Ravana is popular in the epic Ramayana as the multi-headed demon king of the Lanka kingdom, which is the modern-day Sri Lanka. People remember him best as the embodiment of villainous power who unlawfully abducted Sita, the wife of Rama, believing no one could ever defeat him. But eventually ended up losing a series of epic battles against Rama (the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu), whom he assumed to be an ordinary human being.
Even though the world knows Ravana as the lord of evil powers, he was not a demon by birth. In fact, he was born in a brahmin family and was famous for being the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva. Actually, Ravana got this name from Lord Shiva himself, which means “the one who roars loud”.
This all happened when he tried to lift the entire Kailash mountain to relocate Shiva to Lanka. But Lord Shiva, being who he is, put down his foot onto the mountain which crushed Ravana’s fingers causing him to roar out of pain.
Ravana Born In a Brahmin Family
Ravana was the eldest son of Vishrava, who was one of the great sages of his time. Although being a brahmin by birth, he always considers himself a descendant of a demon family because of his mother, Kaikesi, who was of the rakshasi race. Therefore, from his childhood, he saw the devas as his ultimate enemy.
The father of Ravana tried hard to bring him to the path of righteousness, but instead he chose to take revenge on the devas and acquired all the necessary powers and strength from Lord Brahma by performing years of hard penance. According to some legends, Ravana also got the boon of being undefeatable by the devas.
The Wives Of Ravana
It’s not hidden to anyone that Ravana always had a weakness for beautiful women, which ultimately persuaded him to abduct Sita (the only wife of Lord Rama). Therefore, it’s not hard to guess that he must have multiple wives. According to the original Valmiki version of the Ramayana, Ravana had many wives and maids, though the exact numbers are unknown.
Out of all the wives, Mandodari and Dhanyamalini were his main two consorts. In particular, Mandodari has been priased many times in the Ramayana, as she was the chief queen of Lanka. Her name can be found in a number of other Hindu texts as well. She is also popular as one of the ideal women of Panchakanyas.
Mandodari is best known as the chief consort of Ravana, and queen of the Lanka kingdom. She is also regarded as one of the Pancha Kanyas’ five ideal women. She was the elder daughter of Mayasura, who was known for his brilliant architecture.
In fact, Mayasura, at the request of Lord Krishna, helped the Pandavas to build their illusive palace of Indraprastha, called Mayasabha. Now coming to Mandodari, she was an exceptionally intelligent woman who also studied various aspects of architectural construction from her father.
According to some legends found in other versions of the Ramayana, she was so beautiful that when Hanuman entered the Ravana’s chamber in search of Sita, he was amazed to see her and, for a second, mistook her for Sita.
Ravana first met Mandodari when she was 16 years old, and at their first meeting, he was infatuated by her enchanting beauty. So, he asked Mayasura to marry her. Later Mandodari gave birth to three sons of Ravana. They are Meghanada (Indrajit), Prahasta, and Akshayakumara.
Not much is known about Dhanyamalini, the second wife of Ravana. All we know is that she was the daughter of the great demon architect, Mayasura, and the younger sister of Mandodari. She is described in the Ramayana as a noble and chaste woman. She and Ravana together had four sons, named Narantaka, Devantaka, Trishira, and Atikaya.
Just like her elder sister, Mandodari, she too was pure in heart and took care of Sita during her stay at Ashokavana as a captive of Ravana. When her husband tried to kill Devi Sita for not accepting his repeated marriage proposal, it was Dhanyamalini who strongly interfered and made Ravana calm.
Even at the end of the Ramayana war, she tried her best to stop him, but got insulted badly in return. Finally, after Lord Rama defeated Ravana by killing him, she jumped into the pyre of Ravana and died. It’s said that due to this chastity and purity, she attained moksha after her death.