First let us look at what sources we have that tell us of Ravana’s History. He was the son of a Brahmin called ‘Vishrava’ and a princess called ‘Kaikesi’. When Kaikesi came of age to be married, her father ‘Sumali’ the king of the Daityas, wanted her to marry the most powerful and noble man in the world. He refused a lot of offers made by a number of prices and went to Vishrava instead. He agreed to marry Kaikesi. Yet, he told that Kaikesi approached her in the wrong time, and the children that were to be born to them will be bent towards evil.
Ravana was the eldest of the sons that they had. He was named “Dasagriva” or “Dashanana” since it is believed that he had ten heads. But this may be because he had the power and strength of ten men. Some say the ten heads were due to the reflections of a crystal necklace gifted to him by his father at the time of his birth or he had the mental strength of 10 people. Ravana had two brothers, Vibhishana and Kumbhakarna and one sister, Meenakshi (Later named Shoorpanakha).
During Ravana’s time, the kingdom “Lanka” was divided between three rulers by the queen Mandratha. Namely Tharaka; who ruled from a location near the current day Kelaniya, Surapadma; who ruled from the southern parts near Tissamaharama. The third, Sinha-Mukha did not have a city to rule from. Thus he called upon the greatest architect and engineer of all time, Maya-Asura (Known to some as “Vishwakarma”) to build him the city “Lankapura”. (Legend says this is Atlantis itself)
But soon, the king Surapadma had a dispute with a foreign king and takes him into custody and brings him to Lanka. This triggers an event that shapes the history of the country. A prince named Kathira (Later renamed “Mahasena” because of bringing a great army), comes to Lanka (The place he set his armies is currently known as “Katharagama” –Kathira-Gama broken down–) and rescues the abducted prince by killing Surapadma. Unfortunately, during this time, Tharaka and Sinha-Mukha leave their strongholds and escape from the country. The country goes to the hands of a king named Kuvera (AKA Kubera), also known to be a son of Vishrava. (Ravana’s father)
It is then; Ravana overthrows the attacker Kuvera and secures the country and most importantly, the “Pushpaka”, the flying machine. Kuvera might not have known to use it, but Ravana who had much knowledge given to him by his father and his studies of the Vedas might have had an idea how to fly the thing. From the stories that are told about queen Devayani (Mentioned later) showing off the battle capabilities of the Pushpaka, Ravana might have figured out that it would be a great advantage to have such a craft.
He took the country into a period of utmost prosperity. It is rumoured that the poorest of the houses in the country had golden pots to feed from. The people knew not the meaning of hunger. It is this prosperous culture, did Rama decided to bring down, and it all happened because of a single female. (We still don’t know whether this abduction story is true)We think that was a some type tragedic incident.
Ravana’s last references are in the war that he made with Rama. He was quite an adversary to Rama. Given the fact that his knowledge of science and warrior tactics, Rama was no match for him. But the inside help Rama got from Vibhishana seems to have worked for him. If not for that, the story would have been told in a different manner.
Some argue that the abduction story is a setup done by Vibhishana himself to overthrow Ravana from his empire. The Ramayana states that Rama even winning his queen in a war, did not trust Seetha to be pure. But Seetha proved that she was pure and this fact also says that Ravana never even touched the woman when she was in Lanka. Why abduct her and then keep her till she says “Yes” when you can always do what you want by force. This is a serious question that we must seek answers to. We have seen political scandal stories all our life and of all the countries in the world, we must know how bad politicians become when they want power. Perhaps Vibhishana was overcome by his greed of the empire to force him into such an action.
Dasis Ravana – Maha Ravana
It is said there were 11 Ravans found in Sinhalese history such as Nala Ravana, Manu ravana, Punu ravana and Dasis Ravana. The most famous Ravana is the king who fought with Indian hindu Rama.He is called Dasis Ravana which means the king with 10 great talents.The Dasis Ravana lived lived nearly 5000 years ago in Sri Lanka.He was a descendant of Surya Wansha and Hela Raskshasa tribe.(Ancient Sinhalese tribe) He was one of the best fighters in Angampora, the traditional martial arts of ancient Sinhale. King Dasis Ravana was a great Scholar in Ayurvedic medicine. He was the person who invented Arka Shastra. The book Arka Prakshaya reveals this truth to the present world. As his willing to research in Ayurvedic medicine he wrote several books revealing the cures for many diseases.
