Rawana was the grandson of Rishi Pulasthi and son of Sage Visravasmuni. He was the younger brother of Vaisrawana Kuvera (Kubera) and the elder brother of Vibishana, Kumbhakarna, Mahi Rawana, Hema, Khara, Dushana, Luxhman, and Suparnika. His mother was the Daitya princess Kaikesi. Her father, Sumalin, king of the Daityas, wished her to marry the most powerful being in the mortal world, so as to produce an exceptional heir. He rejected the kings of the world, as they were less powerful than him. Kaikesi searched among the sages, and finally chose Visravasmuni. However Visravasmuni warned her that as she approached him at an inappropriate time, their children would tend towards evil, but accepted her nevertheless. Rawana, his brothers and sisters were half Brahmin and half Rakus by birth.
Since of late there is a drive to make Emperor Rawana of Heladiva (Sri Lanka) a Dravidian. It could be boldly stated that King Rawana is not a Dravidian. His father Visravasmuni was a Brahmin and his mother Kaikesi was Daitya. The clans that lived in Heladiva were Raksha, Yaksha, Naga, and Deva. They were called Helayo’s, as much as the inhabitants of present Sri Lanka are called Sri Lankans irrespective of their race. However, he governed most of the southern part of India and part of northern India. The inhabitants of Heladiva were Helaya’s. Heladiva became Sinhale and the inhabitants Sinhala only after the official introduction of Buddha Dhamma by Arahant Mahinda.
Rawana assumed the leadership over his grandfather Sumali’s army. He then set his sights on Lanka. Lanka was an idyllic island, designed by the celestial architect Visvakarma for Kubera, the treasurer of the gods. Kubera generously shared all what he owned with Kaikesi's children - his step-brothers and sisters. However, Rawana demanded Lanka wholly from him, threatening to take it by force. Visravasmuni advised Kubera to give it to him, as Rawana was very powerful and could not be defeated. Rawana commandeered Lanka. He was regarded as a benevolent and effective ruler. Lanka flourished under his rule - it is said the poorest of houses had vessels of gold and hunger was unknown in the kingdom.
Rawana had several wives, foremost was Mandodari - daughter of Mayasura. Mandodari was renowned for her wisdom, grace as well as her beauty and chastity. She is often compared to Seetha and is one of the most beautiful women described in Indian mythology, for her beauty. In addition to his wives, Rawana maintained a harem of incredible size, populated with women whom he captured in his many conquests, many of them accepted and lived happily in his harem for his great manhood, power and knowledge of different subjects.
According to Ramayana Rawana, the King of Sri Lanka abducted princess Seetha the beautiful wife of Prince Rama, in retaliation for Luxhmana’s (brother of Rama) barbarous act of cutting off the ears and the nose of Suparnika (Rawana’s younger sister), much more older than three of them but extremely beautiful, who questioned why they were dressed as hermits but still carry arms and the above was the answer by Luxhmana.
Quote - Ramayana Aranya Kanda – 3, 17, 12, 13
"You are an ascetic yet with a wife, handling bow and arrows yet in the appearance of a sage… what for you have come to this province frequented by demons… it will be apt of you to tell the purpose of your coming here, in actuality…" Unquote (Demon – this word came into the English language in medieval era)
Did Luxhmana behave as a true Khastriya? It was Luxhmana’s behaviour that made Rawana to retaliate by abducting Seetha. It should be noted that Dandakaranaya was governed by King Rawana and Princess Suparnika was his sister.
However, Rawana's younger brother Vibishana opposed Rawana, as the correct move was to punish Luxhmana and not abducting Rama’s wife Seetha. Even Kumbhakarna advised Rawana to send Seetha back to Rama but Rawana was arrogant and held that Lakshmana must be punished for his cold-blooded behaviour. Vibishana held that it was against the civilised values of their royalty to abduct another’s wife. Rawana’s self-centred behaviour forced Vibishana to stand by the civilised values of his clan, and help Rama to get his wife back. Vibishana’s behaviour proves that the royalty of Lanka were more civilised than Khastriya Luxhmana.
