In the time of Ramayana, by the performance of penance, one could achieve his inherent desires in the real life, and such wishes valued very high in the world.

Mayasura was an able architect. So he prayed God Shiva to bless him with a beautiful lady as his wife in order to keep his family status high before the angels of heaven, with Indra or before the Asuras. God Shiva agreed to his prayer, being his first request, and created an Apsara with name Hema and gave to him as his wife. He also warned him he would not grant him anything so easily if he turns towards God Shiva again with another request.

Mandodari giving alms to a beggar
Mandodari: A noble lady

Mayasura and Hema lived as husband and wife for a long time happily but later they desired to have a child. They remembered the warning of God Shiva and went to Mount Kailasha together to conduct penance to get a child. They built a hermit near Kailasha and daily worshipped God Shiva. Due to their penance, God Shiva appeared before them and enquired about their boon. Mayasura and Hema expressed their wish to get one child. Then again Shiva asked what the qualities of their child care should possess. Mayasura discussed with Hema and they thought about sea water, earth and sky.

Finally, they requested for a child who can move in air, able to move under water and able to walk on level ground, or any type of earth also. God Shiva agreed with them, but told them to continue penance till completion of eighteen years and then they would get the child at their hermit, being they had not deserved for it immediately. He also ordered to offer him, daily in the morning, a cup of cow milk, in a silver cup, until getting the child. They agreed.

In Lanka, Ravana had started his ruling, consulting his own father, Vishrava. But sometimes he would go on his own decisions also. Ravana desired to defeat Indra of heaven but could not succeed fully. Hence he thought, later in future, his son should be able to defeat Indra, and for that he should first consult his father. His father advised him to perform penance at Kailasha Mountain and get a good wife as a boon from him.

Ravana went to Kailasha and started penance, standing on one leg and reciting Rudra manthras. God Shiva appeared before him and enquired about his boon and also told he should be brief as God Shiva was busy then. Ravana told only one word as ‘wife’. Then Shiva agreed to provide him wife and he should return to Lanka without turning back but he may turn back when he happens to hear the sound of anklets.

Then, as eighteen years had passed, God Shiva discussed with Parvathi, about the promise given to Mayasura. They thought about one female bird, fish and an animal to be created and offer it to him as a child.  But they should create all in one. So God Shiva created a frog. The basking frog was green due to the color of the green grass. God Shiva ordered the female frog to go to the hermit of Mayasura as his child. By the constant performance of penance of eighteen years, Mayasura possessed very high power, but as usual he offered cow milk to God Shiva on that morning also, when the frog came galloping there, as he could not recognize it, due to the green color similar to grass.

Ravana had to cross the hermit of Mayasura, when returning down the Mount Kailasha after receiving his promise from God Shiva. He had just passed the courtyard of the hermit. The frog galloping, arrived and had just jumped into the hermit but her front legs disturbed the cup containing the milk. Half of the milk had been poured out and the silver cup had caused a tinkling sound which was then heard by Ravana also.

Mayasura, in his anger, cursed the frog to be a girl and when his words ended, she had already become a beautiful girl of eighteen years. The Apsara, Hema, his wife then came out of their hut. She had also calculated the period of eighteen years and both of them understood that she was their God gifted daughter. But Hema being an Apsara, not bothered to look after her, wished to abandon her, and she would soon disappear as Apsara.

Since, after the sound of anklets, Ravana had not seen anybody behind him, when he turned his back, as per his instructions from God Shiva, he slowly came back up to the place where he heard the sound. Then he found a beautiful girl on the courtyard of the hermit of Mayasura. The girl told to Mayasura that God Shiva had sent her as the child to Mayasura. Ravana then greeted Mayasura. He told to Mayasura that God Shiva had promised him that he would provide a wife to him.

Mayasura had kept the name of the girl as Mandodari since she had been converted from a frog, wherein Manduka happened to be the meaning of the word for frog in Sanskrit. Mandodari liked the strong and masculine body of Ravana. Then Hema thought it would be better to conduct their marriage then and there. Hence Mayasura conducted the marriage of Mandodari and gave her hands to Ravana to lead a happy family life. Hema, the mother of Mandodari had gifted Mandodari a pair of anklets, and told her, as far as she wore those anklets, they would be living happily and nobody could cause any grievances in their life.

Hema disappeared. Ravana and Mandodari started towards Lanka. Also Mayasura accompanied them. At Dhanushkodi, they had to cross the ocean. Mandodari told them, she could travel under the water also but Mayasura had arranged for them special boats to Thalaimannar and they reached Lanka palace. Then Mayasura had constructed the Pushpaka Vimana and gifted to Ravana.

