Indrajit

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Indrajit
Indrajit
Victory Of Meghanada (Painting By Raja Ravi Varma)
Born Meghanada
Lanka
Father Ravana
Mother Mandodari

Indrajit or Meghanada was a prince of Lanka and a conqueror of Indra Loka (heaven). He was mentioned in the Indian epic Ramayana as the son of king Ravana. Indrajit played an active role in the great war between Rama and Ravana. He was said to be invincible in battle because of a Yajna he used to perform before every battle. He was a mighty Atimaharathi. He is considered as the most powerful and the only warrior ever had the three ultimate weapons of Trimurti, i.e. Brahmanda astra, Vaishnava astra, and Pashupatastra. He even twice defeated Rama and Lakshman. Indrajit killed 670 million Vanara's in a single day, nearly exterminated the entire half man-half monkey race.[1][2]

Etymology[edit]

In Sanskrit literal translation the name "Indrajit"(Sanskrit: इन्द्रजित) mentioned as "Conqueror of Indra" and "Mēghanāda"(Sanskrit: मेघनाद) as "Thunderous". In Tamil literal translation the name "Meghanatha"(Tamil: மேகநாத) mentioned as "Lord of Clouds". He defeated Indra, the king of the Devas, after which he came to be known as 'Indrajit'("the conqueror of Indra").

Biography[edit]

Wayang Figure Of Indrajit.

Indrajit was the eldest son of Ravana and his wife Mandodari, the daughter of Mayasura. He was named Meghanada because his birth cry sounded like thunder. When Meghnadh was going to be born, Ravana wished his son to be supreme so that no one in the world could defeat him. Ravana wanted his son to be the ultimate warrior and extremely knowledgeable. Ravana knew a great priest and as per his instructions he commanded all the planets and constellations in such a position that would allow his son to be born the way he wanted. Because of Ravana’s anger and power, all the planets and constellation feared him. All the planets were in the position as desired by Raavan at time of his son Meghnad’s birth. All the planets aligned in such a way that they come in he 11th house of his Meghnad’s horoscope and an ultimate warrior was born.[3]

At a very young age, Meghanada became the possessor of several supreme celestial weapons, including Brahmanda astra, Pashupatastra and Vaishnavastra, under the guidance of Shukra, the guru of the daitya(demons). He was married to Sulochana, the daughter of the King of the Serpents Shesha Naga.

Brahma's Boon[edit]

During the Devasura Sangram(the battle between the devas and the asuras) he defeated Indra, tying him up and mounting him onto his celestial chariot.

At this juncture, Brahma intervened and asked him to free Indra. Meghanada obliged and was granted a chance to ask for a boon from Brahma. Meghanada asked for immortality, but Brahma remarked that absolute immortality is against the law of the nature. Instead, he was then granted another boon: he would never be won over in any battle, until his Yagna(fire-worship) of his native goddess Prathyangira was disturbed and destroyed. On the completion of the Yagna, a supreme celestial chariot would appear, boarding which, Indrajit would become invincible in any battle. But Brahma also cautioned him that whosoever would destroy this yagna would also kill him. It was Brahma who gave him the name Indrajit("the conqueror of Indra").

Battle Against Rama & Lakshmana[edit]

Indrajit joined the battle when all his brothers had been killed by Rama and his army. His father, Ravana, had been humiliated in the battle by Rama and his paternal uncle Kumbhakarna had been killed by Rama. Indrajit fought with Rama's army for three days.

First Day[edit]

Rama & Lakshmana Bound By Indrajit's Nagapasha

On the first day of his battle with Rama's army, Indrajit was swift with his weapons. He swiftly wiped out the Armies of Sugriva, calling on Lord Rama and Lakshmana to come out of their hiding, so he could avenge the deaths of his paternal uncle and his brothers. When Rama and Lakshmana appeared before him, he fought fiercely and arrested both the brothers using his most nefarious weapon Nagapash(a trap made of million snakes). Both the brothers fell on the ground breathless. They were rescued by Garuda on behest of Hanuman. Garuda was the enemy of the serpents and also the flying vehicle of Vishnu, of whom Rama was the seventh avatar.

Second Day[edit]

When Indrajit learned that both the Brothers Rama and Lakshmana were still alive and were rescued by Garuda, he was fiery and vowed to kill at least one of the brothers that day. When the battle started, he used all his force to cast a havoc on the armies of Sugriva. At this Rama and Lakshmana appeared before him and fought a fierce battle with him. Indrajit used his supreme magical powers, darting across the clouds and skies like a bolt of lightening. He combined his skills of sorcery and warfare, repeatedly vanishing and reappearing behind Rama's and Lakshmana's back. Indrajit used Brahmastra against Rama, Lakshmana and the army of Sugriva. On being impaled by the Brahmastra weapon Rama, Lakshmana and the entire army fell unconscious, poised to die precisely at the following sunrise. Their life was saved by Lord Hanuman, who brought the whole mountain of Dronagiri from the Himalayas to Lanka overnight to find the remedy (the magical herb - Sanjivani) for the weapon used by Indrajit and cured them. After Lakshmana was healed and ready for combat he challenged Indrajit once more.

