Ancient India : About Ravana & Lanka
Ravana is described as having been as a follower of Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler and a maestro of the Veena, but someone who wished to overpower the Devas. In the Ramayana, Ravana kidnaps Sita, who is the wife of Rama to exact vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister Shurpanakha.
Ravana’s devotion to Shiva
In fact, he is considered to be the most revered devotee of Shiva. He wrote the Shiva Tandava Stotra.
The story is that Ravana, tried to take kailasa, the abode of Shiva, to Lanka in his shoulders. So Shiva, who wanted to teach him a lesson placed his big toe upon kailasa which caused it to come crashing down over Ravana. Realising the power of Shiva and out of agony he plucked his nerves and played a tune and sang a praise dedicated to Shiva, which, in time came to be known as the Shiva Tandava Stotram.
In the final quatrain of the poem, after tiring of rampaging across the earth, Ravana asks, "When will I be happy?" Because of the intensity of his prayers and ascetic meditation, of which this hymn was an example, Ravana received from Shiva powers and a celestial sword called Chandrahas.
Hear a modern rendition here.
Lanka is the name given in Hindu epics to the island fortress capital of 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 site of Lanka is generally identified with Sri Lanka.
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. However, the Ramayana clearly states that Ravana's Lanka was situated 100 Yojanas (roughly 800 km or 500 miles) away from mainland India. 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. This island would therefore lie more than a hundred miles South-west 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.
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.
Bisrakh is 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. During the Dussehara festival, which celebrates Rama's victory over Ravana, effigies of Ravana are burnt in several parts of India. However, in Bisrakh, the nine days of Navratra ending in Dassehara are observed as a period of mourning when they offer prayers for peace to the soul of Ravana and perform Yagna. Locals believe that if Ramlila were to be performed in the village, it would trigger the wrath of Ravana on the villagers.