A half-Brahmin and half-demon, Ravana was the revered devotee of Lord Shiva. The demon-king was not only a stupendous fighter but also an expert of the Vedas, the father of astrology and a maestro of Veena. He is said to have possessed the nectar of immortality stored inside his belly, a celestial boon by Lord Brahma, and knew what his fate was. He knew that he was to die by the hands of an avatar of Lord Vishnu much before Rama was even born. He knew it all. All of it.
Yet, he abducted Sita, knowing what was going to follow next.
And though there is no actual record of the number of days he kept Sita with him (some say twelve months, some say lesser than that), it is known to all that he never forced himself on her. He could have done so; she was at his mercy for so long and he had a reputation of pulling woman by their hair sometimes. But he never forced his lust on Sita, though he offered to marry her multiple times.
And the question is, why? Why didn’t he do that?
Ravana was cursed. And the curse stopped him approaching her every time.
The story of the curse dates back to the time before Rama or even his father Dasharatha was born.
On his expedition to conquer Swargaloka, the realm of the Gods, Ravana was once resting in the vicinity of Kubera’s city, Alaka. It was in the ravines of the mighty Himalayas where the sky was a cloudless one and the blow of the wind was tempting. Kinnaras and Vidhyadharas sang love-laden songs in the background and smell of the flowers lifted his senses. The atmosphere was set. Everything surrounding Ravana made him fall prey to his lust and desires.
However, he wasn’t accompanied by any of his services.
And it was by sheer accident that Rambha, the queen of apsaras, was passing by. She was regarded as one of the most beautiful women ever created, made by the waves of the ocean and by the tides of the sea. Her hair waved like the ripples of water and her delicate full lips were luscious to touch. Her honey eyes glowed in the sun and Ravana was enraged by his lust.
Filled with his desires, the demon-king went on to introduce himself to Rambha and asked her to display her affections to him.
Rambha, on the other hand, reasoned that she was engaged to Nalakubera, the son of Kubera, God of Wealth who happened to be Ravana’s half brother and told him that she was actually a daughter-in-law of hers.
But didn’t affect Ravana. “I can understand that (but only) if you are the wife of my son Indrajit. But you are the wife of my brother’s son! The plea which you have given in the words, ‘I am your daughter-in-law’ holds good in the case of those who have (only) one husband. Celestial nymphs have no husband nor are Gods committed to a single wife such is the eternal law obtaining in the realm of gods,” he said – Valmiki Ramayana, Uttara Kanda, Canto XXVI, Shloka 39.
Yes, blinded by lust, Ravana went on to violate and ravish Rambha against her will and left the place satiated.
Rambha, on the other hand, was devasted by what he did to her and went with folded hands to his husband, Nalakubara. She narrated him the whole story and pleaded for an action.
Nalakubara was enraged by the way Ravana violated his wife and poured a little water to pronounce a curse on the Lanka king. “Since, O blessed lady, you stand violated by him perforce, unwilling as you were, he shall no longer be able to approach any other young woman who is unwilling to accept him,” he announced – Shloka 55.
Ravana was shaken by his words. And though he showed no signs of regard to Nalakubara’s words, from within, he dreaded the curse heaped upon him.
And this curse was the reason why Ravana never dared to touch Sita against her will.
Note: Since the Vedic literature is very vast and varied, we came across another answer to the same question, ‘Why Ravana never dared to touch Sita?’ and we will be covering it in the second part of the story soon. Stay connected.