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Were there any characters like Ahiravan and Mahiravan in Ramayana? What did they do in Lord Rama's battle against Ravana?

I heard they captured Lord Rama and Laxmana. Can someone explain this incident?

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  • Mahiravana was Ravana's discarded son. Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 12:25

3 Answers 3

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Airavana and Mairavan were friends of Ravana. These rule the netherworld. Ravana sends for his messengers to get their help in defeating Rama and Lakshmana in the battle.

In the battle, Lord Rama defeats Ravana, destroys his chariot, crown. He gives Ravana a second chance. After thinking Ravana sends for the help of these two rakshasas who were experts in occult. They worship Kamakshi devi in Patala. They have shape shifting powers. After taking orders from Ravana, they go to Vanara's camp in search of the Ikshvaku brothers Rama and Lakshmana resting on a rock. The rakshasas kidnap them tied to those rocks. The rakshasas take Rama and Lakshmana into a cave in the Patala.

Hanuman finds that Rama and Lakshmana were missing in the camp and goes searching them. He hears two pigeons talking that they found two Rakshasas taking up two strong men into netherworld. Hanuman goes to patala and searches there. There he finds a vanara who is none other than Makaradhwaja, son of Hanuman. A conversation takes place between them which I gave in an answer of mine. He blesses him and goes out searching for the Ikshvaku princes. He finds a large goddess's idol in a temple near the cave. He then enters the temple in an atomic size and talks in the voice of goddess addressing Airavan and Mairavan who have been worshipping her for a long time. Hanuman asks them to bring delicious food items for her (the goddess) and also good clothes and weapons for Lord Rama and Lakshmana. He orders them to bring them alive and not dead. They feel happy that the goddess is happy with their worship and does the same.

After sometime, Rama and Lakshmana wake up. They take up the weapons and fight the rakshasas. Rama kills them both but they revive again. It happens again but they are not dead. Hanuman thinks that there is some death secret involved in killing these rakshasa duo. He wanders here and there in search of a way to kill them. Then he finds a woman sitting alone in a garden. She is wife of Airavan (bhoga patni). He asks details of her and she replies she is a Naga kanya who was enjoyed forcibly by Airavan. She says they both ill treated her and given grief. She agrees to give out the secret of Airavana and Mairavana's death on one condition. The condition is when she becomes Lord Rama's wife. Hanuman agrees and goes back to the place where Rama and Lakshmana were fighting. Long time ago, Airavana and Mairavana saved a huge colony of honey bees from children. As a gratitude, they were protecting Airavan and Mairavan. They collect valuable elixir (amrit) and purify the blood of the duo. Hence, they can't be killed when the colonies of honey bees are alive. She says there are crores of bees in the palace of Airavan and Mairavan. After hearing this, Hanuman goes to their palace immediately and kills them except a single bee which sought refugee of Hanuman. Hanuman sends this bee to Nagakanya's gynaeceum and eat out the legs of bed she is resting and stay silent. The rest of the work of killing Rakshasas was done by Rama. He kills both the Rakshasas. Here ends the story of Airavana and Mairavana.

Now, Hanuman requests Rama and Lakshmana to visit Naga kanya's palace as she has helped them killing two rakshasas. Rama agrees to that request. They saw different artifacts, pictures present in the palace. She asks Rama to sit as a mark of receiving guests. When Lord Rama sits on the bed smiling at her, the bed which was already majorly damaged by bee fell down due to his weight. This was counted as Naga Kanya being wife of Rama without Rama not actually marrying or doing anything. She was satisfied with it. She then gets ready to jump into fire. Lord Rama gives a boon to her that she will be reborn as a Brahmin lady in the Dwapara Yuga and he will marry her. She was born as Kanyakumari whom Lord Krishna marries.

Reference: Ananda Ramayana Sara Kanda, Sarga 11. Ananda Ramayana Hindi Translation by Ramtej Pandey is available on archive.org.

