Vibhishana - Part 3

மரபு விக்கி இருந்து

தாவிச் செல்ல: வழிசெலுத்தல், தேடுக


Brothers seven

Kamban expands the brotherhood of Sri Rama from four to seven. Though Valmiki did not do so, it is still he who inspired Kamban…

It was not only the assurance for kingdom of Lanka that Vibishana received from Rama. He was accepted as Rama’s own brother. When he met Guha, Rama told him ‘we were four brothers till now and we become five with you.’ The family expanded to six with the addition of Sugriva. And now, Vibishana joins the brotherhood as seventh.

‘Guhanodum ivar aanOm’ he says. We became five with Guha. ‘pin kundru soozvaan maganodom aruvar aanOm.’ Then we became six with Sugriva. (The phrase kundru soozvaan means ‘one who goes around the Meru hill’ – the Sun. Sugriva was the son of Sun whereas Vali was the son of Indra.) ‘em uzai anbin vandha agan amar kaadhal iya ninnodum ezuvar aanOm.’ Now with you, who have walked over to our side with a heart full of love for us, we become brothers seven.

A careful reader would observe that this expanding brotherhood is not an idea portrayed in Valmiki Ramayana. Kamban, as can be seen, has studied Valmiki Ramayana very closely with analytical and critical mind. One of the verses sung by poets anon in praise of Kamba Ramayana, collected and added to the epic as ‘Paayiram’ (prologue) says ‘abinava kavi naathan,’ The master poet ‘vizundha gnaayiru adhu ezuvadan mun marai vedhiyarudan aaraaindhu’ discussed in depth with scholars after sunset and ere it rose, ‘ezundha gnaayiru adhu vizuvadhan mun kavi paadiyadhu ezhu noorE’ wrote seven hundred verses at a stretch after sunrise, before it set.

Delved in depth in Valmiki Ramayana, Kamban was inspired by a Sloka in Yuddha Kanda of Valmiki, uttered by Bharata. Rama returns to Ayodhya and Bharata learns of the help that Sugriva rendered to Rama and is really moved. Valmiki says “Embracing Sugriva, the foremost of monkeys, prince Bharata, a jewel among virtuous, who was endowed with extraordinary energy, said ‘You are a fifth brother to us four (brothers) O Sugriva! (For) a friend is made through (beneficence actuated by) good will (and a friend is as good as a brother), while maleficence is that which distinguishes an enemy.”

Kamban must have been impressed by the words of Bharata and should have thought that by the same scale the other friends of Rama – Guha and Vibishana – should also be treated with the same kind of love and become a part of the family. And therefore he chose to include verses in appropriate places to include all the three of them as their brothers. It was the grandest of designs of Kamban to include Guha, a huntsman as a brother too. He was quite a rebel for his times – at least a thousand years back. We will see that when we study Guha.

For the present, Vibishana got his abhaya, the assurance of kingship of Lanka and on top of all of it, became the brother of Sri Rama himself. More than what he could ask for. If he were the blood brother of Ravana, says Kamban, he is a brother of Sri Rama too because of the strong bonds of love that bound them and because of the fact that their minds were set on observance of Dharma as the first and foremost of all in their lives.

And the scene is all set for parting with the information on Lanka and its army. Kamban does that with the finesse that he is known for. Even now he does not make Rama think of Vibishana as a source of vital information. The suggestion comes from somewhere else.

A total surrender unto a total God

There are several contrasts in the ways in which Sugriva and Vibishana sought refuge unto Him…

Rama sends away Vibishana to a separate tent and remains alone in the seashore that evening, in a melancholic mood, brooding over Sita. Sugriva approaches him and stands by his side. The Poet makes Sugriva to put for the suggestion. ‘aayadhOr aLavayin arukkan maindhan nee thEivadhu en kaariyam’ Sugriva asked him at that time, ‘What for are you losing heart? ‘nirappum sindhayai mEyavan thannodum eNNi mEl inith thooyadhu ninaikkilai?’ Why don’t you discuss with Vibishana and think of what is to be done next?

