Swami Siva Kalki in Colombo, 1990

Swami Siva Kalki, Colombo 1990

Editor's note: In 1956, the ex-Royal Navy scuba diver and science fiction enthusiast Mike Wilson (1934-1995) sailed to Ceylon together with his buddy Arthur C. Clarke where the partners remained to write science fiction novels and produce feature films. One of Mike's most successful films, Ran Muthu Duwa, included the first underwater film sequences ever shot in Sri Lanka, and indirectly figured in his discovery in 1962 of the legendary Swayambhu Linga, a natural stone obelisk that had once been King Ravana's prized sacred power object in mythological time. The underwater discovery so affected Wilson that, according to his own account, it not only led to his renunciation of family and career to become Swami Siva Kalki the reclusive author and seer, but also provided Wilson and Clarke with the core concept that later resulted in the science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey -- a claim that Clarke vehemently denied.

Discovery of Ravana's swayambhu lingam

Colombo: The Sun, Thursday August 18, 1988

by JCE Van Langenberg

from "Great discovery at Trincomalee"
Colombo: The Sunday Times, March 9, 1997
The second of a three-part series by Richard Boyle documenting the life of Mike Wilson.
Swami Siva Kalki

It was while filming Ran Muthu Duwa in 1962 that Wilson made an important maritime archaeological discovery that was to have a profound personal effect on his life. "Discovery is very much a mental event rather than a mere physical awareness of any given thing that one comes across," he used to assert.

This peak experience occurred in the sea around Swami Rock at Trincomalee. When Rodney Jonklaas and Wilson had dived at this spot in 1956, the Brahmin had requested them to keep a special eye open for the lingam associated with the Koneswar Temple.

Arial view of Swami Rock with Koneswaram Temple, Trincomalee.

Bird's eye view of Swami Rock, Trincomalee.

"I was not aware then," Wilson admitted at a seminar on the maritime heritage of Sri Lanka held in Colombo in 1987, "of the oral and written tradition concerning the emblem of Lord Siva, which was of peculiar significance and sanctity here at Koneswar Temple."

During this initial dive, and subsequent ones that followed, Wilson & Co. searched diligently for the lingam, but without success. "All the columns and pillars we encountered," observes (Arthur C.) Clarke, "had obviously been purely architectural, with alternating square and hexagonal sections."

Then one day in 1962, while using the site as a film location for Ran Muthu Duwa, Wilson went for a dive to cool off during a camera break. He suddenly perceived for the very first time a perfectly circular pillar. He had found the lingam! Alongside it was discovered a naturally rounded stone, the significance of which was not realised until a little later.

Having delivered the lingam to the Koneswar Temple where it was enshrined and has been worshipped ever since, Wilson returned to Colombo and made straight for the Museum Library. The librarian there produced two prime reference sources from which Wilson learnt of a special classification of linga, the Swayambhuwa, which are mounted on pedestals of natural stone. Of the 69 Swayambhuwa said to have been located in the Indian subcontinent, only a few still exist, such as the one at Swayambhunath in Nepal.

Wilson was convinced that the lingam and its pedestal recovered at Trincomalee was one of the original 69. He suspected that being seated alone in the presence of the Swayambhuwa formed part of a ritual.

He had done so, and he said of the experience, "One is aware of its enormous antiquity. And one's mind is able to soar back to the distant past and see all those who have sat there before."

"It changed me completely," he declared in an interview in The Sunday Times of 18 November, 1990. "It was diksha (initiation) and darshan (divine vision) all in one. I understood something, how I had spent many lives here in Sri Lanka already, how this was not my first. I was prompted to go to Kataragama. One needs a place to sit and ponder; that place for me was Kataragama."

In this competitive society where only the fittest survive, achieving one's objective in its entirety is by no means an easy task. However hard a person strives, the goal he sets his sights on is beyond his reach like an elusive dream. There are many milestones one can reach during this brief sojourn on earth. But how many achievements really give us absolute satisfaction and a feeling of profound joy, bringing along with it tranquility and peace of mind?

For Swami Siva Kalki, a charismatic personality who now propagates the holy doctrine of God Skanda, a priceless commodity in his possession gives him a reason to go on living in the midst of turbulence.

He has numerous achievements to his credit but all those do not give him the sense of peace he gains from possessing the Swayambhu Linga which has roused the interest of archaeologists and spiritualists the world over. Intrigued and seeking enlightenment on the Swayambhu Linga, I asked the Swami about its discovery.

He said that way back in April 1956, when they first visited Trincomalee on a diving expedition, Rodney Jonklass had explained the various things they could expect to find. Parts of an old temple were found scattered at the foot of Swami Rock which lies within Fort Frederick.

"When we decided to look the place over we were joined by a Brahmin priest from Koneswarar Temple located almost immediately above us. He blessed us before we jumped into the choppy sea fully equipped with diving gear."

view of Koneswaram Temple, Trincomalee.
Koneswaram Temple, Trincomalee, where King Ravana's palace once stood.
Discovery of the lingam in 1962
Above: Mike Wilson and Gamini Fonseka recover the lingam.
Below: Swami Siva Kalki and the linga years later.
Swami Siva Kalki and the swayambhu Linga

"Determination coupled with divine inspiration made us throw caution to the winds and dive into the depths of the sea. Finally I conducted a diligent search. Many things met my eye at first but not the linga," the Swami said.

He explained, "Then again 1962 I was shooting the movie Ran Muthu Duwa at the same site and decided to go for a dive during a break when I perceived a perfectly circular pillar lying amidst a jumble of carved pillars. On closer scrutiny I knew right then and there that this was the sacred linga."

When asked how the Brahmins reacted to his discovery, he said with regret, "I'm afraid they had mixed feelings. They finally stated that this wasn't the genuine linga. Naturally I was outraged but later delivered it to the Koneswarar Temple." On the history of the linga, Swami Siva Kalki said, "The Swayambhu Linga has been described in the Kamillagama as one which rose up and came into existence by itself from time immemorial. This stone was among 69 others, most of which have been destroyed by idol breakers. It was originally found on a Tibetan mountain and later brought to Sri Lanka reportedly by King Ravana."

Speaking with a lot of emotion he confirmed that "the linga transformed my entire life and infused an almost celestial feeling which I never knew I was capable of experiencing."

The Swayambhu Linga has filled a large vacuum and given me the strength to be at peace with myself and my brethren. It has opened up new horizons I never knew existed," he said.

Questioned on the possibility of the miraculous and divine power of the linga helping to restore peace in our troubled island, Swami Kalki said, "It could help to a great extent. God Kataragama in his infinite mercy and goodness has pledged to transform our beloved isle into a land of milk and honey. But it is important that violence must be stopped. It is only then that we would be able to reap the full benefits and continue living with purpose."

"I heard so much about it from famed archaeologists and subsequently wished to find out for myself. This is what really motivated me and spurred me on," he added when asked what motivated him to venture on a quest for the linga.

See also:
Trincomalee in Legend and History
Murugan-Shaitan Showdown: Interview with Swami Siva-Kalki
Swami Siva Kalki and the Koneswaram Swayambhu Lingam.
Curse of the Swamis of Kataragama: An Open Letter from Siva Kalki Swami
"Swami Siva Kalki: Tenth Avatar of Visnu" by Richard Boyle
"The Legend of Mike Wilson"