(Last Updated on : 23/03/2010)
Yuddha Kanda is one of the major episodes in the great epic Ramayana which starts after the Sundara Kanda. The Yuddha Kanda narrates the tale of the leaving of Lanka by Vibhishana and his meeting with Rama and Lakshmana. The Setu Bandha or the Adam's Bridge construction over the ocean to reach Lanka has been well-described in this episode. Every one belonging to the army of Rama contributed their lot in the construction of this bridge and once the construction was completed they marched towards Lanka. This episode also speaks about the fight of Rama and Lakshmana against Indrajit in which the two brothers were injured by Indrajit. The heroic endeavor of Hanuman along with other monkeys has also been described in this Kanda where Hanuman kills several rakshasas. There is also the mention of Kumbhakarna, one of the brothers of Ravana who also fought with Rama and was killed. The death of Indrajit has also been narrated in this episode along with the death of Ravana and the victory of Rama.
Vibhishana Leaves Lanka
After Hanuman burned half of Lanka
and returned to Rama with the message of Sita
, the demon king Ravana
called a council and discussed about the destructive works done by Hanuman in Lanka and also that Rama was preparing for an attack of Lanka. Thus, he discussed about the means to protect the city of Lanka. His generals advised him to entrust the battle to Prince Indrajit
, while others, such as Prahasta
, Nikurribha, and Vajrahanu, said that they would alone swallow up the monkey army. Vibhishana
, younger brother of Ravana, advised another course. He said that force can only be resorted to when other means have failed viz. conciliation, gifts, and sowing dissension. He said that death can result from a conflict with Rama, who was self-controlled and vigilant, and strong with the might of all the gods. He advised his brother to surrender Sita to Rama and end the probability of such a tremendous deadly combat, but Ravana dismissed his brother angrily, and boasted that he would hold Sita.
Ravana again took counsel with his generals for war, but again Vibhishana opposed him, till Ravana cursed him angrily as cowardly and treasonable. Then Vibhishana deemed it to be enough to bear such insults, and rising into the air with his four personal followers passed through the sky over the sea and came to the monkey host, and announced himself as come to make alliance with Rama. The monkey leaders, however, put little faith in a rakshasa, even if he were not in the guise of a spy; but Rama spoke fairly with him, and engaged, in return for his assistance in the war, to set him on the throne of Lanka when Ravana should have been slain.
Rama, Hanuman and Sugriva
took counsel with Vibhishana of how to cross the ocean, and he deemed that Rama should seek the aid and the friendship of the Ocean for the building of a bridge. Rama was informed by the ocean that he could construct a bridge over it to reach Lanka. All the monkeys followed the orders of Nala and gathered trees and rocks and brought them from the forests to the shore, and set them in the sea. The first day fourteen leagues were covered and on the fifth day the bridge was finished, broad, elegant, and firm and the monkeys along with Rama, Lakshmana, Sugriva and Vibhishana crossed over it for Lanka.
The dreadful omens of war showed themselves as the earth shook, the clouds rained blood, and a fiery circle fell from the sun. But the monkeys roared defiance at the rakshasas, whose destruction was neared. Then Rama, beholding Lanka towering up to pierce the heavens, constructed by Lord Vishwakarma
, 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 monkeys and besieged Lanka. The spies of Ravana brought news to their Lord about the arrival of Rama and Lakshmana accompanied by Sugriva, Hanuman, a large monkey army and Vibhishana. However, Ravana tried his best to betray Sita of his will by telling her lies that he had killed Rama and Lakshmana but he could not become successful in that.
Lord Rama Wounded
The four rakshasa followers of Vibhishana had spied on Lanka and were aware of the disposition of the forces of Ravana. Rama laid blockaded the four gates of Lanka by establishing the monkey Nila at the eastern gate, guarded by the rakshasa general Prahasta; Hanuman at the southern gate, guarded by Prince Indrajit; Angada at the western gate, guarded by Mahaparshwa: and he attacked the north gate, guarded by Ravana. Rama sent Angada as an envoy to Ravana, to challenge him to the fight; but Ravana, not giving due respect to an envoy, would have slain him; but Angada
sprang away and broke the palace roof, and returned to Rama. Then the monkeys proceeded forward 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.
