(Last Updated on : 12/03/2010)
Aranya Kanda is the third episode of the great epic Ramayana. In this episode of Kanda the forest life of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita is elaborately described. They traveled southward along River Godavari`s bank and constructed a cottage and lived in the Panchavati forest. There was also the mention of an incident related to Surpanakha, the sister of the demon king Ravana and the cutting up of her nose and ears by Lakshmana. Ravana`s anger was vividly narrated in this episode as a result of the treatment meted out to his sister by the two brothers and he plans to abduct Sita in order to take revenge. Ravana sends one of his trusted asuras named Maricha in the form of a golden deer in order to deceive the two brothers and he abducts Sita from the hut. Aranya Kanda also describes the anger of Rama after knowing about Sita`s abduction and he searches thoroughly for her. With this ends the Aranya Kanda and in the next Kanda Rama and Lakshmana meet the great Hanuman.
The forest life of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita
Rama and Sita
wandered through the forest, welcome guests at every hermitage. The great sages dwelling in the hermitages also complained against those devilish rangers of the night, and besought Rama`s protection against them, which he freely promised, and when the gentle Sita one day suggested that they should lay down their arms, abandoning the rule of knights for that of saints, and ceasing from hostility even against the rakshasas, Rama answered that it might not be, for he was pledged by knightly duty and personal promise.
They killed several rakshasas while staying in the jungle and the two brothers once found Jatayu
who introduced himself as a friend of Dasaratha
and also promised that he would guard Sita when they were away. Lastly, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita came to the Panchavati
forest where stretched a fair lawn beside the Godavari River
and they stayed there. Once Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were together at their hut and at that time Surpanakha
, the sister of demon king Ravana came there. She desired Rama at first sight and when refused she desired for Lakshmana. After be rejected by Lakshmana she decided to kill Sita but was stopped by Lakshmana who chopped her nose and ears. She went bleeding furiously to her younger brother Khara
who fought with Rama and Lakshmana to take revenge but was ultimately killed by Rama.
Ravana Angered at Surpanakha`s Condition
After getting the news of the ill-treatment meted out to Surpanakha by Lakshmana and the death of his younger brother Khara at the hand of Rama, the demon king Ravana
determined to take revenge by carrying Sita away. He ordered one of his obedient asuras, the crafty Maricha
to go in disguise of a golden deer and move the two brothers Rama and Lakshmana away from the hut so that Ravana could take Sita away. Maricha went to Panchavati forest in the guise of a golden deer and moved close to the hut of Rama. When Sita saw the deer she desired the deer and requested Rama to get it for her. Rama could not deny the request of Sita and went to the jungle after the golden deer while Lakshmana guarded Sita. When Rama killed the deer the asura came into his original form and cried out the name of Lakshmana to save him. Hearing the sound Sita thought that her husband was in trouble and forced Lakshmana to go to the jungle to save his brother Rama.
Sita`s Abduction by Ravana
The plan worked well and Ravana finding Sita alone assumed the shape of a yogi, carrying a staff and a beggar`s bowl, came towards Sita who was waiting alone for Rama and Lakshmana to come back. He abducted Sita and took her away to Lanka
. In the way he was confronted by Jatayu who fought bravely against Ravana to rescue Sita but was fatally wounded by the demon king.
Rama`s Grief on Sita`s Disappearance
Rama, after returning from the chase of Maricha along with Lakshmana blamed his brother for leaving Sita. He became furious to find that Sita was not present in the hermitage. They searched every nook and corner of the forest and mountain ranges and thought that the rakshasas had eaten her, taking revenge for the death of Khara. While searching for Sita they found Jatayu who was fatally wounded by Ravana. Jatayu told every thing to Rama regarding Sita`s abduction and assured him that he would kill the demon and rescue Sita. After telling this Jatayu died and the two brothers carried the bird`s funeral in a proper manner. They met a rakshasa in the way and killed him. The rakshasa was however cursed and was told to be free for this terrible life by Rama. Rama and Lakshmana burnt the Rakshasa and he raised from the mighty pyre and told Rama and Lakshmana to go to the Rishyamuka Mountain where they would find the great monkey Sugriva
and four other monkeys who would help him in his battle to rescue Sita from Ravana.
The Aranya Kanda thus narrates the life of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in the Panchavati forest and the killing of several rakshasas by the two brothers and the cutting up of nose and ears of Surpanakha by Lakshmana. This episode also gives an account of the battle between numerous rakshasas with Rama and the killing of Ravana`s younger brother Khara in the hand of Rama. The last part of this Kanda in Ramayana narrates the incident of the disguise of the asura Maricha as a Golden deer and the abduction of Sita by Ravana and the death of Jatayu while fighting against Ravana to rescue Sita. This Kanda ends with the search for Sita by Rama and Lakshmana and their ultimate movement towards the Rishyamuka
where they were told to meet the great monkey Sugriva.