Reading Guide. Ravana rides his chariot into battle, intent on killing Lakshmana, and he nearly succeeds!
Image: In this detail from a painting you can get a sense of the participants in the war: humans, demons, monkeys, and bears — with war elephants too.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]
Ravana went gloomily away; he mounted his chariot to battle against his enemies, remembering those who had already fallen. Followed by a great army, he swept from the city like to a tempest cloud which darkens the summer heaven. He beheld his brother Vibhishana fighting for Rama, and angrily cast at him a great weapon, but Lakshmana flung a javelin which shattered it in flight. Ravana smiled grimly and shouted to Lakshmana, “Slayer of my son, I welcome thee! Thou hast protected Vibhishana; now protect, if thou canst, thine own self.”
Having spoken thus he flung a great dart, which pierced the heart of Lakshmana and pinned him to the earth.
Rama stooped over the fallen hero and cried, “Alas! art thou fallen, my gallant brother? Thy weapons have dropped from thy hands; death claims thee, but, O Lakshmana, thou wilt not die alone. I am weary of battle and of glory, and when my task is ended, I will follow in thy footsteps. The love of wife or friend is easily won, but the love of a faithful brother, equal to thine, is rarely found in this world of illusions. Dearest of brothers, greatest of heroes, wilt thou never awaken from thy deathly swoon or open again thine eyes to behold me? Alas! the lips of Lakshmana are silent and his ears are stopped.”
In the darkness of night Hanuman again hastened northward in speedy flight to obtain the mountain which he had aforetime carried to Lanka. The physician found upon it the healing herbs; he pounded them and made a paste which he placed under the nostrils of the unconscious warrior. Then Lakshmana rose up again healed and hale and powerful. Rama rejoiced greatly, and turned against his foes.
A night attack was made upon the rakshasa capital, and the apes intercepted a sacrifice which Ravana sought to offer up to the gods so as to compel their aid; many fair mansions were given to the flames.