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Published by: api-3707694 on Oct 15, 2008
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AS soon as the day dawned,
Vibhishana went to the king. He had
thought deeply over the matter and had
come to a decision. His brother's welfare
demanded that he should seek somehow
to convert and save him.
Vibhishana entered the royal palace
and stood with folded hands before the
king. Ravana sent away all but the
principal Ministers and asked his brother
to speak.

"My brother and my lord," began
Vibhishana, "forgive me if what I say is
not pleasing to your ears. My desire is not
to flatter but to save you from a great
danger while there is yet time. I beg of
you to listen to me, consider well what I
say and then decide on your course of

"Ever since you brought Sita to Lanka
we see only evil omens. Even when the
libation is poured with the correct mantra,
the flame does not spring to receive it.
One finds snakes in places of worship.
Ants infest food offerings. The udders of
cows are dry and yield no milk. Elephants,
horses, camels and monkeys fall sick,
reject food and behave strangely.
Medicines have lost their efficacy. Crows
perch in numbers on the housetops
making hideous noises. Vultures circling
overhead fill the augurs with anxiety.
Foxes boldly enter the city and howl at
unusual hours. Wild beasts haunt the
streets. These portents should not be
disregarded. I beg of you, restore Sita to
her husband. It is only since her coming
here that these omens are noticed as you
can verify by asking others. Why should
we, who have so much to lose, needlessly
incur any one's enmity? Let us restore Sita
to her people and live happily." Thus did
Vibhishana plead earnestly with his

"Never, never!" exclaimed Ravana.
"Let there be no talk here of Sita being
returned to her people. I do not think
much of this enemy. I see nothing to be
afraid of. Now, you may go."
Though he spoke thus and was
obstinate, Ravana had no peace of mind.
Sita had not yielded to him and his own
near kinsmen disapproved of his conduct.
He was agitated, but putting on an air of
confidence and unconcern he summoned
the Council again. Lust and injured
vanity kept him from the straight path, but
he found some consolation in taking
counsel from others.
From the palace to the Hall of Council
he drove through the street in a golden
chariot drawn by noble steeds. Warriors,
holding swords and shields and wearing
brilliant uniforms, marched in front,
behind and on the sides. Others mounted

on elephants and horses and armed with
axes, spears and other terrible weapons,
followed the chariot. Trumpets were
blown and drums beaten.
As the Lord of Lanka, accompanied by
his retinue, passed majestically through
the royal street, his people bent low their
heads and folded their hands and invoked
victory for him. As he entered the hall,
drums and trumpets sounded loudly and
filled the eight quarters.
Ravana took his seat on an agate throne
in the great hall constructed by Maya
which shone in all the splendor of gold
and silver and precious carpets.
Hundreds of demons stood sentry
without. Obedient to the call of the King,
thousands of Rakshasa warriors had
assembled in the chamber. Long rows of
vehicles stood in the streets. Within the
chamber each was assigned a seat
appropriate to his rank.
Priests and chanters of the Vedas came
in hundreds and after receiving tokens of
respect from the king were seated in the

Vibhishana, Suka, Prahasta and others
bowed before the king and sat in their
respective places. Devoted officers
thronged the hall, all brave and efficient
and waiting to fulfil the commands of
their king.

The air was heavy with rich perfume.
The assembly equalled Indra's in splendor
and everyone felt that momentous
decisions were to be taken. Ravana broke
the hushed expectant silence of the great
assembly in a voice deep and resonant as

He said: "You are strong, brave and
skilled in the arts of peace and war. You
can find a way out of every difficulty.
Never so far has your advice miscarried.
And so, once again, I seek your counsel.
You know well what I have done. I have
brought here Sita who was living in the

Dandaka forest. My desire for her so
entirely possesses me that sending her
back is to me unthinkable. She has not so
far submitted to my wishes and entertains
a foolish hope that Rama will come here
and redeem her. I have told her that it is
an impossible wish and a vain hope.
Finally, she asked for a year's time and I
gave it to her. I now seek your counsel.
My desire is unfulfilled. I can never agree
to sending Sita back and begging
forgiveness from Rama. Till now neither
you, my great warriors, nor I have known
defeat in battle. True, a big monkey
somehow contrived to cross the sea and
wrought some mischief here. But hard
indeed will it be for Rama and the Vanara
army to cross the sea and come here. And
even if they did come, what need we fear?
What chance have they against us? On the
other side of the sea, Rama, Lakshmana,
Sugriva and the Vanaras are encamped.
Think how we can slay Rama and
Lakshmana. I should have summoned the
Council earlier. But Kumbhakarna was in
his period of sleep and I waited till he
woke up."

Thus spoke Ravana, blinded by lust,
hiding his real anxiety and mixing a little
falsehood with truth. For Sita had not
asked for a year's time. She had absolutely
rejected his advances, but he asked her to
reconsider and gave her a year's time.

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