Ravana Revisited

Ravana has come back to life. Just as he had been claimed to have ten heads, he has been re-created in as many forms. The latest reincarnation in the 'Ravana Meheyuma' (Ravana Mission) is by Susitha Ruwan, a doctor at Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital. It is a futuristic thriller with a historical background. In this novel he takes us back a few thousand years to the time of Ravana and Kuvera and a cave complex on Mahaeliya.

Though this is a work of fiction, but fiction using a lot of historical data, there are also several studies published recently, based on the recent archaeological discoveries, on ancient ola books and in folklore in relation to Ravana. "Yakshagothrika Bhashava saha Ravi Shailasha Vansha Kathava" by Ven Manave Vimalarathna himi, is a translation of an ancient manuscript written in the language of the Yaksha race. Ravana is said to be the founder of the Ravi Shailasha clan of the Yakshas. They were well versed in seafaring, navigation, astronomy, aeronautics and irrigation technology.

In the earlier book published by Vimalarathne himi, "Yaksha Gothriakayange Aprakata Thorathuru", he has given us more information about the Yaksha race. Ravana was also known as king Yagu Kauranamantaka. His son was Upendraminika.

Nagoda Ariyadasa Senevirathne, in his book "Sri Lanka Ravana Rajadaniya saha Sigiri Puranaya" , claims that Sigiriya was Ravana's Lankapura. He believes that the Sigiri Frescos had been painted during the time of Ravana, and that some of them may have been restored or painted over during the time of Kassapa. He identifies the lady in cave 13B to be Mandodari, Ravana's consort, and the lady with the deformed features is Shurpanaka, Ravana's sister after her face was mutilated by Rama.

Ravana's mother was Pushpotkata or Mahabiya, who was the daughter of king Sumali. Ravana was a scientist, a physician, and a writer. Among the books he had written are Udis Tantra, Shivathandava Sthothra, and on Ayurveda including Arkaprakashaya, Nadivignanaya and Kumarathanthraya.

One more idea presented by Senevirathne is that there could have been several princes and kings with the name Ravana, which has created confusion in our minds. Senevirathne argues that the name Ravana had continued even up to the 9th century. The pillar inscription found at Viyaulpota near Sigiriya mentions an official named Ravana (mekappar Kannami Ravanami).

Ravana belonged to the Yaksha. Kuveni was also a Yaksha princess. A. Suddhahami, in 'Kuveni nam vu Yak Landa' traces the ancestry of Dissanayake Herath Mudiyanselage Punchi Banda of the village Ranorava in Ambanpola. Punchi Banda claims to be a descendant of a Yakhsa named Mailavalana, who had escaped during the massacre of the Yaksha race by Vijaya. Suddhahami draws our attention to the Seruvila cave inscription, "Parumaka Yakadataha". Paranavitana refers to him as Yagadatta, but says that it may also stand for Yakhadatta. A Yaksha as a Parumaka could not have been a cannibal!

Ravana name is continued by a family in a remote village named Ravanagama off Balangoda. They still use their family name 'Ravana-ge'. The pebbles containing iron ore found in this region are known by the village folk as 'Ravana Guli'. There is evidence today that people who lived in this region had used iron implements more than 3000 years ago. Then, according to Prof. Raj Somadeva, we have been using iron tools much earlier than the Indians.

There are other families in Sri Lanka, who do not wish to admit their ancestry. Vimal Ranatunge in his book 'Polonnaruwe Pas Vasak' mentions a person, who reminded him of his ancestral likeness to the Yaksha. But it is time for such families to come out. It is time that they realized they are the true Bhumiputra of this country, as Dr. Harischandra Wijayatunga believes, the true Adivasai. Adivasi means the original inhabitants. Ravana was a great Sinhala king and a true Sri Lankan. We should be proud of such a long ancestry.

When we start our search for Ravana, we have to be careful not to confuse our great ancestor with the character shown in the Ramayana. Ramayana and Mahabharata are the two great epics of India. Rama and Hanuman are worshiped as deities. In their story they have to show Rama as the maryada purushottam, the Ideal Person. Then it is inevitable that Ravana has to be the opposite, the personification of evil.

Even then, Ramayana writers failed to hide the power, the technology and the intelligence of Ravana and the Yaksha race. That is why Rama had to seek the support of Hanuman and his monkey army to fight against Ravana and his Yaksha forces. They could not hide that Ravana had a flying machine, or some form of machine that could enable him to fly across the ocean and across land to distant regions. They could not hide the majesty of Ravana's Lankapura. They could not hide that they succeeded in defeating Ravana only through the treachery of his own brother.

Ramayana could be a work of fiction, or a story based on a religious legend. It is up to Indian scholars to search for the real Rama who had lived in India. But today we have sufficient evidence to believe that Ravana did exist. We could believe that a powerful Yaksha race lived in Sri Lanka alongside a Naga race, going back into deep history, at least 1.5 million years, since the finding of the Acheulean stone axe at Mayakkai, near Point Pedro.

We need to learn about our historic roots, because we can learn from them how to live in harmony with nature. We can learn how to prolong the lifespan of Mother Earth, which in turn would help us too to live longer and happier.

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