And that makes Rama to summon Vibishana and to ask for the needed information. In the opinion of Sri VVS Aiyar, “By all these devices the sentiments of the critical reader are bespoke in favour of Vibishana and Vibishana’s character is saved from the charge of treachery that the circumstances of his position inevitably bring against it.”

Of the two characters that sought the protection of Rama, (incidentally both sought refuge unto him against the tyranny of their brothers) Sugriva and Vibishana, we see major differences. Sugriva came to Rama with a specific purpose – of getting his elder brother killed and even before Sri Rama could open his mouth about the help he needed from Sugriva, he started complaining against Vali. When Rama promised him that he would dispatch Vali and make him the king, he did not believe him. He was sceptical. He put Rama under test, was satisfied that this person could really do what he is supposed to do and then, only then, he accepted Rama as an ally, though in actuality Rama granted him abhaya.

If one thinks a little more deeply, Rama came to Sugriva as advised by Kabanda and that old lady, Sabari, in search of a suitable ally in his search for Sita. Therefore, Rama needed the assistance of Sugriva and Sugriva needed the help of Rama. The help sought from Rama could be realised within a short space of time, as far as Sugriva was concerned and he could be crowned soon. In fact his coronation was a sort of precondition for the search of Sita.

In sharp contrast, Vibishana came to Rama without any expectation. He did not ask for anything. Not help. Not kingdom. Nor anything else. He – unlike Sugriva – was fully convinced that this man was really great and a follower of righteousness. He did not have any difficulty in approaching Rama, seeking for refuge. (Once again there is a contrast. It was Hanuman who was sent as a scout to know who was Rama, in the case of Sugriva and the latter came to him only on Hanuman’s advice.) Vibishana was promised kingship. He did not ask for it. He had to wait for a comparatively longer time before the promise could be fulfilled by Rama, unlike in the case of Sugriva. On top of it all, Vibishana came from a camp that was opposed to Rama.

‘I do not bother,’ is the message that He conveys, says Sri C. R. Srinivasa Aiyangar. The first requirement of anyone who seeks refuge in me is that he should state his inability to do things by himself. He should be ready to give up everything and surrender unto me. I need just that much from the person who surrenders unto me.’

A source of strength in times of need

Vibishana was the information bank behind Rama and Lakshmana, offering them all support and assistance whenever needed…

It was out of his own choice that Vibishana joined the side of Rama. But strangely there is a common factor that influenced the decision of Sugriva as well as Vibishana. In the case of Sugriva, it was Hanuman who scouted on his behalf, collected information and convinced Sugriva about the ideal ally and brought both Sugriva and Rama together.

Vibishana says that he was influenced by Hanuman in his decision to reach the side of Rama. It was due to the fact that Vibishana heard of the valiant Kara and Dhooshana, the vanquishing of Vali and most importantly, the exploits of Hanuman in Lanka. It was the fearless demands that Hanuman placed before Ravana as self-appointed ambassador of Rama that impressed Vibishana. More over, he had an opportunity to learn more fully the background and bulwark of Rama as a Dharmatma that Vibishana decided to join Rama.

He tells Rama ‘kandhum vaaLiyin karan mudhal veerarum kaviyin vEndhum endru ivar viLindhavaa kEttu’ I heard of the searing arrows of yours that killed Kara and his group and Vali. ‘andru av ilangai theendhava kaNdum’ (not only that) I saw with my own eyes how Hanuman burnt the entire country of Lanka. ‘arakkarrich cheruvil murukkip pOndhavaa kaNdum’ (was that all?) I also saw him taking the fierce ogres in battle, killing thousands of them single-handedly and returning here. ‘naan ingup pugundadhu pugazhOi.’ (All these are the reasons why) I was impelled to come here.

But unlike Sugriva who offered muscle power to Rama to win the war, Vibishana did not participate in the war, directly excepting on only one occasion. Of course, Rama would not have preferred Vibishana’s direct participation in the war. He had a firm commitment to Vibishana to make him the king of Lanka and had the responsibility of protecting him till the end of the war.

