Ravana

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Ravana
Ruwin
Statue of Ravana from the 18th century CE
Raja of Lanka
PredecessorKubera
SuccessorVibhishana
Spouse
IssueMeghanada
Atikaya
Akshayakumara
Narantaka
Devantaka
Trishira
Prahasta
FatherVishrava Muni
MotherPushpothkatha
ReligionBuddhism, Hinduism , Jainism

Sri Ravana (IAST: Rāvaṇa; /ˈrɑːvənə/;[1]) is described in the Hindu epic Ramayana as Tamil Emperor of Lanka.[a][2][3]

Sri Ravana is described as having been as a follower of Shiva, a great scholar, one of the translator of vedas, capable ruler and a maestro of the Veena, but someone who wished to overpower the Devas. He is a Chakrawarthi king. His ten heads represent his knowledge of the six shastras and the four Vedas. In the Ramayana, Ravana kidnaps Sita, who is the wife of Rama to exact vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister Shurpanakha.

Sri Ravana is worshiped by Hindus of Bisrakh, who claim their town to be his birthplace.[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 the Buddhist Mahayana text Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, in Buddhist Ramayanas and Jatakas, as well as in Jain Ramayanas.

Etymology[edit]

Statue of Ravana at Koneswaram Hindu Temple, Sri Lanka

The word Rāvaṇa (Sanskrit: रावण) means roaring opposite of Vaiśravaṇa meaning "hear distinctly" (passive).[7][8] Both Ravana and Vaiśravaṇa, who is popularly known as Kubera, are considered to be patronymics derived as "sons of Vishrava".[7][8][9][10]

Rāvana was a title taken on later by Dashananda, and it means "screamer" in Sanskrit (Ravana would sing hymns).[11] Further, roravana is Sanskrit for "loud roaring." In Abhinava Gupta's Krama Shaiva scripture, yāsām rāvanam is used as an expression to mean people who are truly aware in terms of the materialism of their environment.

According to F. E. Pargiter, the word may originally have been a Sanskritisation of Iraivan, the Tamil name for a lord or king.[12][better source needed]

Ravana has many other popular names, such as Dasis Ravana, Dasis Sakvithi Maha Ravana, Dashaanan, Ravula, Lankeshwar, Lankeshwaran, Ravanasura, Ravanaeshwaran, and Eela Vendhar.[citation needed]

Iconography[edit]

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 (pronounced veh-nah; a chordophone instrument). Ravana is also depicted as the author of the Ravana Samhita, a book on Hindu astrology, and the 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.[13][page needed]

Depiction in the Ramayana[edit]

Birth[edit]

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

Ravana was born to great sage Vishrava (or Vesamuni), and his wife, the daitya princess Kaikeshi in Krita Yuga. People of Bisrakh village in Uttar Pradesh claim that Bisrakh was named after Vishrava, and that Ravana was born there. But according to Hela historical sources and folklore, Ravana was born in Lanka, where he later became king.

Ravana's grandfather on his father's side, the sage Pulastya,[14] was one of the ten Prajapatis or mind-born sons of Brahma and one of the Saptarishi (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the first Manvantara (age of Manu). His grandfather on his mother's side, Sumali (or Sumalaya), king of the Raksasas, was the son of Sukesha. Sukesha's parents were King Vidyutkesa, who had married Salakantankata (daughter of Sandhya), who had abandoned Sukesha, but by the grace of Shiva he survived. Sumali had wished her to marry the most powerful being in the mortal world, so as to produce an exceptional heir. He rejected the kings of the world, as they were less powerful than him. Kaikesi searched among the sages and finally chose Vishrava, the father of Kubera. Ravana and his siblings were born to the couple. They completed their education from their father, with Ravana being a great scholar of the Vedas. The brothers performed penances on Mt Gokarna for 11,000 years and won boons from Brahma. Ravana was blessed with a boon that would make him invincible to the creation of Brahma, except for humans. He also received weapons, chariot as well as the ability to shapeshift from Brahma. Ravana later usurped Lanka from his half-brother Kubera and became the King of Lanka. He appointed Shukracharya as his priest and learnt the Arthashastra (Science of Politics) from him. Rama once addressed Ravana as a "Maha Brahman" ("Great Brahman" in the context of his education).

