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"Ravan" and "Ravanan" redirect here. For other uses, see Ravan (disambiguation).
Statue of Ravana from 18th century CE
Consort Mandodari, Dhanyamalini
Children Indrajit

Ravana (IAST: Rāvaṇa; /ˈrɑːvənə/;[1] Sanskrit: रावण) is the mythical primary antagonist in the Hindu epic Ramayana where he is depicted as the Rakshasa (demon) king of Lanka.[a][2][3]

Ravana is depicted and described as having ten heads and as a follower of Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler and a maestro of the veena, but someone who wished to overpower the devas. His ten heads represent his knowledge of the six shastras and the four Vedas. In the Ramayana, Ravana kidnaps Rama's wife Sita to exact vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister Shurpanakha.

Ravana is worshipped by Hindus in some parts of India, Sri Lanka and Bali (Indonesia.)[4][5][6] He is considered to be the most revered devotee of Shiva. Images of Ravana are seen associated with Shiva at some places. He also appears in Buddhist Mahayana text Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra.


Statue of Ravana at Koneswaram Temple, Sri Lanka.

The word Rāvaṇa means roaring opposite of Vaiśravaṇa meaning "hear distinctly" (passive).[7] Both Ravana and Vaiśravaṇa, who is popularly known as Kubera, are considered to be patronymics derived as sons of Vishrava.[8]


Ravana is thought to be a maestro of the veena

Ravana is depicted and described as having ten heads, although sometimes he is shown with only nine heads because he has sacrificed a head to convince Shiva.[citation needed] He is described as a devout follower of Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler and a maestro of the Veena. Ravana is also depicted as the author of the Ravana Samhita, a book on Hindu astrology, and also Arka Prakasham, a book on Siddha medicine and treatment. Ravana possessed a thorough knowledge of Siddha and political science. He is said to have possessed the nectar of immortality, which was stored inside his belly, thanks to a celestial boon by Brahma.[9][page needed]

Depiction in the Ramayana[edit]

Kubera Ravana's Brother, Lord of Wealth and the North-direction
Brahma-Ravana's great grand father.
Vibhishana (right-brother of Ravana), SriRama and Sita worship god Shiva at Rameshwaram looks on with Lakshamana, Tumburu and Narada

Ravana was born to a great sage, Vishrava (or Vesamuni), and his wife, the daitya princess Kaikesi. People of Bisrakh village in Uttar Pradesh claim that their village was named after Vishrava and that Ravana was born there.[10]

Ravana in Sanskrit drama of Kerala, India- Kutiyattam. Artist: Guru Nātyāchārya Māni Mādhava Chākyār[11]


According to the Uttra Kanda section of Ramayana, the Rakshasa (also known as Raksha) clan were the mythical inhabitants of Lanka who were said to have lived among the Naga, Yaksha and Deva. They were led by Malyavantha, Sumali and Sukesha of the Raksha, who were ousted by the Deva with the help of Vishnu, and then subsequently ruled by Ravana.[12]

The Raksha vanish from history after their mention in the Ramayana, except in Sri Lankan folk stories. European scholars consider the story of Ravana and the Raksha to have been made in historic times, due to the knowledge of Sri Lankan locations mentioned in the stories, and therefore the story is considered not to be based on fact.[13] The Mahavansa also makes no mention of a great Raskha civilisation and there is no archaeological evidence suggesting a civilisation ruled by Ravana existed.[14]

Temples related with Ravana[edit]

Thotsakan (Ravana)'s sculpture as a guardian of Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand

There are some Shaiva temples where Ravana is worshipped.[15][16][17] Ravana is considered the most revered devotee of Shiva. The images of Ravana are seen associated with Shiva at some places.[citation needed]

The Sachora Brahmins of Gujarat claim descent from Ravana and sometimes have Ravan as their surname.[18]

There is also reference to the Ravani lineage of Upadhyaya Yasastrata II, who was of the Gautama gotra and was a son of Acharya Vasudatta, and described as "born of Ravani" [19][full citation needed]

Alternate Ramayanas[edit]

Buddhist versions[edit]

In the Thai Buddhist text, Ramakien, Ravana is a rakshasas.[20][need quotation to verify]

Jain version[edit]

Further information: Salakapurusa

Jain accounts vary from the traditional Hindu accounts of Ramayana. The incidents are placed at the time of the 20th Tirthankara, Munisuvrata. According to Jain version, both Rama as well as Ravana were devout Jains.[21] Ravana was a Vidyadhara King having magical powers.[22] Also, as per the Jain accounts, Ravana was killed by Lakshmana and not Rama.[23]



  1. ^ Identified by many with modern-day Sri Lanka


  1. ^ "Ravana". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia: A Comprehensive Dictionary With Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 354. ISBN 0-8426-0822-2. 
  3. ^ Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. 1999. p. 909. ISBN 9780877790440. 
  4. ^ "Only the elderly come to mourn Ravana in 'birthplace' Bisrakh". The Indian Express. 2014-10-04. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 
  5. ^ "Ravana in Noida: A book on Greater Noida". http://www.hindustantimes.com/. 2014-03-15. Retrieved 2016-06-14.  External link in |website= (help)
  6. ^ "Bisrakh seeks funds for Ravan temple - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 
  7. ^ Aiyangar Narayan (1909) "Essays On Indo-Aryan Mythology-Vol.", p.413
  8. ^ MW Sanskrit Digital Dictionary p. 1026
  9. ^ Ramayana By Valmiki; Ramcharitmas by Tulsidasa (Lanka Kanda Vibhishana & Rama Samvaad)
  10. ^ "?". IBN Live. [dead link]
  11. ^ Māni Mādhava Chākyār (1996). Nātyakalpadrumam. Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. p.6
  12. ^ Ramayana Research. (2008). A Short History Of Heladiva. Available: http://ramayanaresearch.com/heladiva.html. Last accessed 14 March 2010.
  13. ^ H. Parker (1909). Ancient Ceylon. New Dehli: Asian Educational Services. 7.
  14. ^ H. R. Perera. (1988). Buddhism in Sri Lanka - A short history. Available: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/bud-srilanka.pdf. Last accessed 02 10 10.
  15. ^ Ravana has his temples, too. The Sunday Tribune – Spectrum. 21 October 2007.
  16. ^ Vachaspati.S, Ravana Brahma [in English], 2005, Rudrakavi Sahitya Peetham, Gandhi Nagar, Tenali, India.
  17. ^ Kamalesh Kumar Dave,Dashanan [in Hindi], 2008, Akshaya Jyotish Anusandan Kendra, Quila Road, Jodhpur, India.
  18. ^ People of India: A - G., Volume 4. Oxford Univ. Press. p. 3061. 
  19. ^ Indian Culture: Journal of the Indian Research Institute, Volume 15 By I.B. Corporation
  20. ^ Vyas, Lallan Prasad. Prachi Darshan. p. 98. 
  21. ^ Sharma, S.R. (1940), Jainism and Karnataka Culture, Dharwar: Karnatak Historical Research Society, p. 76 
  22. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010), Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide, India: Penguin Books, p. 338 
  23. ^ Ramanujan, A.K. (1991). "Three hundred Rāmāyaṇas: Five examples and Three thoughts on Translation". In Paula Richman. Many Rāmāyaṇas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. University of California Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-520-07589-4. 


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Emperor of Lanka Succeeded by