Last week, we saw the story of Ravana being humbled by a God. This week we shall see the story of Ravana being humbled by a man.
Now, there was this great king by name Kartavirya Arjuna who was a really strong and powerful king. He is said to have had a thousand hands. Once he was sporting with his queens in the River Narmada in the place called Mahishmati which was his kingdom.
A little farther, Ravana was zooming around in his Pushpak with his ministers. He liked the beautiful scenery of Mahishmati and landed his aircraft near a picturesque spot on the banks of Narmada. The gushing waters and the sparkling sand gave the spot a divine ambience so much so that Ravana was enthused to make a Lingam out of the sand and perform Puja for Lord Shiva. He told his ministers to wait under the cool, shady trees and started to make a Lingam with the sand and the water. Soon, he was deep into meditation while his ministers kept guard.
Kartavirya Arjuna, who was in the river downstream, was challenged by his queens as to whether he could stop the flow of the river with his mighty hands. “No he can’t,” said one queen disbelievingly, “In fact no one can stop the Narmada.” “Of course he can!” said another. “Don’t you know that our king is the strongest?”
The argument and chatter became louder that Kartavirya decided to put an end to their speculation. He moved to the middle of the river and spread out his mighty arms which reached the two banks of the river. Slowly, the flow stopped and the river behind Kartavirya was reduced to a small puddle and the water in front of him rose and started overflowing at the banks. The queens were watching their lord with awe.
Meanwhile, the place where Ravana was sitting was slowly getting flooded and the water was inching its way to the Lingam. The ministers were surprised for they did not know the reason for this strange phenomenon. Nevertheless, they could do nothing as they feared Ravana’s wrath if they disturbed his meditation. Soon the waters of the Narmada started washing away the Lingam and Ravana opened his eyes when the water touched him.
Ravana was furious and with one angry look at his ministers, he ordered them to find out the reason for this strange behaviour of the river. “Go at once!” he yelled, angry at his prayers being disturbed. A few ministers went downstream only to find Kartavirya Arjuna holding his hands and forcing the river to flow back. Hurriedly, they ran back to Ravana with fright writ large on their faces as they had never seen such a strong person before. They reported the matter to him.
His anger fuelled further, Ravana stomped to the place where Kartavirya was and shouted, “Hey king! Whoever you are! Don’t show your might on the poor river. Fight with me valiantly!” Kartavirya looked up at Ravana amused and with a scorn said, “Welcome to my kingdom! We at Mahishmati do not refuse what is asked of us and as you have asked for a fight, so be it!
Saying so, Kartavirya Arjuna, with a thunderous roar, pounced on Ravana and rained blows on him. Ravana, being a true warrior, fought back valiantly, but was no match to Arjuna’s might. Soon, he could take it no more and fainted. Kartavirya carried Ravana to his palace.
Later during the day, Sage Pulastya, the son of Brahma and the grandfather of Ravana came to know of the happenings in Mahishmati and visited Kartavirya. Kartavirya received him with great reverence and said humbly, “O Enlightened One! How could this Kartavirya be of service to you?” Pulastya replied, “O Kartavirya! Please forgive my grandson’s arrogant attitude and set him free.”
Kartavirya agreed out of his respect for the sage and released Ravana and, after forging friendship with him, sent him back with lots of gifts. Ravana went home with his ministers, humbled once again.