From Ravana to Rama

The festival of Vijayadashami will be observed on 15th October this year. Popularly known as Dussehra this date is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana and it marks the end ofRamlila“. In southern, eastern, north-eastern India, this day is remembered as the triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to protect and restore and the Dharma. It also marks the beginning of preparations for Diwali (festival of lights) which is celebrated exactly 20 days after Vijayadashami.

The Hindu poet and saint Tulsidas has retold the Ramayana (story of the life of Lord Rama) in his epic Ramcharitmanas. Osho says Tulsidas does more justice to Ram than Luke can ever do to Christ! By going deeply into Tulsidas’s words you will relive the whole phenomenon as if time has been transcended; you will again be in the time of Ram. That is why in India we perform the Ram Leela every year; just to create the same milieu again. And it is miraculous that even though year after year the same play is reenacted and everybody knows the whole story; yet everyone is thrilled. The person seeing the play is not only seeing a drama; he is part and parcel of a great spiritual phenomenon. He is in it! The thing is unfolding and, by and by, his heart is unfolding. This is a mythological approach to the non-temporal. Re-enacting it. Reviving it. Resurrecting it.

Osho Say….

One can be either Rama or Ravana, but there is no way to be in between. Our trouble is that we know perfectly well that we are not Rama, but it is a big hurt to the ego and the mind does not want to agree to it. It is hard enough for the mind to say, “I am not Rama,” and we cannot say, “I am Rama,” because everybody knows we are not and they will just laugh at us. So, although we would love to equate ourselves with Rama, we cannot — the difficulties are real in this case. But to liken ourselves to Ravana is equally impossible. So we choose the middle path and declare, “I am neither Rama nor Ravana, I am in between at present. Buddhahood and the supreme understanding have not happened to me yet, but neither am I an ignorant and foolish man.”

This idea of being in the middle is very dangerous, because it does not allow you to discover where you really are. It is far better to know that you are a Ravana — and what is wrong in Ravana that you are afraid of? If you understand the nature of Ravana, you will see that there is no such thing as being in the middle; at the most your choice is to be a lesser or a greater Ravana! Yes, you may be just a mini-Ravana — you may be a drop rather than the whole ocean — but what difference does this really make to your nature, to your consciousness? The ocean is salty, and a drop of the ocean is salty too.

Buddha said, “If you taste a single drop of the ocean you have tasted the whole ocean.” Scientists say that if you analyze a drop of sea water you have analyzed the whole ocean. It is all contained within that single drop. The ocean is just a magnification of that drop; the drop is a microcosm of the ocean. So maybe you are a drop, rather than being the whole ocean, but the basic characteristic is the same in either case.

What makes it so difficult to admit to the Ravana in yourself? Just have a look and see what is in Ravana that is not in you. Ravana is mad after wealth, Ravana is obsessed with expanding his empire, Ravana lusts after women. If he is attracted to a woman it is totally irrelevant that she has her own life and lives with her own man. If Ravana is attracted, she must dwell in his palace. And Ravana is a great scholar; he knows the scriptures inside out. Now if we really look into ourselves, which of these characteristics of Ravana is not to be found? Women are a constant attraction — except for our own woman, to whom we are less and less attracted. We become slowly habituated to our own wife. For how long is a man really attracted to his own wife? The mind is bored with what it already has, so that the attraction to one’s own wife dies altogether. No attraction remains in that which is available to us; our attraction is to that which is unavailable, and the more unavailable the more intense is our attraction…

Ravana had no shortage of beautiful women, and it is possible he may well have had women more beautiful than Sita, but her devotion to Rama was so unique that it became a great challenge for Ravana to win her. You too experience the same sense of challenge all the time. Your interest is in the woman who is somebody else’s. This is a characteristic of Ravana’s consciousness — to be interested in what the other has, rather than in what you have yourself.

Rama has no interest at all in other women; it is as if in Sita is contained for him the whole world. This is the nature of Rama’s consciousness — what you yourself have is all; what you have is the whole. You are in deep contentment, with no demand for what you do not have. In fact, you do not even see more than that which you have. In what you have, everything is contained, as though all the women in the world were contained in Sita’s womanliness. For Rama, to be with Sita is to be with all women.

Ravana’s consciousness, on the other hand, will not be satisfied until he has conquered all the women in the world, and there is no guarantee that he will be satisfied even then. Ravana has no reverence for the individual; the only things that he values are his own sensations — selfishness is his creed. Look how our sensitivity becomes blunted towards those with whom we live. Because we see them every day, we find nothing worth seeing in them; knowing them day in, day out, there remains nothing worth searching for in them; acquainted with the whole of their personality, everything comes to feel stale. This is the way of all the senses. Eat a certain food, and today it tastes delicious. Eat it again tomorrow and it is a little less appetizing. By the third day we are bored with it, and if we are presented with it for the fourth day we will throw the dish out! Yes, it is just the same with our sense of taste: the food is wonderful the first day, and by the fourth day we are throwing it out.

This is the way of the sense organs. They get bored with the old, and each day is a search for the new. What they want is sensation, and sensation is provided by the new. So all societies that are based in the sensual will function according to the formula: search for the new. Societies that are spiritually based will have the characteristic of contentment with the old. Consciousness seeks the eternal, senses seek the novel. Rama has found the eternal in Sita — he has sought that which never grows old, which need never be renewed, and which never knows boredom. Love, unlike sex, can never be boring, because love belongs to the heart, while sex belongs to the sense organs. So if sex is your center, then you need a new man or a new woman every day. Your taste is for novelty, because the body seeks fresh sensations every moment; it wants excitement and new challenges, whereas consciousness lives in the eternal. This is why love can be eternal.

