Reading Guide. You have seen before that Ravana has great powers of illusion. Now as Rama advances on Lanka, Ravana tries to use his powers of illusion to cause Sita to despair.
Image: The painting below shows how Ravana is besieged inside the golden city of Lanka, with Rama's army of monkeys and bears besieging him from all directions.
Source. Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists by Sister Nivedita (1914). [300 words]
Dreadful were the omens of war that showed themselves: the earth shook, the clouds rained blood, a fiery circle fell from the sun. But the monkeys roared defiance at the rakshasas, whose destruction was thus foretold. Then Rama, beholding Lanka towering up to pierce the heavens, built by Vishvakarman, wrought, as it were, of mind rather than matter, hanging in the sky like a bank of snow-white clouds, was downcast at the thought of Sita prisoned there, but he arrayed the host of bears and monkeys and laid siege to Lanka.
Meanwhile Ravana's spies, sent in monkey shape to gather news, brought tidings thereof to Lanka and, advising him of Rama's resistless power, counseled that Sita should be surrendered, but Ravana was enraged, and drove the spies away disgraced, and sent others in their place, but ever with the same result. No help was there, then, but to give battle or yield up Rama's bride, but Ravana took counsel first to betray Sita to his will. He told her that the monkey host had been dispersed and Rama slain, and a rakshasi came in, bringing the semblance of Rama's head and bow, and Sita knew them, and was grieving out of all measure, and crying aloud with many lamentations, and she prayed Ravana to slay her by Rama's head that she might follow him. But therewith came in a messenger from the rakshasa general calling Ravana to the battle, and he turned to the field of war, and when he left, the head and bow immediately vanished, and Sita knew them to have been but counterfeits and vain illusions.