“Ramayana wasn’t created to ask if Ravana was good or bad. Because Ravana was never born in the first place. He existed in our systems, since always.”
“Every year as humanity burns an eons old epic villain, the progenitor of evil and the ambassador of vices, The Mighty War Lord Ravana himself asks the masses as he is lit aflame…
‘I’ll be reduced to ashes all over again. I shall repent and repay for my sins all over again. And shall forever be burnt as a symbol of the wrongdoings ailing this world.
But tell me, are you all Ram, are you worthy of slaying me all over again? ‘
A day post Dussehra celebration, crores gutted to the ground, which would have instead been the fodder of the hungry and drape of the cold, any intellectual shall inevitably question, was it worth it?
Amidst all the religious adulteration and diluting of the whole Hinduism-spirituality concept, it’s about time we realized that, Hindu mythology is not merely a fable worth reciting in temples and pujas. Even after being constantly rephrased over centuries, it has ages of wisdom and experiences added to it. It is a kaleidoscope, it is a way of living, with deep philosophies and concepts reflecting from each and every tale.
Which, sadly we often fail to uncover.
Same is the case with Ramayan. Its characters, its plot, its outcome.
Even Ravana. Every year the debate arises. Was Ravana worthy of being respected, should his good deeds be acknowledged, and are we truly justified in jolly Dussehra celebrations without understanding the motive of it?
Ravana did wrong by abducting Sita, obviously.
One might say that his sin is far less as compared to what women suffer today. He did it for his sister and is an ideal brother. I’d vary, by saying that, just because someone today is a bigger sinner, doesn’t nullify Ravana’s crimes. And for which Ram justifiably punished him by killing him.
But what none of us realize is that, Ramayana is not just a pedestrian epic which is a hear-believe tell-tale. It goes way deeper than that.
Those who have read Ramayana know that Ram later atoned for the sin of killing Ravana.
Why should a God do that?
Ravana was a Brahmin. A descendant of the lineage of Great Rishi Pulastya. Ram was a Kshatriya, thus belonging to a lower class than him in the caste hierarchy. Killing him meant Brahmahatya-paap. Or Brahminicide. Which in vedic era was a sin. This was why Lord Ram atoned.
And above that,
Ram considered Ravana his Guru.
Another finer detail which very few of us acknowledge is that when Ram fired the last arrow, and killed Ravana, he immediately told Laksham to go to him and ask for any and every knowledge he had to give. Because he knew him as an enemy for long, but did not have the privilege to meet him as a Scholar. So his wisdom should not die with him.
Lakshman like the faithful brother, obeyed. Went and asked the dying Ravana for his last pieces of wisdom, so the world may usher.
But Ravana merely turned his head and closed his eyes.
A nonchalant Lakshman returned and told Ram that Ravana, like the arrogant-brute he was, turned his head.
To which Ram asked, where he stood whilst asking him. Lakshman said, at his head so he could listen more carefully.
Now Ram understood his brother’s folly. He himself went, and stood at Ravana’s feet, and with joined palms asked for his wisdom. A now dead Ravana opened his eyes, because Ram stood at his feet, like a pupil at his Guru’s, ready to accept knowledge.
And he spoke,
“If only I had more time as your teacher than as your enemy. Standing at my feet as a student should, unlike your rude younger brother, you are a worthy recipient of my knowledge. I have very little time so I cannot share much but let me tell you one important lesson I have learnt in my life. Things that are bad for you seduce you easily; you run towards them impatiently. But things that are actually good for you, fail to attract you; you shun them creatively, finding powerful excuses to justify your procrastination. That is why I was impatient to abduct Sita but avoided meeting you. This is the wisdom of my life, Ram. My last words. I give it to you.”
Now this, is not about Ravana being good or bad. This isn’t about Valmiki being an adept writer. This is a part of the epic culmination of the ancient Indian/Hindu lifestyle. This, is ancient wisdom encapsulated in Sanskrit fables catering the curiosity and banishing the ignorance of common masses. This is the moral of the epic we all are missing in our discussions!
The whole point of Ramayana wasn’t to produce forth another God to construct idols of and worship in temples. It was to produce forth a reaction in each of our minds, to begin churning the gears of our dormant intellects. This was the whole point of Ramayana.
We are busy fighting over the messenger and his arch enemies, but did we get their message?
Neither you, neither me.
Ram is a concept, Ram as an ideal Son, Student, Ascetic, Husband and a King, teaches us that Dharma is God. And God is one.
A simple man who lived by the rules and died by the rules, setting an example for every mortal. Showing the path of peace and righteousness.
He teaches that Dharma, or one’s duty precedes all. And one who shuns away from his Dharma, isn’t worthy of the title of ‘Maryada Purushottam’. Or the Ideal Man.
A city of gold without a single hungry or poor soul in it, a champion who’s brawn was acknowledged on earth and in Heavens alike. An unmatched sexual prowess. Superior to any mortal both physically and mentally. A scholar in 4 Vedas and 6 Shastras, hence the 10 heads. An ascetic who could invoke Lord Shiva himself with his penance.
He was flamboyant in every way Ram was not.
Ravana composed Rudra Stotra in praise of Shiva.
Created an instrument. The Rudra-Veena with one of his heads as the gourd, a limb as the bow and his nerves as the strings.
Carried Mount Kailasa with Shiva on it to Lanka so that the God is forever besides him.
He has 10 pairs of eyes. He can see more.
He has 10 heads. He can think more.
He has 20 hands. He can do more.
Hence the point was never whether Ravana was good or bad.
It is to understand that, even with all his prowess, knowledge of the Vedas and showing off his wisdom of the science of detachment and yog, he still remains a slave to his senses, an addict to his vices and a victim of his own ego.
It’s not a person.
Ravana is a thought that objectifies all of us today.
We know what’s up. We know how to rectify it.
Still we all rather choose to be a product of our shallow, transient and selfish choices.
That’s what Ramayana teaches.
So let’s ask whether we need to burn an effigy to support a mere myth every year, let’s ask whether we are good or bad, instead of asking the same about Ravana or Ram.
Because Ravana was never born in the first place. He existed in our systems, since always.
About The Author
“Adarsh Raj is The Wolf of All Streets, who takes life as it comes in his face, and runs down his chin. We catch flies with honey, but he catches more hunnies being fly. Matter of fact, he didn’t choose the the thug life, the thug life chose him.
Oh and he stole my girl !!!” – Everyone else