This post brings you the story of Surpanakha, the dreadful demoness of Lanka and Ravana’s sister.
Surpanakha played a key role in the epic Ramayana. She is one of the most vital characters in the Valmiki Ramayana.
In fact, Surpanakha was the leading cause of the Ramayana War, which eventually resulted in the killing of Ravana by Lord Rama.
Surpanakha means the “one with sharp fingernails.” She was the daughter of Sage Vishrava and Kaikesi.
Surpanakha married Dushtabuddhi, who was the prince of the Kalkeya Danava clan. He is sometimes referred to as Vidyutjihva. Dushtabuddhi was a prominent member of Ravana’s court.
Surpanakha also had a son from Dushtabuddhi (Vidyutjihva), who was known as Shambhri.
However, Dushtabuddhi was killed by Ravana as he was plotting against him, which led Surpanakha to become a widow.
After the killing of her husband, Surpanakha started to spent time in the forests of South India. Later on, she went to live with her relatives, Khara and Dushana.
According to the Valmiki Ramayana, Surpanakha was an ugly woman. She was potbellied and cross-eyed.
She had thinning and brown hair. She possessed a grating voice, which was harsh on ears; she had oversized breasts. She has been described as an epitome of wickedness.
However, some texts describe Surpanakha as a lovely woman. She possessed a slender shape and long, beautiful fish-shaped eyes.
She has been described as having thick, long hair and a sweet, melodious voice. In addition, she possessed magical powers and could take any shape or form.
As per Valmiki Ramayana, Surpanakha met Lord Rama when she was on a trip to the forest of Panchawati.
The handsome persona of Lord Rama immediately overtook Surpanakha.
She proposed to Lord Rama but was reject by him. Lord Rama told Surpanakha that he had taken a vow of having only one wife and so he would not be able to accept any other woman in his life.
Surpanakha then advanced to his younger brother, Lakshmana, who cruelly rejected him.
Feeling insulted and humiliated, Surpanakha attacked Sita but was blocked by Lakshman.
Eventually, Lakshman cut offer nose and ears.
Crying loudly, Surpanakha went to her brother called Khara. She narrated her plight to him, who sent seven Rakshasa warriors to attack Rama.
However, they were effortlessly defeated. Khara then came to fight Rama and 14000 soldiers, but all were killed by Rama and Lakshman.
Finally, Surpanakha went to Lanka and narrated the entire story to Ravana. She convinced Ravana to abduct and wed Sita.
Vibhishana (Ravana’s brother) warned Ravana that Lord Rama was a divine avatar. However, Ravana ignored her warnings and proceeded to abduct Sita.
As the events unfolded, there was a war between Rama and Ravana. Eventually, Ravana was killed at the hands of Rama.
The Valmiki Ramayana does not talk about Surpanakha after the war. However, according to some legends, Sita and Surpanakha eventually forgave each other and became friends.
Some versions of Ramayana state that Surpanakha had no real romantic inclination towards either Rama or Lakshman.
Surpanakha’s real motive was to take revenge on her husband, who was killed by Ravana. Surpanakha knew well that Ravana would be no match for Rama. So, she plotted and hatched a plan to get him killed at the hands of Rama.
So, we see that Surpanakha was one of the central characters of the Ramayana. In fact, if there would have been no Kaikeyi and no Surpanakha, Ramayana would not have resulted at all.
Surpanakha played the role of a catalyst and led to the destruction of his brother, Ravana. She was the driving force behind the Rama-Ravana war.
However, at this stage, we must pity the plight of Surpanakha, who was not only insulted but had her nose and ears chopped off as well. She was a victim of injustice.
Ramayana personifies Rama and Lakshman as dharma figures and divinity but what they did with Surpanakha makes us think about it again.
This episode shows us that Surpanakha was a strong-willed woman who straight away tells a man that she likes him. It should be looked at as a virtue and should never be made fun of.
Looking from the other side, Surpanakha always wanted to take revenge on her husband’s death at the hands of Ravana.
In fact, Ravana had always dominated her and was against her marriage with Vidyutjihva. It was only because of Mandodari’s (Ravana’s wife) interference that she was allowed by Ravana to marry Vidyutjihva.
Surpanakha was a helpless widow who desperately wanted to take revenge. She knew well that no ordinary mortal could cause harm to Ravana.
Surpanakha was well aware of Rama’s powers. So, she plotted against Ravana, instigating him to abduct Sita, which eventually led to a war between Rama and Ravana in which Ravana was killed at the hands of Rama.
According to the Brahmavaivarta Purana, later on, Surpanakha did immense penance at the holy lake of Pushkara and pleased Lord Brahma. She asked Lord Brahma that she should marry Rama in her next birth.
Lord Brahma granted the boon to her. Surpanakha was born as Kubja in her next birth. She was a hunchbacked woman. Kubja was married to Lord Krishna, who was the next incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
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Surpanakha Real Name
Some Hindu scriptures describe Surpanakha as fish shape eyed woman. In fact, Surpanakha was named “Meenakshi” at birth. She was very beautiful.
Surpanakha was also called Chandranakha at birth as she was born with crescent moon shaped nails.
She earned the name Surpanakha as she would often use her nails to defend herself.
Surpanakha means “sharp nails.”
There is no mention of Surpanakha after the war in the Valmiki Ramayana. However, it is said that Surpanakha continued to live in Lanka after Vibhishana was crowned as the King of Lanka when Ravana was killed by Rama. It is believed that after a few years, Surpanakha and her half-sister Kumbhini perished at sea.
Surpanakha meeting Sita
During the Ramayana War, Lord Rama fatally wounded Ravana. He was finally killed by Rama. After Ravana’s death, Vibhishana has crowned the King of Lanka. Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshman, returned to Ayodhya.
However, the inhabitants of Ayodhya questioned Sita’s purity. Eventually, Rama was forced to abandon her. Sita accepted this decision and left the palace along with her unborn child.
Sita headed for the forest. She took shelter in the Valmiki ashram. Sita was peacefully living her life. However, one-day, Surpanakha arrived at her cottage to meet her.
Surpanakha was all cheered up to see Sita’s plight as she was abandoned by Rama. Surpanakha mocked Sita that she had been rejected by Rama like once Surpanakha was rejected by him.
Surpanakha was happy that Sita would now suffer throughout her life.
However, Sita remained patient.
Instead of saying any words to Surpanakha, Sita smiled and offered her some fresh berries. Sita told Surpanakha that these berries were as sweet as the berries in Mandodari’s garden.
Surpanakha was left perplexed seeing Sita unmoved by her mockery.
Sita had accepted her fate.
Sita told Surpanakha that she should learn to give unconditional love. Surpanakha became furious and demanded justice for her insult.
Sita reminded her that the culprits have already been punished. She said that since the sons of Dasharatha disfigured her, they had known no peace. Sita advised her to forget the past and move on.
She told Surpanakha that cultures come and go. However, nature continues. So, she should learn to enjoy nature. These words of Sita deeply moved Surpanakha.
Well, that’s all we have for you in this post on the story of Surpanakha: Sister of Ravana.
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