I always wondered how Ravana could balance his ten heads on his neck. We have seen him being depicted with ten heads and if it has to be in symmetry five to his right and five on his left, so in the middle the neck has to support the two halves. In one of the scriptures I had read, Ravana was a great devotee of Maharudradeva and an inordinate scholar. Once he undertook a vicious penance. It is said that to please Maharudradeva, Ravana axed his head one by one and offed them to his Lord. These 10 heads indicate the knowledge he had about 4 Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atarvana) and 6 Shastras, the Six Systems of Theistic Philosophy namely, Nyaya Shastra of Sage Gautama, Vaishesikha Shastra of Sage Kanad, Sankya Shastra of Sage Kapila, Yoga Shastra of Sage Patanjala, Mimamsa Shastra of Sage Jaimini and Vedantha Shastra of Sage Vyasa.
We all know that knowledge brings humility (Vidya dadati Vinayam) but for a few it brings in Ahamkara (Ego). Ravana had developed ten heads filled with ten emotions which Mahabali, the Emperor of Sutala, the third of the nether worlds advises Ravana to discard the nine and retain the tenth. Mahabali says that Ravana accumulated lower emotions which need to be abandoned and retain one higher emotion called Intellect.
Here is the conversation between Mahabali and Ravana:
MAHABALI: Shun Anger, it clouds your intellect and make you do foolish things.
RAVANA: How can I, Anger electrifies my thoughts and push me into action?
MAHABALI: Shun Pride it stems arrogance which stops clear thinking and vision. It overestimates you and underestimates your enemy.
RAVANA: How can I, Success is the offshoot of Pride and with the immense energy that I posses I should be proud of it.
MAHABALI: Do not be jealous, it makes you yearn for other other man’s wealth, wife and fame.
RAVANA: How can I, Jealousy is the driving force for progress, and the root of accomplishment is seeded in Jealousy.
MAHABALI: Happy and sad are mere truths like hot and cold. A man of superior intellect remains calm unaffected by them.
RAVANA: How can I be calm when one of my beloved departs and how can I not celebrate my happiness.
MAHABALI: Fear is a disease and it spreads and kills everyone who is in its grasp.
RAVANA: It is basic nature of man and animal. I fear death and it rekindles my instinct to be prepared to face it.
MAHABALI: The one who thinks himself always is selfish what use is life if you are not a small light in darkness?
RAVANA: Selfishness is the foundation of ambition. To achieve all the treasures of the earth I have to be highly Self-centred.
MAHABALI: Attachment is a link that binds you to the chain of make-believe. It weakens you and pushes you to bondage.
RAVANA: Attachment is the King of emotions. There can be nothing greater that mother’s attachment to her baby.
MAHABALI: Have control over your ambitions. Do aim and strive for it but keep your feet grounded always.
RAVANA: Ambition is the key to progress. Without ambition magnificent cities cannot be built. Men become great by being ambitious. Ambitions are horses that pull life forward.
Not a bit did Ravana understand what Mahabali was telling him…Alas! if he had retained the Tenth head called Intellect automatically the nine would have faded..........Dashagreeva!!!