We have all heard that Ravana was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva. But not many know how he became a devotee of the Lord. This is the story of Ravana lifting mount Kailash, which is a prelude to his devotion.
Ravana had always been jealous of his half – brother, Kubera, who was the treasurer of the Gods. Right from childhood, he wanted to prove himself stronger, and more powerful than Kubera, and accordingly performed penance to gain strength and power. As soon as his penance yielded results, he attacked Kubera and looted his magnificent city, taking whatever he wished to.
Ravana was returning from Kubera’s city, when suddenly, his aerial vehicle stopped. He was surprised, and enquired about the reason. When he learnt that this was the abode of Lord Shiva, and that no one was allowed to pass that way, he was livid! Arrogant, and believing himself to be all-powerful, he refused to change his path, and decided to challenge the Lord himself! Getting down from his vehicle, he went to the foot of the mountain and began uprooting it with his immense strength!
Meanwhile, Lord Shiva, Parvati and the others on the mountain were disturbed by the shaking of the mountain. While Parvati and the other women worried about the cause of the disturbance, Shiva simply smiled. When at last, Ravana had managed to lift the entire mountain, Lord Shiva simply pressed his toe down….. and the huge mountain came back down to earth, crushing Ravana underneath!
At last, Ravana realized his error, and from under the mountain, prayed to Lord Shiva, who blessed and released him. It is also believed that when he was crushed under the mountain, he sang out to the Lord for mercy, and his composition so pleased the Lord that he forgave him at once! It is believed that these words were the origin of the ‘Sama Gaanam’ – the ritual singing of the hymns of the Sama Veda! This is the origin of one of the names of Lord Shiva - ‘Saama Gaana Priya’- one who loves the music of the Sama Veda.
And that was how Ravana became one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva!