Dussehra 2015 (Dasara) has arrived, calling celebrations across the nation. The festival generally signifies the victory of good over evil.
According to Hindu mythology, the hero Rama killed Ravana, the king of demons, in a war. The festival celebrates the victory of Rama over Ravana.
The most popular story of the Ramayana says that Ravana kidnapped Sita, Rama's wife, following which the two fought a war against each other and Rama came out victorious by killing Ravana.
However, there are a number of other unknown stories, which narrate different tales relating to the clash between Rama and the mighty Ravana.
Generally, in the mind of the public, Rama is believed to be the hero of the Ramayana and Ravana is portrayed as an evil demon. But there are also certain not-so-popular mythological stories which suggest that Ravana was actually a mighty king with a generous heart and not exactly 'evil'.
Rama insulted Ravana's sister
One of the unknown versions of the Ramayana, popular in Sri Lanka, presents Ravana as the king with a golden heart. This version of the story says Ravana kidnapped Sita only to avenge his sister Surpanakha, who was insulted by Rama. Her nose was chopped off by Rama's brother Lakshman.
Apparently, Surpanakha was attracted to Rama and fell in love with him. But when she proposed to Rama, he insulted her and, to add injury to insult, Lakshman cut off her nose. This obviously irked Ravana who decided to take revenge and he abducted Sita. Although, he kidnapped Rama's wife, the story says Ravana looked after Sita with utmost respect and granting her all comforts.
Ravana blessed Rama to win the battle
Another point in this unknown version of Ramayana highlights the kindness of Ravana, who agreed to conduct a ritual for Rama in Rameshwaram, and which facilitated the end of Ravana.
Ravanawas considered a true devotee of the god Shiva. Rama invited him to become the priest for a ritual which would give him the power to kill Ravana. As there was no other priest available then, Ravana himself agreed to conduct the "pooja". Ravana also brought Sita to the ritual as it demanded that Ram and Sita be together.
After the "pooja" was over, Rama and Sita touched Ravana's feet and sought his blessings. Ravana, being the priest, blessed Rama saying, "Vijayi Bhavaha" (may victory be yours) and did the same to Sita saying, "Sumangali Bhavaha" (may you receive all that is best and auspicious always). After conducting the ritual, Ravana took Sita back to his palace. Apparently, Ravana's blessing resulted in Rama's victory in the war.
Rama ordered the death sentence for Hanuman
Another unknown mythological tale about Rama and Hanuman says the former once ordered the death sentence for Hanuman. According to the story, Narada Muni conspired against Hanuman after Rama returned from exile.
Narada Muni asked Hanuman to greet all the sages but somehow convinced him not to greet Vishwamitra, who was Rama's teacher.
Although, the act of Hanuman not greeting Vishwamitra did not offend the latter, Narada Muni was able to provoke him to seek the death sentence for Hanuman for insulting him.
Vishwamitra did so and asked Rama to order that Hanuman be put to death. Being a student of Vishwamitra, Rama could not say "no" to him and ordered that Hanuman be executed by arrows.
Nevertheless, Hanuman's devotion towards Rama saved him. He kept chanting the latter's name and none of the arrows could hurt him. Eventually, Narada Muni admitted his mistake in front of Vishwamitra.
While there has been a debate on whether the Ramayana actually happened or not, one must keep in mind that these different mythological stories are also based on different perceptions.