Is the Sri Lanka that is present in the south of India same as Ravana’s Lanka?
ANSWER: Not necessarily so, for several reasons.
That place was earlier known as Ceylon not as Sri Lanka. If we look at the travelaccounts of Marko Polo, who was a famous explorer who went to different places, he called that place as Ceylon not as Sri Lanka.
In the Vedic cosmology Sri Lanka is described as the abode of Kubera. Kubera is the treasurer of the gods and he is extremely opulent and powerful person;in fact, he along with Varuna, Indra and Yama are the four Lokpals whoare primary among the various gods. His abode won’t be just one small island within earth. Moreover if we look at the dimensions and the distance between Lanka and the southern coast of India as described in the Ramayana, that distance is much greater than the distance between Lanka, as it is today, and India.
Hence we can say that certainly it’s not identical.Sri Lanka as it is exists today in the south of India and Kuvera’s Sri Lankais different.At the same time we don’t have to make a campaign, trying to counter the widely heldidea, that the present day Sri Lanka and that Lanka are the same.
The important point to recognize is thatthe connections within the Vedic universe are complex.There are areas within this universe where people on the earth can be connected from one level of the universe to another, that means we have the earthly Vrindavan and we have Goloka Vrindavan and they are connected in inconceivable ways.Similarly we have the earthly Himalayas and we have the celestial Himalayas, we have the Ganga in the heavenly planets and we have the Ganga or the Ganges here. The point is there are subtle counterparts and the connection between them is mystical. So, it is possible that the Sri Lanka that we have over here is in some subtler way connected to Lanka which was Kuvera’s abode and which was later seized by Ravana.
Thereforethe important point to recognisewhen we are discussing pastimes like the Ramayana, which describe their own cosmology and their own geography, isto recognize that the focus of these books is not on cosmology or geography but the focus of these books is on spirituality, helping us to learn values and to becomepurified by which we can make devotional and spiritual advancement and ultimately attain eternal happiness in devotion to Krishna. So, that should be thrust of our study of pastimes.
There can be specialist devotees who with scientific training or specialized scientific inclinations who may do research and for that research to be done one has to do research on the history of the nomenclature of Sri Lanka, history of the water aroundSri Lanka and look elaborately at the references which are given for Lanka in the Ramayana, in associate literature and try to map out the connection between them;this is the domain of specialist. There are specialist scholars who may do it and there are specialist devotees also who may do it.
We as sadhkasmust primarily focus on the practice of bhakti so that we can purify our heart. So we don’t have to take a strong position for or against this. We understand that from variousperspectives, it is definitely not exactly identical to the Lanka. But are the two entirely different? We don’t necessarily have to take that position; we understand that it is not easily comprehensible for us and therefore we focus on the mainstream practice of sadhnafor our own purification and eventually liberation.