Lanka (/ˈlʌŋkɑː/) is the name given in Hindu epics to the island fortress capital of the legendary asura king Ravana in the epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The fortress was situated on a plateau between three mountain peaks known as the Trikuta Mountains. The ancient city of Lankapura is thought to have been burnt down by Hanuman. After its king, Ravana, was killed by Rama with the help of Ravana's brother Vibhishana, the latter was crowned king of Lankapura. The site of Lankā is identified with Sri Lanka. His descendants were said to still rule the kingdom during the period of the Pandavas. According to the Mahabharata, the Pandava Sahadeva visited this kingdom during his southern military campaign for the rajasuya of Yudhishthira.

The golden abode of King Ravana

RamayanaEdit

The island was situated on a plateau between three mountain peaks known as the Trikuta Mountains. The ancient city of Lankapura is thought to have been burnt down by Hanuman. After its king, Ravana, was killed by Rama with the help of Ravana's brother Vibhishana, the latter was crowned king of Lankapura. The site of Lankā is identified with Sri Lanka. His descendants were said to still rule the kingdom during the period of the Pandavas. According to the Mahabharata, the Pandava Sahadeva visited this kingdom during his southern military campaign for the rajasuya of Yudhishthira. Ravan the ruler of Lanka during Satyug, the asur who was killed by Shri Ram was born in Bisrakh, a village 10 km away of Greater Noida, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The locals claim their village to be birthplace of the legendary king Ravana, who rules Lanka in the epic Ramayana.


Rulers of LankaEdit

According to both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Lanka was originally ruled by a yaksha named Sumali. Kubera seized control of Lanka and established the Yaksha Kingdom and his capital was guarded by rakshasas. His half-brother Ravana, son of the sage Vishravaya and Sumali's daughter Kaikesi, fought with Kubera and took Lanka from him. Ravana ruled Lanka as king of the Rakshasa Kingdom. The battle in Lanka is depicted in a famous relief in the 12th-century Khmer temple of Angkor Wat.[citation needed]

 
Hanuman set fire to Lanka

After Ravana's death, he was succeeded by his brother, Vibhishana.

Location of Ravana's "Lanka" according to RamayanaEdit

The Lanka referred to in the still-extant Hindu Texts and the Ramayana (referred to as Ravana's Lanka), is considered to be a large island-country, situated in the Indian Ocean. Some scholars asserted that it must have been Sri Lanka because it is so stated in the 5th century Sri Lankan text Mahavamsa.[1] However, the Ramayana clearly states that Ravana's Lanka was situated 100 Yojanas (roughly 1213 km or 753.72 miles) away from mainland India.[2][3] Some scholars have interpreted the content of these texts to determine that Lanka was located at the point where the Prime-Meridian of India passes the Equator.[4][5] This island would therefore lie more than 160 km (100 mi) southwest of present-day country of Sri Lanka. The most original of all the existing versions of Valmiki's Ramayana also suggest the location of Ravana's Lanka to be in the western Indian Ocean. In fact it indicates that Lanka was in the midst of a series of large island-nations, submerged mountains, and sunken plateaus in the western part of the Indian Ocean.[6][7]

There has been a lot of speculation by several scholars since the 19th century that Ravana's Lanka might have been in the Indian Ocean around where the Maldives once stood as a high mountain, before getting submerged in the Indian Ocean.[8][9][10][11] Sumatra has also been suggested as a possibility.[1]

DescriptionEdit

 
Hanuman Watches Lanka Burn

Ravana's Lanka, and its capital Lankapuri, are described in a manner that seems superhuman even by modern-day standards. Ravana's central palace-complex (main citadel) was a massive collection of several edifices that reached over one yojana (13 km or 8 mi) in height, one yojana in length, and half a yojana in breadth. The island had a large mountain range known as the Trikuta Mountain, atop which was situated Ravana's capital of Lanka, at the center of which in turn stood his citadel. [12][13][14]

References to Lanka in the MahabharataEdit

Many of the references to Lanka in the Mahabharata are found in sage Markandeya's narration of the story of Rama and Sita to king Yudhishthira, which narration amounts to a truncated version of the Ramayana. The references in the following summary are to the Mahabharata, and adhere to the following form: (book:section). Markandeya's narration of the story begins at Book III (Varna Parva), Section 271 of the Mahabharata.

