“Kausalaya Supraja Ramaa” is the sloka, Visvamitra chanted, when he took both Rama and Lakshmana along with him to the forest, indicating that Rama’s journey towards the jungle was imminent. The Moola Ramayana of Narada, the oldest version of the Ramayana, Adhyatma Ramayana, attributed to sage Vyasa, Ananda Ramayana, Vichitra Ramayana, Adbhuta Ramayana and the Puranic encyclopedia give different versions on who was responsible for the destruction of Ravana in Sri Rama’s hands. When we read the different Ramayanas, we get a feeling that there might be another understanding or point of view which has largely gone unnoticed.
I made a study of many Ramayanas and wrote a small drama called Kausalya Rama – in which, based on the many inner stories within this Ramayanas, I proposed that Rama fought Ravana because of Kausalaya and not because of Sita. Sita was just instrumental to reach Ravana. Was Rama born to kill Ravana? Rama had to take the help of so many people to kill Ravana, especially women. First Vedavathi, and then Mandodari, Kausalya, Sumitra, Tataki, Ahalya, Sita, Kaikeyi, Manthara, Surphanaka, Sabari, Maya Sita and Trijata.
Kausalya, Rama’s mother was the daughter of Bhanumantha, the king of Kosala. She was an incarnation of Aditi, the eldest wife of Kasyapa Prajapati. Aditi had a curse from Kasyapa’s other wife Kadruva, to be born as human being on earth, which turned into a boon when she became the mother of Lord Vishnu in both the avatars of Rama and Krishna. There is an interesting story of Kausalaya.
Once Ravana came to her disguised as a swan and she told the swan why she was born, that she would marry King Dasaratha and the son born to them Rama, would kill Ravana. After hearing the story, Ravana kidnapped her and kept her under the sea. While Dasaratha was on his way to marry her, Ravana created an artificial cyclone to disrupt his travel. Thrown away by the winds and cyclone, Dasaratha swims down to the sea, and meets Kausalaya, gets married underwater, and with the help of Jatayu comes out.
Kausalaya was the first wife of King Dasaratha, an epitome of beauty, purity and innocence. Sumitra was the second wife of King Dasaratha. She was the mother of twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna. She was supposed to be the wisest of the wives of Dasaratha. She was the one to first realize that Rama was the incarnation of Lord Narayana. She even encouraged Lakshmana to accompany Rama and serve him during his exile. She asked Lakshmana to serve Rama and Shatrughana to serve Bharata. Both dedicated their lives to their brothers.
Rama at the age of sixteen along with Lakshmana, accompanies Sage Viswamitra to slay Marica and Subhahu, who were on a rampage killing sages. On the way he also kills Tataka, a fierce demoness. The daughter of Suketu. Tataka, had been cursed by Sage Agastya to become a demoness, when she like her slain husband attacked Agastya’s asrama. She along with her sons had been harassing the sages in the forest. When Rama along with Viswamitra came to the forest to perform a yajna, Rama killed her first and then her sons, and took over the forest which hitherto had been in their control. It could be said Tataka played a role in Rama’s quest.
Further in his journey, Rama liberates Ahalaya from her curse. Ahalaya, the first of the Panchakanya, with whose mere mention all sins would vanish, was also an ayonija, not born out of a human womb. She was also known for bringing up Vali and Sugreeva, the sons of Indra and Surya by Aruni. Ahalaya’s son Shatananda, was the family priest and preceptor of King Janaka of Mithila. She narrates Kausalaya’s story to Rama. It was she, who showed Rama the path to marry Sita and take revenge of Kausalaya against Ravana. Her daughter Anjana was the mother of Anjeneya who becomes his principal disciple and devotee.
Vishwamitra presents Rama with several astras and sastras (divine weapons) which would be of use to him in the future, and Rama masters the knowledge of all the weapons and their uses. On Viswamitra’s advice Rama marries Sita. Sita again unborn from a human womb, is the daughter of the Earth and is the incarnation of Vedavathi an avatar of Lakshmi. She descends to earth to kill Ravana. She was found and adopted by Janaka, king of Mithila, and his wife Sunayana. She is also considered as daughter of Mandodari. Upon her coming of age, a swayamwara was held to select a suitable husband for her.
