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Ravana's Contributions
[Co-written by Sreenadh OG & Shankar Bharadwaj, S.C. Kursija and Chakraborty P] [Email:,, ,]
Ravana the ancient king of Lanka was well known for his knowledge and contributions. The Sri Lankans have a high regard for Ravana, and the archaeological evidences thought to be supporting the existence of Ravana in Sri Lanka is still available. In that ancient past India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Central Russia, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia, Malesia, Indonesia, Bali etc were all part of the single Hindu culture with minor differences only. The Tantric and Vedic religions where keeping their head high with their contributions. Don't ask me which is this ancient past you are speaking about - I don't have a date to specify. The only thing I know is that this period was after the advent of Sanskrit language and literature, after the advent of Vedas. Even though a Tantric, and a supporter of Asura religion (Iranian Ahur Mazda/Asura Medha tradition?), Ravana knew the Vedas and was ardent worshiper of God Siva. He was obsessed with the devotion towards Siva (lord Mahakala) that in every work of his (i.e Ravana's) we can find the stamps of his devotion to Siva. His contribution to both Vedic and Tantric religion was excellent and should be remembered even for the generations to come. The same should be told about his contribution to Music, Ayurveda and Astrology as well. I will try to provide a brief info about his available contributions. 1)

Pada Padha of Rigveda (Vedic)

It is believed that it was Ravana who prepared the Pada padha of Rigveda. Considering the complexity of Jada padha etc it should be said that in the absence of proper Pada Padha the whole of Rigvedic knowledge would have been lost. If the Rigvedic text and knowledge is still available today, then definitely it is indebted to "Pada padha of Rigveda" supposed to have been prepared by Ravana. I wonder whether the ardent opposers of Ravana and the Saiva and Asura traditions he stood for, know this or not. These are the Vedic supporters, the supporters of Rama and Vaishnavite tradition who find pleasure in abusing Ravana and the Saiva, Asura traditions. If they were aware of Ravana's contribution to the present survival of even the Vedic brahmanical religion, they would not have abused him this much! Many believe that it is Jata Pada that is created by Ravana and not Pada padha. As per this view Ghana and Pada are not his, but only Jata padha.

2) Uddisa Mahatantra (Tantric)

Similarly valuable is Ravana's contribution to Tantric religion, as evident from Uddisa mahatantra which is now being sold with the name 'Ravana Samhita'. This is a book that deals with Tantric knowledge and Shadkarma sadhana. Don't get cheated by the new name i.e. Ravana Samhita given to it by some publishers to increase its sale. This books is NOT about astrology and not about Samhita branch of astrology (i.e. medini jyotisha alias mundane astrology) at all, but about Tantra. This is a well known book in Tantric literature known from ancient past itself. If only you are interested in ancient Tantric systems and

Shadkarma, then only buy this book; otherwise it won't be of much use to you. Anyway, Uddisa Maha Tantra is a good book on Tantra and Shadkarma sadhana.

3) Arka Prakasham (Astrology)

Ravana's contribution to astrology (or Ravana's tradition of astrology) is visible in the ancient text 'Arka Prakasha' written as a conversation between Ravana and Mandodari. It is written as a question-answer between King Ravana and his revered wife Mandodari. This text is available and can give a good idea about the astrological development during the period of Ravana. This text mainly deals with Horory astrology.

4) Nadi Pareeksha (Ayurveda)

There is a well known book in Ayurvdea that deals with Nadi pariksha (measurement of heartbeat and breath pattern and thus judging the diseases). I am yet to see this book, but it is said that this book is available even today.

5) Siva Tandava Stotra (Tantric Devotion)

Siva Tandava Stotra is very popular. This great rhythmic prayer to Siva is available in the files section of this group as well. This single most literary contribution is enough to keep Ravana in popular memory for long. I love this poem - it is so beautiful and soul enriching!

6) Music (Karnatic Music)

In Karnatic music, Ravana is treated as the originator of some Ragas. It is certain that Ravana's knowledge about Music and its technicalities was excellent. It is said the 10 heads portrayed to Ravana is symbolic of his versatility in many fields of knowledge and may be especially music (Das kandha = the one with 10 types of voices).

