It was afternoon and Rama’s army had already landed in Sri Lanka, in enemy’s land.
They were preparing for final showdown while camping on the sea shore.
Ravana had kidnapped Rama’s wife few months back, and we all know Ravana refused to return her despite Rama’s several requests for truce.
Ravana was confident that he can defeat Rama’s army which included warriors like Hanumana, Sugriva and Rama’s own brother Lakshmana.
Even Ravana’s younger brother Vibhishana had joined Rama with few of his followers.
Rama wanted to do a yajna, a ritual in front of a sacred fire. We all do yajna on auspicious occasions, to say thanks to gods, to take blessings.
Rama also wanted to thank Shiva, the supreme God for safely crossing the sea and to take blessings for forthcoming war.
Fire of a yajna is considered to be a messenger to gods.
Whatever offerings are made to gods in yajna, it is assumed that fire will carry those to gods. And we all know that the mantras, the sacred verses need to be chanted, rituals need to be done in right way during yajna and for that we invite learned brahmans.
But there’s a problem, there’s no learned brahmin in Rama’s army.
Except Ravana, there’s no able Brahmin residing in Lanka also who has complete knowledge of yajna .
Even Vibhishna, Ravna’s brother who is by caste a brahmin but he does not know all the nitty gritty of this kind of yajna.
There’s no other option in Lanka except Ravana. Vibhishna and Rama went into a huddle, trying to find a solution.
Ravana as a brahmin in yajna , a yajana meant for Rama’s victory – it was a wild thought!
Two enemies, who had never met before, facing each other – Rama whose wife was taken away Ravana in disguise of a sage and Ravana, who always seethed in anger whenever he saw his sister whose ears and nose were severed by Rama’s brother Lakshmana.
After a long deliberation, Rama’s devotion to Shiva won over his animosity with Ravana. He was ready to face him before the war.
But then they thought about Ravana .
They knew that probability was low-Ravana was an enemy, they had come to Lanka to defeat him, and this yajna was also being done for Rama’s victory.
But they also knew that Ravana was as devoted to Shiva as Rama, and it would be difficult to say no to a yajna dedicated to Shiva – they thought of taking a chance.
They decided to invite Ravana .And Vibhishna agreed to act as a messenger to convince his brother.
Invitation to Ravna
“My lord, Vibhishana is here with some message”
“Hmm, bring him in”, Ravana said.
“My lord , I’ve come with an invitation from Rama”, Vibhishana uttered in a very sheepish voice.
“Carry on ”
“As you are aware Rama has crossed the sea and has entered in Lanka”
“Yeah I know it well”
“Before start of the war, he wants to establish a Shivaling tomorrow and wishes to pray for his win “
“Well, that is a great thought, how I can help him?”
Everyone in the royal hall was getting curious with every passing moment.
It was a strange response to an equally strange request.
“My brother, we have a problem. We are not able to find a better Brahmin than you in Lanka who will know all the rituals”
“So you want me to act as a Priest for this yajna?”
There was a commotion in the hall.
Whether Ravana will help his enemy in performing a yajna that may result in his own defeat.
“Yes my lord, who can be a better Brahmin than you and your devotion for Shiva is also well known”
“No need to flatter me. For Shiva, I can cross all limits and I know my duty as a brahmin.Go and tell your new lord, that I will be there”
As soon as Vibhishna left, there was an uproar in the council.
How the king can be so stupid, helping an adversary in a ceremony that may change his fate for the worst.
What if this was a conspiracy to catch Ravana when he visits the enemy’s camp!
Ravana was calm but adamant :
“I will go alone and will perform the Pooja, come what may. To serve Shiva and to perform my duties as a Brahmin, I’m ready face any danger and why to even think of any danger when you’re doing your duty”, he said.
Something unusual was happening.
Everyone in Rama’s camp was in a kind of rush , in awe– calling those out who were still in their tents .
No-one was ready to believe what they saw. They thought war was over before it began.
People thought Ravana had accepted the defeat.
They could see Ravana in their camp !
Or it was some imposter, disguising Ravana and that too in simple clothes.
Without his crown, without ornaments, without his emperor-dress!
Life was not easy, nor was it happy, but Ravana never expected life to be so easy or forever-happy.
You need to compromise your ego and your sentiments sometimes if you really believe in certain principles.
And Ravana had not come alone.
He had Sita with him as a company!
This was like the time when you feel no-one is breathing, the hour of disbelief, a time when many fears are born and even a ray of hope looks like a mirage .
Everything got transfixed, only the light moved.
For long the two enemies looked at one another, Ravana shuddering slightly, and Ram with a strange smile upon his face!
“Welcome priest, the biggest devotee of Shiva, the mightiest brahmin of this yuga. We all feel honored by your presence.” saying this Rama touched Ravna’s feet.
The expression of wonder on his face was adorable.
Lakshmana stood still, not knowing what to say or do, shaking, taken aback. Hanuman, Sugriva could not believe their eyes.
Everyone was left guessing –who was surrendering to whom!
There was silence – so freaking loud silence!
“My brother, I had only asked for you ! Why mother Sita is with you? ”a bewildered Vibhishna asked.
Ravana just ignored the one who had ditched him in his hour of need-Vibhishna.
To him, he represented nothing more than an illustration of ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness.
“Rama, I hope you know that no yajna is complete without a wife. Let her get ready and till then let me see if something is missing in the preparations “ Ravana addressed Rama.
“I can’t thank you enough, you’re the most learned Brahmin on this planet, no-one can argue with you on dharma and its rituals” Rama could not say more.
Yajna was completed, Sita and Rama touched Ravna’s feet.
“Vijayibhav, victory to you”, said Ravana and started walking back towards his palace.
“Why don’t we catch him and keep mother Sita with us? God Shiva has blessed us with a favorable opportunity” whispered Vibhishna in Rama’s ears.
Rama looked at Vibhishna, always amused at the vulnerabilities of lesser souls.
” Ravana kept his dharma (duty) as a brahmin & I need to keep my dharma of a Kshatriya. My dharma is to fight & if gods are on my side, I will win and Sita would be back with me” and with these words this he said good-bye to Sita.37 claps