Reading Guide. Remember Agastya, the sage Rama met in the forest long ago? He has come to Lanka for the final battle, and he gives Rama some advice about how to defeat his seemingly invincible foe.
Image: The illustration here is another detail from the same painting as you saw on this previous page; Rama's arrows are slicing off Ravana's heads, as you can see, but it will take more than that to defeat the rakshasa king.
Source. Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists by Sister Nivedita (1914). [400 words]
Shakra sent down from Heaven his car and his charioteer, named Matali, to aid the son of Dasharatha in his fight, and Rama went about and greeted it, and, mounting upon it, seemed to light the whole world with his splendor. But Ravana loosed at him a rakshasa weapon, and its golden shafts, with fiery faces vomiting flames, poured over Rama from every side and changed to venomous serpents. But Rama took a Garuda-weapon and loosed a flight of golden arrows, changing at will to birds, and devouring all the serpent arrows of the rakshasa.
Then the presiding deities of all the weapons came to stand by Rama, and what with this auspicious omen and other happy signs, Rama began to harass Ravana sorely, and wounded him, so that his charioteer, beholding him as if at the point of death, turned away from the field of battle.
Then the revered Agastya, come thither with the gods to witness the defeat of Ravana, drew near to Rama and taught him, "Rama, Rama, great-armed hero, my child, hearken to the eternal secret, the Heart of the Sun, whereby thou mayst overcome every foe. Do thou worship Sun, lord of the world, in whom dwells the spirit of all the gods. Hail! Hail! O thousand-rayed, hail to Aditya! Thou wakener of the lotus! Thou source of life and death, destroyer of all darkness, light of the soul, who wakest when all sleep, and dwellest in every heart! Thou art the gods and every sacrifice and the fruits thereof. Do thou worship with this hymn the lord of the universe, and thou shalt conquer Ravana today."
Then Rama hymned the Sun, and purified himself with water-sippings, and was glad, and he turned to deal with Ravana for the rakshasa had come to himself again and was eager for the battle. Each like a flaming lion fought the other; head after head of the Ten-Necked One did Rama cut away with his deadly arrows, but new heads ever rose in place of those cut off, and Ravana's death seemed nowise nearer than before — the arrows that had slain Maricha and Khara and Vali could not take the king of Lanka's life away.