After worshiping Shiva on the banks of the Narmada, in the more central Yadu region, Ravana was captured and held under the control of king Kartavirya Arjuna, one of the greatest Yadu kings. It is clear from the references in the Ramayana that Ravana was no commoner among the Humans or Asuras, but a great chanter of the Sama Veda.

Family[edit]

Queen Mandodari and the women of Lanka mourning the death of Ravana. Bas-relief of 9th century Prambanan temple, Java, Indonesia.

Ravana's family are hardly mentioned outside the Ramayana, which is viewed by some as being only the point of view of Rama devotees. According to that:

  1. Kuberan – the King of North direction and the Guardian of Heavenly Wealth. He was an older half-brother of Ravana: they were born to the same father by different mothers.
  2. Vibhishana – A follower of Rama and one of the most important characters in the Ramayana. As a minister and brother of Ravana, he spoke the truth without fear and advised Ravana to return the kidnapped Sita and uphold Dharma. Ravana not only rejected this sane advice, but also banished him from his kingdom. Vibhishana sought protection from Rama, which was granted without hesitation.
  3. Kumbhakarna – One of the most jovial demons in Hindu history. When offered a boon by Brahma, he was tricked into asking for eternal sleep. A horrified Ravana, out of brotherly love, persuaded Brahma to amend the boon. Brahma mitigated the power of the boon by making Kumbhakarna sleep for six months and being awake for the rest six months of a year (in some versions, he is awake for one day out of the year). During the war with Rama, Kumbhakarna was untimely awakened from his sleep. He tried to persuade Ravana to open negotiations with Rama and return Sita to him. But he too failed to mend the ways of Ravana. However, bound by a brother's duty, he fought on the side of Ravana and was killed in the battlefield. Before dying he met Vibhishana and blessed him for following the path of righteousness.
  4. Kharan – King of Janasthan.[15] He protected the northern kingdom of Lanka in the mainland and his kingdom bordered with the Kosala Kingdom, the kingdom of Rama. He was well known for his superior skills in warfare. He was killed by Rama.
  5. Dushana – Viceroy of Janasthan.
  6. Ahiravan – King of the Underworld ruled by the rakshasas by Ravana and the demon king Maya.
  7. Kumbhini – Older sister of Ravana and the wife of the demon Madhu, King of Mathura, she was the mother of Lavanasura. She was renowned for her beauty and later retired to the sea for penance.
  8. Shurpanakha – The sister of Ravana. She was the ultimate root of the kidnapping of Sita. She was the one who instigated her brothers to wage a war against Rama.
  • Ravana was married to Mandodari, the daughter of the celestial architect Maya, Dhanyamalini, and a third wife. He had seven sons from his three wives:[citation needed]
  1. Meghnaad (also known as Indrajit because he defeated Indra), the most powerful son
  2. Atikaya
  3. Akshayakumara
  4. Narantaka
  5. Devantaka
  6. Trishira
  7. Prahastha

Devotee of Shiva[edit]

Ravananugraha theme

Priestly ministers[edit]

Ravana is said in some version to have had Shukra Acharya, the priest of the Asuras, as his minister, and in some versions Brihaspati, the priest of the Devas.

One of the most original, which is not found in earlier manuscripts, tells how Ravana orders his court priest Brhaspati (all the gods being his slaves) to read the Chandi stava (mantras of Chandi), that is, the Devi Mahatmya, in order to stave off defeat if he can recite it. According to the Krttivasa text, Ravana arranged for a peaceful yajna (sacrifice) and to start the recitation of Chandi, Brhaspati was invited. Accordingly, Brhaspati recited the same correctly.[16]

Ravana in Sanskrit drama of Kerala, India- Kutiyattam. Artist: Guru Nātyāchārya Māni Mādhava Chākyār.[17]

Depiction in other scriptures[edit]

As Vishnu's cursed doorkeeper[edit]

In the Bhagavata Purana, Ravana and his brother, Kumbhakarna, were said to be reincarnations of Jaya and Vijaya, gatekeepers at Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu and were cursed to be born in Earth for their insolence.

These gatekeepers refused entry to the Sanatha Kumara monks, who, because of their powers and austerity appeared as young children. For their insolence, the monks cursed them to be expelled from Vaikuntha and to be born on Earth.

