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When Rama killed Ravana

Pavan Mishra

Lord Shiva spoke: ' O, Son of Pulastya! Your song (of distress and sorrow) has shaken the three worlds. I am pleased by the tenor of your song. As from now on, your fame & strength will grow upon this Earth & I give you the name Ragavanan Ravana.' Having spoken thus, Lord Shiva granted Dashanan permission to leave.

VijayaDashami, the tenth day after Navaratri, popularly celebrated as an auspicious day called Sharada Navaratri & Dussehra, not only marks Devi Durga's triumph over the buffalo demon Mahisha, but also marks the victory of Shri Rama over the powerful Ravana, King of Lanka. All over Bharat, there are celebrations, year in year out, commemorating this great event. People everywhere gather to watch plays & dramas known as Rama leelas being enacted or performed in parades & processions. Effigies of Ravana, his younger brother Kumbhakarna & his son Meghnaad Indrajeet are burnt during the evening to celebrate the occasion of Dussehra - an act which symbolises the triumph of good over evil. Dussehra or Dash- Hara means 'cutting off the ten heads of Ravana' or symbolically of our Ego.

For many such as myself, the idea of Ravana has elevated and kindled imagination. Ravana, the son of Rishi Vishrava, is the archetypical villain, an egocentric ruthless demon as per Hindu belief, who kidnapped Devi Sita, thus crossing all limits of Dharma. A learned man of wisdom, Ravana the foremost of Lord Shiva's devotees, endowed with strength, knowledge of the sacred scriptures, was a man with superior body as well as superior intellect - yet he succumbed to his senses, became a victim of his own ego & falsely preached to follow Dharma whilst giving lip service to Lord Shiva's Divine teachings. With ten heads, twenty arms, a flying airplane known as Pushpak, a city of gold & no enemy to challenge his actions, the mighty Ravana is without doubt a demonic character of the epic.Why then does Rishi Valmiki go out of his way to make his 'villain' so admirable, so seductive, so enchanting throughout his epic Ramayana? Why then did Shri Rama revere Ravana as His Guru & why did the Supreme Being incarnate upon Earth as Shri Rama atone for committing this sin of killing a man whose actions make him the Devil incarnate as per Hindu tradition?

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