Learning about King Ravana


I was never very fond of depiction of Rama in Ramayana. Not being a very religious person, I always looked at these characters as mythical and subject to criticism.

The way Rama has acquired a poster boy image is amazing. In spite of his weakness, faults and imperfections, he binds the whole Hindu community together and is a God Icon, unlike Krishana, who with all his flaws is more humane n easy to identify with. An ideal son, devoted loving brother, a perfect king, all these attributes hide his weaknesses.
I feel that there is a scope for the debating the morality of the actions of our Gods…especially the ideal Lord Rama.

Rejection of Sita and her agni pareeksha by Rama always is my favorite topic of debate. A cruel treatment of an ideal wife is the way I see it.

Why did a woman have to prove her fidelity?

A logical mind would ask why a man, who considered devotion towards his wife as Dharma, did all this injustice to her.

Sita on the other hand comes out to be a strong woman .Not a slaved wife to be pitied but a woman with tremendous emotional strength. With this supreme act of defiance, of walking into the fire, she puts the Maryada Purushotamma Rama to shame.

Rama comes out to be emotionally unreliable, unjust, mistrustful and jealous husband.

The rejection of Sita because some dumb ass of a subject raised finger on her character, put a permanent stigma on Rama’s name. I for one would never want my husband to be “Ram like.”

I feel Ravana on the other hand, though he lusted for women and all that, had great respect for them. He never violated Sita during her captivity days.

Bali’s killing was definitely a crime for a warrior hero; it was a cowardly and selfish act. It was clever politics too .Rama wanted Sugriv’s help for rescuing Sita and by helping him in killing Bali, he gains his confidence n respect. Sugriv decides to help Rama by providing his army. A crime which was thoroughly unprovoked, for Vali had no quarrel with Rama and he was unarmed. There are unconvincing series of justifications for his acts but he remains a stained Hero.

In my opinion Rama was no warrior either, the entire war with Ravana was a glorious attempt of the vanar sena (the monkey army), the intelligence of Hanuman. The actual warriors on the front were Lakshman, Sugriv and others.

Perhaps Rama was more of a villain than the actual villain himself, the demon Ravana.

This is my personal viewpoint and I do not intend to hurt any religious sentiments.

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10 thoughts on “Learning about King Ravana

  1. Hi Tikuli,

    Liked your blog!

    I disagree with you on your views about Ram. We are still not clear why Ramayan was written. For me, it is about leadership. His empire has been called ‘Ramrajya’ which is sometimes referred to as eutopic.

    Ram was an ideal leader, a king. He forced Sita to undergo the fidelity test, not because he make himself sure, but for the people to see that Sita was pure. There is tiny possibility that Sita might have misunderstood him.

    His help in killing Bali came about when he adjudged Balli as morally incorrect. He motivated Vanarsena to fight against Lanka who by that time had established complete faith in him. You can not forget that he killed Kumbhakarna, which otherwise impossible.

    He had all the qualities that a good leader should have and his empire was his foremost priority.

    What say…. 😉

    Amol Naik

    well Anmol here is my take on it. why do we need to keep proving things to people. why did he have to prove Sita’s purity to others. what rubbish. you think from a male point of view:). Sita did not have any misconceptions about anything . do read ramcharitmanas to get your facts. Tulsi Ramacharitmanas is not the right book to pass judgment.
    A person who has no moral sense himself or rather less of it can never judge anyone correctly. we are so conditioned by religion that it is sometimes difficult to think beyond. what say :)??

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  2. First time visited your blog from IndiBlogger and liked this post. I would say nice analysis of whole situation. And you have dwelled onto a territory which defies status quo. You sure need guts to do!

    Keep sharing more such insights.

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  3. Hi,
    Everyone has got their own way of seeing things, and surely you have yours.
    I agree with your point that he has acquired a lot more divinity than Krishna, and that arises out of his near perfect (Yes I did not say perfect) behavior as a Son, Brother, husband, and King.
    There were flaws in him yes, like the agni pariksha, which I am averse to, what ever the justification. But then I think Sita is to be blamed too, she should have just walked upto him and whacked him on his head and bought him to his senses. The Vali episode was probably not right too, but Vali had a boon to eat up half the strength of his opponent who stands in front of him, now thats not fair isnt it? Again it might be a flaw on part of Rama’s behaviour. But then of all the years he lived and served , you find a couple of flaws and criticise him? You have a very high hopes from men :-).
    And u believe the army won the war without giving credit to the commander? An army without a good commander is a mob, they cant do anything constructive at all.
    And yes, Ravana did not touch Sita because he was under a curse that his heads will fall off if he forced himself onto any woman.

