Hanuman had told Rama the joyful news about Sita with such reverence. He expressed his joy at having accomplished a feat that was not only impossible but also incomprehensible to everyone else “The only sea-crossing beings I am aware of are Vayu, Garuda, and Hanuman. Hanuman has now not only been to Lanka, a location beyond the control of both gods and celestials, but has also survived there!” Rama was pleased with Hanuman’s passion, but he was disappointed that he was unable to properly honour the great vanara who had saved the Raghuvansh dynasty from death and devastation and restored it to prosperity and dharma despite having just glimpsed Sita.
He was certain that he would still owe money even if he gave up everything he had ever owned. As he embraced Hanuman in his heavenly hug, Rama exclaimed, “For today, I will give you my all.” The pain raging within him was then reflected in his voice as he asked Sugriva how the vanaras meant to reach the southern coasts of Lanka.
Rama, who was now prepared to cross the sea, told Hanuman that he would accomplish it either by prayer, by building a bridge over it, or by drying up the sea itself. Then he questioned Hanuman of Lanka, its defences, the rakshasas, and their dwellings. Hanuman said that the dreadful city of demons was impenetrable and inviolable, constantly watched over by ferocious guardians with restless eyes. With a wealth of horses, elephants, and chariots lining its streets, it was opulent and safe, encircled by the frigid waters of its fathomless crocodile infested moats. Ravana, in all his splendour, was present in the middle of it all. Even though there was never a battle, he was always prepared for it and treated his troops well since he valued them and knew they would always be loyal to him.
The four-fold protection of water, mountains, forts, and no known routes to get there made Lanka as celestial as the city of the gods. Glowing in its splendour, it had four enormous gates guarded round-the-clock by hundreds of thousands of armed soldiers with unmatched power and expertise. Hanuman claimed to have already burned down the rakshasa refuge, shattered the gates, and ruined the moats. It was now a city whose demise was inevitable, making it more exposed and less threatening. Just Angada, Dwiwidha, Mainda, Nala, and Neela need march onto the enemy, he added; otherwise, the entire army could accomplish it. “They will obliterate Lanka by flying through the air. Rama, order them all to assemble here and instruct them on what to do and when.”
While Rama remained at the water’s edge and sobbed, the vanara troops marched along the coast. “With each passing second, a person’s heartache should lessen, yet mine simply intensifies into an uncontrollable anger. I am saddened by Sita’s waning youth rather than the fact that she is so far away. In order for me to experience Vayu’s presence, may she first touch Sita and then touch me. She who left rejecting the luxuries of royalty and who, by the force of her purity, may kill Ravana, refrains from doing so out of respect for me. My mind and body are tormented and burned by memories of her. Since Sita also resides on this planet, I exist. Though she has me, is it really so bad that she lives alone? When will I get to see her gorgeous face, which like a lotus, and admire her ethereal beauty?” Rama was getting ready for his evening devotion as the sun was setting into the orange haze of the west and thoughts of Sita were obscuring his vision.
The ignorant crowd spoke, not realising the unmatched power of their adversary “Ravana, why even worry when our troops are innumerable and our arsenals are diverse? Did you not defeat Kubera at Mount Kailash and the serpents at Bhogavati to bring down the Pushpaka? The danava king Maya offered his daughter Mandodari to you in marriage out of fear for you and a desire for friendship. You even defeated the Kalakeya rakshasas, who would resurrect each time they were reduced to dust. When you were able to defeat the strongest kshatriyas, who were on par with Indira, how is it possible for you to fail to defeat Rama, who cannot match them in spirit or strength? Do not even try to exert yourself since Indrajit is capable of destroying the vanaras on his own. Do not allow the disaster that monkey, in whose hands Rama is going to perish, unleashed disturb you.
The leader of the rakshasa army, Surasena, who was as large as a black cloud, stated, “a. Ravana Why are you even considering a measly vanara when neither devas, danavas, nor pisachas can oppose you in battle. We were not cautious enough because of our haughtiness that no one would dare attack us, which is why the monkey quickly entered and left Lanka. How else could he have evaded me? On your order, I will remove every single one of them from every grove, forest, and mountain.
Durmukha and Vajradhanshtra both sided with Surasena, saying that Ravana’s humiliation at the hands of Hanuman was unacceptable and that they shouldn’t be troubled by a monkey that had entered and exited Lanka in the dead of night. He warned the rakshasas that it was best to gain the trust of your adversaries “Let innumerable rakshasas assume human shape and pose as Bharata’s agents. Then we will accompany them in sending the vanaras to Yama’s realm.”
That day marked the beginning of Ravana’s downfall when he refused to return Sita and criticised Vibhishana’s advice, notwithstanding Prahastha’s refusal to support it. The miserable rakshasa, who was blind to all peril and aflame with his impious passion for Sita, would soon pay the consequences of his terrible deeds. He hopped on his golden chariot and headed for his council chamber.
The greatest of Ravana’s warriors had flocked to stand before their leader, gorgeously clad in jewels and attire. He told them that the fastest of them should bring the bravest of Lanka to him right away. Vibhishana, Prahastha, and Suka entered that august gathering of the most illustrious and clever people of Lanka as the city quickly resonated with the clamour of the selected as they hurried to reach the palace.
Mahaparsva responded to Ravana to calm him down from the sting of Kumbhakarna’s remarks, “Who can challenge you when you are Eswara himself? Whether with or without Sita’s permission, celebrate. Indrajit and Kumbhakarna can defeat Indra even if he arrives with his vajra.”
Ravana, pleased with Mahaparsva, said: “I’ll let you in on a little secret. I once met the apsara Punjikasthala as she was travelling to Lord Brahma many years ago. She wandered the heavens bright as a raging fire, attempting to flee from me out of fear. I was seduced by her attractiveness, and I forced myself upon her. Eventually, my poor victim arrived at Brahma’s home, limp as a lotus stem and inconsolable. The Lord Creator became enraged, maybe realising the indignation I had caused, and cursed me, saying, “From now on, if you touch a lady against her consent, may your skull break into a thousand pieces!” I haven’t even dared to touch Sita since I’m afraid of the curse. Why does Rama make me angry? What significance does that mortal Rama have when not even Indra can face me?”
Ravana’s brag and Kumbhakarna’s yells were subtly halted by Vibhishana. “Ravana! What made you want Sita so much and why did you ever bring her to Lanka? Before Rama’s arrows kill every rakshasa, give her up. Because you have not yet experienced Rama’s arrows, Mahaparsva, you boast. No heavenly or divine being can shield you from the man who will discover you whether you hide in the ground or the sky.” But the malevolent rakshana, who was still showing off his might, questioned why they should be afraid of a kshatriya and only a child at that! Vibhishana, who has always cared about his brother, was upset. He said, “The most dharmic of all of them is Rama, who was born into the Ikshavaku dynasty. Do you seek hostility with a deity that the whole world worships? Rama is invincible to everyone in Lanka. Ravana is irrational, ferocious, and a slave to all seven vices. You who call yourself his allies but are actually his adversaries play about before him as he sets out on a mission to wipe out the whole rakshasa race! Even if they have to drag him away by his hair, those who have been receiving unending blessings from their ruler should stop him from sinning! Ravana is in grave jeopardy. Rama is prepared to erupt in flames and devour him like a volcano. Defend Ravana! You, your country, and Lanka will prosper as a result of my words. Bring Sita back to Rama, please.”