Was Ravana one of the greatest devotees of Lord Ram?

As per scriptures and as commonly depicted, it is believed that King Ravana, the mighty king of Lanka, was so much obsessed with Lord Ram that he could not even sleep in the days leading to his ultimate showdown with Him. On surface, his overconfident and proud self could not have possibly borne the thought of being defeated and possibly killed by an exiled person, whose wife he had abducted deceitfully. His obsession with Lord Ram was outwardly characterised by his negative emotions towards Him.

King Ravana is understood to have been a learned person, albeit proud and possibly arrogant, and a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He would have undoubtedly known about the reality of Lord Ram. Therefore, intriguingly, was his outward dislike of Lord Ram a camouflage in reality and possibly a shade of his hidden devotedness to Him? Had Ravana planned his own death at the hands of the Lord to attain salvation? Had he deliberately trespassed and provoked Lord Ram and, before Him, His esteemed parents – King Dasharatha of Ayodhya and Queen Kaikeyi? These questions shall always tease us.

Can love and hate be considered as the two sides of a same coin, as are day and night? Love, at best, as we think and discuss commonly at mundane level, can arguably be described as a bipolar emotion, if not multipolar.

One pole is characterised by a lesser known form of love – the absolute love, which is an intangible, unconditional, inclusive, selfless, detached, subconscious, instinctive and unintelligent, non-judgemental and self-sacrificial form of love. This absolute form of love is extremely idealistic and utopian at best. Thanks to the effects of materialism, it is relatively incomprehensible for many an animal in us humans and, thus, rarely seen.

The other pole is characterised by a more practical form of love – the relative love, which is a more tangible, practical, calculated and mundane form of love, albeit with a dark side and a painful sting, like a scorpion. This relative form of love may have undoubtedly frightened and perhaps bitten many a romantic fiddler in all ages; however, which is not consciously seen or acknowledged by most of us, as if it is a taboo. Many idealistic romantics simply deny its existence. This vicious and tangible form of love is characterized by self-defeating emotions of attachment and tendencies to possess and own your lover, all of which invariably manifest in hateful emotions towards the lover, interwoven with deep fear of losing him or her.

Tendency to possess and own a person, who you think you love, thwarts the un-conditionality and the very essence of love. Possession strangles it, suffocating it like that beautiful little flower that dries and flattens within the leaves of a book. Not many lovers want to surrender their freedom to anyone else.

The bipolarity of love can be deemed non-existent in the absolute sense. But how many people really know what absolute love is? Therefore, in general, it is the relative form of love, which characterizes its practical shape. This relative form of love is founded on a number of elements, which include material attachment and expectations, physical and psychological satisfaction, fantasy and idealism, and, of course, lust. It is the loss of these elements that leads to the separation of many lovers and causes divorce between many married couples. If all these elements are kneaded into one major cause of separation between lovers, it is the one single factor of ‘unfulfilled expectations’ of one party from the other, or both parties from each other. The length of survival of a relationship depends upon the time till one’s expectations – physical, psychological or material – are met by the other party. Initially, their surficial attraction and /or other material expectations from each other may bring them together for some time; but once they realise their expectations are unlikely to be met by the other person, their feeling for each other over. In many cases, unfortunately, positive emotional feeling of love and replaced by negative emotional feeling of hate. In the absolute form of love, however, none of such expectations are expected to arise.

Expectations kill relationships.

People have expectations from everyone – parents, children, siblings, colleagues, friends, government, God and even one’s dire enemies. Otherwise, why would people create numerous gods? If one god does not work for you, you try other gods. To worship many gods is like having numerous insurance policies; you never know which god comes handy. The creation of numerous sects and the rise of numerous godmen and god-women are also due to man’s search for quick gratifications of material expectations. If you had absolute faith in One God, what was the need for prostrating before mortal godmen, who are also subject to the same laws of Nature as you are?

We keep searching for people and material objects – cosmic, animate and inanimate objects – that can satisfy our material needs and unending wants. Instant gratification of wants and needs is our preferred mode, we want everything now. Patience is fast becoming a thing of the past, thanks to technology. Where and when that does not happen from one source, we immediately look elsewhere. Our search keeps going till we find the required means to satisfy our wandering mind or when we realise there is no one fit to meet all our needs, in which case, we start looking for different means to satisfy our different wants. It is this ultimate realisation – that there may be no one fit to satisfy all our wants and needs – people look for multiple partners, thereby indulging in polygamy and polyandry.

We need multiple gods, multiple friends, multiple children and relatives. There is never one. We look to older women, whom we call aunties, for giving us motherly love that may not necessarily come from our biological mother. Same is the case with uncles who provide us a form of love and care that our biological father may not be able to provide. Amongst our siblings, we tend to become closer to those who meet most of our sibling requirements. Once that stops – due to any reason whatsoever – we move on and turn to other sibling. We apply the same rule to our cousins, friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and shops. We always have our favourites – parent, child, sibling, colleague, friend, neighbour, snack and food, movie stars, singers, music, holiday resort etc., virtually in everything that comes to mind.

Hate can be seen as another shade of love, just as night forms an essential part of day. Hot and cold, dry and wet, friend and foe, happiness and sadness, sick and healthy, summer and winter characterise two shades of essentially the same thing. People feel threatened by the very same people whom they love or who love them. Not surprisingly, the unbearable fear of losing one’s lover to someone else drives many a lover crazy and prompts them to undertake insane acts. As such, many lovers get killed by their own lovers, in revenge and retribution.

Arguably, we also have a love-hate relationship with the people, faiths and ideologies that we love to hate in our conscious mind or are compulsively obsessed or rather paranoid about in our subconscious mind. Logically, our mind should be obsessed and filed with only those people or things that make us happy or we love. Imagine a teenager who has fallen in love for the first time. The teenager remains lost in thoughts – reverie – most of the time and absentmindedly goes through the day. The reason is the teenager is filled with love – day and night – and his / her mind has no place to accommodate anything else. Similar is the condition with a person who is filled with hate for others or something. It is not uncommon to find people talking most of the time against followers of some religions and religious ideologies in social gatherings and social media, as their most favourite pastime. These people sound paranoid about religion and the politics associated with it; possibly, they have nothing better to talk about. Following the aforementioned logic, these people may be in love with the religion they are obsessed with or speak against or the people who follow that religion. In relative terms, hate can be considered as the other side of love.

Our obsession with someone or paranoia for or against some act or belief indirectly mark the importance of that person, act or belief in our lives – as a darker shade of our love for that person, act or belief. In that respect, could King Ravana be considered as one of the greatest devotees of Lord Ram? Anecdotally, Ravana was compulsively paranoid about Lord Ram and could not stop thinking about Him.”

… Bill Koul (14 Mar 2020)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *