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First, how is Raavana a rakshasa and a brahmin at the same time? Second, if Raavana is Brahmin, how is he the king of Lanka? Since one's caste was determined based on one's karma, I would think Raavana to be a Kshatriya by that logic.

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    Raavana's father is direct descendant on the line of Brahma. His mother is from Rakshasa lineage. He got Lanka from Kubera. He conqquered from him. There is already question on how did Ravana acquire Lanka. Search for it. May 19, 2017 at 15:37

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This explains it in detail: https://www.quora.com/Is-there-any-difference-between-Asuras-and-Rakshasas-per-Hindu-mythology-Was-Ravana-an-Asura-or-a-Rakshasa

Basically, the 4 varnas (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra) exist in every jati (deva, manushya, gandharva, rakshasa, pishacha)

So, we can have Deva Vaishya, manushya Kshatirya, Rakshasa Brahmana etc.

e.g. Ravana was Rakshasa jati & Brahmana varna. Shukracharya is Deva Brahmana. Chitrangadha is Gandharva Kshatriya.

Next, both birth & character determine one's varna. Normally, either one alone is not sufficient.

e.g. Drona was brahmana but fought in Mahabharata, Koushika was kshatriya but did severe penance for thousands of years and converted into brahmana (Vishvamitra).

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  • If one is born in Brahmana varna but does not perform rituals, tells lies, eats whatever/wherever he pleases, or is not patient, then he loses Brahmanatvam. Similarly, if one is born as Shudra, but always speaks truth and is patient, then he has characteristics of Brahmana but cannot be called brahmana because he is not allowed to perform rituals or be a priest etc.
    – ram
    May 19, 2017 at 15:55
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    Ram I don't think Quora answer is considered a good source for answers on this site.Pls.try to give answers from authentic scriptures only , they are more reliable than quora. Don't be hurry in giving answers ,take your time ,you will certainly get good upvotes by giving answers with authentic sources. May 19, 2017 at 15:56
  • These 'changes' between varnas are called varna-sankara meaning mixing of castes. And it usually leads to problems in society since people are torn between choosing their hereditary occupation or their natural urges. Arjuna, in Gita, says he fears this might happen in Kali Yuga if all warriors are killed in war, then their wives will be without protection and if non-warrior men abduct them and beget children, the progeny will have blood/dna/gunas of both mother and father who are of different varnas, which causes confusion in their minds.
    – ram
    May 19, 2017 at 16:00
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    Quora can't be a valid source. Please add valid sources.
    – The Destroyer
    May 20, 2017 at 5:50
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    @ram As i said, you don't need to provide online references always. If a story is very lengthy and if you provide summary of that story, you can mention specific chapters in purana or Ithihasa.
    – The Destroyer
    May 20, 2017 at 7:27
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How is Raavana a Rakshasa and a Brahmin at the same time?

Raavana was son of Vishrava. And Vishrava was the son of Pulatsya and the grandson of Brahma. So by this logic he was Brahmin.

But he was Rakshasa because:

  1. Vishrava (Ravana's father) cursed Kaikashi (Ravana's mother)

  2. His mother was from Rakshasas (his mother Kaikashi was daughter of Rakshasa Sumali)

  3. He joined his maternal grandfathers/uncles who were from Rakshasas and became king of Rakshasas

  4. A Brahmana is not Brahmana by birth alone. He, it is said by the wise, in whom are seen those virtues is a Brahmana. And people term him otherwise in whom those qualities do not exist, even though he be a Brahmana by birth.

These four points are described in details here.

How is he the king of Lanka?

This is described here:

Lanka was built by Vishvakarma. Malyavan, Sumali and Mali used to live in Lanka. Later they attacked Devas and Lord Vishnu came to fight with them. Lord Vishnu killed Mali. Seeing Mali slain, Sumali and Malyavan, burning in grief, led precipitately towards Lanka along with their forces. But Lord Vishnu didn't stop killing Rakshas. And albeit inlated with pride, they, incapable of coping with Vishnu, leaving Lanka, went to the nether regions (Rasatala) with their wives for dwelling there.

Then Kubera started living in Lanka.

Later Sumali encouraged his daughter Kaikesi to marry Visrava. Coming to know that his daughter's sons, Dasanana and his two brothers, got powerful boons (Dasanana was incapable of being slain by Nagas, Yakshas, Daityas, Danavas and the Devas) form Lord Brahma, Sumali shed all his fear of Vishnu and came out from Rasatala. Later Sumali encouraged Ravana to take Lanka back from Kubera. Vishrva advised Kubera to leave Lanka and build another city name Alkapuri on Kailash mountain which Kubera accepted.

And Ravana became the king of Rakshasas and started living in Lanka.

Since one's caste was determined based on one's karma, I would think Raavana to be a Kshatriya by that logic.

By karma also, he was Rakshasa only. Kshatriya's duties are to protect the society and not to trouble them.

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A Pishacha (ghostly cannibal) named Aj had a daughter Jantudhanaa. She married Rakshasa (giant cannibalistic younger son of Kashyapa and Khashaa) and had a daughter named Yatudhana. In turn, Yatudhana gave birth to Heti, Praheti and 8 others [Ref: Brahmanda Purana Upodghaata paada 7.43-90]. All her descendants are called Yatudhana-Rakshasas.

Heti’s descendants were Malyavan, Sumali and Mali. Kaikasi, the daughter of Yatudhana-Rakshasa Sumali, seduced and married Vishrava, the son of the pious Rishi Pulastya. Their children were Ravana, Kumbhakarana, Surphanka and Vibhishana [Ref: Ramayana 7.4-5, 7.9]. They and their descendants were the Kaikasi-Rakshasas or simply Rakshasas.

Thus, Ravana was a son of a Brahmin father and a Yatudhana-Rakshasa (hybrid descendant of a Pishacha and a Rakshasa) mother.

Ravana became the king by driving his half-brother Kubera away from Lanka.

Source: 'Essence of the Fifth Veda' by Gaurang Damani pages 14-15.

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One way to see it would be in terms of psychology of a person. Where Rakshasa means a person with hightened Ego Not to think of Rakshasha as some terrestial being But instead a human being with Bad qualities

Whereas real meaning of Brahmin is different but here probably it is meant that Ravana is a Brahmin because he was a Shiv Bhakta or religious. Well being relgious does not mean that a person doesnt have any ego. You can see in the world people going to temples and cheating others or harming others. One can be Brahmin by taking birth in a brahmin family. But his psychological makeup may be totally destructive to others... and may be a terrorist.

As per what i have read the real meaning of Brahmin is one who has realized Brahman or Atman. But nowadays this term is used loosely.

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  • I feel most commentators here are overlooking one fact: a person’s karma decide his varna, jaati or class,caste for the next birth and not present one. Because one’s karma today will decide what varna he will be born, in next janma.NOT THE VARNA OF all PRESENT JANMA .hence Raavana was born to Vishrava Brahmin from the womb of a Rakshasi and remained a Brahmin who committed a major sin due to Ahamkara and fate too..this is how our prarabdha karma ie karma done in previous births decide which varna family one will take re-birth in. The varna status of present birth remains unaffected. Apr 14, 2020 at 1:12

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