Vishnu agreed that they should be punished. They were given two choices, that they could be born seven times as normal mortals and devotees of Vishnu, or three times as powerful and strong people, but as enemies of Vishnu. Eager to be back with the Lord, they choose the latter one. Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna were born to fulfill the curse on the second birth as enemies of Vishnu in the Treta Yuga. The curse of first birth was fulfilled by Hiranyakashipu and his brother Hiranyaksha in Satya Yuga when they were both vanquished by earlier avatars of Vishnu (Hiranyaksha by Varaha and Hiranyakashipu by Narasimha) and the curse of third birth was fulfilled by Dantavakra and Shishupala in the Dwapar Yuga when they both were slain by Krishna, the eighth avatar.

Conflict with other kings and Asuras[edit]

Ravana had gotten into a conflict with some other major Asuras.

  1. In Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh is where he is said to have fought, but lost, to Kartavirya Arjuna, and he was tied up; later Kartavirya got the name Daśagrivajayi (the conqueror of Ravana just like Indrajit got his name by defeating Indra) and released him on the request of his grandfather sage Pulastya. Ravana vanquished.
  2. Marutta (Chakravarti King of Ushiraviga),
  3. Gadhi (Vishwamitra's father),
  4. Dushyanta (Bharata's father),
  5. Suratha (King of Vidarbha),
  6. Gaya (Chakravarti king of Dharmaranya), and
  7. Paurava (King of Anga).
  8. Ravana killed Anaranya, the king of Ayodhya although the latter cursed Ravana to be slain by Rama.
  9. Ravana was vanquished by the Ikshvaku King Mandhata, an ancestor of Rama.
  10. Ravana had wrestled his brother Kubera for the Pushpaka car.
  11. In the Ramayana, he fought Vali the Kishkindha king, but was defeated by him.
  12. He also fought with the Nivatakavachas, the descendants of Prahlada, but being unable to defeat them, struck an alliance with them.
  13. Another time he was vanquished by the sage Kapila.
  14. One time, upon hearing a discourse from Sage Sanatkumara, Ravana attempted to invade Vaikuntha. Only Ravana managed to enter Vaikuntha's capital Shwetadwipa where he was hopelessly outmatched by the inhabitants over there and was forced to retreat.

Historicity[edit]

According to the Uttra Kanda section of Ramayana, the Rakshasa were the goad or intelligent people[18] in Sri Lanka. They were led by Malyavantha, Sumali and Sukesha of the Rakshasa, who were ousted by the Deva with the help of Vishnu, and then subsequently ruled by King Ravana.

Modern descendants of Ravana[edit]

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

There are some Shiva temples where Ravana is worshiped.[19][20][21]

The Kanyakubja Brahmins of Vidisha district worship Ravana; they personify him as a symbol of prosperity and regard him as a saviour, claiming that Ravana was also a Kanyakubja Brahmin. Thousands of Kanyakubja Brahmins of the village Ravangram of Netaran, in the Vidisha District of Madhya Pradesh, perform daily puja (worship) in the Ravan temple and offer naivedyam / bhog (a ritual of sacrifice to the Gods). Centuries ago King Shiv Shankar built a Ravana temple at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The Ravana temple is opened once a year, on Dashehra Day, to perform puja for the welfare of Ravana.[22]

The Sachora Brahmins of Gujarat also claim to descend from Ravana, and sometimes have "Ravan" as their surnames.[23]

Some Saraswat Brahmins from Mathura claim Ravana as a saraswat brahmin as per his lineage.[24][25]

There is also reference to "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".[26]

The Gondi people of central India claim to be descendants of Ravana, and they also have temples set up for him, his wife Mandodari, and their son Meghnad. They also state that Ravana was an ancient Gond king, and the tenth dharmaguru of their tribe. Every year on Dussehra, the Gondis of the village of Paraswadi carry an image of Ravana riding on an elephant in a procession.[27][28]

Temples built by Ravana[edit]

Himachal Pradesh[edit]

Baijnath Temple was a Shiva temple in Himachal Pradesh state, also known as Ravankhola ("Place of Ravana").

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

Kakinada is a Shiva temple in Andhra Pradesh containing a huge Shivalinga, supposedly installed by Ravana himself, with a statue of Ravana near by. Both Shivalinga and Ravana are worshiped by the fishermen community there.

