Ravana – A warrior, A Villain or A Victim?
Dussehra is a celebration of victory of good over evil. During this festival people burn the effigy of Ravana. No doubt what Ravana did was Adharma, which was the reason for his end. He got his deserved punishment for captivating Sita. According to our Shastra, if we criticize an individual, it is our duty to appreciate or acknowledge the qualities of the same individual. Even Lord Rama emphasized on the same fact. According to a folklore, when Ravana was on his deathbed, Rama asked Lakshman to approach Ravana, show him due respect and seek some knowledge from him. This itself explains that no doubt Rama defeated Ravana to free Sita, but he too respected Ravana for his wisdom. We all have appropriate knowledge about Ram Rajya but do not possess knowledge about Ravana’s kingdom – a kingdom where his public were happy and satisfied. When it comes to discussing Ravana’s qualities, he was wise, knowledgeable, famous musician, philosopher, astronomer and an astronaut. He was a famous astrologer who wrote “Ravana Samhita” which contains vast knowledge of astrology and till date guiding many astrologers in many areas. It is disappointing to realize that we do not have actual knowledge about such a wise man – the Ravana. Sita had a blessing that no man could touch her against her wish, if anyone did so, he would convert into ash. Ravana was aware of this blessing of Sita. When Ravana came to kidnap Sita and convinced her to cross the Lakshman Rekha, with his power Ravana lifted the piece of land and this way sita was taken to his Pushpak vimana. When Sita was kept in Ashok Vatika, she was given her due respect. Ravana neither came near Sita, nor touched her. During her stay in Ashok Vatika, Sita refused to eat or drink anything. Ravana had scientific knowledge, and with a chemical composition he created an atmosphere in Ashok Vatika where an individual’s health would not be affected adversely, and also the person would not feel thirsty or hungry. This explained that though Ravana had kept Sita in his captivation but he did his responsibility by taking care of her. It is seen that we have few male chauvinists in our society who always disrespect females and look at them with a leer. But unlike them, Ravana never saw Sita as a means of pleasure. That does not mean what he did can be supported but his virtues should be respected too. There are some groups of Hindus who still worship Ravana. They consider him as a philosopher, good administrator, a tragic hero and also a brother who respected her sister Surpanakha to such an extent that by knowing everything he initiated the reasons for war with Rama. It is well known that he was a big devotee of Lord Shiva and His favourite too. Ravana also wrote the famous Shiv Tandav Stotram. It is seen that our ancestors had often collected their knowledge from authentic sources of Ramayana and were wise enough not to judge the character of Ravana. They had the capacity to analyze both the sides of Ravana’s character. It is not mentioned anywhere in our Shastra that Ravana dragged Sita forcibly and kidnapped her.
The concept of burning Ravana during Dussehra has developed around 200 years ago, it was not practised earlier. Ravana was an individual with high moral values and ethics. According to Ramayana, when Lord Rama along with His troops crossed the sea and reached near Lanka. Rama decided to do a Yagya for defeating Ravana. Lord Rama was aware that the best and wise priest to conduct this Yagya would be only Ravana as there was no such wise man like Ravana in the entire universe. Rama asked Jambavant to request Ravana and invite him as a priest for the same. When Jambavanta reached Lanka he was greeted with respect by Ravana. When Jambavant was asked the reason to visit Lanka, the former said that Lord Rama had arranged for one Yagya ceremony for which he requested if Ravana could come as priest. Against everyone’s opposition, Ravana agreed to do the Yagya. In order to follow the ritual of this Yagya, Ravana requested Hanuman to escort Sita with due respect. He completed this Yagya by knowing the fact that the successful completion of this particular Yagya would lead Lanka’s defeat. This shows that definitely Ravana indulged in Adhrama but he had certain principles. In those days people were not corrupt like present days. They used to follow certain rules, ethics even during war, where after sunset both the parties involved in war used to be in their own specific shelter. But in present days, there are no principles to govern a war. Air strikes at night have become a common strategy during night.
To conclude, it can be said that – Rama was a hero and will always be a hero. But Ravana was also a man to praise. His life journey teaches us that arrogance brings the end of power. As an individual one should get rid of his arrogance, otherwise it can have fatal consequences. It is important to empower positive force, work on weaknesses and channelize power in the appropriate direction. Otherwise if powerful and intellectual Ravana could be doomed when put on airs, we are mere simple humans.
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