Sunday, 17 September 2017

Ravana was a Rapist... Really?

Over the past few days, I have come across many Hindu nationalists that, in their bhakti for Rama, have called Ravana a rapist and thereby attempted to discredit Ravana's wide range of virtues that even Valmiki is in awe of, in his Ramayana. Of course this was not the first time, and definitely not the last time such character assassination of Ravana would be done to Ravana by these Hindutva vadis . For example, a simple google search of why Ravana did not force Seetha to marry him would reveal many answers by Hindu nationalists on how Ravana was a rapist and that he was cursed by Brahma that if he attempted to rape another woman, his head would split into 100 fragments. I have come across some that have even equated this completely illogical curse to a brain hemorrhage.

I guess only such Hindutva vadis would have to step in to explain to me how a person's brain splits into 100 fragments during brain hemorrhage... No? It is beyond the intellectual capabilities of a normal individual like me who is studying Neuroscience to explain such a phenomenon!

That being said, in recent times I have come across scholars like Wendy Doniger that have attempted to debunk the theories of Ravana being a rapist. For example, in an interview[1], Doniger says:
Well, we don’t know who Valmiki was. It’s unlikely that one person wrote the whole Ramayana. Certainly unlikely that Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata—it was too great a book for a single author. Things were added on in Ramayana’s first and seventh book later on. For instance, in the seventh book we have a story long before the story of Rama and Sita about how Ravana raped one of the great apsaras, Rambha. And she comes weeping, dirty and bleeding, to her husband, who asks: “What has happened to you?”
When he finds out, he curses Ravana that if he ever touches a woman against her will, his head will shatter into a thousand pieces. So that story is then told in the Ramayana to explain why Ravana didn’t force himself on Sita despite keeping her in his house all those years. In the earlier Ramayana, there’s nothing about this. Ravana doesn’t force himself on Sita for other reasons – he doesn’t want to or because she has a power over him. This is a later idea that creeps in.

In the later books, they started telling stories about Valmiki, who may have been the author of the earlier books but didn’t talk about himself. Tradition has it that Valmiki wrote the Ramayana, but there’s no way of telling if it’s true.

It’s so interesting that the Balmikis, who were Untouchables, just took his name and have their own stories about Valmiki -- how he wasn’t a Brahmin, but a robber. Until this (Hindutva) crowd got hold of the internet, people didn’t say you can’t tell the Ramayana that way. It wasn’t a Hindu idea.
However, as expected, we got a band of internet Hindutva vadis abusing her, her sexuality, and her religion for such views that they branded "anti-Hindu" and "Hinduphobic"... What such people seem to forget (or perhaps deliberately ignore) is the fact that in Mahabharatha and Ramayana times, rape was not considered a crime. For example, Brihaspati was hailed as the guru of celestials and much respected despite the fact that he raped his elder, pregnant sister in law, Mamata:
‘“In earlier times, there was a famous and wise rishi named Utathya. His wife was named Mamata and he loved her dearly. Utathya’s younger brother was the immensely energetic Brihaspati, the priest of the gods. He desired Mamata and sought to unite with her. Mamata told her brother-in-law, who was most eloquent in speech, ‘I am pregnant through your older brother. Therefore, desist. O illustrious Brihaspati! Utathya’s son is in my womb and has studied the Vedas and the Vedangas there. Your semen is infallible and, therefore, this is not possible. Do not desire me today.’ At these words, the immensely energetic Brihaspati could not suppress his desire, though he had achieved self-control. The desiring one united with her, though she did not desire him in return. When he spilt his semen, the embryo inside the womb said, ‘O father! There is no room inside for two of us. I was here first and you have unnecessarily wasted your semen.’ At this, the illustrious rishi Brihaspati was angry and cursed Utathya’s son, who was in the womb. ‘You have spoken at a time that all beings crave for. Therefore, you will enter a long period of darkness.’ From this curse was born the rishi Dirghatama. He was Brihaspati’s equal in great deeds and great energy. To extend Utathya’s lineage, the famous rishi had sons like Goutama and others, all immensely famous.

Adi Parva Section 98 (Critical Edition)
Likewise, Vayu was hailed as a demigod in the Vedic Period, despite the fact that he raped Anjana, the lesbian mother of Hanumana, thereby impregnating her and leading to the birth of Hanumana:
अप्सर अप्सरसाम् श्रेष्ठा विख्याता पुंजिकस्थला |
अंजना इति परिख्याता पत्नी केसरिणो हरेः || ४-६६-८
विख्याता त्रिषु लोकेषु रूपेणा अप्रतिमा भुवि |
अभिशापात् अभूत् तात कपित्वे काम रूपिणी || ४-६६-९
दुहिता वानर इन्द्रस्य कुंजरस्य महात्मनः |
मानुषम् विग्रहम् कृत्वा रूप यौवन शालिनी || ४-६६-१०
विचित्र माल्य आभरणा कदाचित् क्षौम धारिणी |
अचरत् पर्वतस्य अग्रे प्रावृड् अंबुद सन्निभे || ४-६६-११
तस्या वस्त्रम् विशालाक्ष्याः पीतम् रक्त दशम् शुभम् |
स्थितायाः पर्वतस्य अग्रे मारुतो अपहरत् शनैः || ४-६६-१२
स ददर्श ततः तस्या वृत्तौ ऊरू सुसंहतौ |
स्तनौ च पीनौ सहितौ सुजातम् चारु च आननम् || ४-६६-१३
ताम् बलात् आयत श्रोणीम् तनु मध्याम् यशस्विनीम् |
दृष्ट्वा एव शुभ सर्वान्गीम् पवनः काम मोहितः || ४-६६-१४
स ताम् भुजाभ्याम् दीर्घाभ्याम् पर्यष्वजत मारुतः |
मन्मथ आविष्ट सर्वान्गो गत आत्मा ताम् अनिन्दिताम् || ४-६६-१५
सा तु तत्र एव संभ्रांता सुवृत्ता वाक्यम् अब्रवीत् |
एक पत्नी व्रतम् इदम् को नाशयितुम् इच्छति || ४-६६-१६

Punjikasthala, the eminent apsara among apsaras, was well known by the name of Anjana and was the wife of the monkey, Kesari. O dear she was famous in the three worlds, peerless in beauty and could change form at her free will. She was born of a monkey on this land by dint of a curse. She was the daughter of a great king of monkeys called Kunjara. That young and beautiful lady had assumed a lustrous human form decked with wonderful garlands, ornaments and silk clothes and was roving on top of the mountain which appeared like a proud raincloud. While the largeeyed lady was stationed on the mountain top, the Windgod gently let her auspicious yellow garment with red border fly away. Then he (Windgod) saw her curved, wellset thighs, her beautiful plump breasts and her lovely pleasing face. On seeing the broad hips, slender waist and beautiful limbs of that famous lady the Windgod was infatuated. The Windgod lost his control over himself. His whole being was overpowered by love for her beautiful, flawless body. He embraced her with his long arms. She was bewildered by this and being chaste and strict observer of chastity she said, Who is it that has destroyed my vow of adhering to a single wife?
Kishkindha Kanda Section 66 [19] 
Its seems quite illogical to lash out at Ravana for supposedly raping a female while ignoring the fact that rape was not considered a crime in those days. This is not to trivialize rape, but before giving such a moral judgement, we should take a look at the bigger picture and not behave like hypocrites. It is extremely hypocritical to, on one hand, praise Brihaspati and Vayu despite the fact that they raped women, and on the other hand, criticize Ravana for doing the same act of rape! That being said, despite rape being a norm in ancient India, there is no solid evidence to support claims that Ravana raped a single female in his life... Yes, that includes Seetha whom he had sex with in Aranya Kanda Sections 49-54! Their sex was completely consensual; not rape. The purpose of this post is to analyze Valmiki Ramayana, Vyasa Mahabharatha, and Puranas to come to a conclusion that Ravana did not rape a single female in his life!

