Book 6, Chapter 109, Verse 23
yuddha kANDa (Book of War), sarga 109, SlOka 23.
Context: Lanka's king (Demon?) rAvaNa abducted protagonist rAma's wife SIta.
rAma crossed the Sea, reached lanka, fought a battle with rAvaNa and slayed him.
rAvaNa's younger brother vibhIshaNa wants to perform rAvaNa's last rites. He was seeking rAma's consent. vibhIshaNa was describing the noble qualities of his dead brother.
1. rAvaNa maintained sacred fire meticulously (hitAgni).
2. rAvaNa practised great penances (mahA tApasa).
3. rAvaNa was well-versed in philosophy (vEdantAga).
4. rAvaNa was well-versed in sacred rites. (karmAsu).
(O rAma, I wish to perform with your graceful consent, to the departed soul, whatever is due.).
Our temple preachers and priests have a tendency to depict rAvaNa and his asura (demon) relatives and soldiers as some barbaric cannibals, ever craving for 'nara vAsana (smell of humans)'.
Do savages and cannibals maintain sacred fire? Do they perform great penances? Do they study the Aryan sacred scriptures --the vEdas and vEdAngas? Will they be well-versed in sacred rites (presumably sacrifices).
Some researchers said that rAvaNa was a buddhist, bent on disrupting the sacrifices performed by Aryans.
rAvaNa had all the qualities of Aryans of his days. The war between rAma and rAvaNa was, therefore, apparently between two rival Aryan kings. Not a war between Aryans and drAviDs.
According to Zend Avesta, suras and asuras were step-brothers. (There suras were bad guys and the asuras were good guys). According to Hindu scriptures, suras were demy-Gods and good guys. asuras were demons and bad guys. This reversal of roles between Iranian and Indian scriptures might have taken a few Centuries to materialise. Both suras and asuras came to India just as the Portuguese, Dutch, British and the French all the four entered as merchants and invaded India. The British and the French fought. In the same way the suras and asuras fought. The folk-singers (paregynic singers) sang as per the desires of their patrons. Suras apparently dominated the city-kingdoms and consequently all the praises went to them. E.g. Everywhere in vAlmiki rAmAyan, rAma was compared to the sura chief Indra (also called Sakra).
Question: How about rAvaNa being a "gOnD" king of Central India?
Ans: We may have to consider that Gonds, and asuras of Jharkhand were also Aryans-- belonging to the asura clan (sons of great grandmother 'diti') while suras, Indra, vishNu (whose incarnation was rAma) were sons of the great grandmother aditi. Both were sons of the same father Sage kashyapa. kasyapa seems to have greater sympathies towards his elder wife 'aditi'.
We can have some contemporary 21st Century examples:
*The former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Late N.T. Rama Rao had two wives. The first wive's sons did not like their step mother and vice versa.
*One former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and uttarAncal States had legitimate son through his official wife and another son, through another friendly woman. The son of the unofficial wife had to fight a legal battle to establish the identity of his father.
*One former Mayor of the Delhi city and former Army Major nearly crushed his son born through his first wife. This was necessary to satisfy his second wife. The son suffering from 'battered child syndrome' had to be rescued by his maternal grand parents.
*Both rAmAyaNa and mahAbhArata were battles among sons of brothers. The battles between suras and asuras (deified as Gods and vilified as demons) had nothing special in them.
Question: At verse 6-108-17, we find that rAma killed rAvaNa by using the weapon of the Creator (brahmAstra). Why did n't rAvaNa too use it against rAma? This was the same brahmastra which was used by rAvaNa's son mEghnAth (indrajit) against hanuman a forest-dweller of monkey totem-clan. If rAvaNa's son could have it and use it on a flimsier occasion, why didn't rAvaNa possess it and use it when the situation was very critical?
Ans: Apparently, the producer of the epic vAlmiki wanted to bring rAmAyaNa to a close. Already nearly 24,000 verses have been spent.