WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka

 

 


RAKSHASAS

 

© M.A. Padmanabha Rao


Rakshasa Settlements

During Ramayana period, rakshasa settlements were present in central India and Srilanka. Rakshasas had their own kingdom under the King Ravana with ‘Lanka city’ as the capital, situated over Nuwara Eliya Hills (6.59 N 95.00 E ) of the present Srilanka. Nearly 80,000 rakshasas headed by Ravana’s two brothers ‘Khara’ and ‘Dhushana’, and Ravana’s sister ‘Surpanakha’, settled in the forests (Dandakaranya) of central India. Rakshasas lived up to Mahabharata period, which was nearly 3000 years ago according to some historians.


Lanka city, Capital of rakshasa king Ravana

The Lanka city had well laid roads, road junctions, and impressive buildings. Ravana had magical aircraft (Pushpaka Vimana) which took to destination simply by thought command. It could accommodate any number. Besides this, chariots were also available. He had tight security and big Army, Air force and Navy. Lankini, a rakshasa woman guarded the outer wall of Lanka city. The ancient Lanka city cannot be traced now, unlike Ram’s capital Ayodhya in India. However, ‘Sita waky’ became a tourist place where Ram’s wife Sita was kept under captivity in SriLanka.


Mystical powers


Ravana was a great Sanskrit scholar, ardent devotee of Shiva as a result attained many mystical powers. Evidently, his composition praising Shiva (‘Jhata kataha‘ etc) is well known to many Indians. Hanuman saw Vedic scholars in Lanka. In order to safe gaurd himself from beheading in the hands of enemy he sought blessing from God so that if one head is beheaded by enenmy, another head replaces it . Likewise, ten heads can generate one after another as replacement. Ravana treated God Vishnu as enemy, while his brother Vibhishan was fond of Vishnu, whom he worshipped. Ram and Lakshman as well as Ravana and his son, Meghanath used mystical weapons (astras) during the war. Vedas have secretly described how to vanquish the enemy with fire as weapon. The author has practically seen creation of fire when a Hanuman devotee recited Rig Veda. During Treta Yug (Ramayana period) some humans, rakshasas like Ravana and Vanaras attained mystical powers after long penance, while some others got by birth itself like Ram, Lakshman, Hanuman, Jambavan. Ravana his brother Vibhishan could fly across the sea to India. Ravana and Marichi another rakshasa who did long penance could change their physical form.


Genetically abnormal rakshasas:

Although rakshasas resembled humans, characteristic features, behavioral traits and living conditions varied widely from humans in that era. It is very difficult to say whether they differed in species from humans. Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s brother was unusually big among other rakshasas, like a small hillock. Kabanada who lived in central India had unusually long hands. Kakasur was in the form of a crow. Lanka had many genetically abnormal rakshasas. Some had camel or elephant legs. Hanuman saw rakshasas with single eye, ear, hanging stomach and breasts. He also saw beautiful rakshasas. Such genetically abnormal rakshasas cannot be found now probably because many rakshasas died during the Ramayana war itself and during Mahabharata period. Although exact period is not known of Mahishasur, but the rakshasa was in the form of a buffalo. Evidently, the Mysore city stands on his name in the memory of Goddess, Mahishasura-mardini killing him.


Basically they did not cohabit with the humans. Exception to this has been the case of Vibhishan, Ravan’s brother, who took refuge in Ram and helped him in Ramayana war. Most rakshasas were cannibals. Hiding in forests, they raided villages and hermitages and ate people regularly. Humans could not kill rakshasas because the latter in general were tall and very strong. Bhima who had immense strength killed one such rakshasa lived in Mahabharata period. In exile, Bhima married Hidimbi, a rakshasa woman and had a rakshasa son, Ghatotkaj who lived mostly in forest along with mother and eventually helped father and his Pandava brothers in the great Mahabharata war. Such a marriage alliance between a human and a rakshasa was an exception.


Marriage customs differed from humans. Ravana abducted several young girls of devatas etc and forcibly married. Likewise he abducted Ram’s wife, Sita and kept her in captivity in Lanka city but Ram had to fight the famous Ramayana war to free her. Sita’s abduction was considered immoral by Vibhishan, Ravana’s brother. In this war, rakshasas partook on one side, Ram, Lakshman, countless Vanaras and rukshyas the other side. Vanaras and rukshyas used uprooted trees and big boulders as weaponry.
 

WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka