The Uttara Kanda of the Ramayana speaks of Ravana’s birth and of the boons he obtains from Brahma and Siva. Enjoying his unrivalled prowess, Ravana feeds his ego with pride and haughtiness. But when this arrogance is unleashed on a virtuous woman, it brings on him her curse that is the cause of his downfall, pointed out Sri Karunakarachariar in a discourse.
She is Vedavati, daughter of Sage Kushadwaja. This sage used to chant the Vedas with great commitment. The Vedas come out of his mouth in the form of a maiden. The sage brings her up with the sole aim of getting her married to Narayana. While many suitors who seek her hand return disappointed, the Daitya king Sambu becomes angry and ruthlessly kills the sage. Vedavati loses her mother as well at this juncture. But she is determined to fulfil her father’s wishes and begins to do austere penance to obtain Narayana as her husband.
It is then that Ravana, during one of his travels in the Himalayas, sees Vedavati in penance and desires to marry her. When Vedavati resists, he overpowers her and catches her tresses. She rises in anger against Ravana and uses her hand as an axe to cut off the tresses. She then decides to end her life.
How can she seek Narayana’s hand with this body defiled by him? Through her yoga power she creates a fire and enters it. She vows that she will be born again and will be the cause of his end.
The Skanda Purana also relates an incident wherein Ravana earns Parvati’s curse when he shows disrespect to her. It is said that once Ravana, determined to have a vision of Siva, cut his heads one by one as an offering to the Lord.
When he is about to cut the tenth, Siva appears before him and grants him the boon that his heads would grow even if they are chopped off.
Ravana falls prostrate on Siva’s feet but of his ten heads only the five on the right feet of Siva touch the ground while those on the left don’t. When Parvati learns that this is due to his bias towards women, since she forms Siva’s left part, she curses him that his downfall will be through women.