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
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
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
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
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.