Sri Lanka[edit]

Ravana-Dahan (burning effigy of Ravana)[edit]

An effigy of Ravana with burning sparklers on Dusshera. Dashehra Diwali Mela in Manchester, England, 2006.

Effigies of Ravana are burned on Vijayadashami in many places throughout India. It is said that this symbolises Rama's triumph over evil (i.e., Ravana).[citation needed]

Ravanahatha[edit]

The ancient instrument known as a ravanahatha is said to have belonged to a sovereign in present-day India around 5000 BC. It replicates the ancient instrument called the Ravan hatta which is found even today in Rajasthan. Mythology credits this creation to Ravana.[citation needed]

Influence on Indian culture and art[edit]

Ravana with Hanuman in tholu bommalata, the shadow puppet tradition of Andhra Pradesh, India

A Ramleela actor wears the traditional attire of Ravana. One of the most important literary works of ancient India, the Ramayana has had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.[citation needed]

Texts attributed to Ravana[edit]

Astronomy[edit]

There are also texts attributed to Ravana. The Ravan Samhita is an astrological text or scripture narrated by Shiva and written by Ravana.

Medicine[edit]

The Ravanakumara Tantra is a part of the tantric rituals of the Kriyakalagunottara Tantra,[29] and it is an 11th-century Sanskrit work for the treatment of children's diseases.[citation needed] It is also known as the Ravanaproktabalacikitsasutra ("Sutra Spoken by Ravana on the Curing of Children's Diseases").

Ravana appears as the composer of the 16th century C.E. text, Arka Prakasa, which is a dialogue between the king of Lanka and his wife Mandodhari about which herbs and chemicals can be used in a mixture to cure illnesses, such as syphilis.

Ravana is also the composer of the 16th century C.E. scriptures Nadi Pariksa and Nadi Vijnana on knowledge about the veins.

Linguistics[edit]

Ravana is the composer of the Ravanabhet, a Vedic text on the phonetics of the Sanskrit language.

Ravana is also the composer of the Ravaniya, also known as Ravanabaith, a text on the phonetics of the Telugu language.

The Prakrta-Kamadhenu grammatical text on the Prakrit language is attributed to "Ravana Lankesvara".

Spirituality[edit]

The Samkhya scripture known as the Ravana-bhasya, also known as Ravanabhasya, is believed to be written by Ravana.

The Vaisesika scripture Katandi (a commentary on the Vaisesika Sutra) is attributed to Ravana.

Ravana is also the name used by a commentator of the Shaiva Rudrapurascharana.

"Ravanacharya" is the scholar who wrote the Padaratna, a commentary on the Rig Veda.

Ravana is the composer of the Shavite scripture Shiva Tandava Stotram.

Alternate Ramayanas[edit]

Buddhist versions[edit]

Rama is always the protagonist. In Rin-spuns-pa Tibetan Ramayana, it is prophesied that "Ravana" will return as the Buddha incarnation of Vishnu in the Kali Yuga.[citation needed]

The Khamti Ramayana as well describes Rama as a Bodhisattva incarnated to get tortured by Ravana.

In the Laotian Buddhist text Phra Lak Phra Lam, Rama is a Bodhisattva and the embodiment of virtues, while Ravana is a Brahmin ("mahabrahma") son of Virulaha who is highly materialistic.

In the Cambodian Buddhist text Preah Ream, Buddha is an incarnation of Rama and Ravana. He is a rakshasa.

In the Thai Buddhist text Ramakien, Rāvana is a rakshasa.[30] There, he is instead known as "Thotsakan" (ทศกัณฐ์, from Sanskrit दशकण्ठ, Daśakaṇṭha, "ten necks"), and he is depicted with green skin.

In the Lankavatara Sutra, Gautama Buddha pays a visit to Lanka, and in the scripture he is addressed as a Rakshasa. He is normally identified as a demon.

In the Karandavyuha Sutra, the god Yama asks if the visitor in hell (Avalokitesvara) whom he hasn't seen yet is a god or a demon, and asks whether he is Vishnu, Mahesvara, or the rakshasa ("demon") Rama.

