Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravana who supported Rama
A devotee of Sri Rama and younger brother of the valiant Ravana, king of Lanka. He had great affection and respect for his elder brother. But when Ravana set him on an evil course, Vibheeshana boldly protested and tendered proper advice. When no alternative was left, he went away from Lanka, surrendered himself to the virtuous Sri Rama and helped him in the battle against Ravana. Vibheeshana thus lived a life of unswerving piety and righteousness.
Among the devotees of Sri Rama who helped him, Hanumanta and Vibheeshana are well known. The message of Sita Devi was conveyed to Sri Rama by Hanumanta. Vibheeshana went to Sri Rama’s aid in his fight with Ravana. Hanumanta and Vibheeshana are among the seven immortals of Hindu mythology.
Vibheeshana was the younger brother of Ravana, the King of Lanka. Ravana had another younger brother also, by name Kumbhakarna, and a younger sister called Shoorpanakha. Their father was Vishrava, and mother Kaikasi. Vishrava had also a first wife who bore him a son by name Vaishravana, also called Kubera, who performed long and arduous austerities and meditation, to propitiate Lord Brahma, the creator.
By his boon, Kubera became one of the ‘Lokapalakas’, the deities who over the eight cardinal directions and protect the world; he also secured a ‘Vimana’ (airplane) which was called ‘Pushpaka’. He was the king of Rakshasa developed Lanka into a prosperous kingdom.
But Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Shoorpanakha grew into evil persons. Their mother Kaikasi, pained thereby, spoke of her anguish to her husband. He consoled her saying, “Do not weep. You will get a son who will bring a good name to our family.” The son born after that was Vibheeshana.
Penance by Ravana, Kumbhakarna overcome by a desire to excel Kubera. Ravana and Kumbhakarna undertook austerities to please Lord Brahma. Finally, when Brahma appeared, Ravana prayed thus – “0 Lord, give me this boon, that any of the Angels, Rakshasa, Gandharvas, Yaksha’s, Nagas or Garudas cannot kill me. As for humans and beasts, they are mere grass to me; I am not afraid of them.”
And Kumbhakarna’s request was this – “0 Lord, bless me that I may spend the major part of any year in a happy slumber.”
Lord Brahma conferred on them the boons they asked for and returned. Kumbhakarna’s mind became clear after Brahma disappeared.
He felt ashamed at his stupidity.
Vibheeshana too gets a boon
Vibheeshana also took to rigorous penance and meditation. In summer he set up fires in four containers on all four sides, himself sitting in the middle. He kept one more burning fire in front of him and engaged in the ‘penance of the five fires’. In the rainy season, he remained in the half-standing posture of ‘Veerasana’, exposing his whole body to heavy downpour, and carried on his meditation. He stood in bitingly cold water in winter and continued penance’. He gave up all food; the air he breathed was his only sustenance.
Brahma was pleased with his austerity and came to him. He said, “My dear boy, what do you want? Ask for any boon and I will give it.”
“O Lord, I salute you, again and again, a thousand times. Bless me that I may not stray from the path of virtue in my happiness or difficulties.
And may I have the ability to wield the great missile ‘Brahmaastra’ without anyone teaching me.
Grant me these boons,” Vibheeshana entreated.
Brahma blessed him thus – “Beloved Vibheeshana, you have a righteous mind, and so you have asked for such good boons. You have them. And on my own, I will give you one more boon.
Ravana – King of Lanka
Ravana’s mother Kaikasi and his grandfather Sumali put evil ideas into his king to take away the Kingdom of Lanka and the Pushpakaplane from Kubera. He ignored the principle that an elder brother should be looked upon with the respect due to a father. Kubera had to flee from the kingdom. Ravana became the King of Lanka and began to rule over the Rakshasa.
Kubera went to the Kailasa region and the area that he liked, established the Kingdom of the Yakshas. He ruled over his realm righteously.
Ravana then cast his greedy eyes on Kubera’s Pushpaka plane too. He behaved provocatively and began a war with Kubera. Defeating ‘Kubera, he emplaned on the Pushpaka and came back from Kailasa to Lanka.’
Ravana married Maya’s daughter, Mandodari, who was a very devoted wife and very righteous.
