One of my Sri Lankan friends claims that Ravana spoke Sinhalese.
Is there any place in the Ramayana where the sage Valmiki mentioned about the language of Ravana and his people?

  • Raavan was a Brahmin and a great scholar. He knew Sanskrit very well. He created the Shiv Tandava Strotam when he was trying to lift the whole mount Kailash and Shivji just pressed his thumb there and he couldn't move it.
    – Love Patel
    Jan 28, 2015 at 0:46
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    He did not speak Sinhalese. Sinhalese was spoken after the arrival of Buddhism in the 2nd to 3rd century B.C. - Wikipedia - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinhala_language Jan 28, 2015 at 8:06
  • Until Mahabharata, everyone spoke Sanskrit. Feb 9, 2015 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


Yes, Ravana did speak Sanskrit. In fact, in this chapter of the Sundara Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana, Hanuman hesitates before speaking to Sita in Lanka, because he's afraid that Sita will mistake him for Ravana, since Hanuman spoke the same educated Sanskrit that Ravana spoke, as Ravana was a Brahmana:

If I use Sanskrit language like a brahmin, Seetha will get frightened, thinking me as Ravana. Especially, how can a monkey speak it? ... Thereafter, this large-eyed Seetha who is full of mind, thinking me as Ravana who can assume any form at will, may shout loudly, engendered by fear.... If I eulogize Rama, who is unwearied in action and a good relation, I shall not frighten her, whose mind is directed towards that relation.

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    What language did the people of ravan speak then?
    – sushma
    Jan 28, 2015 at 2:12
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    I can speak English. But English is my language though. Just because Ravan could speak Sanskrit, we cannot jump to a conclusion that his language was Sanskrit. Did his people speak Sanskrit too?
    – sushma
    Jan 28, 2015 at 21:16
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    Raavan having originally hailed from Northern India, might have spoken Prakrit if not for Sanskrit. His people after he conquered Lanka might have also spoken the same along with proto-Tamil.
    – Bharat
    Feb 17, 2015 at 0:15
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    @Bharat Tamil people came to Lanka much later. In any case, when Ravana came to Lanka it was completely empty of indigenous inhabitants; before him only Kubera and the Yakshas lived there, and before them only Ravana's grandfather Sumali and his brothers lived there; see my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/392/36 Feb 17, 2015 at 0:36
  • Well it is said he spoke Madhuram, which can very well mean sweetly, but Karunakarachariar said it means literally Madhuram or Amudu, ie Tamizh. (Tamizhukku Amudu enru peyar).
    – Surya
    Nov 20, 2015 at 15:18

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