Who was Ravana
Have you ever wondered who actually Ravana was? Was he a demon or the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva or the brother of Kuber, who is a god? Give this a read to find out the unknown facts about Ravana. Happy reading!!
History: Ravana also known as Dashanand was the king of Lanka. He is described as very powerful and conquered the whole world. He had many siddhis which he acquired from Lord Shiva. He was the singer and creator of the Mahamtritunjaya mantra. He was very well versed in many languages including Tamil which he acquired from Lord Shiva itself. According to legends he was the gatekeeper of Lord Vishnu who received a curse from the sons of Brahma to be incarnated as the foe of Narayan. He was the brother of Kuber who was the god of wealth. The two gatekeepers of Vishnu namely Jay and Vijay took three births as the enemy of Lord Vishnu who in turn incarnated himself into human form to free them from their cursed life. One such birth was Ravana and Kumbhakarna in the Treta yug who were killed by Lord Rama. Ravana abducted Sita, wife of Rama and took her to Lanka. Later Rama with the help of vanara king Sugriva freed her. The name Ravana means one who roars. He was a great scholar and master of Veena. He had the nectar of immortality inside his belly given by Lord Brahma. He was the great chanter of the Sama Veda. He was even a master of Arthashastra which he acquired from Sukracharaya itself. He was the son of great sage Vishrava and his grandfather was sage Pulastaya.
Devotee of Lord Shiva: He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and acquired many powers from him. He even got his name Dashanand meaning ten heads from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva gifted him Chandrahar which is a sword like weapon which none can defeat. He was the builder of the Baijinath Temple dedicated to lord Shiva in Himachal Pradesh which is also known as Ravanloka. He was the greatest Brahmin on Earth. Even Rama once addressed him as the “Maha Brahman”. Lord Shiva narrated the Ravan Samhita which is a scripture on Ravana. Ravana even sacrificed one of his heads to Lord Shiva. He was the chanter of the Shiva Rudrapurascharana and the composer of Shavite scripture that is Shiva Tandava Shrotam. According to beliefs Ravana built five Shiva temples in five corners of Sri Lanka. These temples are called Pancha Ishwarams. These temples namely are:
- Koneswaram Temple- situated in the east coast of Sri Lanka.
- Munneswaram temple- situated in the central coast of Sri Lanka
- Koneswaram Temple- in the West coast of Sri Lanka.
- Naguleswaram Temple- situated in the North coast of Sri Lanka
- Tondeswaram- West coast of Sri Lanka.
Medicine: Ravana had a great knowledge of medicine. His books on medicine include Ravanaproktabalacikitsastra which are the medicines for children given by Ravana. Other works include Ravanakumara Tantra which includes tantric rituals. Kriyakalagunottara Tantra is a Sanskrit book on the treatment of children’s diseases. He further composed the Arka Prakasa which is a 16th century work. In this he converses with his spouse Mandodari about medicinal herbs, plants and chemicals which can be mixed to cure various illnesses like Syphilis. He was also the writer of Nadi Pariksa and Nadi Vijana which gives knowledge about veins.
Phonetics: Ravana was the author of the Sanskrit text Ravanabhet which is a Vedic manuscript on phonetics. He was also the writer of Ravaniya or Ravanabaith which is a text on Telegu language phonetics. In Pakrit language Prakrta-Kamadhenu is a text devoted to the king of Lanka.
Alternate Ramayanas: In the Buddhist version of Ramayana that is Rin-spuns-pa or the Tibetan version it is told that Ravana would return as the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of Buddha in Kali Yuga.
In the Khamti Ramayana Rama is depicted as a Bodhisattva incarnation that would get tortured by Ravana.
Phra Lak Phra Lam or the Laotian Buddhist scripture describes Rama as a Bodhisttava containing virtues and Ravana as the greatest Brahmin who is the son of Virulaha and highly acquisitive.
In Preah Ream or the Cambodian Buddhist scripts Buddha is described as an incarnation of both Rama and Ravana and he is termed as a Rakshasha.
In Ramakien or the Thai Buddhist texts, Ravana is called Thotsakan and is having a green skin.
Buddha in Lankavatara Sutra goes to Lanka and he is depicted as a Rakshasha and a demon.
Yamraj in Karandavyuha Sutra questions the hell visitor as to whether he is god or demon, the incarnation of Vishnu or demon Rama.
In the Jain texts Rama and Ravana both were depicted as Jains. Here Ravana is Vidyadhara king who had supernatural powers. According to Jain texts Ravana was killed by Lakshmana and not Rama.
In the Ayyavazhi texts Ravana is called an Asura and not Rakshasha.
Brother of Kuber: Kuber was the god of wealth. Ravana was his half brother and took the golden Lanka and Pushpak Rath by defeating him. So by all this we can call Ravana a demi god as he was the son of a sage but his mother was a demoness Kaikashi. He was the descendent of sage Pulastayya who was the son of Brahma. So Ravana cannot be termed as a total demon only because he abducted Sita and fought with Rama. He was the incarnation of the residents of Vaikunth where no demons can enter.
These were some of the unknown facts about Ravana to give an insight into what he really was whether a demon or the greatest Brahman. He was even a very righteous king and saved his kingdom from all odds. Even Rama respected him and gave the boon that every time Rama’s name is chanted, Ravan’s name would also be taken. Such was the influence of Ravana that even the supreme lord Vishnu had to take human form and wander in the forests to defeat him.
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