The Ramayana is one of the great epics of Hinduism. This powerful mythology, written by Sage. Valmiki under the instructions of Sage Narada, imparts many treasured lessons on the importance of ‘dharma’, karma, loyalty, commitment to parents and duty towards citizens.
There are however, some lesser known parts from this great epic.
Hanuman – Incarnation of Lord Shiva
Once Lord Agni, the God of fire gave Dasharath the sacred dessert to share with his wives to bless them to have divine children. An eagle passing by, snatched the “Prasad” and dropped it in a place where Anjana was seated, praying and meditating. Pavana (God of Wind), delivered this sacred offering to her outstretched hands.
This resulted in her giving birth to Lord Hanuman. Thus, Lord Shiva was incarnated as Hanuman and born to Anjana with the blessings of Pavana.
Ten heads of Ravana
A lesser known fact, Ravana was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. In his attempt to impress him, Ravana tried to sacrifice his head. However, each time he sacrificed his head, it automatically grew back. This instance occurred ten times at which point, Lord Shiva granted 10 heads to Ravana as a reward to his devotion. The ten heads represent the 6 shastras and 4 vedas that Ravana had mastered and conquered.
Laxman – Gudakesh
In his attempts to safeguard Rama and Sita, Lord Lakshmana took an oath to not sleep for 14 years. Lord Laxmana is also known as Gudakesh (the man who defeated sleep) for this reason. Further to this, Lord Lakshmana requested the Goddess of sleep (Nindra) to help his wife, Urmila. As he wouldn’t be able to sleep in order to protect his brother and sister in law, he wanted his wife to not be alone and asked for this wish on her behalf. Urmila who was in awe of her husband’s dedication towards his elder brother and accepts this wish agrees to sleep for 14 years.
Lord Hanuman as an ardent devotee of Lord rama, took a vow of celibacy and refrained from marriage. He vowed to dedicate his life to the devotion of Rama, and the attainment of Dharma.
There are many legends as to why Hanuman is called Bajrang Bali. The word Vajra means diamond in Sanskrit. Hanumanji had beautiful masculine features with crystal teeth and diamond-like fur; hence he has been compared with a diamond. As for the meaning of Bali, the word Bali refers to the divine strength of Hanuman who is unbeatable and the one who protects the humanity. Hanuman is considered as an ocean of mercy and knowledge and master of the divine wisdom.
Hanuman was the son of Vanar Raj Kesari Nandan and Anjana. Rishis had given Kesari Nandan a blessing that he would be gifted with the most courageous and powerful son. Hanuman’s body was tough and strong like iron and was called Vajrang. Being the most powerful, an apt word, “Bali” got associated with it and became Vajrang Bali which later in local language became Bajrang Bali.
On his expedition to conquer Swargaloka, the realm of the Gods, Ravana was once resting in the vicinity of Kubera’s city, Alaka. Here, he found the queen of apsaras, Rambha who was considered the most beautiful woman ever created. Despite knowing that she was married, Ravana mistreated her and was cursed by her husband Nalakubera, Kuber’s son. He was cursed that if he ever mistreated or touched a woman without their permission his head would burst into three parts. Hence in Ramayana, even after capturing, despite his passion for Goddess Sita, he could never force Sita devi to marry him as he feared the curse would come true. It is believed he could not touch Sita Mataji without her permission due to fear of this curse.
Indrajit Was Lakshman’s Son-In-Law
Ravana’s son Meghnath (Indrajit) was cursed that he would be killed by the lord of snakes. To counter his fate, Meghnath married Sheshnaag’s daughter Sulochna, which made Laskhman (Shahsnaag’s reincarnation) his father-in-law. Meghnath thought that Sheshnaag won’t kill his own son-in-law. However, Lakshman killed him during the war.
After killing Vali , Lord Rama promised that Vali would have his revenge in his next birth. Vali was reborn as Jara a hunter who was the cause of death of Lord Krishna.
The curse of Nandi
Ravana was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. When he went to Mount Kailasha to meet his diety, Nandi, the gatekeeper of Lord Shiva stopped Ravana from meeting Lord Shiva. Ravana made fun of Nandi’s appearance and his bull like form which in turn angered Nandi. Nandi went on to then curse Ravana’s entire kingdom. He cursed that Lanka would be destroyed by monkeys. This curse indeed came true when Hanuman burnt entire Lanka and then destroyed by Vanara Sena along with Rama and the rest.
The previous births of Ravana And Kumbhakarna
They were given two choices – either they could be born 7 times as normal mortals and devotees of Vishnu or 3 times as powerful enemies of Lord Vishnu. Eager to be back with the Lord, they choose the latter one. Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna were born to fulfill the curse on the second birth as enemies of Vishnu in the Treta Yuga.
The curse of first birth was fulfilled by Hiranyakashipu and his brother Hiranyaksha in Satya Yuga when they were both vanquished by Varaaha and Narasimha. And the curse of third birth was fulfilled by Dantavakra and Shishupala in the Dwapar Yuga when they both were killed by Sri Krishna.
The story of a squirrel
In order to fight the war with Ravana, they had to make a bridge over the sea to connect to Lanka. To assist in this task, all the monkeys and warriors started picking and placing the boulders into the sea. It was also noticed that a squirrel was seen picking up little pebbles in her mouth and putting it alongside the boulders. The squirrel was mocked by the monkey and was asked to stay away from the scene as she may die if she comes in contact with the boulder. This left the squirrel deeply hurt and she was in tears. Lord Rama on realising this came to the squirrel. As a gesture for the squirrel’s contributions and to show his appreciation for her devotion, Lord Rama gently stroked the squirrel’s back with his hand. When he raised his hand, the marks of his fingers were found on the body of the squirrel in the form of brown fur. This action resulted in the squirrel having three white stripes on her back, to show Lord Rama`s affection.