Many scholars have said many things about Ravan’s womanising ways, but that too is a contradiction in the opinion of many. Many have said that though he had many wives, which was probably a norm for Kings in those days, he always respected women. This can also be understood by the fact that his subjects were both happy in his regime and respected him as a King. A kingdom cannot be happy and content, if the women in the kingdom were insecure. Besides, many felt that his kidnapping of Sita, had less to do with his womanising ways or lust for women, than revenge for the wrongful mutilation of his beautiful sister, Surpanakha. However, there are different opinions on this matter, based on different versions. Let us understand this in a slight detail.
According to one version, a sage-woman by the name of Vedavati was performing penance to propitiate Lord Vishnu and gain him as a husband. Ravan was moved by her beauty which seemed to have been enhanced due to the penance, but she rejected his advances. When Ravan tried to force himself on her, she is supposed to have ended her life by burning herself. Before dying, she had vowed to be the cause of his death in her next birth. Later Vedavati is reborn as the first child of Ravan and Mandodari. It had already been prophesied that Mandodari’s first born would be the cause of Ravan’s death. On the birth of their daughter, she was ordered to be killed. However, Subahu, who was given the task of killing the child, was unable to kill the baby-girl and abandoned the child and lied to Ravan that he had killed her. The child was later found by King Janak, who brought up the child as Sita (also known as Vedavati, sometimes) and the rest as they say, is history.
There is another version of his alleged womanising ways. According to this version, Ravan tried to force himself on Rambha, an apsara, who was already engaged to Kuber’s (Ravan’s elder brother) son. Rambha pleaded to let her go as she was like a daughter to him, but Ravan could not be deterred. Seeing this, Kuber’s son cursed him that if he ever tried to force himself on any woman, then his ten heads would fall of his head. Some scholars also say that it was for this reason that Ravan could not violate Sita’s chastity when she was in his custody, and not necessarily due to his strong character and will, which many of Ravan’s admirers feel.
As I mentioned there are different opinions about Ravan’s womanising ways, but his strong will and the strength of character cannot be questioned. Many have also opined that he was well aware of the fact that Sita was his daughter, and it was due to this that he never even touched Sita. His only objective was to avenge his sister’s insult. Or was there some other objective?
Let me tell you a story here –
Once, when Vishnu was in his abode, Viakuntha, there were two dwarpal (gatekeepers) by the name of Jaya and Vijaya. Once when the Sanath Kumars (sons of Lord Brahma, who were born out of his mind, and thus are also known as Brahma’s manasputra) were visiting Vishnu, they were not allowed entry, as the Kumars were in the form of small children, and thus were not recognisable. However, this denial by the dwarpal angered the Kumars and they cursed Jaya and Vijaya that they would be expelled from Vaikuntha and would be born on earth. Vishnu however, agreed to mitigate the curse, after all they were just doing their duty. Vishnu gave them a choice. They could take seven births as devotees of Lord Vishnu or three births as enemies of Lord Vishnu. Jaya and Vijaya chose the option of enemies as this could bring them back to Vaikuntha and serve their Lord earlier than as devotees.
Jaya & Vijaya on the Eastern gate at Jagannatha Temple, Puri, Odisha, India
In the first birth, Jaya and Vijay were born as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha, who were killed by Vishnu as Narasimha and Varaha. In the second birth, they were born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna, who were killed by Vishnu as Ram and in the third birth; they were born as Sishupala and Dantavakra, who were killed by Vishnu as Lord Krishna. After these three births, Jaya and Vijaya return to Vaikuntha to serve their Lord.
|Ravan Kidnapping Sita - Raja Ravi Verma|
Coming back to Ravana, could his kidnapping of Sita (aka Lakshmi) be a way to come face to face with his Lord Vishnu and enhance the end of his second birth? Is this another case of pre-ordained destiny?
Well as they say, gods have their own ways and who are we mere mortals to understand them!! Leela, as they say!!