Rama at the command of his father goes on exile to forests for fourteen years. His mother Kaikeyi helps him to go to forests, so that he can fulfill the goal of his incarnation by killing Ravana and uphold the honour of Kausalya. Kaikeyi, the daughter of the mighty Ashwapati, had seven brothers and was raised by Manthara, who accompanied her when she got married to King Daśaratha. The King promised Kaikeyi’s father that their son would become the king, after him.
Once she accompanied King Dasaratha, when the asuras waged a war against devatas. He went to help Indra, and fought the asuras from all sides. When his chariot loosened the axle, Kaikeyi balanced his chariot with her finger on it. When he learnt about it after the war, he granted two boons to her, which she used to fulfill Rama’s goal! She takes the help of Manthara for this.
Rama approaches Kaikeyi and explains to her his wish to take revenge on Ravana. She understands him and at the same time Manthara, reminds her about the king’s promise to her father, and her two boons. This made her adamant for her son’s coronation and the exile of Rama from Ayodhya for 14 long years. A grief-stricken Dasaratha died six days after Rama left Ayodhya. Bharata swore neither to ascend the throne nor address her as ‘Mother’ again. Manthara or Kooni was Kaikeyi’s maid. She was the key person in changing the course of life in Ayodhya. She was very affectionate to Kaikeyi and this love ruined the life of Dasaratha. For Dasaratha to fulfill the curse of Sravana Kumar’s mother, Manthara had to intervene!
While staying in the Dandaka forests, he kills the three brothers of Surphanaka and their 14 member army. Surpanakha and Khara were the twins of Visravas, and Raka. She had two more brothers Dusana and Trisiras. All of them were the step siblings of Ravana. Surpanakha married Vidyujjiva, a raksasa. The Kalakeyas were her relatives. When Ravana was returning from his royal win over the devatas, a battle took place between the Kalakeyas and Ravana. He killed all of them. Hearing this Surpanaka’s husband too fought with Ravana and was killed by him. When Surpanakha lamented before Ravana, he told her to go to all the three worlds and find a husband and he promised to get her married. He sent her along with her brothers. During this journey, they came to the forest and stayed there. In the forest she met Rama and wanted him to marry her. This angered Lakshmana and he cut her nose and ears. When her brothers raged a war against them, they too got killed. She then approached Ravana and described the beauty of Sita to him.
When Sita was abducted by Ravana, Sri Rama goes in search of her. During the search he meets Sabari. Sabari in her previous life was Malini the daughter of Citrakavaca, a Gandharva king and married Vithotra who cursed her to become a hunter woman, as she was spending more time with them. On her request, he said she would get her original form back once Rama met her.
Sabari was reborn as a hunter’s daughter, and belong to the Nishadha tribal community. The night before her marriage, she renounced the world and ran away to meet Sage Matanga at the foot of the Mountain Rishyamukha and accepted him as guru, serving him with devotion. As per her guru’s words, Sabari waits for the arrival of Rama. Everyday Sabari would go out of her ashram, with the help of a walking stick and pluck berry fruits for Lord Rama. Sabari offered the fruits she had meticulously collected for Rama when he and Lakshmana meet her. Rama tells Lakshmana about her devotion. Sabari redirects them to meet Sugreeva, and seek his assistance to find Sita. Pleased with Sabari’s devotion, Rama blesses her with His vision and grants her Moksha (liberation). Immediately she transforms into Malini and her husband Vithotra appears and takes her along with him.
Ravaṇa is the son of Visravas and grandson of Pulastya, a descendents of Brahma and Vishnu. Ravana in his previous birth was Jaya, the gate keeper of Vishnu, before he was cursed to be born as a demon for three births. Ravana performs penance and gets a boon that he will never be killed by anyone except a human being. Ravana authored Ravana Samhita, a powerful book on Hindu astrology. Ravana possessed a thorough knowledge of Ayurveda and political science music and many other branches of knowledge.
