The god Rama and the monkey king Hanuman fight the demon king Ravana in the climax of the Hindu epic Râmâyana
Painted on paper circa 1820. From Tanjore or Trichinopoly, Tamil Nadu, India.
Sita…testing herself under the fire…to prove her purity. The fire never really touched her, nor burnt her…thus showing that she was never touched by demon lord Ravanna, thus dispelling Rama’s doubts…
Jai SitaRam Jai Hanuman!
Sita Maa and rama.
The princes were eager for a fight. They stood vigilantly by Viśvāmitra’s side as he sat silently meditating upon the sacrificial hymns. Rāma leaned on his great bow, which stood almost as tall as Him. Lakṣman held in His hand a shining blue sword, its golden handle impressed with bright gems.
As the sixth night approached and the final rituals were being performed, the sacrificial fire suddenly blazed forth furiously. A loud clamor came from the sky, which was covered over by clouds. Swooping down upon that sacrifice, the two Rākṣasa demons Maricha and Subahu, appeared from the sky. They were accompanied by their fierce and terrible looking followers. As they spread their sorcery, torrents of blood and pus, as well as large pieces of flesh, fell upon the altar. Blazing fires sprang from the earth and hot coals flew everywhere.
Shrieking horribly, the Rākṣasas danced about, wreaking havoc. The hermits fell back, but this time they were not fearful. Viśvāmitra quickly stood up. It was time for these evil beings to receive their just deserts. They had defiled his sacrifice once too often. They would not do so again. Gathering the other ascetics, Viśvāmitra moved aside and ordered Rāma to attack the Rākṣasas.
Rāma became infuriated upon seeing the scene of devastation. He rushed forward toward the Rākṣasas, calling to His brother, “Watch now as I scatter these wicked demons who feed on raw flesh.”
Even as he spoke, Rāma continuously worked His bow. He sent swift arrows in all directions. The Rākṣasas were stunned; they had not expected any resistance. Some of them closed quickly on Rāma, covering Him on all sides. Rāma released arrows with deadly accuracy and speed. The Rākṣasas were cut to pieces. Rāma looked for Maricha. Seeing his huge form nearby, tearing at the sacrificial altar, Rāma invoked a celestial weapon. He placed it on His bow and, although still feeling furious, he calmly said to Lakṣman. “I shall release the Manava weapon, presided over by the father of the gods, Manu.”
Rāma angrily fired His weapon at the fearsome, roaring Maricha. The demon was struck by the mighty missile and he was lifted and flung a distance of eight hundred miles, landing in the ocean. Although reeling and struck senseless by Rāma’s arrow, Maricha was not killed. Rāma looked at Lakṣman. “See the force of that weapon, My brother. It easily hurled the demon to a vast distance.”
Rāma and Lakṣman continuously discharged flaming arrows at the other Rākṣasas. Imbued with mystic power one arrow expanded into thousands. It appeared as if a continuous line of shafts was leaving Rāma’s bow, so fast was His movement. The Rākṣasas screamed in pain. Some of them vanished and others fell dead on the ground. Some entered the earth while others flew into the sky.
Regrouping, a large number of the demons rushed down from the sky towards the princes. They hurled lances, iron maces, massive rocks and blazing coals. Rāma and Lakṣman stood firm, parrying that shower of weapons with Their arrows. Tightly grasping His golden bow, Rāma said to His brother, “Fear not Lakṣman, for I shall now swiftly deal with these blood-sucking demons. They are wicked and merciless and always given to sinful acts. This indeed shall be the last sacrifice they defile.”
Having said this to His brother, Rāma moved with agility, evading the rocks thrown by the demons. He invoked the weapon presided over by the god of fire, Agni. Fired from Rāma’s fully extended bow, the weapon hit the Rākṣasa Subahu full upon the chest. His heart torn apart, he fell dead on the ground like an uprooted tree. Rāma then invoked the Vāyu-astra, the powerful wind weapon. He fired it and a roaring gale went towards the Rākṣasas. They were blown away like so many pieces of dust and debris. Those who were not killed by that weapon fled for their lives.
