Pressing the right button, in Ramayana

I was astonished to know about how a demoness many thousands of years ago knew what button to press to get her things done.

Many of us know about the story of Soorpanaka, the sister of the Lankan King Ravana.  When she saw Rama in the forests for the first time, she fell in love with him instantly and wanted to be his life partner.  Assuming the form of a very attractive damsel, she approached him and asked him to marry her.  And then Sita appeared in the scene and Rama promptly introduced her to Soorpanaka as his wife and told her about his vow to be an eka-patni viradhan (a lifetime vow to be a partner of only one wife).  Seeing Sita as her rival and an obstruction to her ambitions, Soorpanaka tried to kill Sita but Lakshmanan stepped in and chopped her ears and nose with a sharp knife and she fled from there.

You might wonder why I am narrating this well-known story and the connection between this and the opening sentence.  I request you to bear with me for a few minutes.

The angry Soorpanaka vowed to take revenge on Rama, Lakshmana and Sita.  Towards this, she induced her cousins Kara and Dooshana to war on the grounds that these humans were occupying that forest in defiance of their (Demons’) authority.  She did not tell them that she tried to kill Sita to get to Rama and hence was disfigured because that would not have inflamed them into action.  So she pressed the imaginary button of the trio usurping the demons’ authority.  Then Kara and Dooshana went to war against Rama with their full might and got destroyed within a very short time.

Seeing that her initial ploy backfired, Soorpanaka turned to her illustrious brother Ravana and here too she pressed a button knowing her sibling so well.

When she rushed into his court with her disfigured face, she got his attention but it was when she pressed the button that made all the difference.  When Ravana enquired about her dismembered nose and ears, she gave a totally different version of the event as if she tried to abduct Sita whom she described as the epitome of beauty and fit only to be in Ravana’s palace.  She suddenly became the victim than the aggressor that she really was and she suffered the injuries because she claimed she acted in the best interests of her brother.  She did this because she knew that Ravana’s lust and she hit bull’s-eye with her story.

What happened afterwards has been recounted so many times and does not require a re-mention.

Although she unwittingly played the role that catalyzed the slaying of Ravana, the purpose of Rama avatar, Soorpanaka did it with a finesse and panache that most salesmen would give an arm or leg to acquire!!

It would  not be out-of-place to recall the other person who successfully pressed the right button in Ramayana!! That was Mandira (not the Bedi!!) the hunch-backed maid servant of Queen Kaikeyi who successfully transformed a loving mother into a spiteful step mother by telling her that if Rama becomes the King, then Kausalya will be the Queen Mother and that she (Kaikeyi) will be relegated to the background!!  Look at the shrewd button press and its impact!!

Although all the events mentioned in this post are examples of ‘manipulation’, there are many other instances that are positive in nature.  Will share them in subsequent posts.


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