We have often heard how Ravana was Shiva’s great devotee. It makes us wonder how the demon king of Lanka bowed down to Shiva and how he received Chandrahasa. This tale of Ravana’s devotion is mentioned in Uttara Kanda of Hindu epic Ramayana.
Kubera, the god of wealth, was Ravana’s stepbrother. He ruled in the city of Alaka, which was known for its glory. Ravana envied him and his display of wealth. To teach Kubera a lesson, he went on a rampage on Alaka. He defeated Kubera and looted many of his possessions, including a Pushpaka Vimana (flying chariot).
As Ravana was returning to Lanka on the stolen chariot, his vehicle stopped in front of the Kailash mountains. Ravana got down to see that he was surrounded by the mountains. He was mesmerized by Kailash’s beauty. His eyes met a bull-faced Nandi guarding the entrance to the mountains. Ravana asked him why his chariot couldn’t fly over Kailash. Nandi said that Kailasha was Shiva and Parvati’s residence. They were enjoying the dalliance in the mountains. No one was allowed to disturb their peace.
Ravana didn’t understand anyone’s orders other than his own. He advanced towards Kailash. Nandi came in his way, stopping him. Drunk with his victory over Kubera, Ravana couldn’t take a dismissal from Shiva’s guard. He arrogantly insulted Lord Shiva. Enraged, Nandi cursed him saying monkeys would destroy him one day. Infuriated, Ravana wanted to show his power to Shiva. He decided to uproot the Kailash mountains. With all his twenty arms, Ravana began to lift the mountains.
The ground beneath Shiva and Parvati shook violently. Parvati was terrified by the unexpected intervention. She clung to her husband in fear. Seeing Parvati’s state, Shiva was angry beyond words. He wanted to end the cause of her worry. Eventually, he found the culprit Ravana, still in the attempt to lift Kailash. Shiva wanted to punish the arrogant demon king. He pressed the mountain with his toe, trapping Ravana under the whole weight of the mountain.
Ravana cried in agony at the severe pain. He begged for forgiveness. But Shiva did not attempt to release him. The news of Ravana’s confinement reached his ministers. They came to Kailash to save him. But all their tricks to rescue him failed flat. They advised Ravana to pray to Shiva.
Ravana acted upon their advice, singing hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.
For thousands of years, he laid below Kailasha, praying to Shiva. The hymns he sang were later known as Shiva Tandava Stotra.
Shiva was impressed with his patience and courage. In the end, he forgave Ravana and blessed him with his celestial sword called Chandrahasa. Since then, Ravana became Shiva’s greatest devotee. Lord Shiva’s sword Chandrahasa is a testament to the story in which a prideful Ravana becomes humble before Shiva.
Ravana used Chandrahasa sword in many wars. He often lent it to his son Meghanada. Some legends say that Ravana used Chandrahasa to hurt Jatayu. As godly weapons like Chandrahasa can never be used for an unjust cause, the sword returned to Shiva.
According to a known legend, Goddess Durga herself gifted Chandrahasa to Maratha King, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The sword made Shivaji victorious in many of his missions.