Valmiki Ramayana

As someone who has read Valmiki Ramayana, it seems completely hilarious, nay absurd, to even consider the possibility that Ravana was a rapist. If we look at his character throughout the epic, he comes across as a womanizer that was extremely skilled in seducing women, akin to Arjuna with regards to the art of seducing women. For example, lets consider Ravana's conversation with Seetha. After approaching Seetha, disguised as a brahmin, he seduces Seetha by speaking the following words, which were described by Valmiki as being "courteous" (प्रश्रितम्); he spoke words befitting of a gentleman:

दृष्ट्वा काम शर आविद्धो ब्रह्म घोषम् उदीरयन् |अब्रवीत् प्रश्रितम् वाक्यम् रहिते राक्षस अधिपः || ३-४६-१४का त्वम् कांचन वर्ण आभे पीत कौशेय वासिनि |कमलानाम् शुभाम् मालाम् पद्मिनी इव च बिभ्रती || ३-४६-१६समाः शिखरिणः स्निग्धाः पाण्डुरा दशनाः तव |विशाले विमले नेत्रे रक्तान्ते कृष्ण तारके || ३-४६-१८विशालम् जघनम् पीनम् ऊरू करि कर उपमौ |एतौ उपचितौ वृत्तौ संहतौ संप्रगल्भितौ || ३-४६-१९पीन उन्नत मुखौ कान्तौ स्निग्ध ताल फल उपमौ |मणि प्रवेक आभरणौ रुचिरौ ते पयो धरौ || ३-४६-२०चारु स्मिते चारु दति चारु नेत्रे विलासिनि |मनो हरसि मे रामे नदी कूलम् इव अंभसा || ३-४६-२१करान्तमित मध्या असि सुकेशी संहत स्तनी |न एव देवी न गन्धर्वी न यक्षी न च किंनरी || ३-४६-२२न एवम् रूपा मया नारी दृष्ट पूर्वा मही तले |रूपम् अग्र्यम् च लोकेषु सौकुमार्यम् वयः च ते || ३-४६-२३इह वासः च कांतारे चित्तम् उन्मथयन्ति मे |प्रासाद अग्राणि रम्याणि नगर उपवनानि च || ३-४६-२५संपन्नानि सुगन्धीनि युक्तानि आचरितुम् त्वया |वरम् माल्यम् वरम् गंधम् वरम् वस्त्रम् च शोभने || ३-४६-२६भर्तारम् च वरम् मन्ये त्वत् युक्तम् असितेक्षणे |
He who is hit by the arrows of Love-god that king of demons Ravana, on seeing Seetha entered resonating the resonances of Vedic-hymns as precursory in seeking alms, and spoke these courteous sentences to her who is in solitariness. Who are you with a golden complexion, clad in yellow silk, and looking like a lotuspond and wearing an auspicious lotus garland? O lady with a beautiful face, with lovely thighs, are you 'hri', shyness personified? Are you the auspicious lovely Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth? Are you the goddess of fame? Are you an apsara? Are you Bhuti, the goddess of fortune? Or are you Rati, the goddess of love moving at your free will? Your teeth are even and pointed, white and beautiful.Your eyes are large and clear and sparkling with dark pupils with a red tinge at the corner. Your big hips are stout and strong, Your smooth thighs are like the trunk of an elephant, your breasts adorned with gems, are round and robust like palm fruits and swinging up and up with projected stiff nipples, shining and delightful, adding beauty. O lady with an elegant smile, beautiful teeth, lovely eyes you are enticing.Your slender waist can be compassed by my fist.Your hair is beautiful and your large breasts are rubbing against each other. You are capturing my mind just as the flow of water in a river touches its banks. O beautiful lady I have not seen such a beauty earlier either among goddesses or among gandharavis, or yakshis or even among kinneris. You are the most beautiful among women in the world. With all your tenderness and youth you are living in this forlorn forest. This maddens my heart. You deserve to stroll in the terraces of palaces, in beautiful, luxurious and fragrant city gardens. O beautiful, blackeyed lady, I think you deserve the best of garlands, best of food, and clothes and a suitable husband.
Aranya Kanda Section 46[3]
As you can see from the lengthy passage above, Ravana spends much time praising Seetha's beauty to the skies, and goes into detail, praising the beauty of all her limbs, such as the thighs, hips, waist, breasts, nipples, teeth, eyes, lips, etc... As Valmiki mentions, Ravana praises her beauty in a courteous manner, like a gentleman. He also compares her beauty to that of the females of other races known for their beauty (such as Kinnaras et aland calls her superior to them all, thereby attempting to woo Seetha. If we can think back to Mahabharatha, Kotika employed the same method to woo Draupadi, when he was sent to her on Jayadratha's orders... Ravana's attempt to woo Seetha is further emphasized by the way he likens Seetha to "Hri", "Lakshmi", and "Rati"; all three being embodiments of feminity. To further seduce Seetha, Ravana portrays himself as a helpless individual enslaved by her beauty, as was a common way of seducing females in the Vedic period! In the last two verses, Ravana then hints that he is a very rich person and that Seetha should marry him for that reason. Flaunting ones wealth is a very common way to seducing women, even today, considering the fact that research suggests that women tend to look for financial security in a relationship[4]. Back in ancient times when males were the sole breadwinners for the family, such behavior in women would have been amplified...

Ravana's attempt to seduce Seetha was quite successful, and the tears Seetha had earlier shed when sending Lakshmana after the golden deer on the thought that Mareecha had killed Rama had vanished and were replaced with a large smile, exposing her teeth to Ravana and clear eyes, free of tears. Furthermore, her pupils were described as having been dilated, thereby showing a greater (sexual) interest in Ravana during his speech to her. In addition to that, she was described as having a nipple erection when Ravana was trying to seduce her, suggesting that she was sexually aroused upon seeing the handsome Ravana. It should therefore be no surprise why Seetha then invited him into her hut based on his handsome appearance (सौम्यदर्शन), despite detecting from his features that he was a pseudo-brahmin, who was exhibiting trickery/deceit (उपाय दर्शनान्):
इति प्रशस्ता वैदेही रावणेन दुरात्मना - महात्मना- || ३-४६-३२
द्विजाति वेषेण हि तम् दृष्ट्वा रावणम् आगतम् |
सर्वैः अतिथि सत्कारैः पूजयामास मैथिली || ३-४६-३३
उपानीय आसनम् पूर्वम् पाद्येन अभिनिमंत्र्य च |
अब्रवीत् सिद्धम् इति एव तदा तम् सौम्य दर्शनम् || ३-४६-३४
द्विजाति वेषेण समीक्ष्य मैथिली
तम् आगतम् पात्र कुसुंभ धारिणम् |
अशक्यम् उद्द्वेष्टुम् उपाय दर्शनान्
न्यमंत्रयत् ब्राह्मणवत् यथा आगतम् || ३-४६-३५
Seeing Ravana, a villain in the guise of a brahmin praising her, Sita, the princess of Videha, honoured him with all hospitality. She offered the handsome man a seat first and then water for washing his feet with, and then invited him for food. Maithili thoroughly inspected the one who came bearing a bowl, and saffron clothes, in the guise of a brahmin. Finding it impractical to tie down the one exhibiting deceit, she invited that one who came as a brahmin.
Aranya Kanda Section 46[3] 
As we can see from the text above, in verses 3.46.32-33, following Ravana's kama-filled praise of Seetha, she detected that Ravana was a pseduo-brahmin; a man in the guise of a brahmin. Despite that, she honored Ravana with all hospitality. The reason for that is given in the verse 3.46.34. Valmiki alludes that the reason she invited Ravana into her hut and gave him hospitality was his handsome appearance; we can see the passion building up on both sides... Then, in verse 3.46.35, Valmiki makes it very clear that Seetha thoroughly inspected Ravana's features, and after detecting that he was exhibiting deceit by appearing as a brahmin, she still invited him into her hut as she found it "impractical" to make Ravana captive. One plausible explanation for it being impractical to make Ravana captive was that she was sexually attracted to him. It would have served no purpose for her to make a future mate captive. However, there is also the political purpose, which I will discuss in depth in a future post solely dedicated to examining Seetha's kidnap, and how it was her "performance"...

