Ramayana is one of the greatest epic in Hindu culture that signifies “victory of good over evil”. Taken from Wikipedia”The Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages (Vedas) in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and devotional elements. The characters Rama, Sita, Hanumana, Laxmana and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India and Hindus.” Whereas the characters Rama, Sita, Hanumana, Laxmana became God, Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhakaran became evil ought to be defeated by Gods. Vijayadashami also known as Dussehra is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated in various forms, across India. Effigies of Ravana,Meghnad and Kumbhakaran are burnt to symbolize victory of good over evil. But was Meghnad really evil whose effigy is burnt year after year to signify death and destruction of evil?
To look into the matter, we require taking a dive into the story of Ramayana and Meghnad. Let us see the story of Ramayana in the context of Meghnad. Indrajit was born to Ravana and his wife Mandodri, He was named “Meghanada” because his birth cry sounded like thunder. At a very young age, Meghnad showed extraordinary talent and became the possessor of several supreme celestial weapons, including Brahmastra, Pashupatastra, and Vaishnavastra, perhaps equal to those of Gods Ram and Laxmana of Ayodhya. In Ramayana, the first mention of Meghnad combat ability is reflected in the battle between the Gods and the Devils. In the battle, devas were dominating and they captured the king of Asuras(Ravana). At this point Meghnad intervened: Not only he freed the king (his father), but he overturned the battle and captured the king of Gods (Indra). At this juncture, Brahma (considered to be creator of universe) intervened and asked him to free Indra. Meghanada, being pious, showed his respect for Brahma, obliged, and he was granted a chance to ask for a boon from Brahma. He was then granted boon: he would never be won over in any battle, until his Yagna (fire-worship) of his native goddess was disturbed and destroyed. On the completion of the Yagna, a supreme celestial chariot would appear, boarding which; Meghnad would become invincible in any battle. But Brahma also cautioned him that whosoever would destroy this yagna would also kill him. Thereafter, he was also known by the name ‘Indrajeet’( the one who had victory over God king’ Indra’).
The second instances of Meghnad is basically shown during Hanuman visit to Lanka (Kingdom of Ravana- Meghnad is crown prince here) in order to search for Goddess Sita. In the attempt to capture Hanuman, one of the Meghnad's brothers died. Thereafter, Meghnad stepped in and captured hanuman, using one of his Godly Weapon. However, as per the Ramayana, Hanumana got captured deliberately because he did not want to insult God by darting the Godly weapon.
The final instances of the Meghnad were mentioned during perhaps what we considered to be the climax of the Ramayana. The army of Ram built a bridge of stones across the ocean between India and Srilanka; and commenced the war against army of Lanka. In the fierce battle between Ram's army and Ravan's army- Ravan's army was on the verge of losing. They lost their key warriors – which also included mighty Kumbhkaran (uncle of Meghnad) – the demon that was considered to be unbeatable. Even Ravan, victor of whole world, was insulted and beaten up by Ram in a kind of prefight. In such a lopsided affair, Meghand- crown prince of Lanka- decided to step in.
During first day of the battle, with his superb warriors skills, strategic thinking and Maya (form of stealth), he overturned the battle again into the Ravan's side. In the process, at the end of the day, he gravely injured both Ram and Laxman (I say captain and vice-captain of the Ram's army). If it not would be the wisdom of Hanuman- both Ram and Laxman would be dead and war would be over. However, Ram and Laxman somehow survived the injury.
The second day of the battle was perhaps the fiercest in the whole Ramayana. Two fiercest warriors- Meghnad and Laxman- put all their skills of archery into the battle for the defense of the country. As mentioned in Ramayana, both the warriors never faced opponents of such caliber. The war was so fierce that even Gods, saints and visionaries started feeling the heat. Nevertheless, In this equipoised battle of Meghnad and Laxman, Meghnad had the final words. He used a celestial weapon to send Laxman into deep coma.
Hanuman came as the saviour and helped to revive Laxman from grave injury. In the third and final day of battle, Laxman killed Meghnad after destroying his fire worship. As per the Brahma's Boon, if Meghnad would have performed the Yagna, he would have become invincible. During the fight on the last day, Meghnad used his supreme celestial weapon on Laxman, but it miraculously did not harm him. Meghnad understood that Laxman is the Avatar of God but still chooses to fight him for the honor of his Father and his country. There is a mention in Ramayana where Meghnad disappears from the war
Now simple deduction that can definitely be made from above paragraphs is the following:-
• Meghnad is consummate in the art of warfare. He can be considered equal to Laxman if not better in this attribute. Remember- Laxman is considered to be God
• He possesses pious and noble character. His respect for God's including Laxman was example for it.
• High dedication for the country as he fought and died for his country.
• His honor for his father.
Isn't this wrong that his effigy is burnt for generations to justify victory of Good over evil? How can a person who possesses such noble attributes and high skills be considered as evil? These questions must be posed to us.