Symbolisms of the Ramayana – Chapter Six


Ravana was the Master of the Golden City of Lanka. Though learned, he was egoistic. Ego gives rise to further vices. It is said that Ravana had ten faces. . The ten faces are symbolic of the ten evil facets of his character. This is what made him symbolic of a demon. Ravana possessed magical powers.

It is believed in the Hindu philosophy that magi­cal powers can be acquired by any man who practises certain austerities. A man could learn to aim and shoot straight with diligent practice. In the same way a man with a certain kind of training can learn certain tricks, which may seem magical because they are not according to the normal nature of things.

A gun can be used for protection as well as for destruction.

These magical powers can also be used in two ways depending upon the spiritual progress of the owner. Ravana possessed these powers and unfortu­nately was using them for exploitation. This was one of the facets of his evil nature.


Surpanakha was the sister of Ravana. She was ugly in appearance but turned herself into a beautiful damsel by the power of the magic powers she possessed. One day she passed through the forest and saw the charming Princes Rama and Lakshmana. She became enamoured of them. Surpanakha outrageously flirted with Rama and Lakshmana. Lakshmana took out a knife and cut off a portion of Surpanakha’s nose. Surpanakha’s magic spell was broken. She reverted to her original form, which took an uglier appearance because of her fury.

{Symbolism : When one wants to impress, one puts on an artificial beautiful exterior. This not being one’s true appearance cannot last for long and on being slighted one reverts back to one’s true colours.

Cutting off the nose is symbolic of being insulted.}

Surpanakha fled to her brother Ravana’s court and recounted all that had transpired. In order to avenge herself of the insult inflicted upon her, Sur­panakha sowed the Seed of Desire in her brother’s heart.

She told Ravana of the beauty of Sita and said that only he was worthy of owning such beauty.

Evil cannot possess devotion. How could Ravana get Sita. Since it could not be done by fair means, Ravana decided to get Sita by unfair means.


Ravana instructed one of his ministers Mareecha to change his form to that of a golden deer and romp around near the cottage of Sri Rama and Sita.

Sita on seeing the beautiful deer urged Rama to get it for her. Rama asked Sita to realise that a deer could not be golden and that it was an illusion. Yet Sita insisted upon owning the beautiful deer. To fulfil his beloved’s desire, Rama left.

Just before Rama killed Mareecha, Mareecha cried out in Rama’s voice, ‘Please save me, O Lakshmana.” Sita fearing for her husband’s safety, urged Lakshmana to go to the rescue of Rama.

Before leaving Sita alone in the cottage, Laksh­mana drew a line around the cottage, which he be­seeched Sita not to cross over under any circumstances, as she would be protected as long as she remained within the limit of the line. Ravana took advantage of the opportunity and entered the cottage in the form of a sage. Ravana asked for alms. Sita wanted to serve Ravana from within the cottage but Ravana in the guise of a sage took offence. When, perforce, Sita had to come out beyond the line, Ravana took her away on one of his flying vehicles to Lanka where she was kept prisoner in a garden called “Ashok Vatika”.

{Symbolism : The golden deer is symbolic of Maya.}


Maya is literally an illusion. It is that which prevents man from seeing the world as it truly is.

Man believes that the world is a source of happiness and so tries to possess it. Any man of experience has seen that happiness is not directly proportional to the extent of one’s possessions. Sometimes, the reverse seems to hold true. So happiness eludes one despite the amount of possessions one has.

Sita wanted the deer, despite the urgings of Sri Rama that the deer could not be real and it would bring only sorrow. How then could Sita, such an evolved human being, have been so persistent in her desire?

Hindus believe that this was a drama (Leela) played by Sita for the benefit of mankind. She is try­ing to teach us not to take one’s spiritual progress lightly. One ne ver knows when one can have a pitfall.


Leela is a Sanskrit word which means ‘flickering of fire’. It also means ‘play’ and in this context it would mean Divine Activity.

The Hindus believe that the world and the events of the world are part of a Drama (Leela) and Divine characters take part in it sometimes to teach certain lessons to mankind.

Sita made one mistake of desiring the Golden Deer. But when one commits a mistake too many it sometimes is too late.

If Sita, after having desired the deer, had remained within the limits drawn around her, all would have been well. When one surpasses the limits then only one becomes a prisoner, of evil.

The Ashok Vatika is also symbolic of the Garden of Illusion or Maya.

The world is also a Garden of Illusion. It seems so beautiful on the surface, yet beneath every happi­ness, sorrow lurks and we all seem to be its prisoners until we open our eyes in to the Truth.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine