The Talk Delivered By N.C.K Kiriella – Chairman Ramayana Trail Executive Committee Of The Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry At The Indian Cultural Centre Of The Indian High Commission On July 16th 2009.
Venerable Sir, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I sincerely and respectfully welcome all who are present here today to share and encourage all of us who are making an endeavour to bring proof to our accepted history which at best passed down as folk lore.
As the Chairman Ramayana Trail Executive Committee please let me bring in my committee to you. They are Dr Suriya Gunasekera an authority on Sri Lankan pre history. Dr Subash Chawla an authority on International Ramayana Mr B.M.U.D Basnayake Additional Secretary Ministry of Tourism who is of immense support to make all efforts a success and Mr S. Kalaiselvam Director General, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority who gathered in the Ramayana affectionate to Ramayana Working Committee.
My topic for the day is Historical Evidence of Ramayana & Rawana in Sri Lanka. My boundaries for the deliverance are limited but I may move away a fragment to explain a point that I have forwarded.
This story of Sri Rama by the great sage Valmiki is referred as "Aadi Kavya" .It’s the contemporary epic of Homer in the West. It is one of two great epics of India, the other being the Mahabharata; these epics had a decisive influence in shaping the nature of Indian civilization. Ramayana existed in the oral tradition perhaps as far back as 1,500 BCE; however, fourth century BCE is generally accepted as the date of its composition in Sanskrit by Valmiki. Some right-wing theoreticians in recent years, eager that Ramayana should have the same kind of historicity attached to it as the Bible and the Holy Koran, have sought to date Ramayana back to at least 6,000 years and even furnished an exact date for its composition.
The West as usual has a culturally biased view and tends to label non-western scriptures as mythical while they swear to the literal truth of the Bible. In fairness, it subjects its own ancient books to independent verification by acceptable standards, but they devote more time, intellectual effort and talent to the biased purpose. The archaeological efforts by Schliemann at Troy and Rawlinson at Beheshtun lend credibility to parts of the Iliad epic and the biblical story of the Assyrian destruction of Israel respectively. There are other ways to test the truthfulness than archaeology, for example human nature, the parallels of selective memory and its fading with time and social bearing and geography and common horizons that can be used to analyze ancient stories.
All these attempts by no means diminish the importance of the Ramayana, as its historicity is the least tempting question that can be raised about it and its characters. Whether in fact its hero Rama, who in Hindu mythology is an avatar of Vishnu a principal deity in his own right, and who is also worshipped in parts of north India as a king, existed or not is scarcely of any importance. The other is to view him merely as a as a sign of rightful king or as a symbol of courageous and militant Khastriya.
Indian pre history is based on Ramayana and Mahabharata. Though the origin of Ramayana is India, it mainly accounts of an invasion of Lanka.
Rawana was the grandson of Rishi Pulasthi and the son of Sage Visravas. He was the younger brother of Vaisrawana Kuvera (Kubera) and the elder brother of Vibishana, Kumbhakarna, Mahi Rawana (Luxhman), Hema, Khara, Dushana, and Suparnika. His mother was the Daitya princess Kaikashi daughter of Sumalin, King of the Daityas, who wished his daughter to marry the most powerful being in the mortal world to produce an exceptional heir. He rejected the kings of the world, as they were less powerful than him. Kaikashi searched among the sages, and finally chose Visravasmuni. However Visravasmuni warned her, as she approached him at an inappropriate time, their children would tend towards evil, but accepted her nevertheless.
Rawana’s father was Rishi Pulasthi’s son, Sage Visravas. As such his brothers and sisters were half Brahmin and half Rakus by birth. Brahmins are not a race or a religion but a status in the society. The Brahmins were the pinnacle of the then human society and were advisers to kings’ and the society. The Asura Brahmins were essentially teetotallers and vegetarians.
After King Manu’s royal dynasty there were other royal dynasties mentioned in the oral tradition, such as Tharaka 10,000 BCE, Mahabali 7500, and Rawana 5000 BCE. Interestingly, of these kings, King Rawana’s technological and military expertise was so renowned that he is depicted in Indian literature as having ten heads and numerous hands holding a multitude of weapons. Rawana assumed the leadership over his grandfather Sumali’s army. He then set his sights on Lanka. Lanka was an idyllic island, created by the celestial architect Visvakarma also known as Mayasura for Kuvera, the step brother of Rawana who was the treasurer of the gods. Kuvera had generously shared all that he owned with Kaikesi’s children; his step-brothers and sisters. However, Rawana demanded Lanka wholly from him, threatening to take it by force. Sage Visravas advised Kuvera to give it to him, as Rawana could not be defeated. To begin with Rawana commandeered Lanka. He was regarded as a benevolent and effective ruler.
