|Values for Life:
Ravana, taking advantage of the absence of the brothers, appeared before Sita in the guise of a Yogi. Saffron cloths. Garlands of beads on his chest. Tuft of hairs tied tightly with garland beads. Long beard. Vibhuti smeared on the forehead, chest, arms and foot.
“Om Namah: Shivaya….give me alms please…”Hearing the chant, Sita came out. She welcomed the guest with due respect and offered him fruits. “Swamin,” she said with reverence: “Please consume these fruits and bless us. My husband and brother would return very soon and they will entertain you formally.”
Smiling at her, the imposter asked her: “The most beautiful among women, who are you and who is your beloved? Why are you living in this thick forest that is the abode of dread Rakshasas and animals? Is there no one around with weapons to protect you? Tell me all about you so that I shall reveal my facts.”
In reply to that Sita told him: “My husband Sri Ram and his brother Lakshman are the sons of Dasarath, the king of Ayodhya. I am Sita, Sri Ram’s wife. We have come here to spend fourteen years in the forest as directed by our father. We live here as ascetics.” “Queen among beauty queens”, addressed Ravan, “I am Ravan, the King of all Rakshasas and everyone knows me in all the three worlds. I rule Lanka, a continent that surpasses even the heavens in beauty, richness and bounty. The moment I saw you, I have become your slave. What can you achieve with this Ram, who leads an ascetic life? Be my wife and enjoy all pleasures in the world.”
Hearing Ravan speak thus, Sita was agitated with fear and danger-in-waiting. She, however, summoned courage and warned Ravan: “Your death has certainly come near and that is why you speak and behave like this. My husband will reach here any moment and he will pierce your chest with his arrow.”
Ravan’s anger and fury arose. He exposed his own terrible and gigantic form with ten heads and twenty mighty hands. He lifted Sita and taking into his Pushpaka Viman, flew towards the south. “O, save me Ram…Save me from this wretch. , save me quickly…”
She went on. A lamentation imploring for help from a lady made Jatayu, the king of vultures alert. He looked up and saw Ravan carrying a beautiful girl in his viman. He identified that it was Sita, daughter-in-law of his friend Dasarath. He flew up with his enormous wings and stood opposed to Ravan. He looked at Ravan fiercely and challenged him:
“Where are you taking my friend’s daughter? Stop there and drop the girl back or I shall destroy you.”
Ravan hurled his sword against Jatayu who very tactfully avoided the mishap. With his sharper-than-sword beak, Jatayu attacked Ravan and his viman. The attack was so sharp and powerful that Ravan reeled into unconsciousness. His viman was damaged. Regaining mettle, he resisted the bird’s attack. Hurling his sword again he cut off the two wings of Jatayu who helplessly fell down. Sita, from the sky above, blessed him and said: “Reach the world of the brave and blessed. May your life last until you meet my husband and tell him the whole incidents!”
As she was in the flight, she could observe below a group of monkeys sitting in assembly. With a call from within, Sita took out all her ornaments and bundling them in her tunic dropped it down which fell in the middle of the assembly. The monkeys surprisingly opened the bundle and found the strange ornaments. They looked above and found a fascinatingly beautiful lady being carried by a monster in the viman. They decided to preserve the bundle.
As Ram and Lakshman reached their ashram they found it deserted. Sita was nowhere nearby. Ram cried out her name but there was no response. Sri Ram, as an unlettered ordinary mortal, started weeping aloud. As Ram and Lakshman walked a long way out in search of Sita, they met Jatayu who was almost dying. Jatayu told the entire story to Sri Ram. “Sita maa had blessed me to die only after I reveal this to you,” he told Sri Ram. Sri Ram with sympathy and affection took the bird’s head on his lap and gently patted it. Jatayu closed his eyes. His breath stopped. Sri Ram and Lakshman did all the rituals prescribed for the last rites of a close relative.
KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )