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A Halloween Episode from Ramayana

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Kabandha episode is an important one in the Ramayana. Kabandha, a Rakshasa captured Rama and Lakshama while they went to search for Sita in the Dandakaranya forest. This Rakshasa grabbed them with his extremely long arms. The two brothers were desperate for a clue about Sita when they encountered Kabandha. They saw Kabandha to be without legs and with his face in his torso. Kabandha had survived for ages only because of a divine blessing. The blessing allowed his arms to stretch for miles. Rama and Lakshama decided to chop off Kabandha’s arms to free themselves from the monster. Kabandha told the brothers that as a Rakshasa his his body must be buried for him to die. He promised to provide a hint about Sita then! There is a bit of secret about rebirth phenomenon in this story.

Samskara and Speech – Kabandha Episode
Samskara, Speech skill and Memory

How can a Torso of a Rakshasa speak in a human language? We encounter other examples of lower order beings communicating with humans in Puranas. Patanjali covers the topic of the ability of a lower order creature to communicate with humans in his treatise called Patanjali Darshana. Patanjali Darshana discusses the question of a soul migrating from a human to a lower form. A soul carries Samskara from one birth to the next. In addition, Samskara include linguistic impressions if a being is taking a lower order birth. A being’s intelligence may lapse either partly or wholly per the strength of its Samskara from an earlier life. Therefore its mumbling (Dhvanyātmaka) can sound like incoherent human language. Human language is called Varṇātmaka. Such facts about Patanjali’s text can kindle anyone’s interest in rebirth. Certainly, intellectuals in the past like scrutinized the topic of consciousness with a scientific rigor.

Kabandha story is an illustration of this. Kabandha was a Gandharva in his earlier life. He took the body of Rakshasa because of a curse. Kabandha could not communicate his knowledge about the location of Sita because of his constrained intelligence. However, he could know that Rama was in search of his wife. This was because of his latent Gandharva intelligence. Kabandha recovered his original body when Rama and Lakshama buried his Rakshasa body. He then told Rama and Lakshmana to travel south to meet Sugriva and other monkeys.

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