Ravana, mighty emperor of Lanka
Ravana ruled Lanka thousands of years ago and was the last in the dynasty that ruled Lanka for thirty seven years from B.C. 2254 to 2517. Mighty Ravana Emperor was the head of all tribes such as Raksha, Yaksha, Deva Etc. who ruled in Lanka from Lakegala, present Laggala to the east of the Knuckles range of mountains towards the Meemure village. Ravana was the foe of Rama as depicted in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Ravana is the eldest son of a Brahama sage Vyshrava.
The mother was Kaikeshi, the daughter of Daitya tribe king Sumali. Thus Ravana had been related to both Brahma and Daitya tribes. Ravana had six brothers and two sisters. His brothers were Kubera, Vibeeshana, Kumbakarna, Kara, Dushana and Abiravan.
The sisters were Kumbi and Supernika. Kara was the ruler of North Lanka upto Kosala kingdom which was under Ravana. Ravana was a genius gifted with extraordinary talents and physical strength. For these reasons Ravana was known as Dashamuka (ten faces) Dashagreeva (ten heads) Dashakanda (ten throats) and twenty hands signifying his great war power and the ability of using various weapons.
He knew the Thriveda and all the philosophy and rules of Kshastriyas applicable in ruling a country. He became the Commander of the troops of his maternal grandfather Emperor Sumali head of the Daitya tribe. At that time Lanka was under his brother Kubera’s rule. At a time when Kubera was out of Lanka, Ravana invaded Lanka and also, took Kubera’s queen Vidovathi as his queen.
Their father Vyishrava who knew about the capabilities of his eldest son advised Kubera not to go to war with his eldest brother. Thus Ravana became the mighty Emperor of Lanka. About two hundred millions of years ago geographically Sri Lanka was linked to India.
Lanka and India were situated as one country. At that time India, Australia and Antartica continents were known as Condivana and formed one mass of land area. In the course of millions of years due to natural causes such as seismic earth quakes, ocean currents, winds and drifts this land mass got pushed further and emerged as separate continents and countries.
The South of India was pushed to North due to these natural disasters and due to an earth quake formed a range of mountains which is known as the Himalayas today. A land mass that emerged after these natural evolutions formed Lanka. The bridge that was built to cross to India was washed by these tsunamis and sank in the sea. Even today the parts of the bridge could be seen to the South of Talaimannar buried in the deep sea. According to “Buduguna Alankaraya” Hanuman in the Ramayana epic came to Lanka over this bridge.
“Wandureku pinu muhuda Etharawa ya no he inda giyela Ram he benda mese veda me lova deviyan theda”
A larger mass of land area belonging to Lanka also sank into the sea. This land mass is the area from Palk Strait to Gulf of Mannar that buried the ancient city of Kudiramalai too under water. Modern science prove such phenomena as natural from time to time. This incident goes back to thousands of years when Vijaya Landed here in 544 B.C. and the commencement of our chronicle Mahavansa.
Who is Ravana
Ravana was the ruler of all tribes in Lanka then known as Yaksha, Raksha, Naga, Deva; Ravana’s queen was Mandodari the daughter of Mayasura Apsara. She was brilliant and a kind hearted woman. Besides this queen he had a harem of women. They had seven sons Indrajit, Prahasta, Atkaya, Akashyakumara, Devantaka, Narantaka and Trisara. Ravana becomes a mighty Emperor as he ruled over seven continents from Lanka.
They were the modern South America, Southern Europe, Himalaya including the Hindukush mountain range and continents up to Madagaskar (Dr. Suriya Gunasekara -Rivira 24.04.2007). Even today there are temples devoted to Ravana in India, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan etc; Votsakan in Thailand, Ellora caves in Maharashta, Yakshagana in Karnataka are some such temples.
Rama Seeta cultural event is held in these countries annually and the ceremonies conclude after burning an effigy of Ravana. In the Cleveland museum in Ohio America there is a drawing of ten headed Ravana been burnt. One can imagine how they dread this mighty Emperor. “Sevul Sandesaya” poem 94 states that there is a picture depicting Rama Ravana war drawn in the Seethawaka Kovil.
