Is there a Raavan in all of us?

 

On their way to Panchavati,
Perched on a big tree,
Jatayu, the giant vulture,
They met this huge figure.

“Sita I shall look after,
When alone you leave her
For the hunt you go for, ”
The vulture made a voluntary offer
.

The official Raavan posters have been released and a peek into the official website has revealed a very interesting note. 

Ten Heads
Ten Minds
A hundred voices
One man

Did such a man ever exist?
Was he just a myth or a metaphor?
Is Raavan the line that divided good from evil?
Does our understanding change when we look from the opponent’s perspective?
The bond between the hunter and the hunted –
between the captor and the captive seems to be a bond of do or die..
The tension between the opposites seems so electric, that it isolates them from the rest of the world,leaving just the two, all alone..
Are ten head better than one?
Is there a Ram inside a Raavan?And a Raavan inside each of us?

– Mani Ratnam

Rathnam has raised many pertinent questions that warrant different answers. I do find the questions raised not only fascinating but it also tries to make us observe the simplistic definitions of good and evil. How many Raavans do we encounter as compared to the Rams? There is a plethora of Raavans peeping out at every nook and corner, some exist in ourselves, some exist in the known faces and some in the visages of the unknown. The more petrifying aspect is naturally the “surprise” Raavan one may uncover in the known face, in the one we thought is Ram.How many Rams do we know who metamorphosed into the ten headed Raavan? This mind of ours has the ability to think in more than ten ways, hence is it not but natural to have multiple faces and personalities. In the last few decades, over controversies and shams we have seen many Rams who transformed overnight into multiple headed Raavans, so much so that every time one head was chopped off another miraculously emerged. Severing the head from the body does not at all times quell the evil or the evil doer.

And a reverse scenario, how often do we see a Ram in Raavan? A Robinhood theory that existed for Veerappan, supposedly a saviour for hapless thousands who depended on the sandalwood bandit for their daily livelihood. Countless men in history have worn the same uniform as Veerappan and have taken refuge under the misnomer of not being able to differentiate themselves and their actions from those of Ram and Raavan.The lone shriek of the good soul is always lost in the victorious  war cries of a warring Raavan.

But who and what accords us the right to judge Ram as Raavan or vice versa? If there is a bit of Ram in every Raavan and a bit of Raavan in every Ram, is there really a difference between the two? On the face of it, it appears unlikely. There is a thin line that demarcated the two, barely visible yet profound. The one who in complete control over his senses is Ram, the one who is not is Raavan. Going strictly by this definition, how many Rams do I know? Not one is the likely answer in comparison to the Raavans that I do. Morally unkempt high priests are Raavans, corrupt politicians, lusting celebrities, erring government officials, there most certainly exists a Raavan in all of us and at times ten Raavans in one.The significance of the ten heads is more than just having multiple personalities, it is to do with how much control does one have over his given five senses as compared to the nobel Ram who is believed to be in full control of it.If one has ten times his regular sense and sensibility is it but natural this his needs and wants are at greater levels than the rest? But this is no excuse for partaking in sinful deeds.

Between every Ram and Raavan exists a woman who still remains a singular cause for frictions and factions. But this woman is not seen as a woman per se, she is seen as the guiding force that takes the side of the victorious Ram. She is the force that wills Ram to vanquish Raavan. And again in todays materialistic world of maya or better known as “kalyug”, the guiding force too does not keep the company of Ram, she is seen flitting with Raavan and prods him on to slay Ram. No longer is she the conscience of the good soul or the gate-keeper of the virtuous, she chooses her part after performing a lot of calculations and selfish deliberations.

It is increasingly difficult to separate the chaff from the grain, it is increasingly more difficult to catch our own reflection in the murky waters.How many of us can confidently stand in front of the mirror and truthfully decide if we are Ram or Raavan? A perplexing situation which has no right answer. I wish we could say we are Ram or Raavan with little or no help. A wrong answer is judged by our own little voice,our conscience ,if it is at the right place it will snuff out the incorrect verdict or if logic prevails does it question the difference between Ram and Raavan?

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47 Responses to “Is there a Raavan in all of us?”

  1. Lakshmi Jag Says:

    Dear Sharmila….very interesting. As you know, what is ‘dharma’ is redefined in our Puranas depending on the Yuga. In Satya Yuga, dharma walked on four legs, in Threta yuga, it walked on three legs, in Dwapara, it limped on two legs, and in Kaliyug it again limps on one leg. Lord Krishna himself had to resort to trickery (an indication that dharma was limping) to uphold the redefined dharma, and yes, I do believe we all have a Ravan and Ram inside us and why life is an evolution. We live, we learn, and attain realization, hopefully. All in the eye of the beholder……

    • So true Lakshmi. I liked the reference to Krishna here, very appropriate. It once again makes us think that the so called good to has to at times resort to not so good means to achieve a good result.But is realization possible with two traits in us?

  2. Yes, there exists a Ram-Ravan blend in all of us. They says that god resides within us, so leastwise one has to cleanse their own soul, irrespective of ten-folds desires which are but sources of putting forth many Ravanist thoughts and deeds.
    Quite a spiritual shot this time. xoxo.. 🙂 🙂

    • Raghav – Yes, a rare spiritual shot this time! Do you think it is only but natural to have both in us albeit in varying proportions? Is it necessary?

      • Well, yes the nature commands that way in some extent.

        If i can quote here from our scriptures: Ram had Sita tested, of her purity not once or twice but thrice; at which she ended up in entering the earth and that particular outcome of ‘raja-dharma'(moral duty) followed by Ram have done much harm to the whole women clan, being seen as victim or weak compared to the conduct or opposites. So, in my belief it was a bit cruel (read it ravanist) act, not expected from someone being Ram, though its been a varied proportions per se.

        And having said that, if our gods and god-man couldn’t help it. The maya would surely have elope the absolute sense preachers like us, within its veil.

      • Raghav – Interesting example here. But is the act of testing Sita by itself an evil act?

  3. MonaLisa Says:

    Good and Bad, Ram & Ravan ,God and Demon are two sides of a coin. So it has to exist together. Not only good or bad can exist alone. Percentage may vary but a streak of bad has to be there with Good and vice versa. one side remains hidden when the other is projected so its a constant fight, ongoing fight within and out in the world to over power, good vs bad.
    We get the free will and its up to our discretion which side we allow to over power the other under various circumstances and desires we carry. Its like Flip Flop. but there is a gray area in this too to be dealt with. It has remained quite complicated as its not defined in Black and White.
    In ‘Kaliyug’ Ravan rules. Ravan gets all applauded and Ram gets stoned or buried alive. I wonder if Krishna & Ram are here now in kaliyug, how would they deal with all the issues they have to face in day to day life !?

  4. But obvious! It was such a let down of her spirit, one can only feel it after stepping in her shoes. Every or any harm done to the soul is evil in my eyes.

  5. MonaLisa Says:

    Ram chose his popularity over his wife which in my eyes quite an evil thing for Sita and a very bad/evil decision on Ram’s part. He chose to be A Popular King over a Good Husband which certainly against well being of Sita. Though that might be a myth but for that reason I haven’t been able to forgive Ram till today. Why a woman has to be held responsible for anything and everything!? Aah ! i can go on & on but i think i shall stop boiling my blood over some mythological stories.
    However I read it somewhere that Sita never accompanied Ram & Laxman. There is no mention of such events in Kamb Ramayan or Valmiki Ramayan i heard. I am not sure though i never read it.

