ravan

The Devil’s Concubine

Myth Theory, Ramayana 42 Comments

Published  in Devlok, Sunday Midday, October 09, 2011

 

Imagine a man walks into your house, charms you so beautifully that you willingly give him your house, your wife and your children, and feel good about it. That is the kind of villain that the Ramayana presents – Ravan. When positioned against a rather austere and upright Ram, Ravan does look more exciting.

It is amusing to observe, in many recent renderings of the epic Ramayana, people’s fascination with this ten-headed king of the Rakshasas, visualizing him as some kind of a hero and role model. Couples are even considering naming their child Ravan. Clearly, the charm and seduction of this ancient villain still works.

If we oppose Ram and celebrate Ravan there are many benefits. We distance yourself from Right-Wing fundamentalists. We identify yourself as a feminist. We reject North Indian domination of national politics and Bollywood. We mock all your traditional relatives and ancestors, and feel superior to them. We feel subversive and cool. So, this opposition of Ram and celebration of Ravan has nothing to do with the epic story itself but it has a lot to do with our self-image.

Even the appreciation of Ram and opposition of Ravan has a lot of do with our self-image. We identify ourselves as a patron of traditional India and not a neo-Leftist, who is always fighting for justice. We become devotees in our own eyes, noble and upright.

Nobody is actually looking at Ram or Ravan; what we are seeking is our image of ourselves projected through these tales.

This trend is seen in the West too. Suddenly vampires who suck your blood are the most romantic of heroes, as are werewolves who generally would like to disembowel you with their sharp teeth. The idea that someone dangerous loves you, that you have the power to tame the demon, makes you feel special. We want to feel special in a world where everyone has the iPad and a Facebook account. One way is to become the Devil’s concubine, a fan of Ravan, the lover of the undead, since it seems God has abandoned you.

This relationship between man and God has been the subject of much literature. In Vaishanava bhakti literature, one finds analogies made with the animal world. Should the devotee be like a kitten and allow God to pick and place you in safety, like a mother cat? Or should a devotee be like a monkey baby who clings to her mother’s belly? Who should play the active role – the devotee or God?

Of late, we seem to saying, if God cannot behave like a cat-mother and take care of us, we will turn into a baby-monkey and cling to the Devil instead. And both Ram and Ravan chuckle, for the only one who loses in this choice is us.

  • Raumil

    Mythological interpretation of the present time at it best!
    Loved it!

  • Jataayu

    Ravana is neither a “Villain”, nor a “Devil” in the Ramayana, He is also a hero, very much like Rama, but with opposite values. To view Ravana as some kind of a Bollywood villain who just goes to flames during Ramlila (or a “Devil” with Abrahamic religion mindset) is a very shallow reading of the epic. Even an illiterate Indian villager won’t do such a reading. Surprising to see someone like you making even a “theory” out of it.

    That is why Valimiki has devoted so much poetry to narrate Ravana’s glories, his powers, his city and the court etc. and also his diabolic mind. Even after his death in the Yuddha Kanda, he does not perish, he comes alive in the Uttara Kanda, the beginning of which actually starts with the birth and deeds of Ravana.

    Don’t compare this with the western fads which are really desperate attempts of that civilization to liberate itself from the shackles of closed Christian beliefs. Ravana has always charmed the Hindu mind.

    • Devdutt

      Ok….guess some people would like Ravana as role model for their children….”go kidnap other people’s wives.”…..i stand corrected.

      • What would you do – if someone cuts your sister’s nose?

        I am not taking any sides here – just highlighting that when a King’s sister’s nose is cut – how can the king keep quite without seeking revenge….it was reaction to an action…

        No issues with any glorification of any idol: Sri Ram or King Ravan…but please get the facts right !!!!
        On Ravan’s death bed – Ram has asked Lakshman to “learn” rajdharma from Ravan !!!!
        Also awaiting your response to my comment on article Female shield – Parasurama saga !!

