Ravana's sister Shurpanakha was roaming the forest when she first saw Rama. Passion overwhelmed her.
"Marry me!" she told him.
Rama laughed and replied, "I already have a wife." Then he pointed to Lakshmana. "You might ask my brother; he's alone here in the forest."
But Lakshmana also rebuffed Shurpanakha.
Then Shurpanakha saw Sita. "If I get rid of her, the man will be mine," she thought to herself.
Shurpanakha ran towards Sita, fangs bared, and Sita screamed.
Lakshmana grabbed his sword and sliced off Shurpanakha's ears and nose.
Blood streaming down her face, Shurpanakha ran shrieking into the forest.
Inspired by: Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik
Notes: This story is on p. 125 of the book. In Valmiki's Ramayana, this is the Aranya Kanda (Book 3), sarga 17. In Valmiki, Lakshmana cruelly taunts Shurpanakha, telling her that if she gets rid of her rival Sita, she might yet become Rama's wife. In some versions of the Ramayana, Shurpanakha uses her shape-shifting powers to appear to Rama as a beautiful woman, but in Valmiki's version, she is hideous-looking. In some versions Lakshmana is the one who decides to mutilate Shurpanakha, but in Valmiki's version, Rama orders him to do so. In some versions, Lakshmana cuts off her nose, sometimes her ears, sometimes her breasts. Pattanaik mentions a Tamil legend in which each time Lakshmana slices Shurpanakha, one of Ravana's heads falls off, and he wonders what is happening.