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There are several pages out there claiming a legend of Rāvaṇa planning to build a staircase in order to get to heaven (or, the region of the moon) without performing Vedic rituals. All of the sources I could find however, can be traced back to Prabhupāda

For exmple, a talk by Prabhupāda given in 1972.

“Why you are undergoing so much severe austerities to go to heaven? I shall make a staircase, and you go directly, without having performed any austerities.”

Source

And from Prabhupāda’s commentary on the Bhāgavata-purāna :

“Rāvaṇa was one of them, and he wanted to deport ordinary men to the planet of Indra (heaven) by material means without consideration of the necessary qualifications. He wanted a staircase to be built up directly reaching the heavenly planet so that people might not be required to undergo the routine of pious work necessary to enter that planet. He also wanted to perform other acts against the established rule of the Lord.”

Source

Are there any older extant sources confirming this legend, or did he use sources currently unavailable to us?

  • Prabhupada is a modern-day figure, so I'm sure whatever sources he used (if any) would still be available to us. In any case, this story reminds me of the Tower of Babel in Christianity. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 21 '17 at 20:49
  • @KeshavSrinivasan That is partly why I came to ask this question here. There is a reasonable resemblance between the Rāvaṇa of Prabhupāda and the Nimrod of Flavius Josephus. For example, Rāvaṇa: “He even challenged the authority of Śrī Rāma, the Personality of Godhead, and kidnapped His wife, Sītā.” and Nimrod: “It was Nimrod who had the tower built and that Nimrod was a tyrant who tried to turn the people away from God.” – Gabe Hiemstra Jan 21 '17 at 21:54

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