[ Transcribed from lectures given by Sri Atmatattva Das ]

In the area of Mahipuri, Nila the engineer of the Vanara army reconstructed the city, and Mahi Ravana’s nephew was established as the king. Now the war started. This war was different from how the Kuruksetra war was fought. Day and night the fighting was going on. Demons especially become more strong after sunset, and a lot of damage was done to the monkey army. Especially when Indrajit came to the battlefield, and when Kumbhakarna came to the battlefield, a lot of damage was done to the monkeys.

Indrajit used a lot of illusory techniques. By becoming invisible he fought, and at one point he made Rama and Laksmana unconscious by using some special snake weapon. Then on the advice of one of the great doctors of the Vanara army and Vibhisana, Hanuman flew to the Himalayas and brought the Puspa-Puspa-Puspa-samjivani mountain. Puspa-samjivani means, “The flower of revitalisation.” Actually they told him to bring the Puspa-samjivani leaf. But the Puspa-samjivani leaf had some sparkle or shine. Hanuman arrived in the Himalayan region and went to that particular mountain. The rishis who were meditating on the mountain, for them this Puspa-samjivani leaf was very valuable, because if you just took one leaf you wouldn’t have to eat for five years. No food, no thirst, no hunger, no sickness. It was very nice. They saw that Hanuman had come. They knew if anyone came there they only come for Puspa-samjivani. There was nothing else there, just Puspa-samjivani plant and rishis closing their eyes and meditating for thousands of years. They knew that there was some danger, so they used their mystic power and made all the leaves shine like Puspa-samjivani.

Hanuman was looking. “Ah, this one! But that one is also shining.” He saw the whole mountain was shining. Hanuman said, “Oh, now I have a problem. I don’t know which one to take. I will take the whole mountain.” So he put his hand under the mountain and he lifted it up. The rishis were alarmed. “What’s going on?” He flew, and before Hanuman came with the mountain, Jambavan very cleverly used the monkey army to kick all the dead bodies of demons into the ocean. He cleaned the whole place. Only the monkey dead bodies were kept. Because otherwise, when Puspa-samjivani mountain comes, then everyone will get up. They will be as before. So very cleverly Jambavan arranged that all the dead bodies of demons were kicked into the ocean, and some stones put on their head that they wouldn’t come to the surface. Then the Puspa-samjivani mountain came, and all the monkeys got up. Now the demons were small and the Vanaras were more. Even when he was bringing the mountain, even before he had landed they all got up, the power of Puspa-samjivani was so much.

The fight was going on and everyone had very powerful weapons. Indrajit means `the conqueror of Indra’. But he had a benediction that he would be killed only if while he is performing a sacrifice someone stops him and fights with him. Because Indrajit was very powerful, he was thinking, “Who would dare to stop me while I am performing sacrifice?” In between the war he disappeared and went to a very secret place to perform a sacrifice. But Vibhisana knew the place, and he brought Hanuman and Angada there, and they contaminated the sacrifice and pulled him out. Then there was a big fight, and finally Laksmana killed Indrajit. One by one everyone was killed, and only Ravana was left.

The demigods helped a lot in the war, and Indra sent his chariot and his charioteer Matali there, which Ramacandra was using. He broke Ravana’s chariot, killed his charioteer and his horses, broke the bow, broke his club and flag. And then he said, “All right Ravana, I will give you some time. You go today, and you come back tomorrow, with the good decision of giving Sita back to Me. If you do that, everyone who is dead will come back. You will get all your opulences. As if it has never happened, people will forget what they knew of you, and you will be known as a noble king. I will go back to Ayodhya, and we will have a good friendship.” Ravana felt this a great insult that he was not killed, so he went back to his palace. Then he remembered that Lord Siva once said to him, “When your life is in danger, you call me. I will save you.”

There is a vina known as Rudra-vina, Lord Siva’s personal instrument. That was with Ravana, so he took that vina and started singing songs in praise of Lord Siva. Lord Siva is easily pleased, so he immediately came before Ravana and said, “Why did you call me?” Ravana said, “My life is in danger.” Siva said, “How is your life in danger? You tell me.” Ravana said, “I took the wife of the son of Dasaratha, and he came here with his army of monkeys, and they have killed everybody. Even Kumbhakarna, Indrajit, everyone is gone. I am the only one left. And that king insulted me by telling me, “You go. I won’t kill you today. Come back tomorrow.” So over and above everything, I am insulted. Please save my prestige and my life.”

