Rama too was very happy that Hanuman was successful in finding Sita. Sugriva had kept up his word and Rama now had to plan about reaching Lanka to kill Ravana and rescue Sita. He therefore talked to Sugriva about this. “Sugriva, you have proved to be my true friend. I want more help from you because I am afraid that Ravana might kill Sita to take revenge. Hence, please get your army ready.” Rama called Hanuman also to his side and holding his hands warmly said, “Maruthi, I am so grateful to you for your help. You are the only one among us who is capable of flying across the ocean. So, please tell us how we can get there.” Rama also asked his trusted friend about Lanka’s city plan, about its main gates, about the trenches built around the fort and many more such information to plan the attack.
Though Hanuman had burnt down Lanka, Ravana had the city rebuilt immediately. Anjaneya who was aware of this told Rama, “Lord! Once we cross the ocean, Lanka will be ours. Have no doubt about it. I shall summon Angada, Neela, Jambavanta and many more valiant Vanaras and bears and will be ready to leave.”
Upon Sugriva’s order, thousands of Vanaras formed a huge army and walked towards the ocean. But the vast expanse of water stopped them in their march. They just could not think of any method by which they could cross the ocean. They were afraid that they would drown in the water.
In Lanka also, many people were afraid of the consequences of war. They had seen the power of just one monkey. If thousands of such monkeys attacked Lanka, what would be the fate, many wondered. The Rakshasas tried to talk courageously and boasted, “Rama and his Vanaras will be like insects in our hands.”
Only one person among them was wise. He was Vibhisana, Ravana’s younger brother. He was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and a very righteous man. While the others were advising Ravana about preparing for the war, Vibhisana stood up at the meeting and told his brother, “Ravana, do not act in haste. First and foremost, you have been responsible for this crisis. You have sinned in longing for another man’s wife. So, please listen to me. At least now, let us send back Sita to Rama before he attacks. Then peace will prevail on both the sides.”
Ravana did not like Vibhisana’s words. “I am not a coward. I am not sending Sita back to Rama. Please don’t interfere in our plans,” he scolded his brother.
Kumbakarna, another brother of Ravana, was also present at the meeting. He was a Rakshasa who slept for six months at a stretch. On waking up, he would eat lots and lots of food and go back to sleep again. Just that day, he had finished one round of sleeping. Though he did not like Ravana’s behaviour, he decided to support him out of brotherly love and loyalty.
Vibhisana could not tolerate his brother Ravana provoking war. He again advised him, “Ravana, King of Lanka! Do you know who Sita is. She is a Goddess who can destroy evil. Her husband Sri Rama is the Lord of the Universe. None can fight against him. Not even Kumbakarna or you. So, act sensibly and send back Sita.”
Ravana, his son Indrajit and the Rakshasas thought that Vibhisana was behaving like a coward. Vibhisana’s frank talk was not liked by anyone. When he once again suggested that Ravana should avoid war with Rama, Ravana was very angry. “Vibhisana, are you really my brother? You talk as if I am your enemy. I feel you are very jealous of me. I would have killed you this very moment. Don’t ever step into Lanka again. Get out from, here,” he roared.
Feeling sad that his brother ignored his advice, Vibhisana, with four of his followers, went to Rama and sought refuge under him.
“Sir,” Vibhisana introduced himself to Rama, “I am Vibhisana, Ravana’s brother. I have come to seek refuge under you. I tried my level best to make Ravana realise his mistake. I told him to hand over Sita and made peace with you. He ridiculed me and drove me out of Lanka. Rama, please accept me as your humble servant.”
Sugriva and other Vanara leaders did not like this request. So they told Rama, “Rama, Vibhisana belongs to the enemy camp. Moreover he is a Rakshasa and a trickster. So, please think about this before you come to any decision.” Hanuman then remembered how Vibhisana had sided him in Ravana’s court. So he told Rama, “Rama, Vibhisana has probably approached you as he can become the king of Lanka after Ravana’s death. He expects you to help him just the way you helped Sugriva against his brother Vali. In my humble opinion, we should accept Vibhisana’s friendship.”
Rama agreed with Hanuman and said, “It is my duty to protect those who seek refuge in me.” On hearing these words, Vibhisana fell at Rama’s feet and thanked him for this gesture.
Sri Rama embraced Vibhisana and promised him that upon Ravana’s death he would be the king of Lanka. He then asked his friend about Ravana’s army and Vibhisana explained everything in detail to him.
Under Vibhisana’s guidance, the Vanaras built a bridge across the sea by placing logs of wood and big stones. In a few days the bridge was ready. Cheering with excitement, the Vanara army crossed the sea and reached Lanka.
