Ravana’s pride


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

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

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

Read Post 3 – Vali’s greed

Read Post 4 – Kumbhakarna’s gluttony

Read Post 5 – Sita’s wrath

Read Post 6 – Manthara’s envy

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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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HanumanBurningLanka

The capital city of Lanka was the pride of Ravana’s empire. One version of its description seems superhuman even by modern day standards. The central palace complex was a massive collection of several large looming towers and huge structures that were more than a few square kilometers in area. Legend has it that most of these buildings were built with marble, ivory and other precious metals found in the era. Tales of Lanka, its beauty and grandeur were told by people far and wide in those days and Ravana took immense pride in his capital city which was the crowning jewel of his vast empire.

After Ravana had kidnapped Sita and kept her hostage in the city of Lanka, Hanuman, Rama’s faithful friend volunteered to fly over the Indian Ocean to Lanka to ensure that Sita was safe and sound. When he flew there, he also marveled at the grandeur and the beauty of the city. After locating Sita in the Ashoka Vana and informing her that her husband Rama was on his way to rescue her, he decided to toy with Ravana for a while.

He allowed himself to be captured and demanded an audience with Ravana himself. Since Lanka had never before seen a vanara such as Hanuman, Ravana granted him an audience. When he heard that Hanuman was an envoy of Rama, Ravana was furious and asked his soldiers to set the vanara’s tail on fire. Hearing this, Sita prayed to Agni, the God of Fire and requested him not to harm Hanuman.

Consequently although his tail was on fire, Hanuman was not hurt nor did he feel a thing. Using his magical abilities, he then proceeded to escape from Ravana’s soldiers and hopped from one building to another in the city of Lanka setting fire to each of them with his tail. In a matter of a few minutes, he had managed to set ablaze the whole of Lanka.

Thus, Lanka which had prompted the sin of pride in someone as pious as Ravana was reduced to ashes in a matter of a few hours due to the antics of a mischievous monkey-man.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search

Manthara’s envy


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

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

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

Read Post 3 – Vali’s greed

Read Post 4 – Kumbhakarna’s gluttony

Read Post 5 – Sita’s wrath

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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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Manthara

Upon their victorious return from the ashram of Rishi Viswamitra, Rama and Lakshmana were nothing short of demi-gods in Ayodhya. Their exploits of how they had thwarted the attempts of many asuras and rakshasas including the formidable Tataka, Subahu and Maricha to disrupt the holy yagna conducted by Viswamitra was the stuff that legends were made of. Two young boys of hardly 17-18 yrs of age defeating demons of this stature was unheard of and had never ever happened before in history.

Their father King Dasharatha was so pleased with his sons’ achievements and specifically Rama’s who was his first born and favorite one that he decided to crown him Prince-Regent which would make him the natural successor the throne after he relinquished the same. While this decision of his sat well with everybody at the palace including his brothers and their mothers as well, one person who was irked with this decision was Manthara, the personal servant of Kaikeyi, the second queen and Bharatha’s mother.

One version of the story has it that Manthara had taken care of Kaikeyi from the time she was little and had also taken care of Bharatha from when he was a baby as well. For all practical purposes Kaikeyi treated Manthara as a close substitute for her parents, especially after she got married and came to Ayodhya. After all, Manthara had always wanted nothing but the best for her all her life and her loyalty and devotion to Kaikeyi was unquestionable and beyond any scruples.

When Rama was declared the Prince-Regent, Manthara was envious of all the good fortune that Rama had when compared to her favorite prince, Bharatha. After all Rishi Viswamitra hand picked Rama and Lakshmana for his assistance with the yajna. In her opinion, had he picked Bharatha and Shatrugna, then they too would have killed the demons and asuras and maybe today Bharatha would have been declared the Prince-Regent. In her opinion, Dasaratha’s blind love for Rama meant that her favorite prince never got the right amount of love, affection and attention that he truly deserved. In her eyes, Bharatha was the rightful heir to the throne and she was prepared to do anything to make that happen.

Later that evening Manthara spoke to Kaikeyi and poisoned her mind with baseless rumors that if Rama was crowned King, then he would banish Bharatha from the kingdom as he was fully aware that Bharatha was a much better administrator and a more popular person than Rama could ever be. She cited incidents from the past to highlight the fact that Dasaratha was blinded by his love for Rama and had always overlooked Bharatha in the process. And in some time she had poisoned Kaikeyi’s mind enough to make the second queen believe that her son was wronged due to this decision of the king.

Manthara then reminded the queen about a wish that was owed to her by the king from an incident in the past where she had saved his life in battle. She extolled the queen to make use of that wish and ask for Rama to be sent into exile and Bharatha crowned the king of Ayodhya.

Thus, with that one fatal sin of envy, Manthara triggered a chain of events which ended up with Rama, Sita and Lakshmana going into exile for 14 long years.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search

Sita’s wrath


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

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

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

Read Post 3 – Vali’s greed

Read Post 4 – Kumbhakarna’s gluttony

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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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SitaGoldenDeer

To enable Ravana to kidnap Sita, Maricha, Ravana’s uncle disguised himself as a golden deer and started grazing near the hut where Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were staying. Upon seeing the beautiful deer with the golden hued fur, Sita immediately asked Rama to capture the deer and bring it back to the hut so that they could keep it as a pet.

