The tenth day of Sharad Navratri, also known as Vijayadashmi, is celebrated as Dussehra or Dassara in India. On this day, it is believed that Lord Ram slayed the demon king Ravana in Lanka. It falls on the tenth day of Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, typically falling in the months of September and October. It celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over the demon, signifying the victory of good over evil. On this day, Ravana effigies are burnt to symbolise that every year evil forces are created and destroyed, just like Lord Rama put an end to Ravana’s evil reign. Even though, Ravana is the antagonist of Hindu epic Ramayana, most of the people are unaware about his erudite knowledge and conquests.
Thus, on the day when this demon king was killed by Lord Rama, let’s know some important facts about Ravana.
- Ravana was half-Brahmin and half-demon. His father was Vishwashrava, who was a sage belonging to Pulastya clan. His mother Kaikasi, was a demon.
- Vishwashrava had two wives - Varavarnini and Kaikasi. Kuber, who is the God of wealth is Ravana’s step brother. Kumbhakarna, Shurpanakha and Vibhishana were siblings of Ravana.
- It was due to extreme penance performed by Ravana and Kumbhkarana, that they were bestowed with supreme powers. After getting boons from Lord Brahma, he occupied the golden kingdom of Lanka, throwing Kuber out.
- Ravana is not his birth name. He was named Dashagriva or Dashanana, due to the fact that he has 10 heads.
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- While trying to dislodge Mount Kailash on which Lord Shiva was meditating, Shiva pressed the mountain with his toe crushing Ravana's forearms. As Ravana let out blood-curling screams in agony, he came to be known as Ravana (one who screams).
- After this incident, Ravana became the biggest devotee of Lord Shiva. He is the one who composed Shiva Tandava Stotram.
- Raavan annihilated King Anaranya of the Ishwaku dynasty to which Lord Rama belonged. While breathing his last, Anaranya cursed Ravana that King Dashartha’s son will eventually kill him.
- Ravana also tried killing monkey king Bali, who was performing prayer to the Sun God at a seashore. But Bali was so powerful that he lifted Ravana in his arms and took him back to Kishkindhya, where he asked Ravana what he wanted. After this, Ravana and Bali became friends. It was Bali, who while fighting with Sugriva, was killed by Lord Rama.
- Ravana was the Brahmin who performed the rites of a Purohit, when Lord Rama was building Rama Setu to reach Lanka.
- Ravana was a super-skilled fighter and also a learned of Vedas and astrology.
- When his son Meghanada was about to be born, he commanded all the planets and the Sun to align themselves in proper position so that his son become immortal. It was Saturn who changed his position, leaving Ravana furious. Thus, Ravana attacked Saturn with his mace and broke his leg off, crippling him for life.
- Ravana was a great practitioner of statecraft. When Lord Rama killed Ravana, he instructed his brother Lakshmana to go and learn the art of statecraft and diplomacy from the dying king.
- After performing thousand years of penance, Ravana received the boon for immortality from Lord Brahma. But it was later reduced saying that his life will be congregated at his navel. Ravana’s brother Vibhishana revealed this fact to Lord Rama, thus leading to his death.
- Ravana was also blessed with a boon that no god, demon, kinnar of gandharva could ever kill him. He forgot to ask for protection from human beings. Thus, it was Lord Rama, a human who ultimately killed him.
- Ravana's empire spread over Balidweepa (today's Bali), Malayadweep (Malaysia), Angadweepa, Varahdweepa, Shankhadweepa, Yavadweepa, Andhralaya and Kushadweepa.
- Ravana not only seized Lord Kubera’s kingdom, but also his golden Pushpaka Vimana. This Vimana can take any shape and travel at the speed of mind.