Yuddha Kanda 2 - Ravana's Spies
Having crossed the ocean, Rama and his army reached Lanka. Ravana was surprised at how Rama had achieved this task. He sent two of his advisors Shuka and Sarana as spies to Rama’s camp. But Vibhishana identified them, captured them, and produced them before Rama.
Rama then freed the two and sent a message to Ravana. He said he would attack Ravana with his arrows just like Indra with his vajra. The two spies then returned to Lanka and conveyed the message. They advised Ravana to return Sita since Rama and his army seemed to be invincible.
Ravana then said harshly that even if all the Gods attacked him, he would not release Sita. He then asked Sarana to describe the leaders of the ape army. Sarana then told him about the prowess of the ape leaders Nila, Angada, Shveta, Kumuda, Rambha, Sharaba, Panasa, Vinata, Krathana, Samnadhana, Pramnadhana, Shatabali, Gavaya, Hara, and the bear Dhumra and his brother Jambavat
Shuka then describes the strength of the ape leaders Mainda, Dvivida, and the mighty Hanumat. Ravana then saw the apes assembled outside his city and also saw his brother Vibhishana with them. A furious Ravana lashed out at Sarana and Shuka for praising the apes. He asked them to go away and said he would consider them dead.
Ravana then told his commander Mahodara to send spies to find out more information about Rama. The spies saw everything and then returned to Ravana. They told them a huge army had assembled near Mount Suvela. They explained that the apes had surrounded Rama using the Garuda Vyuha (Eagle formation).
Ravana then summoned the rakshasa Vidyujjihva, who was an expert in maya. He told him to create the illusion of Rama’s head. Ravana then went to meet Sita in Ashokavana. He told Sita that a great war had taken place at night, and Prahasta had killed Rama and beheaded him. He also told Sita that Hanuman, Sugriva, Angada, and the rest of the ape army had been wiped out.
Ravana then summoned Vidyujjihva, who brought the illusion of Rama’s head and threw it near Sita. A shocked Sita then wept and cursed Kaikeyi for sending Rama to exile because of which he was dead. She then asked Ravana to kill her so she could follow Rama to his destination in the other world.
Meanwhile, Ravana got a message that his commander Prahasta had arrived. Ravana then departed to this palace, leaving Sita to lament. A rakshasi named Sarama who was Sita’s friend told her that it was imposible to kill the powerful Rama. She told Sita that what she had seen was Ravana’s maya.
Tumultuous sounds were heard. It was the ape army led by Rama that sounded conches and beat drums as they marched to battle. Ravana summoned a meeting of his advisers. His grandfather Malayavat advised him to make peace with Rama. He told Ravana that Rama seemed to be none other than Vishnu.
Ravana refused to listen to Malayvat and started to make battle plans. He directed Prahasta to guard the eastern gate. Mahavirya was assigned the southern gate to protect along with Mahaparshva and Mahodara. Ravana asked his son Indrajit to guard the western gate. He asked Shuka and Sarana to be at the northern gate deciding to be there himself. Worshipped by his ministers who praised his valour, Ravana departed for his inner quarters.
….. to be continued