He had a son by her, named Meghanaada (which means the ‘sound of the clouds’ or the ‘sound of thunder’). Meghanaada defeated Indra, the king of angels, and earned the title of ‘Indrajit’ also.
Ravana had many more wives from whom he had other sons like Akshaya Kumara, Anukampa and so on.
Vibheeshana married Sarama, daughter of the Gandharva king Shailusha. Sarama also was of a virtuous bent of mind like Vibheeshana, and full of good qualities.
Hanumanta Goes to Lanka
Sri Rama, the eldest son of Dasharatha the emperor of Ayodhya, relinquished the kingdom and went to the forest to honor his father’s word given to the third queen Kaikeyi, who wanted her son Bharata to be the ruler. Rama’s wife Sitadevi and his brother Lakshmana followed him with love and joy. Before the prescribed of twelve years of forest life could be completed, Ravana abducted Sita in the jungle area known as Janasthana. He concealed her as a prisoner in Ashokavana, a vast area of greenery near his palace in Lanka.
Rama and Lakshmana wandered in search of Sita. They found a friend in Sugreeva, whose minister Hanumanta went southwards in the search for Sita. Hanumanta crossed the southern sea, and entering Lanka, saw Sitadevi in Ashokavana. He thought it would be better to see Ravana before leaving Lanka. He thought of a plan for that purpose and started destroying the Ashokavana.
Reports of the havoc caused by Hanumanta reached Ravan. He sent his son Akshayakumara with an army of Rakshasa to subdue Hanumanta.
But Hanumanta killed Akshayakumara, destroying the Rakshasa army. Then Indrajit defeated and bound’ Hanumanta with the ‘Brahmaastra’, and brought him captive to the court of Ravana.
Ravana asked Hanaumanta, “Who are you? What brought you to Lanka? Why did you destroy the Ashokavana? You are a vicious culprit, having killed Akshayakumara and the Rakshasa army.” Hanumanta replied, “Ravana, you are the real culprit, you who have stolen Sitadevi. I wished to see you. So I hit upon the trick of destroying Ashokavana. I am Hanumanta and have come as Sri Rama’s messenger, to see Sitadevi and convey Rama’s message to you. Ravana, though you are an emperor and have conquered all the worlds, you have abducted Sitadevi like a cowardly thief.
I am certainly capable of freeing Sitadevi from your clutches and taking her away. But I can’t think of it because Sri Rama has to do that. Now, don’t make it necessary for Sri Rama to invade your realm and kill you. Restore Sitadevi to Sri Rama and win his favor.”
“Brother, this is not Statecraft” These fearless words of advice from Hanumanta made Ravana’s blood boil. The very word Sri Rama pained his ears as if they were pierced. The Rakshasa court unanimously passed a sentence of death on Hanumanta.
Vibheeshana had much affection and respect for his brother Ravana. Yet he felt that it was unjust to put a messenger to death. So he resolved to protest against it. He stood up, saluted Ravana and said, “Great monarch of Lanka, you are my elder brother, whom I should respect as a father.
Please don’t think I am disobedient to you. May I speak to you with the freedom of a younger brother? You are also a very great scholar, having lent all the Shastras, our sacred religious, social and political texts. You are a statesman well aware of all rules of statecraft. I cannot teach you these laws and conventions. But sentencing a messenger to death is not permitted by the principles of statecraft.”
“Brother Vibheeshana, I do agree with what you say of statecraft,” Ravana replied. “But this monkey standing before me has not conducted himself like a court messenger. He has indeed behaved like an enemy. The destruction of the Ashokavana and the killing of Akshayakumara and the Rakshasa army are certainly not ordinary offenses. Is he a court messenger or a foe?
The death sentence is quite appropriate.” Vibheeshana understood Ravana’s mind. He spoke suitably, saying “O King, Hanumanta is guilty, but still, he is not an enemy and he has come here as Rama’s messenger. He should not be put to death.” Ravana too grasped Vibheeshana’s opinion.
He said, “Brother, so you do grant that hanumanta is guilty. So he shall be imprisoned. Is that all right?”
Vibheeshana did not agree with that he said to his brother, “It is improper to either kill or even imprison a messenger because that will upset the whole system court messengers. Then who can convey our ideas and opinions to the enemies?”
But Ravana queried, “Then is there no punishment for all the offenses of Hanumanta?”