Rāma stood like Yamarāja, the god of justice. No one dared approach Him or say anything. Only Sītā came near Him. She walked around Him in respect and approached the blazing fire. The princess then prayed with folded hands. “If I have never been unfaithful to Rāma either in mind, words or body, may the fire-god protect Me on all sides. As My heart ever abides in Rāma, so may the fire-god save Me now. As all the gods are witness to My chastity, let the fire-god protect Me.”
After uttering this prayer Sītā walked around the fire and then fearlessly entered it before the vast assembly. Sītā seemed like a golden altar with its sacred fire. Gods, ṛṣis, Gandharvas, Siddhas and other divine beings observed Sītā walking deep into the fire and all the women in the assembly sent up a great cry as they watched Her ascend the pyre, like a goddess fallen from heaven and entering hell. A gasp of amazement and shock came from the crowd as She disappeared into the flames.
Rāma was blinded by tears. He was afflicted to hear the cries of the people. With His mind set on virtue and His heart wracked with grief, He watched Sītā walk into the fire. From the sky the gods, headed by Brahmā, addressed Rāma. “How are You allowing this divine lady to enter fire? Do You not recall Your actual identity? What is this play of Yours, O Lord?”
Rāma looked at the gods and folded His palms. He replied, “I take Myself to be a human. My name is Rāma, the son of Daśaratha. Let Brahmā tell Me who I was in My former lives.”
From the sky the four-headed Brahmā, seated upon his swan carrier, replied, “O Rāma, I know You as the original creator of the cosmos. You are Viṣṇu and Nārāyaṇa, the one supreme person who is known by many names. All the gods come from You and the worlds rest upon Your energy. You exist within and without all things and reside in the heart of every being. Your existence and actions are inconceivable. You have appeared as Rāma for the destruction of Rāvaṇa and the deliverance of Your devoted servants. Now that You have accomplished Your purposes You should return to Your own abode.”
Rāma bowed His head and said nothing. At that moment the fire-god emerged from the fire holding Sītā in his arms. The princess was dressed in a red robe and She shone brightly like the rising sun. She wore a garland of celestial flowers and She was adorned with brilliant gems. Her dark, curly hair framed Her face, which glowed with transcendent beauty.
Agni placed Sītā before Rāma and spoke in a voice that boomed out like thunder. “Here is Your wife Sītā. No sin exists in Her. Neither by word, deed nor thought, not even by glance has She ever been unfaithful to You. Rāvaṇa forcefully snatched Her away while She was helpless and forlorn. Although kept captive by him, Her mind and heart remained focused on You at every moment. She did not give a single thought to Rāvaṇa despite being tempted and threatened by him in many ways. Therefore, O Rāma, accept Her back with an open heart.”
Rāma experienced great joy upon hearing Agni’s speech. His eyes flooded with tears as He replied to the fire-god: “Sītā needed this purificatory ordeal. Otherwise the world would have condemned Me as foolish and controlled by lust. She dwelt in Rāvaṇa’s house for a long time and Her chastity had to be proven to the world, although I know of Her undivided love for Me. Indeed, guarded as She is by Her own moral power, Rāvaṇa could not have violated Sītā any more than the sea could transgress its bounds.”
Rāma declared Sītā to be as inseparable from Him as sunlight from the sun. He could no more renounce Her than a virtuous man could renounce righteousness.
Sītā bloomed with happiness. She sat next to Rāma on a golden throne. The gods and ṛṣis appeared in the assembly offering praises to Rāma. Śiva personally came before Rāma and said, “You have killed the scourge and dread of the universe, O Rāma. You should now depart for Ayodhya and comfort Your relatives there. Then be pleased to rule over this world for a long time.”
Sri Ram and Sita
It’s one of those nights when Kali Puja has left me in a wild-eyed, tongue-lolling frenzy…. She’s a maniacal influence.
Hanuman (Be Here Now - Ram Dass)