This is the story behind Dussehra, but told from the point of view of Ravana.
Once upon a time there was a ten-headed King of Lanka named Ravana. He and his siblings hailed from Brahma's lineage, who was the creator of the universe.
He had been granted a boon from Brahma that made him invincible and gave him the power to assume literally any form. Of course, there's always a "but"... and in his case, his demise would come because of a woman.
We all know Ravana as the demon who abducted the innocent Sita, and died at the hands of her husband.
But many of us may not know he had some good in him as well. He was knowledgeable, a musician, and his kingdom flourished under his rule.
Ravana's troubles with Rama began because of his sister, Surpanakha.
It was "lust" at first sight for her when she saw Rama. Rama told her he's happily married but Lakshman, on the other hand, is single. #WorstWingmanEver
After facing rejection from both the brothers, she attacked Sita in rage. This led to an all out war, in which Surpanakha's entire army was destroyed by Rama.
This only angered Surpanakha even more, who convinced her married brother, Ravana, that Sita was a woman worth fighting for.
Using more wit than grit, Ravana was able to distract Rama and Lakshman to ensure Sita was home alone when he went to go abduct her. He was well on his way to Lanka, until an aged demigod in the form of a vulture, witnessed the kidnapping. Despite his old age, the vulture courageously fought to save Sita, but ultimately lost.
Although Ravana was holding Sita hostage, he decided he wouldn't marry her against her will. Not until she was ready.
This wasn't because Ravana was a gentleman. He had actually been cursed by another woman that he would not be able to touch any woman without her permission. In fact, when he kidnapped Sita, he literally could not hold her and instead had to lift the entire chunk of earth that she was standing on.
In the meantime, Rama began building an army of Vanaras, where he met Hanuman. Without them, Rama would not have been able to cross the sea between India and Lanka.
When battle ensued, Ravana was already aware his days were numbered. After all, as the son of a sage, he was pious and knew Rama was an incarcanation of Vishnu. But he welcomed the idea of earning salvation by dying honorably on a battlefield, at the hands of God.
Dussehra marks Rama's victory over evil so in many parts of India, it's celebrated by burning an effigy of Ravana. I personally find it a bit odd for two reasons:
1) Doesn't it technically promote violence, especially to young, impressionable children? (Granted, it's meant to be symbolic of burning the evil qualities he represented, rather than Ravana himself).
2) Why are we heralding the villain of the story, instead of the hero? Why not parade around a statue of Rama, as we do of Ganesh for Ganesh Chaturthi?
Maybe it's to remind us that there's a Ravana in every corner of the world... perhaps one even lurking inside of us. There's a heavy price to pay when your actions stem from nefarious desires like lust, ego or power.
But if we're lucky, every once will in a while, there will come along a pair, backed by powerful supporters, who will help reinstate all that was once
good in the world.
Enjoyed this article?
Modi Toys is a children's brand of toys and books inspired by ancient Hindu culture. We exist to spread joy and to spark curiosity in the next generation through our innovative soft plush toys, illustrated children's books and free learning resources. Our weekly Theology Thursday series covers a wide range of topics rooted in Hinduism to help us better understand the origins of traditions, the symbolic meaning of rituals, and the stories behind Hindu holidays and festivals. The more we can understand "the why" behind this 4,000 year ancient religion, and make sense of it in this modern age, the greater we can appreciate and preserve our rich Hindu culture. While we take great care in thoroughly researching the information presented, we may occasionally get some things wrong. We encourage a healthy and open dialogue so we can learn together. Please leave a comment below or email us directly at email@example.com to address any concerns.