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Ravana (//; Sanskrit: रावण, IAST: Rāvaṇa, pronounced [ˈraːʋɐɳɐ]) is a multi-headed rakshasa king of the island of Lanka, and the chief antagonist in the Hindu epic Ramayana. In the Ramayana, Ravana is described as the eldest son of sage Vishrava and Kaikesi. He abducted Prince Rama's wife, Sita, and took her to his kingdom of Lanka, where he held her in the Ashoka Vatika. Rama, with the support of vanara King Sugriva and his army of vanaras, launched an invasion against Ravana in Lanka. Ravana was subsequently slain, and Rama rescued his beloved wife Sita.
|Affiliation||The King of Lanka, Rakshasa|
|Predecessor||Kubera (King of Lanka)|
|Successor||Vibhishana (King of Lanka)|
|Texts||Ramayana and its versions|
|Children||Indrajit, Atikaya, Akshayakumara, Narantaka, Devantaka, Trishira|
Ravana is widely portrayed as being an evil character, though he is also a learned scholar. He was well-versed in the six shastras and the four Vedas, including the Shiva Tandava Stotra. Ravana is also considered to be the most revered devotee of Shiva. Images of Ravana are often seen associated with Shiva at temples. He also appears in the Buddhist Mahayana text Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, in Buddhist Jatakas, as well as in Jain Ramayanas. In some scriptures, he is depicted as one of Vishnu's cursed doorkeepers.
The word Rāvaṇa (Sanskrit: रावण) means "roaring" (active), the opposite of Vaiśravaṇa which means to "hear distinctly" (passive). Both Ravana and Vaiśravaṇa, who is commonly known as Kubera, are considered to be patronymics derived from "sons of Vishrava".
Ravana was a title later taken on by Dashānana, and it means "the one with ten (dasha) faces (anana)". 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 of the materialism of their environment.
Ravana has many other popular names such as Dasis Ravana, Dasis Sakvithi Maha Ravana, Dashaanan, Ravula, Lankapati, Lankeshwar, Lankeshwaran, Ravanasura, Ravanaeshwaran, and Eela Vendhar.
Ravana is depicted and described as having ten heads, although he is sometimes shown with only nine heads since he cut one off to convince Shiva. 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 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 from Brahma.[page needed]
Life and legends Edit
Ravana was born to the sage Vishrava and the Rakshasa princess Kaikesi in Treta Yuga. Villagers from Bisrakh in Uttar Pradesh claim that Bisrakh was named after Vishrava, and that Ravana was born there. However, according to Hela historical sources and folklore, Ravana was born in Lanka, where he later became king.
Ravana's paternal grandfather, the sage Pulastya, 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 maternal grandfather was Sumali (or Sumalaya), the king of the Rakshasas and the son of Sukesha. Sumali had ten sons and four daughters. Sumali wished for Kaikesi 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 and they completed their education from their father, with Ravana being a great scholar of the Vedas.
Boon from Brahma Edit
Ravana and his two brothers, Kumbhakarna and Vibhishana, performed penance on Mount Gokarna for 11,000 years and won boons from Brahma. Ravana was blessed with a boon that would make him invincible to all the creations of Brahma, except for humans. He also received weapons, a chariot, as well as the ability to shapeshift from Brahma. According to the Ramayana, demigods approached Brahma since Ravana was causing harm on Earth. Lord Vishnu appeared and gave blessings that he will incarnate as a human (Rama) and kill Ravana since his invincibility boon did not include humans.
Devotee of Shiva Edit
One of the most popular images of Shiva is called "Ravananugraha", which was popular in the Gupta era. It depicts Ravana beneath Mount Kailash playing a veena made out of his head and hands, and strings made out of his tendons, while Shiva and Parvati sit on top of the mountain.[full citation needed] According to scriptures, Ravana once tried to lift Mount Kailash, but Shiva pushed the mountain into place and trapped Ravana beneath it. For a thousand years, the imprisoned Ravana sang Shiva Tandava Stotra, a hymn in praise of Shiva, who finally blessed him and granted him an invincible sword and a powerful linga (Shiva's iconic symbol, Atmalinga) to worship.
Ravana's parents were the sage Vishrava (son of Pulastya) and Kaikesi (daughter of Sumali and Tataka or Ketumati). Ravana had ten maternal uncles and three maternal aunts. Dhumraksha, Prahastha, Akampana, Maricha, and Subahu, a few of his maternal uncles, were generals in the Lanka army. Kaikesi's father, Sumali, was instrumental in making Ravana the king of Lanka by advising him to receive boons from Brahma, defeat Kubera, and establish rakshasa rule in the three worlds.
Ravana had three wives, Mandodari, the daughter of the celestial architect Maya, Dhanyamalini, and a third wife. His sons from his three wives were Meghanada, Atikaya, Akshayakumara, Narantaka, Devantaka, Trishira, and Prahasta.
Priestly ministers Edit
One account narrates how Ravana ordered Brihaspati to recite the Chandi stava (mantras of Chandi), more specifically the Devi Mahatmya, in order to stave off defeat. According to the Krttivasa text, Ravana arranged for a peaceful yajna, and invited Brihaspati to start the recitation of Chandi.[full citation needed]
Other legends Edit
Vishnu's cursed doorkeeper Edit
In the Bhagavata Purana, Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna are said to be reincarnations of Jaya and Vijaya, gatekeepers at Vaikuntha (the abode of Vishnu), and were cursed to be born on 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 and gave them two options. First, that they could be born seven times as normal mortals and devotees of Vishnu, or strong and three times as powerful, but as enemies of Vishnu. Eager to be back with the Lord, they chose the latter option. The curse of the 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). Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna were born to fulfill the curse in their second birth as enemies of Vishnu in Treta Yuga. The curse of the third birth was fulfilled by Dantavakra and Shishupala in the Dvapara Yuga, when they both were slain by Krishna, the eighth avatar.
