Thursday, 22 March 2018

Did Ravana ever respect the opinions and advice of others?

My Answer:
Ravana did respect the opinions of others. After Hanumana burned down Lanka, and prior to Rama’s arrival at Lanka, Ravana held a Sabha with his ministers to discuss what actions ought to be taken against Rama who would be proceeding to invade Lanka at any time. We see a display of his calmness, and disposition towards democracy in the proceedings of the Sabha. Most monarchs would make their decision and then consult their courtiers to see if they would agree. In such circumstances most courtiers would agree with the king's decisions to please the king. But Ravana was different. He wanted to take everyone's true advice into account, without them suppressing their opinions to please the king. Hence he himself refrained from voicing his own opinion, but told his courtiers to express their own opinions and that his decision would be that of the consensus... Through such behavior, we see Ravana's maturity and the realization that consultation of a variety of opinions, through a democratic setting allows for the optimal solution to the problem:
मन्त्र मूलम् हि विजयम् प्राहुर् आर्या मनस्विनः || ६-६-५
तस्माद् वै रोचये मन्त्रम् रामम् प्रति महाबलाः |
त्रिविधाः पुरुषा लोके उत्तम अधम मध्यमाः || ६-६-६
तेषाम् तु समवेतानाम् गुण दोषम् वदामि अहम् |
मन्त्रिभिर् हित सम्युक्तैः समर्थैर् मन्त्र निर्णये || ६-६-७
मित्रैर् वा अपि समान अर्थैर् बान्धवैर् अपि वा हितैः |
सहितो मन्त्रयित्वा यः कर्म आरम्भान् प्रवर्तयेत् || ६-६-८
दैवे च कुरुते यत्नम् तम् आहुः पुरुष उत्तमम् |
एको अर्थम् विम्ऱ्शेद् एको धर्मे प्रकुरुते मनः || ६-६-९
एकः कार्याणि कुरुते तम् आहुर् मध्यमम् नरम् |
गुण दोषाव् अनिश्चित्य त्यक्त्वा दैव व्यपाश्रयम् || ६-६-१०
करिष्यामि इति यः कार्यम् उपेक्षेत् स नर अधमः |
यथा इमे पुरुषा नित्यम् उत्तम अधम मध्यमाः || ६-६-११
एवम् मन्त्रो अपि विज्ञेय उत्तम अधम मध्यमः |
ऐकमत्यम् उपागम्य शास्त्र दृष्टेन चक्षुषा || ६-६-१२
मन्त्रिणो यत्र निरस्तास् तम् आहुर् मन्त्रम् उत्तमम् |
बह्व्यो अपि मतयो गत्वा मन्त्रिणो हि अर्थ निर्णये || ६-६-१३
पुनर् यत्र एकताम् प्राप्तः स मन्त्रो मध्यमः स्मृतः |
अन्योन्य मतिम् आस्थाय यत्र सम्प्रतिभाष्यते || ६-६-१४
न च ऐकमत्ये श्रेयो अस्ति मन्त्रः सो अधम उच्यते |
तस्मात् सुमन्त्रितम् साधु भवन्तो मन्त्रि सत्तमाः || ६-६-१५
कार्यम् सम्प्रतिपद्यन्ताम् एतत् कृत्यतमम् मम |
वानराणाम् हि वीराणाम् सहस्रैः परिवारितः || ६-६-१६
रामो अभ्येति पुरीम् लंकाम् अस्माकम् उपरोधकः |
तरिष्यति च सुव्यक्तम् राघवः सागरम् सुखम् || ६-६-१७
तरसा युक्त रूपेण सानुजः सबल अनुगः |
समुद्रमुच्छोषयति वीर्येणान्यत्करोति वा|| ६-६-१८
तस्मिन्न् एवम् गते कार्ये विरुद्धे वानरैः सह |
हितम् पुरे च सैन्ये च सर्वम् सम्मन्त्र्यताम् मम || ६-६-१९
"Oh, people of great strength! Wise-men say that victory is dependent on good forethought. Verily for that reason, I desire a deliberation about Rama. There are three types of men in the world, namely the foremost the middle most and the lowest. I am telling their inherent merits and defects. The wise call him as the foremost among men, who carries through the beginning of any undertaking after consulting those who are wedded with welfare of others, or with ministers who are efficient in conferring decisions or with friends having common interests or additionally with relatives or who try to get a favour from Providence too. The wise men call that man as mediocre, who deliberates about an activity solitarily, applies his mind on law and justice all by himself and performs works singly. He who does not determine the merits and demerits of an act clearly, having recourse to Providence and neglects his duty by simply telling I shall do it', he is the lowest among men. In which manner these men are categorized always as good, bad or mediocre, so also the resolution in thought is classified as good bad or mediocre. The wise say that resolution of thought is excellent, in which the thinkers, on a view perceived by scriptures, obtain consensus and are satisfied with it. Only after deliberating several kinds of opinions, that decision of a matter obtained finally by a consensus of the counselors, is called mediocre. That resolution is said to be worst in which several arguments are made, employing one or the other divergent opinions and in which there is no advantage even after a consensus. For that reason, you, having excellent intellect, arrive at a well-thought out rightful action. To me, this is earnestly to be done. Rama surrounded by thousands of courageous monkeys, is coming to the City of Lanka, for the purpose of besieging us. Rama, by his be-fitting strength, can certainly cross the ocean easily, with his brother along with his army and his companions. He may even get the ocean dried up. He may do any other thing by his valour. The aforesaid act of enmity with monkeys having commenced in this way, advise me everything that is good for the city and my army."
In that Sabha, most of the Rakshasas were pining for war. However, Vibhishana was the only one desiring peace and submission to Rama. Even though Vibhishana had a different opinion, he was allowed to present his opinion. Ravana did not rebuke Vibhishana for his opinion, until the point when Vibhishana crossed his limits and said that Indrajit (Ravana’s son) should be killed for expressing his pro-war opinion. So, when discussing whether or not war should happen, Ravana cared for the opinion of his ministers.
So the answer to your question is that yes, Ravana did respect the opinions and advice of others…
The type of person who was vain and had a “I know it all” kind of attitude that prevented him from caring for the opinions of his well wishers was Rama. When Kayekai told Rama that he is to go to exile for fourteen years, Rama went to Kaushalya and Lakshmana, who advised them to revolt against Dasharatha, seize the throne, and become king of Kosala instead of going to exile. Their points were well made and logical, yet Rama did not care for their advice at all, even if it meant putting the citizens of Ayodhya and his own mother Kaushalya at the mercy of the cruel, ill-tempered Kayekai… Rama’s citizens asked him to not leave Ayodhya, but again Rama rejected their opinions. Later on, when entering the Dandaka, Seetha told Rama “desha dharma pujayate” (the [Rakshasa] laws of the kingdom should be respected) and urged him to not attack the Rakshasas of the Dandaka Forest. Had Rama listened, he would not developed enmity with Ravana. But he refused to act according to her opinion, and instead attacked the Rakshasas of the Dandaka Forest. These actions led to the development of enmity with Ravana, eventually leading to Seetha’s kidnap. When Vibhishana came to Rama to ask for his help, Rama’s advisers asked him to not welcome Vibhishana, as he may be an enemy. But Rama rejected their advice and decided to welcome Vibhishana. Later, after the war was over, Rama abandoned Seetha without first seeking the advice/opinion of his well wishers, who were clearly upset with the way Rama was treating Seetha.

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[Image Source: Ravana: Roar of the Demon King - A Graphic Novel (Campfire Graphic Novels)]

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