Ravana’s doubt was cleared by his brother who said, “A guilty messenger can be beaten by staff, or his limbs could be severed. His head can be shaven, face and forehead disfigured with ugly writing, and he can be taken in procession in that condition on the streets, and later driven out of the city.”
Ravana nodded in approbation of Vibheeshana’s knowledge of the conventions of statecraft and pronounced his decision thus – “I do appreciate your knowledge of statecraft. Now it is said that the tail is an important feature of a monkey.
So I order that Hanumanta’s tail be set to fire, burnt, and then he, be released”.
All the Rakshasa there joined together and covered Hanumanta’s tail with cloth tied all over it. The tail increased in size. They tied round it all the cloth they could lay their hands upon, poured several tins of oil on it, and set fire to it.
The tail began to bum like a forest fire. Hanumanta touched the mustaches and beards of Rakshasa with his burning tail. He dipped the tail onto several spots in the city and the whole of Lanka was on fire.
The sight of the city in Names depressed discouraged Ravana. His mind was perturbed. He remembered the curse of Nandi. He immediately summoned his cabinet. Prahasta, Durmukha, Indrajit, Nikumbha, Vibheeshana and all others attended. Kumbhakarna was in a deep slumber.
Ravana said, “Court consultations are to lead to victory. So I have summoned this meeting.” The Rakshasa trusted more in physical might than in mental powers. Each of them would be a mountain of a man. For them, statesmanship meant only conformation and fighting.
Hanumanta had defeated the deity Lanka devata and entered Lanka. He had found out the secret place where Sita had been kept a prisoner. He had destroyed the Ashokavana forest and killed Akshayakumara and the Rakshasa army. Finally, he had faced Ravana himself undaunted and also burnt the city of Lanka. But they did not stop to think about all this. If they had the least intelligence, they would certainly have thought that the monkey army of Rama and Lakshmana would be as strong as they were.
But the Rakshasas were stupid and did not think of this. They flattered Ravana saying, “You are omnipotent and have conquered all the worlds. You can alone face and fight with Rama and Lakshmana. They are after all mere mortals”.
With such flattery, they made Ravana’s pride rise. Every one among them blew his own trumpet. “Prahasta can single-handedly kill both Rama and Lakshmana. If only Kumbhakarna, made immensely powerful by Brahma’s boon, wakes up from his blissful slumber, he is no ordinary fighter and if Indrajit, who bound Hanumanta with his Brahmaastra, unfolds his magic weapons and powers, the enemies would be helpless.
If Ravana commands, one of us could go and kill Rama and Lakshmana and could also reduce the monkey army to nothing. “These and such were the Words of bravado uttered by the Rakshasas.
“But Think, My Brethren”
Blood began to boil in the Rakshasa hordes.
They all hungered for a fight.
Vibheeshana resolved to check these who were embarking on the path of war following the method of confrontation and punishment, which is the very last step in statecraft. He knew that if he did not check the overconfidence of these people, the ruin of Lanka would be a certainty. He knew that his words in this regard would be disliked by them.
But he felt that for the welfare, and to save Ravana, it was his duty to caution them. So he stood up, saluted Ravana, and turning to the Rakshasas said: you are brethren of my own Rakshasa clan. I beg of you to be patient. I salute you and request you to listen to my words calmly.
In statecraft, we have the four well-known methods or stages – Saama or good words of advice and persuasion, Daana or the attempt to win over with gifts and promises, Bheda or the splitting of the enemy, and finally, Danda or the last method of confrontation and punishment.
But you seem to neglect all the three earlier methods and to believe only in the last one of force. Sri Rama, like us, is certainly a hero. We have already witnessed the might of Hanumanta. Think also as to how many more thousands of heroes like Hanumanta there would be in their army.” With these words, he tried to tone down their clamor for war.
Vibheeshana continued – “Brothers, let us think clearly and calmly. Who committed the first mistake? Was it not Khara who teased and troubled Rama and Lakshmana who were minding their own business? Was it wrong on the part of Sri Rama and Lakshmana to have opposed Khara in self-defense? You might still assert that the mistake is Sri Rama’s. If so, why did you not start a war so far?
Further, granting that Sri Rama may be our enemy, what has the poor lady Sitadevi done? Why should she be abducted? You all know the adage that haste makes waste. So, please think before you leap, and think well.” Then he turned to Ravana- “Brother you have brought up all of us under your protection. We owe our very lives to you. So we must ensure your welfare. Our ministers have unfortunately forgotten that.
