“O Rakshasa, It might be possible for a person to live for a long time after forcibly taking away Shachi Devi, a woman of unmatched beauty and wife of the wielder of the thunderbolt [Indra]. But a person who abuses me shall not be released from death even if they were to drink amrita [nectar which grants immortality].” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 48.24)
जीवेच्चिरं वज्रधरस्य हस्ताच्छचीं प्रधृष्याप्रतिरूपरूपाम्।
न मादृशीं राक्षस दूशयित्वा पीतामृतस्यापि तवास्ति मोक्षः।।
jīvecciraṃ vajradharasya hastācchacīṃ pradhṛṣyāpratirūparūpām।
na mādṛśīṃ rākṣasa dūśayitvā pītāmṛtasyāpi tavāsti mokṣaḥ।।
Friend1: Upon reading the Ramayana, it is striking to see just how ignorant Ravana behaves.
Friend2: What do you mean? In that he should know better?
Friend1: Listen, after acquiring great powers through the blessings of Mahadeva and Lord Brahma, it is only understandable to be a little puffed up. I can understand the ego part.
Friend2: Where you think you are king of the world. You are like the person who spent the summer working out at the gym, pumping up and filling out.
Friend1: To the point that no one can mess with you. The bullies at school will be dealt with. Any person who says something negative, you can physically beat an apology out of them.
Friend2: In Ravana’s case, the boons were on the grandest scale. He could achieve world domination, if he so pleased.
Friend1: Not limited to a single world, either. He could conquer the heavenly realm, as referenced by Sita Devi one time.
Friend2: The wife of Shri Rama.
Friend1: She mentioned that a person might be able to survive if they take away Shachi Devi by force. She is the wife of the king of heaven, Indra.
Friend2: We can infer that the only way to accomplish such a task is to be powerful. You have to first reach the heavenly realm. You have to carry out your plan. You then have to live to tell about it.
Friend1: Ravana tried the same in the middle planetary system. He took Sita Devi by force. It was a cowardly act, under any objective analysis.
Friend2: Supposedly in revenge for what Rama had done to Shurpanakha, who is Ravana’s sister.
Friend1: Except Ravana’s first try at revenge didn’t go so well. He sent fourteen thousand of his best men to attack Rama in the forest of Janasthana. That place soon turned into Hatasthana, which is the land of death.
जनस्थाने हतस्थाने निहते रक्षसां बले।।
अशक्तेन त्वया रक्षः कृतमेतदसाधु वै।
janasthāne hatasthāne nihate rakṣasāṃ bale।।
aśaktena tvayā rakṣaḥ kṛtametadasādhu vai।
“O Rakshasa, when your Rakshasa army had been killed in Janasthana, turning it into Hatasthana [land of the dead], being powerless you committed this wicked deed.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.29-30)
Friend2: Rama defended the place singlehandedly. No one was helping Him. That is a glimpse into the potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: Which is another indication of the future. Ravana should have known better. Did he think he would survive that long without accountability?
Friend2: He lived on an island. How was Rama going to reach the place?
Friend1: I don’t know, take a boat.
Friend2: Okay, but you have an entire city filled with Rakshasas. They would be able to see a boat approaching.
Friend1: But Rama already handled fourteen thousand at a single time. Ravana should have been a little worried.
Friend2: I think he was.
Friend1: Except he didn’t foresee his own demise. I realize it is a lesson, in general. People think they will live forever. They see so many other people dying, but they continue to act as if the living situation will continue without interruption.
Friend2: There are many powers at play. You could say that deep down Ravana wanted to be defeated by Rama. That is not an inglorious demise. The power of kama [lust] prevented Ravana from thinking clearly.
Friend1: What about all the advice? Many people tried to warn him. Sita’s words were the most cutting. They went straight to the issue. She predicted the events as they eventually played out.
Friend2: The acharya does the same thing. They give the warning. They explain the destiny of the individual. They are not miserly with their time. They explain as much as possible. They publish literature. They travel to different places. They leave behind a tradition that accounts for the afterlife in the best possible way.
Friend1: It is on us to accept the information. It is not like we have no access.
Friend2: There is plenty of access. We always have a choice. We can be like Ravana and pretend nothing will happen. We can be like Vibhishana and understand that there might be short-term hardship, but aligning with Shri Rama is for the ultimate benefit of everyone involved.
With Sita-Rama aligned,
For all auspiciousness to find.
Otherwise destined for destruction,
Despite elaborate construction.
And city on island ground,
Still by Rama found.
Offense as gravest taken,
Of foolish logic mistaken.