Saturday, May 30, 2009
DEATH OF AN ANTIHERO: A STORY FROM RAMAYANA
THE LAST MOMENTS OF RAVANA
Ravana in his court:
This was the afternoon of an autumn day millenniums ago. The ground was littered with dead bodies of soldiers and carcasses of elephants and horses. Scattered were the skeletons of chariots which carried proud heroes of those days. Sunset and the dark night of new moon were a few hours away.
Yet, Ravana realized another kind of darkness was descending from the sky, slowly, to envelope his chariot and his being . He noticed, far off , Matali, who was driving Rama’s chariot at the behest of his master Indra, the king of the gods, turned back to whisper something to Ram. Ram nodded and then picked up a deadly weapon from his quiver and aimed at him.
Ravana now knew his end was near. He would not give up….he searched for the harshest arrow from the few he was left with and waited for Ram to decide on the course of the projectile his weapon would take. All this while, snatches from his life floated in front of his eyes….
His mother Kaikasi, talking to young Ravana, then known as Dasagriva, about his half-brother Kubera’s wealth, thus kindling the first fire of ambition in his heart which propelled him to this position of strength and wealth ….. The anger of Lord Shiva , when he disturbed His privacy when He was with Parvati in His abode at Mount Kailash and the crushing pain he was subjected to by Shiva as punishment …….. Indra’s humiliated face as his soldiers took away the prized possessions from the Heaven to Lanka……His first night with Mandodari, the woman from far off land with rare grace and beauty……..Young Indrajit, his dear son who left this world because of his own obsession with Sita…… and Sita whom he could not win over ……
Ravana suddenly realized Ram had released the weapon of Death towards him. Its bulk was propelled by the Lord of wind .It was emitting fire and there was a silence among his soldiers, as if they were wondering if a countermove by him would be possible and more importantly effective. Ravana’ lips muttered ‘Oh!Lord Shiva’ as he released his arrow, determined to go down fighting…. .
Ravana did not watch the feeble resistance his arrow offered to the projectile of Death that was approaching his chariot He had a dark canvass in front of his eyes, with Sita in its centre, as beautiful and desirable as he saw her for the first time in Dandakaranya , repeating the curse of Vedabati .As he extended his hands ….asking for an embrace or forgiveness….we shall never know, Death struck his chariot .
History would commemorate that moment of victory of Ram and end of the life and regime of King Ravana as victory of good over evil. In parallel lore, however, Ravana would be remembered as a great, scholarly and valiant ruler. All the women of his life, except for Mandodary and Sita, would go into oblivion.
After suffering the horror of abduction and anguish of a life of isolation in Ashokaban of Ravana’s palace, Sita had to suffer humiliation of suspicion of her husband and a section of his subjects till the end of her life. Ram would not be able to conquer the shadow of Ravana during his lifetime too .
Ravana in his chariot: