Shoorpanakha was the daughter of Vishrava and Kekasi and the younger sister of Ravana. Ugly, ill formed and repulsive looking, she could work many miracles by her mayavi (magical) powers and was wicked and mean. She was married to a Daitya (children of Diti and Sage Kashyap) from the Kalkeya clan. But unfortunately when Ravana set out to conquer the world, he began to slay all Devas, Daityas and Kalkeya Daitya was also killed by him with his family.
Shoorpanakha arrived at Ravana’s door and cried bitterly and cursed him. She said, “Could there be any brother who would be responsible for making a widow of his sister?” Ravana was filled with remorse. He said, “I cannot bring my brother-in-law back but to compensate for your loss but I give you the rule over Dandaka forest. You can go with your maternal cousin Khar and be protected by fourteen thousand rakshasas. Khar and Dooshan will do as you bid.”
Shoorpanakha left Lanka to live in Dandaka forest. She and the other rakshasas loved to harass and disturb the sages who lived in that dense forest. They would threaten them and often eat them up. Soon Dandaka forest became a place to be feared because of their sway over it. There were piles of bones and skeletons all that remained of sages they had eaten up.
During their exile to the forest, Rama, Sita and Lakshman came to Dandaka forest. The sages told them about the menace of the rakshasas. Rama assured the ascetics that he would soon get rid of all rakshasas there. Shri Rama began to live by the River Godavari, at Panchavati in a simple rustic hut. While roaming about the forest, Shoorpanakha saw Rama, Lakshman and Sita. She was besotted by Rama. Using her Maya (magic), she magically changed to a lovely lady and proposed to Rama. He said, “I am already married and have my wife here. Perhaps you should ask Lakshman to be your mate.” She went to Lakshman who said, “I am a servant of Rama and Sita. What joy would you have from marrying me? As you will become a servant too.”
Both Rama and Lakshman thus rejected her offer. She assumed her original awful form and began to scare Sita. Enraged, Lakshman cut off her ears and nose. She went weeping to Khar and Dooshan and they along with Trishala and fourteen thousand rakshasas attacked Rama. But in a short battle, Rama killed all of them with his sharp arrows. Like a wounded serpent, Shoorpanakha reached Ravana’s court and said, “Look what Rama, Prince of Ayodhya did when I proposed marriage to him. He also killed Khar, Dooshan and all fourteen thousand rakshasas.”
Ravana sought the help of Mareech to take Sita away to avenge his sister’s insult. Rama and Lakshman reached Rishyamukh Mountain in search of Sita, where they met Hanuman. The befriended Sugreeva who with his vanara army helped them to attack Lanka. The entire race of Rakshasas was killed. Shoorpanakha caused this massive destruction and end of her race.
Shoorpanakha – Ramayana Characters