Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Lanka included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Laṅkā

The kingdom of Rāvaṇa.


It is believed that the present island of Ceylon was the Laṅkā of the Purāṇas, the city of Rāvaṇa. This city of Laṅkā was situated on the top of the mountain Trikūṭa. This Trikūṭa was a peak of Mahāmeru. Because of a fight between Vāsuki and Vāyubhagavān this peak broke away from Mahāmeru and fell into the ocean. (See Para 5 under Kubera).


Viśvakarmā constructed a magnificent city on the top of the mountain Trikūṭa for the use of Kubera. Kubera lived there adored and worshipped by all. One day Kubera travelled by air in an aeroplane of his. Kaikasī, mother of Rāvaṇa saw that and she became jealous. She called her son to her side and said that at any cost the city of Laṅkā on the mount Trikūṭa should be captured and given to her. Rāvaṇa along with his brothers went to the Himālayas and performed penance there and obtained several boons from Śiva. Then Rāvaṇa conducted a victory march as an arch-opponen of all living forces and drove away Kubera from Laṅkā and took possession of Laṅkā as the place of his abode. He took along with him all the demons residing in Pātālaloka.

The design of Laṅkā.

Viśvakarmā, the celebrated architect designed the beautiful Laṅkā and the supreme building ability of Maya brought into form the enchanting city. On the top of Trikūṭa was the all important Navaratnaśṛṅga and on a spacious plateau on its top stood the majestic city of Laṅkā. In the centre was the ten-storeyed palace of Rāvaṇa and around it in eight different places stood the nine-storeyed buildings of the great ministers of Rāvaṇa. The nine edifices were like the Navagrahas (nine planets) of Laṅkā. Each of the nine edifices was built with one of the nine gems and the royal palace in the centre was built by using all the nine gems. Even the sun avoided passing over these buildings and changed his path either a bit to the north or to the south making what is known as the Dakṣiṇāyana and Uttarāyaṇa. (Yuddha Kāṇḍa, Kamba Rāmāyaṇa).

No sand in Laṅkā.

The ancient belief is that there is no sand in Laṅkā The fourth taraṅga of Kathāmukhalambaka of Kathāsaritsāgara gives a story relating to the reason for this belief.

Garuḍa flew to Devaloka to bring Amṛta (nectar) to redeem his mother from her servitude to his step-mother. On his way he took an elephant and tortoise from near the āśrama of Kaśyapa for his food. He sat on a huge banyan tree to eat them. On the ground below the Bālakhilyas were performing penance. The branch on which Garuḍa sat with his food sagged and before it broke Garuḍa took away the elephant and tortoise and deposited them on the mountain Gandhamādana near the ocean. The branch broke and fell into the ocean and the city of Laṅkā was built on the branch and that was why the ancient people believed there was no sand in Laṅkā.

Other details.

(i) Sahadeva sent Ghaṭotkaca to collect tribute from the King of Laṅkā for the Rājasūyayajña of Dharmaputra. (Chapter 31, Dākṣiṇātyapāṭha).

(ii) The people of Laṅkā attended the Rājasūyayajña of Dharmaputra and took charge of serving rice in the feast. (Śloka 23, Chapter 53, Vana Parva).

(iii) Hanūmān once burnt the city of Laṅkā with a fire from his tail. (See under RĀMA).

(iv) It was Brahmā who gave Laṅkā at first to Kubera. (Śloka 16, Chapter 274, Vana Parva).

(v) After the death of Rāvaṇa, Vibhīṣaṇa was crowned the King of Laṅkā (Śloka 5, Chapter 291, Vana Parva).

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