“Diya dam Ravulu yuda saha Bharata yudada
Manaram Kanda Kumaru pera kala dig yudada”
The history of Ravana is written in several languages such as French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, Hindi, Sanskrit, Sinhala and Tamil. Ravana flag was the sun and moon flag with a drawing of Ravana in the centre.
The flag was carried to the war front by the people of Hewaheta which belonged to then Mayarata. This flag which was in possession of Vilvala Raja Maha Viharaya is now in the Kandy museum. Ravana lived in Lakegala which is also identified as Laggala, Lankapabbatha, Lankagiri, Samudra Malaya Samudragiri etc. Rasavahini” identifies this rock as Lanka Pabbatha. Prof. Senarath Paranavithana is of the view that Lanka derived its name from the Lankagiri mountain rock. Dr. Sudath Gunasekara of the SLAS one time secretary to a Prime Minister and a native of Meemure says that it is the highest bare rock out crop in the world.
Taprobane the name which Lanka was first named is derived from Ravanadeepa. Thus it appears that Lanka derived its name from Lakegala rock of where Ravana was the ruler. Laggala is situated in the centre of Lanka between 80-46 degrees to the East and 7.3 to the North. It is said that Ravana calculated the time to his domain according to the hour of sun rise and the shadow falling on the Lakegala rock. This was thousands of years before we adopted the Greenwich Mean Time. The splendour of this area is described in a folk poem prevalent in the area.
“Epita kanda kalu pahane keleya
Mepita konata laggala meemureya
Desiya dekkak usa athi Gomareya
Hodai parakasa Laka Meemureya”
Legends of Ravana
Lankavatara Sutra one of the most important sacred texts in Mahayana mentions that the Buddha preached this sutra to a king who ruled in Lankapura Malaya pradesha.
There are several places associated with Ravana in these mountain ranges. Where Ravana bathed is Rasella. The water flows through Ravana Oya to join Mahaweli river. Udurawana and Yatirawana are two villages associated with Ravana. Seethakotuwa in Minipe is the place where Ravana kept Seetha captive.
Ravana went to Seethakotuwa in his plane which was known as Guruluvahana. The place where the plane landed is known as Gurulupotha. Where they bathed is Rathna-Ella originating from Hunnasgiriya range of mountains. This waterfall could be seen from the hear-pin, bends when travelling to Mahiyangana.
It is rumoured that Seetha was kept captive here for nearly a year. It was from here that she was taken to Seetha Eliya in Nuwara Eliya. Rawana’s administrative capital was Ravana Kotte. This is identified as a place in the South East quarter in the Southern sea near Kirinda. Ravana had a fortress - Kuda Ravana Kotuwa between Yala and Kumana.
Though his palace is sunk in the sea some parts of it could be seen when tidal waves subside in the sea. It was in Seetha-Eliya where Hanuman met her. When Rama’s troops came in search of her, Ravana took her to a place in Bandarawela 4500ft above sea level which is today known as Ravana-Ella. This place is visible from Ella Rest House. A pond where Seetha bathed also could be seen here.
Maligatenna in Welimada was another place where Ravana had a palace. Though it is a paddy field today the ancient granite pillars and bricks are yet visible. There is evidence to believe that the war mentioned in Ramayana which resembled the Trojan Greek war, had taken place in the Uva mountain range. The charred stone cravings and rocks provide evidence to the fact that lethal weapons were used in this war. The dents and boulders where Rama’s firearms stuck are seen today.
The crevices in the stone rocks further indicate that there had been some mass destructive activities in the area. Before Seetha was taken away she lived in a place called Ganakamada which was covered by a sand dune. Roomassala Kanda in Galle is a place associated with this legend. When Lakshman was wounded in this war Hanuma was sent to the Himalayas to bring a certain medicinal herbs.
Hanuma forgot the name of the herb and brought a huge land mass which had lot of medicinal herbs. A portion of this fell into the sea near Roomassala and the area was known as Roomassala Kanda henceforth and there are a lot of medicinal herbs here even today.
