Surpanakha’s lust for Rama


I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – 1st to 7th September 2013.

This post is the second of a series of trying to correlate the Seven Sins to characters and incidents referred to in the Ramayana.

Read Post 1 here.

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Please note that there are various versions of this great epic and therefore my post might contradict with what you have heard or read of this particular incident in the Ramayana. This is only an attempt to map the seven deadly sins to incidents or behavior of particular characters in the Ramayana in a given situation and I have taken liberties with my own interpretations of the same. No offense is meant to any version of this wonderful epic.

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surpanakha

One version of the story has it that Surpanakha was married to an asura called Dusthabuddhi who enjoyed great favor with Ravana. However, when he started scheming for more power than he presently had, he was executed at the behest of Ravana which led to Surpanakha being extremely displeased with her brother.

The widowed Surpanakha spent most of her time between southern India and Lanka visiting her other asura relatives. During one such visit, she happened to come across Rama and was immediately smitten by his looks. After all, Rama was the embodiment of manly virtues such as broad shoulders, a lean frame, a dusky complexion and also displayed all the requisite traits that any devoted husband should, which Surpanakha observed by spying on Rama, Sita and Lakshmana when they were in exile in the forest.

As the days went by Surpanakha’s obsession with Rama turned into an uncontrollable lust for him and this manifested itself in the form of her approaching Rama and proposing marriage to him despite knowing the fact that he was already happily married. When Rama spurned her advances, she approached Lakshmana with the same offer.

Given the fact that she had observed Lakshmana along  with Rama all these days, her reasoning was that he was second best only to Rama and that if Rama did not agree to be her husband, then Lakshmana would have to do. This was a grotesque and unnatural manifestation of her lust for a human husband with all the good virtues that a husband should have.

Lakshmana however, was not as kind as Rama in rejecting Surpanakha. While rejecting her, he even went ahead and told her that she did not have any of the qualities that he desired for in a wife, and even went so far to say that no sane man would want a wife such as her. This enraged Surpanakha who came to the conclusion that both the brothers were making fun of her.

Provoked by this, she tried to attack Sita which enraged Lakshmana who cut off her nose and sent her running away.

Her first reaction was to approach her brother Khara and request him to extract revenge from Rama and Lakshmana for the insults they meted out to her by rejecting her and disfiguring her. When Khara and his 14,000 strong Asura army were decimated by the brothers, she then went to Ravana and extolled about the beauty and virtues of Sita and how she would make an ideal wife for Ravana.

Ravana succumbed to Surpanakha’s description of Sita and put into motion a chain of events which finally culminated with his death at the hands of Rama.

Thus, the one sin of lust committed by Surpanakha ended up with the mighty Ravana setting off on the path of sure destruction.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search