Hello! This storybook contains stories about the Hindu gods creating a blueprint for Rama's life and destiny. Read on to find out more!
For thousands of years, the Hindu gods watched over the earth. But even so, it seems that age does not always spark wisdom. Brahma, the god of creation, created yet another disaster. This time, the disaster went by the name: Ravana, the treacherous and invulnerable demon king. If you ask Brahma, he would say that he simply admired Ravana's sacrifices and dedication, and that is why he decided to grant him a simple boon of invulnerability. If you ask any of the other gods, they just wish Brahma would stop granting boons to rakshasas, especially ones that initially ask for immortality. Brahma’s gift began the wrath of Ravana, the demon king who tormented all those who crossed him and dared any god to stop him. Ravana soon began to rampage and terrorize gods, demons, and humans alike, showing no mercy to all. The rakshasa even enslaved Yama (the god of death), Agni (the god of fire), and Vayu (the god of wind)!
After Ravana waged war with the heavens... and won, Indra, the king of the gods, could not allow him to be a threat any longer. For this reason, he called the council of gods together to the heaven of Brahma to discuss how to destroy this demon king once and for all. The council included Indra, Shiva, Shesha-Naga, Lakshmi, Vishnu, and a few others. The gods came barging into Brahma’s palace, infuriated by his horrid decision. They ordered Brahma to destroy Ravana or at the very least, take back his gift. Brahma, in light of the situation, laughed and simply stated that he was the god of creation, not destruction; he cannot take back what has already been created because it was against his nature to even think about destroying the rakshasa. Besides, even Shiva, the god of destruction, didn't want to destroy Ravana since he was Shiva's devotee. Even more angered by Brahma’s nonchalant attitude, the gods bickered amongst themselves to find a way to defeat the demon king who is invulnerable to all the gods.
“BE NOT AFRAID,” a powerful voice in the crowd announced, “FOR I SHALL DELIVER YOU ALL.”
All the gods became quiet and turned toward the voice belonging to the one and only Vishnu the Preserver. Some grateful cheers rang out from the crowd (the loudest being his beloved wife Lakshmi), while a few groans could also be heard. Although he was strong and worthy, no one could love or appreciate Vishnu more than the “Great” Vishnu himself.
“Well…” Indra muttered to himself, “better than nothing…” After all, it's not like this situation hasn't happened before with another demon, Hiranyakashipu, who Brahma also granted a boon of invulnerability to and who Vishnu also defeated. Speaking louder, Indra asked Vishnu how he planned on defeating an invulnerable rakshasa this time, reminiscing the whole Hiranyakashipu occurrence all over again.
Vishnu replied, “Ravana wished for protection against all beings save the apes and men! Therefore, I shall create a new human avatar and seek out his death at my hands.”
As the council of gods muttered in agreement at the ingenious plan, they all began to devise a plan – a blueprint, if you will – of a man named Rama and his destiny to defeat Ravana.
All characters can be found in the Index Page, and names highlighted in blue and underlined is a link to the bio found in the index.
Image from RealHumanHistory.Weebly.com
It was a simple plan, really. Be born as a human being, find Ravana the demon king, and slay him so that everyone can be safe again. Sure, the gods could have left it as simple as that, but did they? Of course not! Deep down, all the gods love creating and watching dramas, particularly ones that involve a hero they can manipulate. For this reason, the council of gods gathered in the heaven of Brahma took their time deciding the fate of Rama. It was all in the little details, really.
“First item of business, who will give birth to Vishnu’s seventh reincarnation?” Indra.
Murmuring spread through the council for many of them had granted boons to humans so that they could have a son. However, only one human seemed fit to raise the great hero who would save them all.
“Well,” Brahma offered, “what about King Dasharatha? He performed a beautiful horse sacrifice, and didn’t we just say we’d give him a boon of four sons?”
Vishnu became excited immediately. “Perfect!” he exclaimed. “A powerful son with a powerful destiny for a powerful king! Allow me to be his first born, and preferably, let me be his chief wife Kaushalya’s son – I’ve always liked her. OH! And can we make my name Rama? It means “pleasing” or "charming," and it sounds cool. Can you imagine? LORD RAMA. It has a ring to it—“
“Okay, Vishnu!” Indra interrupted. “You will be born as Rama, son of Dasharatha and Kaushalya. Ganesha, are you writing this down?”
Ganesha, the appointed scribe of the meeting, nodded while quickly writing notes down.