They are misguiding you. Please do not listen to them. I have always thought of your welfare only. You are a great statesman. And you so well know the ways of the world. Do not ruin yourself by thinking only war. It is better to return to Sri Rama his wife Sitadevi whom you have brought here by stealth. Win over Sri Rama’s friendship and favor, and be Safe.”
Ravana’s mind was highly disturbed by Vibheeshana’s words of advice. He ended the Rakshasa conclave abruptly, without any decision.
Vibheeshana returned home from the royal court. His mind was full of concern for his brother.
The whole night was over in thinking of what was right and what was wrong, of what was just and what was unjust. He loved his brother dearly but was convinced that his abduction of Sita was unjust. He knew that Ravana’s obduracy would destroy him and destroy Lanka also.
When he tried to show the just course, both Ravana and the sycophants flattered him would become angry beyond words. But Vibheeshana was determined not to swerve from the path of righteousness and justice, whatever be the difficulties. He was prepared even to brave banishment from the country if it came about.
As the morning dawned, Vibheeshana had his bath and performed the daily ship. He then went straight to Ravana’s palace. Seeing Ravana still amid his worship of Lord Ishwara (read more about Parvati and Ishwara here), he also prayed for his brother’s welfare. As Ravana came out after the worship, Vibheeshana saluted him and both went to the royal court hall. Already Prahasta, Indrajit and other Rakshasa chiefs were waiting for Ravana. The discussions began.
Vibheeshana’s Advice Rejected
Vibheeshana spoke in a frank manner. He said,
“Brother, since the visit of Hanumanta and his return, we are facing very bad times. Even our deity Lanka Devata no longer appears lustrous.
The avenues of the capital are infested with snakes and scorpions. Groups of crows and vultures circle over our houses. Ugly wails of jackals are heard day and night all over the city. The women of the city look forlorn and frightened.
My beloved brother please heeds to my words, and return Sitadevi to Sri Rama. I am not speaking out of any fear for my life, but I speak out of my affection for you. I speak so that the danger that is ahead may be prevented” Vibheeshana’s sane advice fell on Ravana’s ears like molten metal pouring in. Ravana’s anger was roused like a forest fire. With burning eyes, Ravana stamped his foot on the ground and thundered,
“Vibheeshana, stop your nonsense. Stop all this stupid advice. Rama and Lakshmana are to me like straw. Sugreeva, Hanumanta, Jambavanta, and others are of no account. You can shut up and get out!” Vibheeshana had to go out of the court-hall.
The whole day Ravana was distraught. He was worried that his brother rose in revolt against him. Throughout the day his mind was drowned in distress.
Rama and Lakshmana came with a monkey-army and set up camp on the southern seacoast.
Ravana’s spies brought him the news. Disturbed, he called another meeting of the council.
Kumbhakarna, who was in slumber when the court met last, attended this meeting. He had been awakened from his sleep with great effort and brought to the meeting in a semi-sleepy state. He was like Ravana’s right-arm, his main pillar of support.
Ravana explained to the Rakshasa leaders why he had called them for a meeting again.
He said: “O Rakshasa chiefs, I have news that Rama’s monkey hordes have set up camp on the southern’ sea-coast with intent to take back Sita. I am one who would not care for Rama or Lakshmana, Sugreeva, Hanumanta, Jambavanta, or any others. But I felt that I should consult you all and so, called this conclave.”
Kumbhakarna was still half asleep and did not understand the situation and the subject properly. But immediately after Ravana spoke, he stood up and said: “Brother, you should have consulted us earlier. Then we could have given our considered opinion. Why did you go to Janasthana and bring Sita here kidnapping her? Did you do so with our consent? The situation is now so bad and critical. What is the use of thinking now?”
Ravana was feeling very uncomfortable with these words of his brother. Kumbakarna also was by now fully awake. Looking at Ravana’s face, he realized that his words had displeased him. With more control on his tongue now, he began again in a more conciliatory manner –
“My dear brother, any way Please stop worrying about it. The hearts of our enemies will be filled with fear even as they look at my mountain-like body. Their very entrails will swirl with fright at my lion-like roar. Before any arrow of Rama can touch me, I would have pounced on him and drunk his blood. Bless me with your good wishes for victory and send me now.” So thundered the huge-bodied Kumbhakarna.
