Rahwana (Sanskrit: meaning “of terrifying roar”) is one of the principal demons in Hindu mythology who battled against the popular avatar, Rama. Rahwana plays a prominent role in the famous Hindu epic, the Ramayana, where, as the king of Alengka, he is both the overlord of the army of Rakshasas (demons) and the abductor of Shinta, the wife of Rama. Rahwana’s arrogance towards the gods, and improper behavior towards Shinta, sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in an epic battle between Rahwana and Rama, which is chronicled in the Ramayana. Today, Hindus still commemorate the events of the Ramayana in drama and lore, reviving the villainous activities of Rahwana, and his seminal role in the popular Hindu myth.
However, Rahwana was a tragic figure who engendered his own demise with his unfettered sexual desire and his imperious militarism. As could be expected, he continues to endure as the archetypal villain in the Hindu tradition, and is still identified as such by Hindus today.
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