Meanwhile at Lankapura’s palace Ravana summoned his Rakshasa counsellors. While all the other relatives and counselors urged Ravana to withstand Rama and to fight him, only Ravana’s younger brother Vibhishana tried to save Sita and pointed to unfavorable omens. He advised Ravana to return Sita in order to save the kingdom from Rama’s anger. Ravana answered angrily, it would only ridicule him among all gods and demons, and he emphasized he fears nobody. Feeling deeply offended by his brother, Vibhishana then announced he could not stay any longer in Lanka under such sinful conditions. Vibhishana left the palace and flew, with four other renegade Rakshasas, across the ocean to Rama. Arriving at his camp, Vibhishana declared to be Ravana’s brother, having left Lanka after Ravana refused to release Sita. Rama welcomed Ravana’s renegade brother Vibhishana, and accepted his offer to join the fight at his side, and promised Vibhshana that, for his honesty and bravery, he would become the new king of Lanka. Vibhishana provided information about Ravana and his evil son Indrajit and their army of millions of demons.
When Rama, with Sugriva’s monkey army, arrived at the sea shores, he threatened to dry the ocean in case the ocean god did not offer him and his army a way to reach Lanka in order to release his consort. The ocean god promised to support building a bridge across the waters. When the huge construction – its remains even nowadays called “Rama setu” – was completed after five days, Rama and the whole great monkey army crossed the bridge by nightfall, passing over to Lanka.
After Hanuman’s army sorrounded Lankapura, Ravana sent two of his demons in the guise of monkeys to spy among the monkey army’s camp. But after Vibhishana recognized them they were brought to Rama. Instead of punishing them, Rama decided to send them back with a warning to Ravana. Later on Ravana sent new spies, Sardula being one of them. They were detected by Vibhishana, too, and sent back by Rama again.
Ravana then ordered to make an exact copy of Rama’s head. He told Sita that her husband was killed and his army destroyed and asked her to become his queen now. Sita did not believe it. So Rama showed her that head. Sita collapsed and prayed to Rama to take her, too. Angered by Sita’s continuing devotion to Rama, Ravana stormed away from the garden. Among Sita’s guardians, there was a sympathetic Rakshasi called Sarama, who comforted Sita by telling her the truth that Rama was still alive.
When Varana king Sugriva spotted Lanka’s demon king Ravana standing on the city walls of Lankapura he was overcome by contempt and anger. Sugriva jumped at him and attacked him. Their fierce duel ended in a tie, as Sugriva managed to escape from Ravana’s attempt to use magic. Afterwards Rama sent Angada, Valin’s son and Sugriva’s heir to the throne, to Lankapura in order to warn Ravana. But the demon king of Lanka ordered to kill the messenger. Nevertheless, Angada could easily flee with a jump, full of joy.
On the morning of the fifth day, the great battle began. Blood and bodies of fallen warriors lay everywhere. Even Hanuman was injured in a duel. Ravana’s son Indrajit, invisible and versed in all magic arts, fired poisoned arrows upon Rama and Lakshmana. The two brothers suffered many wounds and were bleeding heavily, but they fought on. Finally Rama and Lakshmana fell to the ground unconscious. Sugriva mourned over them, but Vibhishana opened his eyes and explained their death to be an illusion, and that the princes would overcome that magic. Ravana ordered Sita to be flown in his celestial chariot to the battlefield. From above she saw the Varana monkey army leaders full of grief surrounding the fallen brothers. But Rakshasi Trijata, another compassionate female guardian, declared she still could see the kind of beauty that only comes from living beings in those arrow struck bodies. Then Garuda arrived, the king of birds, at whose sight all snakes disappear into hidings. The arrows in those sunken bodies transformed themselves to their original form, and as snakes they ran away. So Garuda cured Rama and Lakshmana and paid them his respect.
Upon receiving the news about Rama’s awakening Ravana screamed and shouted, and sent out demon general Dhumraksha to attack Rama’s Varana army once more. So he did, and was successful in chasing away the Varana monkeys. But finally Dhumaksha’s head was smashed by a giant rock that Hanuman had lifted. Then Ravana sent Vajradanshtra, who at the end was beheaded by Vangada. Ravana’s subsequent demon generals Akampan and Prahatha came to death, too.
