Indrajit became quite furious when he heard Vibhishana’s harsh retort and angrily rushed forward. Seated in his chariot, which was well decorated and drawn by black horses, he looked like death personified. He lifted his bow, whose proportions were huge, as well as his terrible arrows that could destroy enemies. Why holding his bow and sitting in his chariot, the mighty son of Ravana spied Lakshmana mounted on the back of Hanuman, looking like the shining sun on the horizon. Feeling enraged, Indrajit spoke to Lakshmana, along with Vibhishana and the prominent monkeys: “Just see my prowess! Now you will sustain in combat a shower of arrows shot from my invincible bow, as a cloud pours down showers of rain. Today the arrows shot from my great bow will destroy your bodies, as fire would destroy a pile of cotton. Once you have all been pierced with my sharp arrows, as well as pikes, spears and lances, I shall send you to the abode of death. Who would dare stand before me while I am on the battlefield quickly releasing a shower of arrows from my hand? Formerly during a night battle I knocked Rama and Lakshmana and their principal warrior’s unconscious with my arrows that were equal to thunderbolts. You must have forgotten this or perhaps you are on your way to the abode of death, since you have come here angrily to fight with me like poisonous snakes.”
Lakshmana was angered by Indrajit’s boasts and replied to him as follows with a fearless expression: “O Rakshasa, you have proclaimed the conclusion of your undertaking, even though it is a difficult one. One who completes one’s undertaking by action is indeed intelligent. O fool, you think that by merely speaking you have accomplished your goal, even though you lack the means to achieve that goal, which is a difficult one for anyone. The path which you have followed, to make yourself invisible on the battleground, is the path followed by thieves, not of heroes. Having come within the range of your arrows, I stand here, O Rakshasa. Show your prowess! Why do you brag with so many words?”
Grabbing hold of his dreadful bow when spoken to in this way, Indrajit, who was always victorious in battle, shot sharp arrows. Those arrows flew with great speed and, reaching Lakshmana, fell like hissing snakes. The impetuous Indrajit pierced the handsome Lakshmana with those swift arrows during the encounter. With His limbs pierced by arrows and bathed in blood, the glorious Lakshmana shone like a smokeless fire. Thinking about his own feat, Indrajit approached Lakshmana, roared very loudly and spoke the following words:
“The sharp-pointed deadly arrows shot from my bow will today take your life, O Lakshmana! Let packs of jackals, hawks and vultures land on you when I have knocked you down dead! The great fool Rama will see His brother, who is a warrior in name only and always ignoble, slain by me today. He will find you lying on the ground with your armor split open, your bow tossed aside and your head severed after I have killed you.”
As Indrajit was speaking, the ireful Lakshmana replied with the following harsh words full of logic and meaning: “Give up your strength of words, O foolish and evil-acting Rakshasa! Why do you talk like this? Accomplish something with suitable action! Why do you brag without accomplishing anything, O Rakshasa? Do what you said you would so that I can believe your boasts! Look, O eater of humans! I shall kill you without speaking harsh words, without slandering you and without bragging!”
When Lakshmana finished speaking, He pierced the Rakshasa’s chest with five tremendously speedy steel arrows drawn all the way back to His ear. The swift arrows resembled flaming serpents and they shone like sunbeams on the Rakshasa’s chest. Angered when struck by Lakshmana’s arrows, Indrajit pierced Lakshmana in return with three well-aimed arrows. The battle between Indrajit and Lakshmana, who were both eager to conquer each other, was fractious, tumultuous and extremely frightful. Both were valiant, powerful and distinguished by their prowess. Both were extremely difficult to defeat and equal in strength and courage. The two warriors fought at that time like two planets in conflict in the sky. They were as difficult to overcome in battle as Indra and Vritrasura. The two great warriors fought like lions. Standing firmly as they shot volleys of arrows, the two of them—the best of men and the best of rakshasas—gladly fought with each other.
Fitting arrows to his bow and hissing like an angry snake, Lakshmana, the crusher of enemies, shot arrows at Indrajit. Turning pale in the face when he heard the twang of Lakshmana’s hand on the bowstring, Indrajit stared at Lakshmana. When Vibhishana saw that Ravana’s son had turned pale in the face, he said to Lakshmana: “I see certain indications of weakness in Indrajit. Hurry, O strong-armed prince! He is already defeated. There is no doubt about it.” Fitting arrows that were like poisonous snakes to His bow, Lakshmana shot them at Indrajit. When struck by Lakshmana’s arrows, whose impact was like Indra’s thunderbolt, Indrajit was dazed for a while, with all his senses stunned.
Regaining consciousness and full use of his senses after a while, Indrajit saw the courageous Lakshmana standing on the battleground. With his eyes red from rage, he then advanced toward Lakshmana. When he reached Lakshmana, he again spoke harsh words to Him: “Do you not remember my prowess in that first encounter with me when, bound by me with your brother, you writhed on the ground? Previously you two were knocked down unconscious on the battleground along with your foremost soldiers by my arrows that were like thunderbolts. I think you do not remember this or you obviously want to go to the abode of death because You are eager to defeat me. If you did not see my prowess in the first encounter, then I shall show you it now. Stay where you are right now!”
Indrajit then pierced Lakshmana with seven arrows and Hanuman with ten sharp-edged arrows. Becoming twice as angry, he pierced Vibhishana with one hundred well-aimed arrows. When Lakshmana saw Indrajit’s feat, He thought nothing of it. Laughing, He said: “This is nothing.” Seizing dreadful arrows, Lakshmana, whose face was fearless, angrily shot them at Indrajit. Then Lakshmana said: “Warriors in combat do not fight like this, O night-stalker! Light and weak, these arrows are enjoyable for Me. Battle-eager warriors do not fight like this.” Saying this, Lakshmana showered Indrajit with arrows. Shattered by those arrows, Indrajit’s heavy golden armor fell apart inside the chariot, like shooting stars in the sky. With his armor smashed by steel arrows, Indrajit was wounded and looked like the sun at dawn. Incensed by this, the fiercely intrepid Indrajit pierced Lakshmana with one thousand arrows in that conflict. Lakshmana’s strong golden armor was also smashed. The two crushers of enemies attacked and counterattacked each other. Repeatedly heaving deep breaths, the two fought fiercely on the battlefield, their limbs slashed by arrows and completely drenched with blood. For a very long time the two warriors skilled in battle tore each other with sharp arrows, courageous as they were and endowed with fearsome prowess. With their flags riven and their bodies covered with arrows, they bled profusely like mountain springs gushing hot water. The two warriors released a frightful shower of arrows and raised a dreadful clamor, like two dark-blue clouds. A very long time elapsed as they fought. They, however, did not desist from fighting nor experience any fatigue.
Both of them being most expert in the use of weapons, they displayed their weapons again and again, covering the sky with large and small arrows. Faultlessly shooting arrows with agility and gracefulness, the human and the Rakshasa fought fiercely and tumultuously. The sound of their hands on their bowstrings could each be heard distinctively. It shook people, just like a terrible storm. The clamor raised by those two combatants as they fought was like the most startling rumble of two storm clouds in the sky. Wounded by the gilded steel arrows, the two mighty and glorious warriors determined to achieve victory were bleeding profusely. After hitting their bodies, the golden-shafted arrows fell on the battleground covered with blood and entered into the earth. Other sharpened arrows clashed with weapons in the sky, shattering and splintering them.
The battle between the two warriors was terrible. The battle ground was covered with arrows and resembled a mass of Kusha grass strewn around two blazing fires at a sacrificial performance. The wounded bodies shone like a Kimshuka and Shaalmali tree in blossom and shorn of their leaves in the forest. Eager to conquer each other, Lakshmana and Indrajit carried on a tumultuous and formidable struggle again and again. Although they struck each other in combat, they did not become tired. With masses of arrows dug into their bodies, the two looked like mountains overgrown with trees. Wet with blood and covered with a multitude of arrows, their limbs shone like blazing fires. A very long time passed as they fought, yet they did not desist from fighting nor become exhausted. Then Vibhishana arrived at the front line of battle in order to relieve Lakshmana’s fatigue and to render Him a beneficial favor.
Thus completes 88th Chapter of Yuddha Kanda of the glorious Ramayana of Valmiki, the work of a sage and the oldest epic.
Sriman Moola Rama Vijayate