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After Indrajit’s death, Ravana summons his other son Mahiravana, who is the ruler of Patala-loka. He is an expert in mystic sciences. Vibhashana finds out about this and informs God Rama about Mahiravana. God Hanuman pledges to stand guard outside the place where the 2 brothers are resting.

Mahiravana changes his form to look like Vibhashana and manages to enter inside. He puts God Rama and Lakshmana to sleep and kidnaps them to Patala-loka, through present-day Horton’s Plains in Sri Lanka. Since Mahiravana is an ardent worshipper of Goddess Kali, he starts making preparations to offer the 2 brothers as a sacrifice to please Her.

God Hanuman approaches Patala-loka and is stopped by Makaradhwaja, who tells him that he is His son. God Hanuman is surprised, as He is a brahmachari (a celibate bachelor). After knowing the story of Makaradhwaja, He asks him to let Him inside. Makaradhwaja says it is his Dharma (righteous duty) to protect the gates of Patala-loka. He cannot fail in performing his duty even if it means fighting his father. There is a fierce fight and Makaradhwaja is defeated.

God Hanuman then transforms Himself into a bee and enters Patala-loka. He approaches Goddess Kali and asks Her for help. Even though Mahiravana is an ardent devotee, he is clearly on the wrong path. The goddess explains a plan to God Hanuman, which He whispers to God Rama and Lakshmana.

Mahiravana summons the 2 brothers, asking God Rama to put His head on the sacrificial altar. God Rama says He has never bowed before anyone in His life and asks Mahiravana to demonstrate how. When the foolish Mahiravana bends his head on the altar, God Hanuman transforms from a bee into His real self but with 5 faces. He simultaneously blows out the 5 lamps in the room, grabs Mahiravana’s sword and beheads him. Thus, devotees worship God Hanuman as a pancha-mukhi (a 5-faced) deity.

God Hanuman then also kills Mahiravana’s son Ahiravana.

[Source: Krittivasa Ramayana 6.446-496; 'Essence of the Fifth Veda' by Gaurang Damani pages 49-50].

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Were there any characters like Ahirāvaṇa and Mahīrāvaṇa in Rāmāyaṇa?

YES.

Mahīrāvaṇa is referenced in Śiva Purāṇa (3.7.20.34) itself:-

Chapter 20 - The Incarnation of Hanūmat and his story, Section 3 - Śatarudra-saṃhitā

महीरावणसंज्ञं स हत्वा रामं सलक्ष्मणम् ।
तत्स्थानादानयामास स्वस्थानम्परिपाल्य च ॥ ३४ ॥

mahīrāvaṇasaṃjñaṃ sa hatvā rāmaṃ salakṣmaṇam |
tatsthānādānayāmāsa svasthānamparipālya ca || 34 ||

  1. He (Hanumāna) slew the demon Mahīrāvaṇa and brought Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa from his place to their own after guarding them well.



Story of Ahirāvaṇa & Mahīrāvaṇa from the Bhāvārtha Rāmāyaṇa:

Besides finding mention in Ānanda Rāmāyaṇa and Kṛttivāsī Rāmāyaṇa, as discussed in other answers on this thread, both Ahirāvaṇa and Mahīrāvaṇa also find mention in the 'śrī Bhāvārtha Rāmāyaṇa' of Eknath, which is in Marāṭhī language.

Ahirāvaṇa and Mahīrāvaṇa are real blood-brothers in this story.

Their story is found in Chapter 51 to Chapter 54, Yuddha Kānḍa of Bhāvārtha Rāmāyaṇa.

I'm briefly summarizing the story, from this Hindi translation:

Chapter 51: Rāvaṇa sends help-cry for Ahirāvaṇa and Mahīrāvaṇa

  • Following Kumbhkarana's demise, Rāvaṇa sends for the two brothers - Ahirāvaṇa and Mahīrāvaṇa, who lives in a city called - Mahikāvati (महिकावति), in Pātāla (पाताल) - requesting them to arrange a kidnap-murder of Śrī Rāma & Lakṣmaṇa.

