Ravana is supposed to be an epitome of evil for Hindus and his effigy is burnt during the festival of Dussehra. But is he really as evil as he is made out to be?
If you look at his life closely and know about certain facts then you will realize that he is not that evil as he has been made out to be. Celebrating Dussehra by burning Ravana’s effigy over so many years by calling him an evil has brain-washed the people’s mind which has created an unnecessary hype on Ravana being an ultimate epitome of evil which he is probably not.
It is indeed true that he kidnapped Sita but it is equally true that he never touched her physically and only kept requesting her asking her to marry him. But he only kept waiting for Sita’s approval and didn’t touch her, insult her or pressurized her in anyway to do so. This fact itself is enough to understand the kind of person Ravana was. Not to forget, he was a biggest devotee of lord Shiva and was a master of all the vedas and shastra which even Lord Rama was not. There are many more facts that prove that Ravana was not that evil as he has been made out to be. Let’s take a closer look at some more unknown shocking facts which will prove so.
Ravana himself Helped Rama To Build a Bridge to reach Lanka.
Rama needed a bridge to be built across the ocean to reach Lanka, in order to defeat Ravana. The night before they started their preparations, he decided to conduct a Yagna to worship Shiva at Rameshwaram. As he was going to fight one of his most powerful adversaries, he needed the most scholarly priest to conduct the Yagna for him. He was informed that Ravana himself is the most learned scholar of all times. An invitation was sent to Ravana, who accepted it, arrived at Rameshwaram and conducted aYagna with all holy rites.
Interestingly, the Yagna could be considered successfully completed only when Rama would sit with his wife Sita in the ceremony, who was held captive by Ravana in Lanka. Ravana not only brought Sita to the Yagna, he presided over the proper arrangements and completion of theYagna.
After the Yagna got over, Rama sought Ravana’s blessings in defeating him, to which Ravana replied, Tathastu.
The great Shiva devotee that Ravana was, he wanted Shiva to move his abode from Kailash to Lanka. When Shiva didnt oblige, he even attempted to lift the entire Kailash mountain with his hands. This was one distinct attribute of Ravana, the arrogance.
When Shiva pressed his toe on Kailash, Ravana’s fingers got stuck beneath the mountains, and he sang an entire Stotram, Shiva-Tandava-Strotram to appease him. This was a contrasting, yet another distinct attribute of the same person, his knowledge, his wisdom. On Shiva’s insistence, he had even mastered all the Vedas and their knowledge.
From the face of it, Ravana was all set to become one of the greatest and divine figures of Indian mythology. Inspite of his arrogance and ego, his knowledge and wisdom could eventually have placed him as one of the most revered names of Hindu mythology. And though, he is still worshipped at a number of places in India for the same reason, he never did really reach a position and stature that he deserved.
Why a wise man like Ravana was doomed to meet such a fate in the hands of Rama. What was the flaw in the plan?
Illusion of Immortality:
Ravana performed one of the most difficult penances of all times to Brahma standing on one feet for hundreds of years, and after the penance got successful, Brahma granted him Amrut which he placed in his navel.
He had asked Brahma to be superior to devas,other Rakshasas, serpents, beasts, celestial beings, as he disrespected mortals . This illusion of immortality sowed the first seeds of arrogance in Ravana
The Return of the King:
Lanka was built by Vishwakarma and was acquired by Kubera, Ravana’s half brother. When Ravana returned from his penance, he won the complete control over Lanka from Kuber and the kingdom flourished under his rule.
It is believed that even the poorest of houses had vessels made up of gold and hunger vanished from the country. The rise of Lanka speaks volumes about him being a wise and a just ruler.
The Absolute Devotee:
After being granted Amrut by Brahma, Ravana started a penance to Shiva where he sacrificed his head 10 times, Shiva each time replacing his head. After the penance, Shiva blessed Ravana with 10 heads, after which he was known as Dashanan.
On a separate note, the 10 heads of Ravana represented the 4 Vedas and 6 Shastras which he had mastered, the heads symbolically representing his knowledge in all the 10 directions.
