Meghnaad was Ravan’s son and an extremely brave and courageous warrior and according to some scholars, a great citizen too. It is said that when he cried soon after his birth, it sounded like thunder and lightning, and thus he was named Meghnaad.
During one of the battles with the gods, he had won a victory over Lord Indra, and was awarded the Brahmastra (a weapon) and was christened, Indrajeet (one who achieved victory over Indra), by Lord Brahma. Besides Brahmastra, Meghnaad had access to other divine weapons like Pashupatastra and Nagpaash, or the serpent spell. In the entire Ramayana, Meghnaad has been lauded for his battle skills and was quite a formidable force for both Ram and Lakshman. It was during the battle with Meghnaad that Lakhsmana was seriously wounded, which needed Sanjivani buti from the mountains. With all his skills and his ability to steal victory, he too had even tried to reason with his father, Ravan, that they were fighting a war for the wrong reasons and that he should return Sita to Ram and save Lanka from destruction. But Ravan would not heed to any suggestions and on the orders of his father, Meghnaad went back to the battle field to face imminent defeat. Many scholars compare his devotion to his father being similar to Rama’s devotion to Dashrath.
On conquering Indra, he had tied Indra to a chariot and when he was taking Indra away, Lord Brahma intervened and sought the release of Indra. In return he was granted a boon, of invincibility. However, this invincibility could be broken if the Yagna preceding any battle could be disturbed by someone. This knowledge was with Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravan, who had moved on to Ram’s side during the battle. He shared this with Lakshman and together with Sugriva, both of them manage to disturb the Yagna that Meghnaad was performing on the third day of the battle. Thus Meghnaad was defeated by Lakshman and a great warrior, had to meet his end by the collective deceit of Vibhinshan, Lakshaman, Kuber and others who participated in the disturbance of the Yagna.
The heroism and the victorious death of Meghnaad has been depicted in a famous poem by the noted Bengali poet and author Michael Madhusudan Dutt, in his epic poem, “Meghnaad-badh kabyo”, which was first published in 1861, which took Bengal by a storm, since in this Meghnaad was depicted as the tragic hero who was wronged by the gods, for a change!