The Story of Lakshmana, who accompanied Sri Rama till death
Younger brother of Sri Rama, Lakshmana personifies brotherly love and self-effacement. When Sri Rama, in fulfillment of father Dasharatha’s promise to queen Kaikeyi, set out for the forest with Sita, Lakshmana followed him.
When Sri Rama had to wage war against Ravana to rescue Sita, Lakshmana whole-heartedly collaborated in the venture. His devotion to his elder brother and to Sita, whom he looked upon as his mother, has made him unique; and his spirit of sacrifice is esteemed as of the highest kind.
Sri Rama as an incarnation of God
In our tradition, he is extolled in reverence as “Sri Sita Lakshmana Bharata Shatrughna Hanumatsameta Sri Ramachandra Swamine….” (We salute you, Sri Rama, accompanied by Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna and Hanumanta). It means when we offer our obeisance to Sri Rama, we also salute his consort Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna and his devout attendant Hanumanta.
Among these who command our worship, Sitadevi occupies the first place and brother Lakshmana the second. Here is an attempt to inform our young readers about the chief incidents in the life of this illustrious brother of Sri Rama.
Sri Ramachandra was the eldest son of emperor Dasharatha. Lakshmana was probably his second son. Rama’s mother was Kausalyadevi. Lakshmana and Shatrughna were born to Dasharatha’s second queen Sumitradevi while Bharata was the offspring of the junior-most queen Kaikeyi.
Lakshmana grew up with Sri Rama, as the latter’s constant companion since early Childhood, so much so that it appeared as if he was the outer soul of Sri Rama. Child Rama would not go to sleep unless Lakshmana also slept by his side.
Even when offered the most delicious sweets and dishes, he would not touch them until Lakshmana came to join him. As they grew up, Lakshmana became Rama’s inseparable companion and follower. They lived together thus till the end. Lakshmana came to be recognized as an ideal younger brother.
Sage Vishwamitra’s Blessings
The children grew up to become well educated and well trained young men. One day, sage Vishwamitra came to Dasharatha’s court and said:
“I am performing a ‘Yajna’ (sacrifice). Earlier when I was to perform this ‘Yajna’, demons Mareecha and Subahu, sons of Tataka, descended and defiled the holy ritual. This time, I don’t want such a thing repeated. Please send Rama to protect the ‘Yajna’ from these evil forces. You will be doing a favor.”
Dasharatha felt very much concerned. After all, Rama was still a very young boy. Can he face such demons? There was a lot of discussions held and finally, the royal priest Vashishta explained to Dasharatha:
“Vishwamitra is a great sage. Under his care, nothing untoward can happen to the prince.”
The emperor then agreed to send his son with the sage. Lakshmana would also go with Rama. The brothers’ left with Vishwamitra to the latter’s forest abode.
Vishwamitra took the brothers to visit several holy places before reaching his Ashram. On the way, at a riverside, the sage blessed Rama with the hymns for using the great weapons ‘Bala’ and ‘Atibala’. Both the brothers learned the lessons.
As they walked on, Vishwamitra narrated to them stories about the holy places. On the way, in a forest, demon-woman Tataka attacked them with a ferocious roar, but Rama killed her. They then proceeded and reached the sage’s Ashram.
The ‘Yajna’ went off as planned. Mareecha and Subahu did come to spoil it but were prevented by Rama and Lakshmana. While Rama killed Subahu with his bow and arrows, a wounded Mareecha escaped running away. The yajna was completed.
We should realize here that Rama accomplished this task with Lakshmana’s help. After the Yajna, Vishwamitra took the brothers to Mithila, the capital of the kingdom of Vidisha, ruled by Janaka. He was also performing a yajna at that time.
He had in his possession a great bow; bending and tying its string was a challenging task. However, Vishwamitra was confident that Rama would succeed in this task. King Janaka extended a warm welcome to the party.
Vishwamitra asked Janaka to show the bow to the princes he had brought with him. The royal attendant brought the bow, and Janaka said: “I have vowed that I will marry my daughter Sitadevi to anyone who will bend it.” Rama went and, lifting the bow bent it easily. There was no need to tie the string because as he bent it, the bow broke into two!