        A Ram Devotee.

        • Further, Ravan did not even touch Sita…he kept her in Ashoka Vatika not is palatial Palace or bedrooom !!! That is his righteous conduct ! He did not lift her by hand but by digging /lifting ground beneath her feat !!!
          IF he were one of the invader kings of India …she would have been in his Harem !!! Hey RAM!!!

          Further – another reason for Ravan’s fall is his Arrogance over his vast knowledge and power !!! Something Similar hapenning here ?? LOL !!! We need to accept others view point if it is said in proper context !!!

        • Devdutt

          forgiveness not an option, i guess….we learn something every day

        • Deep

          To Sachin,

          Hanging on to your PoV like ravana holding on to Sita.

          Just because Mr Devdutt’s article cut ur nose of “How ramayana should be interpreted”

          I woulkd like to quote the author from his CNBC show “Indian culture is reflective not prescriptive”

          Ramayana, Gita , Vedas are inside u my friend….

        • Dear Deep,

          I think things are getting too personal here ! every body has right to express his / her opinion. However I just stressed on Context should be set right….Ravana was also present on Sita Swayamvar..he lost there…he went back like all other lost kings…showing his “law/rule abiding” nature. He did not fight war over there..
          Sita Apaharan was his reaction to cutting of Shurpanaka’s nose…thats it. My nose, mind, belief and respect for all living creatures is intact and will remain so… Thanks for your comments on me. When Dev ji has replied… I felt relieved…nothing much needed

          Regards.

        • Ramesh

          When Ravan learnt of his sisters treatment, if he felt it was not fair, he should have openly challenged Rama to a duel (as per custom then), not kidnap his wife ! Think what would Rama have done in Ravan’s place and the difference between the two would be clear.

          Aside, I read of a story where some other woman had cursed Ravan that he would die if he touched another woman against her wishes – which is the reason he picked the ground under her feet / by her hair by some accounts, not due to his ‘righteous conduct’.

        • Dear Ramesh,

          & Hence it was Ravan’s downfall, which is justified. I am not glorifying Ravana neither Rama in this forum – despite being a Ram devotee because my devotion is my personal matter, my only objective was to highlight Ravan’s reaction (impulsive) to Shurpanka’s treatment – thats it….to get the history right as per Ram Charita Manas of Tulsidas. Already there is a controversy in Delhi University about Various versions of Ramayana and its deletion from syllabus…that is different issue. Read all my comments in order you understand what I am saying here. I am not glorifying Ravana (or Rama). Its like this: Sikandar ne porus se ki thi ladayi – that is history ..thats it. Yes, I did put some positive light on Ravana’s character, again as agreed by most scholars – you saw Sholay? – Sanjeev Kumar’ dialogue when the inespector says: Khote sikke to dono taraf se khote hote hai…to which Sanjeev kumar replies ..Sikkon aur Insan mein wohi farak hain… Again, Ravan’s reluctance to take a step backward despite warning from Kumbakarna that Sita is nobody but sakshat “Sridevi” – his arrogance ultimately led to downfall…

      • Apsa

        devduttji,

        You are clever.. you know that the two words “Rama and Ravana” are not just mere characters but sybolically Ram and Ravana have assumed the larger meaning of something “right – wrong” respectively in everything we do or think.

        Ravana kidnapped ram’s wife was a wrong act and with wrong intent. Just like kandhahar plane kidnapping case in exchange of a dreaded terrorist :).

        That is I can do an act which is till now seen and percieved as wrong morally and ethically based on past experieces examples but still i could be seen as right and set an example and make people change their perception because it is for larger good.

        But the catch here is that on one hand everyone prays to Lord Rama because he our god and and on the other hand acts like Ravana. What paradoxical and equally fearful that every “ravana”that – “one who does wrong” thinks he is “ram”- “he is right” and everybody else is unfair with him and that he has to now assume the role of “ram”. Confusing na

        Ulti ganga.

