The Ravana Way

I have not yet begun on the book ‘Asura’ by Anand Neelakantan, and am already fixated on the prologue to the story, a little snippet on why Ravana is portrayed as a dasmukha (i.e. having ten heads). Anand writes that Ravana had ten heads, each one of them symbolizing a trait which are otherwise considered to be flaws, those traits being: anger, pride, jealousy, happiness, sadness, fear, selfishness, passion and ambition. On one hand where Rama prided on being able to suppress these baser emotions, Ravana prided on having them and wore them on his heart or literally on his head. You can read his story here.

Rama may be a God, but Ravana was a complete man“.

Emotions define us, every one of those so called flaws are a part of me like my arms or legs. Yes, I get angry, I get so angry that I scream, huff or snap. There are days when I am happy as a goofball without any qualms and there are days when I sob uncontrollably into my pillow. I fear things about to come to the point of wrecking my present. I feel jealousy with an incomparable passion. I am selfish, and I am ignorant. I aspire to go places. And despite knowing my flaws, I pride on myself. I want to accept who I am, as I am, like Ravana did and never be ashamed of it. Not hang my head in front of anyone for it. Embrace life and embrace it fully.

To just let go of all my emotions, and not hold back, be hysterically happy and inconsolably sad, be murderously angry and have unrestrained passion, to be blinded by jealousy, selfishness and pride. Feel every bit of every emotion that exists and feel it with a fierceness that will not make me regret that I did not love something with all my heart be it a person, myself, my past or an inanimate object. I am probably writing my own doom by asking for these, and will probably regret it when am dying on the battlefield with my intestines spilled out and the vultures looming over my head. But I am human, my life is short and I really don’t know for sure if there is an afterlife. Ravana was an able ruler, a venerated scholar and a fierce warrior and he never intended to check his flaws, he saw himself as the epitome of being human.

I want to embrace and taste life – all of it, the asura way.

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13 Comments

  1. Well-written 🙂 but I am not sure if I agree (and I am taking the liberty to assume that I can speak my mind. Let me know if that’s not okay here. 🙂 ) Yes, history tends to talk about the one who won, the one who is divine and good, not the one who lost the battle. Yes, the feelings of shallow pride, anger, jealousy, selfishness are very much normal and there’s nothing wrong if we have it (in fact, all of us have it) but at the same time, it is not something to be proud of. We shouldn’t hate somebody because they have these feelings but trying to do away with these feelings is what would lead us to a happier self. So, in my opinion, instead of thinking on the lines of ‘I’ll live like this’ we can try to do away with these negative (but normal) feelings and say hi to a happier, blissful life.

    Just a line of thought. 🙂

    1. Hi Srishty, Thank you so much for taking your time to put in a comment. You are always welcome to speak your mind here. Isn’t that how its supposed to be? We all are entitled to our opinions. I agree that the feelings of pride and anger are negative, but in noway are they shallow. How are we happier without them? If I hold myself back in feeling something even if its something as bad, how am I even human? If I love something, I will do it with passion, go all out on it with all the negatives and the positives. Live life without restraints and give free reign to what I feel and how I choose to feel it. I am probably being selfish but just for a little while I would like to be like that.

      1. oh no, i meant ‘shallow pride’ as one phrase, only for Ravana. not regarding all those other feelings. and I don’t mean to say that we should hold ourselves back but while we are having these feelings, we should be aware of, conscious of the fact that these are negative and there is more meaning to life once we dont have these feelings. Just the awareness of this fact. I only meant that having these feelings is something we probably shouldnt be proud of. But, well, if we have these, we cannot run away from denying it. That would be dishonesty, of course. 🙂

      2. Who or what defines a positive or a negative feeling? According to the story even happiness is a negative feeling. To be a ‘God’, according to the story we need to curb all of our emotions and concentrate on intellect alone. How is life more meaningful without them? Its the emotions that define life. If I stop myself from the bottomless depths of despair how do I feel the peaks of happiness? If I am not jealous or proud, how do I know I love someone with all my heart? I feel acceptance to these can help us too. Like for example, if I fear, only then I try to overcome. I am not talking about actions here, only thoughts and feelings. I don’t mean that if I am angry I just run the person over with a car or a hatchet, but if I am angry about something I want to feel every blood vessel thundering in my head.

      3. ah, you mean passion? True that! Each of these feelings make us passionate about small things in our lives. I only meant that these should be considered ‘normal’ things that happen to us, nothing good or bad about them. I mean nothing to be proud of, I guess. Like, we shouldn’t patronize Ravana because he had these but we shouldn’t hate him either for his feelings.
        PS: did not know that happiness was a negative thing as per the story? which one? the book that you just read or Ramayana? 😛 (i don’t know about this, so sorry )

  2. Nice Post!!! I agree that as humans we certainly cannot deny these emotions which define us as human beings .While the thought of being able to accept both the positive and negatives of one’s emotions is really appreciated ,letting these emotions get the better of us is not something to be proud of and that’s exactly what ‘Ravan’ did. He cannot be a complete man unless he showed some act of ‘kindness’, to me ‘kindness’ is as much a humanly trait as ‘selfishness’ is. 🙂

    Also our mythology tells us while ravan felt all these emotions so did ‘Ram’ , or why would he go looking for ‘Sita’ if he did not have any ‘passion or love’? or why would he wage a war against lanka if he did not feel jealousy, a fierce greed to establish justice and a murderous anger,’ against Ravan.??

    Both Ram and Ravan are considered powerful men in history but the only difference is while ‘Ravan’ went on a wild rampage letting his emotions get the better of him ,showing no compassion to anybody,Ram achieved success by letting his emotions out but at the same controlling his actions by his intellect. And this very trait of ‘striking a balance between emotions and intellect’ is what makes it not ‘NOT AN ASURA WAY’ but the ‘right way to live’ 🙂

    Just my thoughts on this post 🙂

    1. Heyy Nandhini, I agree we cannot just flow away with our emotions but how do we know that Ravana wasn’t kind,he probably was kind because otherwise he wouldn’t have been considered as a good king. Nobody would call a tyrant as an able ruler. He had every emotion possible, I guess and acted according to them whether it was love or rage.I feel that if all anything, Ravana did have a lot of compassion, I think. About Rama, we really cannot say because he was more of a duty driven person probably, otherwise he wouldn’t have asked Sita to perform the infamous agnipariksha, not once but twice actually. Where was his love for her then and where was it when Sita in a moment of despair asks mother earth to take her into her bowels?

      But the main thing about the post is being passionate about every little thing whether its the usually accepted good or bad. What really characterizes good or bad actions, we really cannot say. Can we?

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