  6. […] Read the rest from HERE […]

  7. Reader Says:

    Hi,

    I would say, there is a Raavan in me, IF:

    1. If I could stand on one leg for nine years, seek a boon from Lord Shiva and gain absolute control of my senses

    2. if I had enough wealth to use Gold and Jewellary as construction materials

    3. If I could rule over land, air and onceans from Centrall India to Java and Sumatra

    4. If I could the courage to fly anywhere and kidnap beautiful women

    5. If I had the integrity to imprison beautiful women for 12 years and do nothing with them

    6. If I could share my wealth and kingdom with my brothers and sisters.

    I would say, there is a Ram in me, IF:

    1. If I could payback my father’s debts

    2. If I could make my family suffer to protect the beilefs of dhobi (Laundry man)

    3. If I was a scholar in Advaita Philosophy

    4. If I could establish the Aryan Vedic Religion across the subcontinent (It lasted till Buddhism arrived in 6 AD)

    5. If I could relinquish my wealth and kingdom for losing a war against teenagers

    6. If I could quietly withdraw into Sanyas beyond the Himalayas and never show-up again

    So, in short, I can neither be Raavan nor Ram… There is nothing common between what I am and the two extraordinary legends

  8. Sharmila Says:

    Reader – At this rate no one can be a Raavan! Extremely profound set of points here. Thanks

  9. Reader Says:

    Thank you too.

    Good is what good does; just as evil is what evil does.

    I feel both, in there purest form, are awesome. I can’t imagine having enough courage to acquire the best qualities of either. The golden mean is so boring!

    🙂

  10. MonaLisa Says:

    If Ravan was all that and Ram too wasn’t perfect then why Ravan is considered as a symbol of Evil and Ram as a symbol of Good.
    What makes them to be on two extremes!?
    OR
    Is it a result of successful PR on Ram’s part!?
    In southern part of India somewhere they worship Ravan and not Ram. Amazing!…
    Reader !… its difficult to attain the heights both reached in today’s world. so one can’t be either Ram or Ravan. However we all consist traits of both good and bad in us. Hard to determine though, which moment one overpowers the other or both works hand in hand.

    • MonaLisa – I am a south Indian, I have not yet started worshiping Ravan, albeit he is said to be gifted with Lord Shiva’s special boons. I think he is worshipped in Sri Lanka. Should check this out.

      • MonaLisa Says:

        There are several places in India where Ravan is worshipped.
        In Kakkinada,AP Ravan statue is installed besides a Huge Shiva Linga Which believed to be installed by Ravan himself and Both Shiva Linga as well Ravan statue are worshiped by the fishermen community there.
        At Ravan Temple in Ravangram of Netaran in Vidisha, MP, Ravan is worshiped daily by Kanyakubja Brahmins.
        At Ravan Temple in Kanpur,UP which opens up once a year and a special worshipping is performed on Dashahara Day for welfare of Ravan.
        In Alvar, Rajasthan,A Jain Temple is known as Ravan Parshwanath Temple.
        In Jodhpur,Rajasthan, Ravan Temple has been erected by his claimant descendants where daily worshipping takes place.

      • MonaLisa – Thanks much for this info. You have saved me Google time. Wonderful knowledge you have.

    • MonaLisa – Good PR always helps.

    • Ram was great / Ravan was great/ Sita was the difference…#haiku

      Original link – http://twitter.com/sevenlives/status/1077873349

    • MonaLisa,

      I am sorry I just saw this comment when I clicked on the link on Bird’s eye page.

      That is an amazing list of places in India where Raavan is worshipped. I hope some of the priests there have seen the movie. They probably discovered an unlikely brand ambassador for their deity in Mani Rathnam.

      I am going to put this list on my shopping list next time I go on my get-lost-in-India tours…

      Thank you,

      🙂

      • MonaLisa Says:

        Reader,
        Glad you found it amazing list.
        How ironic it is that though he conquered half the India then, He was mighty, fought Indra and captured his Pushpak, he was an intellectual and learned Brahman. yet He is not remembered much or worshipped like Rama.
        Bring some pictures for us when you visit those places on your get lost in India Tour…. I might not find such inclination in me or opportunity to visit India and such place.

      • MonaLisa,

        I do find the poets who doubled up as historians in those days. History is written by the winner of a war not the defeated. Very rarely does one get to read the other side in a proper perspective.

