Ravana: Revered and Worshiped Figures in Hindu Tradition
In Hindu mythology, Ravana is a prominent figure known for his complex character and pivotal role in the epic Ramayana. While Ravana is primarily depicted as a villain due to his abduction of Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, there are communities and regions within Hinduism where he is revered and worshipped. This article explores the diverse cultural and religious perspectives that honour Ravana, highlighting the various places and communities where he is worshipped.
Ravana as a Devotee of Lord Shiva:
One significant aspect of Ravana's reverence stems from his unwavering devotion to Lord Shiva. Ravana is believed to be one of Shiva's most dedicated followers, and this devotion has led to his veneration in some Shiva temples. The worship of Ravana is seen as an acknowledgment of his devotion and a testament to his spiritual connection with Lord Shiva.
Kanyakubja Brahmins and Ravana:
The Kanyakubja Brahmins of the Vidisha region in Madhya Pradesh hold a unique perspective on Ravana. They consider him a saviour and a symbol of prosperity, claiming that Ravana himself was a Kanyakubja Brahmin. In the village of Ravangram in Netaran, thousands of Kanyakubja Brahmins perform daily puja in the Ravana temple, offering naivedyam or bhog as a ritual of sacrifice to the gods.
Ravana's Birthplace and Regional Worship:
In Bisrakh, Uttar Pradesh, Hindus claim the town to be Ravana's birthplace. Consequently, Ravana is worshipped and revered in this region. King Shiv Shankar even built a Ravana temple in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, which is open once a year, specifically on Dussehra, for performing puja and seeking the welfare of Ravana.
Ravana's Lineage and Identity:
Various Brahmin communities associate themselves with Ravana's lineage. The Sachora Brahmins of Gujarat claim to be descendants of Ravana and sometimes carry "Ravan" as their surnames. Similarly, Saraswat Brahmins from Mathura trace Ravana's lineage back to the Saraswat Brahmin community. These associations highlight the diverse interpretations and regional variations in Ravana's worship.
Gondi People and Ravana:
The Gondi people of central India hold a particularly unique perspective on Ravana. They consider him an ancient Gond king and the tenth dharmaguru (spiritual teacher) of their tribe. The Gondis have dedicated temples to Ravana, his wife Mandodari, and their son Meghnad. They celebrate Dussehra annually with a procession where an image of Ravana riding on an elephant is carried through the village of Paraswadi.
- Dashanan Temple, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh:
Located in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, the Dashanan Temple is dedicated to Ravana. This temple is open once a year, specifically on the day of Dussehra, to perform puja for Ravana's welfare. Devotees visit the temple to seek blessings and pay homage to Ravana's dedication to Lord Shiva.
- Ravana Temple, Bisrakh, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh:
Situated in Bisrakh, Greater Noida, the Ravana Temple is a significant place of worship for Ravana. The local community in this region reveres Ravana as their ancestor and celebrates his life and devotion to Lord Shiva. The temple attracts devotees who offer prayers and seek spiritual solace.
- Kakinada Ravana Temple, Andhra Pradesh:
The Kakinada Ravana Temple is located in Kakinada, a coastal city in Andhra Pradesh. This temple holds religious significance for devotees who view Ravana as a devoted follower of Lord Shiva. Pilgrims visit this temple to offer prayers and participate in various religious rituals.
- Ravangram Ravana Temple, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh:
The Ravangram Ravana Temple is situated in the village of Ravangram, in the Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh. It is known for the daily puja and naivedyam (offering) performed by thousands of Kanyakubja Brahmins, who believe Ravana was a Kanyakubja Brahmin himself. This temple serves as a place of devotion and reflection for the local community.
- Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh:
In Mandsaur, a city in Madhya Pradesh, there are temples that commemorate Ravana's devotion to Lord Shiva. These temples attract devotees who pay their respects to Ravana and seek blessings for spiritual well-being.
- Mandore Ravana Temple, Jodhpur:
The Mandore Ravana Temple is located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to Ravana and stands as a testament to his reverence as a follower of Lord Shiva. Devotees visit this temple to offer prayers and seek spiritual guidance.
- Baijnath Temple, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh:
Situated in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, the Baijnath Temple is associated with Ravana. Devotees believe that Ravana worshipped Lord Shiva at this sacred site. The temple attracts pilgrims who seek blessings and participate in religious rituals.
The multifaceted worship of Ravana in various communities and regions within Hinduism showcases the diverse religious and cultural perspectives that exist within the tradition. While Ravana is commonly portrayed as a negative character due to his actions in the Ramayana, there are segments of society that appreciate and honour him for different reasons. The reverence for Ravana as a devotee of Lord Shiva, his association with specific lineages and birthplaces, and the deep-rooted beliefs of certain communities highlight the richness and complexity of Hindu mythology. By exploring these diverse perspectives, we gain a deeper understanding of the vast tapestry of religious beliefs and practices within Hinduism.
By Mamta Rajbhar
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