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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Was Ravana unfairly judged?

As Hindu communities celebrated Dussehra last week, discussions always seem to pop up about the narratives around Ravana.

“Was he unfairly judged ? Was he misunderstood ?”

We ask back – how much do we really know about him ?

Was Ravana really a ‘villain’ ?

Short answer: Yes, he was a villain. He is not a figure from whom we derive inspiration from.

Long answer: Are any characters of our great Itihasa (epics) really “villains”?

Hindu Sabhyata (civilisation) has been too nuanced to see the world as only black and white. Hindus do not see anything similar to the Western concept of ‘evil,’ being permanently in opposition to the idea of ‘good.’

“Paap vs Punya” is far more complex than “Merit vs Sin”.

We as a culture are defined by Agni (fire). Fire is the first word of the Rig Veda Samhita. Fire is the transformational witness to our marriages. Fire is the purifier that cremates us, releasing us back to the world.

How can it be seen as ‘evil’ ?

Arguments go around in certain circles that since Ravana never touched Sita, he is somehow a model of consent.

It’s as if people have never read the Ramayana – his misbehaviour with Vedavati and Rambha – if he touched a woman sexually, he was cursed to burn to ashes.

His works are recited every day by millions. There may be certain villages and customs that will include him in their worship.

It doesn’t take away from the fact that even with his knowledge, he could not bring himself to reason peace before the war with Shri Ramchandra.

Our verdict ?

We can appreciate the Hindu diversity of thought that allows us to respect and revere Ravana for his great qualities, while being in general consensus that he is not a source of inspiration.

When we are arrogant of our knowledge and take pride in our stature, we succumb to taking decisions that cause harm and disrupt the well-being of the world.

We must work to fight the Ravana with us and bring forth the light of Dharma that is within.

This quote by Mandodari sums it all up. The very senses he conquered eventually conquered him. He gave himself to the Ego, and knowingly chose that path of Adharma.

We burn the models of Ravana to light fire to our Ego, and pave the path for the Truth to blossom.

(This article has been compiled from the tweet thread originally tweeted by NHSF (UK) (@nhsf_uk) on October 10, 2022 .)

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