Mandodari was the Queen Consort of Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. She was the daughter of Mayasura, the King of the Asuras (demons), and the apsara Hema. When she was born, her mother Hema abandoned her as well as her father Maya and went to heaven.
In the absence of his wife Maya showered all his love to Mandodari and brought her up with great care. She was among the ‘Panch Kanyas’ (five ladies) in Hindu mythology, the others being Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti and Tara. Once, Maya was walking with his daughter in a dense forest and Ravana, the demon king of Lanka met Maya. The two were married in an auspicious moment and Maya gifted Ravan lot of divine and deadly weapons.
Mandodari had 3 sons: Meghanada (Indrajit), Atikaya, and Akshayakumara. Based on some Ramayana adaptations, se was also the mother of Ram’s wife Sita, who was infamously kidnapped by the demon king. Despite her husband’s faults, she loved him and encouraged him to follow the right path.
She consistently suggested her husband to return Sita to Rama, but her advice fell on deaf ears. She knew that Rama was not an ordinary man but was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. She tried to convince her husband so that he returned Sita and asked for Ram`s friendship. Her neither paid attention to her word nor he scolded her, as he knew that she always wished him good.
She is described as a lovely lady in Ramayana. When Hanuman comes to Lanka in search of Sita, he is stupefied by her beauty when he enters bed chambers and mistakes Mandodari for Sita. When Hanuman finally finds Sita, he finds the demon king threatening to kill Sita unless she marries him.
Ravana raises his sword to behead Sita when she refuses. Mandodari saves Sita by holding Ravana’s hand. She says that the murder of a woman is a heinous sin and therefore Ravana should not kill Sita. She asks her husband to entertain himself with his other wives and give up the idea of having Sita as his wife. He spares Sita’s life, but does not give up his wish to marry Sita.
Mandodari’s Love for Ravana
Her love and loyalty to her husband are praised in the Ramayana. Though Ravana had numerous spouses he loved Mandodari most of all. She remained Ravan’s favorite and most beloved. She always wished well for her husband and as she was a pious lady, she attempted to bring the king to the right path.
When Ravana captured Sita, she made an effort to convince him in a very humble way. But destiny had something else for her. When Ravan died at the end of the battle, Mandodari was mourning. Rama saw her and blessed her so that all her illusions disappear.