Ramayana clearly states that Rawana’s Lankapura was situated on a rock.
Quote (Sundara Kanda chapter Two verses 23, 24, 25, 26)
Hanuman saw the city of Lanka equal to peak of Kailas as though touching the sky, as though flying to reach the sky, with its best mansions, filled with horrible Rakshas and serpents like the city of Bhogavati, one which was unfathomable, a well arranged and a clear city governed by Kubera in earlier times, protected by courageous, horrible serpents and Rakshas with mouths with sharp teeth like a cave, with spikes and spears in their hands. Hanuman saw that Lanka's great protection and the ocean and Rawana the horrible enemy.
Rawana had six brothers and two sisters:
Kubera - the King of North direction and the Guardian of Heavenly Wealth. He was an older step-brother of Rawana: they were born to the same father by different mothers.
Vibishana - A great follower of Rama and one of the most important characters in the Ramayana. As a minister and brother of Rawana, he spoke the Truth without fear and advised Rawana to return abducted Seetha and uphold the civilised values of their royalty. Rawana not only rejected this sane advice, but also, banished him from his kingdom and Vibishana, sought protection from Rama, which was granted without hesitation. If not for Vibishana’s help and advice it would have been difficult to win the war and recover Rama and Luxhmana when they were injured in the battle.
Kumbhakarna - When offered a boon by Brahma, he was tricked into asking for unending sleep! A horrified Rawana, out of brotherly love, persuaded Brahma to amend the boon. Brahma mitigated the power of the boon by making Kumbhakarna sleep for six months and being awake for rest six months of a year (in some versions, he is awake for one day out of the year). During the war with Rama, Kumbhakarna was awakened from his sleep. He tried to persuade Rawana to follow the civilized values of their royalty and return Sita. But he too failed to mend the ways of Rawana.
Khara - King of Janasthan. He protected the northern kingdom of Lanka in the mainland and his kingdom bordered the Kosala Kingdom, the kingdom of Rama. He was well-known for his superior skills in warfare.
Dushana - Viceroy of Janasthan.
Mahi Rawana - King of Maya.
Kumbhini - sister of Rawana and the wife of Madhu, King of Mathura and was the mother of Lavanasura. She was renowned for her beauty and later retired to the sea for penance.
Suparnika - sister of Rawana, it was her nose that was cut by Rama’s brother Luxhmana which led to abduct Seetha. Rawana became furious and arrogant when he saw what had happened to his younger sister.
Rawana appears as the chief character in Ramayana. Indians declare Rawana as a figure of immense moral and physical strength. His immense penance, learning, and devotion to Brahma earned him the latter’s gratitude. Brahma conferred on Rawana the benefit of near immunity, making him resistant from destruction by gods or (other) demons; by this he also acquired the capacity to change his form. He was endowed with the strength of moving the seas and splitting the tops of mountains.
Rawana was the first to discover missiles and bombs. This is proved in the Mahabharata. They were filled with venom and were called Nagashara, Agnishara and poisoned arrows. These missiles were shot with a machine like a bow. Rawana flag was the sun and moon flag with a drawing of Rawana in the centre. This flag is drawn in the Rawana Katha Ola leaf book. A copy is produced here. This flag was carried to the war front by the people of Hewaheta which belonged to then Mayarata. It was in possession of Wilvala Raja Maha Viharaya but now in the Kandy museum.
Rawana was a mighty Emperor and ruled over seven continents from Lanka. They were the modern South America, Southern Europe; Himalaya including the Hindukush mountain range and continents up to Madagascar (Dr. Suriya Gunasekara -Rivira 24.04.2007).Rawana’s deadly flaw was his arrogance. When Brahma conferred on him a boon and Rawana asked that the Devas should not be able to inflict harm on him. He did not think it worthwhile to ask for protection from men or animals as he was so physically powerful.