At last Ravana shouted, he himself now would join the battle. Ravana’s arrows struck Sugriva and Hanuman and seriously wounded them, but they survived. When Lakshmana challenged Ravana, at the end of their fight both of them fainted. Finally Rama himself on Hanuman’s back attacked Ravana and smashed his crown. But when Ravana lay on the ground, Rama refrained from killing the defenceless enemy.
Ravana now decided to wake up the eternally sleeping giant Kumbhakarna, who was his most dreadful brother. Kumbhakarna had devoured a thousand men immediatly after his birth, and once even won a fight against Yama, god of death. Brahma in order to rescue the world from being devoured, had cursed the giant to be like dead, but on Ravana’s intervention had reduced his verdict, so Kumbhakarna continuously had to sleep six months before waking up for only one day. Now the monstrous giant first reacted grimly when his rest was disturbed, but then agreed to take revenge for Ravana’s defeat and disgrace and to save his brother’s kingdom Lanka. Nevertheless, Kumbhakarna first asked his elder brother to return Sita to Rama. But Ravana insisted on his younger brother’s duty to respect and support him. Kumbhakarna agreed and promised to kill Rama.
When the terrifying giant appeared on the battlefield, the Varana monkeys began to run away. Only Sugriva’s nephew Angada encouraged them to return to take up fighting. Many of them were devoured by the monster. Some of them could escape through his nostrils. But even Hanuman could not conquer this powerful enemy and was seriously wounded. Angada and Sugriva were beaten and lost consciousness. Kumbhakarna took Sugriva and presented his prey inside Lankapura. Sugriva, regaining consciousness, could escape with a great leap.
When the giant returned to the battlefield he attacked Rama. Rama’s first arrows turned out to be ineffective. But one arrow given by Lord Indra cut off Kumbhakarna’s left arm. And the next two arrows with crescent tips cut off his legs. And Rama’s last and mightiest arrow beheaded the monster.
When Ravana heard about it, he fainted. His sons then encouraged him to continue the battle. Narantak, the bravest of them, stormed to the battlefield, but there he was killed by Sugriva’s nephew Angada. Hanuman managed to cut off all three heads of Ravana’s son Trisiras. Atikaya, the best warrior among Ravana’s sons, shot an arrow to kill Lakshmana, but the prince was able to split that projectile midair with his own arrow. Lakshmana’s arrows were not hurting Atikaya, till, on the windgod’s advice, he fired a Brahma missile. So Atikaya was killed in action, too.
Ravana, having lost so many generals and sons, now ordered to prepare for defending Lankapura’s city walls. But his impetuous son Indrajit vowed to kill Rama and Laksmana before sunset. After leaving the gates of Lankapura he injured Sugriva, Angada and Hanuman and killed Mainda. And finally Rama and Lakshmana could not stand up Indrajit, they sunk to the ground under an bombardement of arrows that tied them like a net. When Indrajit returned to the palace of Lankapura, every monkey was either wounded or killed.
With a weak voice, bear-king Jambuvan, one of the veteran leaders of the army, asked Vibhishana whether Hanuman was still alive. Vibhishana, who had expected to be asked about the state of Rama or Lakshmana or Sugriva or Angada first, confirmed Hanuman’s survival. Jambuvan was relieved, as he knew only Hanuman was able to do what now would be the last chance of recovering to defeat the enemy. He advised Hanuman to leap across the ocean to the area of Mount Kailasha, where he would find a peak full of medicinal herbs. These herbs brought to Lanka before sunrise would help to cure and safe the army. Hanuman with great speed flew all the way to the Himalayas to obtain the healing herbs. When he reached the mountains, he saw the peak that Jambuvan had described. But since he could not find the herbs quickly enough, he uprooted the entire peak, just to be sure to have the essential herbs, and carried it through the air back to Lanka. Upon Hanuman’s arrival the monkey warriors, only by inhaling the healing air of the herbs, began to regain their strength. Even Lakshmana recovered from his otherwise fatal wound. Hanuman afterwards returned the peak to its original location.
