Redemption City

Ravana's city on fire“Thus destroyed by your sinful work, with happiness the people you have brought down will speak of you thus: By good fortune the terrible one has met destruction.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.14-15)

evaṃ tvāṃ pāpakarmāṇam vakṣyanti nikṛtā janāḥ ||
diṣṭyaitad vyasanaṃ prāpto raudra ityeva harṣitāḥ |

“Did you hear the news? Ravana is dead. That fiend who came in here and stole our wives has now gone to the abode of Yamaraja. He was so powerful. He thought that he was invincible. It turns out that it was a woman of all people who brought him down. He couldn’t satisfy his lust. Though he had everything going for him, he threw it all away by chasing a woman he couldn’t have.

“Rama was not like him. Whereas Ravana went from nation to nation, even planet to planet, wreaking havoc and imposing his will on everyone, Rama was just there by Himself in the lonely forest. He had His wife and His younger brother with Him, but I hear that this was only due to their insistence. He did not request their company. He also left home voluntarily. He was the rightful heir to the throne, but due to some family infighting the succession went a different way.

“Though a great and capable fighter, even in the forest Rama was very peaceful. He was not looking to attack anyone. He had every reason in the world to be angry. He had every right to hold a grudge. First there were the Rakshasas attacking the peaceful sages. The sages wanted Rama’s presence there so that they would feel safe. These sages weren’t bothering anyone. And yet the Rakshasas would come and attack just as the sacrifices were culminating; thereby nullifying the effort. Rama successfully defended against such attacks.

Rama and Lakshmana slaying Tataka“He was defending again when Ravana first sent 14,000 of his men to Dandaka to fight against the single Rama. Unlike us, Rama wasn’t defeated. Without breaking a sweat, he killed so many fighters, including the great Trishira, Dushana and Khara. These were Ravana’s leading soldiers, so the fiend got a taste of Rama’s prowess through their deaths.

“Ravana then became captivated by the idea of having Sita. She was Rama’s beautiful wife. Rama deserved to have such a spouse. Such a kind, sweet and compassionate fellow was paired with someone equally as brilliant in those features. Rama is dedicated to virtue and upholding the good name of His family, and Sita is equally as dedicated to holding up Rama.

“Rather than appreciate their love for each other and take a lesson from it, Ravana decided to try to steal Sita’s love. He wanted someone to adore him in such a way. Little did he know that Sita’s affection can only be directed at Rama. She cannot redirect it elsewhere. An offering of obeisance to her is thus carried on to Rama. On the flip side, offending her is like inviting the worst kind of punishment, the likes of which was previously handed out to Tataka and Maricha’s associates.

“Rama is highly fortunate to have Sita, and we are highly fortunate to have Rama. He is a gift from God for sure. He has brought down this wicked fiend named Ravana. We never thought it possible, but thanks to Him the world is now a better place. Notice how He didn’t take any of Ravana’s wives after the defeat. He told Vibhishana that the enmity was over. Vibhishana, Ravana’s brother, was then handed the throne by Rama, showing that there is no covetousness to be found in Sita’s husband.”

Such sentiments were predicted by Sita herself. She makes the prediction in this verse from the Ramayana. Ravana is still alive and trying very hard to win her over. He promises her the post of chief queen in Lanka. He informs her that soon her beauty will fade and that since no one is with her now her beauty is going to waste. Better it is if she enjoys with Ravana now and thus lives happily.

Sita DeviNone of these tricks would work of course. Sita’s beauty also never fades. She is forever youthful, a unique feature found in the Supreme Lord’s consort. With a blurry picture of the Supreme Lord, spiritual traditions speculate that if He does have a form it must be one of an old man who is angry and who eagerly looks to punish the sinners. In the Vedas the real picture is given. Though God can take any form He chooses, His original one is all-attractive. It is a fresh youth, of around sixteen years of age. This form is eternal; it never changes. His incarnations are the same way. Rama is included in this latter list, so His beautiful body never decays.

From Sita’s prediction we’re reminded of the sobering reality that what is up today could be down tomorrow, and vice versa. Though you conquered someone previously, eventually the tables might turn. When they do, the previously conquered will be very happy, while you will not. The other side will be extremely pleased especially if you are a fiendish character, someone who makes the world a worse place. Ravana met this description, so the world would be very pleased upon his demise.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.34“People will always speak of your infamy, and for one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.34)

That demise could be avoided if he just gives Sita back to Rama. In this sense his destruction would be of his own doing. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, for one who has been previously honored, dishonor is a worse punishment than death. Sita knew this thousands of years before Krishna uttered those words on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna. Whereas Arjuna took those words to heart, Ravana ignored them. His infamy was sealed by going against Rama. The path of Arjuna brought lasting fame, so much so that Arjuna is still honored to this day. The same goes for Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, who are Rama’s dearest associates.

In Closing:

His loss the world’s gain,

For he caused all so much pain.


Rama was not bothering a single soul,

And yet Ravana His wife away stole.


For this the fiend to whom we suffered defeat,

Ultimate destruction from Rama did meet.


So happy we are to see his demise,

That caused by a woman certainly a surprise.

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