A Modern Take on the Concept of Ravana

Nivedita Singh

Ravana, the antagonist of the epic Ramayan is one of the most powerful villains in the Hindu mythology. He is believed to have 10 heads and the effigy, which is burnt in Dussehra, also has ten heads. In Hindu mythology, there are several interpretations for this.

According to some interpretations, he has 10 heads because he has the knowledge of six shastras and four Vedas and each head represents one. He was one of the most intellectual characters in the Hindu epics. Some other interpretations state that each of his head represents the ten basic emotions of humans, which are: lust (kama), anger (krodha), greed (lobh), temptation (moha), pride (mada), envy (matsarya), insensitivity (jaddata), fear (bhaya), intellect (buddhi) and ego (ahankara).

Considering himself to be a complete human, Ravana once justified to Mahabali that his heads represents these ten facets and this is what makes him a complete man. If we consider this interpretation as true, then it means that we all have Ravana inside of us. The lords are the one, who are able to control these emotions, and because of this Rama is a lord and Ravana is not. So anyone who does not have control over these emotions is Ravana. The newspaper, which we read daily, establishes this fact. Some people are not able to control a few, whereas some are not able to control any. They are all jealous, have ego and pride and what not.

Considering himself of supreme intellect, he always felt all his actions to be right. Out of ego and anger, Ravana decided to abduct Sita. Later the emotion of temptation and lust also became uncontrollable. His greed for Sita, envy for lord Rama and pride on himself made him fight the battle. His fear of losing the respect of his people made him highly insensitive and all these led to his end. We all are flooded with these emotions, but the problem occurs when they go out of control and we begin to be governed by these emotions.

The demon king or the intellectual antagonist thrived in Satyug. Kalyug owns the beasts in multitudes, walking around, living, and breathing corruption of the soul in society, in innocent life. Or maybe no life is innocent anymore. All the social evils can be traced back to meet the malicious fire and malignant glare of Ravana’s heads.

Kama, lust, has mutated into a horrific form. News articles are flooded with this. The perfect example for this is rape. It is one of the most common crimes against women in our country. The NCRB or the National Crime Records Bureau 2013 annual report claims that around 25,000 cases were registered in India and almost 98 percent of them were committed by a known person to the victim. According to figures released by NCRB, in our state on an average around eight rapes were recorded everyday in 2013, making a total of 3,050 registered rape cases in the year.

Rage, krodh, anger, aggression are the root of all evils. Road rage being one of the most common crimes because of anger. It is a sudden provocation in a driver by the action of other driver. The NCRB data for road mishaps claimed that in India as many as 1,37,423 people died in road mishaps, out of which UP ranks first with 15,630 deaths, total of 11.4 per cent of total in the country. One of the highlighted and recent example of this can be the killing of a class 12th student by JD (U) MLC’s son, because the student overtook the SUV of a “powerful man”. The killer lost his temper just because the young child over took his car. Lives do not matter anymore.

And what flaw has defeated the people and made the nation kneel. The best place for Lobh or Greed is our own country. We don’t have to think if we have to count the major scams or corruption in our country. All these are happening because a number of people are not able to control their greed for money and because they have the power, they are sure that no one can harm them in any way. The money, which should be used for the upliftment of the society and the poor are in the bank accounts of few. They are so blind before their greed that they fails to realize that even today there is a large section of our society that does not have the basics of food, water, house, education and health facilities. Thus we can say that corruption is the failure to control the greed in the humans. And this greed leaves many scars on the ‘object’.

Moha or the Temptation is what we see in the roads- not the accidents, but a boy or man singing songs on road or whistling after seeing a girl. In simpler terms, it is the direction of unwanted sexual remarks in public place towards a female. The roadside Romeos are so much tempted that they cannot control passing comment on the woman passing them. They believe there is no harm in this, and most of the time will say its not for you, but the fact is eve-teasing happens because the man is not able to control his temptation for the other gender. And not far from it resides greater evil.

Mada or pride comes out in our society in the form of dowry and domestic violence by the in-laws and husband. They feel proud for being the groom’s family or the superior in our patriarchal society. It is one of the most common beliefs for the society that a man is superior to women for some ill-logical reasons. The man demands the money from the woman’s family because they are the suppressed one and have to pay, otherwise the girl will suffer. There is no end to these practices as new uncontrolled emotions are added to this- the pride will turn into greed, then ego and gets multiplied multiple times.

The various forms of uncontrolled emotion, which leads to crimes against women, get added to the next one, which is matsarya or envy. The girl is beautiful, but does not like me- go for acid attack, she is not scared of me- go for acid attack, her family is not paying my dowry- go for acid attack, I raped her, still she is surviving and moving on- go for acid attack. The attacker thinks that by doing this he will be able to make the girl weak, but actually he only shows his own weakness to control his own emotions. He simply feels envy because the lady is strong enough to handle all his uncontrolled emotions and is not afraid of him anymore. So he again shows his weakness and envy towards her by doing such an act. The atrocities do not end there. An empty mind is a devil’s workshop.

The Buddhi or the intellect is one of the most dangerous of all. It can be related to robbery and frauds simply because the buddhi is not able to digest others wealth and money, it is actually an act where the buddhi is in desperate need of something, but there is no desire for hard work or to earn the need, but instead the person chooses the short-cut and go for other’s money. It is a very common practice for earning the money mostly. And with money comes the lust for power.

The bhaya or the fear of losing power and control is the main reason for the creation of the religion and the caste system. The society was divided into caste system so that only few can enjoy the luxury and power while some will be there to serve and suffer. The religion came into existence because some feared the loss of the beliefs. Some people are scared to see all enjoying and being happy.

The subjugation of women is endless. Ahankara or the ego of a section of the society which feels that if given chance the women will prove that they are better than what people think about them invented the concept of child-marriage. If the girl is married off in an early age then all she will focus on will be her family and children. The gender inequality is one of the main causes of this practice. Insensitivity is the greatest enemy of humanity.

The Jaddata or the insensitivity if went out of control gives birth to practices like child labour. The child is easily exploitable as they are not aware of their rights and wages information. They also do not demand much. A child will only work if he is in a desperate need of money for him and his family. There are people whose insensitivity crosses all boundaries and they forget to figure out that a child who is of the age to play and learn is forced to work as a labour.

All these are very common issue in our daily life. Sometimes we become the victim of these while sometimes we are the one who commits them. Instead of burning the Ravan’s effigy why not we all should search the uncontrolled emotion in us and burn that, and make the world a better place for all.

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 3 Issue 31, Dated 05 October 2016)

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