Lakshmana Slays Atikaya

Atikaya saw that the hair-raising tumult from the monkeys was distressing his own army. He also saw that his brothers, Mahodara and Mahaparshva, who were equal to Indra in prowess, had been killed, as were his uncles. Therefore he became most angry. He was highly vigorous and had received a boon from Lord Brahma. He was as big as a mountain on the battlefield and could crush the pride of the gods. Mounting his chariot that shone like a mass of one thousand suns, that enemy of Indra rushed toward the monkeys. Wearing a crown and polished earrings, Atikaya twanged his bowstring, proclaimed his name and roared loudly. By his lion-like roar, the declaration of his name and the twanging of his bow, he terrified the monkeys.

When they saw the size of his body, the monkeys thought that it was Kumbhakarna come back to life. Panic-stricken, all the monkeys took shelter of each other. Seeing his form, which resembled Lord Vishnu’s incarnation as Trivikrama in size, out of fear the monkey warriors fled in all directions. As Atikaya approached, the monkeys became bewildered and went to take shelter of Rama on the battleground. Then Rama saw Atikaya from a distance. He was seated in a chariot. He was as big as a mountain, was holding a bow and was roaring like the clouds at the time of universal dissolution. Rama was amazed to see Atikaya. Calming the monkeys, He said to Vibhishana:

“Who is that archer as big as a mountain with eyes like a lion? He is seated on a huge chariot drawn by one thousand horses. Surrounded by sharp pikes and blazing spears, he looks like Lord Shiva surrounded by ghosts. Surrounded by the lances shining like flames of fire in his chariot, he looks like a cloud encircled by lightning. The bows backed with gold beautify his chariot on all sides like a rainbow. The prominent Rakshasa, is advancing in his chariot, which is as brilliant as the sun and which is illuminating the battlefield. His flag bears the image of Rahu and he is illuminating the ten directions with his arrows that are like rays of the sun. This three-fold bending bow adorned with gold whose twang resembles a clap of thunder is shining.

“This huge chariot with its flag, banner, yoke-pole and four drivers is rumbling like a thunder cloud. In the chariot are twenty quivers, ten fearsome bows, and eight bowstrings that are golden and beige. On the sides of the chariot hang two shining swords that are ten cubits long with hilts that are four cubits long. He is wearing a garland of red flowers and is somber. He is as big as a mountain and of dark complexion. His big mouth is like all-devouring death. He resembles the sun covered by a cloud. Because of his two arms adorned with golden bands, he is beaming like two peaks of the Himalaya Mountains. With his two earrings, his dreadful face shines like the full moon accompanied by the two stars of the constellation Punarvasu. Tell Me who this best of rakshasas is. Just by seeing him, the monkeys are fleeing terror-stricken in all directions.”

When questioned by the energetic Prince Rama, Vibhishana replied as follows: “The ten-headed Ravana, the younger brother of Kuvera, is most powerful and capable of despicable deeds. He had a son who is valorous and equal to Ravana himself in strength. He served his elders, mastered the scriptures and is the most skilled in the use of all weapons. He is respected as a rider of horses and elephants, a wielder of swords and bows, a politician skilled in sowing dissention, making peace and giving bribes and as an advisor. He is known as Atikaya, the son of Ravana’s consort Dhanyamalini. Resting on his arm, the city of Lanka is fearless.

“This wise Rakshasa propitiated Lord Brahma with austerities. In this way, he received mystic weapons with which he conquered his enemies. Lord Brahma granted him immunity from death at the hands of gods and demons, as well as his suit of celestial armor and this chariot as brilliant as the sun. He has conquered hundreds of Danavas, protected the rakshasas and annihilated the Yakshas. With his arrows, he obstructed in combat Indra’s thunderbolt and restrained Varuna’s noose in his own hand. This is the mighty Atikaya, the best of rakshasas. He is Ravana’s clever son who can crush the pride of the gods and Danavas.”

Entering the monkey ranks, Atikaya twanged his bow and roared again and again. Seeing that frightening Rakshasa seated on a chariot, the prominent monkeys rushed toward him. Kumuda, Dvivida, Mainda, Nila and Sharabha charged toward him at the same time with trees and mountain peaks. Skilled as he was in the use of weapons, Atikaya shattered the trees and mountain peaks with gilded arrows. The night-stalker then pierced all the monkeys who were facing him on the battlefield with arrows of solid steel. Tormented by the shower of arrows, the monkeys’ limbs were wounded and they were defeated. They were unable to counteract Atikaya in that great conflict. The Rakshasa terrified the monkey army, as an angry lion proud of its youth would terrify a herd of deer.

