With ten heads, twenty arms, a flying chariot and a city of gold, Ravan is one of the most flamboyant villains in Hindu mythology. He abducted Sita, the wife of Ram, and was struck down for that. Ravan is the demon-king of the Ramayan, whose effigy must be burnt each year post Navami.
Yet, there is much about him to be admired – he was a poet who composed the Rudra Stotra in praise of Shiva, the ascetic-god; he was a musician who used one of his heads and one of his arms to design a lute called Rudra Vina, in honor of Shiva. When Hanuman entered Lanka, in search of Sita, he found the demon-lord lying in bed surrounded by a bevy of beauties, women who had willingly abandoned their husbands drawn by Ravan’s sexual prowess. Rishi Agastya informed Ram that Ravan was only half-demon: his father Vaishrava, was a Brahmin whose father was Pulatsya, one of the seven mind-born primal sons of Brahma himself.
Ram, by comparison, seems boring – a rule-upholder who never does anything spontaneous or dramatic. He always does the right thing, whether he likes it or not, and does not seem like much fun.
Ravan lives only for himself. His pleasure matters the most. Ironically, he is the devotee of Shiva – the ascetic, the god who demonstrates his disdain for all things material and sensuous by smearing his body with ash and living in crematoriums and atop a desolate icy hill. Ravan may sing praises of Shiva and bow to him, but despite having ten heads is unable to internalize the wisdom of Shiva. .
Leadership is not about self-aggrandizement. It is about creating a society where people live a full life. Ram is hero and god as he lives not for his pleasure, as Ravan does, but for the pleasure of those around him. The journey is not easy.
The battlefield of good and evil is not out there, not between devi and demon, but within us, who have the freedom to choose which we’ll be today, in the internal dualism of everyday life. ( Devdutt).