Did Ravan really have a brother called Sahastra Ravan? Did Sita actually turn into Kali Ma and kill Sahastra Ravan? If yes, then why is it so less popular? Also, Sita is Lakshmi Ji’s avatar. How can she become Kali Ma? And if she was so strong, how could Ravan kidnap her?
This story of Sita killing Sahastra Ravana (with 100 heads) is not from the original Valmiki Ramayana, but a different version called Adbhuta Ramayana. The account of Ravana’s defeat at Sita’s hands has been documented in a treatise called Adbhut Ramayana, which also was authored by Valmiki Muni (the author of Valmiki Ramayana).
Sahastra Ravan and Lord Rama
After defeating Dasanana (ten-headed) Ravana, Rama returns to Ayodhya with Sita & Laksmana and ascends the throne, thus establishing Rama-Rajya. In the court of Ayodhya, sages once praised Rama’s valour, resulting into Rama assuming himself to be omnipotent and invincible. At this, in the presence of sages and couturiers, Sita noted that the slaying of Dasanana Ravana was not a big deal, as he was not the real Ravana. She recounts when she was a child, a Brahmin had visited Mithila and told her of Ravana’s older brother, Sahastra/Sahasraskańdha (thousand-headed) Ravana. He was the real Ravana, and lived on an island named Puskar. He was known to be much more powerful than his younger brother DaSanana Ravana. Rama mobilised his army of Vanaras, humans, & Raksasas, and departed to conquer the Sahastra Ravana.
The Face Off Between Sahastra Ravan and Rama
Sahastra Ravana was surprised to see Rama’s army deployed against him, but quickly mobilised his Raksasa army. The battle begins, in which the Vanaras gain the upper hand. Ravana, seeing Rama’s army on the verge of victory, decided to participate. He dispersed Rama’s army to the places from which they came: the humans to Ayodhya, Vanaras to Kiskinda, and the Raksasas to Lańka. A furious Rama prepared to engage Ravana. In their first encounter, Rama used various weapons, including Brahmastra (with which he slew DaSanana Ravana). But Sahasranana Ravana deflected it, dismaying Rama. Ravana then rendered Rama unconscious.
Sita as Bhadrakali slaying Sahastra Ravana
Seeing Rama defeated, Goddess Sita saw this and filled with rage she took the form of Bhadrakali and came to the battle field to fight with the tremendous giant Sahastra Ravana. Bhadrakali is the most fierce aspect of Shakti, the Supreme Devi. Her complexion from fair turned to stark blue and her attired got transformed, wearing garlands of demon hands around her waist and tiger skin skirt. She started slashing the heads of Sahastranana Ravana, one-by-one until he was dead. From her, erupted the brutal Matrikas, who started playing blood-sports with the heads. Soon, the entire army was dead, with Bhadrakali still yearning for blood. She started prowling for her next kill and destroyed all who came in her way. Fearing the end of the cosmos, the devas came down to try and appease her, but she said, “With my husband lying unconscious on the battlefield, how can I calm down? I do not care if the entire universe falls apart.” Finally, Brahma came down to revive Rama.
Rama, who had just woken up, recoiled from the bhayanaka Bhadrakali until Brahma explained to him that his Sita had channel the Supreme Shakti, to be able to save him from Sahastranana Ravana. In fact, Bhadrakali, herself, provides Rama, with the necessary vision to see her true form. Then, after Rama praised the Supreme Devi by reciting Kali Sahastranama, Sita reverts back into her human form, and the two made their way back to Ayodhya. This is how Sahastra Ravana was killed by Adi-Shakti, Sita.
Goddess Sita’s in Bhadrakali form
The important slokas regarding her form and her killing Ravana are mentioned below.
नर्दन्तं राक्षसं चापि महाबलपराक्रमम् । साट्टहासं विनाद्योच्चैः सीता जनकनंदिनी ॥
स्वरूपं प्रजहौ देवी महाविकटरूपिणी । क्षुत्क्षामा कोटराक्षी चक्रभ्रमितलोचना ॥
Looking at the shouting valorous and strong Rakshasha, Janaka’s daughter Sita laughing out loudly leaving her svarup (present form of Sita), took a very fearful form with a body (as if effected by hunger), eyes like a tree’s cavity, face revolving like a wheel.
दीर्घजंघा महारावा मुंण्डमालाविभूषणा । अस्थिकिंकिणिका भीमा भीमवेगपराक्रमा ॥
खरस्वरा महाघोरा विकृता विकृतानना । चतुर्भुजा दीर्घतुंडा शिरोऽलंकरणोज्जवला ॥
ललज्जिह्वा जटाजूटैर्मण्डिता चण्डरोमिका । प्रलयांभोदकालाभा घंटापाशविधारिणी ॥
Her form is described as having large thighs, making a huge cry, wearing a garland and ornaments of skulls, wearing small bells made of bones, very strong, and with very great speed and valor, with very sharp and focused cries, very horrible, with deformed face, having four shoulders, with large mouth (or trunk), with a decorated head (meaning having a shining face), moving the tounge to and fro, with matted hair, with fierce and hot body hairs, with light as that of clouds at the time of Pralaya, wearing Ghanta and Paasha.
अवस्कंद्य रथात्तूर्णं खड्गखर्परधारिणी । श्येनीव रावणरथे पपात निमिषान्तरे ॥
शिरांसि रावणस्याशु निमेषान्तरमात्रतः । खड्गेन तस्य चिच्छेद सहस्राणीह लीलया ॥
Got down very fast from chariot with sword and a bowl of skull got upon Ravan’s chariot in a minute like an eagle. Within a minute she cut all the thousand heads of Ravan with sword like a sport.
After this, it is described how she destroyed other warriors also. Later 1000 matrikas arrive at the place and they all dance at her victory and she mentions some of the matrikas’ names also. And the story continues.