Vijaya Dashmi, also known as Dussehra 2021, is one of the important festivals for Hindus, which falls on the 10th day of Sharad Navratri. It marks the victory of Lord Ram over the demon Ravana. The ten-headed demon king of Lanka, was one of the central characters of the Ramayana, yet most of the people are not aware of his background, his conquests and his erudite knowledge.
1- Ravana was half-Brahmin and half-demon. His father was Vishwashrava, a rishi belonging to the Pulastya clan and mother Kaikasi belonged to a demon clan. He was originally named Dasagriva, meaning the one with ten heads. Vishwashrava had two wives - Varavarnini and Kaikasi. Kuber, the god of wealth was born to the first wife, and Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Shurpanakha and Vibhishana were born to Kaikasi.
It was Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarana, who performed penance, got miraculous powers from Lord Brahma and drove out Kuber to occupy Lanka.
2- Ravana was named Dashagriva or Dashanana (demon with ten heads). While trying to dislodge Mount Kailash on which Lord Shiva was meditating, God pressed the mountain with his toe crushing Ravana's forearms. Dasagriva let out a loud scream in agony, earning him the name Ravana, meaning 'one who roars or screams'.
He then became one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva, and composed the Shiva Tandava Stotram. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Shiva presented him with an invincible sword called the Chandrahasa.
3- Ravana had killed King Anaranya of the Ikshawku dynasty where Lord Rama belonged. While dying, King Anaranya had cursed Ravana saying that the son of King Dasaratha will eventually kill him. That's why Dussehra marks the victory of Lord Ram over the demon Ravana.
4- Also, Ravana tried to kill the monkey king Vali, who was performing prayer to the Sun God at a seashore. Bali was so powerful, that he carried Ravana with his arms and took him back to Kishkindhya. After Ravana was defeated by Vali, the two became friends. It was Vali, who while fighting with Sugriva, was slain by Lord Rama.
5- It was Ravana, a Brahmin, who performed the rites of a purohit, when Lord Rama constructed the Rama Sethu to lead his monkey brigade to attack Lanka.
6- Ravana was not only a stupendous fighter, but also an expert of the Vedas and an expert in astrology. It is said that when his son Meghanada was to be born from his wife Mandodari's womb, Ravana "instructed" all the planets and the Sun to be in their proper position for the auspicious 'lagna' so that his son would become immortal. But Saturn suddenly changed its position, which made Ravana furious and he attacked Saturn with his mace and broke off one of its legs, maiming him for life.
7- Ravana was a great practitioner of statecraft. When Lord Rama killed Ravana, who was on his last breath, Rama instructed his brother Lakshmana to go to Ravana and learn the art of statecraft and diplomacy from the dying demon king.
8- Ravana, after thousand years of penance, sought a boon for immortality from Lord Brahma, but the latter politely declined saying that his life would be concentrated at his navel. Ravana's brother Vibhishana, a devotee of Rama, knew this, and on the tenth day of the battle, he told Rama to strike his arrow at Ravana's navel, killing the demon king.
9- Ravana had acquired a boon from Lord Brahma by beseeching that no god, demon, kinnar or gandharva could ever kill him. He was granted this boon, little knowing that he did not seek the boon for protection from human beings. It was Rama, as a human, who ultimately killed Ravana.
10- Ravana not only usurped Kubera's kingdom of Lanka, but also his golden Pushpaka Vimana. It is said the vimana (aircraft) could take different shapes and could travel at the speed of mind.