Ravanayana - saga of Lanka | Sunday Observer

Ravanayana - saga of Lanka

RAVANAYANA - SAGA OF LANKA Mario Perera Publisher: Godage and Brothers Pvt., Ltd. Maradana

Mario Perera, whose book ‘Wrath of Kali: the dark side of God’ is shortlisted for the Fairway Literary Award 2017 as well as for the Godage National Literary Award 2017, has produced yet another literary gem.

The Ravanayana is a retelling of the famous Indian epic the Ramayana. Written by Valmiki, especially, for the North Indians of his time, the Ramayana glorifies their hero Rama, believed to be the incarnation of Vishnu, the second person of the Hindu Trinity. As in all epics, the story also has a villain of the piece. In Valmiki’s narrative, that villain is Ravana, dubbed the demon king of Lanka. Now, over whom can a demon king rule but over demons!

Practically, all Indians of today rise in defence of Valmiki’s text, extolling their heroes and providing dubious defences for their obvious and glaring moral failures. As for Ravana of Lanka, he remains vilified and petrified as the malefactor of the tale. Indeed, Ravana is considered as the charcoal which no amount of cleansing in milk can be made to seem white.

However, Valmiki’s epic has not gone uncontested. The plot has given rise to more than three hundred versions. In Sri Lanka, Dr. Mirando Obeysekara picked up the gauntlet with his extensive research and literary works.

So have other Sri Lankan authors who have presented variants to the Indian thesis. This is as it should be, considering that the drama of the Ramayana unfolded mainly on Lanka’s soil. What this means is: no Lanka, no Ramayana.

The other versions referred to and written by authors of South and South-East Asia bring Valmiki’s saga under scrutiny.

Many adopt a feminist perspective extolling the virtues of Sita. Others use the topic for advocating social change. Still others present Ravana in a more lenient light, praying for clemency with regard to his ‘misdemeanours’. Yet, the principal plot as determined in the Indian epic still remains unchallenged. The Ramayana is undoubtedly a stain on the moral fibre of Lanka whose pride in the past, the great poet W.S.Senior said, is pulsive hot in her people’s veins.

The approach this book adopts is thoroughly original. It radically opposes the viewpoint of the great nation where the Ramayana originated. It challenges what has hitherto been considered as Indian dogma. It refuses to accept the unwritten motto: when the great ones lay down standards, those standards stand!

Ravanayana is the Ramayana as seen through the lenses of Ravana and written from the perspective of Ravana himself. The key personalities of the story emerge with a mythological glow surrounded by mystic halos as befits their status of founders of the lion race – the Tri-Sinhala. The unfolding drama, the saga of Lanka, is irremediably linked with the ‘presence’ and teaching of the greatest sage ever to grace the earth.

Mario Perera’s Ravanayana, therefore, is an exemplary effort to redress a grave historical injustice to Sri Lanka and to its first known king. Not only does it rise in the defence of our legendary monarch, but also takes on the Indian juggernaut head-on by rewriting the script!

Ravanayana is an endeavour to show Lanka’s evolution through myth and history as being homogenous. Within such a vision, Lanka’s past cannot be radically and unrecognizably divorced from its present.

The rulers and the people of that time, even when presented under a mythical aura, were nevertheless susceptible to the lofty noble influences that impregnate its present culture and civilization. This is what the Ravanayana strives to achieve.

Ravanayana: Saga of Lanka is a unique piece of literature written by a very erudite writer who has imbibed from profound academic and religious sources of the world. Ravanayana highlights the glory of a nation whose antiquity and history are second to no other, whose civilization and achievements emerged from an incomparable religious teaching of a very distant origin—a teaching whose unique repository it is, and whose glory it has radiated far and wide across the globe. Ravanayana: Saga of Lanka, is all about the fabulous Ravana of glorious Lanka.