalyst, this guy is losing his marbles… Wait, he is god though. So yes, indeed the sea god is afraid and begs his forgiveness. He says to Ram, in your army there are two twins, who have impeccable architectural pedigree. They know the solution to your problem. [He did something to this drawn arrow which was cool. he had to shoot it somewhere. I forget the details. If anyone remembers, please comment]
Ram seeks these youths out, and they do indeed know a solution to the issue. They ask the other soldiers to brings big rocks to them and write “Sri Ram” on the rocks. That was simple! These inscribed rocks, very conveniently are exempt from physical laws of the sea and they float on the ocean. Read what you will on this episode. To me, making a bridge out of floating rocks seems to be a larger problem than to build an actual one, but as I said, the architectural provenance of these youngsters is undeniable. Sons of the greatest architect of all time or something like that. So you have the bridge, troops can now move in.
Sidenote: When I was a kid, we lived near the beachfront studios where the smash hit TV rendition of Ramayana was shot. There were two shows, Ramayana and Mahabharat, chronicling the two epics, that were so epic hits that the guy who played Krishna [The god incarnate hero in Mahabharat] later ran in parliamentary elections and won comfortably! Anyway, Si we visited these studios, and I remember picking up some rocks from the beach, scribbling Sri Ram on them in Roman and Devnagari scripts and hurling them into the sea. Didn’t work. Obviously I do not have the right pedigree. If only my dad had decided to become an architect… If only.

During this time, there was another incident of note. Ravana was himself prepping for battle. Battle Royale. So he tried to enlist the support of his mighty brothers and skillful sons.

Brother #1 was Vibhishana. He told it to Ravana straight. Dude on the other side is too strong. You are in the wrong. Give up. He went so far to defect to the Ram camp and offer his services to Ram, to be on the side of the Moral Right.

Brother #2 was Kumbhakaran. If you remember how Ravana got his 10 heads, he basically prayed to the gods, proved his devotion and got a boon. So his brothers had also done that. Kumbhakaran’s superpower was the ability to sleep for long periods. My kinda guy. A huge army of servants armed with trumpeting elephants, huge drums, pungent foods was deployed to attempt to wake the sleeping giant. he didn’t wake up right away, rather during the middle of the battle. i will fast forward there for a bit to highlight the point I am trying to make here in the midst of all these tangential observations. When he woke up, he immediately assessed the situation and came to the same conclusion as Vibhishana. His stance however was to follow his brother and do his duty.
Since the whole point of Ramayana is to teach us Dharma and Duty and Morality etc etc, please note a couple of points here. First, only the people who were almost equals of Ravana in his stature were able to tell him that a spade was not a club. Also, both guys did what seems to be right thing, but in diametrically opposite ways. Who was right-er? You decide.
Back to the war!
This part is mostly the fighting.

One skilled warrior from one side meets a similar guy from the other side and each fight has its moments.

Ravana’s son uses the power of goddess Maya [Illusion] to create magics and trickery, but is eventually defeated by common sense. Another son preforms special rites before battle that renders him invincible. He is defeated when our heroes manage to disrupt his rites one day. Our heroes once get bitten by poisonous snakes, for which the remedy is one tree in the north of the country. Hanuman immediately flies across the length of the sub-continent and locates the hill. Presumably he didn’t pay attention to botany in school, and cannot find the right tree. So he uproots the hill [yes, the whole hill; did I mention he was strong?], brings it to the battlefield and poison can be treated yay. etc etc etc and many fights and blood and carnage.

Skipping the action movie stuff, When our heroes win finally [no suspense about who won, right?] and Ram and Sita are united. Happy ending? no sir!
He has to ask her to prove her purity in front of his army. She has been in another man’s house after all. The pathos of this scene is striking. My favorite part.
Sita wants to just go home and end this harrowing episode, but here is her loving husband asking her to prove she didn’t cheat on him. Here is an excellent movie told by a westerner for Sita’s point of view culminating on this issue.
Ram presumably has multiple emotions in his mind too. He did his duty, his Dharma, wife is rescued. However, Dharma dictates [since he is a public figure] that his and his family’s image be squeaky clean [never mind the 14 year exile, his dad having 3 wives etc etc… sign of the times]
Her test is administered by the fire god and as she steps into a pyre, she is unscathed. Purity is proven, happiness and joy all around
Incidentally, 14 years have ended. Ayodhya welcomes their beloved son with open arms and lots of celebrations. The festival of Dusshera in October celebrates the killing of Ravan [symbolic of evil] by burning huge effigies of Ravana and his brothers with firecrackers and stuff. Jolly good show. Also, in many villages, theater troupes perform Ramayan on this evening. Exactly 20 days later, is the grand festival of Diwali. This is when Ram returned to Ayodhya, and all the citizens celebrated by decorating the city with lamps and lights and ornaments and what not. Generally a time to rejoice. So this is what we do even today. Biggest festival of the year. Woohoo.
The story has one little twist at the end though.
Married life and life as a king suits Ram well. Technically he was still king for these 14 years. If you remember, the son of the lady who exiled Ram was supposed to be king. Bharat his name was. however, Bharat is such a dutiful brother, he runs after Ram, begs him to not go. Ram cannot disobey his father. So Bharat borrows Ram’s sandals, installs the footwear on the throne, and rules as a steward in his stead. Again, lessons learnt on how to follow Dharma etc etc. So when Ram came back, he was delighted to get his old sandals back, and he was able to sit comfortably in his throne, without any other person smushing the cushions, making it the most comfy chair around.

One evening Ram and Sita are canoodling in the royal palace, when they overhear a washer-man beat his [unproven] adulterous wife. She asks for mercy, he says I am not Ram, to forgive my wife when she consorts with other men.

Dharma kicks in again! how can a king rule if his subjects have lost respect for him?? Banishing Sita is the only solution. According to Ram. You may think otherwise. Write a 1000 page essay debating the morality of Ram’s actions in this situation. Do not show it to me. It is for you. Treasure it. You are welcome.

Twist is that Sita is preggers! Totally! and twins too! whoa! bet you didn’t see that coming! She is still completely in love with Ram. She doesn’t understand his actions, causing some anger, but the underlying love isnt lost. She raises her sons with the help of a learned sage who has given her refuge and they teach the twins Luv and Kush the glories of Ram, the original UberMensch.
Story has come full circle, because as Valmiki [the author of the epic. You didnt it was me, did you? I didnt make all of this up. Valmiki did] writes the whole story as sung by Luv and Kush in the court of Ram. Thats right. Sita sends her sons armed with tales of Ram to sing his glory throughout the kingdom, and they end up doing that in Ram’s court, in front of Ram himself. He is a shrewd fella, and he asks the right questions and deduces that these are his sons. Tears in the eyes of everyone in court, I swear.
Struggling with his extant love of wife versus love of Dharma, Ram rushes with his kids to find Sita. He finds her. She refuses to go with him, and for all that she has suffered, she asks mother earth to accept her as sacrifice. Mother comes along, gobbles up the saintly wife of Ram, and says thank you very much!
Many points to ponder here. What are the motivations of Ram, Sita and the kids and indeed, all the other people in the story. Is Dharma really so important? Can you live a happy life if you follow your principles strictly? Is there a duality involved somewhere? Does this apply only to public figures? Who was right, who was wrong? What angle were Luv/Kush playing at? Did I tell you the story has ended, finally?
finis.
Advertisements

One thought on “Neringa Ramayan, Compiled

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s