The Ramayana

Ravana Character Analysis

Ravana is a rakshasa (demon) with ten heads and ten sets of arms, and is the king of the island Lanka. Long before Rama's birth, Ravana acquired powers from the gods Brahma and Shiva through prayer and sacrifices. Because of this immense power, Rama became evil and now wants to destroy the world and the gods, and create havoc wherever he goes. Ravana is very lustful; he keeps many women in addition to his wife for his pleasure, though he's cursed to die if he touches a woman without her consent. His lust leads him to kidnap Sita after his sister, Soorpanaka, comes to him with stories of Sita's beauty and Rama's ferocity in protecting her. However, because Sita resists Ravana, Ravana digs under Sita's feet and picks her up from the ground she stands on—so as to not touch her—and then imprisons her with a number of women who are tasked with breaking down Sita's defenses to make her agree to have sex with Ravana. Rama finally kills Ravana by countering Ravana's evil and destructive weapons with defensive weapons that provide strength and clarity.

Ravana Quotes in The Ramayana

The The Ramayana quotes below are all either spoken by Ravana or refer to Ravana. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Ramayana published in 2006.
Prologue Quotes

Ravana can be destroyed only by a human being since he never asked for protection from a human being.

Related Characters: Vishnu (speaker), Rama, Ravana, Dasaratha, Brahma, Shiva
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
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4. Encounters in Exile Quotes

Rama's whole purpose of incarnation was ultimately to destroy Ravana, the chief of the asuras, abolish fear from the hearts of men and gods, and establish peace, gentleness, and justice in the world.

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana, Vishnu
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
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5. The Grand Tormentor Quotes

The kings of this earth whom he had reduced to vassal-dom stood about with their hands upraised in an attitude of perpetual salutation, lest at any moment Ravana should turn in their direction and think that they were not sufficiently servile.

Related Characters: Ravana
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
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"You are the overlord of seven worlds, mightier than the mightiest. Why do you feel sad and unhappy? Go and get her; that is all. Take her. She is yours. Is there anything beyond your reach? Stir yourself. Leave this desolate mood. Go forth, snatch her, because she is yours, created for you and waiting for you."

Related Characters: Soorpanaka (speaker), Sita, Ravana
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
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9. Ravana in Council Quotes

"You have done incompatible things. You have desired to appropriate another man's wife, which is against all codes of conduct, and now you are thinking of your prestige, reputation, fame, might, and eminence."

Related Characters: Kumbakarna (speaker), Rama, Sita, Ravana
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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"Is there anyone who has conquered the gods and lived continuously in that victory? Sooner or later retribution has always come."

Related Characters: Vibishana (speaker), Ravana
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
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12. Rama and Ravana in Battle Quotes

Rama at once invoked a weapon called "Gnana"—which means "wisdom" or "perception."

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana
Related Symbols: Bows and Arrows
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
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While he had prayed for indestructibility of his several heads and arms, he had forgotten to strengthen his heart, where the Brahmasthra entered and ended his career.

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana
Related Symbols: Bows and Arrows
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
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14. The Coronation Quotes

The gods, who had watched this in suspense, were now profoundly relieved but also had an uneasy feeling that Rama had, perhaps, lost sight of his own identity. Again and again this seemed to happen. Rama displayed the tribulations and the limitations of the human frame and it was necessary from time to time to remind him of his divinity.

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana, Brahma, Shiva
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ravana Character Timeline in The Ramayana

