‘Hate the sin and not the sinner is a teaching in most of the religions’.
Even Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, in his autobiography echoes the same sentiments. Another common saying is, ‘To err is human, to forgive divine’. My simple question is why this maxim does not apply to the king of Sri Lanka, Ravana.
We all agree that he committed the sin of kidnapping Sita, wife of lord Rama. But did he not pay a heavy price for it? Rama along with his army attacked Lanka and killed Ravana. His entire family was wiped out and Lanka was destroyed. Is it not enough punishment already?
Another perspective or question that shapes up is this: should we not also learn from his good qualities? Is it necessary that to glorify lord Rama in Ramayana, we should vilify Ravana? We all agree that king of Lanka, should never have abducted Sita.
But then, what about Laxmana, younger brother of Rama cutting the nose of Sarupnakha, sister of Ravana? Sarupnakha’s fault was that she first proposed to Rama and then to Laxmana. Ravana felt that it was his duty to avenge the insult of his sister.
What if we look at it from another perspective: that Rama fought for the honour of his wife Sita and Ravana for the honour of his sister?
While there can be several arguments to justify action of Laxmana, I personally feel Ravana had many good qualities too and deserves a little better treatment. I completely agree that we should celebrate Dussehra every year as a victory of good over evil. But is it necessary to burn effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnath on the occasion?
Ravana was one of the most knowledgeable man to have walked the earth. He is described as a devout follower of Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler, and a maestro of the Veena. He was well-versed in the four Vedas: The Rig, Yajur, Sama, and the Atharva Veda. He was completely versed in all the Shastras. Ravana is also known for having immense knowledge in the fields of astrology and medicine. The Ravana Samhita and the Arka Prakasham are attributed to him.
Ravana was a very efficient and just ruler, acknowledged even in Valmiki's Ramayana. In his rule, Lanka was called Sone Ki Lanka and entered the golden and most prosperous period in its history. According to Hindu mythology, Lanka was built by Vishwakarma, the best of all architects.
Ravana’s insatiable, all-consuming ego turned out to be his Achilles' heel, which negated all his otherwise divine qualities. In this respect, he is, and will forever be, a lesson to illustrate that even though one is well endowed with good qualities, a single weakness in character is enough to bring your downfall.
The main reason for the defeat of Ravana was his ego. Out of his ego and pride, Ravana turned his brother Vibhishana out of Sri Lanka when he advised him to return Sita to Ram and end the war. Ravana's egotism made him kidnap Sita for vengeance, and ultimately, Lord Rama destroys Ravana.
So, be a down-to-earth human being and learn from your mistakes. On the 10th day of the battle between Ravana and Rama, Vibhishana (his brother) told Rama to strike an arrow at Ravana’s navel , thus killing the demon king.
This story teaches us never to share our weakness with anyone. It also teaches us never to cast an evil eye on any women and respect her feelings. According to Hindu mythology, when Rambha visited Kailasha to attend a sacred festival, Ravana, the Rakshasha king, saw her. He was captivated by her beauty and sought her to fulfil his lust. After that, she told him that he would die if he touched a woman without her consent.
In the Bhagavatam Puranam, Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna are said to be reincarnations of Jaya and Vijaya, gatekeepers of Vaikuntha, abode of lord Vishnu. These gatekeepers refused entry to the Sanatha Kumara monks. For their insolence, the monks cursed them to be expelled from Vaikuntha and to be born on Earth.
In Sri Lanka, Ravana is portrayed in different light. He is described as a devout follower of God Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler, and a maestro of Veena, known as the ravanhattha. The story goes that Ravana in order to please his mother had decided to bring the mountain Kailash to Sri Lanka. As he lifted up the mountain, God Shiva was angered by his arrogance and pushed it back down, trapping Ravana.
The King of Lanka had torn off one of his own arms and made a musical instrument, ripping out sinews to form the strings. He used the newly invented ravanhattha to sing the praises of Shiva, creating music of such beauty that Shiva wept and forgave him. According to Hindu mythology, Ravana had a great lineage going up to the creator, lord Brahma. Ravana was born to a great sage Vishrava and his wife, princess Kaikesi.
