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Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:49 pm

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When Hanuman returned home he was given a hero's welcome. Ram embraced him like a brother for he had breached the formidable walls of Lanka and found Sita. But Ram was dejected because he was at a loss for a plan to attack Lanka. How would they cross the sea? Sugreeva reassured him saying that he and all the monkey folk were at Ram's disposal. Together they would find a solution to the problem and rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravan. They pumped Hanuman for information about the size of Ravan's army, the strength and structure of the fortress, the arrangements for defence, and the positioning of the sentries. The one thing they all agreed on was the fact that time was of the essence.

Finally, they devised a plan. They would build a bridge that would extend to the shores of Lanka. Monkeys of all sizes, shapes and hues scrambled to collect branches, stones and even large boulders and dragged them to the shore and piled them one on top of the other in the sea. For once, these mischievous creatures forgot their pranks and concentrated on the task in hand. The work was back-breaking, but in five days the task was complete. Ram, Laxman, and Sugreeva proceeded at the head of the monkey army, across the bridge to Lanka.

Lanka's alert sentries soon spotted the invaders. When the news reached Ravan's court, the assembled courtiers gave out a bloodthirsty roar exhorting Ravan to attack Ram and his followers and crush them. The only voice of dissent was that of Vibhishan, Ravan's brother. He tried to explain to Ravan that he had committed a sin by abducting another man's wife. Vibhishan told Ravan that he could still avert a disaster by returning Sita to her rightful husband. He begged Ravan not to put the whole of Lanka in danger merely to satisfy his lust for Sita.

But Ravan would not listen to reason. Blinded by lust, he was convinced that Ram was the only obstacle that prevented Sita from accepting him as her husband. He was certain that once Ram was out of the way, Sita would fall into his arms. He was infuriated at what he thought was his brother's betrayal. He told Vibhishan that if he was so concerned about the enemy, it would be better if he joined Ram's army. Knowing that he was on the side of the right, Vibhishan did join Ram's army.

Now, the demons that made up Ravan's army were great, fearless warriors. They were confident of winning this battle because after all they were fighting mere monkeys. Drumbeats and the blowing if conches and trumpets signalled the beginning of the battle. The two armies charged at each other. The monkeys hurled trees and stones at then enemy and fought with their teeth and claws. The battlefield was a blood bath, but still the monkey folk kept on despite the loss of many lives. Ravan's army was shocked at their inability to fight off this puny army. Ravan could not believe his eyes as he watched his soldiers fall one by one on the battlefront. He realized that he would have to summon reinforcements.

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