Ravana is one of the most famous demons (aka, Asuras) in the entire Hindu mythology. He is particularly popular as the ten-headed demon-king of the Lanka kingdom, which is the modern day Sri Lanka. People know him best as the undefeatable evil of the epic Ramayana. Who unlawfully abducted Devi Sita (the wife of Lord Rama), believing no one could ever challenge him.
However, in the end, he eventually ended up losing a series of epic battles against Lord Rama (the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu), whom he thought to be an ordinary human being, and incapable of killing a warrior like him who had already defeated the devas.
Another well-known aspect of him is his weakness for beautiful women, which led him to abduct Devi Sita in the first place, despite the fact that he had married two of the most beautiful women of the time, Mandodari and Dhanyamalini.
Other editions of Ramayana claim Ravana also had many secondary wives, whom he married merely for personal entertainment. However, Mandodari and Dhanyamalini were his only two prominent consorts mentioned both in the original and unofficial versions of the Ramayana. Ravana had a total of seven sons from two of his wives. They are Meghanada (Indrajit), Prahasta, and Akshay Kumar, and Narantaka, Devantaka, Trishira, and Atikaya.
Meghanada is the eldest son of Ravana and his first wife, Mandodari. When he was born, his cry resembled the sound of thunder. Thus, Ravana gave him the name “Meghanada”. The literary meaning of this Sanskrit word “Meghananda” is one who is the lord of clouds. Apart from that, he is also well-known as Indrajit after defeating Lord Indra and conquering his adobe.
The name Indrajit, therefore, means “one who wins over Indra”. His mention as one of the greatest warriors can be found not only in the epic Ramayana but in other Hindu texts as well. It’s said that he had many celestial weapons, which he earned from his guru, Sukracharya (the guru of demons). These weapons are so deadly and powerful that even Indra, the lord of the devas, conceded defeat because of them.
Prahasta was one of the greatest warrior sons of Ravana, the Lord of Lanka. Mandodari, the first wife of Ravana, gave birth to him. The name Prahasta literally means “he who has extended hands”. In the epic Ramayana, Prahasta is mentioned as the commander-in-chief of the lead army of Ravana.
Prahasta and his father, Ravana, together fought many battles against the devas such as Yama (the god of death), Kubera (the god of wealth), and Asuras as well, to establish Ravana’s hegemony as the most powerful demon-king of three-lokas. Apart from that, not much is known about Prahasta and his life.
Akshay was the youngest son of Ravana and Mandodari. He was very intelligent but lacked the adequate strength and power of a warrior. When Hanuman started destroying Ashoka Vatika after the first meeting with Devi Sita, Ravana sent him to take care of the issue.
He, being only 16 years of age, could not handle the rage of Hanuman and died in a fight with him. However, Hanuman first hesitated to kill him, but when Akshay did not listen to the repeated advice of him to return back to Ravana, Hanuman had no choice other than to slay him.
Narantaka & Devantaka
Narantaka and Devantaka are the two powerful demon sons of Ravana and his second wife, Dhanyamalini. The words “Narantaka” mean “destroyer of men”, and “Devantaka” means “destroyer of gods”. Together, these two brothers were so powerful that even gods were afraid of them. They fought many battles against the devas and won every time.
Ultimately, they succeed in capturing the throne of Amravati. But, in the battle of Ramayana, Narantaka was brutally killed by Angada (the son of Bali), whereas Devantaka was slayed by Hanuman.
Trishira was Ravana’s sixth son, whom he inherited from his second wife, Dhanyamalini. According to popular belief, Trishira had three heads, which gave him the name. In the battle of Ramayana, Trishira was the one who was directly killed by Lord Rama himself.
Atikaya is the fourth and strongest son of the second wife of Ravana, Dhanyamalini. Atikaya is the younger brother of Meghanada and the second-most powerful warrior amongst the other sons of Ravana. According to some legends, Atikaya got the secrets of celestial weapons from Lord Shiva by pleasing him.
Due to his extraordinary archery skills and superiority in weapons knowledge, Lakshman had to slay him unlawfully with the help of Vibhishana. Atikaya got his name because of the massive size of his body. Even the monkeys from Lord Rama’s army mistook him for Kumbhakarna. They thought Kumbhakarna must have come back to life.