From the text above, it should be evident that Ravana was adept at seducing women; even Rama's wife fell prey to his seduction tactics... This behavior of Ravana was the reason why he had many women in his harem, head over heels for him. When Hanumana goes to Ravana's harem to search for Seetha in Sundara Kanda, Valmiki describes the women of Ravana, all of exquisite beauty. He further mentions how all of these women, barring Seetha, came to Lanka willingly, out of sexual attraction to Ravana (काम वशम् गताः). These women included even the women of royal sages, ancestral dieties, Daityas, and Gandharvas:
रावणे सुख सम्विष्टे ताः स्त्रियो विविध प्रभाः |
ज्वलन्तः कान्चना दीपाः प्रेक्षन्त अनिमिषा इव || ५-९-६७
राज ऱ्षि पित्ऱ् दैत्यानाम् गन्धर्वाणाम् च योषितः |
रक्षसाम् च अभवन् कन्याः तस्य काम वशम् गताः || ५-९-६८
न तत्र काचित् प्रमदा प्रसह्य |
वीर्य उपपन्नेन गुणेन लब्धा |
न च अन्य कामा अपि न च अन्य पूर्वा |
विना वर अर्हाम् जनक आत्मजाम् तु || ५-९-७०
न च अकुलीना न च हीन रूपा |
न अदक्षिणा न अनुपचार युक्ता |
भार्या अभवत् तस्य न हीन सत्त्वा |
न च अपि कान्तस्य न कामनीया || ५-९-७१
When Ravana was happily asleep, the gods of light burning on the gold lampposts gazed without winking as it were, at the women, whom they dare not gaze for fear of waking Ravana. The women hailed from the families of royal sages, ancestral deities, daityas and demons and were were sexually attracted to him. Except Sita no other woman among them had been taken there by force. They were won only on account of his valour and virtues. None loved any one earlier and none was married to others. None among them was born of a lowly family, nor lacked beauty, kindness, skill, strength or brightness. No one was not lovable to Ravana.
Sundara Kanda Section 9[5] 
Are we seriously to believe that such a man, who had flocks of women swarming around him due to his infallible seduction techniques would be so sexually frustrated that he would find the need to rape women to enjoy sexual pleasure? Even the mere thought of that seems extremely hilarious. Ravana was no Karna who found the need to vent out his sexual frustration upon a woman whom he could not win in her Swayamvara by addressing her as "बन्धकी" (meaning "harlot"). Neither was he a Rama, who, out of sexual frustration arising from his impotency, had found the need to call an extremely beautiful, and sexually active woman an "असतीम् अतिमत्ताम्" (meaning "overly lusty whore") and order her defacement...

That being said, it is still necessary to analyze the passages in the non-critical versions of Valmiki Ramayana, where Ravana supposedly rapes females. These passages are present throughout Uttara Kanda and in Yuddha Kanda Sections 13 and 60.

I will start off by addressing these passages in Uttara Kanda. Uttara Kanda is the seventh and last Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, and has been shown by scholars to be a later addition to the epic by Vaishnavas. To prove my point, I will direct you to the phalashruti in the last section in Yuddha Kanda:
पौण्डरीकाश्वमेधाभ्यान् वाजपेयेन चासकृत् |
अन्यैश्च विविधैर्यज्ञैरयजत्पार्थिवर्षभः || ६-१२८-९५
राज्यन् दशसहस्राणि प्राप्य वर्षाणि राघवः |
शताश्वमेधानाजह्रे सदश्वान्भूरिदक्षिणान् || ६-१२८-९६
आजानुलम्बिबाहुश्च महास्कन्धः प्रतापवान् |
लक्ष्मणानुचरो रामः पृथिवीमन्वपालयत् || ६-१२८-९७
राघवश्चापि धर्मात्मा प्राप्य राज्यमनुत्तमम् |
ईजे बहुविधैर्यज्ञैः ससुतभ्रातृबान्धवः || ६-१२८-९८
न पर्यदेवन्विधवा न च व्यालकृतं भयम् |
न व्याधिजं भयन् वापि रामे राज्यं प्रशासति || ६-१२८-९९
निर्दस्युरभवल्लोको नानर्थः कन् चिदस्पृशत् |
न च स्म वृद्धा बालानां प्रेतकार्याणि कुर्वते || ६-१२८-१००
सर्वं मुदितमेवासीत्सर्वो धर्मपरोअभवत् |
राममेवानुपश्यन्तो नाभ्यहिन्सन्परस्परम् || ६-१२८-१०१
आसन्वर्षसहस्राणि तथा पुत्रसहस्रिणः |
निरामया विशोकाश्च रामे राज्यं प्रशासति || ६-१२८-१०२
रामो रामो राम इति प्रजानामभवन् कथाः |
रामभूतं जगाभूद्रामे राज्यं प्रशासति || ६-१२८-१०३
नित्यपुष्पा नित्यफलास्तरवः स्कन्धविस्तृताः |
कालवर्षी च पर्जन्यः सुखस्पर्शश्च मारुतः || ६-१२८-१०४
ब्राह्मणाः क्षत्रिया वैश्याः शूद्रा लोभविवर्जिताः |
स्वकर्मसु प्रवर्तन्ते तुष्ठाः स्वैरेव कर्मभिः || ६-१२८-१०५
आसन् प्रजा धर्मपरा रामे शासति नानृताः |
सर्वे लक्षणसम्पन्नाः सर्वे धर्मपरायणाः || ६-१२८-१०६
दशवर्षसहस्राणि रामो राज्यमकारयत् |
धर्मयं यशस्यमायुष्यं राज्ञां च विजाअवहम् || ६-१२८-१०७
आदिकाव्यमिदं चार्षं पुरा वाल्मीकिना कृतम् |
पठेद्यः शृणुयाल्लोके नरः पापात्प्रमुच्यते || ६-१२८-१०८
पुत्रकामश्च पुत्रान्वै धनकामो धनानि च |
लभते मनुजो लोके श्रुत्वा रामाभिषेचनम् || ६-१२८-१०९
महीं विजयते राजा रिपूंश्चाप्यधितिष्ठति |
राघवेण यथा माता सुमित्रा लक्ष्मणेन च || ६-१२८-११०
भरतेन च कैकेयी जिवपुत्रास्तथा स्त्रियः |
भविष्यन्ति सदानन्दाः पुत्रपौत्रसमन्विताः || ६-१२८-१११
श्रुत्वा रामायणमिदं दीर्घमायिश्च विन्दति |
रामस्य विजयं चैव सर्वमक्लिष्ठकर्मणः || ६-१२८-११२
शृणोति य इत्दं काव्यं पुरा वाल्मीकिना कृतम् |
श्रद्दधानो जितक्रोधो दुर्गाण्यतितरत्यसौ || ६-१२८-११३
समागम्य प्रवासान्ते रमन्ते सह बान्धवैः |
शृण्वन्ति य इदं काव्यं पुरा वाल्मीकिना कृतम् || ६-१२८-११४
ते प्रार्थितान् वरान् सर्वान् प्राप्नुवन्तीह राघवात् |
श्रवणेन सुराः सर्वे प्रीयन्ते संप्रशृण्वताम् || ६-१२८-११५
विनायकाश्च शाम्यन्ति गृहे तिष्ठन्ति यस्य वै |
विजयेत महीं राजा प्रवासि स्वस्तिमान् भवेत् || ६-१२८-११६
स्त्रियो रजस्वलाः श्रुत्वा पुत्रान् सूयुरनुत्तमान् |
पूजयंश्च पठंश्चनमितिहासं पुरातनम् || ६-१२८-११७
प्रणम्य शिरसा नित्यं श्रोतव्यं क्षत्रियैर्द्विजात् || ६-१२८-११८
ऐश्वर्यं पुत्रलाभश्च भविष्यति न संशयः |
रामायणमिदं कृत्स्नं शृण्वतः पठतः सदा || ६-१२८-११९
प्रीयते सततं रामः सहि मिष्णुः सनातनः |
आदिदेवो महाबाहुर्हरिर्नारायणः प्रभुः || ६-१२८-१२०
साक्षाद्रामो रघुश्रेष्ठः शेषो लक्ष्मण उच्यते |
एवमेतत्पुरावृत्तमाख्यानं भद्रमस्तु वः || ६-१२८-१२१
प्रव्याहरत विस्रब्धं बलं विष्णोः प्रवर्धताम् |
देवाश्च सर्वे तुष्यन्ति ग्रहणाच्छ्रवणात्तथा || ६-१२८-१२२
रामायणस्य श्रवणे तुष्यन्ति पितरः सदा |
भक्त्या रामस्य ये चेमां संहितामृषिणा कृताम् || ६-१२८-१२३
ये लिखन्तीह च नरास्तेषां वासस्त्रिविष्टपे |
कुटुम्बवृद्धिं धनधान्यवृद्धिं |
स्त्रियश्च मुख्याह् सुखमुत्तमं च |
श्रुत्वा शुभं काव्यमिदं महार्थं |
प्राप्नोति सर्वां भुवि चार्थसिद्धिम् || ६-१२८-१२४
आयुष्यमारोग्यकरं यशस्यं |
सौभ्रातृकं बुद्धिकरं शुभं च |
श्रोतव्यमेतन्नियमेन सद्भि |
राख्यानमोजस्करमृद्धिकामैः || ६-१२८-१२५