Third day[edit]

Lakshamana Fights Indrajit
Killing Of Indrajit Painting By Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi

When Indrajit came to know that Lakshmana had survived again, he went to his native deity's secret temple to perform the yagna that would make him invincible. Vibhishana, Indrajit's paternal uncle who left Ravana to join Rama in the name of truth and justice, learned of his nephew Indrajit's routine through his spies and alerted Lord Rama. Lakshmana and Vibhisana took the opportunity to face Indrajit in the "Yagnaagaar", where Indrajit would not touch any weapons. Indrajit fought Lakshmana with the utensils of the yagna and even managed to escape from there.

As the Valmiki Ramayana quotes, upon his Yagna being destroyed by the armies of Lakshmana, Indrajit became enraged and stormed out of the Temple Cave. Seeing his uncle Vibhishana at Lakshmana's side multiplied Indrajit's fury manyfold. He vowed to kill his uncle Vibhisana along with Lakshmana once and for all, letting loose the Yama-astra which he had been conserving for punishing Vibhishana's perceived treason. At this juncture, Lakshmana protected Vibhishana, countering the Yama-astra owing to an earlier warning by Kubera. Fierce battle ensued, and unable to injure Lakshmana by normal means, Indrajit resorted to the use of the three Supreme Weapons(Brahmanda astra, Pashupatastra and Vaishnavastra) on Lakshmana. To Indrajit's great shock and dismay, each of the three weapons refused to even touch Lakshmana, with the Vaishnavastra circumambulating Lakshmana before disappearing, as Lakshmana was the avatar of Lord Vishnu. Realization dawned on Indrajit that Lakshmana was no ordinary human as he and his father had perceived. Indrajit vanished briefly from the battlefield, returning to Ravana at the royal palace and reported the developments, proposing that his father make peace with Rama and protect the demon race from further decimation. Ravana, blinded with pride, was unrelenting and annoyed, and even suggested that Indrajit was a coward having fled the battlefield. This accusation provoked Indrajit who briefly lost his temper, striking fear even at the mighty Ravana's heart before apologising and clarifying to his father that his primary duty as a son was to serve his father's best interests and that even in the face of death, he'd never abandon Ravana. Preparing to go back on the battle and knowing that he indeed faced death at the hands of a heavenly incarnation, Indrajit made his last goodbyes to his parents and his wife. He returned to the battlefield and fiercely fought Lakshmana with all his skill at both warfare, and sorcery. Lakshmana was unstoppable because being the avatar of supreme godhead Vishnu and he slew Indrajit by beheading him with the Indrastra. Upon his death his wife Sulochana became Sati on his funeral pyre.

Abilities[edit]

Indrajit is said to be the one of the most skilled warrior, surpassing even Rama, the avatar of Vishnu. Indrajit, with the help of Shukracharya, acquired weapons from Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, including the boon that he would remain immortal as long as he fought from the divine chariot which rose each time he performed sacrifices to Brahma at Nikumbhila.

He was said to be so skilled in archery that he could slay multiple opponents with one arrow shot from his bow. Indrajit was also capable of spreading darkness and ignorance among enemies, which greatly empowered the might of the Rakshasas. He even defeated Indra and all Devas and captured all of them. Indrajit was well versed in using divine weapons and shot serpents in the form of arrows at Rama and Lakshmana. On the second battle at Lanka, Indrajit infused the power of the Brahmashira astra into his chariot, bow and arrows and slew six hundred and seventy million Vanaras in one day, even defeating Rama and Lakshmana. However, they were all resurrected when Hanuman brought mystical herbs of healing powers. Indrajit was capable of producing a false version of Sita and killing her in front of Vanaras, demoralizing them.

Lakshmana had to employ deceit to kill Indrajit. Lakshman started the fight with Indrajit before sunrise, which was considered to be prohibited at that era. Lakshmana with the help of Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana by employing deceit disrupted the sacrifice of Indrajit at early morning. Lakshmana with the help of Vibhishana who betrayed his brother Ravana and his country and fought with Indrajit for three days and three nights and finally killed him.

In Popular Culture[edit]

Meghnad is the central figure of Meghnad Badh Kavya, a Bengali ballad, which describes Meghnad as a caring husband, a devoted son of parents and friend of all people. Meghnad Badh Kavya is the most famous and most acclaimed poem by the poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta. It is based on the demise of Meghnad (Indrajit), son of Ravana, the villain of the classic Sanskrit epic Ramayana.

It was first published in 1861, incidentally the year of birth of the Bengali author, Rabindranath Tagore, who afterwards wrote a review on it. The ballad is divided into 9 different sargas, i.e. parts.[4] Each part exhibits different incidents. Starting from the death of Beerbahu, son of Ravana, it is continued till the sati-daha (the ancient Indian custom of burning the widows alive with the dead husband) of Prameela, Meghnad's beloved wife.

Ravana, along with his sons, were the ones performing evil deeds in the Ramayana, which was originally written in Sanskrit by the sage Valmiki. But Dutta claims to have found a tragic hero in Ramayana, as he was conversant Western literature. He feels a shadow of Hector of Troy in Meghnad and Karna in Mahabharata. According to him, he realized why Ravana had perpetrated such crimes and Meghnad was slayed by Lakshmana brutally. He says that Meghnad was worshiping Lord Shiva in the royal temple of Lanka, while Lakshmana attacked him with some help from Vibhishana who is eventually an uncle of Meghnad. Meghnad asked not to fight with an unarmed person, rebuking Lakshmana as a coward; but Lakshmana did not heed him. This unfortunate hero twice endangered Rama but could not survive himself in this unfair battle. This is the central theme of this epic. Here Meghnad is shown to be a patriot, a loving husband, a caring son and a friend to his countrymen.

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