A fierce battle took place between the monkeys and the rakshasas while the rakshasas waited for the evening since night was the time of strongest might for the rakshasas. When night fell, the demons devoured the monkeys by thousands and then the monkeys retaliated and Indrajit was beaten back. But the son of Ravana, by taking the help of his magic, became invisible and aimed deadly arrows to Rama and Lakshmana. While fighting in a crooked ways, Indrajit bounded the two brothers so fast that they fell helpless to the ground, covered with a thousand wounds.
Arrival of Garuda
While Sugriva, Hanuman, Vibhishana, and all the leaders of the monkeys stood round about the wounded Rama and Lakshmana, a stormy wind rose lashing the sea and shaking the very mountains, and suddenly the monkeys saw that Garuda
was sailing through the air like a flaming fire. As Garuda came closer, the arrows fell from the wounded heroes like frightened serpents darting away and when he saluted and touched the faces of the two brothers with his hands, the sons of Dasaratha
were healed, and they came to their former strength. Garuda foretold that Ravana would be killed by Rama and the rescue of Sita soon. Then, after embracing Rama and Lakshmana and the monkey-chiefs, rose into the sky and sailed away upon the wind.
After seeing Rama and Lakshmana restored to power and life, the monkey chiefs 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. In the heavy fighting with the rakshasas Hanuman killed Dhumraksha
. Then Ravana sent out another leader of the rakshasas, the deadly Thunder-tooth whom Angada met as he drove the monkey host before him, piercing five and nine with every shaft, and engaged in deadly duel, till at last he severed the neck of the demon and laid him down. Then Ravana sent out Akampan
(Unconquerable), and he was slain by Hanuman, along with his entire host.
Then Ravana was somewhat shaken and he sent Prahasta (Long-hand), his foremost general who was then killed by Nila. Then Ravana became furious and decided to go out to fight himself against Rama and Lakshmana. Ravana arrived with his hold of rakshasas for a heavy fight and he was resisted strongly by Sugriva, Nila and also Hanuman. Then Ravana confronted Lakshmana and struck him senseless on the ground. Seeing it Hanuman struck Ravana a severe blow that he fell back bleeding and he took Lakshmana away to Rama. Rama then severely wounded Ravana and spared his life and sends him to Lanka.
Awakening of Kumbhakarna
After being defeated in a heavy combat with Rama, Ravana thought of his brother Kumbhakarna who keeps awake for six months and sleeps for six months. Since he was the hardest fighter and the very best of the rakshasas in battle, Ravana sent a host to waken him. The hosts send by Ravana found Kumbhakarna
sleeping in his cave. He lay like a mountain, as vast as Hell, drunk with sleep and his rank breath sweeping all before him, smelling of blood and fat. The rakshasas made the food including heaps of deer and buffaloes, steaming rice and jars of blood, mountains of food piled up as high as Meru before Kumbhakarna and then set about to wake him up.
The host of rakshasas winded conchs and shouted and beat on drums and tried their level best to wake him and at last Kumbhakarna woke up and ate every thing that was placed before him. When his hunger was satisfied the rakshasas came before him and informed him the reason for which they woke him up and then Kumbhakarna went to meet his elder brother Ravana. When he got to know the entire situation of Sita's abduction and the attack of Rama and Lakshmana over Lanka, he gave some good advice to Ravana to give away Sita to Rama and stop the war. But Ravana did not pay heed to it and excited in the heart of his brother the sense of patriotism for him kingdom Lanka and his duty towards his brother. Kumbhakarna, thus unable to make his brother understand the truth proceeded for a war against Rama and Lakshmana.
Killing of Kumbhakarna
Kumbhakarna advanced for a combat with Rama and Lakshmana and attacked the monkeys. The monkeys fled in terror, but Kumbhakarna caught them and rushed about devouring the monkeys by handfuls, so that the blood and fat dripped from his mouth. Then Rama, with Hanuman and Angada and other brave monkeys attacked him with trees and mountain-tops, swarming round him like clouds about a mountain but Kumbhakarna, half asleep still, began to rise and fight in earnest. He also wounded Hanuman, and raged from side to side. Then Rama took up the battle, and wounded the demon king's brother with many shafts, and shot away an arm, destroying a hundred monkeys in its fall. With a second shaft detached another arm from his body and with two keen-edged discs he cut away the legs of the demon and with a shaft of Indra he struck away the head of Kumbhakarna and after which the demon fell like a great hill and crashed down into the sea.