Rama propitiated the gods by performing Paundarika, Ashvamedha, Vajapeya and other sacrifices many times. Having enjoyed the kingship for ten thousand years, Rama performed a hundred horse-sacrifices, in which good horses were sacrificed and numerous gifts bestowed. That Rama, having his long arms reaching down his knees, having a broad chest and glorious, ruled this earth with Lakshmana as his companion. Obtaining a very great kingdom the righteous Rama propitiated the almighty with many kinds of sacrifices, with the team-work of his sons, brothers and relatives. While Rama was ruling the kingdom, there were no widows to lament, nor there was no danger from wild animals, nor any fear born of diseases. The world was bereft of thieves and robberies. No one felt worthless nor did old people perform obsequies concerning youngsters. Every creature felt pleased. Every one was intent on virtue. Turning their eyes towards Rama alone, creatures did not kill one another. While Rama was ruling the kingdom, people survived for thousands of years, with thousands of their progeny, all free of illness and grief. While Rama ruled the kingdom, the talks of the people centered round Rama, Rama and Rama. The world became Rama's world. The trees there were bearing flowers and fruits regularly, without any injury by pests and insects. The clouds were raining in time and the wind was delightful to the touch. Brahmins (the priest-class), Kshatriyas (the warrior-class), Vaishyas (the class of merchants and agriculturists), Shudras (the servant-class) were performing their own duties, satisfied with their own work and bereft of any greed. While Rama was ruling, the people were intent on virtue and lived without telling lies. All the people were endowed with excellent characteristics. All were engaged in virtue. Rama was engaged in the kingship thus for one thousand years. In this world, whoever person reads and listens to this foremost lyric derived from the speech of a sage, which is endowed with righteousness, conferring fame and longevity, fetching victory to kings and as written at first by Valmiki, that person is delivered from all misfortune. On hearing the narrative of his coronation in this world, a person seeking for sons gets sons. A person looking for wealth, gets the riches. A king conquers the earth and overcomes his enemies. Even as Kausalya, the mother has Rama as her living son, or as Sumitra has Lakshmana or as Kaikeyi has Bharata, the women likewise can become mothers of living sons, endowed with children as well as grand children and thus become happy forever. On hearing this epic of Ramayana and all the episode of victory of Rama, who was unweary in his actions, a person gets longevity to life.
He or she, who hears with attention and with a subdued anger, this poetic composition done by Valmiki long ago, that person overcomes the difficulties.
Whoever hears this poetical composition written by Valmiki long ago, they at the conclusion of their absence from home, meet their relatives and get rejoiced.
They get all the boons, entreated from Rama. All the gods get pleased with those who carefully listen to it. Whoever carefully listens to the epic in his house, all obstacles come to an end. A king conquers the earth. A person staying away from home, fares well. On hearing the epic, the menstruating women give birth to excellent sons. The adorer and the reader of this ancient epic gets relieved of all sins and obtains longer life. The epic is to be listened by warrior-class, after offering their salutation with their heads bent low, from brahmins every day regularly. There is no doubt that the listener and the reader of this entire Ramayana will get lordship and the birth of a son. Rama gets forever pleased with him who listens to or reads Ramayana daily. He is indeed the eternal Vishnu, the Lord of preservation. Rama is the primordial Lord, clearly placed before the eyes the powerful Lord removing the sins and the great-armed, who has abode on waters (of the ocean of milk) Sesha (the serpent-god forming his couch is said to be Lakshmana. Tell this epic which occurred long ago in this manner, to those who ask for it, fearlessly. Let there be happiness to you! Let the strength of Vishnu increase! By studying and listening to this epic, all the gods get appeased. By listening to this Ramayana, the forefathers forever get pleased. To those persons who transcribe with devotion this collection of poems depicting the story of Rama residence in heaven is assured. By listening to this highly meaningful and auspicious poetical composition, a person gets family-prosperity, augmentation in money and grain, superior women, exquisite happiness and all the acquisition of wealth on this earth. This narrative is to be listened invariably by good people, seeking for wisdom, longevity, health, fame, fraternity, intelligence, welfare and brilliance.
Yuddha Kanda Section 128[6]
This rather lengthy phalasruti reads like the "happily ever after" ending we often find in poetry, with a few verses describing the morals and target audience for this epic. This suggests that the poet who wrote the Ramayana, intended to end his itihaasa at this point. The poet did not want an additional Kanda after Yuddha Kanda; hence the Uttara Kanda that follows this last section of Yuddha Kanda is likely a later addition to the epic by a different poet. If we read the starting of Uttara Kanda we would notice that it begins by giving a lengthy recap of how Seetha was abducted and how Rama attacked Lanka, killing Ravana and freeing Seetha. This should naturally raise some questions. Why did the poet find the need to add a recap of the previous Kandas when starting this new Kanda? If we look at Aranya Kanda, it does not start by giving a recap to Ayodhya Kanda. Neither does Kishkinda Kanda start by giving a recap of Aranya Kanda, and so on and so f0rth, till Yuddha Kanda. However, in Uttara Kanda we all of a sudden see a recap of the previous Kandas. This different style of writing the Uttara Kanda, in comparison to the other Kandas suggests that this Kanda was written by a later poet. Furthermore, a few years back, scholars found a 6th Century CE manuscript of Valmiki Ramayana in Kolkata; one of the ancient versions of the epic[7]. However, what caught their eyes was the fact that there was no Bala Kanda and Uttara Kanda in that version of Valmiki Ramayana. This strongly suggests that those two Kandas were later additions to the epic in the period post-6th Century CE. What further supports this claim is that in what we now call Valmiki Ramayana, the author's name (Valmiki) is only mentioned in the Bala Kanda and Uttara Kanda, but not in the other 5 Kandas. This lack of uniformity between the Bala/Uttara Kanda and the other 5 Kandas strongly hints that these two Kandas (i.e. Bala and Uttara Kandas) were written by a different set of poets and inserted into the epic at a later period of time!

Since Uttara Kanda is a later addition to the epic, the mentions of Ravana raping women in that Kanda have no value as they were added by Vaishnavas to malign Ravana and promote Rama. Although Uttara Kanda is not useful when it comes to the history of Ravana and Rama, it is helpful in detailing the progression of Hindu beliefs, from the Vedic age, where Rama was not worshiped as a god and Vishnu was a minor Rig Vedic deity with no incarnations, to the Puranic age, where Vishnu was a major god and Rama was hailed as his incarnation...

The next mention of Ravana being a rapist is found in Yuddha Kanda Section 13. Yuddha Kanda Section 12 begins with Ravana holding a Sabha with his ministers. In that Sabha, he orders Prahasta, the leader of his army, to make appropriate defenses for Lanka. He asks Prahasta to station the army, consisting of the four divisions (cavalry, infantry, chariots, elephants) both inside and outside of the Lanka fort. Hearing these words, Prahasta proceeds off to accomplish the task. After stationing the army in such a manner, he returns back to the Sabha. Then, Ravana tells everyone how he is sexually attracted to Seetha... He describes her body parts with feelings of kama and makes it quite clear that he was tormented by his kama for her. To hide his hurt male ego that was punctured by Seetha's words, and the embarrassment of being rejected by Seetha from his ministers, he goes on to say that Seetha requested him to not make advances towards her for a period of 1 year as she still loved Rama, which he agreed to at the time. He then laments, saying that he was tired of waiting for this lengthy period, and constantly tormented by kama for that same reason. After speaking in that manner, he tells his ministers that he does not want to give Seetha back to Rama, and hence he asks for his ministers help in killing off Rama and Lakshmana. Hearing these words of Ravana, immersed in kama, Kumbhakarna, got very angry and lashed out at Ravana's stupid decision of kidnapping Seetha. After spending a few verses rebuking Ravana for his impulsive decision of kidnapping Seetha, Kumbhakarna calmed down and reassured his brother that he would fight to eliminate Rama and Lakshmana. That concludes Yuddha Kanda Section 12.

