The Pushpaka Vimana was one of it’s kind, and Ravana found it fitting that he should seize it from his Half-Brother Kubera, because after all, he was one of a kind too. As the enchanted chariot soared across the skies, the Demon King surveyed the mortal lands below them.
“So plain…so plain. How do people live here?”
“Not everyone has the blessing to be in the beautiful Lanka under your direct rule, Sire”
“I’ll say. I have no idea why my cousins roam around here. But hehe, that Tataka has a wonderful sense of humour, there was this one time…” He stopped abruptly. “What is happening there?”
“It seems like a celebration My Lord. Looks like the Ikshvaku Princes have come of age”
“Heh. Let them celebrate while they still can. They are going to get killed by one of our clan soon, anyway.”
“My Lord, there is this one prince. He goes by the name Rama, is said to be the shade of the rain clouds and is training to be the finest warrior in their race. They have prophesied many great things about him.”
“Stuff and nonsense Saranu! I’d like to see him survive Tatu’s breath in the mornings. These humans, they are wimps. Completely useless. Brahma knows why they were even created. Speaking of, have I told you about the time Brahma granted me the boon of invincibility?”
“Only a few million times, Your Greatness. But it seems like a new story every time you say it.”
“Yes Saranu. There I was, after three thousand years of penance, ready to chop my last head off, when Brahma decided that he couldn’t find a more worthy beneficiary and appeared before me, bowed before me and proclaimed that he was ready to give me whatever I wanted!”
“And what did you ask for, my Lord?”
“Oh you know me, Saranu. I am a simple Rakshasa with simple desires. I asked for invincibility! But you know these Gods. Brahma hung his head in shame when he told me that he couldn’t grant me, the one of the greatest penance, invincibility! What could I do?”
“What DID you do, sire?”
“I may have been frustrated, but I was too intelligent to be let down! So I told Brahma – It is fine if you cannot give me invincibility, O Brahma, but grant that I may never be defeated by any God or Demon!”
“Your wisdom and grace are beyond us all, Your Greatness.”
“Yes, I am aware. And that, Saranu, has made me the most Invincible..”
“Sire, the Monkey! On the shore, praying! It is Vaali himself.”
“Ah, so we are in Kishkindha! Land Pushpaka!”
Pushpaka landed to a silent halt and Ravana descended on to the shore, waiting to be received. Vaali didn’t budge.
Ravana coughed with his one head.
Vaali didn’t budge.
Ravana coughed with all ten of his heads.
Vaali didn’t budge.
“The insolent monkey!” thought Ravana. “Ignoring me, the greatest and most powerful being in all three worlds! He must be humbled.”
The Demon King walked up to the rock where Vaali was praying, grabbed his tail….and got tangled in it.
Before he could understand what was happening, the monkey king flew from the eastern shore, to the western shore to offer more prayers, taking the Lord of Lanka along for the ride.
As Vaali dived into the waters for his holy dip, Ravana was dunked into the waters as well, tail all around him.
“Monkey!” he called out. “You puny little monkey! Take your tail off me!” But Vaali was too engrossed in prayers to notice.
Ravana tugged, Ravana pushed and Ravana pulled, only to find the tail growing longer, and more twisted. As he tried to set himself free, Vaali decided that it was time for him to offer his respects to the Gods from the northern mountains.
Vaali soared across the skies, again, carrying the Demon King, now completely knotted in his tail, along with him.
The more Ravana tried to break free, the more Vaali’s tail coiled.
Up went Vaali, Up went Ravana.
Down went Vaali, Down went Ravana.
Vaali took sharp lefts, Vaali took sharp rights, and with every passing minute, Ravana began to experience a kind of nausea that was as severe as his penance to Brahma. By the time Vaali finished his prayers in the northern mountains and the southern shores, he was completely convoluted, completely stuck and completely exhausted.
As Vaali headed back to Kishkindha, into his royal palace, the very queasy Demon King in his tail realized that the only way to get out, was to get Vaali himself to uncoil him.
“Help!” he called out.
“Hark! Who goes there?”
“I am here!”
Vaali spun around. No one.
“Who dares play tricks on me? Show yourself!”
“I am here! I am here!”
Vaali turned his back to find his tail gathered into a rather enormous lump. He slowly uncoiled it to reveal ten very tired (and rather green) heads.
“The Lord of Lanka?”
“Yes! Yes! Set me free! Please!”
“What are you thinking about?! Please set me free!”
“Did the Lord of Lanka just say please?”
“Yes! Please! Let me out!”
Vaali unraveled the rest of his tail to set the Rakshasa free.
Ravana rose to his feet, a little dizzy. “I have done the most severe austerities for the greatest lengths of time. I have conquered the three worlds. I have been blessed by Shiva himself to bear his sword. And yet…and yet..your tail!”
“How did you get in there, sir?”
Ravana opened his mouth to tell him about how he had wanted to take the Monkey King by his tail and throw him into the depths of the cosmos for ignoring him, him who was the conqueror of the three worlds….when he noticed Vaali’s tail twitch in an I-might-just-take-you-for-another-ride kind of way.
“Er…It must have been a cosmic intervention! A divine happening!”
“Indeed! And I am blessed to make your acquaintance. Good sir, I give you my deepest apologies if I had upset you anywhere”
Ravana thought for a minute about the way his stomach churned during his flight, as if Lord Nataraja himself was dancing in it. “Haha! Nonsense! It was like floating in the clouds!”
“I am glad you are not hurt. Would you like something to drink, sir?”
“It is all right, Vaali. Your hospitality pleases me, but I must be off now. I have many important things to do in Lanka, being the conqueror of the three worlds isn’t an easy job you know!”
“I can only imagine sir. You must come again. As long as I am here, Kishkindha will always be a friend of Lanka.”
“Tell me, my Lord, what happened? Were they petrified by your presence? Terrorized by your ten heads? Cowed by the Conqueror of the Three Worlds? Bullied by the…”
“Yes, Your Terribleness.”
“Be honest with me. Did you see what happened?”
“Er…Y-Yes, My Lord. But I must say that even in your flight in entwined form, you were like a glorious comet that was soaring..er… in reverse!”
Ravana groaned. “I was humbled by a monkey! A MONKEY! Do you know what this means?”
A very long pause later, Saranu spoke –
“On the bright side, My Lord – at least you are not bored anymore.”