That lord of rakshasas would not strike anyone among the monkey troops who was not fighting. Rushing upon Rama, who was armed with a bow and quiver, Atikaya proudly spoke the following words: “While seated in my chariot with bow and arrows in hand, I shall not fight with ordinary persons. Let one who has the energy and the resolution give me battle here right now!” When Lakshmana, the slayer of enemies, heard him speaking in this way, He became furious. Unable to tolerate it, Lakshmana ran forward and grabbed Atikaya’s bow disdainfully. Angrily jumping up, Lakshmana pulled an arrow from His quiver and pulled His bow back full length before Atikaya. The startling twang of Lakshmana’s bowstring filled the whole earth, the sky, the ocean and all directions, frightening the rakshasas. Ravana’s son, Atikaya, was amazed by the frightful twang of Lakshmana’s bow. Angered to see how Lakshmana had jumped into action, Atikaya selected a sharp arrow and said:

“O Lakshmana, You are just a boy inexperienced in exhibiting prowess! Go away! Why do you wish to fight with me, when I am equal to death personified? Not even the Himalaya Mountains, the sky or the earth can bear the force of the arrows shot by my arms. Do you wish to awaken the dormant fire of universal devastation? Throw away your bow and go back! Do not lose your life by confronting me! Or else, if out of stubbornness you do not wish to go back, and then stay! After giving up your life you will go to the abode of the lord of death. See my sharp arrows capable of crushing the pride of my enemies! They are like Lord Shiva’s trident adorned with smelted gold. This serpentine arrow will drink your blood, as an angry lion would the blood of an elephant!”

After saying this, Atikaya placed an arrow on his bow. When Prince Lakshmana heard Atikaya’s indignant and boastful words, He became enraged and gave the following poignant reply: “You cannot claim to be great by mere words, nor do people become good by bragging. O evil one, show your strength while I am standing with bow and arrow in hand! Prove yourself with actions. You should not boast. It is said that only one who possess prowess is a hero. You are sitting in a chariot and are armed with all kinds of weapons, as well as your bow. Therefore, display your prowess with either your arrows or your weapons. Then I shall knock your head off with my sharp arrows, as the wind knocks down ripened fruits from the Palmyra tree in due time. Now my gilded arrows will drink the blood flowing from the wounds which they will inflict on your limbs. Neither should you underestimate me, thinking that I am a boy. Whether I am a boy or an adult, know me to be death personified on the battlefield! Lord Vishnu traversed the three worlds while He was just a boy.”

Upon hearing Lakshmana’s logical and highly truthful reply, Atikaya became quite angry and seized a fine arrow. The gods, great sages, Vidyadharas, Daitya’s, guhyakas and ghosts came to watch the fight. Placing an arrow on his bow, Atikaya angrily shot it at Lakshmana, seemingly drawing in the surrounding space. Lakshmana split that approaching arrow with His own arrow tipped with a crescent-shaped head that flew like a venomous snake. Angered to see his arrow shattered like a cobra with its hood slashed, Atikaya placed five arrows to his bow. That night-stalker shot those arrows at Lakshmana, but the latter split them with sharp arrows before they could reach Him.

After destroying those arrows, Lakshmana seized a sharp arrow that seemed to be blazing. Placing it on His super-excellent bow, Lakshmana pulled back the string and released it with full force. With that straight arrow propelled by the release of the bowstring, Lakshmana struck Atikaya in the forehead. Sunken into the fierce Rakshasa’s forehead and stained with blood, that arrow looked like a snake biting a mountain. Tormented by Lakshmana’s arrow, the Rakshasa trembled, like the gate of the city of Tripura when struck by Lord Shiva’s arrow. Atikaya was breathing deeply and thinking about what to do. Then he said: “Very good! By shooting that arrow you have proven Yourself an enemy worthy of me!” As he spoke, he opened his mouth wide. Controlling his arms, he sat upon the chariot and continued forward.