Yuddha Kanda Section 13 begins by Ravana's minister Mahaparsva intervening and saying that Ravana should fulfill his sexual desire for Seetha by forcefully having sex with her (i.e. raping her). He says that the entire Rakshasa army will defend him from invaders such as Indra, Rama, Lakshmana, etc... However, Ravana replies saying that in past times, he had raped a female named Punjikasthala and after being raped she went to Brahma and reported this to him. Upon hearing of the rape, Brahma cursed him that if he tries to rape another female, his head would burst into 100 fragments, and for that reason, he cannot rape Seetha:
महापार्श्व निबोध त्वम् रहस्यम् किंचिदात्मनः |
चिरवृत्तम् तदाख्यास्ये यदवाप्तम् पुरा मया || ६-१३-१०
पितामहस्य भवनम् गच्चन्तीम् पुञ्जिकस्थलाम् |
चञ्चूर्यमाणामद्राक्षमाकाशेऽग्निशिखामिव || ६-१३-११
सा प्रसह्य मया भुक्ता कृता विवसना ततः |
स्वयम्भूभवनम् प्राप्ता लोलिता नलिनी यथा || ६-१३-१२
तच्च तस्य तदा मन्ये ज्ञातमासीन्महात्मनः |
अथ सम्कुपितो वेधा मामिदम् वाक्यमब्रवी || ६-१३-१३
अद्यप्रभृति यामन्याम् बलान्नारीम् गमिष्यसि |
तदा ते शतधा मुर्धा फलिष्यति न संशयः || ६-१३-१४
इत्यहम् तस्य शापस्य भीतः प्रसभमेव ताम् |
नारोहये बलात्सीताम् वैदेहीम् शय्ने शुभे || ६-१३-१५

"O, Mahaparsva! Know a little secret about me. I shall tell you an incident, which occurred to me long ago. Once I saw a celestial nymph, Punjikasthala (by name) flashing like a flame, concealing herself in the sky and proceeding towards the abode of Brahma. She was made unclothed by me and was enjoyed forcibly. Thereafter, appearing like a crumpled lotus, she went to the abode of Brahma. I think that the matter was made known to the high souled Brahama and then the enraged Brahma spoke to me the following words: From today onwards, if you revel with any other woman forcibly, your head then undoubtedly will break asunder into a hundred pieces. Fearing the curse given in this manner by Brahama, I am not violently making Sita the daughter of Videha, to mount on my beautiful bed forcibly."
Yuddha Kanda Section 13[8]
After stating that, Ravana then goes on to praise his own valor and says that Rama stands no chance against him as he is superior to even Indra and Varuna, let alone Rama. This concludes Yuddha Kanda Section 13. Yuddha Kanda Section 14 begins by Vibhishana joining the discussion and urging Ravana to return Seetha to Rama. However, Prahasta intervenes and tells Vibhishana that there is no fear of Rama, who is very weak in comparison to the Rakshasas. Vibhishana then replies by praising Rama's valor to the skies, just like a bard. After praising Rama in such a manner, Yuddha Kanda Section 14 comes to an end...

Now coming to the analysis of these 3 sections (Yuddha Kanda Sections 12-14)... Yuddha Kanda Section 14 begins with the following verse:

निशाचरेन्द्रस्य निशम्य वाक्यम् |स कुम्भकर्णस्य च गर्जितानि |विभीषणो राक्षसराजमुख्य |मुवाच वाक्यम् हितम्र्थयुक्तम् || ६-१४-१
Hearing the words of Ravana the king of demons and the growls of Kumbhakarna, Vibhishana spoke the following friendly and meaningful words to Ravana the foremost king of ogres:
Yuddha Kanda Section 14[9] 
This text would imply that in the previous section (i.e. Yuddha Kanda Section 13), there would have been some speech of Ravana and Kumbhakarna. Hearing this speech, Vibhishana replied telling Ravana to let Seetha return to Rama. However, Yuddha Kanda Section 13 does not have any mention of Kumbhakarna's speech. It only has the speech of Ravana and Mahaparsva. However, if we look back to Section 12, we see speeches of both Ravana and Kumbhakarna. This suggests that Yuddha Kanda Section 13 was a later addition to the epic. If we consider this section a later addition to the epic and remove it, then the text flows very smoothly from the end of Yuddha Kanda Section 12 to the start of Yuddha Kanda Section 14. Right after the words of Ravana and Kumbhakarna, Vibhishana intervenes and tells Ravana that he should return Seetha to Rama as it is impossible to defeat Rama. Since Yuddha Kanda Section 13 has the mention of Ravana raping Punjikisthala along with the subsequent curse on Ravana and since that section is a later addition to the epic, we can conclude that Ravana did not rape her, nor did he obtain a curse from Brahma that his head would split into 100 fragments if he dared to rape another female in the future.

Furthermore, another important point to ponder upon is that Ravana shared a very close relationship of friendship with his ministers. Hence, if we assume that Ravana was a serial rapist, then his close ministers should have noticed a major difference in his behavior. Earlier, he would have shamelessly raped females without thinking twice about his actions. However, contrary to his earlier behavior, he would now resist from forcing himself on other women, right? If they noticed this change, then they would have seeked to find out the reason for this change, which would be the curse he got. But the speech of Mahaparsva and Ravana suggests that nobody knew about the rape of Punjikasthala or the curse that Brahma afflicted upon Ravana. Furthermore, another important thing to take note of is that Vibhishana was present in that Sabha. Had Ravana actually mentioned the rape and subsequent curse, Vibhishana would have known about it and told Rama about it to prevent him from abandoning Seetha after the war was over, based on doubts over her chastity and devotion to him (Rama). For those that are still unconvinced, lets shift our gaze to the Critical Edition, which had analyzed over 300 manuscripts of Valmiki Ramayana to remove the possible interpolations in the epic. The Critical Edition of Valmiki Ramayana removed the verses of Ravana raping Punjikasthala, and the subsequent curse by Brahma, making it very clear that this incident of Ravana raping Punjkasthala and being cursed by Brahma is a later addition to the Valmiki Ramayana.

The other mention of Ravana raping a woman was by Ravana himself in Yuddha Kanda Section 60, where he mentions that he raped (धर्षिता) Vedavati:
शप्तोऽहम् वेदवत्या च यदा सा धर्षिता पुरा || ६-६०-१०
सेयम् सीता महाभागा जाता जनकनन्दिनी |
उमा नन्दीश्वरश्चापि रम्भा वरुणकन्यका || ६-६०-११
यथोक्तास्तन्मया प्राप्तम् न मिध्या ऋषिभाषितम् |

"Further, I was formerly cursed by Vedavati when she was humiliated by me. The same Vedavati is born as the highly fortunate Seetha the daughter of Janaka. What was predicted by Parvati the consort of Shiva, Nandishvara the attendant of Shiva, Rambha the wife of Nalakubara and Punjikasthala the daughter of Varunda has come to pass! The words of the sages never prove false."

Yuddha Kanda Section 60[10] 
However, again to the dismay of Hindutvadis, this passage has been removed by the Critical Edition...

That leaves us with one last question... How about Seetha? There is an overwhelming amount of evidence from Aranya Kanda Sections 49-54, as well as cross references by Seetha, Rama, Sampati, Hanumana, and Mandodari that Ravana had sex with Seetha. So, wouldn't that sex be rape then? My answer to that would be NO. After Ravana proposed in marriage to Seetha, she refused his proposal very harshly and abused him, attacking his manly prowess and accomplishments. Despite Ravana mentioning nothing about kidnapping or raping her thus far in their conversation, she said that even if he dared to kidnap or rape her, he would be killed at the hands of Rama, and that she would not succumb to him even after the kidnap:
अवसज्य शिलाम् कण्ठे समुद्रम् तर्तुम् इच्छसि |
सूर्या चन्द्रमसौ च उभौ प्राणिभ्याम् हर्तुम् इच्छसि || ३-४७-४२
यो रामस्य प्रियाम् भार्याम् प्रधर्षयितुम् इच्छसि |
अग्निम् प्रज्वलितम् दृष्ट्वा वस्त्रेण आहर्तुम् इच्छसि || ३-४७-४३
कल्याण वृत्ताम् यो भार्याम् रामस्य हर्तुम् इच्छसि |
तस्मिन् सहस्राक्ष सम प्रभावे
रामे स्थिते कार्मुक बाण पाणौ |
हृता अपि ते अहम् न जराम् गमिष्ये
वज्रम् यथा मक्षिकया अवगीर्णम् || ३-४७-४८

You want to rape Rama's dear wife. It is like girding a stone round the neck and trying to cross the sea. It is like intending to take the Sun and the Moon with both your hands. You intend to kidnap the wife of Rama, who is a lady of virtuous conduct. It is like desiring to hold burning cloth even after seeing the blazing fire. So long Rama, equal in prowess to the thousand eyed Indra stands with bow and arrows in hand, I will not, although abducted, wither away like a diamond gulped by an insect (fly).