Learning about king Ravana
Emperor Ravana lived nearly 5000 years ago in Sri Lanka. He was a descendant of ‘Surya Wansha’ of ‘Hela Yakka’ tribe (ancient Sinhala tribe). King Ravana was one of the best fighters in Angampora, the traditional martial arts of ancient Sinhale.
He was a great Scholar in Ayurvedic medicine. He was the person who invented “Arka Shastra”. The book “Arka Prakshaya” reveals this truth to the present world. As his willing to research in Ayurvedic medicine he wrote several books revealing the cures for many diseases. In one book he wrote “Eating beef cause to infect ninety eight new diseases to human beings”. The book “Kumara Tantraya” which reveals the treatments for infant diseases was written by him accepting the request of his pregnant queen Mandodari.
His eldest son was Indrajith also known as Meghanada who followed his father’s steps. There are some hints in Sri Lankan rock inscriptions about the daughter of king Dasis Ravana. King Ravana’s kingdom was Lankapura. The kingdom is almost disappeared today. But if you keen on Sri Lankan folklore and ola manuscripts there you can find some remaining sites of Lankapura today known as Seegiriya and Trincomalee.
King Ravana invented the bow of Violin. He also narrated very first Raagas, the musical compositions of Eastern classical music known as Lanka Dehena. “Siva thandawa” is one of the great devotional compositions done by him, which is still being in use in India. He was the first king flew over the world with his aero plane, known as Dandumonaraya, Vimaanaya or Ahasthara. Some evidence of Dandumonaraya the aeroplane is found in Rock inscriptions, Jataka Stories and Ola manuscripts. The Sinhalese folk stories are enriched with Ravana Stories. King Ravana was continuing a vegan oriented life style and was a real nature lover. According to Lankavatara sutta he was Buddhist and worshipped Kashyapa Buddha. Once he invited Kashyapa Buddha to visit Lanka and deliver his sermon to Sri Lankan citizens who practice yoga and follow Buddhism.
Today the time has changed and many of us do not know the real history of king Ravana and throw our folk tales away without considering any valuable parts of them. King Ravana was one of the best emperors found in Sri Lankan history. There are more than 300 Sinhala village names related to king Ravana era. In addition, there are some more places and remains in which the Rama Ravana war took place in Sri Lanka.
Ravana is a hero for Sinhala nationalists
The Ramayana is not part of the mainstream Sinhala religious and cultural tradition in Sri Lanka, because Buddhism has been the religion of the majority of Sinhalas for long. But ancient Sinhala works like Rajavaliya and Ravanavaliya identify Ravana as a Sinhala king and extol him as a great one.
In modern Sri Lanka, there has been a movement to revive Ravana as a cult figure, who represents Sinhala or Sri Lankan nationalism because he was among the first in the island’s history to have resisted an alien/Indian invader.
Scholar Arisen Ahubudhu is the current representative of the ultra nationalistic Hela movement founded by the renowned Sinhala litterateur, the Late Munidasa Kumaratunga. The Hela movement has been urging the Sinhalas to go back to their roots shunning Indian, Hinduistic and other alien influences.
In his book Sakvithi Ravana (first published in 1988) Ahubudhu says that Ravana reigned over Sri Lanka from 2554 to 2517 BC. He quotes Ravanavaliya to say that Ravana belonged to the “Sun race” as Ra signifies the sun and vana signifies generation.
Ravana’s ten heads represent the ten crowns he wore as a result of his being the sovereign of ten countries. Ravana’s ancestors ruled over what is now the Polonnaruwa district in North Central Sri Lanka, the name Polonnaruwa being a derivative of the word Pulasthi, the name of the dynasty to which Ravana belonged. Ravana, however, ruled over the entire island and many places beyond.
Ahubudhu trashes the Ramayana story that Rama invaded Sri Lanka because Ravana had kidnapped Sita. According to the author, Ravana’s step brother Vibhishana, had invited Rama to invade Sri Lanka because he was wanting to oust Ravana from the kingship of the island.
“When considering the fact that Sita’s chastity was proved, this can be taken as a story concocted by Yuwaraja Vibhishana in order to discredit Ravana in the eyes of his people and take advantage thereof,” he says.
According to Prof Buddhadasa Hewavitharana, the Sinhalas disapproved of Vibhishana’s conduct. In popular lore, the area to which he belonged to (Kalutara North, near Colombo) came to be known as the land of the Desha Shatru (betrayer of the country).