Wisdom is curbed
Vibheeshana was opposed to war. He spoke against the counsel of Kumbhakarna and said: “I understand that brother Kumbhakarna is all for war. I appeal to you, Rakshasa chiefs, to realize that it is sheer madness to think that we could refuse to hand over Sitadevi and defeat Sri Rama.
Sitadevi is no ordinary person but a great and divine lady. By fetching her here by force, we are only playing with fire. Please do not bring the flames of war to the gates of Kanaka-Lanka, our golden city. Like a deadly plague, it will destroy not only Lanka but the entire Rakshasa population.”
Hearing such words of sanity in the royal councils had become insufferable to Indrajit. These pleadings for peace fell harsh on his ears. His ire was great as he thought that his uncle’s advice crossed the limits even for his father’s tolerance.
So with sparks of anger from his eyes, Indrajit thundered, “Uncle, you have always been like an axe on our Rakshasa community. You always speak like a coward and praise our enemies. For nothing you are afraid, and you put a fright into us also. Is there one to challenge and oppose me in all the worlds – me, who has humbled Indra and is so well known as Indrajit’ in the whole universe? Why can’t you stop this flattery of our foes? So he reviled his uncle.
And Ravana also shouted in anger “Coward, you are treacherous to your people. Because of my love for you as a brother, I have so far tolerated all your words with indulgence. One can rear a cobra or even trust enemies, but should not rely on relations who pretend to be friendly.
Anyway, you have shown your true colors at the right time. The truth is that your eyes cannot stand the dazzle of my grandeur and you are too jealous to tolerate my glory. You are a treacherous creature ruining the house that reared you and brought you up. Do not stand before me.
Get out, and go anywhere. Cursed be your days!” And the Rakshasa assembly in one loudly shouted – “Vibheeshana, you are an accursed one. May you are cursed our being false to our Rakshasa family for your treachery to Ravana!”
Bond is sundered
Vibheeshana was highly vexed by these harsh words of Ravana. He also agonized because the Rakshasa brethren reviled him. But it only stirred his self-respect. With that feeling and with courage, he stood up opposite Ravana and told him, you are elder to me, hence like a father, and so to be respected like God Himself.
Therefore I take whatever you said as your blessings to me. It is that I have spoken in a frank manner. Kindly excuse me. Can you remember the proverb that one who speaks too smoothly is but a hypocrite? Let me again warn you. Your end is drawing near and that is why you feel that I have enmity towards you. You feel I am like a hostile cousin. I am not worried. Still, I wish to tell you that Sri Rama is no ordinary mortal. Please listen to me. Don’t have him as your enemy. Take Sitadevi to him, and return her to him. Thereby win his favor and friendship.
“For me, the bonds of Lanka are sundered. The bond of living under your auspices is also broken.
I go as a man banished from his own country. I should not remain here without a sense of self-respect. May you live long and retain Lanka!
That will be possible with Sri Rama’s blessing.
So, good-bye to you.”
With these words, Vibheeshana flew into the sky. His four ministers also did so. Vibheeshana looked as if he was the great Meru Mountain with wings flying in the sky.
Supplication to Sri Rama
Soldiers of the monkey army of Rama saw Vibheeshana with the mace weapon in his hand and with his four Ministers coming towards them.
They reported it to Sugreeva. Sugreeva thought that they were Ravana’s men and went to attack them. Vibheeshana flew up into the sky to protect if and with humility said, “I am the younger brother of the wicked Rakshasa king Ravana, but I am opposed to him. My name is Vibheeshana. I have as a supplicant to Sri Rama, to be a follower.” Sugreeva reported it to Sri Rama thus “O Lord Ramachandra, Vibheeshana says that he has come as a supplicant here with his four ministers. He says he is opposed to Ravana. But we can never believe the words of this Rakshasa.
They are deceitful. Vibheeshana must have come as a spy of Ravana. He perhaps intends to kill us by some ruse. “Jambavanta also doubted Vibheeshana’s honesty. He said “Vibheeshana’s coming like this all of a sudden makes his intention very doubtful. He must be a hypocrite, a tiger with the masked face of a cow.