        We say Vampires are glorified. Assume if a vampire a blood sucker could be tamed and taught to be loved and be compassionte and this new avtar of vampire is no more a blood sucker but full of love ,then would be still call a vampire a vampire or would we redefine the word vampire as lovable character or vampire word would just cease to exist or vampire would still be seen as negative blood sucker character but that particular vampire who is tamed or changed would no more be called as vampire but .. ha ha

        So if Ravana and Rama exchange each others, would be still pray Lord Rama. ))

      • Gurinder

        Saint Balmiki ji seems to have written Ramayana to portray depiction of age old caste-class struggle in our country. Many Indian kings like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka etc changed their way of life due to bloodshed & strife resulting from old Indian way of life. Ramayana illustrates clash between highest caste with second higher one, resulting into victory of the lower caste over the higher.

    • Aryan

      “Ravana has always charmed the Hindu mind.”

      Strangely, I haven’t ever come across anyone named Ravan (means one who groans, right ? ) that would explain why so many people adore and even worship him but don’t name their children after him. But then I haven’t come across anyone called Dasanand or Lankeshwar although Indrajit is such a popular name and I know people named Durjodhan.

      Know of a person called Major Shaitan Singh, a martyr ? He was posthumously awarded Param Vir Chakra after Sino-Indian war of 1962. That’s the devil of what you call “closed Christian beliefs”

      And when you say Ravan didn’t touch Sita you forget Sita didn’t allow him to touch her. Passive courage is much more powerful than aggressive

      • Aryan

        ..sorry i meant passive resistance in my earlier comment,had posted in a hurry but would like to continue. I wonder if Ravan being the quintessential alpha-male, coveting anything and everything his heart desired, with the use of force, has something to with Sita’s role in defeating Ravan (psychologically) being diminished.

        Coming back to comparison with Judeo-Christian/ Islamic perspective, the devil too before his fall was a great devotee of God, Lucifer has been referred as the angel off light (In Islam, he has been mentioned as a Jinn, since angels can’t disobey God). So Ravan, Lucifer,Ibliss were all great devotees but it was arrogance on their part that made them the greatest villains.

        Further, asking Devdutt ji to refrain from looking at Indian mythology from western perspective sounds outrageous! Isn’t that exactly what he says in nearly every alternate posts as well as in his books ?

        • Thanks to all for validating my PoV. Actually I hold Devji in good esteem because he is exactly doing that – what I wanted to do eventually, so anything that he does which sounds like “ordinary reaction”, I feel like protesting…

          BTW…My concern was not about what other faith thinks or designs to potray a thing or two in negative light..but to first deepen & Broaden our own understanding and faith.

          Actually Hinduism based on VEDIC texts is not there now..and significant part of the Vedas are destroyed due to onslaught of many invaders. However, what we know now in form of Puranas (which is basis of neo-hinduism) & other texts…all was in fact developed by a single individual (iam not saying man or god but individual) and that is Sri Ved Vyas (who has also classified the Vedas into 4 quarters from a single block). So he is almost like a single man invention of all our Hindu literature that we know today. He is known to be eternal …and much prior to even Adi Shankara ji. I want Devji to do deep research on this aspect of our religion and through some light on it – that would correct many a misconceptions of current generation seekers…
          Thanks Sachin.

  • aarthi raghavan

    Hi Devduttji,
    Sometimes I feel people are just not making the proper effort to understand why people have been follwing someone for such a long time!…..I guess people need to critically analyse each and every character and find out what is good in them and try to follow it. Seeing who is a hero or villain isn’t going to help us survive this world.

  • Satish Gundawar

    Dear Devdutta,

    I am surprised to see your comments on some of the comments. Is your account hacked (like Sohel Seth’s!!)? I am not convinced that those comments are yours!

    You always say “Indian culture is reflective not prescriptive” and all these great authors have thrown puzzle in front of you and you may have different interpretations. Although, I have strong believes on Ram, I think I can accepts others opinion/PoV though I differ to their views!

