Sita in Ramayan: An Avatar of Lakshmi leads a life of misery

Popular ‘Sita’ characters in TV Serials (from left) Rubina Dilaik, Neha Sargam, Deepika Chikhalia, Madriakshi Mundle, and Deblina Banerjee (Screen Grab)

Nitin Kumar
New Delhi, October 16, 2022

Sita in Ramayana(m) was a reincarnation of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth but for the best part of this Avatar, she experienced misery, agony and misunderstanding. In many ways, it was ironic that her devotion, fidelity and chastity reaped negative and devastating rewards.

Soon after the coronation of Rama as the King of Ayodhya, rumours began to rock the Kingdom that Sita was unfit to be the Queen as she had spent a long time in captivity.

More misfortune however was in store for Sita. No sooner had the couple settled down than rumours started in the capital questioning the propriety of having a queen who had spent a year in a villain’s captivity, putting her chastity under doubt.

Calumnious comment ripples

According to some, Urmila wife of Rama’s younger brother Lakshman was believed to have said that Sita never experienced the pain of being away from her husband as she did.

Such a thought was compounded by an intemperate washerman who berated his wayward wife saying, “I am no pusillanimous Rama who would take his wife back after she had lived in the house of another man.”

Goddess Sita with her twin sons Lava and Kusha

This calumnious comment was reported to Rama, who knew that the aspersion cast on Sita was baseless. However, he felt his position as ruler was undermined by the constant possibility of slander attaching itself to his hitherto unimpeachable dynasty and reign. It was this thought that triggered the ensuing actions.

Upon the directions of his brother, Lakshman took Sita to the forest the next day and said, “You have been forsaken by the King who is afraid of the ill report circulating among the people of Ayodhya. My orders are to leave you here.”

Sita said, “This mortal frame was created only to bear sorrow. I do not know of my sin to deserve such a fate. Please tell the King that if I should be sacrificed for the sake of the King’s good name and peace in the Kingdom, I would willingly accept. Tell him that I would serve him as he serves his people.”

Abandoned but protected by the great sage Valmiki in his ashram, Sita gave birth to twin sons, named them Lava and Kusha and brought them up all alone, without the protective presence of a father, becoming the first single parent in history.

Another test of fire?

When these worthy sons entered their teens, tales of their valour reached Rama, prompting him to recall Sita and his sons to Ayodhya. He asked her to undertake yet another Agni Pariksha (test of fire) to prove her purity, for the benefit of those who had missed the spectacle in Lanka, soon after Ravana was killed, and Sita was released from captivity (see separate story in this section).

Sita’s reaction however was different from that earlier occasion. The emotional scar had obviously not healed. This time she did not ask her brother-in-law to prepare a funeral pyre for her. Nor did she circumambulate her husband in meek submission.

She said, “If I have remained true to Rama in mind, speech and action, may Mother Earth embrace me in her bosom.”

Instantly the ground beneath her feet opened, and Sita entered the depths. A dejected and helpless Rama was engulfed in grief. Thus, did end the exemplary life of Sita, with fate pursuing her to a bitter end.

A television serial, produced after intensive research, shows Mother Earth as saying, “Come my child, this world is not worthy of you.”

But some have disputed this theory, saying that Rama and Sita lived together happily for several thousand years.

Sita’s appeal to Mother Earth to reclaim her was not the helpless reaction of slighted woman. It was a spirited, self-effacing statement of protest when things went beyond endurance. For those of us living in this technologically advanced modern age, Sita’s message is extremely significant. As we continue to assail the earth, taking her for granted, she is bound to someday lose patience and cleave open her chest in trepidation, leading to unknown calamity.

Was Rama in doubt?

Rama’s treatment of Sita leaves many questions unanswered, including whether he really doubted her chastity. But the epic, Ramayanam scoffs at this suggestion.

Sometime after he abandoned her, Rama wanted to perform Ashvamedha Yaga (which involved setting a white horse free to wander and looking for a challenger, which according to the epic, was Lava). Since the Yaga could not be performed without the wife, there was a suggestion that Rama should remarry.

But he refused, saying, “There can be no one in my heart and life other than Sita.”

Soon after liberation, when she was first brought into his presence, Rama compared Sita to “light,” which was hurting his “sore eyes.” Thus, it was his vision, which finds a defect in the bearing of the noble lady that is at fault, and not the “light” itself, whose natural function is but to illuminate.

Nitin Kumar is the editor of Exotic India based in Delhi, India. The above article has been published with his permission. www.exoticindia.com

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