Friday, June 10, 2011

PDE Ramayana: Thataka

Reading Guide. Here you will see Rama do battle for the first time with a rakshasa, or, rather, a rakshasi, a female rakshasa. He will receive supernatural weapons as his rewards, and the spirits of those weapons will speak to him!

Image: The illustration is from the 16th century during the Mughal period of Indian history; you can read more about the Mughals at Wikipedia: Mughal Empire.

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]

Vishvamitra | 5. Thataka | Ganga

The sage led the two princes towards a dark and fearsome jungle haunted by numerous beasts of prey, in which dwelt the terrible rakshasa woman named Thataka, mother of Maricha. She was misshapen and horrible, and continually ravaged all that country.

Rama twanged his bow to challenge her, and she came towards the princes roaring angrily and throwing boulders. Because she was a female, the sons of Dasharatha were reluctant to cause her death. Rama shot arrows and cut off both her arms, and Lakshmana deprived her of nose and ears. She immediately changed her shape and became invisible, but by the power of sorcery continued to cause many stones to fall in showers about the young heroes.

Vishwamitra urged Rama to slay her and, guided by sound alone, he shot a great arrow which caused her death. Then the sage rejoiced greatly and, embracing Rama, kissed his head.

In the morning Vishwamitra chanted powerful mantras, which caused celestial weapons to appear for Rama, and the spirits of the weapons stood before the prince with clasped hands and said, “We are thy servants, O nobly generous one. Good betide thee! Whatever thou dost desire, lo, we shall accomplish for thee!”

Said Rama, “When I have need of you, I will think of you, and then you will wait upon me.”

Thereafter Vishwamitra led the princes to his hermitage, which was situated in a pleasant grove where deer disported and birds sang sweetly. All the sages welcomed them. It chanced that when six days had gone past, the brahmins prepared to offer up a sacrifice.

Suddenly a band of rakshasas, led by Maricha, son of the hag Thataka, and Subahu, rushed towards the altar to defile the offering with bones and blood. Rama thought of his celestial weapons, and they immediately appeared beside him. He cast one at Maricha which drove him hundreds of miles out to sea, and he threw a fire weapon at Subahu which consumed him; then he attacked and slew all the other demons. The sages rejoiced greatly and honoured the prince.

Vishvamitra | Thataka | Ganga

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