Ravan – Sinner or sinned against

We have this ritual that I started when the kids were small.  I would take them to the Ram Lila grounds early in the day where they could see huge Ravans being constructed.  They would get under the effigies, peer into the hollow bodies and then watch the fireworks being stuffed inside.  They had fun, and I could avoid the evening visit and the risk of getting trampled by the crowds.  Lots of people came in the morning, did Ravan poojan and there would be a priest over there who distributed prasad to the devotees.  This was new to me and I started asking questions. 

Ravana

Ravana

Apparently Ravan, the antagonist in Ramayana was truly neither God or demon.   Ravana’s great-grandfather was Brahma, a deity. His grandmother was a demon. Ravana’s father was a sage and his mother was a rakshasa – a type of demon.  So, he had both bloodlines, but was fully neither.  When I asked devotees at the Ramlila Grounds, they said that they came to pay their respects to a learned person, a power infatuated human who was a great scholar but lost his way somewhere along the line.  He was a worshipper of Lord Shiva not a god himself. He is called a demon because of his acts….. or rather his pride in his learning and power became too much and led to his downfall.

You know what I think?  I think he got bad press.  Here is a man or superman or whatever … he loved this lady (so what if she was married) and tried his darnedest to win her over, staked his entire kingdom and life to do so and lost.  Of course it was shocking lapse of judgement on his part to abduct the lady, but he was angry at the mutilation of his own sister.  I don’t think there are any blacks and whites in this tale – there were too many grey areas glossed over.

I have heard of another book called the Ravayana which tells the story from the other side.  I wonder if any one has read it?

Do you know Ravan is a DC Comics villian?  Check it out.

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10 thoughts on “Ravan – Sinner or sinned against

  1. He was the inventor of the veena & the most accomplished pundit of his time. Anger & lust drove him from his path of virtue… That’s the lesson we should be learning rather than pious as Sita or virtuous as Ram…

    Excess of anything is bad that kind of thing should be taught but no….. We have orange clad fanatics who go around raping the ‘sitas’ of the country!

    (sorry… the cooker lid just went off!)

    😀 I know that feeling Advitiya. I totally agree

  2. Ravana matched in handsomeness, strength, valour, knowledge and piety, Rama. In fact after killing Ravana, Rama had to perform a detailed puja to Lord Shiva to annul the resulting sin out of killing a Shivabhakt.In many countries like Indonesia,Thailand ,he is considered as much a hero as Rama ..his real name was dashmukh and due to a curse by Valmiki he started being called Ravana which means ..Howler ..atleast ..I presfer him over Rama in many ways ..bali’s killing with deceit ,sita’s tyag n agni pareeksha ..some of the things which I always queastion ??????

    Very true and of course history and nobility belongs to the winner – who in this case was Rama

  3. I had always thought he was a decent guy, he did not mutilate Sita, he wooed her and respected her. He did kill Jatayu but then they were all killing each other in those days. I agree he got bad press.

    Oh yes, IHM, I agree

  4. I agree. I actually stretch this logic to a lot of mythological characters, like the kauravas, kaikeyi etc. I think the mythology we get to learn/read/watch is heavily biased. We never get to hear the other side of the story ever. I used to ask questions when I was small and was chided for that!

    LOLLL Me too

  5. Yup,
    Good aspects of his personality need to be explored.
    He got bad press, but now he has Ritu to redeem his reputation.
    Just kidding.
    I loved this post, and it was a great idea to show kids the unburnt Ravana effigies.

    Hehehehehehe, will he make me his brand ambassador and give me his Sone Ki Lanka? If so, I will double my efforts

  6. Watching the effigy of Ravana go up in fire, I felt a strange kind of pity for him. So many thousands of years after the fellow was killed, we still rejoice in burning his effigy. What sadists we must be!

    I sometimes feel he is a martyr

  7. Jo jeeta wohi Sikander …

    heard that before?

    History will always glorify the winners.
    Remember it was at Rameshwaram that Ravan obliged Ram and did a puja for him.

    No doubt he was great … perhaps at another end of spectrum to Ram.

    But he had lost his morals and was perhaps the biggest egotist ever.
    Not a good example to follow

    Umm Rama was also quite an egoist and very rigid in his thinking. I dont quite agree with that. I maintain that Ravana had bad press because he lost
    Ciao

  8. He was a great scholar and a great warrior…..who perhaps let his pride and ego get in his way. But a titan nevertheless, who has probably not got his due in history.

    An interesting interpretation I’ve come across is that his ‘ten heads’ actually meant he had the wisdom of ten….and not literally ten heads.

    Cheers,

    Quirky Indian
    http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com

    Yeah. Another one is even more fantastic. He wore a navratan mala – and the stones were so highly polished that they reflected his head – so one poet in a hyperbolic moment described him as Dashanan and it stuck

  9. “MAT GALI DO RAVAN KO KABHI
    RAVAN TO BAHUT HI HAI SAMMANNIYA
    DEKHI NA HAI UNKI JO ACHHAYIYAN
    KARTE HAIN SABHI BUS BURAYIYAN
    AAYURVED K THE BADE WO GUNI
    PANDIT AUR SHASTRON K GYATA BADE
    SEVA MAIN LAKHON THE UNKI KHADE
    SITA KA HARAN TO BAHANA THA BUS
    PRABHU KO LANA THA LANKA UNHEN”….
    it is a long poem written by me in the loving memory of mine fore father RAVAN ,Because i am also from KASHYAP Gotra as RAVAN was. He is very respectful to me & my family. We daily worship that respectful great man who brought LORD VISHNU on EARTH ….

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