Sometime in 5600 BC, the kingdom of Lanka, present-day Sri Lanka was under attack by Rama, the prince of Kosala Kingdom, situated in present-day Uttar Pradesh. The king of Lanka Ravana had abducted Rama’s wife Sita, famed for her beauty and wisdom, while the couple was on an exile in the forest called Dandakaranya, in current-day Nashik, Maharashtra. To retrieve her, Rama had launched an offensive on Lanka, along with his brother Laxman. He was assisted by his friend Sugreeva, the king of Vanaras or the ape-men, along with his army from present-day Karnataka.
Also Read: Raavan – Enemy of Aryavarta
As days progressed, owing to superior strategies and the key assistance received by Ravana’s own brother Vibhishana, Rama’s army gained an upper hand. All the key commanders of Ravana’s army including his son Indrajit had been slain. Being furious and frustrated, Ravana dispatched the best section of his demon army called Moolabala, which translates to primal strength, against Rama’s army.
At dawn, Rama’s army was confronted with Moolabala. Within some time Rama’s vanara army was being butchered by the Moolabala demon army of Ravana. Out of panic, the vanaras approached Rama and Laxman for protection. Since Laxman fought a gruesome battle with Ravana’s son Indrajit, Rama decided to take control himself the previous day.
Rama destroys the demon army
Rama took up his famous Saranga bow and gave a twang resounding the three worlds. A shower of arrows was issued from Saranga similar to raindrops pouring from thundering clouds. He was deadly like the sun on noonday and no one could approach him. Only his actions were perceptible and like the wind in the forest, he could not be seen. Those who watched saw the weapons of the Moolabala demons splintered and burnt and lay scattered on the ground. The men who made up the army were falling and no one could see Rama except the bow which was bent full circle and from which the arrows were emerging incessantly. Shouts were heard: “He is destroying the elephant army. The warriors on the chariots are being killed. The horses are dead with their riders.” Rama then invoked a weapon named Gaandharva Astra and the entire army was thrown into a kind of delusion. As a result of it, rakshasas saw several Ramas simultaneously and again, they saw but one Rama fighting with them. All they could see was the tip of an arrow piercing them, issued out of his bow.
Within a matter of three hours, with his arrows looking like tongues of flames, Rama killed an army of demons, capable of changing their form at will, including ten thousand chariots possessing the swiftness of the wind, eighteen thousand strong elephants, fourteen thousand horses with their riders and a full two lacs of demons fighting on foot.
While Rama was destroying the Moolabala demon army, Vibhishana, who was awed with Rama’s skill, remarked to an equally awed Laxmana: “I am not aware of any human being who could destroy this Moolabala division of Ravana. What a man!”
Laxmana who was always in awe with his magnanimous brother replied “What you see here are his physical strength and martial skills. I have seen a much greater strength within him, which even gods cannot display- the strength of character!”
“I don’t understand. Please tell me more about this wonderful human being” replied Vibhishana.
“It was the day when Rama was to be crowned as the crown prince,” said Laxman being transported back into the past. He could still recollect that unfortunate day vividly when he was standing at the door of his father’s chamber listening to that ghastly conversation…
Rama’s inner strength
“What has been promised to me by him should be fulfilled by you,” said Kaikeyi, our stepmother, addressing Rama and pointing towards our father Dasharatha. “Once this king had granted me two boons and that was when he was extremely pleased with me. Now, when he is asked to live up to it, he is repenting his gift like an ordinary illiterate man. ”
Rama stood motionless and allowed Kaikeyi to continue “Years ago I saved your father’s life in a battle. As a token of his appreciation, he conferred me with two boons which, I decided to use two boons at a later point in time. Today I have decided to leverage them”
“All I want is that Bharata, my son, should be crowned as the crown prince and, that you should spend fourteen years in the Dandaka forest. Rama, if the king should prove truthful it is up to you to help him do so. If you accept these conditions and fulfil his promise to me, he will be saved from breaking his word. You must go away to the forest and spend these years away from Ayodhya. Bharata must be crowned.” Kaikeyi said.
Any ordinary human being would have been distraught at the gross injustice being meted out to him owing to his father’s promise. However, unperturbed as he always is by pleasure or pain, happiness or sorrow, by the sway of the opposites, Rama stood calm. There was not even a trace of disappointment or anger on his face. Looking at our stepmother Kaikeyi he said “Certainly mother, I will fulfil the two boons promised by father to you. Send in for Bharata and make him the crown prince and I will go to the forest immediately”
Saying this, Rama fell at our Father’s feet and then he did the unthinkable. He fell at our stepmother Kaikeyi’s feet! Addressing her he said “Mother, my father is very disturbed. Take care of him. As far as I am concerned, please bless me so that I can complete my 14 years of my exile so that I can see my brother Bharata’s reign this kingdom”
Without another word, Rama walked out of the room with a calm face and came towards me standing near the door…
Laxman was jolted back to the present as Rama came towards him after the battle with the demon army was concluded. With tears in his eyes, he rushed towards his great brother and fell at his feet. However, Rama’s face was as calm as ever. Laxman embraced his brother who was to be worshipped by humanity for eternity, as an apostle of magnanimity.
P.S. I have taken some creative liberty here. The conversation between Laxman and Vibhishana never happened.