Ramayana Trail in Lanka
The Sri Lankan Tourism Board has been actively promoting the Ramayana sites in Sri Lanka for the past one year. They had recently invited the Bharath Gyan team of D.K.Hema Hari and D.K.,Hari who had worked on Historical Rama in India, to Colombo. A discussion with the Bharath Gyan team of D.K.Hema Hari and D.K.,Hari, on their efforts in continuing with the Ramayana trail in Lanka.
Q. What is the background to your recent visit to Sri Lanka?
A. We have made two visits to Sri Lanka in the recent months. Both these visits were at the specific invitation of the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority and the Department of Culture, Government of Sri Lanka to compare and contrast the findings of the research done by them and us, on understanding the historicity of the events of Ramayana. The interesting thing to note here is that while the Indian government is unwilling or hesitant to accept the historicity of Rama, Lakshmana and their lineage, the Sri Lankan government, which is a Buddhist government, accepts the historicity of Rava na, Vibhishana, their lineage and the events of Ramayana that took place in the island of Lanka.
Q. What are the specific acts of the Sri Lankan government towards this acceptance of Ramayana events in Lanka?
A. The Sri Lankan Government along with a research organization based out of Lanka called Ashokavatika.org have brought out a CD on the sites of Ramayana events in Lanka. This effort was launched in Delhi in January 2007, with the famous cricketeers Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda D’Silva as the Sri Lankan brand ambassadors for this project. Since then the Sri Lankan Government has been encouraging and welcoming tourists to visit the 10 popular sites out of the 50 sites identified in Lanka as the sites associated with the events of Ramayana in Lanka. Air Lanka, the official airlines of Sri Lanka have also introduced Ramayana tour packages to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Tourism Board, under the dynamic leadership of their Director General, Mr.S.Kalai Selvam, is upgrading facilities at all these sites for the comfort of tourists.
Q. Do the historians and Buddhist scholars of Sri Lanka accept this?
A. The Sri Lankan tourism board organized a conference called Ramayana Trail in Lanka, at the premier Galle Face Hotel in Colombo in the month of July 2008. We were invited as a key note speaker for this conference to speak on the Historicity of Rama. The other prominent speakers at this conference were, Mr.Niel Kiriella, a respected Buddhist historian of Sri Lanka who extolled on the historical acceptance of the Ramayana events in Sri Lanka and Reverend Chandrajyothi Thero, a Buddhist Bhikkhu from the monastery in Vidurupola who has identified 49 occurences of the Ramayana events in the primary, Buddhist, historical text Sri Lanka called Mahavamsa. Based on this research of texts, the Rev. Chandrajyothi Thero has arrived at the conclusion that the events of Ramayana in Sri Lanka occurred around 7000 years ago – and has more probably occurred around 7000 years ago.
Q. Do you agree with these dates?
A. We in our research on Historical Rama, have brought forth a 37 minute CD, clearly proving the historicity of Rama. Details of this work are also available on our specific website for this topic, www.historicalrama.org. In our approach, we research and collate various research findings and look at the corroboration and convergence of the same.
For understanding the historicity of Rama, we have relied on the dates arrived at for the events of Ramayana, using the Planetarium Software and the star configurations mentioned in the literary texts for the same. A technique, we call as Archaeo-Astronomy. This gives us a date of around 7000 years ago for the events of Ramayana. Using Oceanography as a dating tool too, we are able to arrive at a date of 5000 BCE or 7000 years ago for the events of Ramayana.
This dating of Ramayana events to 7000 years ago by showing a convergence of various methods such as Archaeo Astronomy, Oceanography as a dating tool and Mahavamsa records from Sri Lanka is a unique corroborating effort of ours.
Q. What other efforts have the Sri Lankan government taken?
A. The Sri Lankan government has been regularly conducting refresher courses for the guides association of Sri Lanka with the help of historians and scholars of Sri Lanka in properly acquainting the guides with the historical aspects, so that they in turn can explain it correctly to the tourists. We were also invited to speak to the Guides Association and clear their doubts on the historicity of Rama, Ravana and Vibhishana.
Q. If the Sri Lankan tourism department has identified the sites of Ramayana in Sri Lanka, what has been your role?
A. Just as there are about 500 sites in India which are associated with the events of Ramayana, there are about 50 sites that are identifiable with the events of Ramayana in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan tourism board and AshokaVatika.org have identified the 50 sites in Sri Lanka. The interesting point here is that the Sri Lankan Government recognizes these as legendary sites, associated with the events of Ramayana in Lanka and are looking to ascertain their historicity scientifically. Based on our approach and work on Historical Rama, they had invited us, D.K.Hema Hari and D.K.,Hari at Bharath Gyan, a research organization out of Chennai, to help them in validating these 50 sites from a rational, scientific , logical and historical perspective.
Q. What has been your contribution during this visit?
A. During this visit to Sri Lanka, on the 18th of October, we made a 3 part Multimedia presentation, to the historians, scholars and general public of Colombo at the renowned Ramakrishna Mission Auditorium in Colombo. This meeting was co-sponsored by the Toursim Board, Sri Lanka and Chinmaya Mission, Sri Lanka. Here we clarified doubts raised by various scholars and the general public on the historicity of Rama, Ravana and Vibhishana. The consensus at the meeting was that, since the enormity of the data available with us was satisfying both from general and scholarly perspective, we should take it to UNESCO for further acceptance of the Ramayana related sites in Lanka thus proving the historicity of Ramayana from the Lankan perspective.
Q. What is this about a book that was released?
A. The Chinmaya Mission, Sri Lanka, with the sponsorship of the Tourism Board of Sri Lanka have brought out a commemorative volume titled “Ramayana in Lanka”. The research article by us , D.K.Hema Hari and D.K.Hari, forms a substantial portion of this book bringing out all the facets of the historicity of Ramayana. This book is now available with the Tourism Board of Sri Lanka and Chinmaya Mission, Sri Lanka.
Q. What are the next steps?
A. The Sri Lankan Tourism Board has asked us to work on a complete research book, bringing forth all the new studies on further establishing beyond doubt the historicity of Ramayana in Lanka. Towards this effort, we are working on a treatise which should be ready in the next few months. After this book is brought out and appropriately reviewed, we plan to make a film out of it as s sequel to our Historical Rama.
Q. What is this Bharath Gyan research institution?
A. Bharath Gyan is a research collation institution based out of Chennai. Here, for the past 8 years, we have been researching and collating data on 64 different subjects of India. These topics can be viewed on our website www.bharathgyan.com.
D.K.Hari of Bharath Gyan delivering the talk on Ramayana Trail in Lanka at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo
D.K.Hema Hari and D.K.Hari of Bharath Gyan at Galle, Sri Lanka
D.K.Hema Hari and D.K.Hari of Bharath Gyan at Ashok Vatika Forest, Sri Lanka
by the stream where Sita would have bathed
D.K.Hari in discussion with Mr. Bubsy of Columbia
below the Vibhishana Coronation Panel at Kelaniya Temple
D.K.Hari at the Sita Eliya Temple