Saturday, April 12, 2008
Ravana- The Great Antagonist
These past few days I have been reading the Ramayana, one of the oldest of the Vedic literatures. Perhaps, it is the oldest written form of poetry. Tomorrow is the glorious Appearance Day of Lord Rama, known as Rama-navami. So, I have been meditating on the most wonderful activities of Lord Rama.
But, I want to examine the character of Ravana, the main antagonist of the Ramayana. There is so much we can learn from him. Ravana performed many austerities and penances to Lord Brahma making him extremely powerful. He then conquered his brother's city which was made from gold making him the richest person. Wherever Ravana went he conquered. Because of this he became the most proud.
Once, Ravana, along with his demon army, were flying across the Himalayan mountains. He happened to see a most beautiful woman. This was very rare. She seemed without a husband. Ravana taking a human form went down from the sky to meet her. She was deep in meditation. Her body was covered with deerskin, she had matted locks and her body was radiant. He spoke to her, "My dear woman, who are you and whom do you belong?"
She answered,"My name is Vedavati. I am an incarnation of the Vedas. I have been performing austerities for many thousands of years. My father and others have tried to marry me off, but I can have no other husband than Lord Vishnu."
When Ravana heard the name of Vishnu he became greatly angered. He replied,"If you will not come with me willingly, then you will come by force!" He grabbed her hair and was about to drag her off. But, Vedavati chanted a mantra that pushed him back and with her hand she sliced through her hair.
"Because you have defiled this body I must now give it up! I will take birth from the ground in my next life and I will be the cause of your demise!" After saying this, she used her yogic powers to ignite her body from within burning herself to ashes.
Ravana was too proud to care about that curse. He went onto his chariot the great Pushpaka and searched for battles.
After traveling far, Ravana came to a great mountain. Suddenly, his chariot dropped and could not go any further. This tiny creature that seemed half human and half monkey holding a spear came to Ravana. "I am Nandi, the servant of Lord Shiva. This is his abode known as Mount Kailash. No created being can enter. Please turn around and leave."
Ravana became very angry and started teasing Nandi about his appearance. Ravana also derided Lord Shiva. Nandi cursed Ravana saying, "Because you have insulted my monkey form, in the future a monkey race will appear that will cause you much harassment and will be your downfall."
Ravana didn't care about these pathetic curses. He walked up to the mountain feeling very proud. He stuck his twenty arms into the side of the mountain and lifted it from the Earth. The shaking of the mountain caused Mother Parvati to fall from her throne. She grabbed hold of Lord Shiva, who reassured her that this fool could not harm her. Lord Shiva gently pushed his toe into the ground causing a heavy pressure on Ravana. It was too much and his arms were crushed. He was pinned under the mountain. Ravana cried in agony from the pain. His ministers instructed him to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. After a hundred years of reciting prayers, Lord Shiva appeared in front Ravana. "Because you have pleased me, you are now free to travel anywhere," Lord Shiva spoke releasing Ravana.
Ravana then traveled across the world searching for a worthy opponent to do battle with. Finally, he reached a place called Ayodhya. This was the capital of the humans. This city was beautiful. Ravana decided to do battle with the great emporor Anaranya. There were hundreds of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of demons. They engaged in fierce combat. They shot forth arrows, maces, and swords clashed with clubs and maces. The demons used their sorcery to vanish and then reappear. Some demons could even fly. The human soldiers were soon slaughtered. King Anaranya however fought valiantly. He destroyed demons by the thousands. He produced wind weapons that would pick up the demons and toss them miles away. He would shoot many arrows empowered with special mantras. The demons would try and hide using their magic, but the King would udder a mantra that would find them using sound vibrations.
After a great battle, all the soldiers were dead and King Anaranya was the only human left standing. In great anger, he descended from his chariot and shot many arrows at Ravana. The arrows smashed into the chest and arms of Ravana sounding like thunder claps. Yet, Ravana did not even flinch. Ravana angered from this move threw his mace with great strength. It smashed into the forehead of Anaranya. The king fell to the ground. As the King lay dying, Ravana started to insult the king. The king was very pious. He did not want to curse Ravana, but he had to do something. Before he took his last breath, King Anaranya said to Ravana, "In the future, a great king will be born from my dynasty. He will be the cause of your downfall and the rest of your demonic race."
Ravana laughed and went about his way.
Why meditate on these stories? Through Ravana's actions we can understand that, when we become proud and arrogant we commit grave offenses to others. For every action there's a reaction. Ravana paved his own demise because he believed himself to be greater than everyone else. He was blinded by power and wealth. Ravana is the greatest example of one who is averse to God.
We must always seek to live our lives in such a way that we give love. This can only be done by taking the humble attitude. When we are humble we can understand everything properly. This is the greatest teaching of Lord Chaitanya, Who is Lord Rama. When are truly humble we can chant the Holy Name properly. When we chant the Holy Name properly we are in the transcendental position unaffected by this material world.
Jaya Sita-Rama- Lakshman-Hanuman!!!!!!!!!!