A Collector’s Item

Lord Rama's arrows“Soon will be falling here well-jointed arrows that are swift, blazing like serpents, and bearing the names of Rama and Lakshmana.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.25-26)

iha śīgraṃ suparvāṇo jvalitāsya ivoragāḥ ||
iṣavo nipatiṣyanti rāmalakṣmaṇalakṣaṇāḥ |

If you keep an object long enough, it might turn into a collector’s item; especially if not too many of that object were made. Perhaps technology made that object obsolete. Or maybe the manufacturer found a better way to produce the same object, eliminating certain pieces. As more time passes, these older items increase in value due to their rarity. They are popular items amongst collectors, so much so that there are now television shows that cover the buying and selling of these items. Often times there is one aspect to the object that makes it a novelty, a unique piece. A long time ago, there were weapons used that could be considered antiques today. They are a novelty now not because they fell out of favor with men of the military. They are rare indeed because of their unmatched potency, not to be found in any other weapon.

Antiques RoadshowSita Devi here describes the weapons in question. They are arrows. Bow-and-arrow is a primitive method of fighting. It was used before gun powder was invented. It was the means of warfare before tanks, machine guns, and fighter jets. Ah, but these were no ordinary bows and arrows. They were so amazing that no weapon can compare to them, either past or present. Even in the future you will never find such a weapon, as they act with a specific purpose in mind.

There is duality with all weapons. Think of the gun. In the hands of a criminal, it can turn into an object of mass destruction. A deranged teenager can bring it to a school and open fire, leading to a tragedy. At the same time, the gun can be used to defend against such lunatics. In instances where such shooters go on a rampage, they are finally stopped only once they meet someone else with a gun. Thus the gun terrorizes and also protects.

The weapons mentioned by Sita only protected. To the miscreants, they terrorized, but that terror was their just reward for nefarious behavior. Here the King of Lanka, Ravana, had invited the torment that was set to come his way. He had taken Sita away in secret, though she wanted no part of him. She was already married, and she and her husband were living peacefully in the forest. There was no reason for Ravana to bother them.

Despite all appeals to decency, Ravana would not return Sita to Rama. Therefore she simply spoke the truth, that Rama would come to destroy him. Ravana would first hear the thunderous noise coming from Rama’s bow being readied. Then would come the arrows. These would not be ordinary arrows. None like them were ever seen before by Ravana, and none have been seen by anyone else since.

These arrows were swift and well-jointed. This means that once they left Rama’s bow, they would get to their target very quickly. Since they were well-jointed, the force would be great upon impact. I can shoot a cotton ball very fast, but since it is so light it won’t make much of a dent. If I take a heavier object and do the same, the damage will be more. If that heavier object is fragile, it will break upon impact, which will lessen the effect on the target. If the heavier object is well-built, however, the force will be greater.

“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)

ShriRamaThese arrows were also blazing like serpents. Sita wasn’t making anything up here. Similar observations were made previously by one of Ravana’s associates, Akampana. He saw these arrows firsthand when they were released from Rama’s bow in an amazing fight. Ravana had sent 14,000 of his men to attack Rama in the Dandaka forest. Though Rama had His younger brother Lakshmana with Him, He decided to fight alone. Singlehandedly He routed all of Ravana’s men. Akampana was the only one who managed to escape, and he reported back to Ravana what he saw.

These arrows would also bear the symptoms of Rama and Lakshmana. The word “lakshana” can mean that the arrows were symptomatic of Rama and Lakshmana. It can also mean that they carried the names of Rama and Lakshmana on them. In either case the arrows would be novelties, objects rare to this world. In this sense Ravana would be fortunate; he would get to see something unique. These amazing arrows are used by the Supreme Lord to protect His devotees. And so to take protection from these novelty items the wise always make sure they stay in the devotional consciousness by chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Rare is this item ever so,

Its value with time to grow.


So in my possession to keep,

Windfall profit eventually to reap.


Ravana to see antique most rare,

At beautiful arrows of brothers to stare.


With names of Rama and Lakshmana inscribed,

Their potency to fiendish king Sita described.


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