Janaka, who was content to see the bow bent, was overjoyed when it was broken. The King had two daughters, Sitadevi and Urmila. It was decided to give them in marriage to Rama and Lakshmana respectively.
Dasharatha was sent for and on his arrival, preparations for the weddings began. Meanwhile, Vishwamitra requested Janaka:
“I suggest you marry off Mandavi and Shrutakeerti, daughters of your brother, to Bharata and Shatrughna. Let their marriages also take place at the same time.”
Janaka gladly agreed and the marriages of all the four princes took place simultaneously.
Dasharatha returned to his capital Ayodhya accompanied by his sons and daughters-in-law.
The newlywed couples happily began their wedded lives and were spending pleasant days.
Meanwhile, King Ashwapati of Kekaya, who was Bharata’s grandfather, desired to see him and sent his son Yudhajit to Ayodhya to fetch him.
Bharata and Shatrughna went with him.
Rama Obliged To Go In Exile to Forest
After some time, Dasharatha felt that his end was near and thought of crowning Rama as the Yuvaraja to succeed him. He also thought of holding the crowning Rama immediately. He consulted his priests and local chieftains and getting their assent, sent for Rama and told him about his intention.
Rama obediently accepted his father’s grace and told Lakshmana: “Enjoy yourself thoroughly as a Yuvaraja.” He returned home and told his mother about the Emperor’s decision.
Kausalyadevi was very pleased and at once proceeded with the auspicious rituals preceding the great event. Seeing this, Manthara, Kaikeyi’s maid, asked a maid of Kausalya what the activity was all about and learned about the crowning of Rama the next day.
Manthara was till then thinking that Kaikeyi was adored most by Dasharatha and so Bharata would be chosen for the august royal office. Now, things had been upset. Heartbroken, she rushed to Kaikeyi and told the queen:
“Your position is in jeopardy. The emperor has decided to bring Rama to the throne and is appointing him as the Yuvaraja tomorrow.”
When Kaikeyi said it was a happy thing, Manthara. replied: “0 my queen, when your interest is in peril, you are behaving as if you have struck great luck! See, if Rama is crowned, what should happen to Bharata?” To this, Kaikeyi replied: “Rama is a nice lad. We need not have any fear.”
Thereupon, Manthara persisted:
“Rama is all right. But what about Kausalya? All along, you have looked upon her with jealousy. Do you think she will now allow you to live in peace and happiness?”
Hearing these words, Kaikeyi felt concerned.
She said: “You are right, Manthara. What shall we do now to see that Bharata is crowned instead of Rama?” Then, Manthara said:
“The Emperor greatly adores you. When he comes to you today, ask for a boon and when he agrees, demand that Rama is exiled to the woods for fourteen years and Bharata is crowned. Whatever he says, doesn’t relent. Rama will then go to the forest and Bharata will become the Yuvaraja, Your wish will be fulfilled.”
Kaikeyi accepted this advice.
“Don’t Leave Me and Go”
As usual, Dasharatha came to Kaikeyi’s palace in the evening. As she had decided before, she asked for a boon and when the emperor readily agreed, she asked that Rama be sent to the forest in exile. No amount of his pleadings with her could change her mind, and finally, it was decided that Rama should be exiled to the forest.
Kaikeyi sent for Rama and in the presence of Dasharatha told him of the decision. Lakshmana was also present there and felt that his aunt’s desire was utterly mean. Does her son Bharata also wish to become the ruler? Who knows?
No wonder if he is nourishing such a desire. But what a fool our father is! Enamored by his junior consort, he agrees to banish such a fine son, Rama, a man of noble qualities, to the woods and anoint Kaikeyi’s son. What sort of a father is he?
Lakshmana was choked with a feeling of anger against his father and the aunt.
Rama, promptly followed by Lakshmana, went to Kausalya to inform her of his going to the forest. The mother did not want him to go. Supporting her, Lakshmana said:
“Devi, I agree with you. There is no reason for Rama to be exiled.
