Though Ravana has been depicted as a negative character in the Ramayana, he was actually a highly respected Brahmin. He was a great scholar, a great ruler and an even greater maestro of the Veena. He was a learned Brahmin, a Sidha (versed in different forms of knowledges) and a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva.
There are many regions in India where the Brahmin community does not celebrate Diwali. Instead, they pay respect to one of the most intelligent Brahmins, ever born on Earth. He is even worshiped in Sri Lanka and Bali. They believe him to be their ancestor and, therefore, observe the day as the death anniversary of one of their ancestors.
Ravana - As A Scholar
Ravana means "the roaring". This powerful king of Lanka is often depicted with nine heads. He is believed to have had ten heads earlier, one of which he sacrificed to Lord Shiva while worshipping. As given by Lord Brahma, he had the blessing of immortality.
It is believed that Ravana was the author of Ravana Samhita and the Arka Prakasham. While the former is a book on astrology, the latter is a book on Siddha Medicine. Siddha medicine is a kind of traditional medicine much similar to the ayurveda. He overpowered the three worlds, he conquered the powerful men and the other demons.
Ravana's Only Mistake
The only mistake he did was that of having pride in himself. Pride, in Hinduism, has been described as one of those elements which leads a man to his own destruction. Overpowered by this pride in one's greatness and power, he aimed to defeat the gods, which was too high an aim to be achieved.
This aim, lead him to make further mistakes, such as that of abducting Goddess Sita; it was this aim of his, which lead him to his own defeat, though at the hands of the almighty himself.
How could such a learned man make the mistake of abducting Goddess Sita, challenging Lord Rama and inviting his own damnation? The secret lies in the very fact mentioned in our scriptures and much believed in Hinduism that; pride comes with power.
This is one of the greatest lessons that one must learn from the life of this great and learned king. This is not all, there are some other lessons too, which are highly important and must be kept in mind in order to achieve success. In fact, these secrets were given by Ravana himself.
The Secrets Given By Ravana
The story goes back to the incident when Lord Ram had finally succeeded in killing the demonic king - Ravana, and Ravana was about to die. Lying on the death bed, he was speaking about the most important lessons he'd learnt in life.
Lord Ram knew about the greatness of this scholarly king. He ordered Lakshman to go and attend to Ravana. Seeing the brother of Lord Ram having come to see him, Ravana was little satisfied.
For by then he had realized that they were divine incarnations. Lakshman was the incarnation of Shesh Naag - the serpent which stays with Lord Vishnu. When Lakshman reached close to Ravana, Ravana gave him three big lessons, very important in life. Those three lessons were:
1. Never Delay The Right Things You Must Do
Ravana said that he realized the divinity in Lord Ram too late. He should have believed that Lord Ram is the incarnation of God himself; he should have realized that defeating the gods is impossible; that they are the goodness; and goodness needs to prevail forever.
He came at the feet of Lord Ram much later, when he was just about to die. Therefore, he advised Lakshman never to be late in doing what is right; something that you must do. He further advised that one must try to delay what is not good, as mush as possible.
For example, had he not been too much possessed with the desire to abduct Sita, Lord Ram would have returned with that golden deer, and Ravana would have missed the chance of abducting her. This could have helped prevent the event altogether, which became the major reason behind him being doomed.
2. Never Underestimate Your Enemies
He further told that one should never underestimate one's enemies. He believed that the monkeys and bears would never be able to conquer him, but it were those monkeys and the bears alone, which were the major supporters of Lord Ram. He did not realize that these were divine incarnations. Goodness worked and they succeeded in bringing his pride to an end. Underestimating them was Ravana's mistake. Hence, one must never underestimate one's enemy.
3. Never Share Your Secrets With Anyone
The third big lesson shared by Ravana applies well enough in the modern times. He told that one major mistake of his life was telling Vibhishan the secret to his death, which Vibhishan revealed to Lord Rama. Hence, one should never disclose one's secrets to anyone, whosoever he may be.