Lanka was a thriving kingdom often visited by ships both from far east and from the great empires of the Middle East and Europe. We were Serendib to Arabs, Taprobane to Greeks, Ophir to Phoenicians. We were a hub port for Chinese Roman, Greek and Phoenician ships. Ovir (Biblical Ophir) was a port on the North Western Coast of Lanka. East and the west met in this port. We were a centre for Chinese silk and other eastern products such as Musk, Sandalwood to be exchanged for what the West brought. At the time of the Hindu epic Ramayana, Sri Lanka ruled by Ravana (900 BC) was more prosperous than India, says Dr Karan Singh, Chairman of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
Delivering the first Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture, he said: “In the Ramayana – although its author was Mahrishi Valmiki, an Indian – it seems clear that Sri Lanka was much more prosperous than India.” “It was referred to as Swarnamayi Lanka (the golden Lanka) and contains graphic descriptions of the beautiful palaces and buildings that existed there several millennia ago.”
“As its position is central, the island is the resort of ships from all parts of India, Persia, and Ethiopia, and, in like manner, many are despatched from it. From the inner 57 countries; I mean China, and other emporiums, it receives silk 58 , aloes, cloves, clove-wood, chandana 59 , and whatever else they produce. These it again transmits to the outer ports 60 ,—I mean to Male 61 , whence the pepper comes; to Calliana 62 , where there is brass and sesamine-wood, and materials for dress (for it is also a place of great trade), and to Sindon 63 , where they get musk, castor, and androstachum 64 , to Persia, the Homeritic coasts 65 , and Adule. Receiving in return the exports of those emporiums, Taprobane exchanges them in the inner ports (to the east of Cape Comorin) sending her own produce along with them to each”.
(W.E. Tennant’s Ancient Ceylon quoting Sopater)
We ourselves exported Elephants, Ivory, Sapphire, Rubies, Pearls, Cinnamon (we were known as the Cinnamon mart), Sandalwood. Lanka sent many an embassy to China, Rome and Persia. In 1000 BC Lanka was reported as being 900 miles broad and wide. This is seen in maps by Ptolemy and confirmed by Sopater. In 900 BC (?Ravana) and in 100 BC (Kelanitissa) sea waves (?tsunami) destroyed and engulfed more than 90% of the then land mass of Lanka. With it we lost the gold deposits.
I recently heard that some scholars think Ophir was Sri Lanka and we certainly sent Cinnamon to Solomon. Septuagint calls Cinnamon “Kekunanama” which is the Sinhala (derived from Sanskrit) name. Sri Lanka also has Ivory, peacocks, sandalwood, precious stones – latter more than any other nation. Exod 30:23
1Ki 10:11 And also the navy of Hiram which brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great abundance of almug trees (sandalwood) and precious stones. 2Ch 9:10 And also the servants of Hiram, and the servants of Solomon who brought gold from Ophir, brought algum trees and precious stones.
- We sent Cinnamon to Solomon’s temple
- We have world’s highest biodiversity index
- We have the world’s highest quotient of potable water per hectare
- Largest blue sapphire and the most number of precious stones – also rubies
- Famous for pearls in the past
- World’s best tea
- Fine golden beaches
- 126 rivers with potable water
- Tallest mountains per land mass area
- Shrimp, lobster and sea food in abundance
- A mountain named Adam’s peak because the vegetation is so lush
- Strategic location in the Indian ocean with natural harbours
- Amazing coral life and tropical fish
- Most diverse cuisine according to Ency. Britannica
- and some very sad brutalities
Jon 1:3 –
To flee unto Tarshish – Some say Tartessus, in Spain, near the straits of Gibraltar, others, Tarsus, in Cilicia; and others, Taprobana, or the island of Ceylon, formerly called Taprobah; and Tabrobavagh in Sanskrit, to the present day. (Clarke’ Commentary). Tarsus of west (Near Spain) and a Tarsus of the East which some say was Sri Lanka (Taprobane – ancient name).
1Ki 9:28 – And they came to Ophir,…. About which place there are various opinions; some take it to be the little island of Zocatora, on the eastern coast of Africa, at a small distance from the straits of Babelmandel; others the island of Ceylon; others Sofala in (Gill) Cinnamon – is obtained from a tree allied to the laurel that grows in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and other islands of the Indian Ocean, known in Botany as the Cinnamomum zeylanicum. It is the inner rind of the tree dried in the sun. It was imported from India in very early times by the people of Ophir, and brought with other spices from the south part of Arabia by the trading caravans that visited Egypt and Syria. The mention of these spices in Exodus may be taken as the earliest notice we have connected with commerce with the remote East.
- Sri Lanka probably suffered a tsunami in 900 BC (?Ravana was king) and 200 BC (Kelanitissa was king) and lost 90% of her land mass. According to the maps of Ptolemy, Taprobane was 900 miles length and breadth. Sri Lanka lost her gold coast during these tsunamis. It is in this area that Petroleum has now been found.
- Ophir was Ovir – older name for Mannar, sea port on North West coast of Sri Lanka, known as the G reat Emporium in ancient times because it was the hub between East and west. Tarshish some say was Galle, an ancient Port in the south of Sri Lanka.
- Hebrew names for Apes, Peacock, Gems, Ivory in 1 K10:22 are transliteration from the Tamil used in Ovir (North West Sri Lanka) at that time.
We are holding on to the hope that the Lord of the Nations will restore prosperity to Sri Lanka.