Nonetheless, Vibishana was the information bank behind Rama and Lakshmana, offering them all support and assistance whenever needed. It was he who stood by Lakshmana in a series of three battles with Indrajit and gave him regular information about the illusory tactics of Indrajit. It was he who advised Lakshmana on which weapon to use on critical occasions. Again, it was he who informed Rama and Lakshmana about the tactical move of Indrajit, diverting their attention by killing an illusory Sita in the presence of Hanuman and telling him of his (false) campaign of Ayodhya. When the entire scene was frozen with confusion, Vibishana smelt the real reason behind the move of Indrajit and informed them of the yaga that he had undertaken secretively at Nikumbila and warned them that Indrajit should not be allowed to complete it, lest he becomes invincible.

There have been ups in his relationship with the brothers in the sense that he had always been trusted and relied upon and even looked upon as a ready source of guidance on their decisions on several occasions. But there was an extremely difficult situation that Vibishana faced, and was afraid that he would be suspected of disloyalty by Rama. True to his fears, Rama reprimanded him on that occasion. It was when Indrajit bound Lakshmana by the cobra noose that caused the latter to lie unconscious, almost dead.

We will see that presently.

When the unexpected happens…

Vibishana faced the most delicate and difficult of situations when Lakshmana fought Indrajit.

Vibishana plays the role of an adviser to Rama right from the beginning of war, though it is only on the second day of the war that he assumes an important part. It was when Kumbakarna came to the battlefield. We have seen in detail the scenes of Vibishana meeting Kumbakarna and trying to convince him of the wisdom of joining Rama’s side, when we saw Kumbakarna. We will go into that portion of the scene, which remains to be seen in order to know the reasons that impelled Vibishana to join the side of Rama. As we have seen a portion of the dialogue between Vibishana and Kumbakarna, we will study this later at an appropriate time.

But before that we will see the role played by Vibishana in the killing of Indrajit, supposed to be the most valiant of all ogres and the war with whom was the longest of all wars in Ramayana. In fact it was he who brought Lakshmana closer to death, twice. Vibishana faced the most delicate and difficult of situations when Lakshmana fought Indrajit. As we discussed yesterday, it left him blanche and bare, grieving and guilty and unable to face Rama.

After the killing of Kumbakarna, Adhikaya the younger brother of Indrajit came for the battle and was slain by Lakshmana. When Indrajit learnt of the death of his brother, he was furious and came to the battlefield like a typhoon. He massacred countless monkeys and effortlessly overpowered the commanders-in-chief of the Vanara army.

Lakshmana witnessed the onslaught of Indrajit and spoke to Vibishana with unbearable agony. ‘pizhaithadu kolgai pOdha perum padaith thalaivar yaarum uzaithanar kurudhi veLLaththu.’ Have we not swerved from our principle (of protecting the army from unnecessary destruction)? The chiefs of the army have virtually been drowned in a stream of blood. ‘ulandhadhum ulappitru andrE.’ Our loss has been considerable. ‘azhaithe ivan thannai yaanE aar uyir koLap padaadhE’ I should have called him (for a single combat) and killed him. ‘izhaithadhu pizhayE andro Veedana?’ (By not doing so) have I not committed a great mistake, O Vibishana?

‘Times without number did the celestials fight with Indrajit and they were all defeated by him. Therefore, there is not much that these soldiers and their chiefs can do against him. He can be contained only by a warrior of your calibre Lakshmana’ said Vibishana. It was therefore Vibishana who advised Lakshmana to undertake a war against Indrajit. He was confident that Lakshmana could win this terrible demon with some effort.

True to his judgement, Lakshmana did resist Indrajit rather stiffly and the latter had a real tough time against him. He broke the chariot of Indrajit into pieces and Indrajit switched over to another. Lakshmana broke that too. The poet remarks humorously ‘Eri Eri izhindhadhu alal igal vEru seydhilan’ Indrajit kept on climbing on to new chariots and once he got into them, his chariot would be broken again. He would change to another. He did nothing excepting switching over from chariot to chariot. There was practically no time left for him to fight back.

The war soon picked up speed and Lakshmana wiped out the entire Rakshasa army very soon. Indrajit suddenly vanished from the spot and went behind the clouds, in preparation to shoot his cobra noose. In the meantime, Lakshmana was unaware of the illusory warfare of Indrajit and thought that he must have escaped from the battlefield, unable to resist him any further. He therefore called off his army and was preparing to leave the field for the day.