While Ravana was utterly disheartened after hearing the death of his brother Kumbhakarna Prince Indrajit came to his father and promised to slay Rama and Lakshmana that day, and he ventured out forth. But before going out to fight, he offered libations unto Fire, and sacrificed a goat. Then the bright, smokeless Fire-god, with his flickering tongue, came out to take the offering, and he presented a Brahma weapon to Indrajit, and blessed his car and bow with charms. Thus armed with that weapon, Indrajit started killing countless hosts of monkeys, and laid low Angada and Sugriva and Jambavan and Nila and other chiefs, but he remained invisible and returned victorious to Lanka.
Hanuman fetches Healing Herbs
After Indrajit returned to Lanka, Vibhishana and Hanuman wandered the field, and looked at the thousands of slain and wounded and they came close to the king of bears, Jambavan, and asked if was alive. He answered faintly, recognizing the face of Vibhishana, and asked if Hanuman was alive. Then Hanuman bowed to Jambavan and held his feet. Thus Jambavan rejoiced despite is injuries and told Hanuman that he could go to Himalaya, king of mountains, and bring the four life-giving herbs from there which could cure the wounded monkeys.
After hearing this from Jambavan, he passed across the sea and over the woods and hills and rivers and cities till he reached Himalaya and beheld its hermitages. He searched for the herb but the same were hidden from him. Hanuman got angry and impatient, and rooted up the whole mountain and sprang with it into the air and returned to Lanka, where he was welcomed by the host. Then the slain and wounded monkeys rose up, as if from restful sleep, healed by the four medicinal herbs. Then Hanuman carried the mountain-peak again to Himalaya and returned to Lanka.
Defeat of Indrajit
Sugriva, finding that a few rakshasas still lived to guard the city, stormed the gates, and a host of monkeys bearing flaming brands entered and burnt and ravaged Lanka. Kumbha and Nikumbha
led the rakshasas, and were slain in deadly battle. Then Maharaksha, son of Khara
, was slain, and Indrajit again went out. He fought invisible as before and sorely wounded Rama and Lakshmana. Then Indrajit retired, and came again riding on a car with an illusory magic figure of Sita and rode up and down the field and holding her hair and striking her, he cut her down before all the monkey host.
Hanuman, after seeing the illusionary act of Indrajit thought that to be real and brought the news to Rama. Rama after hearing of Sita's death fell down like a tree cut off at the root. While they grieved, Indrajit went to the altar at Nikhumbila to make sacrifices to the Fire God. By that time Vibhishana came and found Rama overwhelmed with grief, and Lakshmana told him that Sita had been slain by Indrajit. But Vibhishana guessed this to have been a vain show and told that the same was a device to delay the monkey army so that Indrajit could successfully complete a sacrifice to Fire in order to win a boon to be invincible in battle. After hearing this from Vibhishana Rama rose, and with Lakshmana and Vibhishana searched for Indrajit and they overtook him before he could reach Nikhumbila, mounted on a fiery car. Then a terrific battle took place and Lakshmana bore the brunt of that battle, and it is believed that the gods and ancestors, the snakes and birds, protected Lakshmana from the deadly shafts. And at last Lakshmana took an Indra shaft and used it against Indrajit and Indrajit was slain.
Combat Between Raman and Ravana
The war between Rama and Ravana was furious and it lasted long till Ravana was slain. The news of the death of Indrajit in the hand of Lakshmana spread over the entire Lanka and the whole atmosphere became gloomy. Ravana sat in fury, devising various means to conquer Rama. He gnashed his teeth and bit his lips and laughed, and went with Squint-eye and Big-belly and Great-flank to the battlefield with the last of the demon army. The monkeys could not stand before him and were destroyed like flies in a fire. But Sugriva engaged in a single fight with Squint-eye and killed him, and then both armies joined again, and a deadly slaughter on either hand took place, and either army shrank like a pond in summer. Then came Big-belly who was slain by Sugriva, and Angada killed the Great-flank. The monkeys thus roared with triumph. Then Ravana came on, holding a Brahma weapon, and scattered the monkeys left and right.
