Across India, the tenth day is celebrated as a day of victory; it known equally as Vijaya Dashami or Dusshera. It is a day that children are initiated into writing and pooja is performed on your articles of work. Students have their books blessed and it is a good day to start any new venture.
Vijaya Dashami: ‘Jaya’ is victory and ‘dasa’ refers to tenth day, thus “victory on the tenth day”. This indicates the day after the nine nights of Maha Navaratri. This commemorates Durga‘s most celebrated victory: the defeat of the buffalo demon Mahishasura, as narrated in the second episode of the Devi Mahatmyam.
Dusshera: Many variations exist of this name: Dassara, Dasshara, Dussera and the like. The origin also refers to ten, ‘dasa’ and means “removing of ten”. The story celebrated is the final victory in the epic Ramayana. After King Rama‘s long search, aided by his brother Lakshmana and dear friend Hanuman, he finds his abducted wife Sita prisoner on the island of Lanka. Rama’s armies are finally able to cross to Lanka and engage in fierce battle with the armies of culprit, an asura king, the ten-headed Ravana. His ten heads are interpreted as the ten negative qualities of man:
- Kama (lust)
- Krodha (anger)
- Lobha (greed)
- Moha (delusion)
- Mada (excessive pride)
- Matsara (jealousy)
- Manas (mind)
- Buddhi (intellect)
- Chitta (impressions)
- Ahamkara (ego)
The first four are generally regarded as the cardinal vices of Hinduism. The last four are the four parts of the mind. People celebrate in their homes in an effort to sweep the house clean of the negative qualities. In the story, Rama prays to Devi and it is she that grants him the secret to Ravana’s destruction.
The Death Of Ravana
1. Ravana had kidnapped Lord Rama’s wife Sita from the Dandaka forest where she was staying with Rama and Sita. He had brought her to Lanka where he kept her imprisoned for many months.
2. Rama with the help of Sugriva and his vanaras had searched far and wide for Sita, but to no avail. When he came to know about Sita’s whereabouts, he sent Hanuman as a messenger to request Ravana to release his wife.
3. Ravana was however quite adamant and he refused to let Sita return. He insulted Hanuman and even did not listen to the similar advice of his own brother Bibhisan. When Rama came to know about this he declared war on Lanka and vowed to free his own wife.
4. After Rama and the vanara army crossed over to Lanka, a terrible war started against Ravana’s demon army. Both sides lost a great number of lives but the war seemed to have no end. Then came the moment when Ravana was face to face with his nemesis Rama.
5. Indra, the king of heaven was watching the battle from above. On seeing Rama, he offered his chariot in order to help Rama. Ravana had taken his ten-headed, twenty-armed form and looked quite terrifying. Rama cut off his heads one by one with his arrows but they grew back. It was seeming impossible to kill him.
6. Rama decided that he needed then power of Brahmastra to kill Ravana. Rama climbed on Indra’s chariot and charged towards Ravana at great speed. He then launched the Brahmastra, aiming it directly at Ravana’s heart. Ravana tried to counter it with his own magical weapon but failed to do so.
7. Ravana dropped dead and the Gods, who were watching from heaven, rejoiced at this great deed of Rama. Ravana is the perfect example of the fact that being Dharmic is often not enough to refrain from committing Adharma. He was a being that had everything one could dream of, but his greed, arrogance and lust led him to the path of destruction. Even the boons of Lord Shiva and Brahma didn’t save him as he was a sinner.