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Chapter 277

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Markandeya said, ‘That heroic king of the vultures, Jatayu, havingSampati for his uterine brother and Arjuna himself for his father, was afriend of Dasaratha. And beholding his daughter-in-law Sita on the lap ofRavana, that ranger of the skies rushed in wrath against the king of theRakshasas. And the vulture addressed Ravana, saying, ‘Leave the princessof Mithila, leave her I say! How canst thou, O Rakshasa, ravish her whenI am alive? If thou dost not release my daughter-in-law, thou shalt notescape from me with life!’ And having said these words Jatayu began totear the king of the Rakshasas with his talons. And he mangled him in ahundred different parts of his body by striking him with his wings andbeaks. And blood began to flow as copiously from Ravana’s body as waterfrom a mountain spring. And attacked thus by that vulture desirous ofRama’s good, Ravana, taking up a sword, cut off the two wings of thatbird. And having slain that king of the vultures, huge as a mountain-peakshooting forth above the clouds, the Rakshasa rose high in the air withSita on his lap. And the princess of Videha, wherever she saw an asylumof ascetics, a lake, a river, or a tank, threw down an ornament of hers.And beholding on the top of a mountain five foremost of monkeys, thatintelligent lady threw down amongst them a broad piece of her costlyattire. And that beautiful and yellow piece of cloth fell, flutteringthrough the air, amongst those five foremost of monkeys like lightningfrom the clouds. And that Rakshasa soon passed a great way through thefirmament like a bird through the air. And soon the Rakshasa beheld hisdelightful and charming city of many gates, surrounded on all sides byhigh walls and built by Viswakrit himself. And the king of the Rakshasathen entered his own city known by the name of Lanka, accompanied bySita.’

“And while Sita was being carried away, the intelligent Rama, havingslain the great deer, retraced his steps and saw his brother Lakshmana(on the way). And beholding his brother, Rama reproved him, saying, ‘Howcouldst thou come hither, leaving the princess of Videha in a forest thatis haunted by the Rakshasa?’ And reflecting on his own enticement to agreat distance by that Rakshasa in the guise of a deer and on the arrivalof his brother (leaving Sita alone in the asylum), Rama was filled withagony. And quickly advancing towards Lakshmana while reproving him still,Rama asked him, ‘O Lakshmana, is the princess of Videha still alive? Ifear she is no more!’ Then Lakshmana told him everything about what Sitahad said, especially that unbecoming language of hers subsequently. Witha burning heart Rama then ran towards the asylum. And on the way hebeheld a vulture huge as a mountain, lying in agonies of death. Andsuspecting him to be a Rakshasa, the descendant of the Kakutstha race,along with Lakshmana rushed towards him, drawing with great force his bowto a circle. The mighty vulture, however, addressing them both, said,’Blessed be ye, I am the king of the vultures, and friend of Dasaratha!’Hearing these words of his, both Rama and his brother put aside theirexcellent bow and said, ‘Who is this one that speaketh the name of ourfather in these woods?’ And then they saw that creature to be a birddestitute of two wings, and that bird then told them of his own overthrowat the hands of Ravana for the sake of Sita. Then Rama enquired of thevulture as to the way Ravana had taken. The vulture answered him by a nodof his head and then breathed his last. And having understood from thesign the vulture had made that Ravana had gone towards the south, Ramareverencing his father’s friend, caused his funeral obsequies to be dulyperformed. Then those chastisers of foes, Rama and Lakshmana, filled withgrief at the abduction of the princess of Videha, took a southern paththrough the Dandaka woods beholding along their way many uninhabitedasylums of ascetics, scattered over with seats of Kusa grass andumbrellas of leaves and broken water-pots, and abounding with hundreds ofjackals. And in that great forest, Rama along with Sumatra’s son beheldmany herds of deer running in all directions. And they heard a louduproar of various creatures like what is heard during a fast spreadingforest conflagration. And soon they beheld a headless Rakshasa ofterrible mien. And that Rakshasa was dark as the clouds and huge as amountain, with shoulders broad as those of a Sola tree, and with armsthat were gigantic. And he had a pair of large eyes on his breast, andthe opening of his mouth was placed on his capacious belly. And thatRakshasa seized Lakshmana by the hand, without any difficulty. And seizedby the Rakshasa the son of Sumitra, O Bharata, became utterly confoundedand helpless. And casting his glances on Rama, that headless Rakshasabegan to draw Lakshmana towards that part of his body where his mouthwas. And Lakshmana in grief addressed Rama, saying, ‘Behold my plight!The loss of thy kingdom, and then the death of our father, and then theabduction of Sita, and finally this disaster that hath overwhelmed me!Alas, I shall not behold thee return with the princess of Videha toKosala and seated on thy ancestral throne as the ruler of the entireEarth! They only that are fortunate will behold thy face, like unto themoon emerged from the clouds, after thy coronation bath in watersanctified with Kusa grass and fried paddy and black peas!’ And theintelligent Lakshmana uttered those and other lamentations in the samestrain. The illustrious descendant, however, of Kakutstha’s raceundaunted amid danger, replied unto Lakshmana, saying, ‘Do not, O tigeramong men, give way to grief! What is this thing when I am here? Cut thouoff his right arm and I shall cut off his left.’ And while Rama was stillspeaking so, the left arm of the monster was severed by him, cut off witha sharp scimitar, as if indeed, that arm were a stalk of the Tila corn.The mighty son of Sumitra then beholding his brother standing before himstruck off with his sword the right arm also of that Rakshasa. AndLakshmana also began to repeatedly strike Rakshasa under the ribs, andthen that huge headless monster fell upon the ground and expired quickly.And then there came out from the Rakshasa’s body a person of celestialmake. And he showed himself to the brothers, staying for a moment in theskies, like the Sun in his effulgence in the firmament. And Rama skilledin speech, asked him, saying, ‘Who art thou? Answer me who enquire ofthee? Whence could such a thing happen? All this seems to me to beexceedingly wonderful!’ Thus addressed by Rama, that being replied untohim, saying, ‘I am, O prince, a Gandharva of the name of Viswavasu! Itwas through the curse of a Brahmana that I had to assume the form andnature of a Rakshasa. As to thyself, O Rama, Sita hath been carried awaywith violence by king Ravana who dwelleth in Lanka. Repair thou untoSugriva who will give thee his friendship. There, near enough to the peakof Rishyamuka is the lake known by the name of Pampa of sacred water andcranes. There dwelleth, with four of his counsellors, Sugriva, thebrother of the monkey-king Vali decked with a garland of gold. Repairingunto him, inform of thy cause of sorrow. In plight very much like thyown, he will render thee assistance. This is all that we can say. Thouwilt, without doubt, see the daughter of Janaka! Without doubt Ravana andothers are known to the king of the monkeys!’ Having said these words,that celestial being of great effulgence made himself invisible, andthose heroes, both Rama and Lakshmana, wondered much.”

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