Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ravana and Yama - Part 1 of 2

Ravana, the king of Lanka looked around Lanka with pride. His Lanka! Ravana had firmly established his rule in the kingdom and the people of Lanka adored him. But somehow this never satisfied Ravana. He wanted more and more. I have after all received the greatest boons from Brahma. I am more or less invincible. Yes! thought Ravana fiercely. I cannot be satisfied with a puny island in the sea. I want the entire earth….Why just the earth….I want all the three worlds for myself….

Ravana thought back to the day when he had met his great grandfather for the first time….

Even when he was young Ravana realized that physical power alone was not sufficient. He knew that he had to perform penances and win the favour of the Gods. Once he had the boons from the Gods, he knew that nothing could come in his way. Ravana had long since kept away from Lord Vishnu. Somehow Ravan never felt comfortable with the Lord. So he had to perform boons either towards Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma.

All through his life Ravana had always been a great devotee of Lord Shiva. But now Ravana had decided that Lord Brahma was the best person to grant him the boon he was after. After all Lord Braham was the Lord of Creation and it was within his power to grant any person immortality if he chose to….Or so Ravana believed. Besides Ravana knew that Lord Brahma was his own great-Grandfather [Ravana was the son of Sage Vishravas. Vishravas was the son of Sage Pulatsya who was one of the ten ‘Manas Putras’ of Lord Brahma] So the odds of Lord Brahma granting him the boon he was after, was high.

And so Ravana began his penance.

Ravana was arrogant and haughty and rarely respected any other person. But he had some good qualities as well. One of them was his utter, almost ferocious concentration to get a thing done, once he set his mind to it. Ravana started his meditation and kept at him. Days passed….years passed….nothing happened. But Ravana did not stop. He kept up with his penance.

Then one day, suddenly Lord Braham found himself dragged before Ravana because of the sheer power of his meditation.

‘Son! Open your eyes!’ Lord Brahma said as he sprinkled some water from his kamandalam on Ravana. The minute the holy water touched the king, Ravana woke up as if from a deep dream. He opened his eyes and saw the four faced Lord Brahma and bowed deep before him.

‘My Lord! You have come!’ Ravana exclaimed.

Lord Brahma nodded. Lord Brahma looked at the sacrificial fire before him and shook his head in wonder. ‘My son! The penance you have done is unmatched! I have yet to see something even remotely like it!’ Ravana’s face glowed with pride. Probably his great-grandfather would grant him the elusive boon he was after….

Lord Brahma continued. ‘What boon do you wish, my son? Anything you want and I will grant it to you!’ Lord Brahma said with utter sincerity.

‘Please make me immortal, my Lord!’ Ravana said. He had long decided that that was the only thing he would ever want. Once he was immortal….Ravana shivered, then he would become unstoppable…..

Ravana saw with dismay as Lord Brahma’s shoulders dropped. He shook his head. ‘My son! I cannot grant you that! It is against the law of nature. Whoever is born, has to die! I cannot change that law of nature, for anyone!’

But the Devas…they don’t die! Ravana wanted to scream.

But he held his tongue and slowly thought what Lord Brahma had told him. ‘My Lord, since you cannot make me immortal, then give me the nectar of immortality, which the Devas possess!’ Ravana’s eyes glowed as he said the words. ‘Then I will be equal to them!’ Lord Brahma looked at Ravana and realized how dangerous it was to grant the boon to Ravana. But then there was precious little he could do about it. The power of Ravana’s penance had dragged him here and he had to give what Ravana wanted….Lord Brahma grudgingly nodded his head. ‘Fine! You shall have it!’ Ravana smiled happily. ‘I wish to have the nectar stored in my navel! Till I have the nectar in my possession….I will be invincible!’ Ravana said with glittering eyes.

Lord Brahma nodded his head and a second later, Ravana felt a strange power coursing through his body…Ravana touched his stomach and found that the nectar was stored there and its power raced all though his body from there giving him greater strength than ever.

However Ravana was far from done. His rigorous penance merited him more boons. He turned and looked at Lord Brahma. ‘Lord! There is one more boon I seek!’ Lord Brahma had a very bad feeling about this but nodded his head with little enthusiasm. ‘I wish I am more powerful than Gods, heavenly beings, ganas, yakshas, rakshas, snakes and all wild animals and I should never be defeated by any of them….And I also wish to rule over all of them!’ Lord Brahma felt utter despair when he nodded his head.

Unaware of his great-grandfather’s dismayed feeling, Ravana’s eyes glowed as he happily nodded his head, feeling greater power course through him.

As part of the boon, Ravana also received divine weapons and magic…Lord Brahma vanished from there, before Ravana asked for something else from him. But Ravana was done. He flexed his muscles as he realized that  now absolutely nothing could stop him. He was for all purposes invincible…Ravana smiled….

Ravana’s reign of terror started. He started attacking all the kingdoms of the earth, randomly without rhyme or reason. He attacked the kingdom and owing to his boons, the king could not match up to the ferocity or power of Ravana. He just destroyed kingdoms and looted all the wealth of the kingdom and took away the women he liked….He did this to kingdom after kingdom…..

Ravana finally arrived at the Kingdom of Ayodhya which was being ruled by a great King Anaranya . The two kings fought for the long time, however Ravana had the advantage of being younger and stronger. Ravana hit the other king on the head while battling. Even while he fell, the Ayodhyan king showed no fear. He looked straight at Ravana’s eyes and spoke his final words. ‘You are arrogant!’ He wheezed as he felt the life being sucked out of him. ‘Your arrogance will be put to an end, by one of my own descendants! That is a dying man’s last wish!’ The Ayodhyan king breathed his last. Ravana jeered seeing the King no more…..

Ravana continued destroying kingdom after kingdom….Sage Narada who could take this no more went and spoke with him, before one of his attacks over another kingdom. ‘Narayana! Narayana!’ Sage Narada spoke as Ravana watched with disgust. He could not bear anyone singing praises of Lord Vishnu. ‘What do you want?’ He barked angrily at Sage Narada.

Sage Narada spoke with twinkling eyes. ‘My friend! You are making a mistake by attacking humans to show off your strength!’ Ravana wanted to curtly say that he was not Narada’s friend. But the sage’s words intrigued him. ‘What do you mean?’ Ravana asked inspite of himself.

Sage Narada smiled. ‘You are attacking humans….why don’t you attack Gods?’ Ravana looked stumped for a few minutes as Sage Narada continued. ‘One God in particular! How about Yama, the Lord of Death!’ Ravana looked at Sage Narada, wondering why this idea had not stuck him before….Ravana the conqueror of Yama…that definitely had a nice ring to it…He nodded as Sage Narada continued. ‘Yes, my friend! Once people know that even the Lord of Death bows to you, I don’t think any other man would even think of opposing you! Ever!’ Sage Narada said with twinkling eyes.