    Regards,

  • If all of us are energies of life, we behave in a manner in which our living energy manifests itself. Ravan is a life energy which was troubling the sages from living their life in the manner they wanted to.
    We know the most violent animal is one whose young ones are threatened. Mothers are know to have fought with crocodiles to save their child. Now wouldn’t mother nature do the same to save her children the sages who are being killed by Ravan.

    How do you get rid of a virus in your body. The white blood cells cling to the virus and die killing the virus. Similarly a bee bites the person threatning its nest by stinging him and dieing in the process.

    Mother Nature has only one currency the currency of life. It is always this currency of life that is spent to control the virus among men.

    Kams killed thousands of children trying to reach Krishna, drained himself of all living energy and he transferred what little energy left in him to krishna through his fear and hatred. It only required a small push from krishna and Kamsa plunged to his death from his throne to the arena below and died.

    Nature decides the outcome before the event. Thus Krishna has said the great warriors assembled for battle at kurukshetra are dead by their own karma the day they decided to participate in the war, Arjuna’s role was only the final push similar to a priest who pours the ghee into the yagna fire.

    Ravan actions created the food he has eaten, the food became energy clouding his mind. His mind did not see the mother nature in form of Sita draining off all life energy making it easy for Ram to end his tyranny. Ravan was half dead when Ram faced him in battle.
    So never mess with Mother Nature.
    We humans are seeing the harsh reality in nature punishing us for our way of life in forms of natural disasters. Somewhere every thing is connected.

  • // Further, asking Devdutt ji to refrain from looking at Indian mythology from western perspective sounds outrageous! Isn’t that exactly what he says in nearly every alternate posts as well as in his books ? //

    Really? Then why do we even need him? There are already many half-baked westerners doing that, isn’t it? Being a Hindu rooted in India (both physically and culturally), I think people expect Devdutt NOT to do that, in fact.

    Readers would expect Devdutt to look at the West, its culture, mythology and religion with *Indic* perspective and critically evaluate them. (By Indic, I mean Hindu, Buddhist, Jain & Sikh Dharmas, all combined).

  • Dear Devdutt,

    I am not sure whether you heard about the recent book by Rajiv Malhotra – Being Different (tagline: An Indian challenge to Western Universalism).
    http://beingdifferentbook.com

    This book really explores in details the true and tangible differences between Dharmic and Western civilization. It claims to turn the gaze in reverse direction that what we are generally used to.

    I request you to read this book and share your thoughts. The topics of this book are very close to the subjects that you write in many of your books and articles.

    I was seriously disappointed when you interviewed Wendy Doniger and praised parts of her ill conceived, superfluous and half baked book.

    Now, this book is a scholarly one and is written by an author who has in-depth knowledge of Dharma as well as the West. I am curious to know your views about the book.

  • Manish

    Hmmm,Dear Dev,been reading Mahabharata written by C.Rajgopalachari from the age of 9.Your persepctives and the book Jaya is enlightening.One query though.I agree with you when you state that glorification of Ravana is wrong.But it has always sort of disturbed me when The righteous Ram had to fight against Ravana for his wife and he sent Angad to find out a peaceful solution,but when it required Vali to handover Sugreeva’s wife and his kingdom there was no chance or peace solution offered to Vali?Ramayana when you say its of Dwapar yug the second question is why did Lord RAM the righteous man had to kill Vali when there was a duel and rightfully one cannot interfere?Anyways the perspective of Lord RAM killing Vali without giving him a chance to corect his mistake is something i never understood.Kindly throw some light on the same.

  • Divya

    Hello everybody,

    Found the article as well as the comments interesting.
    But when my father told me stories about Ramayana, and particularly about Ravana, he started off like this:

    There was this one great devotee of Lord Shiva, who committed a mistake(I dont exactly remember what) which angered Lord Shiva. So the Lord cursed him to be born on Earth. Then the devotee prayed to the Lord in repentance that the Lord gave him two options :
    1. Do you want to take birth as my devotee? But that will be for 100 or 1000 janmas. OR
    2. Do you want to take birth as my Enemy for three Janmas?