Blinded by his ardent love for his junior queen, the old man has lost his senses and taken a foolish decision. Should Rama go because of that?
None is displeased about Rama. He shall not go.
I oppose it. I am going to thrash the old man! If elders lose their sense of wisdom to judge what is right or wrong, it is not improper for the young to teach them a lesson. Let Rama stay here and be crowned, I will see what anybody could do about it.”
Some hope was kindled in Kausalya and she told Rama: “My dear son, consider what he says.
Don’t think of going. Remain here and become the king.”
But Rama wouldn’t agree and told Lakshmana:
“Brother, our father is elder to all of us. It is our duty to obey his word. Neither the mother nor you or myself can forsake our duty. Consider that fate has ordained that I should go to exile to the forest. Our aunt has loved me just as her own son. Now she wants me to go away to the forest. It is God’s will. Please understand that.”
Lakshmana replied: ‘Fate! Only the weak take shelter in that word. The strong face their situation boldly and achieve their objective. My arms here are not pieces of mere adornment. This bow is not an ornament. This sword is not a stick nor are my arrows. I possess these four weapons to crush our enemies. Crush them I will!”
Rama then told him: “Be assured that I have no intention to leave the path of Dharma for the sake of riches.” Lakshmana couldn’t know what to do and told Kausalya: “Mother if Rama goes to the forest, I too will go with him. If he wants to jump into a fire, I will do so before him. It is my vow.”
Listening to all this talk, Kausalya realized that it was inevitable that Rama should go in exile and told him: “Alright. There is no other way. I give you my blessings. Come, receive the ceremonial blessing and then leave.” She recited sacred hymns invoking God’s blessing for her son and wishing him well. Rama returned to his quarters with Lakshmana.
At the residence, Rama talked to his wife Sita.
She had no objection to his going to the forest,
“But you should not leave me and go. I will also come with you.” When it was decided that the couple would go, Lakshmana said: “If you two are going, I will also come with you. I will attend to your needs and stand guard. Brother, allow me to come.” Rama then said:
“Lakshmana, understand the position here. Father is very old and has become a pawn in the hands of our aunt. If both of us go, our mothers here will suffer a lot. No, you better remain here and look after them.”
“The situation here does not warrant my looking after the mothers. Our elder aunt has her own income. Bharata is frankly afraid of you and he will look after our mothers well. You agreed for my coming with you when you were talking to your mother and now you say so. Don’t you believe me?”
That was only Lakshmana’s understanding.
What he had said was that if Rama went to the forest, he would gladly go with him; if he wants to jump into the fire, he would do so before him. Rama did not object to his brother’s remarks, which meant that he had no objection to Lakshmana accompanying him.
He told Lakshmana: “Go and get ready to leave. Send for Guru Vashishta’s son and others and we will distribute amongst them the jewelry, clothes, and other possessions of all the three of us and we will leave the town and proceed.”
Their possessions were accordingly distributed. Devoid of princely riches and robes, and ornaments, they went to meet Dasharatha. Rama told his father: I am leaving for the forest. Your daughter-in-law insists on coming with me. Like-wise Lakshmana.
I have agreed to their wish. Please bless us.” The three paid their obeisance to their mother and began their journey.
Before leaving, as Lakshmana went to see his mother Sumitradevi to seek her blessings, she told him:
“You probably were born to lead a jungle-life. Go son. Have full faith and respect for Rama. Consider him as Dasharatha and Sita as your mother. Think that the forest is Ayodhya. I wish you well. Go and come back.”
The nobility of Sumitra instilled in Lakshmana a sense of total devotion and duty towards Rama and Sita.
It is this devotion that made him renowned as a brother of matchless qualities.
On their way to the forest, the party reached the outskirts of a town on the banks of river Ganga, where Rama’s friend, boatman Dasharaja Guha lived and spent the night there. Rama slept under a tree shade and Sita too slept on the bare ground.
