Mythology 17 Aug 2017
Many of us have memories associated with the epic of Ramayana, be it going to Ram Leela as children or watching the effigies of Ravana burn on Dussehra. But did you know that gold, India’s most loved metal, plays a huge role in the story of Lanka? Ravana’s Kingdom, the city of Lanka, was literally made of gold and so was known as ‘the 'Golden City of Lanka.
The story of how the demon king acquired Lanka has two versions
In Hindu mythology, it is believed that the golden city of Lanka was built by Lord Vishwakarma- the “Principle Architect of the universe” , when Lord Shiva asked Vishwakarma to build a beautiful place for him and Goddess Parvati to reside after their marriage. Lord Vishwakarma designed a beautiful palace made of gold.
After it was ready, a priest was invited to conduct the housewarming ritual or ‘Grih Pravesh’ of the city. The priest was none other than the learned Ravana himself! Before he became the demon king, the wise brahmin Ravana was a master scholar. When he saw Lanka, he was overwhelmed by the beauty of it. He ended up asking for the palace as his Dakshina or reward and Lord Shiva granted his wish!
The alternate version of how Lanka came into Ravana’s possession is that he won it in a battle with his half-brother, Lord Kubera. In fact, Pushpak Viman, the golden chariot too belonged to Kubera. It is interesting to note that Ravana’s original sin of greed was instrumental in sealing his fate as the Pushpak Viman was the reason Ravana was able to kidnap Sita and bring her back to his Lanka so quickly.
As we all know, Ravana’s kidnapping of Sita set forth momentous actions, and one of those was Lord Hanuman’s visit to Lanka. Before setting fire to the whole city with his tail, however, the monkey god was struck by the gold city. Rama was told by Hanuman that it would be difficult to attack the place as it was made of gold! Because the city was made of gold, there was a wall encircling the entire city and that wall was made of gold too. Just behind the wall,there were gems, corals, and pearls laid around the city. There was also a draw-bridge which was unshakably firm and flanked by pillars made of gold .
When Rama rescued Sita, having defeated Ravana, he and Sita flew back to Ayodhya, their home, in the same golden chariot, Pushpak Viman.
For all the legends of Lanka though, the question remains: did such a city really exist? While most people continue to believe the modern day Sri Lanka to be Ravana’s Lanka, there is a lot of debate on the matter. According to new reports, the actual Lanka was situated in western Orissa, near a place called Sonepur. While nothing is known for sure, the name itself is perhaps a confirmation of the belief that Ravana’s palace really was the ‘Golden City of Lanka’.