    The devotee was so happy that the Lord gave him an option and chose to be the Lord’s enemy for three Janmas just so he can come back soon to his abode and serve him.
    And thus was his wish granted and was born as Hiranya Kashipa, one another which I dont remember and the last one being Ravan.

    Ravan was granted the wish of immortality by Lord Shiva himself after a kathin tapasya and Ravan enjoyed his life for thousands of years. He had the best of the women, Mandodari as his wife (supposedly more beautiful than Sita). He was the best musician of his times and even the Gods enjoyed when he played Veena. He ruled the kingdom of Rakshasas with such splendour that everyone were greatly fed. There were no poor Rakshasas in his regime.
    When Hanuman visits Lanka, he sees that all the rakshasas are enjoying their lives with no worry in their hearts. Thus was the rule of Ravana Bramha. One of Ravana’s parents is a Bramhan unlike other kshatriyas and so he has the qualities of both Bramhan and Rakshasa.
    But then he got bored of life as he did not have death and had left nothing to enjoy in life.
    Thats when he goes to Kailasa to ask the Lord Shiva himself a solution. At this moment, Shiva was in deep meditation.

    Ravan waited until the Lord completed his meditation and asked him the question that bothered him:
    “O Lord, you are the destroyer and you are the highest form of existence. Then who else do You meditate upon?”

    Then Lord Shiva mentions the name of Rama and says that the Rama nama is so powerful beyond anything that he meditates on the “Nama”.

    Thats when Ravana gets his idea that if he found who this Rama was and somehow bring him to kill Ravana, he would find the solution to his immortality. And that is the reason he keeps butting his head with Rama whenever possible
    and finally attains the Goal.

    Sita was not his Goal for his thoughts are much higher than to worry about a worldly pleasure of having Sita as his wife.
    So, he never touched her and stole her in the absence of Rama just to provoke Lord Rama to fight him and win his wife back as a King of his stature will have to do.

    I am not sure if this story is there in any of our scriptures. But this introduction given to me by my father in childhood somehow makes me respect and rever Ravana for his commitment.

    I wonder at the commitment of the devotee who dared to take the janma of Ravana and other rakshasas just so he can reach his Lord more quickly.

    Infact the point that everything the Lord does has some inner meaning is the key point of our scriptures. It is for people who are fighting their lives in bhavasagara and who do not have enough time to read and understand the scriptures, to make things simpler for them, “Ravana is the representation of Bad” and “Ram for Good”. But if someone dares to see beyond that, there is a wealth of higher understanding.

    Regards,
    Divya

  • Sanket

    Best One

  • Ashish

    Devduttji,
    I really admire your writing.
    I have often noticed that most of the readers gets busy in analyzing the examples instead of understanding the underlying message in the article.
    The last para clearly portrays Ram and Ravan as symbols of good and bad and tells us that if your righteousness is not paying you then taking shelter of wrong-deeds would not help you either. At the end both Good and Bad(Ram and Ravan) will chukle at you for your foolishness). Believe in Good and have patience.
    But I see that people are busy in analyzing Ravan’s life instead of seeing him as a symbol of Bad in the article.

    • N.P

      good and bad are just one’s perceptions.
      whats wrong for one may be right for another and vice versa.
      Its just a matter of opinions.
      you understand both the sides/facets of a situation/tale and choose any one that, according to your opinion is right.

      • Pravin

        It’s not due to perception. It’s your nature.Even the most evilest of persons could have some good elements too. But, that doesn’t make that person less evil.