  • After hearing Rāvaṇa's plight from the messenger, both Ahirāvaṇa and Mahīrāvaṇa, after propitiating goddess Ambikā for good-luck, deliberate on ways to vanquish the Daśarath’s sons (Rāma & Lakṣmaṇa).

Chapter 52: Hanumāna meets his son, Makardhvaja

  • Both the demon brothers reach the war arena at Lankā, to capture Rāma & Lakṣmaṇa, but find no luck on account of Hanumān’s impenetrable security-patrol using his tail. Thus, they further propitiate goddess Kāmākṣī to gain an advantage. Thus, Hanumāna retracts his patrol, and at midnight the demon brother kidnaps the Daśarath nandanas, and takes them to pātāla-loka.

  • Hanumāna somehow realizes Rāma & Lakṣmaṇa are missing, and thus through a spur of ‘divine-inspiration’, he propitiates goddess Ādi-Śakti and realizes the whereabouts of his Lord.

  • Hanumāna reaches the demon city under the disguise of a sage and meets (and fights with) his son - Makardhvaja. When realization dawns upon both father and son of each other’s real identity, they call off the fight.

Chapter 53: Mahīrāvaṇa’s death

  • Hanumāna sings the glory of his Lord to his son, and when he finds his son in the dharma dilemma (to betray his demon overlord at the expense of helping his father?), Hanumāna becomes invisible and leaves to find his Lord. As midnight approaches, he finally finds Śrī Rāma being brought to the sacrificial-altar to be sacrificed by rākṣasas under the guidance of Mahīrāvaṇa.

  • At the penultimate moment of sacrifice, Śrī Rāma remembers Hanumāna, and thus, Hanumāna removes his invisibility illusion and finally kills Mahīrāvaṇa, along with hordes of demons.

Chapter 54: Ahirāvaṇa’s death

  • As Mahīrāvaṇa is killed at the hands of Hanumāna, a big fight ensues and Śrī Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, and Hanumāna obliterate the demonic forces swiftly.

  • Watching his forces deplete, Ahirāvaṇa approaches the arena. Ahirāvaṇa had a boon from god Śiva similar to the demon called - Raktabīja, thus on being hit and wounded by Śrī Rāma’s arrows, as drops of Ahirāvaṇa's blood trickle down, multiple clones of Ahirāvaṇa manifests on the war arena.

  • Finding his Lord in an impasse to kill the demon-lord, Hanumāna reaches for Ahirāvaṇa’s wife (who became enamored of Śrī Rāma) for help, and on being assured a marriage proposal from Hanumāna to marry Rāma, she agrees to divulge Ahirāvaṇa’s boon secrets.

  • Ahirāvaṇa’s wife - Chandrasenā, explains how her husband propitiated Śiva through an extreme penance by piercing his toe with a lance, and on this account, Śiva, happy with his penance, awarded him a boon similar to demon Raktabīja. And thus, whenever a drop of Ahirāvaṇa’s blood falls on the ground, the bees lingering on the forehead of Śiva transports the amrita drops (from a pot kept in pātāla-loka itself) and impregnates the demons’ fallen blood drops with life, and thus a new Ahirāvaṇa manifests immediately.

  • And hearing this, immediately, Hanumāna rushes for the amrita-pot to demolish it. As Hanumāna obliterates the pot along with the bees, an ākaśa-vāṇī informs Śrī Rāma that now Ahirāvaṇa is vulnerable, and thus, without wasting a single second, Śrī Rāma mounts the 'Agni-Bāṇa (अग्नि बाण) in his arrow and charges it at Ahirāvaṇa with sacred mantras, and thus, the demon dies, as every drop of blood gets evaporated instantly from the ensuing fire.

  • Rāma citing his ‘eka-patnī-vrata’ as the reason to not marry Chandrasenā, promises her marriage, in his next appearance on Earth as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and, Chandrasenā thus, shall be born as Satyabhāmā (daughter of king Satrājit).

  • And finally, Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa leaves for Lankā on the shoulders of Hanumāna.

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