As a result, Vishnu had to incarnate himself as Rama, a human being and it is an army of monkeys, led by Hanuman, which assists Rama in liberating Seetha from Rawana’s clutches and vanquishing him. Rawana did not take Rama seriously, as he thought that no human being could pose a threat to him. Legend says that being a Brahmin, Rawana performed the necessary Vedic rituals (pujas) for Rama before the war between himself and Rama. This is just one of the perfect qualities he possessed.
When Rama and Rawana meet in battle, it is characteristic of Rawana to exhibit his skill, and to speak arrogantly of crushing Rama to bits. Meanwhile, Rama simply goes about his task and sends his final weapon, the "Brahmasthra" aiming at his heart. It was Vibishana’s advice that made Rama to kill Rawana. However, Rama, in recognition of the fact that he met his match and that Rawana was a Brahmin by birth, well-versed in the Vedas and boundless in his knowledge of Sanskrit, ordered that the funeral arrangements for Rawana be that appropriate for his greatness.
Rawana’s life is a typical example of brilliance gone wrong. He was given the very best instruction and was truly great in his abilities and achievements but never learnt the lesson of humbleness. His egoism and pride were boundless. Instead of following the path of Dharma, he consistently chose to break it. Instead of gaining fame for his countless good qualities, he was known for his improper behaviour. His atrocities kept growing in number and eventually became so terrible, that it took an incarnation of Vishnu to subdue him.
Most who have read Ramayana wonder why Rawana, who lusted after Seetha and kept her in captivity for years, but did not violate her. He repeatedly requested her to become his wife, but she refused his advances. Pious readers are prejudiced and prone to the understanding that Seetha’s purity made her inviolable. However, Rawana had the benefit of power, and she was his captive. It is said that Rawana’s mother Queen Kaikesi and Queen Mandodari dissuaded him from violating Seetha. It is even possible to argue that, having kidnapped her, Rawana wished to have Seetha for himself only if she gave her consent; to do otherwise was to abandon the badge of honour the mightiest carried. What an extraordinary high discipline Rawana maintained. Right beside him, subject to his great power, was a woman for whom he had a burning desire, and yet he restrained himself.
However, some interpreters, such as the 19th century Bengali writer, Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873), were of the view that ‘Rawana displayed the qualities of masculinity, honour, faithfulness, dependability, and justice to a great extent. Though the character of Rawana may seem like a closed book, there is sufficient plurality in Indian traditions that even Rawana is capable of some recuperation.’
The Tamil Nadu countryside is exposed to folk forms that celebrate Rawana as a hero and Rama as the villain who treated women unfairly. Many Tamils know the Ramayana know it through its Tamil version, the Kamban Ramayanam. In it, Rawana is highly venerated as a Vedic scholar, an expert of music, a warrior—as an embodiment of everything moral. In short, Rawana is a tragic hero, not a villain.
Details pertaining to Rawana could be found from “Rawana Katha” the Ola Book written by Mahakappinna Wickramasinghe Adigar of Nilgala Walauwa. This book contains auspicious times and mantra’s (occult science) of King Rawana.
“Rawana was a globally reputed and valued great intellectual. He was the author of many books. However, parts of few books are found. They are the Samaveda, Nadi Prakasha, Kumara Tantra, Uddisha Tantra, Prakrurtha Kamadhenu, and Sivathandawa Sthothra and the Ayurvedic book ‘Arka Prakasha’. His superior acquaintance in Sanskrit can be evaluated from Sivathandawa Sthothra and further he was a proficient Ayurvedic Physician. The art of distilling of Arka and the preparation of Asawa was his invention states Ayurvedic history. He invented the ‘Varuni’ machine to brew Arka. Rawana was the founder of SINDHURAM medicine. These medicine cured wounds instantly. He was known as Vaidya Shiromani as he rendered valuable service to Ayurveda. He was a divine pharmacologist and a Dhayana yogi”. Rawana is the historical King of Heladiva