The Ramayana’s characters are as well-known as the Hindu epic itself. The story not only discusses Rama and Sita’s love, but it also teaches all of the many emotions that one might experience. Shurpanakha is one of the Ramayana’s most powerful characters, having played a key role in the beginning of Rama’s ultimate battle with Ravana.
Better known as the sister of Ravana,
Surpanakha is depicted in the epic as a slim, bent woman with gorgeous brown eyes, thick, long hair, and a melodic voice. She is Rishi Vishrava’s youngest kid with Kaikesi, his second wife. She was given the name “Minakshi Diksha” at birth, but it was later altered to Shurpanakha, which means “winnowing admirers’ fingernails.”
Meaning – She that demoness with the pleasant-faced one, the pot-bellied one with the broad-eyed one, the coppery-haired one with the neatly dressed one, the ugly featured one with the charming featured one, the brassy voiced one with the gentle-voiced one, the deplorably oldish one with the youngish one, the crooked talker with the pleasant talker, the ill-mannered one with the couth one, the abominable one with.
Surpanakha, like her mother and grandmother, grew into a lovely lady. Vidyutjhiva, the Danava prince of the Kalkeya Danava clan, was secretly married to her. Ravana was enraged at Shurpanakha’s marriage to the Danava prince because Rakshasas and Danavas were sworn enemies. He planned to punish Shurpanakha, but after hearing Mandodari’s plea, he decided to accept his sister’s wishes.
Ravana decided to pay a visit to his newly wedded sister during the conquest of Rasatala (the underworld). When he arrived, he discovered Vidyutjihva’s sinister motive for marrying Shurpanakha, which was to kill Ravana. Vidyutjihva took advantage of Shurpanakha’s absence and assaulted Ravana. Ravana killed his brother-in-law Vidyutjihva in self-defense. Ravana’s sister expressed her displeasure and bitterness as a result of this episode. Shurpanakha is supposed to have cursed her brother because she was enraged. She claimed that she would be the one to put Ravana to death. This came true because it was her urging that caused Ravana to kidnap Sita, resulting in the ultimate war.
The widowed woman subsequently fled Lanka and began dwelling in the woods of Southern India with her Asura relatives, Khara and Dushana, as per Ravana’s instructions. Shambhri, her son, was also born to her and was inadvertently slain by Lakshmana.
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According to Valmiki
Shurpanakha encountered Rama, the prince of Ayodhya (who was at the time in exile with Sita and Lakshmana) in the Panchavati forest and was immediately struck by his attractiveness. Because of her strong feelings for the prince, she made a proposal to Rama, which he respectfully declined. Shurpanakha was angered when Rama proclaimed his devotion to his wife, Sita. She then proposed Lakshmana, but he wasn’t as nice as Rama, and in a fit of rage, he hacked off her nose.
Shurpanakha’s rage grew, and she vowed to exact vengeance on the young brother who had insulted her. She initially went to Khara and told him everything that had happened to her, including how the brothers had humiliated her. Khara planned to assault the princes with fourteen thousand Rakshasas after she pleaded to revenge them. They were all slaughtered, with only one surviving and fleeing to Lanka.
Ravana, Lanka’s ruler, and her elder brother eventually offered her assistance. She expressed her love for Rama while simultaneously encouraging Ravana to kidnap Sita in order to get retribution on her. She went on to say how lovely Sita was and how she deserved to be his queen. Shurpankha was still enraged about Ravana’s murder of her spouse, so she seized this opportunity to exact revenge on her brother through Ram.
After Ravana kidnapped Sita, a fight broke out between Lanka and Rama, as well as the Vaanar Sena. Shurpankha hasn’t been referenced much since this great scene. She is thought to have afterwards apologised to Sita and been pardoned. She later returned to Lanka, where she stayed until Vibhishana ascended to the throne of Lanka. It’s also possible that she, along with her half-sister Kumbini, was discovered dead in the water after a few years.
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The following are some interesting facts about Shurpanakha:
- She is thought to be one of the epic’s most misunderstood characters. Some say she was exceedingly dark and unattractive. While the majority of them believe she, like her mother, is a succubus.
- She had no intention of marrying any of the rulers of Ayodhya. Her objective was to murder Ravana and put an end to the monarchy for a long period.She believed Rama was unstoppable and the only one who could defeat Ravana after learning that he had murdered Thataka and Subahu.
- Shurpanakha didn’t have a lot of Rakshasa instincts. She was thirsty for love and valued feelings unlike a lot of other Rakshasas. Some readers sympathize with her as having a liking to someone was natural and the brothers mocked her feelings in return which wasn’t fair to her.
- In one of the versions of Ramayana, it is believed that Shurpanakha met Sita after Rama had exiled her. Shurpanakha was still bitter to Sita, regardless, she didn’t hurt her. Shurpankakha said that Rama did the exact same thing that Shurpankha had dealt with. However, after some time, the two bonded really well and became friends.
- According to the Brahmavaivrata Purana, Shurpanakha submitted prayers and penances to Brahma in order to have Rama as her husband in the next life. She was then reincarnated as Kubja, a devotee of Krishna (8th Incarnation of Lord Vishnu) who was one of Lord Krishna’s 16108 brides.
- Shurpankha was a middle-aged woman who wasn’t as charming as youthful Sita when she met Rama. She had a son named Shambri, who was killed in the bush by Lakshmana by accident.