Seeing this, Lakshmana was overcome with grief. However, he did not go to sleep and kept vigil throughout the night. Guha pleaded with him to get some sleep and he would keep guard. Lakshmana refused to do so and he and Guha spent the night awake talking about Rama.
In the morning, Rama and Lakshmana applied gum to their heads and did the hair into burn as per the custom of those who lead a life of renunciation in the forests. Guha got his boat ready and took them to the other side of the river. The three continued their journey.
Rama and Sita walked in the front and Lakshmana, equipped with his bow and arrows, followed them. Rama was worried whether Lakshmana would lose his nerve and told him: “My dear brother, we now begin to experience life in the forest. You should be fearless and bold.” But that was only an elder brother’s concern.
The younger did not worry at all. He was only feeling sad about the plight of his brother and sister-in-law who had to lead this forest-life now from the princely lives they were leading.
It Is Bharata. Why Is He Coming?
Rama’s party set up a hermitage in the Chitrakoot forest on the banks of the river Mandakini and spent a few months there. One day they saw wild animals running about with fear near their hut. After some time, they heard a big commotion as if a big hunting expedition was on.
Rama suggested to Lakshmana to climb up a tree and see what it was all about. From the treetop, Lakshmana could see an army battalion. In the middle of the ranks was fluttering a ‘Kovidara’ flag – it was Bharata’s flag.
Lakshmana, sighting it, said; “A battalion is coming. It is Bharata’s. His flag is flying. As if not satisfied with usurping the kingdom, he is now probably coming to inflict more harm upon you. You stand aside with the sister-in-law. I will finish that bad fellow. Let his mother, who got him the kingdom through her misbehavior, see that I will kill him.” Rama said,
“Is it Bharata who is coming?
Why do you think about him in this manner?
Probably, my brother must be coming to take me back to the capital after denouncing his mother’s misdeed. Without you, I do not want to be the ruler of even all the three worlds.”
Hearing this, Lakshmana felt somewhat ashamed.
Bharata arrived shortly and as expected, pleaded with Rama to return. Rama was not willing. When he heard that his father had passed away, Rama decided that there was no point in going back. Thereupon, Bharata requested Sri Rama to give him his sandals and with them returned to the capital.
“These sandals will rule our kingdom in your absence. You must return immediately on completion of the 14-year exile. Otherwise, I will burn myself and die.”
Lakshmana must have wondered at Bharata’s conduct, which was quite contrary to what he had imagined. He now felt very happy. Then onwards he never thought anything bad about him. One day, remembering him, Lakshmana said: “Dear brother, Bharata is waiting in the capital pining for your arrival.” His sympathy and affection were evident. Kaikeyi also had come with Bharata to see them and desired that Rama should come back.
Still, Lakshmana was sore about her. “People say that sons take after their mothers instead of their fathers. It may not be wholly true. Bharata did not take after his mother,” he thought. Rama told him: “Speak about Bharata whatever is good. But I do not like your speaking ill of our aunt.” Lakshmana kept quiet. “When I speak thus in support of my elder brother, he supports those opposed to him and chastises me,” thought Lakshmana but he did not feel hurt. Rama’s demeanor had now made him a most obedient servant rather than a brother.
Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana visited various Ashrams, stayed there for one, two or six months and by the tenth year arrived on the fringe of the Janasthana jungle.
At that time, this forest was under the control of ‘Rakshasa’ (demons). Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, was their king. Under his aegis, the local chieftains were very arrogant. Khara, Dooshana, and Trishira were these local rulers. When Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana arrived on the fringe of the forest, Rama decided to build a hermitage there.
Lakshmana built the huts and his work earned praise from Rama.
They stayed there happily for some time.
Nearby was the abode of ‘Gridhraraja’, (Gridhraraja means an eagle as stated in contemporary versions of Valmiki Ramayana. That the bird spoke like a human being and acted as one could only be a fable.
Perhaps, we should interpret the name Gridhraraja as a king whose standard bore the insignia of an eagle. Jatayu told Rama and his companions that he was a friend of Dasharatha and welcomed them affectionately.