Sri Rama turned to Hanumanta, as the latter had seen Vibheeshana earlier in the Rakshasa conclave in Lanka. Hanumanta gave his opinion:
“Lord Ramachandra, just because Vibheeshana comes from the wicked Ravana’s court, we need not feel that he too is wicked. He could also be good like Sugreeva, who earned the enmity of Vaali. You did enthrone Sugreeva after killing Vaali. Likewise, Vibheeshana might be thinking that you would eliminate Ravana and put him on the throne. There is a lot of difference between Vibheeshana and those other rakshasas like Ravana in their nature.
I would say that it would be no mistake to take Vibheeshana under our protection and give him refuge.” Sri Rama weighed all these opinions for a while, and then pronounced his decision – “Vibheeshana may be the brother at wicked Ravana.
As Hanumanta he may even be a good person.
Whether he is a friend or a foe, is not an important point for me. What is important is that he has come seeking help and refuge. Even if it is an enemy who stands with folded hands and seeks protection, he should not be killed. That is statecraft, a policy. Vibheeshana has now come for protection, saying that he is on my side. So I receive him into my fold.”
Vibheeshana prostrated before Sri Rama, placing his head on Rama’s feet. “O, kind one, I have come as a supplicant. You are the protector of all who needs help and refuge. Please protect me,” he prayed. He then described the vile nature of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Indrajit and others. He narrated how he had tried to advise them. Then Sri Rama told Vibheeshana – “Dear friend, I will kill the wicked and unjust Ravana and his vile group in the war. I will put you on the throne of Lanka as you are a righteous person. I swear in the name of my brothers Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna.”
He then told Lakshmana, “Brother, fetch the holy water of the ocean and declare him the anointed King. He has not asked for it. But I am conferring it on him.”
Lakshmana did his brother’s bidding, pro-claiming Vibheeshana the King of Lanka.
To know the strength of Rama and Lakshmana and their monkey army, Ravana sent two Rakshasa, Shuka and Chaarana, who had magic powers. They disguised themselves as monkey soldiers and entered the ranks of Rama’s army. But Vibheeshana found them out as spies sent by Ravana. He brought them to Sri Rama under custody. But Sri Rama, who was ever kind, pardoned and released them. They went back to Ravana and told him that Sri Rama was a great hero, and it would be better to make peace by returning Sitadevi to him. But they were derided by Ravana.
After a few days, Ravana sent another Rakshasa spy by name Shardoola to the enemy camp. Shardoola went with a few other trusted Rakshasa servants. They also disguised themselves and joined in the monkey army. Again Vibheeshana spotted them as Ravana’s spies and handed them over to the commander of the monkey army. But Sri Rama, merciful as ever, freed them from the hands of the monkeys and allowed them to go back to Lanka. Sugreeva and all others now trusted Vibheeshana as honestly.
Invaluable Help to Rama
Nala, one of the heroes of the monkey army, was an engineer. He now began to construct a bridge across the sea with the help of thousands of monkey heroes. Stretching from the southern shore right up to the shores of the Island of Lanka, a strong bridge, one hundred yojanas in length, was getting ready. Then Sri Rama’s army crossed the ocean and reached the shores of Lanka. The war between Rama and Ravana began.
The Rakshasa hordes and the monkey army fought a grim battle. Dhoomraaksha was killed by Hanumanta. Neela killed Prahasta. Every day Ravana had to hear of names of mighty Rakshasa killed by the enemies. At last, only Kumbhakarna and Indrajit remained on Ravana’s side. Kumbhakarna, with his body as big as a hill, opposed Rama.
Vibheeshana explained to Sri Rama Kumbhakarna has a boon from Brahma. If the truth about him were known, the monkey soldiers might run away in fear. So they must be told, Vibheeshana suggested, that Kumbhakarna was only a huge mechanical scare-figure. Then one of Rama’s arrows killed Kumbhakarna.
Hearing of the death of his uncle, Indrajit came to the battlefield. He was a master in wielding supernatural powers and magic. As he came to the battlefront in the chariot, he had brought with him a reply in the likeness of Sita. He beheaded figure even as Hanumanta was looking on. The monkeys did not know that it was a conjured-up figure.
Hearing that Sita was killed, Sri Rama fainted, unable to bear his consuming grief. His sorrow knew bounds even after he recovered from a swoon. But Vibheeshana now convinced Sri Rama that it was only the magic craft of Indrajit and persuaded him again to get ready to fight.