Rama immediately took his bow and arrow and started running after the deer which by now had bolted through the woods. Pursuing the deer, which by now was taking him further and further away from his hut, Rama realized that this was no ordinary deer and there was something mysterious about it. Finally when he struck it with an arrow, Maricha died crying out loudly “He Lakshmana, He Sita” in Rama’s voice.

Sita who was already worried at the time it was taking Rama to come back to the hut with the deer, panicked when she heard Rama’s voice screaming out from deep within the woods. She immediately requested Lakshmana to go and find out what had happened to Rama. Lakshmana was under strict orders from Rama not to leave Sita alone under any circumstances and he therefore refused to obey Sita.

Sita who was already anguished now got really angry and in her wrath accused Lakshmana of not being loyal to his elder brother who was in trouble. Lakshmana could not tolerate these harsh words of Sita and reluctantly left the hut to go look for Rama in the woods.

Thus, the wrath of Sita enabled Ravana to approach her in a situation where she was all alone in the hut without anybody to protect her. This one fatal sin of hers set in chain a motion of events which led to her kidnapping by Ravana.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search

Kumbhakarna’s gluttony


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

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

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

Read Post 3 – Vali’s greed

==========

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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kumbhakarna fighting

Read my earlier post about Kumbhakarna’s sloth to get a background of why Kumbhakarna had to continuously sleep for a six month period.

As per the modified terms of the boon, Kumbhakarna was supposed to sleep for six months and then wake up for one day to satiate his hunger. So far the day the he woke up was the day all the servants and cooks in his palace dreaded as this was the day that he would eat almost anything and everything that was prepared in the palace. And in case he didn’t find enough food to satisfy his hunger, then he would start eating anybody that he could lay eyes on, whether they were human or asura did not matter to him on that particular day.

When Rama and his army managed to get an upper hand during the first days of the great war with the asuras, then Ravana had no choice but to try and wake Kumbhakarna up. Although he knew that he would be breaking the terms of the boon granted by Lord Brahma, his situation was so desperate that he was willing to take that chance. This was the only choice he had in the face of the dire circumstances.

It took all of 1000 elephants walking over the gigantic frame of Kumbhakarna accompanied by drum beats and various other assortments of noise making instruments to wake him up. And as was the norm, as soon as he woke up, his hunger took control of him and he wanted food.

When he was informed of the war with Rama and the circumstances under which it was fought, he tried to convince Ravana of the mistakes of his action. However, due to Ravana’s entreaties of brotherhood and loyalty, he chose to fight in the battle. After becoming drunk with somarasa, Kumbhakarna entered the battle and caused unusually large devastation. The army of Rama was at a loss as to how to stop the marauding giant rakshasa. They tried everything in their arsenal but did not manage to even deter him.

Finally, it took Rama himself and his divine powers with his astras to fall the giant.

Although Kumbhakarna did not necessarily die to his gluttonous habits, the fact remains that this memorable character of the Ramayana suffered greatly due to this one deadly sin that he was inflicted with due to the boon granted by Brahma.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search

Vali’s greed


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

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

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

==========

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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Vali

Vali, the vanara was a good and pious king to all his subjects in Kishkinta. Right from a very young age, he had proven himself through his various valorous exploits.

On one occasion a demon called Mayavi had attacked Kishkinta and Vali was engaged in a bloody combat with him. The fight took them inside a cave at the entrance of which his younger brother Sugriva was asked to wait. When Vali killed Mayavi, the asura’s blood came flowing out of the cave. Sugriva mistaking the same to be his brother, Vali’s blood blocked the entrance of the cave with a huge boulder to trap the asura inside.

By the time Vali found an alternate route out of the cave and returned to Kishkinta, he saw that Sugriva had crowned himself king and was ruling the Vanaras. An enraged Vali then confronted Sugriva, who tried to explain the situation to him. However, Vali would not listen to him and banished him from the kingdom and as to add further insult to Sugriva, he also claimed Sugriva’s wife Ruma as his own, which resulted in the brothers becoming bitter enemies.

Sugriva then went to Rishyamukha, the only place where Vali would be unable to attack him and cause him any harm, as Vali could not lay foot in this place due to an earlier transgression with a holy man. Sugriva however nursed extremely vengeful feelings against his older brother for having claimed his wife and was waiting for the opportune moment to extract revenge.

Fate presented itself in the form of Rama who was searching for Sita and was on the lookout for allies to form an army against the mighty Asuran army of Ravana. On narrating his story to Rama and the injustice meted out by Vali, Rama agrees to side with Sugriva and fight with Vali to kill him as a retribution for usurping Ruma.

In the battle that ensued between Sugriva and Vali, Rama slayed Vali by deceit and fulfilled his promise to Sugriva. The justification that Rama gave for his act was that Vali had wronged by claiming Sugriva’s wife Ruma as his own and death was the most appropriate punishment for this greedy act of his.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search