“Soon will be falling here well-jointed arrows that are swift, blazing like serpents, and bearing the names of Rama and Lakshmana.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.25-26)Download this episode (right click and save)
The king of Lanka had impenetrable fortifications; so he thought. Known as Ravana because of his terrifying scream, the ten-headed one was extremely powerful. Strength is one of the opulences available in a material existence, and due to duality its exercise can be in either direction, good or bad. Because of his sinful nature, Ravana used his strength to terrorize the world.
Deep down he knew he was on the wrong side of things, so there was always fear. He had his boons to protect him, though. No animal, beast, or celestial could be the cause of his death. He had the massive ocean surrounding his home. A single person might be able to make it across, but what could they really do against the large army of Rakshasas, the ogre-like creatures inhabiting Lanka. Ravana’s worry increased the most after he stole a princess in secret. She was already married, and her husband and His younger brother would soon come to rescue her. Their weapon of choice was the arrow released from the bow, and those arrows had special characteristics.
The brothers were Rama and Lakshmana. Both are incarnations of the Divine. Rama is God Himself and Lakshmana is like the first expansion. They represent the situation of the living being, wherever you find him. God exists and He should be served purely, without motive. Only in that condition is everything alright. Lakshmana is the best servant, and so he has tremendous potency.
Appearing on earth in the spiritual bodies of warriors, the brothers were expert at fighting with the bow and arrow. That was the preferred fighting method of the time, but it should not be mistakenly considered some primitive art form. The weapons the brothers fired could do the damage of nuclear blasts and more.
“Lakshmana has many naracha arrows [made of iron] that are just like the thunderbolt hurled by Indra and lightning in the potency of their impact, as they can even split mountains.” (Hanuman speaking to Angada, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 54.15)
The arrows in Sanskrit are known as naracha. This means they were made of iron. They were very hard, and they had the power to split mountains. This is confirmed by Shri Hanuman, the fearless servant of Shri Rama who initially went to Lanka to find Sita, Rama’s wife. For that mission many warriors divided into groups. Hanuman’s party became despondent due to lack of success at one time, and so Hanuman reminded the leader that Lakshmana’s anger would be their doom. Hanuman was invoking the danda method of diplomacy, which is force or the threat of it.
2. Blazing like serpents
One of Ravana’s brothers gave an eyewitness account of the amazing characteristics of the arrows released from Rama. Returning to Lanka, Akampana told Ravana that the brothers were like fire and wind. Rama was the fire, and a blazing one at that. The fire’s potency increased through the wind that was Lakshmana.
“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)
Akampana said that the arrows from Rama were plated with gold. They did something interesting at the end. They turned into five-headed serpents. Wherever the Rakshasas went, they saw Rama in front of them. This all happened on the field of Janasthana. It was one against fourteen thousand, but that one and His arrows routed the entire enemy host.
3. Has the name inscribed
The Sanskrit word is lakshana. This means “characteristic mark” or “sign.” Sita Devi once described the arrows from the brothers as having special marks, indicating their names. This means that the arrows are collector’s items. Though to the enemy they signal death, to the wise it is the Divine will arriving through both written form and a physical weapon. Indeed, those names are holy; they are non-different from the Supreme Lord.
4. Return to the quiver
Rama’s arrows are known to return to His quiver. There is symbolic meaning. The arrows are servants, after all. They are always ready for an assignment. They fly swiftly through the air, indicating eagerness. They reach their intended target, showing intelligence. Then they return to Rama, ready for the next mission. In many ways Shri Hanuman is like one of these arrows. He carries the name of Rama with him; devotion is his strength. He also returns to Rama after succeeding in the mission to find Sita.
5. Swift deliverer
Even the atheists are worshipers of God. They just don’t have the complete picture. Their only association with the Divine is through the material energy. The supreme deity of that energy is time. Known as kala in Sanskrit, it is synonymous with death. In other words, the atheists see God only at the time of death.
“For one who worships Me, giving up all his activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who has fixed his mind upon Me, O son of Pritha, for him I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.6-7)
The arrows from Rama were the swift deliverer of the atheist class concentrated in Lanka. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that He swiftly delivers the devotees, the people who worship Him in the personal form. Rama is the same Krishna, and the delivery came for the bad guys who interacted with Him sinfully. They were devotees on the inside, playing the role of villains due to the Divine will. They were quickly delivered as well, showing that the interaction with the personal form, as opposed to the impersonal energy, brings much faster results in transcendental life.
To nuclear weapons potency the same,
Inscribed on them each brother’s name.
Swiftly with intelligence to target led,
To enemies showing fiery serpent-head.
Like iron, through mountain even can break,
Returning to quiver, master not to forsake.
Arrows of Rama and Lakshmana delivering swift,
Devotees back to spiritual realm to lift.