Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#151 Could Chhindwara have been rAvaNa's lanka?

Where was rAvaNa's lanka? This was causing me several sleepless nights.

I have done a sort of loud and open thinking in these blog-posts. I have already written many times that we cannot make wild-guesses. At the same time, we cannot blindly accept that rAvaNa's lanka was SrI lanka, because of the impractically large distances involved.

rAvaNa abducted Sita, when rAma, lakshmaNa and Sita were staying at pancavaTi, on the northern banks of the River gOdAvari. Here we have two claimants for the godAvari-pancavaTi: 1.nAsik, mahArAshTra 2. bhadrAcalam, A.P.

rAma and lakshmaNa searched for sItA in the vicinity. valmIki rAmAyaNa does not mention that rAma and lakshmaNa crossed river gOdAvari and if so, how?

Moving they finally reach kishkindha-rishyamUka mountp-pampa lake/river. hampi-anegondi near beLLAri, KarnATaka State stakes a tourist claim for kishkindha.

From this point, hanuman-let South batch went southwards in search of Sita. After some months, they landed in a cave of svayamprabha. She brought the vAnaras out of the cave. At 4-51-32 of vAlmIki rAmAyaN svayamprabha told vAnarAs: "Here are vindhyas. Here are prasravaNa hills. Here is the great Ocean. Wish you all the best."

Between bhadrAcalam and rAjahmundry, there is a claim for the prasravaNa hills on both sides of river gOdAvari. A 15th Century Telugu poet SrInAtha also made a mention of these prasravaNa hills.

After some persuasion, hanumAn leaped over the 1600 km. ocean, taking the mahEndra hill as the launching pad. This mahEndra hill, popular tourism version, is in Andhra-Orissa border.

At that point, I made a prediction, that lanka must be an island between Visakhapatnam and Berhampur on the sea-coast off-shore.

Later, I felt that lanka could be an island on the Godavari river itself between the East-Godavari and West Godavari Districts of A.P. delta between Gautami river and the vAsishTha river. vAsishTha river near the bay of Bengal has two pilgrimage spots named rAmEswaram (North bank) and lakshmaNESwaram (South bank).

Yet I am not satisfied. Why? This distance is too long between phaizabad ayOdhya in U.P. and gOdAvari delta of A.P / mahendra hill of Andhra Orissa Border.

I then tried the western coast of maharAshtra. Any of the seaside forts of ratnagiri, konkaN, Diu and DAman could have been the hosts of rAvaNa's lanka. This is because of

6-4-72 :

ataH pAdapa sambAdham
nAnA mriga samAkulam
sahya parvatam AsEdur
malayam ca mahI dharam.

hanumAn returned from lanka. Informed rAma about sItA's well-being. rAma and sugrIvA launch the march of vAnara army towards sea-shore for crossing over to lanka.

rAma mounted hanumAn, the minister of sugrIva. lakshmaNa mounted angada, the Prince. They reached sea-coast in a day or two (epic not clear about time taken for the treck).

"sahya" mountains refer to "sahyadris" which are a long stretch, spreading from Gujarat to kanyAkumari.

"malaya" parvatams , TamilnADu's rAmESwaram has a claim. Where did the rAma's army actually cross the sahyAdris in one or two days from kishkindha.

The whole thing ends up as an impractical exaggeration.

Before we take up the case of chhindhwara in South Madhya Pradesh as rAvaNa's lanka, it will be better for us to estimate the boundaries of rAvaNa's kingdom:

East: bhagalpur, baidyanath dham i.e. deoghar, with its trikUT Mount.

South: tapati river, bhilai in chattisgadh, koraput and berhampur Districts in oDissa, and the mahendra hill.

West: Diu, DAman, Ahmedabad, kOTa.

North: Delhi, Allahabad, mIrzapur, sasAram, gaya, patna, bhagalpur.

We have to compare these boundaries of rAvaNa's kingdom with the boundaries of rAmA's kingdom. Though rAma claimed that entire Earth beonged to ikshvAkus and that Sea was dug by his ancestor Emperor sagara, we cannot accept this idea. We have to draw some realistic boundaries, even for rAma's kingdom.
East: ikshvAku viSAla's kingdom i.e. vaishAli in bIhar, janakpur in nEpal.

South: Yamuna and ganga rivers.

West: Delhi.

North: nEpAl. Northwest:kEkaya kingdom ruled by kaikEyi's father aSvapati.