Conflict with other kings and Asuras Edit
Throughout his life, Ravana had gotten into conflict with several major Asuras. In Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, he is said to have fought and lost to Kartavirya Arjuna. Ravana was vanquished by the Ikshvaku King Mandhata, an ancestor of Rama, as well as by the sage Kapila. In the Ramayana, he fought Vali, the Kishkindha king, but was defeated by him because of his boon to obtain half the strength of anyone he fought. He also fought with the Nivatakavachas, descendants of Prahlada, but struck an alliance with them after being unable to defeat them.
Once, 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 and was forced to retreat.
He killed Anaranya, the king of Ayodhya, although he cursed Ravana to be slain by Rama.
He also fought Marutta (Chakravarti King of Ushiraviga), Gadhi (Vishwamitra's father), Dushyanta (Bharata's father), Suratha (King of Vidarbha), Gaya (Chakravarti king of Dharmaranya), and Paurava (King of Anga).
Worship and temples Edit
Ravana is worshipped by the Kanyakubja Brahmins of the Vidisha region, who see him as a savior and a sign of prosperity, claiming 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 in the Ravana temple and offer naivedyam or bhog (a ritual of sacrifice to the gods).
The Sachora Brahmins of Gujarat claim to be descendants of Ravana, and sometimes have "Ravan" as their surnames.
There has also been reference to "Ravani", the lineage of Upadhyaya Yasastrata II, who was of the Gautama gotra and Acharya Vasudatta's son, and described as "born of Ravani".[full citation needed]
The Gondi people of central India claim to be descendants of Ravana, and have temples for him, his wife Mandodari, and their son Meghnad. They also state that Ravana was an ancient Gond king, the tenth dharmaguru of their tribe, and the eighteenth lingo (divine teacher). Annually on Dussehra, the Gondis from the village of Paraswadi carry an image of Ravana riding on an elephant in a procession.
The following temples in India are for Ravana as a Shiva Bhakta.
- Dashanan Temple, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
- Ravana Temple, Bisrakh, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh
- Kakinada Ravana Temple, Andhra Pradesh
- Ravangram Ravana Temple, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh
- Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh
- Mandore Ravan Temple, Jodhpur
- Baijanath Temple, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh
Influence on culture and art Edit
Ravana-Dahan (burning effigy of Ravana) Edit
In other religions Edit
In the Rin-spuns-pa Tibetan Ramayana, it is prophesied that Ravana will return as the Buddha incarnation of Vishnu in Kali Yuga.
The Arunachal Pradesh Tai Khamti Ramayana (Phra Chow Lamang) shows Rama as a Bodhisattva who was reborn so Ravana could torture him.
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.
Jain accounts vary from the traditional Hindu accounts of the Ramayana. The incidents are placed at the time of the 20th Tirthankara, Munisuvrata. In Jainism, both Rama and Ravana were devout Jains. Ravana was a Vidyadhara king who had magical powers, and Lakshmana, not Rama, was the one who ultimately killed Ravana.
Dravidian movement Edit
Pulavar Kuzhanthai's Ravana Kaaviyam is a panegyric on Ravana that is made up of 3,100 poetic stanzas in which Ravana is the hero. The book was released in 1946, and was subsequently banned by India's Congress led government. The ban was later lifted in 1971.
In popular culture Edit
|Bhookailas (1940 film)||Subbaiah Naidu||1940||Telugu|
|Sampoorna Ramayanam||T. K. Bhagavathi||1958||Tamil|
|Sampoorna Ramayana||B. M. Vyas||1961||Hindi|
|Bhookailas (1958 film)||N. T. Rama Rao||1958||Telugu|
|Sita Rama Kalyanam||N. T. Rama Rao||1961||Telugu|
|Indrajeet (Sati Sulochana)||S. V. Ranga Rao||1961||Telugu|
|Sampoorna Ramayanam (1971 film)||S. V. Ranga Rao||1971||Telugu|
|Sita Kalyanam||Kaikala Satyanarayana||1976||Telugu|
|Sri Rama Pattabhishekam||N. T. Rama Rao||1978||Telugu|
|Brahmarshi Viswamitra||N. T. Rama Rao||1991||Telugu|
|Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama||Amrish Puri (voice)||1992||English|
|Raavanan||Vikram (Based on Ravana's character)||2010||Tamil|
|Ramayana: The Epic||Ashutosh Rana (voice)||2010||Hindi|
|Adipurush||Saif Ali Khan||2023||Multi|
|Ramayan||Arvind Trivedi||DD National||India|
|Bharat Ek Khoj||Om Puri||DD National|
|Jai Hanuman||Anil Yadav||DD Metro|
|Vishnu Puran||Nimai Bali||Zee TV|
|Ramayan||Surendra Pal||Zee TV|
|Raavan||Narendra Jha||Zee TV|
|Ramayan||Akhilendra Mishra||NDTV Imagine|
|Jai Jai Jai Bajrang Bali||Nimai Bali||Sahara One|
|Devon Ke Dev...Mahadev||Tarun Khanna||Life OK|
|Ramayan||Sachin Tyagi||Zee TV|
|Ramleela – Ajay Devgn Ke Saath||Aman Verma||Life OK|
|Siya Ke Ram||Karthik Jayaram||Star Plus|
|Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanumaan||Aarya Babbar / Saurav Gurjar||Sony Entertainment Television|
|Vighnaharta Ganesha||Paras Chhabra||Sony Entertainment Television|
|Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush||Shalin Bhanot||Colors TV|
|Ravana||Januka Rajapaksha||TV Derana||Sri Lanka|
Web series Edit
See also Edit
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