Hindu culture is based on the concept of dharma. It depicts how straying away from the path of dharma can wreck one’s life through the two Epics- Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Ramayana depicts Lord Rama (incarnation of Lord Vishnu) as the protagonist and the ten-headed Ravan as the antagonist.
Ravan was the demon King of Lanka changed the course of the epic. Ravan ruled with mighty power the gods, humans, and demons.
Though he was the Antagonist of the epic, the demon king was a genius scholar, a great musician, and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva.
Ravana was born to the sage Vishrava and the Rakshasi Kekasi. He also has three siblings who are Surpanaka, Kumbakarna, and Vibheeshana.
The name Ravana means roaring and he lived a powerful life like his name.
Ravana was also known by various other names such as
- Dasis Ravana
- Dasis Sakvithi Maha Ravana,
- Eela Vendhar.
Iconography and Lanka
In the Epic, Valmiki portrays Ravan with ten heads. The ten heads of Ravana are a symbolic representation of his vast knowledge.
It symbolizes his knowledge of the 4 Vedas and six Shastras. He was wise and extremely powerful and his ultimate goal was to rule all three worlds.
He along with his siblings performed severe penance worshipping the creator, Brahma, and wished for immortality.
Though he was denied, Lord Brahma gave him the pot of nectar that resides in the belly of Ravana.
Ravana fought endless battles with the gods and took over the Indralok. He became the King of Lanka by tricking the former king of Lanka and his half-brother Kubera (the god of wealth).
Once he conquered Lanka, Ravana made it an idyllic city with the celestial architect Vishwakarma at his command.
Once Ravana became the King of Lanka, the country flourished and he proceeded with his journey to conquer humans, devas, and demons.
Under Ravan’s reign, science and medicine saw profound advancement. The Pushapaka vimana, an airplane is the greatest scientific achievement that was made with his idea.
Ravana also holds a great position as a renowned Physician. To this day, there are seven Ayurveda books in his name.
Ravan- the devotee of Lord Shiva
When devotees of Lord Shiva are named, there is always a place for Ravan in the list.
His bhakti to the god of destruction gave him the power to lift Mount Kailash.
Though he was a Bhakth, Ravan’s arrogance led Shiva to push down the mountain.
The demon king tore his hand and a musical instrument. The strings were made using sinews of Ravana.
He made songs praising Lord Shiva with his Ravanhattha (the veena). Mesmerized by songs, lord Shiva forgave him.
Ravana’s downhill begun when he abducted Lord Rama’s wife Devi Sita by treachery to seek revenge for his sister’s insult.
Though he abducted Sita to seek revenge, he eventually fell in love with her and wanted to marry her.
Even after advice from wise people in his court and brother to return Sita, Ravana was blinded by arrogance. Sita refused to marry him and he held her captive for 10 months.
On his way to Lanka after Sita’s abduction, Ravan killed the bird king Jatayu.
Rama searched for Sita and came to know about Ravana from the dying Jatayu. Lord Rama put together an army with the help of His friend Sugriva (the Vanara king).
He met Hanuman at Mount Kishkindha, who became his ardent devotee. Hanuman crossed the sea and reached Lanka with his divine powers taking the message of peace.
Ravan didn’t pay heed to hanuman’s message and set fire to his long tail. To teach a lesson to Ravana, Hanuman set fire to the entire Lanka except for Ashoka Vana, Sita Lived.
Consumed by arrogance, Ravana ignored all advice. He led the way to war. Rama with the help of his Vaanara Sena built a bridge across the Indian ocean and reached Lanka.
The war began and the rakshas killed a lot of people in the Vanara army. The fierce battle accompanied by illusions and magic was fought for seven days.
Ravana’s sons died, brothers Kumbakarna died and Ahi and Mahi Ravana died.
Vibhishana deserted his brother and joined the Vanara troop. He informed Rama about the pot of nectar in Ravana’s belly which Rama destroyed and end the war.
As Ravana lay catching his last breath, Rama advised Lakshman to pick his Brain as Ravan was a great scholar.
Ravana was an ardent ruler and governed his subjects on the right basis. Lanka became one of the richest countries under his reign.