Aranya Kanda narrates the story of the forest life about Ram, Lakshman and Sita. Aranya Kandam also narrates regarding Sita’s abduction by the demon King Ravana.
Surpanakha in Aranya Kanda : Valmiki Ramayana
Ram, Sita and Lakshman journeyed southward along the banks of river Godavari, at Panchavati they built cottage and lived off. One day Surpanakha. rakshasasny . (The youngest child of Rishi Vishrava and his second wife, Kaikesi, Surpanakha was given the name of “Minakshi”. Surpanakha was married to Asura Dushtabuddhi. Ravan had Dushtabuddhi killed, an act which earned Ravan his sister’s great displeasure. Surpanakha spent her time between Lanka and the forests of Southern India, visiting her Asura, forest-dwelling relatives, from time to time.) the sister of the rakshas-king Ravan of Lanka approached Ram, Sita and Laksman . She immediately took a liking to Ram and fell in love with him and talked to Ram in sweet tones. Ram rejected her advances explaining that he was already married and advising that she should approach Laksman as he was unmarried. However, Laksman also rejected her advances. Surpanakha felt insulted in being rejected and attempted to hurt Sita. Laksman took hold of his sword and lops off Surpanakha’s ear lobes and nose. Feeling humiliated, Surpanakha left the forest and went to her brothers Kher, Dusana and Trisira and narrated her woeful story. She wanted Kher to take revenge of her insult. Kher in order to appease his sister sent fourteen rakshas and with their weaponry to kill Ram.
The fourteen rakshas arrived at Ram’s cottage along with Shuurpanakha. Ram warned the rakshas but they waged a war with Ram. Ram used one gandharva missile and many other arrows in which Ram destructed all their weaponry and eliminated them all. Seeing this defeat Shuurpanakha rushed back to her brother to report the defeat.
Kher confronted Ram showing all his expertise in warfare. When the demon Kher charged at Ram, Ram killed him with his all-powerful arrow. All three brothers were killed by Ram.
Surpanakha was greatly upset and visited Ravan in Lanka. On hearing the killing of his cousins, Ravan sought the help of his old friend Mericha, a rakshas. Ravan hatched a plot and asked Mericha to disguise himself as a golden deer, so that Ravan would kidnap Sita. Mericha was apprehensive, however, he thought that he was going to die either way since Ravan would kill him in rage for refusing him. Ravan and Marich immediately left for Ram’s forest abode.
Golden Deer In Aranya Kandam – Ramayana (Story of Sita)
Mericha, assuming the form of a golden deer, captivated Sita’s attention. Entranced by the beauty of the deer, Sita pleaded with Ram to capture it and Ram chased the deer into the forest, leaving Sita under Lakshman’s guard. After a long chase, Ram shot it down with an arrow; but in its death-throes the deer cried out to Sita and Lakshman for help, mimicking Ram’s voice. After some time Sita heard Ram calling out to her; afraid for his life she requested Lakshman rush to his aid. Lakshman tried to assure her that Ram was invincible, and that it was best if he continue to follow Ram’s orders to protect her. Sita asked that it was not she but Ram who needed Lakshman’s help. Lakshman went out in search for Ram. Lakshman, however, used his mystical power to draw the Lakshman Rekha, a line around the hermitage, like a firewall… that Sita must not cross. If any intruder enters, it would be instantly killed.
Ravan appeared in Brahman sanyasi’s guise requesting Sita’s hospitality. Unaware of the devious plan of her guest, Sita out of compulsion of religious duty, crossed the line to offer him alms. Sita was then forcibly carried away by Ravan to Lanka.
Jatayu, the eagle, saw Ravan’s sinful act and attempted to fight with him, but Ravan cut off Jatayu’s wings and left him for dead.
Sita dropped her some ornaments at Sugriv and other monkeys present on a mountaintop during the course of her abduction.
Ram and Lakshman returned to find the ashram empty. They anxiously set out to find Sita and found the severely wounded eagle. Jatayu who told Ram and Lakshman about Sita’s abduction and died in Ram’s lap Ram and Lakshman continued to look for Sita, they came across the hermitage of Shabari. Shabari washed the feet of Ram with tears and fed him half eaten wild berries to ensure He got only sweet ones. Shabari directed them towards Sugriv and Hanuman. The brothers then headed towards the Pampasarovar lake.
Valmiki Ramayana is divided in following Kanda’s :
• Bala Kanda – Childhood – Birth and training of the Princes and marriage of the Princes
• Ayodhya Kanda – Ayodhya – Preparations for Ram’s coronation as a prince, coronation and his exile into the forest. Raja Dasharath died due to grief.
• Aranya Kanda –Forest – Forest life of Ram, visit to the Rishis, Ram received celestial weapons from Rishi Agastya. Kidnapping of Sita by Ravan.
• Kishkindha Kanda –Kishkindha – Meeting of Hanuman with Ram, Sugriv killed Bali with the help of Ram. Sugriv was crowned as the king of Kishkindha search of Sita.
• Sundara Kanda – Auspiciousness – Hanuman’s journey to Lanka and his meeting with Sita, sets fire to Lanka.
• Yuddha Kanda – War – Battle between Ram and Ravan. Both used Astras charged with Mantra, Sita was rescued from Ravan. Sita’s honour was tested in the fire
• Uttara Kanda –Afterword – Ram’s life after returning to Ayodhya and Sita’s exile, the birth of Luv and Kusha to Sita, their coronation to the throne of Ayodhya,.