Rawana had several wives and the foremost was Mandodari – daughter of Mayasura. Mandodari the beautiful married an aspiring Asura King and became the empress of his vast Asura Empire and mother of valiant sons. She was the queen of the golden city, on a jewel shaped island in one of the most beautiful tropical paradises on earth. Her husband Rawana had a roving eye for beautiful women but Mandodari handled the situation with wisdom. Instead of arguing, fighting or making life a misery for her and her family she took charge of the situation and managed the ever growing a harem of incredible size with women whom Rawana captured in many of his conquests and handled the harem of her husband with self-confidence.
She was very resourceful and knew statecraft better than most ministers. She handled Rawana with great skill and diplomacy and retained her position as his Chief Queen against all odds. From what Hanuman observed, despite her delicate position, she exercised great control over Rawana and was a moderating influence over his passionate nature. It could not have been easy living in the politically charged Asura court of Rawana. Despite the fact that the other wives of Rawana who had scores of valiant sons, she managed further the cause of her own sons with great skill. During the war, she counselled Rawana with great care. Had he followed her advice, Rawana would have won the war.
According to Ramayana, Rawana the King of Heladiva abducted Seetha the beautiful wife of Prince Rama, in revenge for Luxhmana’s (brother of Rama) barbarous act of cutting off the nose of his sister Suparnika, older than three of them but extremely beautiful, who questioned why they were dressed as hermits but still carry arms and the above was the answer of Luxhmana. Suparnika questioned them because they were carrying arms, as killing of animals were forbidden by law in Dandakaranaya, of which she was the Governess.
QUOTE - Ramayana Aranya Kanda – 3, 17, 12, 13
"You are an ascetic yet with a wife, handling bow and arrows yet in the appearance of a sage… what for you have come to this province frequented by Rakshas … it will be apt of you to tell the purpose of your coming here, in actuality…" UNQUOTE
This action of Luxhmana made Rawana to strike back by abducting Seetha which led to a terrible war.
However, Rawana's younger brother Vibishana opposed Rawana, as the correct move was to punish Luxhmana and not abducting Seetha who was another’s wife. Even Kumbhakarna advised Rawana to send Seetha back to Rama but he was arrogant and held that Lakshmana must be punished for his cold-blooded behaviour and planned to hit where it pains. Vibishana held that it was against the civilized values of their royalty to abduct another’s wife. Rawana’s self-centred behaviour forced Vibishana to stand by the cultured values of their royalty and help Rama to get his wife back. Vibishana’s behaviour proves that they were civilized.
Ramayana clearly states that Rawana’s Lankapura was situated on a rock.
QUOTE (Sundara Kanda chapter Two verses 23, 24, 25, 26)
Hanuman saw the city of Lanka equal to peak of Kailas as though touching the sky, as though flying to reach the sky, with its best mansions, filled with horrible Rakshas and serpents like the city of Bhogavati, one which was unfathomable, a well arranged and a clear city governed by Kubera in earlier times, protected by courageous, horrible serpents and Rakshas with mouths with sharp teeth like a cave, with spikes and spears in their hands. Hanuman saw that Lanka's great protection and the ocean and Rawana the horrible enemy. UNQUOTE
The main characters of Ramayana are Rama, Seetha, and Rawana. Some Indians declare Rawana as a figure of immense moral and physical strength. His immense penance, learning, and devotion to Brahma earned him the latter’s gratitude. Brahma conferred on Rawana the benefit of near immunity, making him resistant from destruction by gods or (other) demons; by this he also acquired the capacity to change his form. He was endowed with the strength of moving the seas and splitting the tops of mountains.
Rawana was the first to discover missiles and bombs. They were filled with venom and were called Nagashara, Agnishara and poisoned arrows. They were shot with a machine like a bow. Ramayana and Mahabharata, which was condemned as a “Hindu Mythology” by British and western historians met with a beyond belief incident on 6th August 1944 when the first atomic bomb was exploded in Hiroshima during World War Two. It proved an incident explained in Mahabharata.
