Ravana & the R.A.S.



The Hindustan Times has reported today that our Royal Asiatic Society has claimed "The Tourist Board has been over the last couple of years marketing Sri Lanka to India as the abode of Ravana of the Hindu mythological epic the Ramayana. This is a total travesty and a future danger for the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka as there is no historical evidence whatsoever about Rama and Ravana... I urge you to immediately cancel this foolish and anti national project’’


According to the RAS website, "The Society provides a forum for those who are interested in the history, languages, cultures and religions of Asia to meet and exchange ideas. It offers lectures and seminars and it provides facilities for research and publishing."

The problem is probably that the current president of the RAS Sri Lanka is obsessed with "scientific" issues only. He rejects the Ramayana, Rama and Ravana as "Mythology" and does not allow any discussions on such issues.

If he rejects the Ramayana as mythology, and the Ramayana sites in Sri Lanka, then the question arises about his stand on the Mahavamsa, about Vijaya, about Pandukabhaya, about the Buddha's visits to Sri Lanka and about Sri Pada. How do we separate history and literature?

Does he reject the Buddha, just because there is no "scientific" evidence about the Buddha, except for what is found in the Asoka edicts which were inscribed after about two centuries from the time of Buddha. Does he reject the images of the Buddha? Does he reject the Tripitaka because it was written down after many generations had passed it down orally?

If some ancient Indian king had inscribed on a stone pillar marking a place where Rama was born, where they found Sita, where they went into exile, then do we accept such claims as scientific, as we have accepted Asoka's editc abotu the birth place of the Buddha?

Why pick on the Ramayana?  Can he prove that Ravana is a mythical figure? How can he deny that Ravana was one of the greatest physicians our country has produced?

It is difficult to understand how the 'Ramayana Trail' organized by the Tourist board could be called an 'anti-national project'. If the SLRAS president considers it as a scientific body, how could they talk about anything as 'anti-national'?

The Ramayana as a threat to the 'Territorial integrity' of Sri Lanka, needs further explanation from the SLRAS, do they believe that Rama will invade Sri Lanka again?

Instead of a closed door session, why doesn't the RAS Sri Lanka have an open discussion, and also invite a few Ramayana scholars from around the world?

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