Sahadeva's expedition to SouthEdit

Sahadeva, the son of Pandu, conquered the town of Sanjayanti and the country of the Pashandas and the Karanatakas by means of his messengers alone, and made all of them pay tributes to him. The hero brought under his subjection and exacted tributes from the Paundrayas (Pandyas?) and the Dravidas along with the Udrakeralas and the Andhras and the Talavanas, the Kalingas and the Ushtrakarnikas, and also the delightful city of Atavi and that of the Yavanas. And, He having arrived at the seashore, then dispatched with great assurance messengers unto the illustrious Vibhishana, the grandson of Pulastya and the ruler of Lanka (2:30).

Presence of the King of Lanka in Yudhishthira's RajasuyaEdit

Lanka king is listed as present in the conclave of kings present in Pandava king Yudhishthira's Rajasuya sacrifice.

.. The Vangas and Angas and Paundras and Odras and Cholas and Dravidas and Cheras and Pandyas and Mushika and Andhakas, and the chiefs of many islands and countries on the seaboard as also of frontier states, including the rulers of the Sinhalas, the barbarous mlecchas, the natives of Lanka, and all the kings of the West by hundreds, and all the chiefs of the seacoast, and the kings of the Pahlavas and the Daradas and the various tribes of the Kiratas and Yavanas and Sakras and the Harahunas and Chinas and Tukharas and the Sindhavas and the Jagudas and the Ramathas and the Mundas and the inhabitants of the kingdom of women and the Tanganas and the Kekayas and the Malavas and the inhabitants of Kasmira ... (3:51).

Other fragmentary referencesEdit

  • Lanka, with its warriors, and horses, elephants and chariots (3:149).
  • Lanka with its towers and ramparts and gates (3:147)
  • The walls of Lanka (3:282).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Braddell, Roland (December 1937). "An Introduction to the Study of Ancient Times in the Malay Peninsula and the Straits of Malacca". Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 15 (3 (129)): 64–126. JSTOR 41559897.
  2. ^ Valmiki Ramayana 4.58.20
  3. ^ Valmiki Ramayana 4.58.24
  4. ^ Sewell, Robert; Dikshit, S. B. (31 May 1995). The Indian calendar, with tables for ... – Google Books. ISBN 9788120812079. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Bharath Gyan". Bharath Gyan. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  6. ^ Valmiki's Ramayana
  7. ^ Vālmīki; Venkatesananda, Swami (1 January 1988). The Concise R_m_ya_a of V_lm_ki. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780887068621.
  8. ^ Moor, Edward (1999). The Hindu Pantheon - Edward Moor - Google Books. ISBN 9788120602373. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  9. ^ Bell, Harry Charles Purvis (1998). Excerpta Máldiviana - H.C.P. Bell, Harry Charles Purvis Bell - Google Books. ISBN 9788120612211. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  10. ^ Purnalingam Pillai, M. S. (1993). Ravana - The Great King of Lanka - M.S. Purnalingam Pillai - Google Books. ISBN 9788120605473. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Situation of Ravana's Lamka on the Equator". The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society. XVII (1). 1926.
  12. ^ "Valmiki Ramayana - Sundara Kanda - Sarga 9". Sanskritdocuments.org. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  13. ^ Guruge, Ananda W. P. (1991). The Society of the Rāmāyaṇa - Ananda W. P. Guruge - Google Books. ISBN 9788170172659. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  14. ^ Vālmīki (1976). Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana - Vālmīki - Google Books. Retrieved 7 November 2012.

External linksEdit

  • Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated from Sanskrit into English by Kisari Mohan Ganguli