He was said to have possessed the nectar of immortality, which was stored under his navel, thanks to a celestial boon by Brahma. Lankan’s consider him a historical emperor who reigned over Sri Lanka. He was a great devotee of Shiva. Pleased with his resilience and devotion, Shiva gave him the divine sword Chandrahas. He composed the hymn known as Shiva Tandava Stotra. He was a great devotee, but when he heard from Kausalya that her son would kill him, his true nature was manifested. He used to go around the world in a pushpak and use magical powers to harass sages and others. He had over 18 curses due to his innumerable misadventures against the pious.
Ravana had three wives, famous among which are Mandodari and Dhanyamalini. He had seven sons from his three wives: Indrajit, Prahasta, Atikaya, Akshayakumara, Devantaka, Narantaka, Trishira. Once Parvathi when agitated by Shiva and apsara Mathura’s relationship, curses her to be a frog for 12 years and live in a well in a far off jungle. Shiva consoles Mathura and tells her she will become a beautiful and pious lady after 12 years and will be married to a valorous king. Mathura after 12 years, becomes a beautiful lady and shouts from the well, to be helped. King Mayasura and queen Hema, who were performing penance nearby, heard her and helped her come out of the well. They named her Mandodari, as she lived a life of Manduka for 12 years, and brought her up.
Mandodari was a beautiful, pious, and righteous woman. She is extolled as one of the panchakanya (five virgins), the recital of whose names is believed to dispel sin. When Ravana was in search of Parvathi, sage Narada diverted his attention towards Mandodari. In his haste, he brings her to Lanka and on coming to know he had been cheated, starts ill-treating her. However, her chastity protects Ravana. Once Ravana kills some sages and brings a pot of milk that was mixed with blood and asks Mandodari to safeguard it. In fact sage Krusanamada had prayed for a pot of milk with grass leaves to beget a daughter. Ravana did not know of this. He killed the sage and mixed his blood in the milk. Mandodari vexed with Ravana, drank the milk. She became pregnant. She was worried and went to her parents place, and gave birth to a daughter, and left her in the river Saraswati. The baby was Sita, who was found by Janaka. Thus she was considered as Sita’s mother too.
Mandodari had three sons – Meghanada (Indrajit), Atikaya and Akshayakumara. Mandodari loves Ravana and advises him to follow the path of righteousness. In a way she opens the door of the secrecy of Ravana’s death. After Ravana’s death, Vibhishana marries Mandodari on the advice of Rama.
Ravana kidnaps Sita, while Rama was away fetching a magnificent golden deer to please her. Maya Sita was placed in the place of Sita by Lord Agni before Ravana abducted her. Jatayu, tried to protect Sita but Ravana chopped off his wings. Hanuman discovered Sita’s whereabouts. Sita was finally rescued by Rama, who waged a famous battle to defeat Ravana.
Sita speaks out at crucial times in the Ramayana. The first time is in the town of Chitrakuta where she narrates an ancient story to Rama, whereby Rama promises to Sita that he will never kill anybody without provocation. The second time Sita is shown talking prominently is when she speaks to Ravana. She tells Ravana, who she was, to whom she was married, how her married life was ruined and why she was there. When she was abducted she was 44 years old.
Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana’s armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife.
Ravana fought with Rama, lost all his brothers and sons, his army and aides and died due to his ego. For Jains, Ravana was one of the Trisasti salaka Purusa (63 illustrious persons) who appears in every time cycle. Ravana would be the future Tirthankara. Ravana, a very knowledgeable king falls, due to ego and hatred. Rama in fact kills Ravana in Lanka because it was the wish of Ravana.
Kausalya was born to give birth to Rama who would avenge her honour. So my perspective is that Rama killed Ravana because Kausalya, and He came down only to give moksha to Ravana and Kumbhakarna, his most trusted dwara palakas.
On the auspicious day of Ramanavami, one can’t help but remember his mother – Kausalya.
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