Ravana Enters the Battlefield

Ravana heard the piteous and plaintive wails of the rakshasis in every family of Lanka. Sighing for a long time and thinking deeply, Ravana became overwhelmed with anger and assumed a frightful appearance. Biting his lips with his teeth, his eyes shone red like fire and his form, like the fire of universal devastation, was unbearable for the rakshasas. Ravana, speaking indistinctly because of anger, instructed the rakshasas Mahodara, Mahaparshva and Virupaksha, who were standing nearby, as if about to burn them with his eyes: “Immediately tell the troops to sally forth on my command!” Hearing his instructions, the rakshasas were terror-stricken and rallied the other somber rakshasas in accordance with the king’s command. Accepting the command, all the frightful-looking rakshasas recited hymns for auspiciousness and headed straight for the battlefield. Offering respects to Ravana as was customary, those great chariot fighters stood there with joined palms wishing victory for their master. Laughing while filled with anger, Ravana said to Mahodara, Mahaparshva and Virupaksha: “With the arrows shot from my bow, I shall today send Rama and Lakshmana to the abode of death. With the death of my enemies, I shall avenge the death of Khara, Kumbhakarna, Prahasta and Indrajit. When covered with the network of my arrows, neither the sky, nor the directions, nor the heavens, nor even the oceans will be visible. With the volleys of my plumed arrows, I shall today systematically annihilate the monkey troops. While seated in my chariot as swift as the wind, I shall obliterate the monkey troops with the waves of my arrows sprung from the ocean of my bow. Like an elephant, I shall destroy the ponds of monkey troops whose soldiers are like the filaments of a lotus and whose faces are like blossoming lotuses.

“With their heads pierced by my arrows in combat, the monkey troop leaders will adorn the earth like lotus flowers with stems. With each arrow that I shoot while fighting, I shall pierce one hundred fierce monkey warriors armed with trees. I shall this day slaughter my enemy and wipe the tears from the eyes of those whose brothers have been slain. I shall cover the battleground so thoroughly with scattered monkeys pierced by my arrows that it will require some effort to see the ground. Today I shall satisfy the crows, vultures and other carnivorous animals with the flesh of my enemies served on arrows. Have my chariot prepared immediately and bring me my bow right now! Let all the remaining night-stalkers follow me to the battlefield!”

Hearing Ravana’s command, Mahaparshva ordered the army generals who were standing there: “Quickly mobilize the army!” The generals then hurried around Lanka, urging the rakshasas in every house to assemble. Thereafter dreadful-looking rakshasas ran out roaring and wielding different kinds of weapons, such as swords, sharp spears, pikes, maces, clubs, picks, javelins, big mallets, staffs, different kinds of discuses, sharpened axes, slings and cat-’o-nine-tails.

By Ravana’s command, one general then brought the king’s chariot drawn by eight swift horses and accompanied by a charioteer. Ravana, who was glowing with splendor, then mounted that formidable chariot. Sallying forth at that time surrounded by many rakshasas, Ravana seemed to rend the earth with the greatness of his strength. When permitted by Ravana, Mahaparshva, Mahodara and Virupaksha mounted their chariots. Roaring jubilantly and seemingly rending the earth, they set forth eager for victory. Surrounded by hordes of rakshasas and appearing like the lord of death at the end of time, the magnificent Ravana sallied forth for battle. Riding his chariot drawn by swift steeds, Ravana sallied forth from the northern gate where Rama and Lakshmana were stationed.

At that time the sun lost its brilliance and the four directions were covered by darkness. Birds shrieked frightfully and the earth shook. It rained blood and the horses stumbled. A vulture landed on the top of Ravana’s flagpole and she-jackals howled sinisterly. Ravana’s left eye twitched and his left arm trembled. His face became pale and he lost his voice. As Ravana was proceeding to the battlefield, certain signs presaged his death there. A meteor fell from the sky accompanied by a sound like thunder. Vultures intermixed with crows shrieked. Undisturbed by these ill omens, Ravana proceeded ahead toward his own destruction because of delusion occasioned by destiny.

At the sound of the chariots of the rakshasas, the monkey army became alert for combat. A tumultuous conflict erupted between the monkeys and rakshasas, who challenged each other angrily, eager as they were for conquest. The furious ten-headed Ravana massacred the monkeys soldiers with his sharp arrows adorned with gold. Some monkeys were beheaded by Ravana, some had they heats pierced and others were shorn of their ears. Some were knocked down lifeless, some were slashed in their sides, some had their heads split open and some and their eyes gouged out. Wherever Ravana drove his chariot on the battlefield, with his eyes rolling due to anger, the monkey troop leaders were unable to withstand the force of his arrows.

Thus completes 95th Chapter of Yuddha Kanda of the glorious Ramayana of Valmiki, the work of a sage and the oldest epic.

Sriman Moola Rama Vijayate