"Lanka" (was RE: "Dalitstan" )

Yashwant Malaiya malaiya at CS.COLOSTATE.EDU
Sat Mar 11 00:05:57 UTC 2000

Katherine K. Brobeck asked:

>Was Lanka perhaps in the Murwara Basin, MP ?

Kathy, I assume you are asking about Lanka in Ramayana,
ruled by Ravana.

One thing is certain, it is not today's Srilanka.

Several books mention "Lanka" of Ramayana as being distinct
from the Simhal island (which is SriLanka):

Mahabharata (ArNya 51)
Markandeya Purana (55.20.29)
    It mentions that at the time Ravana ruled Lanka,
    Simhal was ruled by Chandrasena.
Devi Purana (42.46)
Bhagavata (5.19, 29.30)
Balaramayana of Rajsekhara
    Here during Swamvara, Ravana address another king as
Briharsamhita of Varahamihira (14.11)
RajtarangiNi of KalhaNa (1.294, 1.298)
Katha-srtitsagara (18.1.93, 2.4.124)
Vikramankadeva Charita (4.20-25,7-70;18.15,54)
Padmavata of Jayasi (p.10,11,12,15)

When I first read Padmavata, I was surprized to note
that Lanka and Simhal were assumed to be different
islands. The above list is from Hiralal Shukla's
"Lanka ki Khoj", 1977.

The fact that some other islands are also called Lanka,
suggests that the word has been used to mean any island
as well as a specifc island.

According to practically all modern historians, the Lanka of
Ramayana was not SriLanka, because the accounts in Ramayana
does not match it. My best guess is that it was one of the
islands of the Godavari delta, where the term "lanka" is
still used for the islands and the local inscriptions suggest
that some of the rulers derived their descent from  Ravana.

Some authors have indeed suggested it was somewhere in
modern MP, but I like Godavari delta theory.

Some activists see aryan-dravidian struggle in the Rama-Ravana
conflict. However that is far fetched. Ravana was a Brahmin and
Rama was dark-skinned, making the equation difficult.


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