Vishnu pondered for a moment. “Ooh, one last thing! Can we make my skin blue again for this avatar too? It’s a very fitting color, and I could wield a bow! I’d look like one of those James Cameron blue people—“
“Oh… Sorry. Couple millennia too soon? Haha whoops! Spoiler alert?"
Shaking his head, Indra contemplated whether or not he wanted Dasharatha to have Vishnu as a son after all…
The meeting continued with the gods debating about who should accompany Vishnu into the mortal world and ensure that he would complete their plan. Shesha-Naga, a servant of Vishnu, offered for himself to be born as Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana so he could serve by his side on Earth. Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu, offered for herself to be born as Rama’s love Sita because she claimed their love “is eternal and can surpass earthly and heavenly boundaries.”
And so it was decided. Vishnu would be reincarnated for the seventh time as Rama, firstborn son of King Dasharatha and chief wife Kaushalya. His skin would be the color blue, and he would be the master of the bow. Lakshmi and Shesha-Naga should accompany Vishnu respectively as Sita and Lakshmana. Together, the three godly avatars would be the ultimate trio that would lead to Ravana’s ultimate demise.
Now that the little details were decided, all that’s left to decide in this blueprint were minor characters Rama would encounter and the ultimate ending of how he will kill Ravana. There were so many decisions to make and so many options to choose from. With a single choice, Rama could have been a meager boy from the market! However, the gods have decided he would be a great prince, and later a great king, instead. In order for Rama's story to be a drama-filled adventure, the gods must come together and create a legend of a hero that will be told and sung for many millennia.
I wanted to use this chapter to discuss the little details of who Rama is, who he's born to, and who will join him in his journey. Although they may be minor details, they play an important part in how the rest of the story play out. (For instance, if Rama was not born to King Dasharatha, there would be no exile that would eventually lead to Rama finding Ravana in Lanka and defeating him.) This way, I can elaborate on specific events of Rama's life in the next chapters! I also tried to keep the personalities of the gods (mainly Indra, Brahma, and Vishnu) consistent with the introduction while still developing the story. My idea for this storybook is a type of parody for the Hindu gods and their over-planning humans' lives. In many mythological stories, it seems like they always know the future of heroes' lives and place objects in their paths for them to learn from and use in whatever their destiny calls for. The other aspect of my parody-style is over-exaggerating the personality of the gods. For example, Indra is more of the elderly father-type, Vishnu is the conceited hero-type, and Brahma is the nonchalant hippie-type.
Image from FindMessages.com
Like many stories of great heroes, minor characters play an important role in the development in both the hero and the story. Rama is no different. From gods to sages to demons, all of these characters helped shape Rama into a hero that will be celebrated by many for years to come.
As the council of the gods finished discussing the little details, they realized they did not know how to get Rama from point A to point B. (AKA they didn’t know how and why Rama would complete his destiny in killing Ravana.)
“We can always have Rama exiled!” Brahma offered.
Vishnu gasped.“What?? Exiled? Me? Why?? What would I… I mean, Rama do to deserve exile? I say Rama should be forced to leave valiantly for some occasion.” After all, this was going to be the Vishnu’s first avatar that would be king.
“How about we do both?” Indra mediated. “Rama will be exiled into the forest but under good circumstances where he will be allowed to return.”
Vishnu pondered for a moment.“Well, Kaikeyi never did like being the side wife, and her servant Manthara always creeped me out. Manthara’s cold heart could turn Kaikeyi against Rama, which would make her force Dasharatha into exiling me! And as the good son I am, I will listen to my father with no hesitation even though I KNOW will do nothing wrong.”
Amused by Vishnu’s tendencies to always put himself in the best light possible, Indra agreed to Vishnu’s contribution.
“Now, who or what will Rama come across in his exile?”
Shiva stepped forward. “Send him to Hanuman the monkey god. He is loyal and will play an important role. He is also a friend of the monkey king, Sugriva whose kingdom and wife was taken by his younger brother Vali – his own flesh and blood.”
None of the gods have seen Shiva this passionate about anything, but they didn’t expect anything less considering Hanuman was his reincarnation.
“I agree. Let’s have Rama help Sugriva and Hanuman!” Brahma said happily. “Let’s also send him, Lakshmana, and Sita to my sages as well. It’ll be good to have wisdom and gifts from the sages during this exile.”
The council murmured in agreement, suggesting the trio meet with the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya for support and wisdom, and also Agastya who shall send them off with weapons.
