Friday, April 2, 2010

PDE Ramayana: Indrajit

Reading Guide. You will meet a new character in this episode: Garuda, the great winged mount (vahana) of the god Indra. In a moment of desperation, he comes to heal the soldiers of Rama's army who have been wounded by Ravana's son Indrajit. Indrajit has used a weapon called a Nagapasha or Nagastra, a Naga-weapon or serpent-weapon. Since Garuda is the enemy of the Nagas, it makes sense that he is the one who heals the warriors this time.

Image: The image below shows Sita flying over the battlefield, seeing Rama and Lakshama struck down by serpent-weapons.

SourceMyths of the Hindus and Buddhists by Sister Nivedita (1914). [700 words]

Rama Attacks | 63. Indrajit | Kumbhakarna

Then the monkeys advanced in order and swarmed about the walls, flooding the moat and striking terror into the hearts of the rakshasas; scaling parties climbed the walls and battered down the gates with trees and stones, shouting "Victory for Rama and for Sugriva!"

The rakshasas sallied forth in turn with horrid trumpetings and joined in battle with the monkeys, and all the air was filled with the noise of fighting, and terrible confusion arose of friend and foe and man and beast, and the earth was strewn with flesh and wet with gore. Thus an equal battle raged till evening, but the rakshasas waited for the night, and eagerly desired the setting of the sun, for night is the rakshasas' time of strongest might. So night fell, and the demons ranged, devouring monkeys by thousands.

Then those of Rama's party rallied and for a time prevailed, and Indrajit, the son of Ravana, was beaten back. But he, resorting to his magic, became invisible, and showered deadly wounding arrows upon Rama and Lakshmana; fighting in crooked ways, he bound them fast so that they fell helpless to the ground, covered with a thousand wounds.

Sugriva, Hanuman, Vibhishana, and all the leaders of the monkeys stood round about those wounded heroes with tear-filled eyes, but Indrajit, unseen of any save his uncle Vibhishana, rejoiced, and let fly many a shaft that wounded Hanuman and Nila and Jambavan. Then Indrajit returned to Lanka as a victor, and his father welcomed him, and for a while the fighting ceased.

Now Vibhishana rallied the frightened monkeys and comforted Sugriva, saying, "This is no time for giving way to grief. Rama is not dying. Do thou gather the forces and inspire them with fresh hope." But the monkeys were panic-stricken, and if even a straw moved they deemed it to be a rakshasa.

And Ravana meanwhile, taking Sita on his car, showed to her Rama and Lakshmana lying on the field, senseless and pierced with many arrows, wounded and lying in the dust, and she deemed them to be dead, and wailed — but Ravana brought her back to Lanka.

Meanwhile Rama came to himself, and seeing Lakshmana seeming to be dead, he made great lamentation and,  praising what the monkeys had done, though unsuccessful, he gave them leave to go whither they would across the bridge and seek their homes. And Vibhishana, too, had no more taste for battle or desire for the throne of Lanka. But Sugriva comforted them and gave them fresh courage, and the monkey-chief Sushena told of a magic herb that grows by the Milky Ocean and can restore the dead to life, "and let the Wind-God's son go thither for it," he said.

But as he spoke a stormy wind arose, lashing the sea and shaking the very mountains, and suddenly the monkeys beheld Garuda sailing through the air like a flaming fire. As Garuda came nigh, the arrows fell from the wounded heroes like frightened serpents darting away, and when he bent in salutation and touched their faces with his hands, the sons of Dasharatha were healed, and they came to their former strength and radiance, and more.

Then Rama questioned Garuda who he was, and he answered, "I am thy friend, thy life free-ranging external to thyself, Garuda, and I have come to aid thee, hearing that thou wert bound by the magic shafts of Indrajit. Now thou shouldst take warning how the rakshasas fight with cunning and magic, and thou shouldst never trust them in the field. I take my way: thou needst not wonder how friendship came to be between us; thou shalt know all after the battle is achieved. Surely thou shalt slay Ravana and win back Sita."

With this Garuda, embracing Rama and Lakshmana, embracing, too, the monkey-chiefs, rose into the sky and sailed away upon the wind. Then the monkey-chiefs, seeing Rama and Lakshmana restored to life and power, began to roar and frisked their tails; drums and kettledrums were struck, and seizing trees, hundreds and thousands of monkeys advanced again upon the gates of Lanka.

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