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  4. Came to your blog from IndiBlogger. Interesting take on this topic. I am not an expert on this but I do know that best thing about this post is that you have challenged the status quo and tread the path which no ordinary Indian would dare to.

    Keep blogging.

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  5. Very interesting view. I went to see a Ramanyana Katakali show with my daughters a few weeks ago and they didn’t understand Rama’s treatment of Sita.

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  6. Coming from Indus Ladies. First time for me here. I’m a Male.

    Don’t be so harsh for that poor chap , Rama. From what I’ve heard Rama always loved Sita . He never lost his love for Sita – not even for a second.
    Anyway, what should have Rama done? Would it had been nice , if he said ‘ you Son of a Bi***, how dare you question my wife’s purity .Take this arrow, you idiot’ and killed every person who questioned him.
    From the human behavior, it’s obvious that a person talks or questions about some body’s wife,if she had lived some where from her husband for a year . ( I definitely don’t but what’s wrong in questioning?) .
    And in those days, the notion of Individualism hadn’t been born I think , to give a ‘ dude ! I don’t fu**ing care what you think about my wife ‘ replies to others – especially to the people of a kingdom.
    Rama just did his duty as a king. If he hadn’t done that , either he would have killed everybody ( and then transformation from ‘Maryada Rama’ to ‘ ‘Chanda Rama’ ) or his kingdom would have people who always doubted their First Couple’s character.

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  7. Hi Tikuli,
    Firstly, I admire your courage in stating your opinion on a topic which can flare up tempers in our country before you can say ‘Ram’!
    I feel we make the mistake of seeing Ram either as a person or as a king as per our convenience. See him only as a human being in flesh and blood and the act of making Sita go through the ‘test’ seems cruel and chauvinistic. See him only as a king and the whole episode takes a different shade altogether. I always feel that Valmiki wrote Ramayan as a ‘dossier on appropriate behaviour’. On the contrary, Mahabharat comes across as a narrative of real human drama, where people lust, love, cheat, betray, break rules – everything that people continue to do to this day! No wonder then that Ramayan is full of ideal characters while Mahabharat has characters that we can relate to. Now, what were the conditions that compelled Valmiki to write this dossier is something we will never know. In fact, Kalidas went one step ahead in his Raghuvansham, where he went on describe not just Ram, but 18 generations of Kings of that dynasty, describing how the Kings behaved when faced with a dilemma. The epic ends with the last king Agnivarna, who put the whole dynasty to shame with his despicable behaviour. That is where Kalidas stops writing. He wants to tell us – here were great Kings from whom you can learn how to behave, and just in case you are still not clear, here is one example that teaches you how NOT to behave.
    So we must see Ram more as a role than the person that he also was. When you are in a role, you have to be impartial and keep emotions away. I can think of a weird example. Imagine if Maneka Gandhi was the PM today (honestly – I don’t want to see this happen in reality – but I can’t help think of a more appropriate example!) and Varun Gandhi had made the hate speech then. If Maneka had her way, she would spare him by saying – he is my son, I know him, he would not have said this. But if she were true to her role as a PM, she would order an enquiry commission to probe the matter. Currently, she is anyway choosing the former option, which is why it is a damn good thing she is NOT our PM….

    So look at the agni-pariksha as an enquiry commission of those days. Admitted, the way Valimiki told us the story, Ravan tricked and abducted her, she didn’t elope with him. But look at it from the point of view of establishing systems of good governance – “why leave any doubt? Let’s find out the facts.” So, once Seeta had been proven ‘not guilty’, Ram did accept her, only to turn her away again when a spy reported that tongues were still wagging. Once again, compulsions of a role.

    Ga Di Madgulkar has described Ram’s state of mind in a manner that even surpasses Valmiki, in his immortal Geet Ramayan. he says –

    Kiti yatne mi punha pahili tu-te
    Leenate, Charute, Seete

    He tuzyamule ge zaale
    tuj-sathi nahi kele
    mi kalank maze dhutale
    gata-laukik te labhe raghu vanshate
    leenate, charute, seete

    Shabdanchi zali poorti
    nishkalank zali keerti
    paahili priyechi moorti
    mi shauryane wakavale daivate
    Leenate, Charute, Seete

    Mi kele nij karyasi
    Dasha-disha mokalya tujasi
    nach maag anudnya majasi
    SAKHI SARALE TE DOGHA MADHLE NAATE
    Leenate, Charute, Seete