His grandfather, the sage Pulastya, was one of the ten Prajapatis or mind-born sons of Brahma and one of the Saptarishis or the Seven Great Sages. Ravana’s siblings include Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna and Ahiravana and a stepbrother Kubera, from whom he usurped the Kingdom of Lanka.
It is said that Ravana ruled over Lanka for several hundred years prior to the times of Ramayana. Yet some believe Ramayana to be a semi-fiction woven around a real King who ruled over Sri Lanka from 2554 to 2517 BC. Sri Lankan lore has it that under Ravana, Lanka saw great advancements in science and medicine. The Pushpaka Vimana or the aeroplane which he flew is held as an example of great scientific achievements made during his regime.
Ravana also holds a high position as a physician and there exists, to this day, seven books on Ayurveda in his name. He is also believed to have authored Ravana Sanhita, an anthology of Hindu astrology. His description as a ten-headed person, Daśamukha or Daśagrīva, is believed to be a reference to his vast knowledge and intelligence. The country is filled with locations which are linked to the Ravana legend like Sita Elisa is believed to be a prison of Princess Sita while Wariyapola and Horton Plains are considered to be the landing sites of his flying machine.
Rumassala, a mountain peak near Southern oceans of Sri Lanka is too linked to the Ravana legend and is held to be a part of the Himalaya Mountain. The mountain filled with medicinal plants was allegedly brought to Sri Lanka to treat the injured of the Rama-
Ravana war . It is still there filled with herbs of rare medicinal value. Adam’s Bridge, a chain of limestone shoals, between Rameswaram and Mannar off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka too is connected to the legend of Ravana. Also known as Rama-Sethu or Rama’s bridge the land mass is believed to be a bridge built by monkeys interconnecting India and Sri Lanka and enabling the crossing of Rama’s army.
Investigations conducted by Indian National Remote Sensing Agency had suggested that the bridge connection could be a manmade structure built 5000 to 3500 years ago. Yet Sri Lankan Ravana fans contradict its origin and its builder. Sri Lankan historians believe that the bridge was built by Ravana and was a floating structure connecting Lanka with lands in India.
When devotees mark the triumph of good over evil on Dussehra by burning effigy of Ravana, people in some parts of India instead visit temples dedicated to the demon King. These worshippers believe Ravana to be a learned scholar and pay tribute to him on this day. The 125-year-old Dashanan Mandir in Shivala area of Kanpur was reportedly constructed in 1890 by King Guru Prasad Shukla. The temple opens its door for devotees annually on Dussehra.
Bisrakh is believed to be the birthplace of Ravana and a temple is dedicated to the Lankan King here in Uttar Pradesh. This is one of the most famous and well-known temples of the demon king in the country.
Ravana is regarded as a God in the region and Dussehra is not celebrated here by burning Ravana effigies. The nine days of Navratri is a period of mourning in the town of Bisrakh.
The city in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh houses one of the most famous temples of Ravana. It is believed that Ravana chose the site to build a temple of Lord Shiva. The sight has a gigantic Shivling mural, evidence of Ravana’s admiration for Lord Shiva, The temple is located close to the beach and is a famous tourist spot.
Kakinada is the only place in Andhra Pradesh where Ravana is worshipped. The village Ravangram, named after Ravana himself, houses one of the most famous temple of the Lankan King. Ravana’s wife Mandodari is believed to be from Vidisha.
Vidisha has a number of Ravana worshipers who visit the temple to worship him. The temple has a 10-foot-long statue of the Lankan King. The temple was just like any other temple which people visited on wedding days and other important occasions. But recently, Ravana worshipping has taken grand shape during Dussehra.
Madhya Pradesh has its fair share of Ravana worshippers who have built temples for the Lankan King. The temple in Mandsaur is believed to be the place where the wedding of Ravana and Mandodari took place.
The temple has statues of various female deities who are regularly worshipped. The temple is believed to be extremely old as texts in the script from Harappan civilisation were discovered next to the deities.