On another occasion, Indrajit, versed in magic, came out of the city carrying on his chariot a magically produced image of Sita, which he ill-treated and beheaded in front of Lakshmana, Hanuman and the monkeys. Hanuman reported to Rama that Sita was killed. Rama fell into a swoon. Lakshmana, lamenting and complaining about fate, tried to comfort his brother. But Rama eventually became enlightened by Vibhishana that the whole affair was only one more delusion produced by Indrajit.
Vibhishana took Lakshmana to the Nikumbhila grove, where demon Indrajit used to prepare for war by fire offerings granting him invincibility. Vibhishana urged to attack Indrajit before completion of these sacrifices. So Lakshmana lay in wait for Indrajit in that Nikumbhila grove. In a violent duel he succeeded in destroying Indrajit’s armament and chariot. Indrajit, though wounded, returned with new armament to fight Lakshmana. They were already striking each other with celestial weapons when Lakshmana spoke these words to his arrow, “In case Dasharatha’s son Rama is just and truthful, and nobody equals him in heroic courage, then kill this son of Ravana.” And so Indrajit was finally overpowered and killed by Lakshmana.
Hearing of his son’s death, Ravana decided now to kill Rama personally. When he spotted Rama leading the monkey army toward the city gates, Ravana fired arrows at him endlessly. But Rama managed to shoot them with his own arrows. When Ravana directed a magic spear against his renegade brother Vibhishana, Lakshmana intervened and successfully safed Vibhishana. In revenge Ravana now threw this terrifying spear against Lakshmana himself and struck him. Rama was already mourning over Lakshmana when Sushen instructed Hanuman to rush to Mount Mahodaya in order to collect the life-saving herbs. Again Hanuman brought the whole mountain, and Sushen found the medicinal herbs and prepared an ointment for Lakshmana, who instantly recovered when only smelling it.
In the course of time Rama felt his strength leaving him. The gods themselves came to Rama’s aid, especially Indra with his chariot and his projectiles. But every time Rama stroke off one of Ravana’s heads, a new head grew again. Then a sage disclosed a secret to Rama and advised him to worship the sun. Rama knelt down and prayed to the sun, and after looking at him Rama felt his strength return. He now took his most powerful weapon, the Brahmastra arrow once created by Brahma himself and given to Rama by the sage Agastya, to be used only when all else had failed. When Rama took it to his hands, the earth shook. He aimed the weapon at the on-rushing Ravana and fired. The arrow struck Ravana’s chest and exploded, finally killing Ravana.
Vibhishana prepared the funeral rites for his brother, though he thought people would try to keep him from giving an honorable funeral to such an evil demon. But Rama supported him saying that hostility ends with death. After the funeral rites Rama made Vibhishana the new king of Lanka.
Vibhishana’s wife and maidens took Sita from the garden. When Rama entered the palace, Sita bowed at his feet. But Rama seemed to doubt her fidelity and asked for a proof of her purity as he wanted to get rid of the rumours surrounding Sita’s stay in Ravana’s palace. Sita first was outraged and protested her innocence. But then she resolved to undergo a fire ordeal, called “agni pariksha”, to prove her purity. She asked Lakshmana to erect a pyre. When Sita plunged into the sacrificial fire and invoked the fire god Agni as witness of her innocence, Agni arose out of the burning pyre and delivered her unharmed to Rama, attesting to her purity. Thereupon Rama declared that he himself had never had any doubts concerning Sita’s fidelity, but that the test was necessary to prove it before the eyes of the people.
After the Lanka war ended Rama returned to the mainland to continue his exile according to his duties, honouring his father’s decree. At the expiration of his term of exile, Rama, with Sita and Lakshmana, returned to Ayodhya, where finally the coronation was performed. This marks the beginning of Ram Rajya, which is considered to be an ideal government in a state with good morals, with a king ruling for the welfare of his subjects.