“रावण रावण श्री राम का दीवाना था, राम से मुक्ति रावण को पाना था।“
What is your earliest memory of Ravana, the Rakshasa who was the king of Lanka? Ever since childhood, we all have been told stories from Ramayana, many of which revolved around Ravana- how villainous, fearsome and tyrannical he was as the ruler of Lanka. But we barely know about the intensely talented qualities that he possessed. As Dussehra comes to an end, let’s discover more about Ravana.
A Staunch Shaivite:
Ravana was a very fierce bhakt of Lord Shiva. It is often speculated that Ravana was the greatest Shiv Bhakt on the planet. His devotion was on a very high level, and it is said that it was Ravana who composed the Shiva Tandava Stotram. He spent several hundred years in Tapasya of the Lord. He was so devoted that to prove his devotion, he chopped off his head. But every time he did so, a new head appeared. Pleased with his ardent love, Lord Shiva appeared after the tenth decapitation, and not only did he bless him with ten heads, he also offered him a boon, which was the Nectar of Immortality. Shiva blessed him with the fact that as long as the Nectar of Immortality stayed in Ravana’s navel, no one could harm him.
Ravana in his penance
A True Scholar:
Ravana was born to the great sage, Vishrava, and the Asura princess, Kaikesi. So he was a Brahmin and a Daitya at the same time. As a Brahmin, he was a great scholar. His knowledge was more than that of a layman or even a preacher. His thirst for knowledge led him to be utterly proficient in the 6 Shastras and the 4 Vedas. For this, he was highly respected by the people around him.
A Keen Musician:
Ravana was not just a great scholar. He was also an excellent musician. He had great respect for music and had mastered the Raagas as well. He was a prolific Veena player. He also constructed his own musical instrument, the Ravanahatta, and using it, he dedicated his devotion to Lord Shiva. The Ravanahatta is still existent in some areas of India, and Sri Lanka and is mostly used by bards and minstrels.
Ravana playing the Veena
A Brilliant Warrior:
Ravana possessed great wits, and with his excellent stratagem, he often practiced penance to please the gods, thus gaining boons and blessings from them. One of his boons was great warrior skills. He was very adept in the war front and possessed war abilities that frightened even the Gods. His courage knew no bounds, and he was also a highly regarded as an administrator.
A Capable Emperor:
Contrary to some editions of stories, Ravana was indeed a very able and beloved ruler for his subjects. He ruled over a vast and enriched kingdom, whose population was considered highly civilized as compared to its contemporaries. Ravana’s “Sone Ki Lanka” was extremely cultural and prospered a lot under Ravana’s reign.
The Importance of the 10 Heads:
If you think Ravana had ten heads because he was an Asura, that’s where you lack the information. As stated earlier, Ravana was a devout Shaivite, and while practicing penance, he decapitated his head, and each time he did so, a new head appeared. His ten heads were a blessing from Lord Shiva. But these were no ordinary heads. These heads symbolized the ten important emotions and senses of the human- lust, anger, delusion, greed, pride, envy, the mind, intellect, will, and ego. Although Ravana had a high intelligence, he also considered the other senses necessary, which is why we are shown the ten heads of Ravana.
Since time immemorial, we have been burning statues of Ravana on Vijaya Dashami to mark the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana and his evil actions. But there are a lot of facts that are still unknown about Lanka Naresh Ravana. Oh, and did you know, Ravana is worshipped in certain parts of India, and the world as well? Do check out this video which is a speculation of a possibility of Ravana’s existence.