By now, Ravana had become so powerful, that he defeated all the deities of heaven, and gained control over the setting and rising of sun
The multi-faceted Ravana:
Nadi Shastra talk about Ravana being an expert in Ayurvedic texts. He also attended medical conferences held in those days.
Ravana was a great musician. As per legends, when he started playing his Veena, even Gods would appear to listen to his music.
He was an equally fierce warrior and a great administrator. While he was moments away from his inevitable death, Rama had asked Laxman to pay respect to Ravana and learn the methods of proper governance and administration, when Ravana eventually obliges Laxman with his knowledge.
As per Jains, a Tirthankars are human beings who achieve enlightenment and show the world the right path. Some souls are never released from the cycle of birth and death, and in repetitions, these 24 Tirthankars are born as humans and show the world the path to liberation.
Ravana, as per Jainism, is one of the 24 Tirthankars, a list which includes Krishna and Mahaveer themselves.
Jains, however, do not worship Ravana, because before he could have realized his destiny and given up on war, he was killed. They believe that in the next cycle of Tirthnankaras, Ravana will be born and lead humans this time.
Had Ravana not been killed by Rama, maybe he could have realized his evils and shown the path or liberation to the world.
The Divine Figure:
In many places in South India and South-east Asia, Ravana is still worshipped in temples, and devotees flock in large numbers to pay homage to him.
Kailash Temple in Kanpur opens its gates only for one day of the year, i.e. Dusshehra, and is worshipped on the day. Apart from this, Ravana is also worshipped in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh; Alwar, Rajasthan among other places.
In spite of him being a bona-fide villain in Hindu mythology, his effigies being burnt in almost every part of India on Dusshehra, his name being equivalent to evil, the divinity and respect he still enjoys, albeit concentrated to a few specific places and sects, is worth mentioning.
The chink in the armour:
Be it his son, his wife, his brothers or his sister, Ravana loved his family the most in the world. Though he placed his duties as a Brahmin and a king above his family, when Kumbhkarna was tricked by Brahma in receiving an eternal sleep as boon, Ravana performed some further penance and pleaded Brahma to amend the boon, which he then changed to 6 months of continuous sleep.
Ravana loved and respected his wife Mandodari and also used to take her advises on matters of high importance. And though, people may claim he didnt love Vibhishana as much, he loved him until he asked Ravana to give up war against Rama, when Ravana considered his kingdom the greatest of all.
It was his love for Surpanakha, that caused his inevitable downfall. Though he had previously murdered her husband as well, when he had tried to overthrow Ravana in greed for power, he loved and adored his sister. Add to that his arrogance, which forced him to seek some revenge against the men had who insulted his sister, formed the ingredients of his fall.
What would have happened had Surpanakha not proposed to Laxman, or had Laxman not cut her nose? Had Ravana not reacted strongly and had decided to negotiate with Rama and Laxman? Had Ravana accepted the peace proposals sent by Rama in the form of Angad, Hanuman? Had Ravana listened to Mandodari like he always did, when she asked him to let Sita go back to Rama? The epic would have been written differently, or we would have had another divine figure in the Hindu mythology to look up to.
Born in the lineage of one of the most learned and wise sages of all times, Rishi Pulatsya, Ravana had all the bearings which could make him a legend. That said, Ravana had his own share of sins that he committed, and before he could have had realized his sins (maybe he would have never had), he met his inevitable death when Rama’s arrow pierced his navel.
Not exactly a hero which Ravana could have been, he definitely had the knowledge to be one. But, his ego, his illusion of immortality, and the belief that he would never be punished for his sins made him fall in the battle of Ramayana.
Certainly an interesting character, where on one hand he stopped any kind of animal sacrifice in his kingdom and was pious and ascetic, on the other hand he had a long list of curses received from many celestial figures including Nandi.
The list doesn’t end here. There are many more things which can be talked and discussed to prove that Ravana was not that evil as he has been made out to be so but this one article is not sufficient to cover all the details.
Above list of facts, most of which are probably unknown to the massed are sufficient to bring the other side of story from Rama-Ravana episode. So, next time think just once again before assuming and calling Ravana as a symbol of just an evil.