As soon as the Vanara army reached the gates of Lanka, Rama divided them into battalions and placed each group at importapt places. The whole area echoed with the sound of conches being blown and bows being stringed. These sounds created a scare in the minds of the Rakshasas.
A fierce battle broke out between the Vanaras and the Rakshasas. Each one of the Vanaras fought bravely and injured or killed many Rakshasas. Sugriva, Hanuman, Angad and Neel killed many Rakshasas and everytime they killed, they cried out, “Victory to Sri Rama!”
The Rakshasas fought equally well. Especially at night, they used their magical powers and were responsible for the death of many Vanaras. But the death toll in Ravana’s army was very, very high.
This upset Ravana very much because he had thought that it was very easy to defeat an army of monkeys. But his son Indrajit swore that Rama and Lakshmana would both be dead before dawn. This filled Ravana with delight. He embraced his son and told him, “Indrajit, I am very proud of you. May success be yours!”
Indrajit used the darkness of the night and fought the war with skill and valour. Many Vanaras died at his hands. Indrajit then employed serpent-like arrows which entwined themselves around Raftia and Lakshmana as snakes. The poison emitted by these snakes -made Rama and Lakshmana lose consciousness. Both of them fell to the ground. Taking them to be dead, Indrajit conveyed this good news to his father. Needless to say, Ravana was extremely happy. This news was conveyed to Sita and she was brought in a flying-machine to show her the fate of her husband and her brother- in-law. She was grief-stricken that her dearest husband was dead.
Soon, the news that Rama and Lakshmana were found dead in the battlefield spread in Lanka. But only Vibhisana knew that Rama and
Lakshmana had lost consciousness. Soon Rama regained consciousness but Lakshmana had not recovered from the snake poison. His body was slowly turning blue and Rama was extremely worried. The Devas who were watching this from the heaven instructed Garuda to save Rama and Lakshmana from the snakes. When the snakes saw that Garuda was about to swoop down on them, they unwound themselves and disappeared into snake pits. Rama and Lakshmana soon regained consciousness. Garuda warned them to be careful about Indrajit and flew into the high skies again.
Ravana sent many more Rakshasas, who were very good at warfare. B ut each one of them, died at the hands of Hanuman, Neela and other valiant Vanaras. Ravana felt very humiliated. He immediately rushed to Kumbakama who was fast asleep. With great difficult}’, Ravana woke up his brother. “Kumbakarna, if you love me, go and kill my enemies,” he ordered.
Kumbakarna had to obey his brother. So he got out of his enormous bed and walked towards the battlefield. He was so huge and massive, it appeared as if a big mountain had entered the battlefield. Kumbakarna lifted Sugriva and Hanuman easily. He thrashed Hanuman on the ground and tucked Sugriva under his arm, who narrowly escaped. The enraged Kumbakarna challenged Rama and a fierce battle was fought. Rama used one of his powerful weapons and chopped Kumbakarna”s arms and legs. He used another weapon which separated Kumbakarna’s head from his body.
Kumbakarna soon died. The Vanaras felt very happy at this success.
Ravana was shocked to hear about Kumbakama’s death. He sent his sons Devanthaka, Naranthaka,
Trishiraska and Atikaya to the battlefield. But they were no match for the Vanaras and soon Ravana received news about their deaths too. Ravana was terribly shaken by these losses. Grief-stricken, he slumped to the ground. Indrajit who saw his father lose courage, tried to instil some confidence in him and said, “Father, as long as I am alive, please do not think of defeat. This time, my arrows will not spare Rama and Lakshmana. I will soon be back victorious. ”
Apart from being very brave and very good at warfare, Indrajit also possessed immense magical powers. While his arrows hit Rama and
Lakshmana and caused some injuries, he used his magical powers upon the entire Vanara army. He spread a poisonous gas in the air and soon most of the Vanaras including Rama and Lakshmana tumbled down. Jambavantha, who was fighting at the other end quickly called Hanuman and told him, “Maruthi, you cross the ocean, go to Kailash mountain and from there fetch a rare herb called Sanjivini. We can then bring back all the Vanaras to life.” Even before Jambavanta finished saying this, Hanuman flew across with the speed of wind and since he could not find Sanjivini, transported the entire mountain to Lanka. Very soon, Rama, Lakshmana and the Vanaras were up on their feet, fit and fighting.
Indrajit once again used his magical powers and turned a Rakshasi to look exactly like Sita. He then took this fake Sita to the battlefield and in full view of Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Sugriva and others, severed her head.
The Vanaras were aghast. Rama turned numb with shock and Lakshmana vowed to kill Indrajit then and there. He chased Indrajit to a temple where Indrajit acquired more secret powers. Lakshmana destroyed this secret power by using a suitable weapon and also struck down Indraj it’s head. The Vanaras rejoiced at this triumph. Rama felt very relieved that Lakshmana had come to no harm and also that it was not Sita who had died at Indr aj it’s hands.
