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Above image: Just 9 km from the Jodhpur city is a small town called Mandore. It hardly attracts any tourists despite the legend of demon king Ravana of the Ramayana fame.............
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Hinduism is closely associated with the Ramayana and Mahabharata. These two great epics are replete with numerous interesting anecdotes or instances and if one reads them carefully one can very much understand the a variety of problems being faced by humans in their lives and how to get over them carefully. In the Ramayana the epic hero is Lord Rama and the arch villain is Ravana, the demon king of Lanka (now Sri Lanka) who abducted Rama's beautiful consort Sita. The epic is about how Rama, who is an incarnation of God, struggled for years and got back Sita after slaying Ravana. Can you imagine there is temple dedicated to Ravana, supposedly an embodiment of evil despite his scholarship and erudition?
All across India Ravana embodies all that is evil. How come he has close association with Mandore, a nondescript town near Jodhpur, Rajasthan? Mandore used to be ruled by Gurjar -Pratihara dynasty.
Like any other Hindu god and goddess - there are numerous in the Hindu Pantheon - the demon king has a unique temple dedicated to him, and here he is the object of veneration and worship!! There is a community of Brahmins living in Jodhpur called The Mudgal and Dave Brahmins who believe, rather claim that they are the descendants of Ravana, who was an intellectual and was a master of various subjects like Music, Astrology, etc and a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He wrote books on Niti Shastra, Tarka Shastra, Medicine, etc.,They believe that Ravana was a highly learned person and his father was a Brahmin.
Here Ravana is also considered as the son-in-law among Namdeo Vaishnav community of Jodhpur, whereas Mudgal Brahmins in Jodhpur consider themselves as descendants of Ravana. It was here - Mandore, nine kilometer from Jodhpur, it is believed, Ravana married his Mandodari, a Brahmin girl. No doubt the Brahmins of this place adore him and do not burn the effigies of Ravana during theDussehra festival. Instead, they perform certain rituals associated with death in any Hindu family. However, the Brahmins who just appreciate only his good qualities, are philosophical about Ravana's death at the hand of Rama, the God- incarnate. As destined by God, Ravana had to face death because he committed the most heinous crime - abducting Sita.
Not that many people visit this temple. Built on the premises of Mahadev Amarnath and Navgrah temple , there is a six foot idol of Ravana, offering prayers to the cosmic dancer - Lord Shiva. There is a spot known as ''Ravan Ki Chanwari'' – a mandapam or pavilion – where Ravana is believed to have married Mandodari.
Sulak, a 12 day long ritual soon after Dussehra, is performed by the Brahmin descendants to mourn the death of Ravana, son-in-law of Mandore. During this period they do not indulge in Mangala Karyam- good deeds. Avoidance of reading holy books, religious duties, spiced food or sweets, etc is strictly followed. Besides the demon Ravana's Shirardham or Thithi (paying obeisance to departed souls-pithroos annually) is performed on the 10 th day of lunar days ''Pitra Paksh” that comes a month before Diwali,” All Brahmin male members change the sacred thread worn by them on the 13 th day - a religious ritual commonly performed by the Brahmins across India. They have been following this annual ritual for more than a 100 years.
The Brahmins claim that after the fall of Lanka, they moved over to Mandore, the birth place of Mandodari. There may be 100 to 200 families living in Rajasthan, claiming the link between them and Ravana.
People having mental ailments or sufferings due to black magic, spell, paranormal forces, etc., come to this temple for cure. Ravana was supposedly a master of all evil spirits. The sacred thread given by the priest after intense prayer to Ravana in the temple, it is strongly believed, has curative powers.
If you ever hear Jai Lankesh Jai Lankesh” and “Ravan Baba Ki Jai” in the neighborhood of Mandore or Jodhpur renting the air in the morning , don't be surprised. It must be the descendants of Ravana doing the Bhajan in praise of the Demon King Ravana, a learned scholar and a victim of his own weakness.