Lust leads to Ruin– Shurpanakha

When Shurpankha gets attracted towards Shri Ram, it becomes the first lead to the destruction of Ravan’s whole clan. Shurpanakha was the youngest child of Rishi Vishrava  and Kaikesi. She was the sister of Ravan, Kumbhakarn and Vibhishan. She was also called Chandranakha as she had beautiful nails (nakha meaning nails) like the moon. Shurpanakha married the Danav king Vidhutjihva. But Ravan and Vidyutjihva were enemies, so she married Vidyutjihva secretly and went away to his kingdom in the Patal Lok.


Later, on the advice of Mandodari, Ravan comes to terms with Vidyutjihva. Few days pass  on calmly. After some time, Ravan goes on to conquer the Patal Lok, and in that war, he realises that Vidyutjihva wanted to kill him. Enraged, he killed Vidyutjihva. Shurpanakha gets distressed by this, but is consoled by Ravan. She comes back to Lanka. Ravan sends her to Jansathan, to be with Khar and Dushan their brothers from another mother, and roam freely as she pleases in the Dandak forest.

In Panchavati, days are passing peacefully for Shri Ram, Mata Sita and Lakshman. One day, they are seated outside their hermitage talking about the beauties of the season. Shurpanakha who was taking a stroll in the jungle notices them and gets instantly smitten by Shri Ram’s handsome looks. She approaches him in the form of a beautiful young woman. Shri Ram is surprised to see this unexpected visitor and asks her as to who is. She introduces herself as the sister of Ravan and asks Shri Ram to marry her. Shri Ram kindly rejects her advances saying that he is already married and faithful to his wife and about would never take another woman for a wife. Rejected, Shurpanakha then approached his younger brother. Lakshman also rejects her saying that as he is a servant of Shri Ram, and if she married him, even she would have to lead a life of a servant, and advises her to go back and request Shri Ram rather than him. Humiliated that both the brothers rejected her, Shurpanakha advances towards Mata Sita to kill her so that the brothers would accept her. But with Shri Ram’s signal, Lakshman immediately comes ahead and cuts of Shurpanakha’s nose and ears.

This act of Lakshman becomes the triggering point for the greedy woman to act for vengeance. Blinded with rage, she vows for revenge with the two brothers and thus leads to all the events which lead to the mighty battle of Shri Ram and Lanka.

After this incident, not much is known about Shurpanakha and it is understood that she stayed with Vibhishan in Lanka after the war. She is known to perish in the sea a few years later the battle of Lanka. Few sources also mention that all these acts of Shurpanakha were to avenge her husband’s death due to which she swears to destroy Ravan along with his clan, and hence she instigates Shri Ram and Lakshman realising that they are the only warriors who could defeat Ravan.

Reasons may be many, but the fact remains that Shurpanakha is an example of how greed and lust befalls ruin of not only an individual, but great empires too. Her life and behaviour becomes an example of how an ill-witted woman can bring about the downfall of a great empire like Lanka in the Ramayan.