Love has happened between Rama and Sita, but between Ravana and his wives the link is only sexual. And Ravana’s desire for Sita indicates the lack of interest he now has in his own wives. This is the situation in which we are living, this is the state of our own consciousness. What we have is hell, what the other has is heaven! We say, “I shall not be able to rest until I get it,” but the moment we possess it, it becomes worthless. Once it is mine, I lose interest in it; now I have to look for something else again. It is this perpetual quest after something else — after the other — that keeps us unhappy. This path offers no possibility of contentment.

Ravana is also obsessed with wealth. His city, Lanka, is called the golden city. Yet golden though it is, Ravana lusts after other kingdoms and other people’s riches. Rama’s Ayodhya is not made of gold as Lanka is, but still Rama has no interest in the cities and kingdoms of others. You, even if you are given a golden kingdom, will still be preoccupied with what others have. Even if you have palaces you will still be attracted by the cottages that belong to other people.

An individual with the consciousness of Rama, though he lives in a simple cottage, will be quite unattracted by palaces, because wherever Rama stays becomes for him a palace. But no matter where Ravana stays there will be no palace, only unhappiness, because Ravana only sees the palace that belongs to the other, the palace where he is not, the palace that has to be won.

We talk of Ravana’s ten heads. If we ask psychologists about this, they will say that everybody has ten heads, because everybody has to keep many faces ready for use. Between morning and night we change our faces many times. Maybe you are not aware of this, maybe you have never really looked at what you are doing. In the presence of your subordinate you put on one face, and in the presence of your boss another. If you pay full attention, you will find that you change your face in an instant. You are wearing one face for the man who comes to you to ask about his work, and look at your face a moment later when you go to see the boss about your own work! Have a look at your expression in a mirror when you are on your way to ask someone for a loan, and see your face when someone comes to you asking for a loan! You will discover that the faces do not belong to the same person, they belong to two different people.

But don’t stop at the number ten either — don’t take ten to be just ten. Ravana’s ten heads are just an indication, a symbol. Ten is the last number in counting before repetition begins, hence the mention of ten. The actual number of faces you have runs into thousands, but all over the world counting ends at ten. Everything above ten is repetition; thus eleven means one over ten, and twelve means two over ten. Ten is the symbolic end because man began to work with numbers by counting on his ten fingers; above ten, repetition begins. So those ten faces of Ravana are to indicate the upper limits of counting — there is really no end to the number of faces you have, and all day long you are changing them.

Rama has only one face, whether you meet him in happiness or in unhappiness, whether he is sitting in his palace or in the middle of the jungle; he does not wear different faces. And whoever comes to have but one face becomes Rama. To have but one face means to have become authentic, to show your true inner face, not to mask your truth on the outside, not to be influenced by circumstances, but to let your face reveal your inner being. Rama’s face remains the same whether you blame or praise him; no mere circumstance can manipulate his features now. His face has become stable, and the name of this stability is Rama.

It was very difficult to kill Ravana when the war came, because cutting off his head made no difference. If one head fell, another grew in its place, and the real head — the real face — was nowhere to be found. There is no sense in cutting off false faces, because new ones will always arise to replace them — and anyway, they are not in fact faces at all. This is why Ravana’s heads go on falling and new ones go on taking their place. If a false face is cut off, what difference can that make? No flesh and blood is to be found; it was only a thought, an image, in the first place, and if it is taken away, another immediately arises. Ravana could not be killed unless his real face was known; to find his true face was the key. And you too, facing God as Ravana faced Rama, will be unable to dissolve because you will keep your true face hidden — you will not let your real head be cut off. Many times you visit the temple and return home again still wearing your false face. Even if all these false faces are cut away, nothing will happen. Just watch how a man goes into the temple and bows down at the feet of God…. And if you observe carefully you will see how his pride is unmoved, his real face is untouched, protected by his false face. What is bowed down is his false face; the real face is still standing, looking all around asking everybody to look at him and acknowledge what a devotee he is — unmatched in all the world…

And so it is when you enter the temple. Your head bows down, but your ego remains erect. This bowing head is false, it has no value.

If you understand Ravana’s mind, you will find that he is quite firmly established within you; and it is this same Ravana who tries to convince you, “True you are not Rama, but neither are you Ravana!” Pay no attention to his words. You have listened enough to him already, and it is that very listening that has brought you to the state you are in now. So if it is clear to you that you are not Rama, then be clear also that you are Ravana. To accept this in yourself is the first step towards becoming Rama. To accept yourself as full of faults is the first, and the revolutionary step, towards virtue. The deep recognition, “I am in darkness,” becomes the search for light. The real thirst for knowing is born in the awareness of your own ignorance.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: Nowhere To Go But In
Chapter #6
Chapter title: None
30 May 1974 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken about many religious festivals such as ‘Holi,Diwali,Christmas’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Until You Die
  2. Death is Divine
  3. The Great Path
  4. Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy
  5. Nowhere To Go But In
  6. From Darkness to Light
  7. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
  8. Christianity: The Deadliest Poison and Zen: The Antidote to All Poisons
  9. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 8
  10. I Say Unto You, Vol 2
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