Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Ravana the demon king Lanka is referred to as Dashanan meaning ten-headed ("das" means ten and "anan" means head). When one describes Ravana they characterize him to be larger than life, with 20 hands, and 10 heads, in which he retained great oceans of knowledge, he was blessed with amazing supernatural powers that enabled him to vanish, throw rain and fire or launch thousands of arrows during the war. There are numerous legends and theories behind why Ravana had ten heads and what did they depict.
1. Knower of ten scriptures
According to the legends, Ravana is believed to be a prodigy with comprehensive knowledge of the ten sacred Hindu texts and scriptures. He was well-versed in the Six Shashtras/Darshanas- Sankhyashastra (Mathematics), Yog Shastra (Yoga and Meditation), Nyayashastra (Law and Administration), Vaisheshik Shastra (Physics, Astronomy, and Mechanics), Purvamimansa (Philosophy, Justification), and Uttar Mimansa Shastra. He also retained complete knowledge of the four Vedas- Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Thus, Ravana's ten heads symbolize these six Shastras and four Vedas which made him a great scholar and the most intelligent person of his time. He knew these Ten Scripts- Kanthastha (verbatim) and hence he was named 'Dashkanthi' (the one with ten throats which later became 'Dashanan'.
Follow NewsGram on Quora Space to get answers to all your questions.
2. Sacrifice to Lord Shiva
Ravana was a formidable devotee of Lord ShivaWikimedia Commons
It comes as common knowledge that Ravana was a formidable devotee of Lord Shiva. Although we know that Ravana had ten heads it is believed he was not born with it. He performed an intense penance (or Tapasya) to impress Lord Shiva that lasted for several years. During his Tapasya, Ravana chopped off his head 10 times as a sacrifice to appease Lord Shiva and each time he decapitated his head off a new head arose, thus enabling him to continue his penance. At last, Shiva was pleased with perseverance and austerity, appeared after his 10th decapitation and offered him a boon. Shiva granted him absolute invulnerability from and supremacy over gods, heavenly spirits, other rakshas, serpents, and wild beasts. Adding to these boons Lord Shiva granted him his 10 severed heads and knowledge of divine weapons and magic.
3. Sacrifice to Brahma
In some versions of legends it is believed that Ravana was a devotee of Lord Brahma and him and his two brothers, Kumbhkaran and Vibhishan did Yagya to impress Brahma. To gain God's attention Ravana performed intense penance and during his penance, he sacrificed his nine heads as offerings to the Lord and as he was about to sacrifice his Tenth head Lord Brahma appeared in front of him and granted him a boon and returned his severed heads.
4. Jainism Vimalasuri's Version
Vimalasuri claims that the Ramayana of Valmiki is filled with illogical and false stories. It claims that Ravan did not have ten heads, but it appeared so because his mother gave him a necklace of nine pearls when he was young. The pearls reflected Ravana's face ninefold as an optical illusion, leading to him being called Dasamukha (One with ten faces)
The ten heads as symbols of the ten qualities of a human beingWikimedia Commons
The Ten heads of Ravana represented a mammoth pool of his knowledge and experience as a ruler, king, scholar, and Brahman.
Some legend interprets the ten heads as symbols of the ten qualities of a human being; they are- kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (attachment), madha (arrogance), matsarya (jealousy), manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), chitta (consciousness) and ahamkara (ego). Meanwhile from another similar perspective describes, the ten heads as the symbolism of the ten negative forms of love- ahamkar (ego), moha (attachment), krodha (anger), ghrina (hatred), paschataap (regret), irshya (jealousy), lobha (greed), kama (lust), jaddata (insensitivity) and bhaya (fear).
The great King Mahabali advised Ravana to let go of these aspects to rise above the human boundaries. To which Ravana held differend ideology, he believed he was a complete human because of these human facets. he accepted these emotions as a part and parcel of being a human.Thus, his ten heads then become a symbol of his humanity, his intellect, and his knowledge, while his 20 hands were a symbol of his power.
Keywords: Ravana, Tapasya, Jainism, Scholar, Human qualities
Ravana (meaning"one of terrifying roar"), is often portrayed as the 'demon king of Lanka, a symbol of evil and who played the role of the primary antagonist in the Hindu mythology epic, Ramayana. Ravana's demise is celebrated all over India every year on Dussehra, a festival that symbolises the defeat of Ravana by Rama, a triumph of good over evil. But, the essence of Indian mythology is beyond the simple good vs evil trope. When we dig deeper into each character of these epics, we find that there's an interesting story at every step.
Something that's not well known among the most population is the many virtues that Ravana had. Ravana is believed to be one of the most powerful beings to have been born on earth. He was the grandson of the creator of the universe, Brahma. Born as the eldest son of sage Vishrava and Rakshasi Kaikeshi, He was half Brahmin and half Rakshasa. He was a learned scholar who embodied great knowledge; he was well-versed in the six shastras and the four Vedas. Ravana is considered to be the most revered devotee of Shiva. It is believed that under his rule in Lanka even the poor ate off of a golden plate.
Follow NewsGram on LinkedIn to know what's happening around the world.
