How the mighty have fallen. Ravana statue in Ellora
I’m more of a Shiva guy, but like anything else in the Hindu pantheon, it’s an infinite loop. My experience of Hinduism is of a never ending iPhone pinch and zoom. You can zoom in or out, either way it goes on forever. On one level Rama vs. Ravana is straightforward good vs. evil. On another it is a more complex character play. But so is One Tree Hill. I just heard this story about the origins of Ravana which places it on another cosmic level.
For me, Hinduism reflects a lot of modern subcontinental life. Or, to be accurate, vice versa. It’s all about powers that be, and access. Like bureaucrats and ministers, I’ve heard of so many fights about access. You know why Ganesh has an elephant’s head? Because his dad Shiva cut it off. Ganesh wouldn’t let anyone in while his mother was bathing, not even Shiva. Which the God of destruction didn’t take too kindly too.
Similarly, Rama (after the war) told Lackshman not to let anyone disturb him, on penalty of death. Turns out the Lackshman had to disturb Rama, and then killed himself. So this access stuff is serious.
What I heard is that all the trouble caused by Ravana was the karmic result of another access struggle among the gods. As I said, I’m a Shiva guy, mostly because Ravana himself was a devotee of Shiva. So I thought I had that down. But, like trying to nail spaghetti to a wall, there’s a certain string theory to this stuff. These beings are just vibrations through time.
I always knew that Rama was a incarnation of Vishnu, and avatar. Turns out that Ravana is an incarnation as well, of Vishnu’s guard, cursed to three bad births.
Vishnu had two guards, Jaya and Vijaya. I’ve seen them in temples before, but never paid much notice. Some great sages came to visit Vishnu and Jaya and Vijaya wouldn’t let them in. The sages cursed the pair to be mortals and roam the earth. They escalated the problem to Vishnu. He said he couldn’t take back the curse, but he gave them a choice. Take 100 good mortal births or three wicked. They took the three. In one of them they came back as Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarana.
In each birth Vishnu himself reincarnated to kill them, in effect bringing them closer to their wanted return, to his side. So, what looked like a battle in the macro was really a great favor on the whole. And then, from that vantage, the morality of that particular battle sorta pales, in the cosmic scope. It was like this because. That is, it’s all a part of something bigger. And I’m sure there’s something bigger still. I don’t get it, but it is awesome.