अपहृत्य शचीम् भार्याम् शक्यम् इन्द्रस्य जीवितुम् |
न हि रामस्य भार्याम् माम् अपनीय अस्ति जीवितम् || ३-४८-२३
जीवेत् चिरम् वज्र धरस्य हस्तात्
शचीम् प्रधृष्य अप्रतिरूप रूपाम् |
न मा दृशीम् राक्षस धर्षयित्वा
पीत अमृतस्य अपि तव अस्ति मोक्षः || ३-४८-२४

It may be possible (for some one) to live after abducting Indra's wife, Sachi, but it is not possible for any one to live after kidnapping the wife of Rama. O demon, you may live long after violating the most beautiful Sachi, from the hands of Indra, the wielder of the thunderbolt, but after raping a woman like me, you will not be released from death even if you drink nectar.
Aranya Kanda Sections 47-48[11][12]
The important thing to take note of is the fact that prior to this speech of Seetha, Ravana never tells Seetha that he wishes to kidnap or rape her; nor does he show any behavioral cues that would suggest the same. He was behaving very politely with her at the time... However, here Seetha tells Ravana that if he kidnaps or rapes her, then he will be killed by Rama. She even says that after he kidnaps her, she will not succumb to him. The fact that she makes this mention without any provocation regarding kidnap from Ravana's side suggests that she had deep within her mind, the desire to be kidnapped and raped, and that she attempted for the actualization of this desire via this speech, where she challenged Ravana to re-assert his manliness by kidnapping her. This is quite common in real life as well... No? For instance, modern research suggests that approximately 62% of young women have had at least a single rape fantasy [13]. It is not uncommon for women, who have such fantasies to wish for the actualization of these fantasies. In fact, I have come across cases of women that have had fantasies of rape and have put themselves in situations of danger for the actualization of such fantasies... 

Same was the case for Seetha. Despite over 13 years of married life, where she was having sex with Rama, he could not impregnate her. This would have led to great dissatisfaction as far as their sexual relationship was concerned. Infact, research suggests that women with at least one child tend to be more sexually satisfied from their partner than their counterparts with no children [14]. Furthermore, in Sundara Kanda Section 35, Hanumana describes Rama as having a thin/fine, undersized penis:
चतुष्कलश्चतुर्लेखश्चतुष्किष्कुश्चतु स्समः।।5.35.18।।
"He has three folds in the skin of his neck and belly. He is depressed at three places (the middle of his soles, the lines on his soles and the nipples). He is undersized at four places (the neck, penis, the back and the shanks). He is endowed with three spirals in the hair of his head. He has four lines at the root of his thumb (denoting his proficiency in the four Vedas). He has four lines on his forehead (indicating longevity). He is four cubits high (96 inches). He has four pairs of limbs (the cheeks, arms, shanks and knees) equally matched."
दशपद्मो दशबृहत्त्रिभिर्व्याप्तो द्विशुक्लवान्।षडुन्नतो नवतनुस्त्रिभिर्व्याप्नोति राघवः।।5.35.20।।
"Ten limbs of the body resemble lotuses (eyes, face, mouth, tongue, lips, cheeks, nipples, nails, feet and hands). He has ten well proportionate limbs (head, forehead, ears, neck, chest, heart, belly, hands, legs, buttocks). He is well known by the virtue of his spledour, fame and glory. Both his teeth and eyes are fair. Six parts of his body are elevated (nose, shoulders, forehead, chest and arm pits), nine parts of his body are fine and thin (moustache, nails, knuckles, beard, skin, hair, penis, acumen, perception). He pursues spiritual merit, worldly comfort and sensual delight in three periods of the day (forenoon, midday and afternoon). He always adopts the righteous way of life.
Sundara Kanda Section 35[15] 
The small length and girth of Rama's penis would have definitely had an adverse impact of Rama and Seetha's sexual life, considering the fact that research suggests that larger girth of a male's penis is linked to greater sexual satisfaction in females... This sexual dissatisfaction that built up in Seetha's mind was vented out by her in a state of anger, when she alluded at his inability to satisfy her, by calling him a female with the body of a male:
किम् त्वा अमन्यत वैदेहः पिता मे मिथिला अधिपः |
राम जामातरम् प्राप्य स्त्रियम् पुरुष विग्रहम् || २-३०-३
“What could my father, Vaideha, the lord of Mithila, have had in mind when he took you for a son-in-law, Rama, a woman with the body of a man?
 Ayodhya Kanda Section 30[16]
Seetha essentially stated that Rama was like a female in the body of a man as he could not satisfy the desires that a wife expects from her husband... Rama very well knew this fact... He was well aware of his inability to satisfy Seetha sexually, and hence, when he returned to his hut after killing the golden deer, and not seeing her there (i.e. she was kidnapped then, but initially Rama was not aware of that), he thought that she had abandoned him due to his cowardliness and impotency:
निर्वीर्य इति लोको माम् निर्दयः च इति वक्ष्यति || ३-६२-११कातरत्वम् प्रकाशम् हि सीता अपनयनेन मे |
By Sita's immorality it will be clear to the world that I am impotent and unkind. My cowardly nature will clearly manifest.
Aranya Kanda Section 62[17]
I think I have gone off tangent, but you probably get the point I am trying to make... Seetha was unsatisfied by her sexual life with Rama, and hence tried to provoke the handsome Ravana to kidnap and rape her, so that he would fulfill her fantasies and sexually satisfy her... Does it now make sense why Seetha had earlier invited Ravana into her hut upon seeing his handsome form, despite realizing he was a pseudo-brahmin, exhibiting trickery/deceit (3.46.32-35)?

After Seetha attacked Ravana's manliness with her words and provoked him to kidnap and rape her, Ravana, whose ego was badly punctured by Seetha's words, hesitatingly agreed to kidnap her... He initially grabbed her from her thighs and nape, and boarded his chariot. He then placed her in his lap and began to have sexual intercourse with her. Initially, when she was grabbed, she was momentarily in a state of shock, and hence did not feel sexually aroused. However, as soon as she realized what was happening, she was filled with sexual excitement (मत्ता).
ततः सा राक्षसेन्द्रेण ह्रियमाणा विहायसा |भृशम् चुक्रोश मत्ता इव भ्रांत चित्ता यथा आतुरा || ३-४९-२३
While Sita was being carried off in the sky by the king of demons, she cried a lot like a woman filled with sexual excitement, afflicted with an unsteady state of mind.
Aranya Kanda Section 49[18]
From this information, it should be evident that when Ravana had sex with Seetha, by forcing himself on her and dominating her, it was completely consensual. The reason for this being that it was orchestrated by Seetha, driven by her desire to actualize her fantasization of being kidnapped and raped.

Vyasa Mahabharatha

In Vyasa Mahabharatha, after Draupadi was kidnapped by Jayadratha, the Pandavas rushed to her rescue, and saved her from Jayadratha's hands after destroying his army. However, even after Draupadi was rescued, Yuddhistira was very sad and spoke the following words to Rishi Markandeya:
Vaisampayana said, "Having defeated Jayadratha and rescued Krishna, the virtuous king Yudhishthira took his seat by the side of that best of Munis. And among those foremost of ascetics who were expressing their grief upon bearing Draupadi's misfortune, Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, addressed Markandeya, saying, 'O adorable Sire, amongst the gods and the ascetics, thou art known to have the fullest knowledge of both the past as well as; the future. A doubt existeth in my mind, which I would ask thee to solve! This lady is the daughter of Drupada; she hath issued from the sacrificial altar and hath not been begotten of the flesh; and she is highly blessed and is also the daughter-in-law of the illustrious Pandu. I incline to think that Time, and human Destiny that dependeth on our acts, and the Inevitable, are irresistible in respect of creatures. (If it were not so), how could such a misfortune afflict this wife of ours so faithful and virtuous, like a false accusation of theft against an honest man? The daughter of Drupada hath never committed any sinful act, nor, hath she done anything that is not commendable: on the contrary, she hath assiduously practised the highest virtues towards Brahmanas. And yet the foolish king Jayadratha had carried her away by force. In consequence of this act of violence on her, that sinful wretch hath his hair shaved off his head and sustained also, with all his allies, defeat in battle. It is true we have rescued her after slaughtering the troops of Sindhu. But the disgrace of this ravishment of our wife during our hours of carelessness, hath stained us, to be sure. This life in the wilderness is full of miseries. We subsist by chase; and though dwelling in the woods, we are obliged to slay the denizens thereof that live with us! This exile also that we suffer is due to the act of deceitful kinsmen! Is there any one who is more unfortunate than I am? Hath thou ever seen or heard of such a one before?"