    I know you also write marathi so am not bothering to translate this…

    In Valmiki ramayan, there is a remarkable twist in Seeta’s character at the point when Laxman takes her to the forest and reluctantly breaks the news of Ram’s decision to desert her. She tells him, “OK, but please go and ask your KING, whether it is appropriate in his rule to send a pregnant woman off to the forest, leaving her to the mercy of nature?” For the first and the ONLY time in the entire epic, she refers to him as KING and not as her husband, sakha, priyavar, pran-nath etc etc. In fact in the actual text – she actually uses the word RAJA. Nowhere else does she call him Raja. By posing a query to his ROLE from her ROLE, she thereby put a double bind question to Ram, which must have haunted him for the rest of his life.

    Honestly, for me, this is the saving grace for Seeta’s character in Valmiki Ramayan. The only instant in which she shows the fierce independent woman that she can be. Otherwise, her role is much like that played by 99% of heroines in Hindi movies. Look pretty, act coy, romance by running around the trees, once in a while act coquettish (I want THAT dress, just now) – well, that’s about all that she does otherwise in Ramayan.

    This last bit might interest you – some years ago my friend had attended a personal growth lab where all participants were women. They were given an exercise of re-writing the Ramayan, from Seeta’s point of view. About 90% of the participants departed at exactly that point of Ram asking her to go thro the agnipariksha. Each of them ditched Ram publicly there and then, and went back to Ravan’s palace, saying ‘I can’t take this insult. At least my womanhood was respected in Ravan’s kingdom. Good bye.’

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  8. Just one more thing, sorry to make this reply longer and longer. Ramcharitmanas is hardly an accurate commentary on Ramayan. The metaphors there have become completely coloured by the social conditions of Tulsidas’ time. Consider Ahilya’s story in three versions – in Valmiki Ramayan, in the Tamil Kamb Ramayan, and in Ramcharitmanas. The status of women in society had undergone a marked change during the times that these were written, and hence Ahilya’s character becomes a helpless, choiceless wimp by the time Tulsidas was born. Ahilya was NOT all that, neither as per Valmiki nor as per the Tamil version.

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  9. Well first of all a very vulnerable topic to talk on…Hope no RSS member is reading your blog post :D….

    Now Ramayan is written by a person who himself was not the part of entire Ramayan…So cant say that everything is 100% right or wrong. Nw if we take ramayna as you have portrait Ram as villain so my point is if ram was such a villain than he should have married some other lady as the king of that time used to do…But he despite of getting married to other woman he start searching for Sita…And if you talk abt baali than you must not forget that baali misunderstood sugriv and thrash him out of his kingdom and forcefully kept his wife.Now if sugriv had sumthing evil in his mind than he had never made angad as the next king to be and had also used baali’s wife but he showed a true brotherhood.

    And at the end sugriv fight for his right with baali which he deserves and secondly baali was friend of ravana.

    Than it was a fair deal between ram and sugriv that sugriv will help ram in finding her lady which ultimately he does.

    Now what was ravana fault –

    Despite he was married,he kidnapped a married lady by coming in a sadhu’s dress which itself was a crime.

    His childhood spent in a brahmin culture and than also he performed such activites which put him in the category of demons

    Now just tell me that what a person will do if his lady is being kidnapped by someone and not willing to give back. Than what you expect that he will show mercy on him ??

    Than you herself said that Hanuman is intelligent.Than if ram is such a villain than why did hanuman kept worshiping for ram for such a long time ???

    And at that era there were set of rules which were followed in a war out of which one was that a king can only fight with a king or a king will only fight when somebody challenges him.

    And you must not forget that ravana once won all 3 loks.And had put all the devtas in prison so defeating such a great warrior itself was the act of bravery.

    And the most important thing is war is 70% played by mind not by hands . So if Ram had not made strategies than vaanar sena would had easily be defeated.

    Now about agnipariksha of sita ……

    Ram never questioned sita’s love and loyality for ram it was his people wanted questioned abt her dignity and we must not forget that ram was merely not a person he was the king who rule his country and he always loved his people so in order to satisfy his people he asked so and sita did so because she was the first lady of her kingdom.

    And even after leaving sita she never married to other lady.

    Indeed ravna was brave,intelligent. We must not forget that he was the only person in this world who had knowledge of all 10 Disha.

    At the end if you see whole ramayna it was all because of a lady the entire ramayna was plotted .

    So from my point of view villain neither was Ram,Ravna or baali

    It was greediness,selfishness who are the real villains.

    Keep posting
    Sumit

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