        I don’t mean Mani Rathnam has done any justice to Raavan by portraying him as a honcho… thats definitely not fair… Ramayan is not a bollywood love triangle!

        Valmiki and Tulsidas have definitely based the epic on the Advaita philosophy… the dichotomous relationship of the soul and the body… which shivaliks have never accepted. A soul without a body is a ghost and a body with a soul is a corpse both are disfunctional if isolated…

        Someone more religious needs to make a Raavanayan…

        🙂

      • But Reader, why is wrong to experiment with an epic Theme? Art is all about letting your imagination take over not withstanding dictums that scriptures lay down in any religion.

      • Correction: A soul ‘without’ a body is a ghost, and a body ‘without’ a soul is a corpse.. both are disfunctional if isolated.

      • Perfect description, easy for people like me to comprehend.

      • Also, Raavan was not a poacher and a sandalwood smuggler…

      • Now, who said Raavan is one. The whole idea is to compare Raavan to one and vice versa!

      • Yes, I agree, this list is fascinating.

      • Sharmila,

        Firstly, there is a fundamental difference between art as in aesthetics and plain mischief… like MF Hussain’s sexy portraits of Saraswati…

        Secondly, art per se, is not independent of reality. A concept without perceptual relevance is a contradiction in terms. And quite certainly Raavan was not a purely conceptual effort. It was trying to relate to modernism.

        Lastly, the USP of the film was all wrong. It is as if the movie was written about Veerappan and as a change of thought titled Raavan and edited accordingly.

        It seems to lack something in terms of research, perhaps a bit of Lankan history embedded in the story might have made it more sincere.

        Just my opinion.

  11. There certainly is an evil in all of us.The only souls that are pure are those of children.Conscience doesn’t exist in them at all……yet they are pristine….

  12. It’s themes like these which is y probably he is a Living Legend -Only this time, bringing an totally out of the box concept , which allows to do a retrospection of our dark side from within inside – Very interesting viewpoints and comments throughout .. My 2 cents –
    Nobody wud dis-agree , tat there is Raavan lying inside each of us who is visible only to this mirror – conscience.. History has always been written in winner’s perspective .. Mani pin-points it as “Does our understanding change when we look from the opponent’s perspective?” or the truth behind it ?? I wonder if the whole myth of Raavan is to to let us know the fine line b/w good n evil .. The control of senses ultimately decides who v were .. The battle of good against evil happens deep within – in the battle field called conscience..

    • Palani – Thank you for your valuable set of thoughts. The battle field as you rightly point out is the conscience, the victor is the action.

  13. […] other thoughts on Raavan a month back – https://sharmilasays.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/is-there-a-raavan/ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)GlimpsesBirds of Nandi HillsHangin’ Out and […]

  14. Anand Khare Says:

    Congratulations Sharmila,

    For starting this mind boggling discussions here about Ram and Ravan. Never knew about them so much.Reader’s comments are always a delight to read and preserve.

    Still differing with you on Manirathnam’s Ravan.Very few in my company dared to watch it due to ‘vibhatsa’ promos.Great that you liked it so much.Wish you happy watching several times to further study it.Sorry for this ‘ravan’ in me.

    Anand

  15. Bull*%#& movie Raavan, Mani should go to primary school for some study on film making and naming…..phew Mani Mani…what is this?

  16. I am Ram / I am Ravan /…victims of circumstances..#haiku

    Stolen and modified from – http://twitter.com/sevenlives/status/1077387482

  17. Dipanshu Behl Says:

    Its so good to see so many brains churning out thoughts on ‘good’ and ‘evil’-a real delight.
    I agree with the comments here that good and evil inhabits our conscience. Some also said here that circumstances determine which side of us comes out first. To this, I would like to say that circumstances only challenge us and it is our determination and will that can get us through. Ultimately, it boils down to our own CHOICE. How we choose to react is who we are!

  18. Choice becomes limited when we have an agenda, which, sadly, almost all of us seem to have ?

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