Atikaya grabbed one, three, five and seven arrows, placed them on his bow, pulled it back and shot them. Those golden-plumed arrows shot from the Rakshasa’s bow were like death personified and seemed to set the sky on fire. Undisturbed, Lakshmana cut off the flood of arrows shot by the Rakshasa with His own many sharp arrows. Seeing his arrows cut down on the battlefield, Atikaya seethed and grabbed a sharp arrow. Placing it on his bow, he suddenly released it. With it he hit Lakshmana in the middle of the chest as He was approaching. When struck in the chest by Atikaya’s arrow, Lakshmana began bleeding profusely, like an elephant in rut discharging ichor from its temples. The mighty Lakshmana then quickly extracted the arrow from His own chest and grabbed a sharp arrow and charge it with a mystic weapon. He charged that arrow with the weapon of Agni. The arrow then blazed on Lakshmana’s bow. Atikaya charged a serpentine arrow plumed with golden feathers with a fearsome weapon. Lakshmana shot at Atikaya the flaming arrow charged with a dreadful weapon, which was like death’s rod of chastisement. When Atikaya saw that arrow charged with a weapon of the fire-god, he fired a fearsome arrow charged with a weapon of the sun-god. Both arrows with flaming heads struck each other in the sky, like two angry snakes. They burnt each other and then fell to the ground. The two arrows did not shine brightly on the ground because they had ceased blazing and had been reduced to ashes.

Atikaya out of anger shot an arrow charged with a weapon of Tvastha, the architect of the gods. The valiant Lakshmana then shot a weapon of Indra. Angered to see his arrow knocked down by Lakshmana, Atikaya charged an arrow with the weapon of Yama, the lord of death. The night-stalker then shot the arrow at Lakshmana. Using a weapon of the wind-god, Lakshmana destroyed it. Lakshmana then showered Ravana’s son with arrows, as a cloud would release showers of rain. When those arrows reached Atikaya, they struck his armor fashioned with diamonds and shattered, falling suddenly on the ground. Seeing that the arrows were ineffective, the glorious Lakshmana showered Atikaya with one thousand arrows.

Though covered with showers of arrows, the mighty Rakshasa, whose armor was impenetrable, was not at all disturbed. He shot an arrow like a poisonous snake at Lakshmana. When pierced by that arrow in a vital area, Lakshmana actually fainted for a while, so it is said. Regaining consciousness, Lakshmana tore off the flag from Atikaya’s chariot with a shower of arrows and killed the driver and the horses with four exceptional arrows. Undisturbed, Lakshmana shot some special arrows to slay the Rakshasa. Lakshmana, however, was unable to injure the Rakshasa in combat.

The wind-god approached Lakshmana and said: “This Rakshasa has received a boon from Lord Brahma and is wearing an impenetrable suit of armor. As such, pierce him with the mystic weapon of Lord Brahma, for he cannot be killed in any other way. No other weapon can kill him because of his powerful armor.” After hearing this advice tendered by the wind-god, Lakshmana at once placed the frightful Brahmastra weapon on His bow. While Lakshmana was applying that mystic weapon to a sharp arrow, the directions, the sun, the moon, the great planets, the vault of heaven and the earth shook. When Lakshmana finished charging that sharp arrow with the Brahmastra weapon, He placed it on His bow and shot it at Ravana’s son.

Then Atikaya saw the arrow shot by Lakshmana. It was approaching with the terrible speed of the wind. It had beautiful feathers like Garuda and was encrusted with valuable diamonds. Watching it, Atikaya suddenly hit it with innumerable sharp arrows. Nonetheless, that arrow, possessing the speed of Garuda, headed precipitously toward Atikaya. Seeing that approaching blazing arrow resembling death, Atikaya continuously hit it with spears, javelins, clubs, axes, pikes and arrows. Neutralizing those weapons with amazing shapes, the blazing arrow struck Atikaya’s head adorned with a crown, severing it. When cut off by Lakshmana’s arrow, the head fell abruptly on the ground like a peak of the Himalaya Mountains.

All the night-stalkers who had not been killed were distraught to see Atikaya lying on the ground with his ornaments and garments scattered. With morose faces, the miserable rakshasas, who were exhausted from being assaulted, all of a sudden began wailing very loudly. Once their leader had been killed, the rakshasas, feeling helpless, hurriedly fled from there, running straight for the city. The masses of monkeys were exuberant, their faces appearing like blooming lotus flowers, now that their dreadful adversary had been slain, and they glorified Lakshmana, who had given them what they desired. After slaying the exceptionally powerful Atikaya in combat and being cheered by the monkeys, the jubilant Lakshmana quickly went to His brother Rama.

Thus completes 71st Chapter of Yuddha Kanda of the glorious Ramayana of Valmiki, the work of a sage and the oldest epic.

Sriman Moola Rama Vijayate