One day, a demoness named Surpanakha happened near the cottage. Hiding in the trees, she looked upon Rama’s handsome form and lusted after Him. So much did she desire Him, in fact, that she forgot to do what she was able to do: she forgot to change her shape into a beautiful woman. In her own ugly form, she approached Rama and asked Him to leave His “skinny” wife Sita and marry her instead.

Rama had taken a vow to accept no other wife than Sita, even though the culture at the time would have allowed Him to have many wives. He thus would not have fulfilled Surpanakha’s request even if she had been a beautiful and qualified woman, but since she was an ugly demoness, He teased her. “I am married, but why don’t you take my younger brother who has no wife here with him?” She looked at Lakshman, and found him also to be very attractive. But Lakshman entered the game as well, offering Rama as the better choice. Becoming angered, Surpanakha suddenly attacked Sita, and Lakshman in a flash cut off Surpanakha’s nose and ears.

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