Siva said, “Yes, I must save your life. I will save your life. Here, I am saving your life. Give Sita back.”

Ravana said, “No! Oh, the same thing again! You are cheating me! You promised me you would save my life, but you are not doing it.”

Siva said, “No, I am saving your life. Did I say that to save your life I would go and fight with someone? I have my own method of saving your life. Just take this small piece of advice: Give back Sita. Everything will be wonderful.”

Ravana said, “No, I expected that you would go and fight with Rama and finish Him.”

Siva said, “I don’t mind. I can go and fight with Rama, but I will be finished.”

Ravana said, “No, I am not going to give back Sita.”

Siva said, “All right, then you will die. Who can protect you?”

Then Ravana came the next day. When he came, Ramacandra was standing there holding His bow. Even to carry that bow was very difficult. It was much bigger than His body, and very heavy. He used to hold it like he was holding some grass. When Ravana came he saw Rama and he folded his hands. Vibhisana and Laksmana said, “Jaya! Finally, he is surrendering!” Then the next moment Ravana said, “What am I doing? No, I am here to fight with you.” Then Rama fired His arrow, and he finished Ravana. Then all of Ravana’s queens came, and they were crying. Then Vibhisana and Hanuman came to Ramacandra, and they said, “So the war is over, and we are arranging for the cremation of Ravana. We are performing sraddha for all the ones who are dead. Please instruct us about bringing Sita.”

Ramacandra said, “Yes, you both go and tell Sita that Ravana is killed, and you bring her here.” So they went there, and Sitadevi had already got all the news from Vibhisana’s daughter.

Hanuman told her, “Mother, you are being called by Ramacandra, so you must come.” So she dressed in the same cloth in which she was taken away by Ravana, and which was hanging on the tree. She dressed herself up, and she came. When she came, Hanuman and Vibhisana came and said to Ramacandra, “Here is your wife, Sita.”

Ramacandra said, “Tell her that she can do anything she likes and go anywhere she likes. I have killed Ravana, and she has no fear now. She can go where she likes.”

Hanuman cried, and he was looking at Vibhisana saying, “What is this? Cross the ocean, build a bridge, kill the demons, bring a mountain, and then, `You go wherever you like.’ Did He actually say this?”

Vibhisana said, “Yes, he did. I am also confused.” So then they went to Laksmana, and asked him, “What is this?”

Laksmana said, “That’s what I am also wondering. What is this?”

So then they all came back to Rama, and Vibhisana was leading the party. “O Lord Ramacandra, can You please repeat what You have said?”

Ramacandra said, “Didn’t you hear Me? Now our work is done. You have killed the demons, so we will go back. You can tell this lady to do whatever she wants.”

So then Hanuman came to Sita devi, and he was looking at her face. Sita said, “Did you hear what He said?”

Hanuman said, “Yes, He said you can do whatever you like.”

Sita told Hanuman, “You tell this king, my husband, that in going anywhere I liked, I did not have to wait all this time. I could have gone anywhere I liked. I was only waiting for Him to come. Now why is He rejecting me?” Then she prayed to all the demigods, and they all appeared there. Even Janaka and Dasaratha came. They were all present, and they said, “Ramacandra, this is Your wife, Sita. This whole program You did was to get her back. Now You take her back.”

Ramacandra said, “No. I don’t have to take her back.”

Dasaratha and Janaka came and said to Him, “No, no. This will be too hard for her. Please take her back.”

Ramacandra said, “How will I take her back? She is not My wife.” And then everyone became confused.

Brahma came there and said, “This is Your lila. You just take an avatar to finish the demons and protect the devotees. But You don’t do too much lila, because we will get confused. Lila is all right, but not too much lila. So here is Your wife, just take her.”

Rama said, “She is not My wife.”

