Ravana's virtues

If Ravana had many faults, he had many virtues too. It is common knowledge that he had studied Vedas and other scriptures of the time. It is also known that he was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. In spite of the fact that Ram and Lakshman were his biggest enemies, he parted knowledge to Lakshman when required. But he was unpredictable. One never knew which side of his character (good or bad) would take over and at what time.

There is another incident that shows how, on occasions, Ravana could be quite fair and generous. Legend has it that Lakshman was once hurt in the battlefield and was in a coma. Try as they may, others could not revive him. Rama was worried. Somebody suggested that there was a wise ‘vaid’ (doctor) in Lanka who could be of help in reviving Lakshman’s health. But Lanka was enemy territory and at that time, on war with Ram’s army. The fort of Lanka was closed because of war and was heavily guarded day and night. It was impossible to penetrate.

Here again Vibhishana came to Ram’s rescue. He knew of a secret passage which lead one straight into the heart of Lanka. Very few people who were close to Ravana knew about it. Vibhishana was one of those few. He explained the way to Jambvan and gave him guidance to reach the house of vaid Sushena without being noticed. Jambvan entered Lanka through this secret passage and found the house of the vaid. Sushena heard Jambvan patiently and was in a dilemma. On one hand, Lakshman was an enemy of his king. On the other hand, his profession demanded that he served the ill, irrespective of his status. In his profession there was no friend and no foe, only a patient. So was the instruction of ‘Dhanvantari’, father of the ancient medicine. Sushena was in two minds but he decided to remain faithful to his profession. He started out with jambvan for the place where Lakshman was lying injured but both were captured by the alert guards. They were arrested and taken to Ravana as traitors. Ravana heard both the sides, particularly Sushena’s, that he wanted to remain faithful to his profession and that he saw Lakshman as an injured person in need of medical help.

Ravana’s verdict was just, based on the wisdom of the Vedas. He permitted the vaid to go and treat Lakshman as it was Sushena’s ‘chikitsa dharma’ (duty of a doctor) and he should remain faithful to it.

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