Meanwhile, Indrajit went to the temple of Goddess Nikumbhila to perform a sacrificial ‘Homa’ to acquire greater power to conquer the enemy. Vibheeshana guessed this secret and told Sri Rama, “O Lord, Indrajit has to be killed before he reaches the temple of Nikumbhila. If he performs the ‘Homa’ and the worship completely, neither the angels nor anyone at all can withstand and resist him. So please send the army at once under the command of Lakshmana and I will show them the way.” Only Vibheeshana knew this secret.
As advised by Vibheeshana, Sri Rama sent a large army led by Lakshmana and Vibheeshana, who took them to the temple of Nikumbhila.
Lakshmana’s army confronted Indrajit, who even as he set his eyes on Vibheeshana, became mad with fury. His body shook with anger and he roared like lion, saying “You treacherous fellow, a traitor to your country and your people, you have proved the fatal axe to your relations and community.”
Vibheeshana answered: “Know this well, Indrajit, that I am neither false to my community of Rakshasa nor given to unrighteous conduct. I do not deceive anyone with the false powers of magic and I do not have the vile nature of feeling joyous at others, pain.
Those who have the evil qualities mentioned by me, they are the treacherous and false ones. The Rakshasa, possessed of these vices and blind with their arrogance, have misled Ravana. Ravana has tortured holy saints and Rishis, made angels suffer, and has been cursed by thousands of virtuous Women.
Think well as to who is false and treacherous to his own country and his people. People like you and Ravana are the traitors. You have ruined the country, and not I.” In the fight that ensued, Indrajit was killed by Lakshmana.
Enraged by Indrajit’s death, finally, Ravana himself sat in his chariot and came to fight. A terrible battle ensued between Rama and Ravana.
Ravana was also a great hero. But he was at last felled by Rama.
But now, seeing his brother fallen dead, Vibheeshana could not contain his sorrow. He collapsed on Ravana’s corpse and wailed loudly, “Brother, you were a great hero. But now you are lonely like one deserted by all, and dead. One who was a great emperor and slept on a soft bed made of swan-feathers; you are now on the rough ground strewn with stones and arrows.
Your body, always adorned with gems and diamonds, is now pierced by arrows. 0, brother, did I not advise you, lest such a fate befall you? Could you not heed my words instead of dying thus?” Sri Rama himself came and consoled him. And Vibheeshana said: “Sri Ramachandra, you are the Lord of the Worlds. Kindly grant me this request.
My brother Ravana was a very great devotee of Ishwara and a great hero who had conquered many worlds. He was ever charitable and a great philanthropist. He was always kind to his friends and relations to his employees and subjects. He was a renowned soldier who never showed his back to the enemy. Please permit me to conduct the cremation of such a great soul with all royal honors.”
Thus Ravana’s obsequies were performed by Vibheeshana who had been so much reviled by him. The devoted and virtuous wife Mandodari burnt herself on the funeral pyre of her husband, Ravana, according to the practice of Sahagamana or I going together. As promised by Sri Rama earlier, Vibheeshana was crowned the King of Lanka by Lakshmana.
The Virtuous, the Best of Devotees by now the period of Sri Rama’s banishment to the forests was over. He was ready to return to Ayodhya.
Vibheeshana had retained the Pushpaka air-ship for this impending journey of Sri Rama to Ayodhya. The plane was ready for the flight and Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana got into it.
Sugreeva, Jambavanta, Hanumanta and other heroes also emplaned, along with Vibheeshana and his ministers. They were all very eager to witness the coronation of Sri Rama. As soon as Vibheeshana gave the command, the Pushpaka plane flew to Ayodhya.
The story of the virtuous Vibheeshana who was a great devotee of Sri Rama is narrated in the ‘Ramayana’ written by the ancient sage Valmiki.
Vibheeshana, as a younger brother, had great affection and respect for his elder brother. But when Ravana erred, Vibheeshana boldly pointed it out. He stuck to the path of virtue even when there was a danger to his life. When his angry brother banished him from Lanka, he joined the righteous side. Yet when the brother died, his grief was boundless. He was a great soul who held ‘Dharma’ or righteousness higher than personal relationships and family ties.