Brahma said, “Why?” “How can she be My wife? She stayed in Ravana’s garden for so long, four months. I may take her as my wife, but when I go back to Ayodhya, what will I say to My citizens? They will say, ‘Rama, You went to the forest. How was everything?’ ‘Everything was all right except that My wife stayed with Ravana for four months.’ What will they think? Will I be able to keep this lady on the throne as my queen? On the simhasana, the great seat of the Iksvaku dynasty, some woman who left her husband and stayed somewhere else for four months? They will complain to Me.”

Hanuman asked Ramacandra, “Then what are You supposed to do?”

Rama said, “You ask Sita.”

So Hanuman came back with Sita and said, “You solve the problem.”

Sita said, “Ask Him. If He wants I can go to the fire, and prove that I am pure.”

Vibhisana came and told Ramacandra, and Ramacandra said, “Yes, that’s a good idea. Tell Laksmana to make a fire.” So they made a fire and Hanuman was crying. He couldn’t see Mother Sita would walk into the fire, after all that trouble. So he left that place. And Vibhisana also left that place. They couldn’t tolerate. Laksmana was a thankless person all the time. He was always given the thankless jobs. So he went to Mother Sita and told her, “Please come, and go into the fire.” Sitadevi climbed into the fire. She was sitting on the fire and the fire was glowing. Nothing happened to her. That’s all there in Ramayana. But something did happen.

What happened was that Agni came there and brought the original Sita. Sita was actually never in Sri Lanka. This was a big scandal. This scandal was arranged by Laksmana. When Marica got the arrow of Ramacandra in his heart, he shouted, “Oh Laksmana! Oh Sitadevi!”

Sitadevi told Laksmana, “Your brother is in trouble! You must go and save Him!”

Laksmana was smiling. Sita said, “What kind of a demoniac person are you? How can you smile and laugh when your brother is getting killed by the demons?”

Laksmana said, “What problem is there? When people get a problem they chant Rama’s name. How can He have problem? Anyone who is afraid of an enemy, they chant Rama’s name and they get protected. How can He have any enemy? He is protecting everyone in this world. How can he have a problem?”

Sitadevi said, “Now I know your plan! You always wanted to have me as your wife. Now that Rama will be dead you will be happy.”

Laksmana closed his ears. “Oh no! What is this?”

Then she said, “If not, then you must go now.”

So he said, “All right, I will go.” But then he thought, “I’m not just going to leave like this.” So he took his Agni astra, the astra of fire, and he drew a line in front of the ashrama. He said, “You be beyond this line. Don’t cross this line.”

So then Ravana came as a sannyasi, and he was trying to first enter the house. When he came, he touched the line and the fire came, and he couldn’t go in. Then he called, “Is there anyone in the house?” Sita devi came, and Ravana asked, “Whose house is this?”

Sita said, “This is the son of Dasaratha’s house. He is in exile. Nobody who comes to this house goes without getting something. So I wll give you something.” Then she brought some fruits.

Ravana said, “I don’t enter houses. I am a naisthika sannyasa. You have to come outside and bring it to me.”

She said, “I have been told by my protectors not to cross this line.”

He said, “All right, I won’t take. I’m going, and I’m angry.”

She said, “No, no, don’t go angry.”

He said, “Yes, all these Dasaratha and Rama, they are all just misers. They don’t give any charity. I’m going, and I’ll tell everyone, `This is Rama’.”

So Sitadevi thought, “Oh, this is very bad. I have to protect the name of my husband.” So she crossed the line. When she crossed the line, the fire came again and Agni took her to his palace. He produced a Sita who was illusory, and that was the Sita Ravana took.

One may say, “If she is illusory then what is the whole problem with this scene?” No, even that Sita belongs to the Lord only. She’s not supposed to be in Ravana’s garden. But then Ramacandra had a vow that He only married one Laksmi in that incarnation. He was not going to take the other Laksmi. He told her, ‘You can go wherever you like.’ He was not cruel, he just told her what she is supposed to be told. But this happened in a very secret manner, not many people knew. At least in the Ramayana, it is not stated. In the Kurma Purana, the story is mentioned. Agni brought the original Sita and handed her over to Ramacandra.