        Some Ramayana facts (looks like many here are unduly influenced by Asura):
        Ravana abducted the wife of another person. The only reason Ravana could not rape her is because of the curse ofVedavati (if he touched any woman without her consent, he will burn). In fact, he was an habitual rapist, until Vedavati put her curse upon him. This point alone is enough to see him as evil.He took Sita through a cowardly way. Knowing that he cannot take on Ram, he went through backdoor He had his wicked uncle Maricha appear as a golden deer. Ram chased the deer for the sake of Sita to gift her, while the dastardly Ravana abducted her.
        When the good bird of Jatayu tried to stop Ravana from doing a heinous thing, he was killed (in his death bed, Jatayu points to Rama, the direction in which Sita was abducted).
        When Vibhishana (the sanest of the demon brothers) tried to reason with him, he was banished from his kingdom.When Hanuman the messenger brought a peaceful message, he was arrested, violating the international norms.Ravana usurped the kingdom of Lanka built by Viswakarama and ruled by Kubera. He terrorized the learned men of the land. That said, he also made his own region prosperous (so did Hitler).
        Ramayana and Mahabharata are named epics for a reason. They are extremely nuanced and carefully constructed. The characters are complex. Like in the real world, even the good person will have bad elements and bad person will have good elements. Only in low-budget movies will the villain be pure evil.

        Thus, Ravana is given a lot of positive attributes too – great musician, great devotee, good ruler etc. But, these alone doesn’t make one moral. To be truthful, one should check all the moral boxes. Ravana missed a couple of them. As I mentioned in one of my earlier answers, “if someone stabs you and kidnaps your wife, but claims that he is a good singer & devotee, will you pardon him?”Ramayana is also a proof that in our ancient land, Brahmins were not always the most celebrated characters. Ravana is a Brahmin, but as observers we side with Ram (a Kshatriya) and Hanuman (possibly a tribal). This pushes the Hindu-haters often into a defensive mode (isn’t Hinduism supposed to be always glorifying Brahminism?) and makes them bring all sort of gibbering interpretations.

        In sum, Ramayana is clear in why Ravana is evil. His caste and skill sets don’t change that fact. In our modern culture, we have stopped reading the moral aspects and have made it fashionable to make Ravana appear good (most recent being the ham-headed attempt by Mani Rathnam). Just because he was religious and worshipped Shiva doesn’t make him less evil. In fact, that is one of the takeaways from Ramayana: being truly religious means staying moral and truthful, and not just praying.

        At a time when is India is run over by rapism and misrule, there is no better time to study the positive aspects of Ram (a devoted husband and a just ruler) and identify the evil aspects of Ravan (an aggressive rapist).

    • Navprakash

      good and bad are just one’s perceptions.
      whats wrong for one may be right for another and vice versa.
      Its just a matter of opinions.
      you understand both the sides/facets of a situation/tale and choose any one that, according to your opinion is right.

      • Pravin

        It’s not due to perception. It’s your nature.Even the most evilest of persons could have some good elements too. But, that doesn’t make that person less evil. 

        Some Ramayana facts (looks like many here are unduly influenced by Asura):
        Ravana abducted the wife of another person. The only reason Ravana could not rape her is because of the curse ofVedavati (if he touched any woman without her consent, he will burn). In fact, he was an habitual rapist, until Vedavati put her curse upon him. This point alone is enough to see him as evil.He took Sita through a cowardly way. Knowing that he cannot take on Ram, he went through backdoor He had his wicked uncle Maricha appear as a golden deer. Ram chased the deer for the sake of Sita to gift her, while the dastardly Ravana abducted her. 
        When the good bird of Jatayu tried to stop Ravana from doing a heinous thing, he was killed (in his death bed, Jatayu points to Rama, the direction in which Sita was abducted).
        When Vibhishana (the sanest of the demon brothers) tried to reason with him, he was banished from his kingdom.When Hanuman the messenger brought a peaceful message, he was arrested, violating the international norms.Ravana usurped the kingdom of Lanka built by Viswakarama and ruled by Kubera. He terrorized the learned men of the land. That said, he also made his own region prosperous (so did Hitler).
        Ramayana and Mahabharata are named epics for a reason. They are extremely nuanced and carefully constructed. The characters are complex. Like in the real world, even the good person will have bad elements and bad person will have good elements. Only in low-budget movies will the villain be pure evil.