“I am Ravan’s Sister”
Some time passed. One day, a young woman came to the Ashram and seeing Rama and Lakshmana, she was struck by their charming personalities. Lakshmana was standing nearby. The young woman approached them and enquire who they were, what they were, etc… Rama told her about them and inquired about her. She said: “I am Ravana’s sister. I stay in this habitation.
I want to marry you. Please accept me.” Rama then said surprised and distressed: “I have my wife. Why should you become my other wife?
My brother has no wife. Go and marry him,” he said jokingly. Alright, she said and asked Lakshmana to marry her. He also said humorously: “My brother is a king and I am his slave. Why should you marry a slave instead of the king?” “Yes, that is also correct. Rama, marry me,” she pleaded again and saying, “Because you have a wife you will not marry me, isn’t it? I will finish her.”
She menacingly rushed towards Sita who felt afraid. Sri Rama asked Lakshmana to stop this evil woman. He properly punished her and she ran away.
(In the present-day text, the punishment has been interpreted as cutting off her ears and nose. It may not be so in the original. The poem which says this woman was Shoorpanakha says she later went to Lanka and met her brother Ravana. At that point, no reference is made to the absence of ears and nose.
Will any brother, on seeing his sister who has come after losing her ears and nose, neither it nor talk about it? Probably, this episode of ears and nose must have been added later. There are many such instances in Ramayana.)
The woman, punished by Lakshmana, rushed to Khara and complained. He, his brothers and others came and attacked Rama but were defeated, and died in the fighting. Hearing this, Ravana decided to wreak revenge and in consultation with Mareecha hatched a plan and both cames to Rama’s Ashram.
Where is Sita?
Mareecha was an expert in disguising. He turned himself into a lovely animal and moved about in front of the Ashram. Sita saw the animal and was attracted by its beauty. She called Rama and Lakshmana to come and see it and as they watched it, Sita asked: “The animal is so beautiful. Please catch it and bring. We will tend it in our Ashram. If you can’t catch it alive, kill it and bring along. Its skin is beautiful and we will stuff it with grass and later take it to our palace at Ayodhya.” “The animal too impressed Rama but Lakshmana said:
“It may be an illusive animal. We better not catch it.”
But Rama and Sita did not agree. Rama said:
“What could any enemies gain by such illusive tactics? If it is any trick, we better kill it. You stay here. I will go and hunt the animal down,” and went in its pursuit.
As the animal went running Rama followed it.
They must have gone quite far. There was then a cry: “Oh, Lakshmana! Oh, Sita!” and the voice resembled Rama’s.
Hearing it, Sita feared that her husband may have got into trouble and asked Lakshmana to rush and join Rama. Lakshmana said: “Can there be any danger to Rama? Will he wail like this? It must be some trick of the Rakshasas. Don’t be worried.”
But his words could not assuage her concern. She was determined to send him to Rama and shouted harshly: ‘what is this, Lakshmana? When your brother is in danger, you remain so unconcerned. Do you wish him to succumb to danger? Alright, stay. If anything happens to Rama, I will not live. You cannot touch me. I won’t touch anybody except Rama even with my foot.”
True, bad words, which should not be uttered.
But fully knowing it is false, she intentionally uttered these words. Lakshmana’s calm broke down. Sita had her way. Should he, who had considered Rama as his father and Sita as his mother, be subjected to such condemnation?
He said angrily: “I can’t remain hereafter hearing such words. As you wish, I will go to find Rama.
May the gods protect you,” and went off in the direction of the cry they had heard.
Ravana, hiding behind the Ashram, was waiting for this moment. As soon as Lakshmana left, a ‘sannyasi’ (monk) appeared in front of the Ashram. Saying he is Ravana, he implored Sita to go with him. When she refused and denounced him, he carried her away by force and began to leave that place in his chariot, which is a kind of vimana flying in the sky like a chariot.
Hearing Sita’s cries, Jatayu, who was nearby, came and tried to stop Ravana. But the latter hit Jatayu hard, threw him down, and went away with Sita. Lakshmana had to walk quite a good distance before sighting Rama. On seeing him, Rama said with concern:
‘Why did you come here leaving Sita alone? It was not an animal but a Rakshasa in disguise. I killed him. When he cried out imitating my voice, I knew you would feel anxious. Still, how could you leave Sita and come over without thinking of the possibility of some harm happening to her?”
