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The Story of the Son of Airavata Elephant

The tale of the son of the Airavata elephant is narrated in the Krittibasi Ramayana, a Bengali adaptation of the ancient Valmiki Ramayana. Airavata, the mythical white elephant, was the mount of Indra, the king of the gods. His son, following in his father's footsteps, was a devout follower of Bhagavan Vishnu. Demonstrating unwavering devotion, the elephant undertook intense penance to seek a boon from Brahma.

During his penance, the elephant expressed a profound wish to die at the hands of Narayana (another name for Vishnu). Brahma, pleased with his devotion, granted his wish, proclaiming that it would be fulfilled when he encountered Narayana.

The mighty elephant eventually became the mount of Virbahu, the son of Ravana and a Gandharva woman. Like his elephant, Virbahu was also a devoted follower of Vishnu and harbored a deep desire to meet Rama, Vishnu's incarnation on earth. As a testament to his devotion, Virbahu received a boon from Rama himself, stating that he would only be killed after his elephant was slain.

This prophecy set the stage for their fateful encounter. Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, ordered Virbahu to engage in battle against Rama's forces. In the ensuing combat, Virbahu and his formidable elephant unleashed their might, demonstrating extraordinary prowess on the battlefield. They managed to overpower several of Rama's warriors, including Angada and Hanuman, defeating numerous Vanara warriors with ease. The elephant, in particular, showcased immense strength, crushing mountains, boulders, and massive trees hurled at him. Even Sugriva, the king of the Vanaras, was wounded and thrown a great distance by the elephant's sheer power.

The turning point came when Rama, recognizing the need to counter such a formidable adversary, wielded a special weapon bestowed upon him by the sage Sarabhanga. This divine weapon, imbued with immense power, was the key to overcoming the elephant's strength. Rama launched the weapon, and it found its mark, decapitating the mighty elephant. In doing so, the elephant's soul was liberated, and he attained moksha (spiritual liberation), as per the boon granted by Brahma.

With the death of his elephant, Virbahu's fate was sealed, and he too met his end, fulfilling the conditions of the boon he had received. Thus, the story of the son of the Airavata elephant not only highlights the themes of devotion and divine intervention but also underscores the intricate interplay of fate and destiny in the epic saga of the Ramayana.