Sinhala lore has it that Sri Lanka under the scholarly Ravana saw great advancements in science and medicine. The pushpaka vimana or the aeroplane which he flew, was no figment of imagination, they believe. Ravana holds a high position even as a physician and there exists, to this day, seven books on medicine in his name.
According to Munidasa Kumaratunga, Ravana’s medical works Nadi Pariksha, Arka Prakashata, Uddisa Chiktsaya, Oddiya Chikitsa, Kumara Tantraya and Vatina Prakaranaya were originally written in Sinhala and translated into Sanskrit.
“The Ramayana may not be in the mainstream of the Sinhala religious culture.But it is very much a part of Sinhala folk lore,” says Prof Hewavitharana.
“As children were told stories from the Ramayana to illustrate ideas of good and bad, the moral and immoral.”
There are places in Sri Lanka which are still identified with the Ramayana, like the Sita Eliya in Nuwara Eliya district, where there is a temple dedicated to Sita on the banks of a mountain stream. As per local legend, this was the place where Sita was confined by Ravana.
Then there is a hill called Ravana Elle, which was supposedly the headquarters of Ravana.
There is a temple for Vibhishana in Dondra in south Sri Lanka, even though he is derided for supporting the invader Rama and letting down his brother Ravana. Sita, Bharata and Lakshman are popular Sinhala names. But strangely enough, no Sinhala is ever named Rama!
Where Ravana is a hero, scholar, warrior, lover
It is a sight that is etched in everyone’s minds. Every year on Dasera, an effigy of Ravana is burnt to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Ravana had abducted Rama’s wife Sita and kept her captive in Lanka. Accordingly, Dasera celebrates the defeat of Ravana, representing evil, by Lord Rama, a symbol of virtue.
The Ramayana has been told in a thousand different ways over the centuries. In most versions of the Ramayana, Rama is treated as a hero with many good qualities. Ravana, on the contrary, is the demon with negative traits. However, in parts of south India as well as in Southeast Asian countries it is Ravana who is worshipped as a hero.
In Kanpur, the doors of what is perhaps North India’s lone Ravana temple, on the Kailash Mandir campus, are thrown open for devotees on Dasera. The 140-year-old temple opens only on this day, when devotees also pay obeisance to Ravana. In Jodhpur, people claiming to be descendents of Ravana, are apparently building a temple dedicated to the demon king.
“In Indian mythology, Ravana is considered a great Brahmin scholar,” explains Devdutt Pattanaik, a mythologist with over 12 books to his credit. “He had one flaw that he went after a married woman. However, all deities have flaws. In fact, it is believed that Rama even performed penance because he killed a Brahmin in Ravana.”
“Ravana was a great warrior of immeasurable courage. The gods feared him, he had won strategic boons by practising tough austerities, but he had no control over his senses,” says Prof Vidya Vencatesan, who has done a comparative study of the Valmiki Ramayana and the French epic, Le Cycle de Guillaume d’Orange at the University of Sorbonne, Paris. “The character of Ravana travels a long way from Valmiki’s version, where he is a demon king drunk with power. The Tamil Ramavataram composed by Kamban stands out as an exception. Kamban imagines Ravana to be a very erudite scholar, keen musician, a very good looking man with good taste in clothes and jewellery, a much sought-after lover. In fact, he woos Sita in such style falling at her feet, pleading, cajoling and literally begging her that Rama pales in comparison,” Vencatesan observes.
There are several instances in literature and the arts where the positive and docile Ravana is brought to the fore. Periyar, the Tamil political leader of the 20th century, made him the ultimate Dravidian hero.
Creole ballads from the Reunion islands have Ravana sing out his love for Sita. During the 1950s, Snehalata Reddy wrote the play Sita, in which Sita is shocked when Rama rejects her after the Lanka war. She reflects on Ravana’s caring attitude and the fact that he never forced himself on her.
In 2002, Realising Rama, a collaborative venture involving ASEAN’s 10 member countries, was performed at the NCPA, Mumbai. The dance presentation was a metaphor for the battle of good over evil within oneself, where the silhouettes of Rama and Ravana merged at the end.
Ravana is unfortunately remembered only for his misdemeanours. Pattanaik rues that “In India, we are able to forgive people. We accept positives along with negatives. However, in the Western scheme of things, heroes have to be perfect. Ravana will always be portrayed as a fallen hero.”
