Rama, the prince who was a paragon of virtues the mighty hero, the unparalleled warrior, the noble and righteous king and beloved of his people. The Valmiki Ramayan sings verses in adulation of Rama. Valmiki remarks to Narada “I wonder if there is , in this world, a single individual blessed with all the qualities one can think of : Integrity, bravery, righteousness, gratitude, truthfulness, dedication to one’s principles, character without blemish, learning, skill, beauty, courage, radiance, perfect control, undaunted heroism which can frighten even the celestials.” His subjects love him as “He is the personification of all that is good and great like the moon in charming everyone: like the earth in patience like Brihaspati in intellect and like Indra in valour.” The list is endless.

Juxtaposed against Ram is Ravana. Rama is the son of (Dasrath) one who has all the ten indriyas (sense organs of action and perception) well reined in. Ravana is (Das Mukh) whose five sense organs have the lust, greed and hunger tenfold more than an ordinary being. But having performed intense Tapas he got boons from Brahma, one being immunity from death from almost every being, deva, danavas or asura. He was a great Shiva devotee and very wise. Valmiki Rmayan states that when Hanuman sees him he wonders, “What a glorious personage! What strength! What radiance! If only this powerful king had not been an Adharmi (unrighteous) he can easily be the Lord of the devas.” Even when Ram sees him riding to battle he exclaims to Vibheeshan “What radiance What Valour! What courage! What might!”

Despite these noble traits Ravana brings about his own doom because of one tragic flaws, in his character, his all-consuming desire to possess Seeta! This one fatal error, called hamartia in greek tragedies brings about his destruction.

The Greeks believed that character is destiny.

Saran, President Chinmaya Mission New Delhi.

Email: prarthnasaran@gmail.com

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