Vana Parva Section CCLXXI
Hearing these words of Yuddhistira, Rishi Markandeya replied:
"Markandeya said, 'O bull of the Bharata race, even Rama suffered unparalleled misery, for the evil-minded Ravana, king of the Rakshasas, having recourse to deceit and overpowering the vulture Jatayu, forcibly carried away his wife Sita from his asylum in the woods. Indeed, Rama, with the help of Sugriva, brought her back, constructing a bridge across the sea, and consuming Lanka with his keen-edged arrows.'
Vana Parva Section CCLXXII[21]
Hearing Rishi Mankandeya talk about Rama, Yuddhistira then asked Markandeya the following:
"Yudhishthira said, 'In what race was Rama born and what was the measure of his might and prowess? Whose son also was Ravana and for what was it that he had any misunderstanding with Rama? It behoveth thee, O illustrious one, to tell me all this in detail; for I long to hear the story of Rama of great achievements!'
Vana Parva Section CCLXXII[21]
Then, Markandeya began to narrate a summarized version of the Ramayana, that spanned from Vana Parva Section CCLXXII to Section CCLXL. This narration of Ramayana by Markandeya is called the "Ramopakhayana". What is interesting in this narration is that after the war was over and Rama had abandoned Seetha, Brahma came forth and told Rama the following:
And Brahma himself then said, 'O descendant of Kakutstha, O son, in thee that art honest and pure and conversant with the duties of royal sages, this conduct is not strange. Listen, however, to these words of mine! Thou hast, O hero, slain this enemy of the gods, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, the Yakshas, the Danavas, and the great Rishis! It was through my grace that he had hitherto been unslayable of all creatures. And indeed, it was for some reason that I had tolerated him for some time! The wretch, however, abducted Sita for his own destruction. And as regards Sita, I protected her through Nalakuvera's curse. For that person had cursed Ravana of old, saying, that if he ever approached an unwilling woman, his head should certainly be split into a hundred fragments. Let no suspicion, therefore, be thine! O thou of great glory, accept thy wife! 
Vana Parva Section CCLXXXIX[22]
In this passage, it is very clearly mentioned that Ravana had raped Nalakubera's wife and as a result, was cursed by Brahma that if he tried to rape another female, his body would split into 100 fragments.

Although this would make it clear that Ravana was a rapist, I would beg to differ for a few completely valid reasons... The entire basis of this narration of the Ramopakhayana by Rishi Markandeya rests on the following questions that Yuddhistira had earlier asked Rishi Markandeya:
"Yudhishthira said, 'In what race was Rama born and what was the measure of his might and prowess? Whose son also was Ravana and for what was it that he had any misunderstanding with Rama? It behoveth thee, O illustrious one, to tell me all this in detail; for I long to hear the story of Rama of great achievements!'
Vana Parva Section CCLXXII[21]
These questions spoken by Rama suggests that he did not know a single thing about the life of Rama and Ravana. However, previous narratives in Mahabharatha with this... For example, after the Pandavas were allowed to return to Indraprastha following the first game of dice, they were called back by Dhritarashtra for yet another game of dice. It was then that Yuddhistira says the following:
Yudhishthira said,--'Creatures obtain fruits good and ill according to the dispensation of the Ordainer of the creation. Those fruits are inevitable whether I play or not. This is a summons to dice; it is, besides the command of the old king. Although I know that it will prove destructive to me, yet I cannot refuse.'

Vaisampayana continued,--"Although (a living) animal made of gold was an impossibility, yet Rama suffered himself to be tempted by a (golden) deer. Indeed, the minds of men over whom calamities hang, became deranged and out of order. Yudhishthira, therefore, having said these words, retraced his steps along with his brothers. And knowing full well the deception practised by Sakuni, the son of Pritha came back to sit at dice with him again. These mighty warriors again entered that assembly, afflicting the hearts of all their friends. And compelled by Fate they once more sat down at ease for gambling for the destruction of themselves."
Sabha Parva Section LXXV[23]
This text by Yuddhistira should make it clear that Yuddhistira already knew in detail about the story of Rama. He knew how Rama was tempted by the golden deer, which is an integral part of Ramayana (Aranya Kanda Sections 43-44). So, there is no reason for us to believe that he was ignorant regarding Rama and his identity. Furthermore, even prior to Draupadi's attempted kidnap by Jayadratha, Rishis Lomasa had told Yuddhistira about Rama and his conflict with Parshurama:
Vaisampayana continued, "At these words of Lomasa, Yudhishthira bathed there with his brothers and Krishna, and offered oblations of water, O Bharata, to the gods and the Pitris. And, O bull among men, after Yudhishthira had bathed in that tirtha, his body blazed forth in brighter effulgence, and he became invisible in respect of all foes. The son of Pandu then, O king, asked Lomasa, saying, 'O illustrious one, why had Rama's energy and might been taken away? And how also did he regain it? O exalted one, I ask thee, tell me everything.'"
"Lomasa said, 'Listen, O king, to the history of Rama (the son of Dasaratha) and Rama of Bhrigu's line gifted with intelligence. For the destruction of Ravana, O king, Vishnu, in his own body, took his birth as the son of illustrious Dasaratha. We saw in Ayodhya that son of Dasaratha after he had been born. It was then that Rama of Bhrigu's line, the son of Richika by Renuka, hearing of Rama the son of Dasaratha--of spotless deeds--went to Ayodhya, impelled by curiosity, and taking with him that celestial bow so fatal to the Kshatriyas, for ascertaining the prowess of Dasaratha's son. And Dasaratha, hearing that Rama of Bhrigu's race had arrived on the confines of his domains, set his own son Rama to receive the hero with respect. And beholding Dasaratha's son approach and stand before him with ready weapons, Rama of Bhrigu's line smilingly addressed him, O son of Kunti, saying, 'O king, O exalted one, string, if thou canst, with all thy mighty, this bow which in my hands was made the instrument of destroying the Kshatriya race.' Thus addressed, Dasaratha's son answered, 'O illustrious one, it behoveth thee not to insult me thus. Nor am I, amongst the regenerate classes, deficient in the virtues of the Kshatriya order. The descendants of Ikshwaku in special never boast of the prowess of their arms.' Then unto Dasaratha's son who said so, Rama of Bhrigu's line replied, 'A truce to all crafty speech, O king! Take this bow.' At this, Rama the son of Dasaratha, took in anger from the hands of Rama of Bhrigu's line that celestial bow that had dealt death to the foremost of Kshatriyas. And, O Bharata, the mighty hero smilingly strung that bow without the least exertion, and with its twang loud as the thunder-rattle, affrighted all creatures. And Rama, the son of Dasaratha, then, addressing Rama of Bhrigu's said, 'Here, I have strung this bow. What else, O Brahmana, shall I do for thee?' Then Rama, the son of Jamadagni, gave unto the illustrious son of Dasaratha a celestial arrow and said, 'Placing this on the bow-string, draw to thy ear, O hero!'

"Lomasa continued, 'Hearing this, Dasaratha's son blazed up in wrath and said, 'I have heard what thou hast said, and even pardoned thee. O son of Bhrigu's race, thou art full of vanity. Through the Grandsire's grace thou hast obtained energy that is superior to that of the Kshatriyas. And it is for this that thou insultest me. Behold me now in my native form: I give thee sight.' Then Rama of Bhrigu's race beheld in the body of Dasaratha's son the Adityas with the Vasus, the Rudras, the Sadhyas with the Marutas, the Pitris, Hutasana, the stellar constellations and the planets, the Gandharvas, the Rakshasas, the Yakshas, the Rivers, the tirthas, those eternal Rishis identified with Brahma and called the Valkhilyas, the celestial Rishis, the Seas and Mountains, the Vedas with the Upanishads and Vashats and the sacrifices, the Samans in their living form, the Science of weapons, O Bharata, and the Clouds with rain and lightning, O Yudhishthira! And the illustrious Vishnu then shot that shaft. And at this the earth was filled with sounds of thunder, and burning meteors. O Bharata, began to flash through the welkin. And showers of dust and rain fell upon the surface of the earth. And whirlwinds and frightful sounds convulsed everything, and the earth herself began to quake. And shot by the hand of Rama, that shalt, confounding by its energy the other Rama, came back blazing into Rama's hands. And Bhargava, who had thus been deprived of his senses, regaining consciousness and life, bowed unto Rama--that manifestation of Vishnu's power.
Vana Parva Section XCIX[24]
In addition, in Vana Parva, when Bhima met his brother Hanumana, the latter told the former a brief history of Rama as well:
Thereupon Hanuman said, 'O represser of foes, even to the extent of thy curiosity to know me, shall I relate all at length. Listen, O son of Pandu! O lotus-eyed one, I was begotten by the wind-god that life of the world--upon the wife of Kesari. I am a monkey, by name Hanuman. All the mighty monkey-kings, and monkey-chiefs used to wait upon that son of the sun, Sugriva, and that son of Sakra, Vali. And, O represser of foes, a friendship subsisted between me and Sugriva, even as between the wind and fire. And for some cause, Sugriva, driven out by his brother, for a long time dwelt with me at the Hrisyamukh. And it came to pass that the mighty son of Dasaratha the heroic Rama, who is Vishnu's self in the shape of a human being, took his birth in this world. And in company with his queen and brother, taking his bow, that foremost of bowmen with the view of compassing his father's welfare, began to reside in the Dandaka forest. And from Janasthana, that mighty Rakshasa monarch, the wicked Ravana, carried away his (Rama's) queen by stratagem and force, deceiving, O sinless one, that foremost of men, through the agency of a Rakshasa, Maricha, who assumed the form of a deer marked with gem-like and golden spots."

