Why did Valmiki portray Ravana so badly
1. Surpanakha, (means "sharp, long nails") or Shurpanakha is one of the most important characters in the Ramayana. Valmiki explains: "If there had been no Kaikeyi and no Surpanakha, there would be no Ramayana and no war with Ravana. So Surpanakha was the cause that set the chain of events in motion and ended with the death of Ravana. Surpanakha and Kaikeyi thus become fondly portrayed by the Hindus as 'the evil behind it' and as the sole cause of the Ramayana.
2. surpanakha, (Sanskrit शूर्पणखा śūrpaṇakhā), f. Name of a Rakshasi. surpanakha is an alternate spelling for Shurpanakha.
You can find more information about the Sanskrit word surpanakha under the main keyword Shurpanakha
Surpanakha was the youngest child of the RishisVishrava and his second wife Kaikesi. When she was born, she was given the name Minakshi (the fish-eyed one). She was beautiful like her mother Kaikesi and her grandmother Tataka. Surpanakha was married to the demon Dushtabuddhi. Surpanakha's husband got along well with her brother Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, and so they were privileged members of the court. But disagreement soon arose as Dushtabuddhi began to gain more power. Ravana killed Dushtabuddhi, which aroused his sister's displeasure.
Surpanakha meets Rama and starts war with Ravana
The widow Surpanakha spent her time between Lanka and the forests of southern India, where she visited her relatives living in the forest. During one of these visits she met Rama, who was exiled in the woods, and was charmed by his appearance. Rama, however, did not respond to her and explained to her that there was only his wife Sita for him and that he would never get involved with another woman. Then Surpanakha approached Lakshmana. He also rejected her, explaining that she did not have what he was looking for in a woman. Surpanakha felt disrespected and spoke disparagingly about Sita, whereupon Lakshmana cut off her nose and sent her to Lanka.
Surpanakha's first reaction was that she went to her brother Khara, who sent seven armies of demons to Rama, they were defeated. Then Khara attacked personally with 14,000 soldiers, but all but one, Akampana, were also killed. Akampana fled to Lanka. So Surpanakha went to Ravana. She told him of Sita's virtues and beauty and described her as a worthy wife for him to kidnap and marry her. Although Vibhishana advised Ravana not to do so, Ravana abducted Sita. This event ended in the war described in the Ramayana.
There are versions of the Ramayana that state that Surpanakha had no real interest in the brothers and only staged everything to get revenge on Ravana for the death of her husband. After years of intrigue, she discovered that Rama Ravana was the same. He killed her grandmother Tataka and her uncle Subahu and terrified their cousins.
Surpanakha decided to play her brother off against Rama, as she was sure that no one but Rama could kill Ravana. So she staged the scene with the kidnapping only to conjure up and ensure the death of her brother.
Surpanakha is not mentioned anywhere else in the Ramayana, and Valmiki does not write anything about her further fate. It is believed that she lived at the court of her brother Vibhishana when he succeeded Ravana as King of Lanka. She and her half-sister Kumbini perished in the sea.
Descriptions of Surpanakha
Valmiki describes Surpanakha as ugly (GoraMukhi) with a potbelly, cross-eyed, thin brown hair, hard, unpleasant voice, breasts that are too big, wicked.
The Tamil poet Kamban describes Surpanakha very differently from Valmiki. She was a beautiful woman, with long hair and beautiful fish eyes (hence the name Minakshi). She had a beautiful figure and an enchanting charisma. She possessed magical powers and could take any shape. In Kamban's version of the Ramayana, she uses these powers for good when she first met and courted Rama. Rama, however, recognized the real Surpanakha and decided to play the game with her before turning her down. In any case, Surpanakha was in the middle of her life when she met Rama, but appeared in an old and emaciated form.
Excerpt from the translation of the Ramayana by Swami Sivananda, Divine Life Society, 1996.
One day a rakshasi came to the clearing where Rama lived. She said to Rama: "You do not comb your hair and look like ascetics. Why did you come here with a bow and arrow and disguised as a hermit? Rama said:" I am Dasaratha's son. My name is rama. This is Lakshmana, my younger brother, and this is my wife, Janaki. Now tell me who you are. "The Rakshasi replied:" I am Surpanaka, the sister of Ravana, the king of Lanka. I have two other brothers, Khara and Dushana. I fell in love with you, become my husband. "
Rama said jokingly: "O, dear lady, I am married and it would not be acceptable for a noble lady like you to have a co-wife. But there is my younger brother, the heroic Lakshmana. His wife is not with him He would marry you because of your beauty, he is worthy of you in every way.
Surpanaka said to Lakshmana, "Become my husband and live happily." Lakshmana said jokingly to her: "I myself am only a servant. What would you gain by marrying me? You would live like a servant yourself. My red beauty! I would rather be Rama's second wife. He will be this hump-backed, cast out old witch and love you alone, oh, you paragon of beauty, could any man of sense refuse such a graceful lady? "
Surpanaka did not understand that Lakshmana was joking with her. She turned to Rama again and said: "You show no affection for me by rejecting this dissolute, hunchbacked, old witch. I will eat Sita and get rid of such a concubine." With these words she rushed towards Janaki. Rama said to Lakshmana, "One shouldn't joke with a hulking woman. Punish her on the spot by disfiguring her." Lakshmana then cut off her nose and ears, and her face was covered with blood. She fled to her brother Khara, in Janastan.
Khara asked Surpanaka: "Tell me, dear sister, who destroyed your beauty, who did this to you?" Surpanaka replied, "The two sons of Dasharatha who live in the Dandaka forest, their names are Rama and Lakshmana. I want to drink the warm blood of Rama's wife Sita and that of the two brothers."
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