Narrating what transpired, Lakshmana said: “However much I persuaded her, sister-in-law wouldn’t listen and when she uttered such words, I was forced to come.” Rama, however, was not happy.
When they returned to the Ashram, Sita was to be found nowhere on the premises. Where did she go? What had happened to her?
Rama was so grief-stricken that he began to wail like a mad man. Lakshmana found it difficult to console him. He was worried as to what should be done.
At the Ashram, the flowers Sita was wearing were strewn here and there. Nearby there were signs of a struggle. A little further away, lay Jatayu. He informed the brothers that Ravana had kidnapped Sita.
Rama and Lakshmana performed the last rites of Jatayu who had just then breathed his last and proceeded southwards. On the way, they learned some facts about Ravana from Kadamba, a woodsman.
“Monkey-king Vali’s brother Sugriva is in exile in the forest. Make friends with him and he will help you,”
he advised them.
Further along, they met Shabari, a ‘sannyasini’ waiting to see Rama. They moved on. Sugriva spotted them and became frightened; he sent his minister Hanuman to know about them. Though the present version of Ramayana describes these beings as monkeys, we should consider them to be human beings like Jatayu. After talking to Hanuman, Rama and Lakshmana went to meet Sugriva and established a friendship with him.
Vali had done Sugriva much injustice. His capital was Kishkindha and Vali had driven him out to exile and was keeping Sugriva’s wives with him.
Hearing Sugriva’s story, Rama promised that he would kill Vali and restore Kishkindha to him.
Sugriva, in turn, assured Rama that he would help them in finding out where Sita was and rescuing her.
When they made friends with Sugriva, Rama and Lakshmana got a clue as to Sita’s situation.
A short time ago, Sugriva and his ministers were sitting on the top of their hill. They sighted a charioteer proceeding with a lady sitting in it.
She had tied her ornaments in a piece of cloth torn from her saree and had thrown the bundle down to fall at the spot where they were sifting.
Could she be Sitadevi? Rama asked his friends to hurry and get the bundle.
‘Yes, they were Sita’s’ Rama recognized them and asked Lakshmana whether he could also recognize them. To this, Lakshmana replied: I can’t recognize the necklace or earrings but can recognize the pair of anklets she used to tie on her feet. I used to see them daily when I went to pay my obeisance to her.”
This shows how pure-hearted Lakshmana was. It does not mean that he had not seen her face or did not remember it. He had no doubt seen her well. Once he had even told Rama that her face had paled due to the hot sun. But, his looking at her was not intended to notice the ornaments she wore.
Rama killed Vali and Sugriva was crowned. By then, the rains started and Sugriva suggested that they would begin the search after the rains stopped. While he stayed at Kishkindha, the brothers camped at a nearby Ashram of a sage.
A month passed and the rains stopped. But Sugriva did not come. Rama and Lakshmana were annoyed. Seeking Rama’s permission, Lakshmana went to Kishkindha and chastised Sugriva. He warned him not to be ungrateful.
Though Sugriva has stayed behind, he had not forgotten his task. Hanuman had reminded him of his task and Sugriva has sent for monkey leaders from various places. When Lakshmana came, Sugriva said he would never be ungrateful and came with him to Rama and later made further preparations.
Monkey leaders from all corners assembled. Sugriva chose some of the ablest among them and sent them to inspect various areas to find out where Sita was. Hanuman and some others returning from their search reported that Ravana in Lanka imprisoned Sita, Sugriva prepared to proceed to Lanka with Rama, Lakshmana, and his army.
Lakshmana – Heroes’ Hero
Lanka was an island. A bridge had to be built across the ocean to reach there. The Bridge was constructed and the army under the leadership of Rama and Lakshmana landed in Lanka.
