Aranya Kanda (Aranya Kandam) narrates the tale of the forest life of Ram, Lakshman and Sita. Aranya Kandam also narrates regarding Sita’s abduction by the demon King Ravana.
Surpanakha in Aranya Kanda : Valmiki Ramayana Story
Ram, Sita and Lakshman visited southward along the banks of river Godavari, at Panchavati they built cottage and lived there. One day Surpanakha te sister of the rakshas-king Ravan of Lanka approached Ram, Sita and Laksman. She immediately fell in love with Rama. Ram declined her advances explaining that he was already married and advised that she should approach Laksman. However, Laksman also declined her advances. Surpanakha felt insulted in being rejected and tried to hurt Sita. Laksman took hold of his sword and chops off Surpanakha’s ear lobes and nose. Feeling humiliated, Surpanakha left the forest and went to her brothers Kher, Dusana and Trisira and narrated her story. She wanted Kher to take revenge of her insult. Kher in order to please his sister sent fourteen rakshas and with their weaponry to kill Ram.
The fourteen rakshas arrived at Ram’s cottage along with Shurpanakha. Ram warned the rakshas but they waged a war with Ram. Ram used one gandharva missile and many other arrows in which Ram destructed all of their weaponry and eliminated all of them. Seeing this defeat Surpanakha rushed back to her brother to report the defeat.
Kher confronted Ram showing all his expertise in warfare. When the demon Kher charged at Ram, Ram killed him with his all-powerful arrow. All three brothers were killed by Ram.
Surpanakha was greatly upset and visited Ravan in Lanka. On hearing the killing of his cousins, Ravan sought the help of his old friend Mericha, a rakshas. Ravan hatched a plot and asked Mericha to disguise himself as a golden deer, so that Ravan would kidnap Sita. Mericha was apprehensive, however, he thought that he would definitely die either way since Ravan would kill him in rage for refusing him. Ravan and Marich immediately left for Ram’s forest abode.
Golden Deer In Aranya Kanda – Ramayana (Story of Sita)
Mericha disguised in the form of a golden deer, captivated Sita’s attention. Entranced by the beauty of the deer, Sita pleaded with Ram to catch it and Ram chased the deer into the forest, leaving Sita under Lakshman’s guard. After a long chase, Ram shot it down with an arrow; but in its death-throes the deer cried out to Sita and Lakshman for help, resembling Ram’s voice. After some time Sita heard Ram calling out to her; afraid for his life she requested Lakshman rush to his aid. Lakshman tried to assure her that Ram was invincible, and that it was best if he continue to follow Ram’s orders to protect her. Sita asked that it was not she but Ram who needed Lakshman’s help. Lakshman went out in search for Ram. Lakshman, however, used his mystical power to draw the Lakshman Rekha, a line around the hermitage, like a firewall that Sita must not cross. If any intruder enters, he would be instantly killed.
Ravan appeared in Brahman sanyasi’s guise requesting Sita’s hospitality. Not aware of the devious plan of her guest, Sita out of compulsion of religious duty, crossed the line to give him alms. Sita was then forcibly carried away by Ravan to Lanka.
Jatayu, the eagle, saw Ravan’s sinful act and tried to fight with him, but Ravan cut off Jatayu’s wings and left him to die. Sita dropped some ornaments at Sugriv and other monkeys present on a mountain top during the course of her abduction.
Ram and Lakshman returned to find the ashram vacant. They anxiously set out to find Sita and found the severely wounded eagle. Jatayu who told Ram and Lakshman about Sita’s abduction and died in Ram’s lap. Ram and Lakshman continued to look for Sita, they came across the hermitage of Shabari. Shabari cleaned the feet of Ram with tears and fed him half eaten wild berries to ensure he got only sweet ones. Shabari directed them towards Sugriv and Hanuman. The brothers then headed towards the Pampasarovar lake.
Valmiki Ramayana is divided in following Kanda’s :
- Bala Kanda
- Ayodhya Kanda
- Aranya Kanda
- Kishkindha Kanda
- Sundara Kanda
- Yuddha Kanda
- Uttara Kanda