Jain version[edit]

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.[31] Ravana was a Vidyadhara King who had magical powers.[32] Also, as per the Jain accounts, Ravana was killed by Lakshmana and not Rama in the end.[33]

In Ayyavazhi religion[edit]

In the Ayyavazhi religion, Ravana is considered an Asura, not a Rakshasa.[citation needed]

Dravidian movement[edit]

Pulavar Kuzhanthai’s Ravana Kaaviyam, is a brilliantly crafted panegyric on Ravana. The book is made of 3100 poetic stanzas in which Ravana is the hero. The book was released in 1946. The book was banned by the then congress state government. The ban was lifted only in 1971.[34][35]

Related TV series[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

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

Citations

  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 978-0-8426-0822-0.
  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. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Ravana in Noida: A book on Greater Noida". hindustantimes.com. 15 March 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Bisrakh seeks funds for Ravan temple - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b Aiyangar Narayan (1909) "Essays On Indo-Aryan Mythology-Vol.", p.413
  8. ^ a b MW Sanskrit Digital Dictionary p. 1026
  9. ^ The Ramayana Of Valmiki (Vol.2) Ayodhyakanda An Epic Of Ancient India
  10. ^ Hopkins, Edward Washburn (1915). Epic mythology. Strassburg K.J. Trübner. p. 142.
  11. ^ Ramayana By William Buck, Barend A. van Nooten, Shirley Triest
  12. ^ Roy, Janmajit (2002). Theory of Avatāra and Divinity of Chaitanya. ISBN 9788126901692.
  13. ^ Ramayana By Valmiki; Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas (Lanka Kanda Vibhishana & Rama Samvaad)
  14. ^ Rajarajan, R.K.K. (2018). "Woven Threads of the Rāmāyaṇa The Early Āḻvārs on Brahmā and Rāvaṇa". Romanian Journal of Indian Studies. 2: 9–45.
  15. ^ "History Hindus". Archived from the original on 9 August 2011.
  16. ^ Genesis and Evolution of the Rāma Kathā in Indian Art, Thought, Literature, and Culture: From the Earliest Period to the Modern Times, Volume 2 By Shanti Lal Nagar
  17. ^ Māni Mādhava Chākyār (1996). Nātyakalpadrumam. Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. p. 6.
  18. ^ Sanskrit Dictionary
  19. ^ Ravana has his temples, too. The Sunday Tribune – Spectrum. 21 October 2007.
  20. ^ Vachaspati.S, Ravana Brahma [in English], 2005, Rudrakavi Sahitya Peetham, Gandhi Nagar, Tenali, India.
  21. ^ Kamalesh Kumar Dave, Dashanan [in Hindi], 2008, Akshaya Jyotish Anusandan Kendra, Quila Road, Jodhpur, India.
  22. ^ Siddiqui, Faiz (10 October 2016). "A temple where demon king has his day". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  23. ^ People of India: A - G., Volume 4. Oxford Univ. Press. p. 3061.
  24. ^ "Mathura lawyer seeks ban on burning of Ravana effigies"
  25. ^ "A Dussehra without burning Ravana: This Brahmin community in Agra wants an end to practice"
  26. ^ Indian Culture: Journal of the Indian Research Institute, Volume 15 By I.B. Corporation
  27. ^ Asuras? No, Just Indians, Outlook India
  28. ^ Celebrating Ravan, The Hindu
  29. ^ The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India By David Gordon White
  30. ^ Vyas, Lallan Prasad. Prachi Darshan. p. 98.
  31. ^ Sharma, S.R. (1940), Jainism and Karnataka Culture, Dharwar: Karnatak Historical Research Society, p. 76
  32. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010), Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide, India: Penguin Books, p. 338, ISBN 9780143414216
  33. ^ Ramanujan, A.K. (1991), "Three hundred Rāmāyaṇas: Five examples and Three thoughts on Translation", in Paula Richman (ed.), Many Rāmāyaṇas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, University of California Press, p. 35, ISBN 978-0-520-07589-4
  34. ^ M.S.S. Pandian (2 November 1998). "Ravana As Antidote". Outlook India. Archived from the original on 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  35. ^ "Censorship of Dravidian Voices". April 2006. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018.

Bibliography

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Kubera
Emperor of Lanka Succeeded by
Vibhisana