7) Originator of Mahanyasa
Ravana arranged one of the different versions fo Mahannyasa (the other famous one is by Baudhayana). Mahannyasa is an elaborate procedure of invoking Siva in the body. Basically it is like Anganyasa and Karanyasa done before mantra japa, but a thorough one involving the entire philosophy of Saiva and its vidyas. It has five main sections of "Raudreekarana" or making oneself Rudra. In the middle it says "naa rudro rudram arcayet" - one who is not Rudra cannot worship Rudra. This precedes the famous arcana/snana/abhisheka. The fullest essence of Siva worshiping Himself or the cosmic mechanism, in that worship, is achieved by the Mahannyasa preceding it. Mahanyasa applies the Vedic mantras throughout, for the Raudreekarana. It involves various mantra vidyas like Ajapa, Nishkala, Pasupata. These vidyas also form the crux of Saiva disciplines. For instance the namaka mantra (which is found in the middle of Yajurveda) is the central mantra of Pasupata. The 37 letters of namaka mantra form the 37 cosmic tatvas of Saiva religion (just the way 24 letters of Gayatri form the 24 tatvas of Sankhya darsana). Ajapa and Nishkala are known as advanced vidyas in Saiva. Siva Pancakshari itself, the most famou Saiva vidya, is an extract from namaka. The five principles, five activities

that are variedly called, are from Pancakshari. Well it goes on and on, but in short one can understand the entire Saiva world view through Mahannyasa. There are multiple versions of Mahannyasa compositions. One of them is given by Ravana. One of them is given by Baudhayana.

8) Astrology of Ravana Hanuman and Sugreeva

S.C Kursija ji states that Ravana made nine planets his slave" means that Ravana has the knowledge of astronomy to such an extent that he knows all the calculations of movements of planets and up-planers and its influence on the human and universe as if they were his slaves. liberation of nine planets from the slavery of Ravana means that Hanuman confused Ravana in its calculations of movements and influence of planets that he made wrong calculations and decisions and lost the war. The remaining portion of propitiate the Hanuman and have the blessing of all nine planets is trade gimmicks of pandits for their business. It is interesting to note that There is a system of astrology connected with the name of Ravana a tradition that is represented by the texts like Ravana Samhita. There is a system of astrology connected with the name of Hanuman a tradition that is represented by the systems such as Hanuman Jyotisham. [No consolidated book currently available for the same, but only a scattered tradition of some lone quotes] There is a system of astrology connected with the name of Sugreeva a tradition that is represented by the system such as Sugreeva Jyotisham. [No consolidated book currently available for the same, but only a scattered tradition of some lone quotes] True - it seems that they were all masters of some unique tradition of astronomy/astrology in some remote past. Chakraborty ji states that The vernacular Ramayana I studied long back mentions that all planets were in captivity and Shani was even tied up with a chain ! The only other plausible explanation could be that ......... The movement of all planets were tracked by some system and the mean position of planets were within a very close range from the reference points ... (which may give the impression of limited mobility of planets - to the uninitiated). Once that system was made dysfunctional by Hanuman, it was difficult for Ravana to rectify it within short span of time. This could mean - Ravana might have followed Nirayana system of astrology and Hanuman might have followed Sayana system of astrology and also that Hanuman succeeded in erring Ravana in his predictive system, An interpretation that is quite possible! As per chakraboty ji it is wild guess only. But more plausible than "keeping the planets as slaves" and Hanuman "liberating the planets".

9) Valmiki Ramayana about Ravana

At the end Valmiki Ramayana quotes about Ravana and the words and philosophy of Ravana as quoted in Valmiki Ramayana becomes another excellent source of study the excellent contributions to art, culture, and knowledge by this great soul who walked this very earth.

10) Ravana is Anti-Vedic or not?

Well Ravana was not at all anti-Vedic, as he used the Vedic mantras themselves for the Mahanyasa. He even made an arrangement for Vedic recension, so how could he be antiVedic at all! He was Veda-learnt and Veda-loving too. Indra-yajna etc are one face of the Veda. There is a famous sloka that says Vishnu is best worshiped in Krita yuga, Maheswara in Treta, Indra-yajna in Dwapara and CandiVinayaka in Kali. None of these are non-Vedic or anti-Vedic, all of these are very much Vedic and also Tantric (yes, including Indra Agni etc). If we look at the Vedic corpus, it speaks of so many approaches and vidyas, and not just the Yajna aspect. Karma Mimamsa is the only Darsana out of the many, that talks of Yajna etc. So yajna as A symbol of Vedic approach is right, but as THE defining symbol is simplistic. Indra-Vishnu-Yajna are dharma centric and Ravana as an Asura was Sakti centric, not dharma centric. That is the axiomatic difference between him and Rama. That cannot be generalized as a Vedic/non-Vedic difference. However there is no question in that Ravana was unique and a creator. And the villian image of Ravana is more sentimental than factual. He was a mighty and a grand personality with a glaring flaw. The lesson is that such flaw in Dharma is enough to take one off perfection and cause his downfall. That does not however negate his greatness or contribution in any way. A systematic study of all the above material collected together and presented well in a systematic manner would be a great contribution not only to the authentic contributions of this great soul, but also much useful to astrology. Let us hope that some body will do it in near future. - 0 -