Suddenly, Garuda the king of the birds and messenger between gods and men entered the palace. “Word has it, some holy men foretold the coming of Rama and left Shabari in a time-warped hermitage to wait for him.”
“Hmmm...” said Indra. “Well, we shall send him her way then.”
“What about Ahalya?” Vishnu asked. “Her jealous sage husband Gautama cursed her until she met me, right? I think that poor girl has been punished long enough.” Suddenly, Vishnu had an idea. “Plus, being turned into a hideous rakshasa is an unfortunate feat for such a beautiful being. Right, Indra?” Vishnu said suggestively.
Flustered, Indra agreed to have Ahalya turned back into her human form and quickly tried to move to the next subject before anyone could really have a chance to say anything. “Anyone else have any curses to lift?”
“Viradha.” Replied Kubera the god of wealth. Everyone in the room went silent. This was the first time Kubera spoke up during this conference, and it took everyone off guard.
After a moment, Kubera continued. “I have cursed the celestial being Tumburu to become the demon Viradha, and he shall stay in this new form until Rama kills and buries him. This will complete his punishment, and once it is complete, he will return to his own celestial form.”
No one argued.
“Okay…” Indra broke the silence. “So onto our last notion. Who will be the trigger to cause Rama to search and kill Ravana?”
Vishnu raised his hand excitedly. “We should have a classic hero situation! Ravana could take Sita!” He whispered to Sita, “Don’t worry. He won’t and can’t hurt you because of a curse a while back!”
Continuing his plan to the others, Vishnu said. “So Ravana steals Sita, Rama and Lakshmana go in search for Ravana with the help of Hanuman and others, and boom! Ravana is dead once and for all!”
“This plan is fine, however,” Indra interrupted. “what would lead to these events?”
Vishnu was stumped, so Shiva spoke up. “Simple. Make Rama have some run-ins with Ravana’s family members (so Maricha and Shurpanaka). He’ll get mad, and knowing him, he will try to seek revenge by stealing the beautiful Sita for himself.
Indra nodded at the plan, pleased at the development of the blueprint. “Okay, and so it is done. Now all we have to do is wait.”
The council then began setting the blueprint into motion, giving out boons, placing the pieces into place, and waiting until their hero Rama to fulfill his destiny.
While reading the Ramayana, I was amazed by how many characters Rama came across during his exile. From different gods to demons to sages, Rama seemed to have come across all of them during his fourteen years. Some of these characters actually needed him so it felt like it was pre-destined by the gods, but all of them had an important role in developing the plot of the story and moved it further along. Some started the ball rolling by giving him tools to find Ravana. Others simply waited for him to bless their life with his presents and return to their natural self before a curse was set upon them. No matter what, it seemed like Rama was meant to meet all of them, and all of them had a purpose in his life, regardless of how short-lived their time together was. For this reason, I thought it was important to include an entire chapter discussing who Rama will meet and why. I felt like the PDE Ramayana simply introduced many of the characters without going too in-depth about why they are in the state they are in. Of course, because there were a lot of minor characters in Ramayana, I only chose a few of them that I thought were more significant in the development of Rama's overall blueprint.
Image from: InnerPath.com
Everything had gone according to plan, and the gods could not be any more excited. Rama was finally on his way to the island of Lanka with his younger brother Lakshmana and their army of monkeys and bears. However, before Rama faces his destiny and his ultimate battle against Ravana, he and his army must fight Ravana’s treacherous army of rakshasas. Meanwhile, the gods were watching from the heavens with anticipation for they have been waiting patiently ever since Rama’s birth.
“The time has come, my friends.” Indra announced, “The Great Battle of Lanka is about to commence.”
The council of gods whispered to each other eagerly like grown men about to watch the Super Bowl, or better yet, like teenaged girls about to watch the season finale of Gossip Girl.
Right then, Rama and his army charged for Lanka, fighting off every rakshasa they met – the worst of which may be Indrajit, the son of Ravana. Once Indrajit entered the scene, Indra himself audibly exhaled in disgust. Indra was always a sore loser, and he hated the fact that Indrajit dared to rename himself as such to mean “conquer of Indra.” How obnoxious. Indra thought. I hope he dies.
Down on Earth, the heroes valiantly fought off Indrajit although many were wounded because of Indrajit’s powerful strength. It wasn’t until Lakshmana shot an arrow through Indrajit’s heart that this battle has ended. Upon hearing the news of his son’s death along with the death of his other kinsmen, Ravana was enraged and barged out of his palace to seek his revenge on Lakshmana.
