Surpanakha is a Rakshasi (female demon) of Ramayana, who is the sister of Ravana. The word Surpanakha literally means the lady with sharp nails.
Once Surpankha saw Rama in the forest of Panchavati and immediately falls in love of him. She desired to have Rama and disguised herself as a beautiful woman by using the power of Maya. Surpanakha in the guise of young human lady appeared before Rama like a full moon. Her slender frame was like a golden creeper and her lovely lips and teeth perfectly matched with her fawn-like eyes. Her gait was that of a peacock and her anklets made music as she proceeded. Surpanakha came near Rama and bowed low to touch his feet. Rama enquired about her origin. Surpanakha replied that she was the daughter of grandson of Brahma and Kubera was her brother. After that Surpanakha praised Rama`s masculine beauty and asked him to marry her. Rama said that he is already married and is `Ekapatnivrata` meaning `loyal to one wife only`.
Rama asked her to approach his brother Lakshman. But Lakshman enjoyed teasing her and said that he was his brother`s servant. Hence, it would be better for Surpanakha to be Rama`s second wife rather than his first wife. Surpanakha became angry and made abusive remark about Sita. Lakshman could not control his rage and cut off Surpanakha`s nose and ears. In some versions of Ramayana, Lakshman cut Surpanakha`s breasts too.
To avenge this insult, Surpanakha returned to the forest accompanied by his two brothers khara and Dushana. They had a battle with Rama and Lakshman but both Khara and Dushanas were defeated and killed in the war. Surpanakha then returned to Lanka and cried before his brother Ravana and pleaded to take revenge of her great insult. Ravana became vindictive and took Maricha with him and made plans to retaliate his sister surpanakha`s humiliation.