Prof.Madurasinghe's foreword to this new book….
Sri Lanka is at a point of transition. The resultant collective consciousness will provide an ideal platform to critically re-examine certain historical and cultural assumptions carried over the years and a willingness to open to a paradigm shift in thinking. It is natural when critical scholarship progresses, new names, places, and traditions will emerge challenging hitherto accepted views. This is an inevitable aspect of growth and progress if we embrace them with a spirit of humility and transcend the barriers of petty partisan polemics.
This book ‘Ramayana & Historical Rawana’ edited by Mr.Neil Kiriella is a valiant attempt to capture such new findings and bring in historicity to our legends aimed at the general public. This effort is indeed salutary and hopefully will lead to a lively debate and help untangle many webs woven around the pre- historical myths that have been passed down from generation to generation.
There is a growing body of emerging research to suggest that modern human beings evolved in South Asia, South-East Asia, and perhaps in South China. This challenges the widely held view that they originated inAfrica. This will drastically change the current views we hold about our pre -history.
Dr. Siran Deraniyagala, Former Commissioner of Archaeology , at a discussion held at the Hotel Sigiriya in Dec 2000, as well as at several lectures he delivered subsequently stated that as a result of radiocarbon- tests and excavations carried out in the recent years, the picture of our early civilisation is beginning to drastically change.
The discovery of cultivation of oats and barley, and herding about 10,000 years ago (initially at 17,000 B.P.) in the Horton Plains has given a totally new dimension to what has been known about the origin of farming and herding in the world. It has so far been assumed that it was West Asia, South-East Asia and East Asia, which formed separate cradles of revolution in the subsistence strategy. But now we have yet another nucleus – namely, South Asia.
This research was taken further by Dr. D.T. Hawkey of Arizona State University, where she used dental morphological traits to establish the genetic distance between populations. It is comparative work of the greatest value, and what she says is that these dental traits are genetically determined, and have nothing to do with environment. She has done comparative work not only on the Sri Lankan population but various Indian groups and further a field into West Asia and South-East Asia on the one hand, and Australia on the other. She has come up with important results on the genetic affinities of our prehistoric humans. This has confirmed the results of the earlier work done by Cornell University.
There is a large volume of evidence to suggest that Sri Lanka was a major player on the world stage. WhileChina was still engaged in formative and destructive wars, Sri Lanka had great kings, great art and monumental works of irrigation and buildings. This little island was evidently on a par with ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Egypt of the Pharaohs. Long before the Romans (400 BC), Sri Lanka had hydro spas, swimming pools, public baths with spray-jet showers, major irrigation reservoirs and hydro-engineering skills that worked accurately to a fall of one inch in one kilometre.
In the light of emerging evidence , it is also salutary that a vast of people have started to appreciate an ancient ruler who lived in Sri Lanka by the name of Ravana. This name became familiar to people from the story of Rama and Seetha in Valmiki's Ramayana, which is the oldest edition of Ramayana and is the source of all Ramayana that is relevant in various cultures . King Kumaradasa who lived in the sixth Century AD authored Janakiharana which reflects the Rama-Seetha story that was popular among the masses.
Legend has it that King Ravana was a very learned and pious man, a wise, just and peaceful Ruler, a loving husband, a fond father & brother. A famous flutist & composer well versed in Vedas, Angas and Sastras. He is called Dasis Ravana which means the king with 10 great talents. He was a descendant of Surya Wansha and Hela Raskshasa tribe. (Ancient Sinhalese tribe) He was one of the best fighters in Angampora, the traditional martial arts of the people.
King Dasis Ravana was a great Scholar in Ayurvedic medicine. He was the person who invented Arka Shastra. The book Arka Prakshaya reveals this truth to the present world. He wrote several books revealing the cures for many diseases. In one book he wrote "Eating beef is the cause to infect ninety eight new diseases to human beings. The book "Kumara Tantraya" which reveals the treatments for infant diseases was written by him accepting the request of his pregnant queen Mandodari.
In available records Ravana also emerges as a just ruler who governed the country very well. There was internal peace and no feud. He was the head of civil, judicial, military and spiritual administration of his vast and extensive realm. There was obedience not through fear but out of love for the safety of the peace-giving monarch. Harmony prevailed.
Legend also has it that Ravana had his abode on the summit of an awesome rock, and that his kingdom ofLankapura surrounded it. It is said that the rock itself was used as a device rather like a sundial to calculate time in his kingdom. In ancient times this rock was known as Lanka Pabbata or Lankagiri, both of which mean Rock of Lanka.
Going down to the southern coast to Galle is another interesting place associated with the Rama and Sita legend. It is a mountain called Rhumassala Kanda. From the top of this mountain you get a panoramic view of the Galle harbour and its environs. On a clear day you could even see Adam's Peak, Sri Pada.
As the author skillfully navigates from ancient legends to historical sites and dwells on Brahmi scripts , Rock inscriptions and Asura Empire, you will surely find it a rich source of many challenging views that may appear contrary to what you have hitherto believed. That would then serve the purpose of the authors well indeed !! “In Sri Lanka there is historical and archaeological evidences Rishi Thrunabindu, Rishi Pulasthi, Rawana and his dynasty. Taking all these into thought an attempt is made to indicate the incidents that meet recorded history. The reader may be puzzled by the differing theories of the origins and its analysis.”