 God had gifted two children to Ravana and Mandodari. They were Meghanada and Akshakumara. Meghanada when grown up had become a great warrior and defeated Devendra of Devaloka and got the name as Indrajith. The second son, Akshakumar was also well-educated and obedient to his parents.

Mandodari was maintaining her family with great care. She was a beautiful lady with good physique. She was different from other demons in her behaviors.

Hanuman came to Lanka and started to search for Sita in night.

When he looked Mandodari sleeping, he was mistaken to think her as Sita:

स तां दृष्ट्वा महाबाहुर्भूषितां मारुतात्मजः ।
तर्कयामास सीतेति रूप यौवनसंपदा ।
हर्षेण महता युक्तो ननन्द हरियूथपः ॥

The meaning of the above verse, as in the original Valmiki Ramayana is:

On seeing that lady, who possessed youth and beauty, doubting that she may be Sita, with great joy, the Hanuman, son of air, having decorated with large hands felt great joy. But it was in the palace of Ravana. He could see then the anklets of that lady.

Hanuman started thinking she is the most beautiful lady that he had seen in Lanka so far. But Sita was abducted with the earth beneath her feet and she used to walk in the forests with bare feet and her feet may be having dust or soil. Without looking the face of Rama, Sita would never wash her feet. He went very near to the anklets which were shining and not even a single dust particle was there and her feet were very neat and clean. The anklets may be provided by any Apsara and no human being could wear such an ornament he guessed. Hence she is the wife of Ravana, none other than Mandodari, he confirmed and started again to search for the real Sita. But Hanuman never touched the body of any ladies there.

Before starting the war with Rama, Mandodari advised Ravana to withdraw enmity with Rama and to give Sita the liberty to join back to her husband Rama.

सुखस्य दुःखस्य न कोपि दाता परो ददातीति कुबुद्धिरेषा ।
अहं करोमीति वृथाभिमानः स्वकर्म सूत्रेण ग्रथितो हि लोकः ॥

The meaning is: For the pleasures and sorrows, there is no other donor. It is unwise to think, as provided by others. It is unnecessary to think, boasting proudly, as one can do, the pleasures or sorrows himself, since the results are, based on the works completed. Certainly, these words showed, the garland, where the beads were the actions, performed by men. Again, the implied meaning was, with proudness Ravana should not go on fighting with Rama, and pleasures are not anticipated through war with him. 

Mandodari repressing the wrath of Ravama
Mandodari convincing Ravana

When her sons, Indrajithu and Akshakumar were killed by Lakshmana and Hanuman, Mandodari again requested with Ravana to restrain from war with Rama to save the life of Ravana:

॥ ऋनानुबन्ध रूपेण पशु पत्नी सुत आलया ॥

 Indebtedness makes the relations in this world. Hanuman had come in the form of an animal. Mandodari was his wife. Meghanada and Akshakumara were their sons. Many residential buildings were there which were burnt by Hanuman but her father, Mayasura had again rebuilt for Ravana. Thus Mandodari and Ravana were indebted to Mayasura.  They were indebted to many people, as they had experienced happiness, and enjoyed in their previous life. The forthcoming days could be made happier only if Ravana compromised with Rama that Mandodari told repeatedly with him.  

During the return journey, of Rama and Sita, before starting the Pushpaka Vimana towards Ayodhya from Lanka, her mother Hema appeared before Mandodari, and requested her to ascend with her, as an Apsara, to fly high in the sky, but before receiving her hands, Hema loosened the anklets from the legs of Mandodari and gave one to Hanuman and the other to Vibhishana. She wished Hanuman to live forever in this universe, as the blessings of Rama showered up on him as Chiranjeevi, and preserving the path of Dharma.

She wished Vibhishana to live forever in this universe, as the blessings of Rama showered up on him as Chiranjeevi, and preserving the path of Dharma. Then her mother Hema, the Apsara had carried Mandodari with both her hands flying into the sky as both had become invisible Apsaras.

Many versions of Ramayana are available now and Ananda Ramayana, Adhyatma Ramayana, Alikhitha Ramayana, Amudritha Ramayana and Valmiki Ramayana, are some of them. Different type of narrations may be seen in different versions.

Regarding Gauthama Rishi, and his disciple Uttanka, and sincere devotee Shabari, would be available in the forthcoming articles.  

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Rama upon us.

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