Might of Ravana
In the early periods, the Sinhalese lived in mountainous areas. According to Ramayana, Ravana travelled in this mountainous area in a plane known as Pushpaka. It could accommodate two hundred passengers. The seats of the king were made of gold and silver. There were two toilets and a kitchen in this plane (Rivira 22.04.2007 Dr. Suriya Gunasekara). According to Lankavatara Sutra, Ravana went in this plane to invite the Buddha. Dandu monara and Gurulu yanaya were the planes used when Ravana flew alone.
These planes were wind powered. Hence these places of landing were known as Wariyapola, Wariyagala etc; Ravana was blessed by Lord Shiva with the power of Mayavi Shakthi which empowered him to go by air, remain invisible create fires, create water falls, shoot thousands of arrows in a war etc: In the Lankavatura Suthra, the Buddha at the invitation of Ravana had visited Lankamalaya alias Lakegala and preached the Lankavatara Sutra. On a request made by him the Buddha placed his foot print on the rock. Huen San, a Chinese traveller of the Seventh century in his records mentions that Lankavatara Sutra was delivered on the Lankapabbatha rock.
Far Hian another traveller in 411 B.C. mentions that the foot prints of the Buddha were found in a place North of Anuradhapura the then capital and another print on a mountain about fifteen leagues away.
Ravana was not only well versed in the Thriveda but also on all other occult sciences and had a knowledge of divine weapons and sorcery. Mr. Arisen Ahubudu in a letter to the Irida Lankadeepa of 28.01.2007 states that Ravana was a renowned physician specialising in paediatrics.
There are seven books written in Sinhala by Ravana. These books have been translated in to Sanskrit. To fulfil a desire of his queen (dola duka) pregnancypica Ravana wrote “Kumara Bhat Chikithsa” a book on children’s diseases. Legend says that there was a herbal garden on top of Lakegala. Ravana possessed a special gift of a sword given by Lord Shiva known as “Chandrahas”.
This sword could be used as a weapon to win all the wars. Ravana was a classical dancer who danced paying homage to Lord Shiva. Ravana was such a clever musician that the Lankavatara Sutta mentions that when he went to invite the Buddha he played a violin with a bow made out of diamonds.
The tunes supplied by his flute to the Lankavatara Sutra were Sabhanya, Rishaba, Gandara, Daiwata, Nishada, Madyma and Kaishika etc: Ravana in late life gave the Empire to his son Abiraman and became the Lord of Gods, Sura, Asura and humans. Valmiki in his Ramayana mentions an incident to show how mighty Emperor Ravana was. King Karthi Veerya Arjun had gone to river Narmada to bathe with his queens. The Queens had seen Ravana bathing in the same river and objected to his presence. Ravana took the river water to both his hands and stopped the water from flowing.
His rule in Lanka
Though Ravana usurpered the kingdom from his brother Kubera, he was a just and righteous ruler. When reciting the “Sthotra” to Lord Siva his thundering voice could frighten the listeners. He was named Dasaguna or Dasagreeva at birth. Sri Lanka flourished with wealth and happiness during his rule to the extent of using vessels of gold to eat and drink and hunger was unknown.
According to Ramayanaya, Ravana had two other queens besides Mandodari. Ravana was against the caste system and there were no barriers of caste in Lanka at the time. How this mighty emperor fell from grace is a lesson to all the rulers. His downfall started with his virility that made his promiscuous sex habits.
He used force on Vidowathie while she was performing a rite to Siva. She cursed Ravana and committed suicide by jumping into a pyre. In another occasion he used force on a Apsara - Ramba by name. She happened to be Ravana’s brother Kubera’s son’s wife. She pleaded with Ravana not to molest her as she was his grand-daughter and a teenager more than twice below his age. Kubera on hearing this incident cursed Ravana and predicted that he will lose his ten heads if he behaves this way again after this incident. This was the reason why abducted Seetha was safe during her stay in Lanka.
Tha place where Ravana was cremated is identified as Padavigampola close to Rambukkana in the Kegalle District. (Kegalu vitti Page 56 Sabaragamuwa P.C.) The government should plan to promote tourism in these places associated with legendry Ravana.
Knuckles range where seventeen species out of the twenty seven species of birds found only in Sri Lanka, Ravana Ella in the Uva and the range of Uva mountains Meemure Laggala are some of the places where eco tourism and Ravana tourism could be promoted. Ravana fans from all over the world could visit these places if such tour programs are arranged.