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Vibhishana (IAST: Vibhīṣaṇa or Bibhishan) is the younger brother of Ravana, the king of Lanka in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana. Though a Rakshasa himself, Vibhishana deserted Ravana and joined Rama's army. Later, when Rama defeated Ravana, Rama crowned Vibhishana as the king of Lanka before returning to Ayodhya.
16th century depiction of Vibhishana
|Affiliation||Raja of Lanka|
|Texts||Ramayana and its versions|
In the RamayanaEdit
Vibhishana had a sattvic (pure) mind and a sattvic heart. From his early childhood, he spent all his time meditating on the name of the Lord. Eventually, Brahma appeared and offered him any boon he wanted. Vibhishana said that the only thing he wanted was to have his mind fixed at the feet of the Lord as pure as lotus leaves (charan kamal). He prayed that he should be given the strength by which he would always be at the feet of the Lord and that he would receive the darshan (holy sight) of Lord Vishnu. This prayer was fulfilled when he was able to give up all his wealth and family, and join Rama, who was Avatar of Lord Vishnu (God incarnate).
Vibhishana was the youngest son of Kaikesi and Sage Vishrava, who was himself a son of Sage Pulatsya, one of the Heavenly Guardians. He (Vibhishana) was the younger brother of the Lord of Lanka, Ravana and Kumbakarna. Even though he was born in the demon race, he was alert and pious and considered himself a Brahmin, since his father was intuitively such. When Kaikesi, daughter of the demon Sumali, expressed to Vishrava her wish to become his wife, Vishrava said that due to her asking this wish at such an inauspicious time that their children would be born with horrible body structure and cruel nature. Hearing this, Kaikesi fell at the Brahmin's foot and began crying. Observing this, Vishrava said that destiny could not be changed, but due to Kaikesi's devotion and actions as a dutiful wife that their youngest son would be born with normal body structure and a pious mind though the others would remain same.
Due to Vibhishana's differences with Ravana, because he was against the act of kidnapping Sita and most of all because Ravana wanted the throne for himself, he fled Lanka. His mother, Kaikesi, advised him to go and serve Shri Rama, who was at that time assembling an army to conquer Ravana and to recover Sita. He divulged the secrets of Ravana's army and made sure Rama was victorious in the great battle. Lord Rama accepted Vibhishana's service and anointed him the Lord of Lanka after Ravana's death.
In the Lanka War, Vibhishana's knowledge about the secrets of Lanka proved invaluable to Shri Rama. Vibhishana freely divulged many secrets that became key to the success of Rama's attack, including revealing the secret path to the temple of Mata Nikumbala, the family deity of the Pulatsya Clan. In the climactic battle between Rama and Ravana, when Rama was unable to kill Ravana, he revealed the secret of Ravana's death to Rama. He told Rama that Ravana has stored the nectar of immortality in his belly and it is necessary to dry it. With this knowledge, Rama was finally able to kill Ravana.
In the Ramayana, Vibhishana's characterization assists in demonstrating the practical implications of the concept of Dharma. The epic stresses that neither Vibhishana or Kumbhakarna strayed from the path of Dharma and that there is no single way out of a moral dilemma. The Ramayana teaches that Kumbhakarna adhered to the Dharma of loyalty to his kin when his advice fails, while Vibhishana chose to oppose his kin when his advice failed.
Symbolically, Vibhishana represents a devotion to Shri Rama and as a demon devotee, he shows that the Lord does not distinguish between his followers based on birth or circumstances in life. A similar theme may be found in the story of Prahlada and Narasimha.
When Vibhishana attained the position of the King of Lanka, he turned his subjects from the path of evil to the path of Dharma (righteousness). His wife, Queen Sarama also aided him in this effort. He had a daughter named AnalTe.
When Rama was about to leave Ayodhya at the end of his reign, Lord Rama in his original form of Shri Vishnu ordered Vibhishana to stay on earth and serve the people and guide them to the path of truth and Dharma. Hence, Vibhishana is considered one of the seven immortals or Chiranjeevins. Lord Vishnu also ordered Vibhishana to pray the family deity of Sun Dynasty, Lord Ranganatha.
Vibishana is attached with the legend of Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple, considered the abode of Vishnu on earth and the primary temple of Vishnu on earth. During the coronation of Rama, the avatar of Vishnu, Vibishana was presented the sacrosanct Sri Ranga Vimana. He was carrying it all the way to his kingdom of Sri Lanka and midway, to rest, he placed the image on the banks of Kaveri. After performing his routine pooja, he tried to lift the Vimana, but it could not be lifted. Mahavishnu appeared to him and said that he desired to stay as Ranganatha in the place, which went on to become Srirangam. Vishnu also desired to watch the Brahmotsavam at Tirucherai. The festivals of the temple are thus considered sacred.
In some period of history Sinhalese people have considered Vibhishana as one of the Sathara Waram Deviyo (four guardian deities). This belief was more prominent in the Kotte period. According to the Ravana Katha of Wickramasinghe Adigar, after the defeat of Ravana, Vibhishana transferred the Yaksha capital from Alaka mandawa to Kelaniya. In the 15th-century poem of Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera, the sælalihini sandesaya, Myna is ordered to carry the missive to Vibhishana at his temple in Kelaniya. After the 16th century, he was replaced as a God of the four warrants by the goddess Pattini. He continues to be worshipped by a diminishing number of adherents, mainly in the Kelaniya area.
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- Saraswati, Smt T. N. (2 March 2019). Vibhishana. Bharatha Samskruthi Prakashana. ISBN 978-93-89020-78-6. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
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- Dr. Mirando Obeysekere, Was Maya Dannawa the architect of Sigiriya?, Daily News, 6 March 2003. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lkawgw/mdannawa.html
- Nandasena Ratnapala, Folklore of Sri Lanka, State Printing Corporation, Colombo, 1991; ISBN 955-610-089-X
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