The timeline below shows where the character Ravana appears in The Ramayana. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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...vision he had in which all the gods appealed to Vishnu for help in defeating Ravana. The gods explained to Vishnu that they'd promised Ravana extraordinary powers, but Ravana is now... (full context)
4. Encounters in Exile
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...nervous, though he's struck by her beauty. She introduces herself as Kamavalli (Soorpanaka), the demon Ravana's sister. Rama is surprised at her human form, but the woman explains that she wants... (full context)
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...well have been confessing her own intentions (her normal state is enormous and demonic, and Ravana allows her to roam through this forest. She saw Rama earlier, fell in love, and... (full context)
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...Lakshmana what happened, and he explains. Rama tells Soorpanaka to leave, but Soorpanaka threatens that Ravana will take revenge on Rama if he doesn't marry her. She offers to help Rama... (full context)
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...wipe out Rama's house. Rama again defeats the army. Soorpanaka heads for Lanka to tell Ravana what happened. (full context)
5. The Grand Tormentor
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Ravana sits in his hall, surrounded by attendants. Kings of the earth stand in perpetual salutation,... (full context)
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Interested, Ravana asks Soorpanaka to describe Sita. He falls instantly in love with her image, and Soorpanaka... (full context)
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Ravana summons Soorpanaka and asks her to confirm that he's hallucinating about Sita. Soorpanaka insists that... (full context)
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...though he's coming to the end of his life and his spiritual quest. He tells Ravana that this quest will bring about the end of the rakshasas, angering Ravana. When Mareecha... (full context)
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Once Lakshmana is out of sight, Ravana assumes the guise of a hermit and calls to Sita from the garden gate. When... (full context)
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Ravana abandons his human form and towers over Sita. He says he'd eat her if he... (full context)
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...to jump off the chariot. She yells at the animals to tell Rama what happened. Ravana laughs at Sita as she insults him. Jatayu challenges Ravana, telling him that Rama will... (full context)
6. Vali
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...that anyone who fights him gives half their strength to him. Everyone and everything, including Ravana, feared him. He was the king of Kiskinda, with Sugreeva second in command, and everyone... (full context)
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...bones away, returning the spot to its sacred state. Sugreeva tells Rama that he saw Ravana carry Sita away a while ago, and gives Rama some of Sita's jewelry. Rama cries... (full context)
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...same thing that happened in Ayodhya. He says if Rama had asked, he would've killed Ravana instantly. Vali asks again how Rama's actions were honorable. (full context)
7. When the Rains Cease
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Sampathi tells the monkeys that he saw Ravana take Sita over the ocean to Lanka. Sampathi leaves and the monkeys discuss how to... (full context)
8. Memento From Rama
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...every building for Sita. Several streets in the city are lined with buildings that house Ravana's "collection of women," who are lonely now that Ravana's attention has shifted to Sita. Hanuman... (full context)
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Hanuman peeks into Ravana's palace and doesn't see Sita there, so he continues his search. He finds himself in... (full context)
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Angry that Sita won't give in, Ravana leaves the garden after instructing the rakshasa women to break Sita's will to resist him.... (full context)
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...leaving Lanka, Hanuman makes himself monstrously large and destroys parts of Lanka. Hanuman then allows Ravana's son, Indrajit, to capture him and bring him before Ravana. Hanuman tells Ravana that Rama... (full context)
9. Ravana in Council
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A divine architect rebuilds Ravana's city, which greatly pleases Ravana. He admires his new city in his council hall for... (full context)
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Other commanders rise and say that because Ravana is so powerful, they should ignore the monkeys and instead wait for Rama to bring... (full context)
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Indrajit insists that Ravana not take the trouble of using armies, and should instead let him singlehandedly kill Rama... (full context)
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Ravana berates Vibishana for saying that Rama is powerful, and insists that the gods can't curse... (full context)
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Vibishana argues with Ravana again the next day, and Ravana finally banishes Vibishana. Ravana insists that Vibishana wants Lanka... (full context)
10. Across the Ocean
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...a pure soul and a good heart. Hanuman notes that Vibishana saved his life when Ravana's men had captured him, which he sees as proof of a good heart. (full context)
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...as the king of Lanka. Vibishana spends the next several days telling Rama all about Ravana's armies and weapons. (full context)
11. The Siege of Lanka
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Ravana sends skilled soldiers and family members to try to protect Lanka, but nobody returns. He... (full context)
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Rama sends Angada as a messenger to Ravana to ask him to concede, and share that Rama supports Vibishana's claim as king of... (full context)
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...at one point attacks Rama and Lakshmana with arrows that make them faint. This pleases Ravana, as he thinks they're dead. He sends Sita into the sky in a chariot to... (full context)
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Ravana sends his commander-in-chief onto the battlefield, but the commander doesn't return. Ravana then decides to... (full context)
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Ravana orders a small army to wake Kumbakarna, who is famous for his deep sleep. They... (full context)
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...on the battlefield causes mayhem, Rama manages to use his bow and kill him. When Ravana hears of this development, he cries that his "right hand is cut off." Indrajit, meanwhile,... (full context)
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Later, Lakshmana kills Indrajit. Ravana cries and decides to kill Sita. Some of Ravana's advisors think this is a good... (full context)
12. Rama and Ravana in Battle
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The narrator says again that every person who Ravana sent into battle didn't return. Ravana stands in a tower and watches the battle for... (full context)
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Ravana's resolve attracts the attention of the gods, and they send down Indra's chariot to help... (full context)
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On the battlefield, Ravana aims his chariot to charge Rama at full speed, while Rama tells Matali to drive... (full context)
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Rama pauses and decides that if he kills Ravana's army, Ravana himself might experience a change of heart. This strategy proves unsuccessful, however, as... (full context)
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Ravana notices that Rama is riding in Indra's chariot, which makes him angry that the gods... (full context)
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Ravana orders his charioteer to fly into the sky and Rama pursues him. Ravana destroys some... (full context)
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Ravana begins using asthras in addition to his arrows, turning the fight into a battle of... (full context)
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Ravana uses an asthra that creates darkness and horrible weather, but Rama again counters Ravana's attack... (full context)
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Facing all this destruction, Ravana begins to feel hopeless. Rama, however, feels better and better, and begins to send arrows... (full context)
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When Ravana comes to he berates his charioteer, and the charioteer explains that Rama backed off while... (full context)
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In death, Ravana's face is cleansed of evil and instead looks devout and capable, as though his meditation... (full context)
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Rama, Lakshmana, and Hanuman gather around Ravana's body. Rama notices a huge scar on Ravana's back and begins to worry that he... (full context)
13. Interlude
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...it would be improper to accept her back as his wife after her time in Ravana's house. He tells her that she's free to go wherever she'd like. (full context)
14. The Coronation
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...with disgraced wives, but explains that Sita wasn't even disgraced, since she spurned all of Ravana's advances. Though the gods are relived that Rama was victorious, after watching Rama test Sita... (full context)