The king of Lanka, Ravan was not just a mere King or a Rakshas. Belonging to the race of Brahma Ji, he was the grandson of Pulatsy Bramha and the son of the noble couple sage Vishrava and Kaikesi. He had two brothers Kumbhakarn and Visbhishan and a sister Shurpanakha.
In reality, Ravan was Jay, one of the guards of Vaikunth. He along with Vijay guarded the doors of Bhagwan Vishnu. Once, the four Rishis Sanak, Sanand, Sanathkumar and Sanathsujath who were born from Brahma and always looked like four young children come to visit Bhagwan Vishnu. But, Jay and Vijay stop them at the door and do not allow them inside. This upsets the rishis and they curse the gate keepers that they lose their right to stay in Vaikunth. Realising their mistake, the gate keepers seek refuge. The rishis leave it to Almighty to pardon them or punish them.
Bhagwan Vishnu agrees that they should be punished as arrogance is not a good virtue. But he gives them two choices, either to be born seven times as normal humans and devotees of Vishnu, or three times as powerful people, but as enemies of Vishnu. Eager to be back with the Almighty, they chose to be his enemies.
Thus, the gate keepers are born as Hiranyaksh and Hiranyakashyap in the Satya Yug, Ravan and Kumbhakarn in the Treta Yug and Sishupal and Dantavaktr in the Dwapar Yug. Bhagwan Vishnu incarnates as the Varah avatar to kill Hiranyaksh, Narasimha Avatar to kill Hiranyakashyap. He incarnates as Shri Ram to kill Ravan and Kumbhakarn and as Shri Krishna to kill Sisupal and Danatvaktr.
In the Treta Yug, born to the noble couple Rishi Vishrava and Mata Kaikesi, Ravan was highly intellectual and well versed in all the Sastras and Vedas. He was a great musician too and played the Rudra Veena. He was named Dashaanan, meaning to have ten heads. But, because of his mighty roar resembling a thundering cloud, he was called Ravan. Ravan decides to conquer the whole worlds and be invincible. He does severe penance along with his brothers and appeases Bramha Ji. When Bramha Ji asks him for a boon, he says that to make him invincible from the Devas, Nagas, Garud, Yaksh, Gandharv and all other celestial beings. As he never regarded humans powerful, he did not seek protection from them. This negligence towards humans bought his doom from the men in the later times.
Ravan was a great devotee of Bhagwan Shiv. He sacrifices his ten heads to Bhagwan Shiv and pleases him. He is also the composer of the Tandav Stotr on Bhagwan Shiv. Ravan’s wives Mandodari and Dhanyamalini were very devoted to him. Mandodari was the daughter of Mayasur, the demon architect. Ravan had seven sons who were known for their might namely Meghanadh, Atikaya, Akshay, Devantak, Narantak, Trisiras and Prahast.
Ravan, in all ways was gifted. But his arrogance and ego lead to his downfall. Although he conquered the three worlds, because of his ill qualities, he made enemies more than friends. He became a representation of evil. However in the deeper sense, it was the choice of the gate keeper to be so. It’s because of Ravan that Bhagwan Vishnu incarnates as Shri Ram who not only liberates Ravan from the curse, but also sets an example of having greatest virtues, qualities and compassion and being the epitome of Maryada Puroshottam till unending times.