Indrajit’s death was the severest blow to Ravana. He had lost all his sons, his brothers and his army in the war. The whole of Lanka plunged into sorrow. Some criticised Surpanakha for provoking Ravana into kidnapping Sita. Others cursed Ravana for his misdeed. “His lust for a woman has caused us so much agony,” lamented the citizens for there was death and destruction in each and every house in Lanka.
Ravana climbed into his chariot and entered the battlefield with a fierce determination to kill Rama. But first of all, he had to encounter Lakshmana. Ravana stopped the arrows used by Lakshmana in midair. He then turned his attention towards Rama. Severe fighting broke out between Rama and Ravana. Ravana used many powerful arrows but Rama could stop each one of them in mid-air. The arrows would become useless and fall down. But then, even Rama’s arrows were futile as they could not penetrate the armour worn
by Ravana. This was an armour granted to Ravana by Brahma as a boon and ordinary arrows could not penetrate through it.
With Ravana and Rama both being equally powerful, the battle between them became very fierce and raged on for several days. Even the celestial
gods watched them anxiously as the war did not seem to end at all. But slowly Ravana felt drained of energy and knew that his end was close at hand. Still he fought. Finally Rama used Brahmastra, the mightiest of all mighty weapons. It tore the armour worn by Ravana and hit him in the chest. The mighty Ravana fell down and died. The evil was vanquished.
The Devas rejoiced over the death of this wicked Rakshasa. The Vanaras went berserk with joy. Only Vibhisana, Mandodari and Ravana’s other queens were plunged into grief.
On Rama’s advice, Vibhisana performed Ravana’s last rites.
Rama who was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu thus brought peace to the land. All the Rishis and Devas rejoiced that the Rakshasas had been wiped out.
Rama kept up his word and crowned Vibhisana as the king of Lanka.
Sri Rama then sent Hanuman to fetch Sita. Sitadevi was very happy that the wicked Ravana had been killed. She looked forward to rejoin her beloved Rama. But he did not
accept her immediately. He wanted to test whether she had remained devout to him. So he said, “I find it impossible to believe that a Rakshasa like Ravana had not touched a beautiful woman like you. You are impure, so, I cannot accept you back as my wife.” Rama’s cruel words filled Sita’s heart with sadness. She had given up food and water and had barely kept herself alive only to reunite with Rama. If he suspected her virtue, then life was not worth living for her. So the distressed Situ turned towards Lakshmana and asked him to prepare a pyre for her. Rama did not object.
Sita jumped into the pyre and prayed to Agni, the God of Fire to rescue her only if she had remained pure. Kubera,^Yama, Varuna, Indra, Shiva, Brahma and other Gods and Goddesses who witnessed this scene from the sky, came down to earth and conveyed their displeasure to Rama. “Ramachandra! You are the wisest among the wise. You are the Lord of the Universe. How could you behave like a mere human being? How could you watch Sita jump into the fire?” they asked him. Brahma placed his hand on Rama’s shoulder and told him, “You are Narayana. Sita is Lakshmi. As a divine couple, you are far above suspicions and distrust.” By then, Agni gently carried Sita out of the pyre and told, “Rama, Sita is chaste. Please accept her.” Rama’s doubts were cleared, and joyfully he accepted Sita.
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were blessed by all the Gods. Rama’s exile had come to an end. So he bade goodbye to all his Vanara friends and thanked Vibhisana for his help.
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana,
accompanied by Sugriva and Hanuman left for Ayodhya in a Pushpak Viman arranged by Vibhisana. On their flight, Sita and Rama identified the places they had stayed during the exile. Rama also showed her the Rishyamukha, Pampa Lake, Sabari’s Ashram and Kishkinda and the forests where he had roamed pining for Sita.
The Pushpak Viman reached Ayodhya. Bharata was waiting for Rama’s return. He prostrated before his brother and begged him to take charge of the kingdom. Kaushalya, Kaikeyi, Sumitra and Vashishtha blessed Rama and with their consent, Rama agreed to become the king.
Soon Rama was crowned the king of Ayodhya. The Coronation was conducted on a grand scale. Rama and Sita were seated on the throne.
Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugna stood behind them. Hanuman sat at Rama’s feet.
People rejoiced about this happy event. The festivities continued for a week and Rama made generous gifts to everyone.
Sri Rama ruled over Ayodhya for many years. People lived a happy, contented life in the kingdom and this glorious reign was hailed as RAMA RAJYA.
This is the story of RAM AY AN A. This epic was written by Maharshi Valmiki, Reading Ramayana will help us to follow Rama’s ideals, his devotion towards his parents, his values and his truthfulness. Let us all strive to be better human beings.