9 Lesser-Known Facts About Ravana

- November 13, 2020


By Srinidhi Murthy 

Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Lanka, was one of the central characters of the Ramayana. While many are aware of his end at the hands of Rama, some of his major life events are still unknown to many.

Ravana was not his original name 

He was originally named Dasagriva, meaning the one with ten heads.

He was named Ravana after a chance encounter with Shiva 

While travelling in his pushpaka vimana, a celestial chariot that would always obey its rider, Dasagriva came across Mount Kailasha where Lord Shiva lived with his wife. The pushpaka vimana, however, couldn’t fly past the mighty mountain, and so, the arrogant Dasagriva went on to lift the mountain by himself. As the mountain began to tremble at Dasagriva’s might, Shiva pressed the mountain down with his toe, crushing Dasagriva’s hands. Dasagriva let out a loud scream in agony, earning him the name ‘Ravana’, meaning ‘one who roars or screams’.

Script: A. Saraswati | Illustration: Ram Waeerkar
He was one of Shiva’s greatest devotees

Humbled by Shiva, Ravana became one of his greatest devotees, composing hymns in praise of the Destroyer, under the Kailasha mountain. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Shiva presented him with an invincible sword called the Chandrahasa. 

He had been defeated by two others before Rama 

Apart from the mighty Rama, Ravana was also defeated by two other kings. One was the monkey king, Vali, and the other was Kartaveerya Arjuna, the king of Mahishmati also known as the one with a thousand arms. Both incidents taught Ravana to be more humble. 

He was a master of martial arts 

Ravana was a master in all forms of the Angampora martial art and was the most feared Angam warrior of all time.

He was the great-grandson of Brahma. 

Ravana’s grandfather was Sage Pulastya, who was one of the ten mind-born sons of Brahma. Thus, in a way, Ravana was the great-grandson of Brahma himself.

Ravana had initially decided against abducting Sita 

According to Valmiki’s Ramayana, Ravana was told about Rama by the rakshasa named Akampana He was the lone survivor of a battle in which Rama killed Ravana’s 14,000 rakshasas in 48 minutes, including his cousins, Khara and Dushana. To avenge his loss, Ravana approached his rakshasa friend, Maricha, with the plan of abducting Sita to weaken Rama, but Maricha disagreed. Ravana took his friend’s advice and listened to reason. However, when his sister Surpanaka approached him with her broken nose, Ravana decided to go with his former plan ignoring the pleas of Maricha.

He threatened to kill Sita

Ravana gave a one-year ultimatum to Sita advising her to change her mind and accept him as her suitor. He also threatened to kill her if she refused him at the end of the year.

Script: Harini Gopalswami Srinivasan | Illustration: Arijit Dutta Chowdhury
He gifted a jewelled amulet to his charioteer 

In the final battle between Rama and Ravana, Ravana’s charioteer noticed that his king was exhausted due to the ongoing duel. In a bid to give his master some reprieve, he drove the chariot away from the battlefield. Ravana was furious at the charioteer for making him look like a coward, running away from the battle. The charioteer calmly stated that he just wanted Ravana to recuperate before getting back into the action fully energised, assuring his loyalty to the lord of Lanka. Touched by the words of his charioteer, Ravana presented him with a jewelled amulet and ordered to be taken back to the battlefield.

Read many interesting stories of Ravana from our vast digital library now available on the ACK Comics app and Kindle. 

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