Hanuman said, 'And after his wife was carried away, that descendant of Raghu, while searching with his brother for his queen, met, on the summit of that mountain, with Sugriva, chief of the monkeys. Then a friendship was contracted between him and the high-souled Raghava. And the latter, having slain Vali installed Sugriva in the kingdom. And having obtained the kingdom, Sugriva sent forth monkeys by hundreds and by thousands in search of Sita. And, O best of men, I too with innumerable monkeys set out towards the south in quest of Sita, O mighty-armed one. Then a mighty vulture Sampati by name, communicated the tidings that Sita was in the abode of Ravana. Thereupon with the object of securing success unto Rama, I all of a sudden bounded over the main, extending for a hundred yojanas. And, O chief of the Bharatas, having by my own prowess crossed the ocean, that abode of sharks and crocodiles, I saw in Ravana's residence, the daughter of king Janaka, Sita, like unto the daughter of a celestial. And having interviewed that lady, Vaidehi, Rama's beloved, and burnt the whole of Lanka with its towers and ramparts and gates, and proclaimed my name there, I returned. Hearing everything from me the lotus-eyed Rama at once ascertained his course of action, and having for the passage of his army constructed a bridge across the deep, crossed it followed by myriads of monkeys. Then by prowess Rama slew those Rakshasas in battle, and also Ravana, the oppressor of the worlds together with his Rakshasa followers. And having slain the king of the Rakshasas, with his brother, and sons and kindred, he installed in the kingdom in Lanka the Rakshasa chief, Vibhishana, pious, and reverent, and kind to devoted dependants. Then Rama recovered his wife even like the lost Vaidic revelation. Then Raghu's son, Rama, with his devoted wife, returned to his own city, Ayodhya, inaccessible to enemies; and that lord of men began to dwell there. Then that foremost of kings, Rama was established in the kingdom. Thereafter, I asked a boon of the lotus-eyed Rama, saying, 'O slayer of foes, Rama, may I live as long as the history of thy deeds remaineth extant on earth!" Thereupon he said, 'So be it. O represser of foes, O Bhima, through the grace of Sita also, here all excellent objects of entertainment are supplied to me, whoever abide at this place. Rama reigned for the thousand and ten hundred years. Then he ascended to his own abode.
Vana Parva Section CXLVI-CXLVII[25][26]
If Bhima met his brother Hanumana and learned about Rama's story, wouldn't he tell Yuddhistira about the meeting with his elder brother Hanumana, and the story of Rama that Hanumana narrated to him? It only seems logical for Bhima to do that... No? From this narrative and the other two ones spoken by Yuddhistira and Rishi Lomasa, it should be quite evident that even prior to Draupadi-Harana Parva, Yuddhistira was well aware of the history of Rama. This suggests that the ignorance Yuddhistira showed towards Rama in his speech to Rishi Markandeya, and by extension, the entire Ramopakhayana narration by Markandeya was a later addition to the Mahabharatha by poet(s) that wanted to inject the story of Ramayana into Mahabharatha... Hence, Ramopakhayana cannot be taken as a basis to assert that Ravana was a rapist.


The last point I would like to touch upon are Puranas. There are many Puranas that mention that Ravana was a rapist. However, when it comes to our discussion of the history of Ravana, we need to refer to texts that were written by contemporaries of Rama and Ravana. The Mahabharatha is authentic for the most part, when referring to Ramayana-based events because it was written by Vyasa, a contemporary of both Rama and Ravana. However, the Puranas were written centuries after Mahabharatha and Ramayana, making them prone to societal biases of their time, and therefore unauthentic for Ramayana-related events. It is a tendency for society, in general, to idolize certain individuals and vilify others over a period of time. Just consider Rana Pratap and Emperor Akbar. Today, we have a whole lot of supporters of Rana Pratap that try to assert that Rana Pratap did not surrender his kingdom to Akbar as he wished to save the females of his kingdom and his citizens. They also try to assert that Rana Pratap was a saint and that he did no wrong in his life... However, nothing could be further from the truth than this... Medieval period records suggest that Rana Pratap fought against Mughals for the pride of his lineage, or in the words of Col Todd, "to make his mother's milk resplendent". There is no evidence that he fought to save his citizens or women. Had that really been his desire, he would have surrendered to Akbar, as majority of those that suffered from the invasions were his citizens. Furthermore, Rana Pratap put a death penalty for any of his citizens that tried to raise crops, in an attempt to prevent the invaders from having access to a source of food/survival when invading Mewar. Due to this death penalty, Rana Pratap had to execute an elderly man that was growing crops... Furthermore, Rana Pratap and his brother Shakti Singh were a cause for the death of a brahmin during their childhood. Angered at Shakti Singh, he then ordered him to leave the kingdom; the fact that they had a patch up after the war of Haldighati is another matter though. Rana Pratap also attacked and killed all the Mughals in the forts he recaptured. This would include the women and children of the Mughal soldiers stationed in these forts...

Now lets shift our gaze to Akbar... Today, the supporters of Akbar have also tried to whitewash his crimes and have attempted to portray him as a lover of Hindus and a secularist. However this is not correct to a large extent as well... Akbar was a brutal conqueror and slaughtered 30 000 civilians in Chittor in cold blood to assert his control over that fort. These were mainly Hindus that were slaughtered... He also committed slaughter, albeit to a lesser extent, in Gujarat. His later affinity to Hinduism was not due to some sort of love for Hindus that propped up in the later part of his life. Instead, as his courtier cum historian, Badayuni, says in Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, Akbar's increased affinity towards Hindus was solely for political reasons. Towards the later part of his life, he favored Hindus and discriminated against Muslims, and hence he cannot be considered a secularist either. What most supporters of Akbar also forget to mention is that Akbar was quite the womanizer, and even bartered the mother of Jahangir to Shaikh Salim Chisti for entrance to the inner apartments of the daughters in law of the Shaikh. Jahangir was born from the sexual union of Shaikh Salim Chisti and Jahangir's mother, and therefore was not a biological child of Emperor Akbar.

This just goes to show how we tend to idolize our heroes centuries after their death, thereby whitewashing their crimes and other uncomfortable facts. The same would have happened to the Ramayana characters in the Puranic Period, centuries after Rama and Ravana's death. Rama would have been idolized and Ravana villainized to intensify the idolization of Rama. Hence, the Puranas would be a reflection of these societal biases at the time they were written. For that reason, they are not authentic when it comes to a less biased history of Ravana and Rama.

That being said, it should now be clear that Ravana was not a rapist! Its about time we stop venting hatred at Ravana for the reason being that he was an antagonist of Rama... Rama and Ravana were both great kings and conquerors of their time and should be respected for that!


[1] “Ram Was Happy With Sita...Indulging In Every Way...And Then He Threw Her Out”
[2] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Adi Parva Section 98 (Critical Edition)
[3] Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda Section 46

[4] Men want beauty, women want financial security from relationships
[5] Valmiki Ramayana - Sundara Kanda Section 9
[7] 6th-century Ramayana found in Kolkata, stuns scholars
[8] Valmiki Ramayana - Yuddha Kanda Section 13
[9] Valmiki Ramayana - Yuddha Kanda Section 14
[10] Valmiki Ramayana - Yuddha Kanda Section 60
[11] Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda Section 47
[12] Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda Section 48
[14] Female sexual function and its associations with number of children, pregnancy, and relationship satisfaction.
[15] Valmiki Ramayana - Sundara Kanda Section 35
[16] Valmiki Ramayana - Ayodhya Kanda Section 30
[17] Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda Section 62
[18] Valmiki Ramayana - Aranya Kanda Section 49
[19] Valmiki Ramayana - Kishkindha Kanda Section 66
[20] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Vana Parva Section CCLXXI
[21] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Vana Parva Section CCLXXII
[22] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Vana Parva Section CCLXXXIX
[23] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Sabha Parva Section LXXV
[24] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Vana Parva Section XCIX
[25] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Vana Parva Section CXLVI
[26] Vyasa Mahabharatha - Sabha Parva Section CXLVII

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