Vibhishana's Hitopadesa

VIBHISHANA’S HITOPADESA*

In the council meeting called by Ravana to discuss the course of action after Hanuman’s invasion of Lanka, Valmiki portrays Vibhishana and Kumbhakarna as righteous at heart and not deluded about what will happen if Sita is not returned. Both of them love and respect Ravana and consider him their father. They are unafraid to voice their truthful views on Ravana’s conduct in the midst of the extravagant words of praises heaped on Ravana by his ministers and generals, pointed out Damal Sri Ramakrishnan and Srimati Perundevi in a discourse.
Kumbhakarna does not mince words when he tells Ravana that he had ignored the principles of statecraft and should have settled his grievances with Rama in a straight battle and then captured Sita. If only Ravana had consulted them before committing the offence, things would have worked out better. But his affection for Ravana soon takes over and he now chooses to stand by his brother. He promises to fight to the finish with the peerless Rama at any cost.
Vibhishana too impresses on Ravana the need to restore Sita immediately for the welfare of Lanka, pointing out the ill omens in Lanka ever since Sita was brought over. What Vibhishana says may not be pleasing as flattery, but it is spoken with genuine concern for Ravana.
But Ravana is adamant. He sees nothing to fear in this enemy. Vibhishana’s good advice is misunderstood as the evil intentions of an envious brother and an insult to the rakshasa race. In a fit of rage, Ravana banishes Vibhishana from his presence. Vibhishana decides to leave, but not before warning Ravana once again that good counsel is not accepted by one whose end is approaching.
Good advice is salutary but unpleasant and is generally rejected just as the path of Preyas tempts people and makes them avoid the beneficial Sreyas.

*Source: The Hindu, Faith column

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