This was Ravan too
Ravan abducted Ram’s wife, a crime for which he was killed by Ram himself. So says the Ramayan. The epic makes Ravan the archetypical villain. And since Ram is God for most Hindus, Ravan’s actions make him the Devil incarnate. This justifies the annual burning of his effigy on the Gangetic plains during the festival of Dassera.
But on the hills of Rishikesh or in the temple of Rameshwaram, one hears the tale of how Ram atoned for the sin of killing Ravan. Why should God atone for killing a villain? One realizes that, like most things Hindu, the Ramayan is not as simplistic and pedestrian an epic as some are eager to believe.
Ravan was a Brahmin, the son of Rishi Vaishrava, grandson of Pulatsya. Ram, though God incarnate, was born in a family of Kshatriyas. In the caste hierarchy, Ram was of lower rank. As a Brahmin, Ravan was custodian of Brahma-gyan (the knowledge of God). Killing him meant Brahma-hatya-paap, the sin of Brahminicide, that Ram had to wash away through penance and prayer. Another reason why this atonement was important was because Ravan was Ram’s guru.
The story goes that after firing the fatal arrow on the battlefield of Lanka, Ram told his brother, Lakshman, “Go to Ravan quickly before he dies and request him to share whatever knowledge he can. A brute he may be, but he is also a great scholar.” The obedient Lakshman rushed across the battlefield to Ravan’s side and whispered in his ears, “Demon-king, do not let your knowledge die with you. Share it with us and wash away your sins.” Ravan responded by simply turning away. An angry Lakshman went back to Ram, “He is as arrogant as he always was, too proud to share anything.” Ram comforted his brother and asked him softly, “Where did you stand while asking Ravan for knowledge?” “Next to his head so that I hear what he had to say clearly.” Ram smiled, placed his bow on the ground and walked to where Ravan lay. Lakshman watched in astonishment as his divine brother knelt at Ravan’s feet. With palms joined, with extreme humility, Ram said, “Lord of Lanka, you abducted my wife, a terrible crime for which I have been forced to punish you. Now, you are no more my enemy. I bow to you and request you to share your wisdom with me. Please do that for if you die without doing so, all your wisdom will be lost forever to the world.” To Lakshman’s surprise, Ravan opened his eyes and raised his arms to salute Ram, “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.” With these words, Ravan died.
With ten heads, twenty arms, a flying chariot and a city of gold, the mighty Ravan is without doubt a flamboyant villain. His sexual prowess was legendary. When Hanuman entered Lanka, in search of Sita, he found the demon-lord lying in bed surrounded by a bevy of beauties, women who had willingly abandoned their husbands. Ram, by comparison, seems boring – a rule-upholder who never does anything spontaneous or dramatic. He is the obedient son, always doing the right thing, never displaying a roving eye or a winsome smile. It is not difficult therefore to be a fan of Ravan, to be seduced by his power, to be enchanted by his glamour, and to find arguments that justify his actions.
One can’t help but wonder: why does the poet, Valmiki, go out of his way to make his villain so admirable, so seductive, so enchanting?
Valmiki describes Ravan as the greatest devotee of Shiva. In many folk versions of the epic such as Ram-kathas and Ram-kiritis, we are informed that Ravan composed the Rudra Stotra in praise of Shiva, the ascetic-god. He designed the lute known as Rudra-Vina using one of his ten heads as the lute’s gourd, one of his arms as the beam and his nerves as the strings. The image of Ravan carrying Mount Kailas, with Shiva’s family on top, is an integral part of Shiva temple art.
Perhaps, say some scholars, that this expresses the legendary battle between Shiva-worshippers and Vishnu-worshippers. Ram, who is Vishnu on earth, kills Ravan who is Shiva’s devotee. But this argument falls flat when one is also told that Ram’s trusted ally, Hanuman, is a form of Shiva himself. Valmiki is clearly conveying a more profound idea by calling Ravan a devotee of Shiva . And to understand the thought we have to dig a bit deeper.
Shiva is God embodying the principle of vairagya, absolute detachment. He demonstrates his disdain for all things material by smearing his body with ash and living in crematoriums. The material world does not matter to him. Ravan may be his great devotee; he may sing Shiva’s praise, and worship Shiva every day, but he does not follow the path of Shiva.
