Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Make My Day

Rama shooting Vali“It was for the sake of this large-eyed woman that Vali, of great strength, was killed and Kabandha, who was equal in strength to Ravana, was struck down.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 16.7)

asyā hetor viśāla akṣyā hato vālī mahā balaḥ |
rāvaṇa pratimo vīrye kabandhaḥ ca nipātitaḥ ||

Seeing Sita’s beauty and divine qualities from afar, Hanuman remembers to himself all that the lady’s husband had done to try to find her. Up to this point, what Rama had done was not easy in the least, and He still hadn’t found her. For a man to take on such a great risk, to put His life in jeopardy to find His wife must mean that His wife was worth finding. Hanuman recognized this from the beginning of his journey to Lanka, and upon seeing Sita his initial faith in the worthiness of the mission was confirmed.

Rama is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation as a warrior prince and Sita is an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, the Supreme Lord’s eternal consort. Therefore the Ramayana, an ancient poem authored by Maharishi Valmiki, has real and lasting significance. The story bears similarities to modern comic books and Hollywood films, but the events described are real, and since they are about God and His devotees, the work is still talked about to this day. The Ramayana is just as significant today as it was during the time of its composition.

Hanuman says that Rama struck down Kabandha, who was equal to Ravana in strength. Ravana was the demon-king of Lanka who took Sita away from Rama’s side while the couple was peacefully living in the forest of Dandaka. Rama was the son of a king and was therefore a fighter by trade. His younger brother Lakshmana was with Him in Dandaka, but Ravana did not have the courage to fight either one of them. Nevertheless, Ravana was known throughout the world for his strength. He had defeated many a celestial already, and he thought he was safe on his island kingdom in Lanka.

Kabandha was one of the first impediments encountered by Rama and Lakshmana after Sita was taken away in the backhanded plot executed by Ravana. The brothers did not know where Sita was, so they began to traverse the forest looking for her. They stumbled upon a downed vulture named Jatayu who had tried to stop Ravana’s aerial car when it first left Dandaka with Sita. Sadly, Jatayu was mortally wounded in the battle. Rama found the courageous vulture just as he was dying and learned from him that Ravana was the person who had taken Sita. Jatayu then died and Rama performed his last rites.

The brothers next came upon a dense forest, and after encountering a female ogre who propositioned Lakshmana and was then rejected, they met a wicked ogre named Kabandha. He was a large, headless creature with incredibly long arms. He had one eye and very sharp teeth situated in his belly. He got a hold of the two brothers, causing a fearful situation. Lakshmana was worried that they may not live and asked Rama to save Himself. The Lord calmed him and reminded him that warriors do not panic. After some deliberation, the brothers decided that they would lop off the demon’s arms. In this way they wouldn’t kill him, and since he’d be armless, they wouldn’t have to fight with him.

Rama lopped off one arm and Lakshmana took care of the other, and as a result Kabandha fell to the ground. In that helpless state, the demon asked the brothers who they were. Upon learning their identities, he became very happy. Kabandha previously was a beautiful celestial but as the result of misdeeds and a few curses, he was in his current form. As a saving grace, he was told that when Rama cremated him, he would return to his original figure. Therefore, at Kabandha’s behest, Rama cremated the demon.

KabandhaUpon regaining his natural form, Kabandha advised Rama to make friends with a Vanara named Sugriva who lived on Mount Rishyamukha. The alliance would be fruitful because Sugriva was in a similar situation; he was separated from his wife because of a feud he had with his brother Vali, who was stronger than him. Kabandha said that Sugriva knew of all the creatures of the world and that the many Vanaras serving him would search the entire world for Sita. This would indeed turn out to be true, with one Vanara in particular succeeding in the mission of finding Sita.

Shri HanumanBut before the Vanaras went out for the search, Sugriva asked Rama for a favor. He wanted the Lord to kill Vali, as this would remove Sugriva’s fear and reunite him with his wife. Rama did what was requested of Him, which was actually no small feat. Vali had tremendous strength; even Ravana couldn’t defeat him. Rama killed Vali for Sugriva, and more so for Sita. Sugriva was his friend and through this friendship Sita would be found.

Hanuman remembered all of this just by seeing Sita. He was the leading warrior in the massive army of Vanaras sent to look for her. If not for the encounter with Kabandha, the alliance with Sugriva may never have happened. And it was the search for Sugriva that led Rama and Lakshmana to Hanuman, who would be a key player in Sita’s eventual rescue. From Sita’s qualities and Hanuman’s testimony know that the Supreme Lord will do anything for His devotees. For Him nothing is too much to remove the fear of the surrendered souls, who always think of their beloved lord of their life breath, no matter the situation.

In Closing:

Son of Dasharatha to slay dragons for His wife,

Enemies Vali and Kabandha took away their life.

 

From this Sugriva’s fear was rid,

This for beloved Sita Rama did.

 

Kabandha to Ravana in strength was the same,

From him brothers valuable information to gain.

 

Led to Shri Hanuman’s beautiful sight,

Who travelled to Lanka in flight.

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