According to the legends, Ravana carried out intense Tapasya to appease Lord Shiva and that lasted hundreds of years. Pleased with Ravana's perseverance and austerity, Lord Shiva offered him a boon. He was granted the boon of invulnerability and supremacy over the gods, rakshas and animals. He possessed a huge amount of knowledge of divine weapons and magic. For which he is still hailed as a glorious king and worshipped in many parts of South India and Sri Lanka. Another notable fact is that even though Ravana abducted Sita to avenge his sister Surupnakha's mutilation, but he never touched Sita which implies that he respected her consent.
Ravana never touched Sita which implies that he respected her consent.Wikimedia Commons
In one of the many versions of the Ramayana, it is said that once Rama's army needed to create the bridge to Lanka, for which they needed to get Shiva's blessing for which they set up a Yagya. To perform this Yagya they needed the most learned Brahman but the biggest devotee of Shiva in the entire region was Ravana, and since he was half-brahman, he was the best-qualified person to perform the Yagya. Despite being aware of the fact that Rama is bringing an army to wage war against Ravana, he displayed honour and showed up to perform the Yagya and gave Ram his blessing.
So how did this wise king who is hailed as a God in Sri Lanka, become the manifestation of evil in Hindu mythology? Ravana did not fall into the clear spectrum of black and white, instead like most humans, he lies in the grey areas as a mix of both good and evil. He had both good qualities as well as bad qualities that neutralized his virtues and knowledge. Despite being a scholar and faithful devotee to his God, Ravana was arrogant, greedy for materialistic things, and a highly egoistic being. And this insatiable, all-consuming ego became his Achilles' heel.
It was his greed and ego that consumed him. Despite possessing a superior body and superior mind, despite possessing the knowledge of the Vedas and being a worshipper Shiva he condoned everything that Shiva rejects. Thus he fell victim to his ego and senses, he arrogantly showed his knowledge of detachment but was not wise enough to practice detachment. Thus he was killed by Lord Rama for his evil deeds. Even as he laid dying lord Rama understood the greatness of his knowledge and knew all the knowledge Ravana possessed would turn to dust with his death, so he asked Ravana to enlighten Lakshman with his knowledge. Thus, as he laid dying Ravana imparted valuable knowledge to Lakshman.
Dussehra's essence lies in us human's burning the Ravana within usWikimedia Commons
Dussehra is not a festival where we just celebrate Ravana's defeat, it is not just about burning the effigies of Ravana. Dussehra's essence lies in us human's burning the Ravana within us, we need to burn the ego, greed, anger, lust and jealousy that lies within us, that is when we truly understand the essence of Dussehra and celebrate it.
Keywords: Ravana, Dussehra, scholar, Shiva devotee, greed
It must be noted that different religions and societies in Southeast Asia have alternative narratives of Ramayana, one of the greatest epic.
Here are some of the versions of Ramayana!
Dasaratha Jakarta: The Buddhist Version
Interestingly, this version of Ramayana does not mention Ravana at all and in fact, there's no mention of Sita's abduction, too. In this version, Dasaratha is the king of Benaras and not Ayodhya. Also, Rama and Sita leaves kingdom and go to the Himalayas and not forests. Then, after twelve years, Rama and Sita return back to Benaras and get married.
Paumachariya: The Jaina Version
In this version, Lakshamana is the killer of Ravana and not Rama. Here, Rama is an ardent follower of Jainism, and so he cannot be the killer of Ravana. Also, this version states an army of warrior and not monkeys, as stated in Valmiki's Ramayana. Another interesting feature of this version is that Ramayana is not shown as a villain, rather a magnanimous king and follower of Jainism.
Gond Ramayani: The Gond Version
Gond is an adivasi clan belonging from Madhya Pradesh in India. Interestingly, in this version, the story begins from where Valmiki's Ramayana ended; when Sita is rescued from captivity. Also, Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata, is mentioned in this version. Unlike Valmiki's Ramayana, Rama is not the protagonist in this version.
Ramakien: The Thai Version
This is considered as Thailand's national epic, and is still taught in some schools in the country. In this version, Ravana is shown as a learned scholar and a noble king in this version. Also, Ravana's pursuit for Sita is depicted as true love. There are a lot of similarities between this version of Ramayana and Valmiki's version, but this version lays a lot of emphasis on Hanuman.
Keywords: Ramayana, Epic, India, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Gond Clan
Five water bodies linked to the Ramayana era will be rejuvenated in the temple town of Ayodhya.
According to a statement by the Jal Shakti Ministry, an 18-month project called ‘Rejuvenation of five water bodies, Ayodhya Public Art Project and Ayodhya Community Engagement for Sustainable Development’ will soon be launched.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated
Under the ‘Jal Dhara’ project, of the 108 water bodies from the Ramayana era, the development authority has identified five critical ponds that include — Lal Digghi, Fatehganj, Swami Ramji Das Ashram Talab, Sita Ram Mandi Kund, and Brahma Kund — under the ‘Namami Gange’ project to ensure environmental sustainability and raising tourism potential.
Under the ‘Ayodhya Arts Project’, a new ecosystem will be created which will integrate art into everyday life.
Vishal Singh, vice-chairman of Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) said that “The project will motivate people to preserve their environment and heritage. Wastewater, stormwater, sewage and run-off water and effluents flowing into natural water bodies will be treated.”
Another important project for interception and diversion of drains and sewage treatment works in Faizabad town, will be taken up by the Jal Nigam, which entails Rs 221.66 crore, including 15 years of operation and management, according to the Jal Shakti Ministry statement. (IANS/KB)