        Thus, Ravana is given a lot of positive attributes too – great musician, great devotee, good ruler etc. But, these alone doesn’t make one moral. To be truthful, one should check all the moral boxes. Ravana missed a couple of them. As I mentioned in one of my earlier answers, “if someone stabs you and kidnaps your wife, but claims that he is a good singer & devotee, will you pardon him?”Ramayana is also a proof that in our ancient land, Brahmins were not always the most celebrated characters. Ravana is a Brahmin, but as observers we side with Ram (a Kshatriya) and Hanuman (possibly a tribal). This pushes the Hindu-haters often into a defensive mode (isn’t Hinduism supposed to be always glorifying Brahminism?) and makes them bring all sort of gibbering interpretations.

        In sum, Ramayana is clear in why Ravana is evil. His caste and skill sets don’t change that fact.  In our modern culture, we have stopped reading the moral aspects and have made it fashionable to make Ravana appear good (most recent being the ham-headed attempt by Mani Rathnam). Just because he was religious and worshipped Shiva doesn’t make him less evil. In fact, that is one of the takeaways from Ramayana: being truly religious means staying moral and truthful, and not just praying.

        At a time when is India is run over by rapism and misrule, there is no better time to study the positive aspects of Ram (a devoted husband and a just ruler) and identify the evil aspects of Ravan (an aggressive rapist).

  • Divya

    And how come
    Ram
    1. Ordering Sita for agni pareeksha

    2. Sending away his pregnant wife to the wilderness

    become a symbol of Good?

    • Devdutt

      So true….our ancestors must have been idiots….or they were trying to say something that escapes us by presenting the ‘hero’ in an obviously negative light….make your choice

      • Jyoti Iyer

        While I’ve always considered Ram a villain for doing this, the only believer’s explanation that has appealed to me somewhat is that maybe the message is that nobody is perfect and that errors of judgement are a part of every human form. Even if it is god himself

        • Navprakash

          Both rama and ravana did mistakes.
          But ravana’s got highlighted and Rama’s hidden because Ravana was the villain/Rakshasha (his mistakes being his arrogance) and Rama was the Hero/God incarnate(his mistakes being Divine play).
          This Displays how the author has the power to show to the audience what he wants to show.

        • Unchained Melody

          You visualize your husband doing the same to you. And you would never forgive him if he did the same thing to you. He would become an contemptible wretch if he did so. And so you imagine Rama to

        • Unchained Melody

          You consider Rama a villain because you are a woman and you visualize your husband (either present or future) doing the same to you. And it seems utterly despicable and unforgivable to your mind. But that would be purely your judgement. Do you have any idea of the terrible dilemma that Rama had to face? On the one hand, he could not bear to send his wife (whom he had fought tooth and nail to rescue and bring back from the clutches of Ravana) away to the forest and on the other hand he had to explain himself not only to his citizens but history as well. As a scion of the illustrious and respected Ikshavaku dynasty, He was someone who would be setting an example for others to follow. He would become a folk hero. His conduct therefore had to be exemplary and impeccable. The charge being levelled against Him was, “How could He accept his wife back after she had been touched by another man?”

