T is for Taranisen from the Ramayana

In the Ramayana, the war is between Ravana the asura (demonised) king and Ram the mortal(deified) king. The war is seen as a war between the forces of good and evil, with Rama standing for all that is good and Ravana for all that is bad. And while Rama is helped by an army of brave monkeys, Ravana looks to be supported by his own kith and kin.

Many in the family of Ravana are against the war. Some are even devotees of Rama, who is seen as the human incarnation of Vishnu. Ravana is advised time and again against the war by his brothers.

Taranisen and his father Vibhisana (the youngest brother of Ravana) are great devotees of Rama. They try and talk reason with their king asking him to stop the war. But when Ravana refuses to listen to them, Taranisen watches quietly as his father crosses over to the other side and joins Rama. Young Taranisen is left by himself, to figure out what he should do.

As the war progresses, a young warrior appears before Rama and challenges him. He looks more like an ascetic, then a warrior and he has Rama’s name inscribed on every inch of his body moreover he keeps chanting the name of Rama.

Rama wonders how to pierce this armour of faith, that the young warrior wears. Vibhisana advises him to knock of his teeth and slice off his tongue, for the young man has not written the name of Rama on his tongue. This is the young warriors weak spot, Vibhisana tells Rama. ‘But he keeps chanting my name with his tongue,’ cries the helpless Rama. There are pauses between the chants, strike his tongue in that pause, advises the God loving Vibhisana. Rama follows the advise of Vibhisana and the warrior falls to the ground, bleeding and looking at Ram with tear filled eyes, till he breathes his last

Ram is quite shaken by the encounter and wonders whether he is one of Ravana’s sons. And Vibhisana, with tears streaming down his eyes, informs Rama, ‘No, lord he is my son.’

This story from Hindu mythology, reminds me of a passage from the Bible which says, “Do not think I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”

We need to listen quietly to our myths, and holy books, they are not talking of any external war. The war really is within.

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3 Responses to T is for Taranisen from the Ramayana

  1. marnigillard says:

    Oh, thank you for this. I didn’t know this part of the tale, and I love that you help us understand it. Many tellers shy from that – and I get the idea of “letting” a tale work on us. But I see your blog series as educating us through this summaries and giving us a flavor both of your culture and also how it is connected to the ideas the “West” is more familiar with. Blessings on you, friend. You are a treasure to our storytelling community. Thanks FB! You help us connect!

  2. modhukori says:

    dear Marni, thank you for your generous comments, this is really how the stories make sense to me, and the connections that make sense to me. It may or may not be the way mainstream India interprets many of these stories 🙂

    As for this particular story, i had not heard of it till a year back too 🙂 As you know there are many versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, in fact it is said that every village has its own stories that do not appear in better known versions. This story appears in Krittivasa’s Ramayan, And i came across the story in Devdutt Patnaik’s book Sita.

    Anyway as you know, for long i had serious difficulties looking past the assumptions about women and other marginalized groups that Dharma operates on, and I am glad that this blogging challenge came along.

    Much love dear friend, you are a treasure ❤

  3. ashok says:

    ohhh thanks to you ..i want to know about who is taranise ..becoz my father name is taranisen

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