Although the modern world did not experience atomic power until the 1940s, there is an astonishing amount of evidence that nuclear effects may have occurred in prehistoric times leaving behind sand melted into glass in certain desert areas, hill forts with portions of stone walls converted into glass, of the remains of ancient cities that had been destroyed by what appeared to have been extreme heat-far beyond that which could have been scorched by the torches of primitive armies. In each instance, the trained and experienced archaeologists who encountered such strange finds have stressed the point that none of these disasters had been caused by volcanoes, by lightning, by crashing comets, or by conflagrations set by humankind. Sinai Peninsula area was of apparent nuclear war activity
The ancient Mahabharata, one of the sources on Vimanas, goes on to tell the breathtaking destructiveness of the war:
“A single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and flame as bright as the thousand suns rose in its entire splendor. An iron thunderbolt a gigantic messenger of death which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas the corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable.
The hair and nails fell out; pottery broke without apparent cause, and the birds turned white.... after a few hours all foodstuffs were infected.... to escape from this fire, the soldiers threw themselves in streams to wash themselves and their equipment..." It would seem that the Mahabharata is describing an atomic war! References like this one are not isolated; but battles, using a fantastic array of weapons and aerial vehicles are common in all the epic Indian books.
In Ramayana this is described as follows: -
It was so powerful…that it could destroy the earth in an instant...a great soaring sound in smoke and flames…and on it sits death…
In the Bible Genesis 19: 24
“Then the lord rained down fire and tar from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and utterly destroyed them…”
Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro prove the pre historical atomic power. When the City of Mohenjo-Daro was excavated by archaeologists in the last century, they found skeletons just lying in the streets, some of them holding hands, as if some great doom had suddenly overtaken them. These skeletons are among the most radioactive ever found, and on par with those found at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ancient cities whose brick and stone walls have literally been converted into glass (vitrified), that is-fused together, can be found in India, Ireland, Scotland, France, Turkey and other places. There is no logical explanation for the stone forts and cities change into glass (vitrification) except from an atomic blast. This is exactly what had happened in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb attack.
The research or explorations on history will not end. More and more research on Ramayana and Historical Rawana has to be done to establish the truth. There are cave inscriptions of Rawana and of his dynasty in Sri Lanka. Some have been already explored by the Ramayana Trail Executive Committee of the Ministry of Tourism.
Dr Suriya Gunasekera a reputed historian in an article to Rivira a weekend newspaper states that Rawana the powerful great administrator and Emperor ruled over seven continents from Lanka. They were the modern South America, Southern Europe; Himalaya including the Hindukush mountain range and continents up to Madagascar.
According to the belief of Sri Lankan populace the only tsunami they have ever heard before was the one that took place nearly 2,200 years ago during the reign of the King Kelanitissa. This tsunami is recorded in Mahawansa and is accepted as a tsunami.
Since the last tsunami of 2004 which shocked the world many evidences of many tsunamis that had taken place since prehistory were highlighted. It’s interesting to note that more frequent tsunamis have shattered the isle of Lanka than most of us have ever thought. Information of different incidents related to earthquakes and tsunamis can be gathered by carefully studying diverse sources of history.
The first incident, which has not been recorded in any of the ancient Sri Lankan texts, allegedly has taken place at the end of Rawana’s reign. According to Ramayana, Rawana’s kingdom, with 25 Palace’s and over 400,000 streets were swallowed by the sea. Let’s think over whether it could have actually happened. Though the exact location of the Rawana’s kingdom is not historically identified but it is accepted as Sri Lanka. However, with the findings of rock edicts pertaining to Rawana and his dynasty in Sri Lanka, it proves that Sri Lanka is the Lanka stated in Ramayana. So it was quite possible that this pre-historic or rather pre-Mahawansa kingdom near present Arugambay has been completely destroyed by a tsunami or an earthquake.
This provides an answer to the question if there had been beyond doubt a ‘Rawana’s kingdom’ in the pre-Mahawansa period and why we cannot find any evidence of it today. If it were entirely submerged by sea, as described in the script, there could not have been any traces of this kingdom on the land. It is quite probable that the remaining land area of Sri Lanka is the tiny portion of the massive Rawana’s kingdom, which had been several times bigger. Why cannot the rock islands, on which the light houses Great Basses (Maha Rawana) and Little Basses (Kuda Rawana) stand were remaining parts of the Rawana’s kingdom?
According to Ramayana Sri Lanka was a huge continent. The early Indian astronomers established that the capital of Sri Lanka, as the equinoctial point in the universe. Rawana-Kotte [the great and little basses] is located off the southeast coast. This was one of Rawana's Fortresses, and an impregnable stronghold renowned for its seven concentric ramparts and parapet of brass. Maritime archaeological researchers have found a number of places and objects of archaeological and historical value from this zone, which can be accessed by boat from Kirinda. The decision to proclaim this area a security zone was taken at a discussion held in last July (2007) between the Archaeological Department, Central Cultural Fund and Sri Lanka Navy. King Rawana had built one of his fortresses at these locations which are submerged in the sea now.
Another interesting question is whether Sri Lanka had been connected to Indian subcontinent during this period. According to Ramayana, Hanuman could bring his entire army to Lanka without much difficulty. So it is again possible that there had been some sort of land connection between the subcontinent and the isle of Lanka (Even as later as 300 BC, Megasthenes, the Grecian Ambassador of the court of Chandra Gupta, had mentioned that Taprobane was separated from the mainland by a ‘river’. The fact that he opted for the word ‘river’, instead of ‘sea’, indicates that this gap could not have been wide.) It is also quite possible that this connection was destroyed as a result of a combination of an earthquake and a powerful tsunami.
It is said that Rawana partly being a Brahmin, performed the necessary Vedic rituals (poojas) for Rama before the war between Rama and himself. It’s just one of the perfect qualities he possessed. When Rawana met Rama in battle, it was typical of Rawana to exhibit his skill, and to speak arrogantly of crushing Rama to bits. Meanwhile, Rama simply goes about his task and sends his final weapon, the "Brahmasthra". This weapon was craftily removed from Rawana’s armoury on the leads meticulously detailed by Vibishana. It was Vibishana’s advice that made Rama to kill Rawana. However, Rama, in recognition of the fact that he met his match and that Rawana was a Brahmin by birth, well-versed in the Vedas and boundless in his knowledge of Sanskrit, ordered that the funeral arrangements suitable for a Brahmin.
Rama advised Luxhmana to learn administration from Rawana before breath his last. Even in his last stages Rawana acted as an Emperor of great qualities. Would he have told the hints of administration to his vanquishers brother if did not possess qualities of a great personality. Rawana as he lay dying on the battlefield, holding on to the very last breath and gave Lakshmana instructions on Nitishastra and proper administration, Rawana is said to have commented, “Never assume that you have all the time in the world and take nothing for granted. Never delay or postpone. I conquered the Heavens and imprisoned Yama, the Lord of Death to my bedstead and Shani, the ninth planet under my throne. I told myself that I will always have time to finish them later. What good did this delay do? They prevailed anyway.”
Rawana life is a classic example of brilliance gone wrong. He was given the very best instruction and was truly great in his abilities and achievements but never learnt the lesson of humbleness. His ego and pride were boundless. Instead of following the path of Dharma, he always chose to break it. Instead of gaining fame for his numerous good qualities, he was known for his rude behaviour. His atrocities kept growing in number and eventually became so terrible, that it took an incarnation of Vishnu to subdue him.
Most who have read Ramayana wonder why Rawana, who lusted for Seetha, kept her in captivity for years, but did not violate her. He frequently requested her to become his wife, but she refused his advances. Pious readers are prejudiced and prone to the understanding that Seetha’s purity made her firm. However, Rawana had the benefit of power, and she was his captive. It is said that Rawana’s mother Queen Kaikashi and his Queen Mandodari dissuaded him. It is even possible to argue that, having kidnapped her, Rawana wished to have Seetha for himself only if she gave her consent; to do otherwise was to abandon the badge of honour the mightiest carried. What an extraordinary high discipline Rawana maintained. Right beside him, subject to his great power, was a woman for whom he had a burning desire, and yet he controlled himself.
However, some interpreters, such as the 19th century Bengali writer, Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873), were of the view that “Rawana displayed the qualities of masculinity, honour, faithfulness, dependability, and justice to a great extent. Though the character of Rawana may seem like a closed book, there is sufficient plurality in Indian traditions that even Rawana is capable of some recuperation.”
Details pertaining to Rawana could be found from “Rawana Katha” the Ola Book written by Mahakappinna Wickramasingha Adigar of Nilgala Walauwa. This book contains auspicious times and mantra’s (occult science) of King Rawana.
In 1893 H.C.P Bell an Englishman explored on Sri Lankan archaeological sites. Some of the rock edicts deciphered by Mr Bell were misconstrued and publicised in 1970. H.W. Codrington in 1912 authored ‘Concise History of Ceylon’ and it is the first history book of Sri Lanka in the yesteryear other than our Mahawansa. Confirmed historical evidence is lacking of the pre-Vijaya era, as no genuine study is done. These historians and archaeologists kept away from exploring the pre history of Sri Lanka, as they were not permitted or not concerned in doing so.
However, few erudite scholars were bold enough to express their opinions on these findings and explorations. There is historical evidence inscribed on rocks that the indigenous populace in Sri Lanka have used a developed alphabet since 17500 BCE. There is a conviction and it is also cited in our written history that we are the descendents of King Vijaya. This may have been an incorporation of the Buddhist monastic order in order to establish a connection with Lord Gautama Buddha the great teacher and the Sri Lankan monarchy.
In Sri Lanka there are historical evidences of Rawana’s grand father Rishi Pulasthi extending nearly to three generations. Rishi Thrunabindu and Rishi Pulasthi meditated in neighbouring caves (ashrams). Rishi Pulasthi married his neighbour Rishi Thrunabindu daughter Havirbhu. Their son was Vishrava’s who became a Sage. Vishrava’s second marriage was to Kaikashi. They had many children including Rawana, Kumbhakarna and many more. The reality of having two caves alongside in Vessagiriya Anuradhapura is in accordance with Ramayana.
A team of the Ramayana Trail Executive Committee including Dr Suriya Gunasekera and myself visited Wegiriya, Molagoda, and Rahalagala, to decipher and photograph three inscriptions. It was a very tedious and a time consuming journey however, we were successful. We will be exploring many rock edicts pertaining to Ramayana and Rawana in Sabaragamuwa, Central, North Central, Eastern, and in Uva provinces. Some of them have been deciphered already, some misread and publicised, however we have to examine them before being publicised.
There are many inscriptions of Rawana and his dynasty misconstrued and published in “Inscriptions of Ceylon” of which some will be revealed to you in a little while. Now, I will show you visuals of several historical sites.
Cobra Hooded Cave – Sigiriya Pulasthi Statue – Polonnaruwa Vessagiriya – Anuradhapura Isurumuniya Lovers – Anuradhapura
Rishi Visravasmuni Rumassala The Basses Rawana Ella Cave Rawana Falls Rawana Carving – Ella Stripurakanda – Kiriwanagama
Manawela Falls Lakegala (Laggala) Ritigala Nala Sethu (Adams Bridge) Wegiriya Molagoda
When Hanuman came to Sri Lanka on his spying tour in search of Seetha he was apprehended by Rawana's guards and later released. Rawana knew that Rama would invade Sri Lanka to liberate Seetha. As a military precaution Rawana blew up the connecting land mass. However Rama’s army repaired the blown land mass and invaded Sri Lanka. After the war most parts of Sri Lanka was submerged due to a tsunami and Rawana’s palaces, Maha Rawana Kotte and Kuda Rawana Kotte in the south eastern parts of the island submerged. According to the Ramayana epic this took place because of the misdeeds of Rawana, but this seismic happening is confirmed by modern science.
Lastly I must tell you that Rishi Valmiki authored Ramayana, based on a genuine incident. It details the Rama-Rawana event, which took place 5000 – 6000.BCE. Evidence exists that Ramayana was based on a genuine incident. The evidence of Seetha’s stay in Sri Lanka and Rawana’s historicity proves that Ramayana is not a myth but a factual incident authored by Rishi Valmiki in prose. It is more fitting to note the facts, which connect the oral and recorded history.
Rawana was a globally reputed and valued great intellectual. He was the author of many books. However, parts of few books are found. They are the Samaveda, Nadi Prakasha, Kumara Tantra, Uddisha Tantra, Prakrurtha Kamadhenu, and Sivathandawa Sthothra and the Ayurvedic book ‘Arka Prakasha’. His superior acquaintance in Sanskrit can be evaluated from Sivathandawa Sthothra and further he was a proficient Ayurvedic Physician. The art of distilling of Arka and the preparation of Asawa was his invention states Ayurvedic history. He invented the ‘Varuni’ machine to brew Arka. Rawana was the founder of SINDHURAM medicine. These medicine cured wounds instantly. He was known as Vaidya Shiromani as he rendered valuable service to Ayurveda. He was a divine pharmacologist and a Dhayana yogi.
Taking the above facts into consideration it could be boldly stated that Emperor Rawana was a not a legend but a Historical Emperor of Heladiva Sri Lanka. I attempted to illustrate the incidents that meet head-on with recorded history. However, a similar danger will arise if you the audience attempt to reach self-confident conclusions based only on recorded history. I leave you to assess the findings and reach an impartial conclusion.
I take this opportunity to thank Dr Subash Chawla for introducing me to the Cultural Division of the Indian High Commission, Ms Subashini Handy for all the support given, my son Indika for the graphic presentation and all those who helped me in numerous ways.
I very humbly thank all those who are present here today