Recently, I met a young man who had the name, “Ravana”. I could not believe it. What were his parents thinking? In India, parents name their children after the names of Gods or other holy words but never had I known of someone naming their kids after demons. I had wanted to ask this boy what was the motivation behind naming him thus. But I didn’t have the courage coz I thought it would be too personal. So, as usual, when I am stuck in my search of truth and there is no ray of hope in the horizon, I turn to Google again…this time to know what “Ravana” meant.
First, I found that he is known in other parts of the world as well.
Cambodia : as “Krong Reap”
Thailand : as “Thotsakan” meaning “10 necks”
Malaysia : as “Rawana”
Laos : as “Hapkhanasouane”
Second, I found that there is a pretty big community in India who considers Ravana as their hero and still carries out various ceremonies in his rememberance. And many of you will be aware that he has temples constructed for him. These “Pro-Ravana” group justifies the kidnapping of Sita, vouches for his scholarship, administration of Sri Lanka, his devotion to Lord Shiva and even for his verility. They say that his 10 heads symbolizes his mastery over the 6 Shastras and the 4 Vedas.
Third, I came across a newsletter article from ISKCON Ahmedabad website:
“Ravana was the symbol of Kama. And know that any desire you have to enjoy separate from the lord is due to the presence of Ravana in your heart. Lord Sri Ramachandra wanted to really show to the world, how powerful Ravana was, how powerful lust really is. Everytime he cut off the heads of Ravana, another one grew. Doesn’t that sound like our own material desires ? Everytime you do some yajna, sacrifice, puja and you give up one material sinful desire and immediately another head grows. And you perform penances, practice yoga, take vows, to give up this lusty propensity in your heart and finally you conquer it … and then … another head grows. Those who are on the spiritual path, know that as soon as you cut down one head, 10 more grows. It is an endless battle. Finally Rama shot His arrow into Ravana’s heart. When the arrow pierced the heart, Ravana fell to the ground.
Rama is the only one who has this arrow. That arrow cannot be obtained by any mortal, any jiva, any living entity. It is the exclusive power of Ram. That is why Lord Krishna says in the Gita, This material energy is very very difficult to overcome. But one who surrenders unto me I take the war in my own hands. I will conquer lust. I will conquer Ravana within your heart. For me it is not difficult. I will kill all the demons in your heart, with My arrows. When we surrender to the Lord, Ram appears within our heart. When we remember Krishna, when we remember Lord Ramchandra ji, He is non-different from that rememberance. The process of Bhakti is to always remember the Lord, to be His devotee, to always worship Him and to offer homage unto Him. Through this process Ram appears within our heart and with His mighty arrows, he shoots right into the heart of Ravana and all his heads and everything else falls and disappears from our life eternally.”
Fourth, I found out how the name Ravana came about.
Following his conquest of Lanka, Ravana encountered Lord Shiva at his abode in Kailash. Unknowingly, Ravana attempted to uproot and move the mountain on a whim. Shiva, annoyed by Ravana’s arrogance, pressed his little toe on Kailash, pinning him firmly and painfully under it. His ganas informed Ravana of whom he had crossed, upon which Ravana became penitent. He sang songs praising Shiva, and is said to have done so for years, until Shiva released him from his bondage. Pleased with his resilience and devotion, Shiva gave to him the divine sword Chandrahas (“Moon-blade”).
It was during this incident that he acquires the name ‘Ravana’, meaning “(He) Of the terrifying roar”, given to him by Shiva – the earth is said to have quaked at Ravana’s cry of pain when the mountain was pinned on him.
So, there it is. Maybe, the parents of the person I met was amazed at the way their little boy cried…like a roar. And in memory of that incident, they could have named him “Ravana”. Had they been Krishna Conscious, they would have immediately named him “Narasimha” !
Article Source : Images and Ravana background from Wikipedia