Indrajit played havoc at that time.

A faggot burning on both sides

Vibishana was engulfed by self-pity and guilt feelings when Lakshmana was bound by the serpent noose by Indrajit….

Indrajit who was hiding behind the clouds loosed the serpent arrow on Lakshmana and the entire Vanara army. The noose was made by the very creator – Brahma – and was handed over to Shiva. Shiva in turn gave it to Indrajit as a boon for his penance. It was known to be one of the most powerful astras of those days. Unlike arrows, astras were supposed to possess missile like qualities. Each astra had a presiding deity, which had to be invoked before it was shot. The description of a few astras resembles the ballistic missiles of the present days.

Thousands and millions of serpents descended on the battlefield to bind the broad shoulders of Lakshmana and the army. The valiant army of Vanaras, including Hanuman were down in no time, excepting Vibishana. And of course Sri Rama, who was not in the scene.

The situation is extremely pathetic. It was Vibishana who advised Lakshmana to carry on the battle with Indrajit. And now the scene was extremely gory with valiant soldiers lying all over the battlefield like fallen mountains. The noose was known for holding the victims in its grip till they haplessly marched on towards death. There was no known remedy for the noose. It was the one that bound Indra when Indrajit fought with him. It was the one which bound Hanuman in the Sundara Kanda when he was taken captive to Ravana’s court.

Just imagine the position of Vibishana. He and his ministers four were the sole survivors who remained unaffected by the venomous noose. He was from the enemy’s camp and was granted refuge in the face of stiff resistance. Almost all the Vanaras who spoke in the war council the other day had advised Rama that a rakshasa could not be trusted.

That troubled the heart of Vibishana. It was all right if he were also a victim. He would not be looked at with suspicious eyes. But now the entire army is down whereas he and his ministers remain untouched. ‘What would the world think of me,’ lamented Vibishana. ‘kolvithaan udanE nindruu angu enbaarO?’ Would they say that I enabled the killing of Lakshmana, while standing close to him, cunningly? ‘koNdu pOnaan velvithaan maganai enbaarO?’ Would they speak of me as having joined Rama with the intention of enabling the victory of the son (Indrajit)? ‘vilaivirkku ellam nal vithaai nadandhan mun enbaarO?’ Would they say that I walked in early as the seed that was implanted to cause all this destruction?’

Self-pity and guilt feelings soon engulfed him. ‘I did not fight together with the Vanaras and proved my loyalty to Rama. Neither did I die along with all these valiant soldiers nor could I save Lakshmana. Nor did I run away from the battlefield in the face of this massive devastation. ‘ath thalaikku allEn yaan.’ I do not belong to the other side. ‘eeNdu abayam endru adaindhu nindra ith thalaikku allEn allEn.’ Nor do I now belong to this side (that so gracefully granted refuge to me). ‘iru thalaich choolam pOlvEn.’ I am like the firewood burnt on both sides.

Was it a lapse?

It was not usual for Rama to hold someone responsible for a lapse, serious or not. His mind would always look for the reason behind that action…

Rama arrived at the scene summoned by a minister of Vibishana. If there was something in Rama that could be called a weakness, it was the love he had for Lakshmana. His love for Lakshmana needs no reiteration even to the person who knows a very bare outline of the story. He was crestfallen when he saw his younger brother lying on the ground motionless. He did not know what to do. His distress knew no bounds. He would lift his brother and place him on his laps. He would call him by his name. He would place a hand on Lakshmana’s nostrils and feel for his breath.

‘thaamaraik kaiyaal thaaLaith thai varum.’ He would gently rub Lakshmana’s legs. ‘kurangaith thattum.’ Stroke repeatedly on his thighs. ‘thoo malark kaNNai nOkkum’ would look into his eyes for long. ‘maarbidaith thudippu uNdu enaa Emurum.’ Placing his hand on Lakshmana’s chest, he would think for a while that the heart is still beating and would feel relieved and elated for a moment. ‘visumbai nOkkum.’ (Then realising that there is no heart beat) he would gaze at the sky. ‘edukkum, than maarbin Etrum’ Then he would pick him up and hold him close to his chest. ‘Bhoomiyil vaLarthum.’ Lay him on the ground. ‘kaLvan agandraanO ennum.’ He would then ask, ‘Has the thief (Indrajit) left the battlefield?

