Rāvaṇa: A Dalit Hero or a Brāhmaṇa Villain? - Prabhakar Kumar
Some people argue that Rāvaṇa was a Brāhmaṇa by birth. So, how can he be a Rākṣasa simultaneously? The funny thing is that same people keep talking about equal rights for women & Dalits.
There are another set of people who argue that Rāvaṇa was a “mūlanivāsī” Dravidian ruler who was made villian by “Aryan” Rāma. As the Aryan Invasion Theory is already debunked by modern historians who have looked beyond the narrow narratives of Marxist history, we will not go into that debate. But, these people deny the fact that Rāvaṇa was born Brāhmaṇa and born in Northern India. Let’s look at early life of Rāvaṇa in this article.
Way before when Rāvaṇa was born, Kubera, son of Viśravā, was made king of Lankā. When Māli, Sumāli and Malyavant attacked Lankā, Kubera along with help from deities and especially Bhagvāna Viṣnu defeated them badly. One of them was even killed.
Now, the Daitya brothers thought a political way to take over Lankā. They sent their sister Kaikāśī to Sage Viśravā. She somehow managed to marry Viśravā by serving him with devotion. When Rāvaṇa was born to her, she fed him poison of jealousy against his step brother Kuber.
Yes, Rāvaṇa was born to Brāhmaṇa father and Rākṣasa mother. But, the maternal gene got dominant there. The teachings of his mother turned him a vicious dictator of Lankā.
Previously, we had learnt that Rāvaṇa was born to Kaikāśī and Viśravā. Kaikāśī was daughter of Sumāli. She gave birth to Rāvaṇa, Kumbhkarṇa, Śūrpaṇakhā and Vibhīṣaṇa.
After they entered a certain age, Rāvaṇa went to perform tapasyā along with his brothers in Gokarṇa. Sage Agastya tells that he performed extreme austerity and anushthana and after each successful anuṣṭhāna, he sacrificed one of his head to bhagvāna Brahma. Besides him Vibhīṣaṇa and Kumbhkarṇa were also performing tapasyā.
Brahma arrived along with deities to give them boon. Ravana was given boon that he wouldn’t be killed by any of the Yakṣa, Gandharva, Daitya, Dānava, Nāgas, Rākṣasa and or deity. He could also take disguise & turn into any creature.
Vibhīṣaṇa was awarded with immortality and Brahmāstra along with pious and dhārmika mind even in adverse conditions. Kumbhkarṇa was so big and ferocious that he would eat sages and deities alive, leave alone humans. So, as per request of deities, Brahma gave him boon to sleep for long durations.
After Rākṣasas got this news that Rāvaṇa had acquired the boon and now he couldn’t be killed by even Bhagvāna Viṣnu, they all came to earth and started living with him.
Rāvaṇa was initially hesitant to conquer Lankā as he respected his brother. But, Rākṣasas persuaded him by inciting his wicked mind. He sent his minister Prahasta to Kubera and asked him to hand over Lankā to Rākṣasas.
Kubera left Lankā along with his people on the advice of sage Viśravā. He established his new city named Alakāpurī near Kailasa on the bank of River Mandākinī. Ravana was crowned as king of all the Rākṣasas.
In previous parts, we had read about Rākṣasas acquiring Lankā and Rāvaṇa getting crowned as the king.
After that they started searching for a suitable husband for Śūrpaṇakhā. There was a Dānava named Vidyujjihvā, who was tge king of Kālakeya Dānavas. Rāvaṇa got his sister married to Vidyujjihvā.
Few days later, Maya Dānava, son of Diti came to Rāvaṇa. He had two sons and a daughter named Māyāvī, Dundubhī and Mandodarī with an apsarā named Hemā He gave Mandodari to Rāvaṇa. Both were married according to Vedic rituals.
Kumbhkarṇa was married to Vajrajwalā. She was the great grand-daughter of Virochaṇa. Her mother was the daughter of the great Daitya king Bāli, the son of Virochaṇa.
Vibhīṣaṇa was married to Sarama who was daughter of a Gandharva king named Shailoosh.
Thus all the children of Kaikasi were Married. Mandodari even gave birth to Meghnad.
In previous parts, we discussed about the marriage of children of Kaikāśī.
After few years passed of their marriage, Kumbhkarṇa went for his 12 years long sleep. A suitable palace was built by Ravana where the mighty Kumbhkarṇa could rest easily.
After Kumbhkarna went to his sleep, Rāvaṇa started plundering the āśramas of sages and killing Yakṣas, Gandharvas and deities. He killed them wherever he found them.
Kubera, his elder brother was hurt to see his brother turning into such a vicious demon. He sent his messenger to Rāvaṇa. That messenger with help of Vibhīṣaṇa went to the court of Rāvaṇa. He tried to give message of Kubera that Rāvaṇa should resist his atrocities and righteously rule his Lankā.
Rāvaṇa burst out of anger by this lecture of his brother. He instantly killed the messenger with his sword. He pledged to kill all the four lokapala and started his campaign against them.
(To be continued…)