The main, and perhaps the only, reason for claiming Ravana to be the ‘best’ brother is – Ravana abducted Sita to avenge Lakshmana cutting off of Shurpanakha’s nose and ears. Let’s see if this claim holds any water.
Shurpanakha, the demoness with sharp nails, was wandering in the forest, when she came across Rama-Lakshmana. Seeing the tall, dark and handsome Rama, she instantly fell in love with him. Shurpanakha said –
दीर्घबाहुः विशालाक्षः चीर कृष्ण अजिन अम्बरः ||
कन्दर्प सम रूपः च रामो दशरथ आत्मजः | ३-३४-५
This Dasharathi Ram is the embodiment of Madana, the God of Love! His broad shoulders, powerful arms, lotus like eyes, and the black deer skin that he dons makes him so handsome.
She asked Rama to marry her. Rama denied. She then proposed marriage to Laxmana. He too refused. Angered by this she sprang towards Sita with the intent to kill and eat her. She is but a man-eating monster, who is capable of attacking a human and tearing apart her prey with her sharp nails.
अद्य इमाम् भक्षयिष्यामि पश्यतः तव मानुषीम् |
त्वया सह चरिष्यामि निःसपत्ना यथा सुखम् || ३-१८-१६
Oh, Rama! Let me eat up your wife, right in front of your eyes! Then we both can live happily in this forest.
Laxmana stopped her in the path and immediately cut off her nose and ears. The wailing Shurpanakha went away only to send Khar and Dushan to attack Rama-Lakshmana. But they were no match and lost the battle against Rama-Lakshamana.
Shurpanakha then took her complaint to Ravana. Ravana did not feel it was necessary to punish Rama-Lakshamana for cutting off her nose. Shurpankaha knew that Ravana was attracted to beautiful women and often abused them. So, instead of asking him to punish Rama-Lakshmana she said, “Oh brother, that Rama’s wife is very beautiful. Go kidnap her. Marry her. A mighty king like you must have her as the queen.”
Shurpanakha’s vivid description of Sita’s beauty proved tempting for Ravana. He abducted Sita not to avenge the punishment meted out to Shurpanakha, but to get for himself the beautiful Sita. Ravana, who had come to abduct Sita does not say, “I come to abduct you because Shurpanakha’s nose and ears were cut off!” But he says, “Oh beautiful lady! Your beauty has won over my heart. My city of Lanka is rich and prosperous. Come with me, be my queen and I will make you happy. What will you get by staying in a hut with Rama here?
सर्व राक्षस भर्तारम् कामय – कामात् – स्वयम् आगतम् |
न मन्मथ शर आविष्टम् प्रति आख्यातुम् त्वम् अर्हसि || ३-४८-१७
Me, the king of the Rakshasas, wounded by the arrows of Kama, the God of love, has come to you with an offer to make you my wife. Don’t turn me down!”
There is another event in the life of Shurpanakha – Ravana had killed Shurpanakha’s husband Vidyut Jivha. Was it because of this act that the young widow, Shurpanakha, had turned into a husband snatcher?
So much for Ravana being a ‘great brother’ to his sister. It is also interesting to see what kind of a ‘brother’ Ravana was to his brothers. Kubera, Ravana, Bibhishan and Kumbhakarna were the four brothers.
Kuber, the elder brother ruled Lanka. For some reason, Ravana got angry with Kubera and seized Lanka from him. Ravana, who had come to ask for alms to Sita, told her with great pride –
येन वैश्रवणो भ्राता वैमात्रः कारणांतरे |
द्वन्द्वम् आसादितः क्रोधात् रणे विक्रम्य निर्जितः || ३-४८-४
मत् भय आर्तः परित्यज्य स्वम् अधिष्ठानम् ऋद्धिमत् |
कैलासम् पर्वत श्रेष्ठम् अध्यास्ते नर वाहनः || ३-४८-३
From Kubera I appropriated Lanka. I also seized the Puskpak Viman from him. Frightened by me, he fled to Kailasa. I am that mighty powerful Dashanan!
Ravana robbed Kubera of his kingdom, his vimana and all his wealth, yet he was not satisfied. Ravana forced himself on Kubera’s daughter-in-law. Upon learning this, Nalkubera, the son of Kubera, cursed his uncle Ravana – “If you rape another woman, I shall personally come to Lanka and kill you.” This is how Ravana behaved with his elder brother.
Now let’s look at his dealings with his younger brothers. Vibhishana asked Ravana to return Sita to Rama. But Ravana was enraged at these words. He cursed Vibhishana thus –
योऽन्यस्त्वेवम्विधम् ब्रूयाद् वाक्यमेतन्निशाचर |
अस्मिन् मुहूर्ते न भवेत् त्वाम् तु धिक् कुलपांसनम् || ६-१६-१६
You nocturnal monster! If anyone else had said that, I would have blown his head off. Just because you are my brother, I will not kill you. You wretched brother of mine! Curse be upon you!
These words sent Vibhishana to leave Lanka and join the forces of Rama.
Only one of the three brothers stood up to fight for Ravana – he was Kumbhakarna. By sending Kumbhakarana to fight this battle, Ravana had sent him to his death.
Ravana does not seem to be an ‘ideal brother’ for his brothers nor for his sister.
Those who want to have a brother like Ravana, must realize that they must become Shurpanakha-like-sister to deserve that. A woman who instigates her brother to abduct another woman, a woman who plans to kill a man who refuses her, a woman who causes her brother’s destruction, is the kind of sister who deserves Ravana-like-brother.
Anyone who wants a Ravana-like-brother, would you still praise him, if he shames your husband in public (far from killing him)? Or consider this, your neighbor complains about your husband to her brother, and he abuses you in return (far from abducting you), would you still appreciate her Ravana-like-brother? When you pray for a Ravana-like-brother, have you considered the possibility of walking down a street where gangs of Ravana-like-brothers are roaming freely? Have you given enough thought to the existence somebody else’s Ravana-like-brother?
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