Rama’s grief was immense. Immense is a rather shallow word to describe the pain that he was suffering. He then turned to Vibishana. It was not usual for Rama to hold someone responsible for a lapse, serious or not. His mind would always look for the reason behind that action which led to the lapse and be fixed on the next action to be taken in times of distress. For instance, let’s hear what he says to Lakshmana when came in search of Rama, leaving Sita alone in the forest (when Maricha mimicked Rama’s voice) pressurised by her to go in search of him. Lakshmana had violated his order of standing guard. But Rama did not feel bad seeing him from a distance.

‘It must have been Sita who had sent him here. She would have heard the voice of Maricha mimicking mine and would have been distressed. ‘peN enum pEdhamai mayakka pEdhinaal.’ Poor thing, her femininity would have alarmed her. And she must have sent him to look for me. ‘thaniyE en sol kadandhu manamum thaLarndha iLa veeran vandha iyalbE.’ It is natural that Lakshmana who should have been pressurised by Sita (for otherwise it is not possible for anyone to make him do a thing in violation of my order) had under great stress come to see me.

When Lakshmana explained the position, Rama said, ‘madavaaL sindha kulathodu urai seydha seigai adhu theerum endru theLivaai.’ Understand that Sita uttered such words because she was worried and distressed. ‘mundhE thadukka,’ you stopped me before I left. ‘ozhiyaadhu edutha vinayEn muditha mudivaal’ I should have heard. But I did not. I decided against your warning. Therefore, I am responsible for what may happen now. Let’s quickly reach our hut to see that she is safe.’

It was his nature to respond that way. We see a different Rama here.

Tears of love

Rama stands here like any other human being, flesh and blood, throbbing with uncontrolled emotions, anger and anguish…

Though it was not in his nature to speak harsh words for Rama, it was Lakshmana here who was lying on the ground. He could not bare it any further. He turned towards Vibishana accusingly and told him. ‘edutha pOr ilangai vEndhanOdu iLaya kOvukku endru ennai vallai azhathilai.’ You failed to send word to me quickly saying that Indrajit is engaging Lakshmana in war. ‘aravin paasam thodutha kai sarathinOdum thuNithu uyir kudikka’ (had you sent word for me) I would have come here to cut that arm which aimed the serpent noose at Lakshmana, asunder and killed him. ‘keduthanai Veedana nee.’ It was you who spoilt everything Vibishana. Such ruthlessly abrasive and unkind words.

Rama stands here like any other human being, flesh and blood, throbbing with uncontrolled emotions, anger and anguish. It is one of the few places where we see him in our likeness. And if you keep the situation that impelled him to speak such words – Lakshmana’s motionless body – in mind it can be seen what excessive love is capable of doing – or undoing.

But those were precisely the words of Vibishana in Valmiki Ramayana, in the parallel scene. Valmiki shows both the brothers as afflicted by the naga pasa or the serpent noose. They and several other Vanara chiefs are lying on the ground. Sugriva is perplexed and frozen. Listen to what Vibishana tells him in Valmiki Ramayana -

“Vibishana spoke (as follows) to Sugriva (the ruler of monkeys), whose face was bathed in tears, alarmed and afflicted as he was, his eyes bewildered with grief. “Have done with fear O Sugriva! Let the gush of tears be controlled. Conflicts are mostly of this nature (uncertain in their issue). Victory is never certain. If the stock of our good fortune is not yet exhausted, these two high-souled princes who are endowed with extraordinary might, shall shake off their swoon, O gallant monkey! Restore yourself to confidence as well as me, forlorn as I am, O monkey! Fear of death does not haunt those who are devoted to truthfulness and piety.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda, Canto 46, Sloka 30 – 33)

“This is not the moment to give way to faint-heartedness, O suzerain lord of moneys! Excessive emotion too at this juncture will lead to destruction.” (Ibid, Sloka 37)

Rt. Hon’ble Srinivasa Sastriyar says this on the above Sloka. “This idea of ati (excessive) being fatal in Sanskrit poetry. Now when Lakshmana had to comfort Rama in the Aranya Kanda, he says, ‘Do not give way to this absorbing love. Where you have a wick which has been wet in water, even such a wick, if placed where there is plenty of oil, will absorb the oil and burn itself out. Even if your heart is prasanta, if only you take in too much of sneha, then a great deal of harm would be done.”

But it is Sri Rama who is suffering now out of excessive flow of affection, in Kamba Ramayana. He is not able to see that Vibishana could have done pretty little to prevent what had happened. His excessive love for Lakshmana prevents his wisdom that saw the facts as they were in Aranya Kanda when Lakshmana came in search of him when Maricha raised his voice calling ‘Ha Sita! Ha Lakshmana!’ His wisdom has taken the back seat now. He is pouring out acid on Vibishana now. And how did Vibishana react?

The cloud passes

At such difficult times, there is only one course left for people who are sincere and honest. Explain the situation as it was, and be prepared to face anything.

It is rather difficult for anyone to be in the shoes of Vibishana. But life does place us in such situations of having to bear responsibility for a failure. It was no fault of Vibishana to have estimated the valour of Lakshmana and weighed him to be of a superior calibre. He no doubt was right in his belief. What had established an upper hand here was tactics rather than talent.

In fact when Lakshmana was engaged in war with Indrajit, it was getting late in a prolonged exchange of arrows. Both were highly talented in dhanur Veda or the science of archery. Vibishana warned Lakshmana. ‘naagamE anaya namba’ O warrior who has the qualities of a serpent (when facing a foe) ‘naazhigai ondru naangu baagamE kaalam aagap padudhiyEl pattaaan’ Indrajit would die only if you quicken your efforts within a quarter of a naazhigai (the equivalent of six minutes). ‘andrEl vega vaaL arakkar kaalam viLaindhadhu.’ (If not) the night would set in and it is the time of rakshasas. They are more powerful during the night. ‘visumbin vanjan EgumEl velvan’ If he goes into the skies yonder, he will win.’

Lakshmana therefore started destroying his chariot. Before the chariot fell on the ground, Indrajit escaped into the sky and the sun had set by that time. Lakshmana thought that Indrajit had escaped from the battlefield and Indrajit gained time to shoot the noose, as we saw earlier.

At such difficult times, there is only one course left for people who are sincere and honest. Explain the situation as it was, and be prepared to face anything. Vibishana did just that. ‘pinnarum vaNangi Edhum pizhaithilam peruma.’ He bowed before Rama once again and told ‘none of us is at fault.’ He went a step further to console Rama. ’yaarum in uyir thurandhaar illai.’ Nobody has lost his life. Do not lose your heart. For adharma never defeats dharma.

Garuda, the celestial bird and the carrier of Vishnu appeared just at that time, putting an end to the distress of Rama and the delicate situation that Vibishana was in. On the appearance of Garuda all the snakes that were binding the warriors loosened their grips and slipped away from the field.

But that was the only occasion in which Vibishana was put in such a difficult and tight corner. Rama soon saw the actual situation and realised that it was not the fault of Vibishana.

The valour of the rakshasas is not seen in the perspective in which it deserves to be seen. It was not an easy win that Lakshmana established over Indrajit. Lakshmana fought three major battles against Indrajit and out of the three Indrajit put him under stupor twice. When the second battle started, it was Sri Rama himself who proscribed Lakshmana from the use of Brahmastra and it was the reason for the fall of the latter for a second time. It was Vibishana who played a role in bringing him to life.

A friend indeed…

A devastation in the making and Vibishana rises to the occasion…

The news that Lakshmana and the Vanara army rose up from its coma reached Ravana and Indrajit was summoned once again. But before doing that Ravana had sent Makaraaksha – or Makarak Kannan, as Kamban would call him, who was dispatched quickly by Sri Rama. That is why we see a kind of despondency setting in, in the mindset of Ravana.

Indrajit was rather queer when messengers from Ravana reached him. ‘poyina nirudhar yaarum pondrinar pOlum endraan.’ So, what happened to those who went to the field? Have all of them died?’ asked Indrajit. ‘Eyina pinnai meeLvaar nee alaadhu yaavar enna mEyadhu sonnaar thoodhar.’ The messengers said, ‘Who else other than yourself came back from the field, alive?’

Indrajit came to the field for the second time. In fact, in the entire epic, it was Indrajit alone who came back for a second time, in the fight either with Rama or Lakshmana, victorious at least for time. Of course Ravana went back from the first day’s battle, alive. But he was defeated on that day and was in fact sent back. It has to be remembered here that Indrajit had by now assessed the actual strength of his foes and was not in the same care-a-damn attitude as he was on the first day. Similarly, Rama and Lakshmana had also gauged what Indrajit is capable of. They therefore took the forefront and encountered Indrajit.

When the war started, both Rama and Lakshmana engaged him in an intense fight. Lakshmana, however, desired that he be given an opportunity to wipe off this ogre as he had a score to settle with Indrajit. ‘igal aatrinan aravu kondu asaippa aar amar thOtranan endru kondu ulagam sollumal.’ People will call me a coward tomorrow and will cite my falling down by the noose of Indrajit as evidence. Therefore, please leave him to me. Let me handle this. In the war that ensued, Indrajit could once again not take it any further and vanished behind the clouds.

Now, there is something very wonderful about Lakshmana. Call it intuition, gut feeling or clairvoyance. His forethought was sharper and deeper. It may be recollected here that it was Lakshmana who forewarned that the golden deer was indeed Maricha and therefore Rama should not pursue it. In a similar manner, he had a feeling that Indrajit would resort to the use of Brahmastra. ‘In case he does so’, thought Lakshmana, ‘I would also do so.’ ‘ivan pizhaikkumEl padukkum nam padayai.’ If he survives our arrows, he would destroy all our army. ‘eNNam matru ilai ayan padai thoduppEn endru isaindhaan.’ I do not have a second thought. I will use the Brahmastra, he said. The obedience of Lakshmana is just unbelievable. He would not resort to a thing even in defence of his own self and others, unless Rama accepted it. We have seen this in an earlier instalment, in brief. (Brahmastra Padalam II)

Rama was not for it. He restrained Lakshmana from its use, since its use would lead to the destruction of all the three worlds. But that was a decision, which Rama regretted later. It was Vibishana who was alert and acted fast to bring about a solution to the devastation that followed in the second battle with Indrajit.

A friend in deed is a friend indeed…

There was not a single one in the entire army 70 vahinis strong, left conscious to bring them to life. It was left to Vibishana to do it.

At the end of the war on that day, Indrajit once again escaped behind the clouds and was making preparations for shooting his Brahmastra. This time he had quite another plan. He had arranged for Mahodara and other ogres to masquerade as Indra and other celestials. When this team marched into the battlefield, Lakshmana and others were quite baffled. Lakshmana was sitting on the shoulders of Hanuman (for the sake of elevation since he did not have the use of a chariot. As we had observed earlier, it is essential for the archer to stand on a higher level in order to use the bow effectively) and was engaged in a discussion with him as to why the celestials should have come to the battlefield to fight with them.

When his attention was thus diverted, Indrajit took advantage of the situation and fired the Brahmastra. The divine missile fell the whole army to the ground. Hanuman had the protection against all astras but went unconscious for a considerable time. There were only two who were not present in the field. One was Rama himself who had gone to another hillock to perform puja to the weapons. He had earlier ordered Vibishana to go in search of food and make necessary arrangements to bring it early for the army. (See Brahmastra Padalam III)

It has to be observed here that Indrajit was waiting for the departure of Vibishana. He very particularly enquires his whereabouts with the messengers from the field, before he starts for shooting the Brahmastra. ‘aadavar thilagam yaaNdayaan?’ Where is Rama the best among men? ‘igal anuman EnOr veedaNan yangaN uLLaar uNarthumin viraivin.’ Where is Hanuman and where is Vibishana, tell me quickly.

It can therefore be seen there were three persons whom Indrajit considered formidable. Rama, obviously for his valour. Hanuman for his tact and war strategy. We have seen this in our various discussions on Hanuman. Vibishana because he was the information bank who helped the enemies counter him effectively. He did not include Lakshmana in this list because it was against him he was waging the war and not that he considered him any less. In fact we will see how Indrajit was wonder struck and was frozen with awe when he saw his Narayanastra came around Lakshmana clockwise, respectfully.

