The festival of Dussehra sees the effigy of demon king Ravana being burnt to symbolise the victory of good over evil. However, there’s more to him than just being the villain of the epic Ramayana. Here are some interesting facts about Ravana, from mythology.
Ravana was Lord Brahma’s great-grandson
Ravana was the great-grandson of Brahma, the God of Creation. His father was the sage Visravas, who was the son of Prajapati Pulastya, among Brahma’s 10 mind-born sons. His mother was Kaikesi, a princess of the Asura clan and the daughter of Sumali and Thataka.
Ravana’s half-brother was the God of Wealth
The mighty Ravana was also related to Kubera, the guardian of heavenly wealth in Hindu mythology. They shared the same father, but different mothers. In one story from the epic Ramayana, Ravana looted Kubera and flew away on his flying chariot, the Pushpaka Vimana.
A Shiva devotee
When Ravana flew away on the Pushpaka Vimana, as the story goes, he couldn’t get past Mount Kailash, Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati’s abode. In anger, he decided to shake it, but was trapped under it, when Shiva pressed hard with his big toe. Ravana turned into Shiva’s devotee and sang his praises for a thousand years, being finally granted the boon of invincibility. In another story, Ravana is said to have requested Shiva to let him build the god a castle of gold on Mount Kailasha, which he did with help from Kuber and celestial architect Vishwakarma.
He received Lanka from Shiva
As a boon, Ravana asks for Lanka, which he constructed for Shiva, as a gift for conducting the sacred yagna for the house-warming. However, it was Hanuman who later burnt down Lanka with his flaming tail after Ravana abducted Sita, the consort of Rama.
Ravana created a musical instrument
An instrument, known as the ravanahatta, is similar to a veena and is said to have been originated when Ravana cut one of his many heads and his arm, using the tendons for strings to sing praises of Shiva. He is said to have been an accomplished veena player.
He was older than you can imagine!
Since we are told that he did penance or tapasya for 10,000 years, he was at least that many years old when he battled Rama, who was Lord Vishnu’s avatar or reincarnation.
He had 10 heads
Ravana was also known as Dasa-Sheesha or someone with 10 heads. These heads, incidentally, symbolised his scholarly mastery over the four Vedas and six Upanishads. According to some versions of the Ramayana, he didn’t actually possess 10 heads, but a magical necklace gifted by his mother created that illusion.