Ravana came in front of Rama and a deadly fight took place. Ravana lifted a Rudra shaft, irresistible and flaming, hung with eight noisy bells, and directed it at Vibhishana, but Lakshmana came before it in order to save Vibhishana from death. Thus, the blazing dart struck the breast of Lakshmana and laid him low. Rama drew the weapon out of his brother's chest and broke it, and then, grieved for Lakshmana and angered by his grief, called Hanuman and Sugriva and told them that he would end the battle the very day with the death of Ravana. While Rama set his mind in the battle, Hanuman went again to Himalaya and brought the mount of healing herbs for Lakshmana, and Sushena took the life-giving plant and made Lakshmana to smell its savour, and Lakshmana rose up well and embracing his brother urged to achieve his promise that very day.
Death of Ravana
Fierce battle between Rama and Lakshmana took place in which both exchanged deadly weapons to each other. Rama cut away Ravana's head but new heads ever rose in place of those cut off, and the death of Ravana seemed nowhere nearer than before. The arrows that had slain Khara and Maricha
and Bali could not take the life of the king of Lanka. Then Rama took up the Brahma weapon given to him by Agastya. The Wind lay in its wings, the Sun and Fire in its head, in its mass the weight of Meru and with Vedic mantras Rama placed it on his bow and loosed it, and hurried to its target and cleft the breast of Ravana, and, bathed in blood, returned and entered the quiver of Rama humbly. Thus Ravana was slain and the gods rained flowers over Rama and chanted hymns of praise.
Ravana mourned in Lanka
Vibhishana lamented the death of his brother Ravana and Rama comforted him by telling that the death of a hero in a battlefield should not be mourned and requested him to prepare for his funeral rites. A number of weeping rakshasis came out from Lanka seeking their lord and wailing bitterly along with the queen Mandodari
. Vibhishana prepared for the funeral pyre, and Ravana was carried to the burning ground and burnt with every rite and honour due to a hero. The wives of Ravana returned to Lanka, and the gods returned to their own place. Then Lakshmana, taking water from the ocean by Sugriva in a golden jar, anointed Vibhishana as the king of the rakshasas and the lord of the city of Lanka.
Rama and Sita United
After the death and the completion of the funeral rites of Ravana, Rama called Hanuman and sent him to search for Sita and inform her of all that had befallen. Hanuman found her still by the Ashoka tree, guarded by rakshasis. He informed everything to Sita and she gave him the message that she desired to see Lord Rama
. After hearing this from Hanuman, Rama wept and was plunged in thought, and with a heavy sigh he said to Vibhishana to bring Sita bathed and fitly adorned with sandal-paste and jewels. When Vibhishana bought Sita in a palanquin, Rama ordered that Sita should leave her palanquin and come to him on foot to which Sita humbly obeyed.
Sita came close to Rama and both looked at each other after a long time and Rama said that he had wiped away the insult to his family and to himself and that Sita was stained by dwelling with another person. Rama also told that he had avenged the evil deed of Ravana but he was unattached to Sita and thus would like to renounce her and he asked her to choose to live with either Lakshmana, or Bharata
, or Sugriva, or with Vibhishana. Then Sita, hearing that cruel speech of Rama, trembled like a swaying vine, and wept heavy tears and turned towards Lakshmana, and requested him to build a funeral pyre in which she would sacrifice her life.
Agnipariksha of Sita
Lakshmana, after getting order from Sita prepared the funeral pure. Then circling round Rama, who stood with downcast eyes, approached the fire and with folded hands she stood and prayed. She prayed to the god of fire that if she be pure then she be saved from the flames and went about the pyre and entered the burning flames, so that all, both young and old, assembled there were overcome with grief, and the noise of uttermost wailing and lamentation arose on every hand. The god of Fire rose up with Sita on his lap, radiant as the morning sun, with golden jewels and black curling hair, and he gave her back to Rama and told to Rama that Sita was not touched by any stain and her thought or look has never shifted from Rama.
After the Agnipariksha of Sita the Yuddha Kanda of Ramayana
ends. After Sita came out of fire unhurt Rama accepted her gladly and told that he knew before that Sita was pure but a demonstration was needed before all so that no one could ever tell that Dasaratha's son was moved by the desire of his wife and violated the social law by accepting her unproved.