Marketing Ravana
Posted on August 2nd, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva took pride in telling the world the other day about Ravana, the mythical Lankan king thought to have been capable of super human feats. He told an international conference of aviation high-flyers in Colombo on Monday that Ravana was the first to fly an aircraft—of course, according to legend.

It was a supreme irony that the civil aviation minister had to admit almost in the same breath that his government was looking for a partner to operate the Mattala airport!

The legend is silent on Ravana’s ministers. But, there is reason to believe that the mythical king did not have a minister in charge of aviation. Else, his flying machine, Dandumonara, would have been more grounded than airborne or he would have had to mortgage or sell it to the Indians to settle debts! He may also not have had an agricultural minister. For, the legend does not tell us that paddy was stored at the Dandumonara parking stand!

Flying is not the only first Ravana has been credited with. A little known fact is that Genghis Khan was the father of biological warfare in that he had rotting corpses catapulted into the forts he laid siege to so that diseases would spread, causing his enemies to surrender. His method worked and others developed it later on. Similarly, we are told that millennia before the Americans devised the method of extraordinary rendition, which, in plain English, means abducting people and airlifting them to prisons in various parts of the world, Ravana had practised it. He flew across the Palk Straits alone and returned, carrying Sita in his Dandumonara. His was an act of revenge. However, according to legend, he did not harm the damsel in distress.

One may argue that Lanka has experienced bloodbaths because of two notable Indian women—Sita and Indira. Sita was not responsible for violence her husband unleashed here on her behalf according to legend, but Indira was real and had a hand in creating militant outfits to terrorise this country.

Modern-day Sri Lankan rulers are in the habit of boasting of the country’s glorious past, especially its engineering marvels and, at the same time, begging for foreign assistance even to fix dilapidated sewers built by colonialists! We hope Minister Siripala hasn’t, due to his speech which extolled Ravana as a genius, incurred the wrath of his political bosses who are currying favour with the worshippers of Rama and Hanuman.

Ravana perished in an epic battle with Rama and his monkey army mainly because he was betrayed by his brother Vibhishana, who sided with his enemies from India. Ravana’s genes may not have got passed down. For, today, Sri Lankans cannot at least maintain an airport without foreign assistance let alone manufacture aircraft. But, some of them have inherited Vibhishana’s DNA as evident from their frantic efforts to hammer out trade, economic and technological pacts loaded in favour of India at the expense of Lanka. Vibhishana’s descendants are amenable to attempts to rebuild the ‘monkey bridge’ between India and Sri Lanka. They have also sided with invading armies throughout history; they even made elaborate arrangements to celebrate the quincentenary of the arrival of the first western conquerors, the Portuguese, but, thankfully, lost power one year before the event scheduled for 2005.

Now that a senior minister has spoken so highly of Ravana before an international audience, let him and others of his ilk urge the government to ensure that the mythical king of Lanka is given due recognition or, more appropriately, parity of status in the Ramayanaya trail project.

One Response to “Marketing Ravana”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Ramayana Religious Circuit and the Monkey Bridge are TROJAN HORSES being inserted into Sri Lanka’s fertile bosom to grow and enable hegemon India to ANNEX Sri Lanka into its empire.

    We Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka DO NOT WANT to become a MINOR APPENDAGE of Hindu India unable to even wean it’s people away from defecating on the streets in public!

    We Sri Lankans want to pick and choose what aspects of our Indian heritage we want to preserve and honor, and we do not wish to import. We do not want the entire smelly Indian kit-and-caboodle to be transported into and implanted in our Motherland.

    For nearly 3000 years we the people of Sri Lanka have created, fostered, defended, protected and preserved a UNIQUE CULTURE related to but greatly different from that of India today.

    Let us CONTINUE TO PRESERVE IT in as PRISTINE A FORM as possible and pass it on to our descendents for generations yet unborn!

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