This is not Statecraft"
These fearless words of advice from Hanumanta made Ravana's blood boil. The very word Sri
Rama pained his ears as if were pierced. The Rakshasa court unanimously passed a sentence
death on Hanumanta.
Vibheeshana had much affection and respect for his brother Ravana. Yet he felt that it was
unjust to put a messenger to death. So he resolved to protest against it. He stood up,
saluted Ravana and said, "Great monarch of Lanka, you are my elder brother,
whom I should respect like a father. Please don't think I am disobedient to you. May I
speak to you with the freedom of a younger brother? You are also a very great scholar,
having lernt all the Shastras, our sacred religious, social
and political texts. You are a statesman well aware of all rules of statecraft. I cannot
teach you these laws and conventions. But sentencing a messenger to death is not permitted
by the principles of statecraft."
"Brother Vibheeshana, I do agree with what you say of statecraft," Ravana
replied. "But this monkey standing before me has not conducted himself like a court
messenger. He has indeed behaved like an enemy. The destruction of the Ashoka- vana and
the killing of Akshayakumara and the Rakshasa army are certainly not ordinary offences.Is
he a court messenger or clearly a foe? The death sentence is quite appropriate."
Vibheeshana understood Ravanas mind. He spoke in a suitable way, saying "O
King, Hanumanta is guilty, but still he is not an enemy and he has come here as
Ramas messenger. He should not be put
Ravana too grasped Vibheeshana's opinion. He said, "Brother, so you do grant that
hanumanta is guilty. So he shall be imprisoned. Is that all right?"
Vibheeshana did not agree with that He said to his brother, "It is
improper to either kill or even imprison a messenger, because that will upset the whole
system court messengers. Then who can convey our ideas and opinions to the enemies?"
But Ravana queried, "Then is there no punishment for all the offences of
Ravana's doubt was cleared by his brother who said, "A guilty messenger can be beaten
by a staff, or his limbs could be severed. His head can be shaven, face and forehead
disfigured with ugly writing, and he can be taken in procession in that condition on the
streets, and later driven out of the city."
Ravana nodded in approbation of Vibhee- shana's knowledge of the conventions of statecraft
and pronounced his decision thus - "I do appreciate your knowledge of statecraft. Now
it is said that the tail is an important feature of a monkey. So I order that Hanumanta's
tail be set fire to, burnt, and then he be released".
All the Rakshasas there joined together and covered Hanumanta's tail with cloth tied all
over it. The tail increased in size. They tied round it all the cloth they could lay their
hands upon, poured several
tins of oil on it, and set fire to it. The tail began to bum like a forest fire. Hanumanta
touched the moustaches and beards of Rakshasas with his burning tail. He dipped the tail
onto several spots in the city and the whole of Lanka was on fire.