In reality, Ravan stands for everything that Shiva rejects. Ravan is fully attached to worldly things. He always wants what others have. He never built the city of gold – he drove out his brother, Kuber, and took over the kingdom of Lanka. Why did he abduct Sita? Avenging his sister’s mutilation was but an excuse; it was the desire to conquer the heart of a faithful wife. And during the war, he let his sons die and his brothers die before entering the battlefield himself.
Ravan has ten pairs of eyes, which means he can see more. Ravan has ten sets of arms, which means he can do more. Ravan has ten heads, which means he can think more. And yet, this man with a superior body and superior mind submits to the basest of passions. Despite knowing the Vedas and worshipping Shiva, he remains a slave of his senses and a victim of his own ego. He arrogantly shows off his knowledge of detachment but is not wise enough to practice detachment. Deluded, he gives only lip-service to Shiva. This pretender is therefore killed by Ram, who like Shiva, is another form of God.
Ramayana villain Ravana was a great ruler, says new book
Contrary to popular wisdom in India, a new book on Ravana, the ‘demon king’ in the Ramayana epic, says he ruled a rich and vast kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka, wrote books and built a maze of underground tunnels to protect his empire. According to “Ravana, King of Lanka” (Vijitha Yapa Publications), Ravana may not have lost the war to Lord Rama but for the “betrayal” by his wife Mandodari and half brother Vibhishana “who gave away war secrets to the enemies”. The 174-page book on Ramayana’s villain is based on extensive research by a Sri Lankan, Mirando Obeysekere, based on archaeological evidence as well as palm leaf writings from a bygone era. According to the book, published in Sri Lanka, the Ravana kingdom was spread over a vast region that included today’s Nuwara Eliya, Badulla, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Kandy, Monaragula, Matale and Chilaw. “Ravana civilization was a highly advanced civilization. It was a very prosperous culture and a civilization that developed centring (Sri) Lanka. That civilization was destroyed with the advent of an Aryan group headed by Rama.” Ravana himself is said to have lived in Sigiriya, now a Unesco heritage site about 170 km from Colombo. He was a member of “a highly advanced and intelligent” Yaksha tribe. It was due to Ravana’s influence that some places in Sri Lanka were named after him: Ravana Ella and Ravana Cave in Badulla district, Ravana Kotte in Trincomalee and Ravana Kanda in Ratnapura. Ruhuna, another place in Sri Lanka, was earlier called Ravana Desh, the book says. Two villages in the Kandyan region carry his name: Uduravana and Yatiravana. It says ruins of the Ravana era are spread over villages in Haputale, Badulla, Bandarawela, Welimada, Uva, Pasara, Soranatota, Viyaluwa and Mahiyangana “unharmed, giving an added impetus to Ravana history”. Ravana reportedly built a temple in honour of his parents in Anuradhapura, to the north of Colombo. The Portuguese allegedly destroyed this temple. The book admits that Ravana’s abduction of Sita, Rama’s wife, led to his undoing and his kingdom’s decay. It also speaks glowingly of Rama. “Rama was an honest unassuming person,” it says. “Rama did not possess aircraft nor did he have unlimited wealth like Ravana. He did not have people of 10 countries under him. His main motto was ‘Truth will win’.” But it portrays Ravana in a grander manner. “King Ravana was an expert among warriors; a specialist among medical men; a Rishi among astrologers; a superior statesman among rulers; a maestro among musicians.” Describing Ravana as an adherent of Buddhism, the book says one of his works was “Agni Tantra”, on how to walk on fire, and another on children’s diseases. Among the book’s other claims, some sensational: – The Ravana flag can be considered the earliest flag of Sri Lanka. – The architecture in the Ravana kingdom was “magnificent” and houses were built on costly timber; this is why Hanuman easily set fire to them. – Ravana did not die in the Ramayana battle but only lost consciousness after being hit by a poisoned arrow. – Ravana was an artist of the highest order. – Ravana’s soldiers were the first in the world to wear camouflaged headgear in battlefield. – Ravana possessed aircraft and a trained navy. – Many oriental musical instruments were designed according to Ravana’s creations. – The Yakshas of Ravana era had chemicals that could soften rocks like loaves of bread. This is how they bore through huge rocks to create underground tunnels and pathways. – Live burial of criminals was done during Ravana’s rule. – Cobra venom was used in Ravana’s explosives.
To know about admin’s thought why Ravana can be consider as a much greater king than Rama go thru this blog:- https://sbdsisaikat.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/ravana-was-the-real-hero/