From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Burning Ravana: All at once, or little by little?


Although Dussehra is often celebrated by burning an effigy of “evil” Ravana - thus signifying the triumph of “good” Rama - life itself isn’t quite that polarized.

In fact, there seems to be a growing movement to honor the good within Ravana, as well as to acknowledge the potential for evil within us all.

It turns out that Ravana – who is often stereotypically defined by his abduction of Sita, as well as by his ten heads (allegedly representing the “ten bad qualities” of lust, anger, delusion, greed, excessive pride, jealousy, mind, intellect, will, and ego) – had amassed quite a few brownie points on his resume before taking a sharp turn for the worse. 

Wikipedia reports that Ravana has been described as a “devout follower of Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler and a maestro of the Veena.”  Devotees of some Hindu traditions believe that his ten heads symbolize his intense knowledge of the four Vedas plus the six
Upanishads.  He is said to have authored the Ravana Samhita on Hindu astrology, and to have “possessed a thorough knowledge of Ayurveda and political science.” 

All that, plus the nectar of immortality that was gifted to him by Brahma and stored beneath his navel, made
him a virtual wonder.  According to the Sinhala scholar Arisen, the very name “Ravana” is associated with the generative aspects of the sun.  As for his genealogy – it, too, was exemplary.  His father and grandfather were both great sages, and his mother was a Daitya princess.

The saying, “There’s a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us,” certainly
applies here.  Rather than focus upon burning up “all the evil “out there, it might instead behoove us to focus
upon chipping away at our own evil proclivities. 

As psychiatrist Ruma Bhattacharya said, “There is no complete black and white personality of any person.”
Yogi Ashwini adds:  The universe exists inside us, and the outside is only its reflection.  So go inwards
if you choose to fathom it…  


Copyright October 6, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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