Meerut City in Western U.P. : has a claim as rAvaNa's father-in-law mayAsura's kingdom, and as the native place of manDOdari, rAvaNa's queen.

Mandsor, near jOdhpur, rAjasthan: has a claim as rAvana's father-in-law mayasura's kingdom, and as the native place of manDOdari. Said to be the place of wedding of rAvaNa and manDOdari.

biSarakh, near NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh: has a claim as rAvaNa's birthplace.

kAnpUr, uttar pradEsh: has a temple for rAvaNa.

bhadkhedI village, ShAjApur District, Western Madhya Pradesh: worship of rAvaNa and his son mEghnAth.

Chhindwara District Headquarters town in madhya pradEsh: This place is situated to the south of Chitrakoot, Madhya pradEsh. chhindwAra has the 'kanhan' river flowing nearby. kanhan is a tributary of godAvari. Probability: location of rAmA's pancavaTi here. (I am not concluding).

Mr. Shivlal Ulke, President of gOnDvAnA mahAsabha (Great Congress of Gondvana), Damuva Block, Chhindwara District, Madhya Pradesh, was reported to have issued in October 2008 i.e. rAvan's effigy should not be burnt during dasshera festival. Instead rAvaNa was to be worshipped. In his words:

"Though Dussehra is marked by the burning of effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnad symbolising the victory of good over evil across the country, in some villages in the tribal-dominated areas of Chhindwara district people worship the demon king Ravana and his son Meghnad, ...
The tradition of worshipping Ravana and Meghnad - which has been primarily popular among the Gond tribes - has been religiously followed for generations because the Gonds believe that Ravana who was their king was a learned person well-versed with the vedas and an ardent Shiva devotee,
We have thus issued a directive in the entire block to alert the tribals against burning the effigy of Ravana on Dussehra since burning their effigies would tantamount to insulting the lord of the tribals,
This practice will not be tolerated any more. The local administration should ensure that the three effigies (Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnad) are accorded due respect,

Mr. Manmohan ShAh bhaTTi, M.L.A., GondvAna gaNatantra parrty (GGP), was reported to have said:

There is nothing unusual in asking the tribals not to burn the effigy of Ravana because he (Ravana) is worshipped by Gond tribals who believe that Ravana belonged to their sect,
This is evident from the fact that the biggest preacher (Dharmacharya) of tribals includes the name of Ravana while writing his name. He writes Moti Ravana Kangali and not Moti Kangali alone. Besides, fairs named after Ravana’s son ‘Meghnad’ are organized in several villages and he (Meghnad) is worshipped on such occasions.

We cannot simply set aside the above views of Mr. Ulke and Mr.bhaTTi as political statements, intended for vote-catching. On the other hand, the civilised society has neglected the people of villages and the people of forests as 'persona-non-grata' or as good as non-existent. The consequence of such deliberate non-recognition of local customs and traditions of people belonging to villages and forests is not-only their alienation from the Metro and City societies, but also their extending their thralldom to follow the 'nAgarika city-dweller' customs blindly. If Connaught Circle - delhivallah burns rAvaNA's effigy, bisarakh - NOIDAvallah should also burn the rAvaNa's effigy, without bothering to know that their own village was the birth place of rAvaNa. This type of forced-aping of customs will result not only in distortion of history, but also leads to monotonisation and monstracization of culture. It will be like a single course meal in a dirty hotel.

In the earlier posts, you have estimated that bhagalpur-deoghar / gumla of jhArkhand as possible locations of lanka. Are you shifting to ChhindwAra now?

No. The case of bhagalpur-deoghar-Anjan-gumla is stronger than the case of ChhindwAra. We can now make another calculated guess.

What would have happened to the loyal and staunch surviving supporters of rAvaNa after his death and coronation of vibhIshaNa as the new king?

We can use 25% probability. 25% might have stayed in lanka, accepting vibhIshaNa's rule grudgingly. Remaining 75% might have left lanka to far-off forests, to save themselves from persecution which was common to be initiated by new rulers and their lieutenants. The dilemma was either to stay as a slave in lanka or starve in a new forest till new settlements are made. It is how the Chhindwara settlement, bhAdkhEDi-ShAjApur Dt. settlements of gonD's might have taken place. To avoid recognition and persecution, they might have avoided the 'Asuri' language and the name-suffix 'asura' even in the new lands. Even the people of bhagalpur and deoghar might have stopped using Asuri language and the name-suffix 'asura', as else they might have faced social stigma.

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