Indrajit gained confidence now that both Rama and Vibishana were not there in the field and created his illusory techniques as we saw above in sending his own men in the form of celestials. The whole Vanara army and Lakshmana were lying in the ground, struck by the divine astra, the most powerful of all missiles. However, there appears to be another potent missile described in Mahabharata called Brahma Siras, which was even more powerful than Brahmastra.

Rama had come back from his puja that he performed to his weapons and was shocked to see the entire army and most of all his dear Lakshmana lying on the ground, motionless. His grief was once again immeasurable and he fell down by the side of Lakshmana, unconscious.

There was not a single one in the entire army 70 vahinis strong, left conscious to pursue a course that would lead to the solution and bring them to life. It was left to Vibishana to do it.

A stoic to the core

Vibishana shows an amazing kind of calm in the face of storm and sets a splendid example of situation handling…

It needs a special kind of mental strength to face the situation that Vibishana faced that day. When he left on his errand of making arrangement for food for the army, the whole area was alive with the shrieks and shouts of the monkeys, presided over and protected by Lakshmana, Rama having gone away. He finishes his job and comes back with food, only to find all of them without a single exception lying on the ground, motionless. The scene is rather eerie. All those friends who were vibrant with life, valorous and ready to face any kind of difficulty are now dead. The entire field is full of mortal remains of close friends. How lonely and helpless he should have felt!

Anyone in the situation of Vibishana would have broken down. But not Vibishana. He was of course concerned, alarmed and worried. Initially he was stunned and did not know what to do. The poet says ‘vidathai thaanE thEkkinaan enna nindru thiyanginaan uNarvu theerndhan.’ He stood there as if he had consumed poison and was devoid of all feelings. It however lasted for a short time. He gained control over his emotions soon. He remained calm and thought logically, step-by-step. This scene is an amazing example of situation handling.

What is one supposed to do if left alone in such a situation? One can learn from Vibishana. His first concern was to look at the condition of the leader. He went to the spot where Rama and Lakshmana were lying. He examined Rama’s body carefully. ‘naayagan mEnikku illai vadu ena nadukkam theerndhan.’ There are no injuries on his body. He must therefore be alive. His sharp intellect then showed him the reason behind this devastation. ‘If such a vast army is lying motionless on the filed within such a short time, it must be due to the fact that a powerful missile has been shot. There is no doubt that the Brahmastra has been used. It should have been none other than Indrajit who played this havoc.’

‘andhaNan padayal vandhadu enbadhum’ That this must have been caused by Brahmastra ‘aatral saandra IndirasithE eydhaan enbadhum’ that it must have been shot by Indrajit ‘iLavarukku aaga nondhanan iraaman enbadhum’ and that Rama was lying there unconscious because he was overcome by grief at what had happened to Lakshmana ‘nuNmayum noydhin nOkki’ he (Vibishana) understood all these intricate details within the flash of a moment. Not only that. The Poet mentions the next step. ‘sindhayin uNara eNNith theervadhu Or ubaayam thErvaan.’ He thought of all that has happened deeply and focussed his mind on finding a solution.

‘bhakthi udayaar kaariyathil padharaar’ wrote the national poet Subramanya Bharati. Those who are devoted of heart would never be in haste. Devotion to duty. Devotion to what one is doing presently. Devotion to the issue at hand. Devotion to the Lord of course is the undercurrent of the line of Bharati. But it should have an equal amount of devotion to one’s duty. Just look at the condition of Vibishana. He left the side of his brother and took refuge in Sri Rama. And it is now Sri Rama himself who is lying in the field, grieving over his brother. Added to it, there is none on his side alive now. Such an immense problem, pathetic problem I should say. But he still keeps thinking and is looking for solution. A stoic indeed!

Hari Krishnan


Dev, Ksubashini மற்றும் Hariki

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இப்பக்கம் கடைசியாக 6 பெப்ரவரி 2010, 14:48 மணிக்குத் திருத்தப்பட்டது. இப்பக்கம் 4,139 முறைகள் அணுகப்பட்டது.