    • Pravin

      The events you have mentioned were not the part of original ramayana. It is later addition by. non Hindus to pollute the image of rama. Now consider these events are true. Then following points are enough to prove rama was right.
      * Rama didn’t doubt on seeta. Vanaras did. If rama hadn’t taken agnipariksha, then people would definitely think that rama is not sure about purity of seeta, that’s why he is refusing to do this for seeta.
      * Rama thought it is better to make my image down but not of seeta. Rama was fully aware of the thing that, in future, people will blame him but they will not blame seeta.
      *Now if rama hadn’t taken this test, then definitely rama’s image would have been good but people like you would definitely think that, why rama hadn’t taken the test?did he fear about what will happen if seeta is not pure.
      *why rama left pregnant woman in forest. It is not forest. He ordered laxmana to take seeta into valmiki’s ashram. This is because, seeta had right to participate in decision making like rama for praja. But people were not accepting the decisions of seeta. They were not accepting her as maharani. That’s why rama got sad and seeta took decision to live from rajmahal. Rama also said he would also come with her. But seeta promised rama not to come as now you are king and you have to take this responsibility, because laxmana, bharat, shatrughna would not accept this kingdom. They all want you as their king.
      People like you are considering rama as bad just because of these two events and forgetting. all his good points and considering ravana as good due to his few good points which were actually not his good points and forgetting all his bad points.
      How could rama do this to seeta. Because when sugriva was not accepting his wife because she was forcefully leaving with bali, rama convinced him to accept her. When rama freed ahilya from stone, he blessed her and made. her husband to accept her.
      The Sanskrit language in utter ramayana and in rest of the ramayana is different. Which shows the agni pariksha, abandoning of seeta and much more events are added later. Some people accept krishna although he made raas leela with many woman, Left radha just to marry rukmini, married with 108 woman but reject rama due to those events which are not true. How partial are these people…jai shriram

    • Unchained Melody

      Rama was someone who never lied. He never disobeyed his father. He never went back on his word. He was kind to one and all. He always fought injustice. But you choose to focus only on the two points you have raised. And wish to make Rama a symbol of Bad. Because, as a woman, that is what concerns you (his actions with respect to his wife and women in general). All his other virtues are irrelevant. Also, it is you who sees the above two actions of his as bad. I doubt if the women of those days (or even Sita herself) saw it that way.

    • Pradeep V

      Ram did not ‘order’ Sita for the agni pareeksha. He just informed her that it would be a necessary formality to prove her chastity to the world. He never personally doubted her faithfulness to him. But he had to prove it to the world. And neither did he send Sita away to the ‘wilderness’ (as you put it). Certain citizens of Ayodhya were defaming Sita because they opined that by the mere fact that Sita had been touched by Ravan, she had lost her purity. This put Ram in a fix. A moral dilemma. Of could not dream of disowning Sita (whom he did love). But then, as a scion of the Ikshavaku dynasty, it was Ram’s duty to heed and not disregard the opinion of his subjects. Therefore, to save Rama from being accused of shirking this duty, Sita herself chose to go to the forest. And hoped that one day, those who accused her of having lost her purity simply for having been touched by Ravan would realize their mistake. Which they did eventually. PS : What I am stating is based on Ramanand Sagar’s TV serial on Ramayan.

  • Puneresident

    Hello Devduttji,

    I request to post the article on conversation between Parikshit and Kaliyuga kali. From what are all evils(5 evils) one should refrain to avoid cluthes of devil kali on peoples mind.

    Thank you!

    • Devdutt

      The word evil cannot be translated in any Indian language and is a concept common in linear cultures only…India is dominated by a cyclical culture.

  • fire

    Sir
    I came across your book Jaya through one of my friend.I really enjoyed your writing.
    Regarding the agnipariksha that Seetha went, why no one is questioning the pariksha which she put in to lakshman(cant we say as cause and effect reaction)

    Secondly no one is admiring ravana for his wrong deeds. Surpanaga is just an excuse. people admire Ravana for his devotion to Shiva,for the goodness in him. People cannot accept even Rama easily for two things, one vali vatham and seetha’s agnipariksha

    Milk turns into poison even if only a drop of poison is added.

  • Navprakash

    Dear Devdutt ji,
    Your article was a nice read.
    But i have a doubt.
    You called ravana a king of rakshashas.
    But i read him refered as king of asuras somewhere.
    Can you brief the difference between a rakshasha and an asura?