The monkeys (‘Vanaras’) and the Rakshasas fought a fierce war. Rakshasa leaders died in the battle one after the other. Monkeys gave the enemy a heroic fight. When on occasion they had to retreat in the face of the heavy attack of the Rakshasa, Rama and Lakshmana came forward, carried on the battle and protected their soldiers.
In this, Lakshmana played a matching part to Rama’s.
By then, Hanuman had realized that none could excel Rama and Lakshmana in heroism.
At one stage, Ravana’s son Indrajit tied up the brothers with a magical weapon and they had to struggle very hard to free themselves.
Later, Indrajit decided to wage an illusive battle and as a prelude to it, began to perform a ‘Yajna’ (sacrifice) called ‘Nikumbhila’. Hearing this, Ravana’s brother Vibhishana rushed to Rama and implored: “Please send Lakshmana with me.
Indrajit should not allow completing the ‘Yajna’.
“Rama agreed and Lakshmana went and stopped it. Indrajit confronted them and denouncing Vibhishana, came to fight with Lakshmana. After a serious spell of fighting, Lakshmana finally drew out an arrow, endowed it with the special power by chanting the necessary ‘mantras’ and saying
“Dasharatha’s son is my brother, Rama. He is a man of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Truth’. So, 0 arrow, go forth and kill that Ravana’s son.”
The arrow flew off and killed Indrajit. Rama who invited to sit on his lap welcomed Lakshmana, returning after killing such a powerful enemy, with great affection.
At last Ravana, himself came to battle. Seeing Vibhishana seated beside Lakshmana, Ravana, seething with anger, sent off a deadly ‘shakti’ missile to kill his brother. But Lakshmana intercepted and stopped it. Ravana roared: “So, you prevented a ‘shakti’ weapon intended to hit another person! All right, I am sending another for you?”
So saying, he dashed off a missile called ‘Ashtaghanta’ to hit Lakshmana, who fell unconscious. Rama was shocked thinking his brother might have been killed and lamented.
“Why should I live after losing you? I too will die.” But Sushena, the monkey’s physician, examined Lakshmana and assured Rama: “He has not passed away. The very look on his face indicates he is alive.” Sushena called Hanuman and asked him to bring a herb from Chandradrona mountain. Its contact would revive him, he said.
Hanuman went and brought the herb, which was applied, to Lakshmana who woke and asked whether Ravana had been killed. When Rama said that task had to be accomplished thereafter, Lakshmana pleaded:
“You have vowed to kill him. Do so.”
Rama fought Ravana in a grim battle and killed him.
A Pyre for Sister-in-law
After killing Ravana, Sri Rama, before accepting Sita, made her undergo a severe test. He called her and said: “Who knows how Ravana viewed you?” “I will not live after hearing such words,” she replied and turned to Lakshmana and said: “Prepare a pyre. I will offer myself to Agni.”
Sita had immense confidence in Lakshmana who had served as her attendant for any task. Though she had hurled insulting words at him only to make him go to Rama’s help, she knew well that no one could match this pure-hearted soul. When Hanuman had come to see her, she told him: “Since such a brother is there, Sri Rama has been able to bear the loss of his father.” And now, Lakshmana had to prepare a pyre for her!
Sensing that Rama agreed for this, he raised a pyre. Sita went around the fire three times and then instead of saying she would die, vowed: “ I am truthful and pure. May Agni save me.” Saying so, she entered the fire.
Sitadevi emerged from the fire unscathed.
Rama then said that he made her undergo the ordeal to assure the world of her purity and welcomed her back.
Rama returned to Ayodhya from Lanka and was crowned. After ascending the throne, he called Lakshmana and asked him to become the ‘Yuvaraja. Despite many persuasions, he did not agree. It was then decided to anoint Bharata to the office.
Throughout Sri Rama’s rule, Lakshmana was his devout assistant. Being Rama’s younger brother was for him more valuable than the kingship of even the three worlds. Such was his great devotion. It is for this reason that the world worships them as ideal brothers. As we said in the beginning, when devotees extol Sri Rama, the first person to receive their obeisance is Sitadevi and immediately after her, Lakshmana.