Ravana found the army and unleashed his anger toward Lakshmana, and the two of them commenced in a fearsome battle. Meanwhile, the gods above were dreadfully confused.
“Wait. Wait. Wait. Why is Lakshmana fighting Ravana?” Brahma voiced everyone’s thoughts. “Isn’t it supposed to be Rama’s destiny to fight and kill him?”
The crowd murmured in agreement. After all, they didn’t spend all that time planning Rama’s destiny just to have someone else fulfill it instead!
“No worries.” Indra said calmly, “Everything will go as plan as long as we are patient.”
Grumbling in disappointment, Brahma crossed his arm like a child throwing a tantrum and simply nodded his head as he watched the fight.
As the gods watched the battle between Lakshmana and Ravana, sounds of oohs and ahhs and ouches filled the heavens as both parties fought desperately to defeat one another. In the end, however, Ravana managed to spear Lakshmana in his heart, leaving him to die. Rama came over to his brother in despair, begging the physicians to heal him.
Shiva raised his hand. “So… Should we let him die?”
“What?! No!” Brahma exclaimed. “Lakshmana deserves to live after everything he’s done!”
Indra sighed. “Enough, you two. Lakshmana shall live. His wounds are bad, but they are manageable.”
Right at that moment, the physicians announced to Rama that his brother was weak, but he would live. Rama thanked the heavens (and Brahma silently credited himself for creating this miracle). After making sure his brother was comfortable, Rama went off to seek out Ravana to make him pay for horribly injuring his brother and, worst of all, kidnapping his beloved wife, Sita.
After seeing how the fight between Lakshmana and Ravana went, the gods realized that maybe Rama and his army might need some godly assistance after all.
Indra turned toward his trusted charioteer Matali and said, “Take your car and go down toward Earth to offer Rama your services. The fate of our world and theirs rests on Rama’s shoulders, and I entrust the responsibility to you, dear Matali, to protect him at all cost and ensure he fulfills his destiny to defeat Ravana.”
With a simple nod and a bow to his patron, Matali set off to Earth.
Back on Earth, Rama was face-to-face with Ravana, immediately filling with anger after everything Ravana had done to him and those he loves, and then Rama charged with all his might. This was the fateful and destined battle between Ravana and Rama – the battle all the gods had been waiting for. Arrows were shot. Swords were swung. Blood was shed. However, with one last arrow shot into the rakshasa king’s heart, Ravana fell to the ground – dead. The dreadful demon was invulnerable no more.
The heavens were cheering as all the gods spilled their goblets of wine and hugged one another. The era of Ravana was over. Rama had achieved his destiny.
“Good job, Vishnu,” Indra muttered to himself. “Good job.”
While the gods were celebrating in the heavens, Rama and his army found Sita and made their journey to return home. After fourteen years in exile, the avatar of Vishnu had finally come back to Ayodhya to reclaim his kingdom and his place on the throne. As much as the gods love to plan blueprints and create drama, there are moments where it's nice to finally let a hero have his happily ever after, and that is what Rama had. For the rest of his time on Earth, Rama ruled as a gentle and noble king who took care of his subjects and all living creatures in Ayodhya. He ruled for many years until his time had come, and Vishnu had to return to his place in the heavens... That is, until Brahma - or any other good for that matter - creates another disastrous problem he needs to protect the world from.
I wanted to change it up a bit and make this chapter kind of a live action battle watch in the heavens. In the previous chapters, I made the gods sit down and plan out different aspects of Rama’s live, but since this chapter was about the actual battle, I thought it would be more interesting to have the rest of the story play out unplanned and completely up to the earthly characters themselves. I got this idea because in the PDE Ramayana, it was noted that Indra actually sent down his charioteer Matali to help Rama and his army in battle. This would suggest that the gods had been watching the battle the entire time to see its outcome and saw that Rama and his army were slightly struggling. This also suggests that the gods perhaps didn’t foresee this difficulty, which may be why Indra sent out help.
Another thing I want to mention about this chapter is that because this whole battle scene is actually pretty lengthy and does include fights between other characters, I only wanted to focus on Indrajit and Ravana since they were the main fights and one did lead to another. I also thought that the fights between both of the rakshasas and Lakshmana were incredibly important in that it wasn’t really expected that he would fight (and kill Indrajit) since it was Rama’s destiny to fight Ravana. However, Lakshmana’s fight in the battle did play a key role in Rama’s further determination to kill Ravana once and for all.