Ravan, Kumbhakaran and Vibhishan practiced the most austere penance in history. Ten thousand years passed and the Lord did not give heed. Ravan cut one of his own heads with his sword and sacrificed that in the fire and continued his self torturous meditation. Pithamaha did not seem pleased. After another ten thousand years, he chopped off one of his remaining nine heads. Lord Brahma did not manifest. He severed nine heads and sacrificed them in fire, yet the Lord did not appear. The determined Ravan did not withdraw. He drew his sword and swung it to cut the only head left and there appeared Lord Brahma and prevented him from the ghastly act. “Ravan, stop self inflicting torture. Tell me what do you want?”“I want a boon that I should not die, my Lord”. “This is impossible. Ask something else.” “No Lords, Gods, Demi-gods, Gandharvas, animals, Nagas, or birds should kill me. I have no fear of the mankind. Except human beings I should not have any danger. And in the whole worlds there should be no one to equal me in strength and gallantry.” “That may happen”. Blessed the grandsire.
After blessing Ravan, Lord Brahma turned to Kumbhakarn. “Tell me my son”, asked the Lord to Kumbhakarn, “What boon do you desire?” He was about to ask for Indratva, the kingship of the gods and the kingdom itself under him. The gods were afraid. Kumbhakarn is more dreadful than Ravan. With the power of boon from the Lord he would be invincible. They approached Goddess Saraswati, wife of Lord Brahma and Goddess of letters to dwell upon the tip of Kumbhakarn’s tongue and twist his words. She obliged them. Kumbhakarn sought of the Lord: “I want Nidratva (ever sleeping) ”. “So be it.” Blessed the Lord.
And he fell instantly into deep sleep.
The Lord now turned out to Vibhishan, the last one and asked of his desire.“Lord most venerable”, he addressed, “I wish to be a stern and permanent devotee of Lord Narayan. My wit and mind should always move on paths righteous. Bless me thus Lord.” Brahma blessed him thus and all the gods above were highly pleased of Vibhishan.Ravan with redoubled arrogance and ego went to Lanka and challenged his brother Vaisravan. He first sent Prahasta, a messenger, to his brother asking him to leave the country and vanish. According to Ravan Lanka belonged to the Rakshasas as birth-right and therefore Vaisravan had no right to continue there. Vaisravan said to the messenger:“My father Visravas donated this country to me since there was nobody to look-after it. Ravan is my brother and he can live with me here in Lanka. There is no ill-feeling of any sorts between two brothers”.
With these words of Sama (diplomacy) of his brother, Ravan was not content. He set out with his huge army to fight Vaisravan. In the fight that ensued between the brothers, the elder was miserably defeated by Ravan, who capsized the country from Vaisravan. The elder was banished from Lanka and Ravan usurped the Kingdom.
The disgraced Vaisravan approached his father and told him the entire incidents. Visravas consoled him and told:“My dear son, Ravan is a dangerous person. You leave Lanka along with your followers and settle down on the other side of the Northern Himalaya and live there worshipping Lord Sankara (Shiva). That will enhance your prosperity.”Giving heed to his father’s advice, Vaisravan settled down at Alakapuri.
Ravan challenged every mighty king and god in the three worlds and made most of them slaves. His restlessness grew in the absence of a fitting foe. Although in the middle of glory and prosperity, Ravan was uneasy because of his brothers permanent sleeping. He once again meditated on Lord Brahma and sought the boon that Kumbhakarn’s sleep would have a day’s break after six months of continuity.
-KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )