Sita

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Sita (Devanagari: सीता listen (help•info), also spelled Seeta or Seetha, meaning "from the furrow") is the central malcharacter of the Hindu epic Ramayana and was born in Janakpurdham present day Mithila, Nepal. She is the consort of the Hindu God Sri Rama (avatar of Vishnu) and is an avatar of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and wife of Vishnu. She is esteemed as a paragon of spousal and feminine virtues for all Hindu women. Sita is known for her dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity.

Quotes[edit]

...Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari
One should forever remember the panchakanya who are the destroyers of great sins. - Vaman Shivaram Apte.
Sita is an integral part of our psyche. At every stage of an Indian woman's life her name is invoked. Certain aspects of a character have been emphasized more than others to suit the political and societal norms of the day. Most have focused on the negative interpretations of Sita, not the positive. Ramayan is rarely understood as Ramcharitramanas, a character study of humans and emotions. In a world where the role of women is still being redefined Sita's character teaches us valuable lessons for the contemporary society. - Anju P. Bhargava.
The poem [Ramayan] describes the royal birth of Rama in the kingdom of Ayodhya (Oudh), his tutelage under the sage Vishvamitra, and his success in bending Shiva’s mighty bow at the bridegroom tournament of Sita, the daughter of King Janaka, thus winning her for his wife.... - The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica.
Hanuman, the embodiment of devotion, brings Sita's jewels to Rama and then takes a gold ring back to her as a symbol of Rama's unflagging love, a ring given to him by Sita's father at the time of their marriage. Sita welcomes Hanuman, takes the ring and gives him one more jewel, a pearl mounted on a gold leaf that her father had tied to her hair on the day of the wedding.... - Mark Epstein.
...The Ramayan shows that the concept of feminine beauty had been far subtler, and the numerous descriptions of beautiful women in the epic provides us with sufficient data on the subject. And Sita, of course is portrayed as the prettiest of them. - Ananda W. P. Guruge.
Decking with flowers and marking a tilaka have been important in Indian courtship, but kissing— not the kiss on the head] and the lips — is not mentioned at all in the Ramayana.... - Ananda W. P. Guruge.
...The nobility and magnanimity of Rama’s character and the conjugal devotion and fidelity of his wife Sita, for a great many centuries, exercised as far-reaching moral effect as paragons for imitation among Indians. - A. A. Macdonell.
  • The well-known Sanskrit hymn that defines the Panchakanyas (five iconic heroines of Hindu epics) runs:
  • Sanskrit transliteration IAST: ahalyā draupadī sītā tārā mandodarī tathā ।
    pañcakanyāḥ smarennityaṃ mahāpātakanāśinī॥
  • English translation: Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari
    One should forever remember the Panchakanya who are the destroyers of great sins.
    • Vaman Shivaram Apte in: The Student's Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1970, p. 73.
    • Orthodox Hindus, especially Hindu wives, remember the Panchakanya in this daily morning prayer. Their names are extolled and the prayer is pratah smaraniya, prescribed to be recited in the early hours of the morning.
  • Sita is an integral part of our psyche. At every stage of an Indian woman's life her name is invoked. Certain aspects of a character have been emphasized more than others to suit the political and societal norms of the day. Most have focused on the negative interpretations of Sita, not the positive. Ramayan is rarely understood as Ramcharitramanas, a character study of humans and emotions. In a world where the role of women is still being redefined Sita's character teaches us valuable lessons for the contemporary society.
  • For many immigrant women, the name, Sita, conjures up an image of a chaste pati vrata [dutiful wife] woman, the ideal woman. Some see her as victimized and oppressed who obeyed her husband's commands, followed him, remained faithful to him, served her in-laws or yielded to parental authority, generally did her duty whether she wanted to or not. Yet, there are others who see a more liberated Sita, a cherished wife of Ram. She was outspoken, had the freedom to express herself, said what she wanted to in order to get her way, fell for the temptation of the golden deer, spoke harsh words, repented for it, loved her husband, was faithful to him, served her family, did not get seduced by the glamour and material objects in Ravana's palace, faced an angry and suspicious husband, tried to appease him, reconciled her marriage, later accepted her separation, raised well balanced children as a single mother and then moved on.
  • Vidyavan guni ati chatur,
    Ram kaj karve ko atur
    Prabhu charitra sunve ko rasiya,
    Ram Laklian Sita man basiya
  • Meaning: You are greatly learned, virtuous and supremely intelligent, always eager to accomplish Lord Ram's work, and take great relish in listening to the doings of your Lord (Ram). Lord Ram, Lakshmana and Sita love you so much that you always appear to be seated in the hearts.
  • Sanskrit transliteration IAST: Asht siddhi navanidhi ke data, asvar dinh janki mata
  • English translation: Mother Janki (Sita) had given Hanuman a boon that he be master of all the eight adeptnesses and nine types of riches.
  • Hanuman, the embodiment of devotion, brings Sita's jewels to Rama and then takes a gold ring back to her as a symbol of Rama's unflagging love, a ring given to him by Sita's father at the time of their marriage. Sita welcomes Hanuman, takes the ring and gives him one more jewel, a pearl mounted on a gold leaf that her father had tied to her hair on the day of the wedding. She refuses Hanuman’s offer to fly back to Rama, insisting he come to free her himself...Rama is able to free Sita only by securing the help of Hanuman. Hanuman, the monkey-god, son of the wind, is the bridge between the two lovers, the vehicle that helps them.
  • ...something of a trickster [Hanuman] but who is completely at the service of Rama, saving his life and rescuing his wife [Sita] from the evil demons.
    • Mark Epstein in: "Open to Desire: The Truth About What the Buddha Taught", p. 22.
  • As the Ramayana seeks to extol Rama and Sita as ideals in every respect, we can from the descriptions of their forms reconstruct the ancient Indian view of personal beauty. Rama was dark and had red eyes, a round (moon-like) face, a broad chest, large arms, and shoulders similar to those of a bull, the broad chest is normally compared to that of a lion while the eyes were of the shape of lotus petals. The Ramayan shows that the concept of feminine beauty had been far subtler, and the numerous descriptions of beautiful women in the epic provides us with sufficient data on the subject. And Sita, of course is portrayed as the prettiest of them.
One of the dramatic episodes in the Ramayana is the abduction by Ravana, the demon-king of Ceylon, of Sita, wife of Rama exiled in the forest. Rama is lured into the forest in pursuit of a deer (a demon in disguise), and his brother Lakshmana, guarding Sita, is tricked into leaving her. Ravana then appears, sweeps Sita off in his aerial chariot. A great vulture, Jatayu, tries to rescue her and though mortally wounded lives long enough to tell Rama of Sita's abduction. - Anil De Silva
  • One of the dramatic episodes in the Ramayana is the abduction by Ravana, the demon-king of Ceylon, of Sita, wife of Rama exiled in the forest. Rama is lured into the forest in pursuit of a deer (a demon in disguise), and his brother Lakshmana, guarding Sita, is tricked into leaving her. Ravana then appears, sweeps Sita off in his aerial chariot. A great vulture, Jatayu, tries to rescue her and though mortally wounded lives long enough to tell Rama of Sita's abduction.
  • The Ramayana has a special place in India and South Asia because of the purity of Rama and Sita and their love symbolizing fidelity. The ideal of chivalry in the epic corresponds to that of Europe in the Middle Ages, for Rama is the protector of the oppressed, of widows and orphans; he is the perfect Knight valiant in face of danger, protective and tender to all women while loving Sita alone.
    • Anil De Silva in: "The Collective Dream Of A Continent", p. 17

Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses[edit]

This bird [Jatayu] tried to rescue Sita, when Ravan was fleeing after kidnapping her. Ravan fights him and wounds him fatally. Ram himself cremated this bird after death and sent it to heaven.

Suresh Chandra in: Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Sarup & Sons, 1998

  • Ramayana says that when Ram returned home with Sita after destroying w:RavanaRavan, he boastfully narrated the stories of his victories to Sita. She smiled and said. "You rejoice because you have killed a Ravan with ten hands. But what shall you do with one thousand hands. Rama proudly said that he would destroy that demon too.
    • In: p. 85.
  • This bird [Jatayu] tried to rescue Sita, when Ravan was fleeing after kidnapping her. Ravan fights him and wounds him fatally. Ram himself cremated this bird after death and sent it to heaven.
    • In: p. 101.
  • In some temples his image [Hanuman] is set up alone standing with a mace in the right hand or sitting in a devotional posture before the images of Ram and Sita. He is considered to be the god of power and strength, who remained a celibate through his whole life.
    • In: p. 116.
  • ...when Vishnu appeared incarnated as Rama she [Lakshmi] came here as Sita.
    • In: p. 198.
  • It is indeed funny to hear people criticize Lord Rama for giving up his beloved consort princess Sita. They know that by no means are they going to get any satisfactory answer on that question but still this type of criticism of mythology lingers on ...
    • In: p. 228.
  • Thus Vishnu was born as Ram and had to take the help of Hanuman to free Sita from the clutches of Ravan.
    • In: p. 234.
  • The son of Dasaratha and Kausalya, he was a king of Ayodhya who, in the Ramayana, slew the demon Ravana that had captured his consort Sita and was upheld as a deity par excellence in respect of manhood and honour, though his subsequent treatment of his wife might be treated as cavali.
    • In: p. 262.
  • Innumerable temples are scattered all over India having the images or Ram, his younger brother Lakshman and his consort, Sita.
    • In: p. 265.

The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West[edit]

When Rāvana abducts Sītā and takes her to Lanka, he keeps her prisoner in a garden surrounded by demonesses. Several long descriptions portray Sītā's pitiful condition in the absence of Rama. Through a series of metaphors, Valmiki tries to capture both Sita's great beauty and her great grief.

David Kinsley in:The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West, SUNY Press, 1989

  • Sītā, the Ideal Wife She came,
    and with her wise maidens escorting her,
    singing sweet-voiced songs.
    The mother of creation was she,
    of incomparable beauty;
    her delicate frame veiled in a fair white robe, and with a profusion of brilliant and tasteful ornaments with which her maidens had bedecked her very limb.
    • In: p. 91.
  • The word ‘Sita' means "furrow", “the line made by a plough”, and is the name of goddess associated with ploughed fields in the Vedic literature. In a hymn addressed to the lord of the fields, Kshetrapati, Sita is invoked as follows.
    • In: p. 93.
  • Auspicious Sita, come thou near;
    We venerate and worship thee
    That thou mayst bless and prosper us
    And bring us fruits abundantly.
    O goddess, you are the altar's center in the sacrifice
    May Indra press the furrow down,
    May Pishan guide its course aright
    May she, as rich in milk, be drained for us
    through each succeeding year.
    • In: p. 93.
  • In Kaushika sutra, Sita is the wife of Parjanaya, a god associated with rain. She is the mother of gods, mortals and creatures and is petitioned for growth and prosperity.
    • In: p. 93.
  • Sita is invoked as one of the names of the Goddess Arya in the Harivamsa:
  • O goddess, you are the altar's center in the sacrifice,
    Sita to those who hold the plough
    And Earth to all living being.
    • In: p. 93
  • Sita is not a very significant deity prior to the Ramayana of Valmiki.
    • In: p. 93.
  • Underlying Sitā's epic character and personality is the ancient fertility goddess associated with the plowed field, who was worshiped for abundant crops and who was ritually activated by rulers in certain contexts. Sītā, the epic heroine, has ancient roots, and one important dimension of her character associates her with the primordial powers of the earth.
    • In: p. 97.
  • When Rāvana abducts Sītā and takes her to Lanka, he keeps her prisoner in a garden surrounded by demonesses. Several long descriptions portray Sītā's pitiful condition in the absence of Rama. Through a series of metaphors, [[w:Valmiki|Valmiki tries to capture both Sita's great beauty and her great grief.
    • In: p. 98.
  • After Rama defeats Rāvana, Sītā's loyalty to her husband is severely tested. Sītā is brought before Rama, and she beams with joy at seeing him. He, however, scowls at her and announces that he has only undertaken the defeat of Rāvana in order to uphold his family's honour and not of love for her.
    • In: p. 101.
  • My mind now tells me that save for Rama's and Sītā's feet I shall go nowhere else. In his invocation to his Rāmcarit-mānas, Tulsī Dās invokes several deities and includes this verse to Sītā: "Hail to Rama's own beloved Sītā, victor over all suffering/Mistress of birth, life, death, and all of happiness the giver.
    • In: p. 109.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ( Vol 1-9 ) (Kartindo Classics)[edit]

Rama with Sita and his followers left Lanka. But there ran a murmur among the followers. "The test! The test!" they cried, "Sita has not given the test that she was perfectly pure in Ravana's household. "Pure! she is chastity itself" exclaimed Rama. "Never mind! We want the test," persisted the people. Subsequently, a huge sacrificial fire was made ready, into which Sita had to plunge herself. Rama was in agony, thinking that Sita was lost; but in a moment, the God of fire himself appeared with a throne upon his head, and upon the throne was Sita. Then, there was universal rejoicing, and everybody was satisfied.
....she appealed to the gods to testify to her innocence, when the Earth opened and Sita exclaimed, "Here is the test", and vanished into the bosom of the Earth. The people were taken aback at this tragic end. And Rama was overwhelmed with grief.

Swami Vivekananda in: The *Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ( Vol 1-9 ) (Kartindo Classics), Kartindo.com

  • Rama with Sita and his followers left Lanka. But there ran a murmur among the followers. "The test! The test!" they cried, "Sita has not given the test that she was perfectly pure in Ravana's household. "Pure! she is chastity itself" exclaimed Rama. "Never mind! We want the test," persisted the people. Subsequently, a huge sacrificial fire was made ready, into which Sita had to plunge herself. Rama was in agony, thinking that Sita was lost; but in a moment, the God of fire himself appeared with a throne upon his head, and upon the throne was Sita. Then, there was universal rejoicing, and everybody was satisfied.
    • In: p. 277
  • After Rama regained his kingdom, he took the necessary vows which in olden times the king had to take for the benefit of his people. The king was the slave of his people, and had to bow to public opinion, as we shall see later on. Rama passed a few years in happiness with Sita, when the people again began to murmur that Sita had been stolen by a demon and carried across the ocean. They were not satisfied with the former test and clamoured for another test, otherwise she must be banished.
    • In: p. 277
  • In order to satisfy the demands of the people, Sita was banished, and left to live in the forest, where was the hermitage of the sage and poet Valmiki. The sage found poor Sita weeping and forlorn, and hearing her sad story, sheltered her in his Âshrama. Sita was expecting soon to become a mother, and she gave birth to twin boys. The poet never told the children who they were. He brought them up together in the Brahmachârin life. He then composed the poem known as Ramayana, set it to music, and dramatised it.
    • In: p. 277
  • Under the direction of Valmiki, the life of Rama was sung by Lava and Lava and Kusha, who fascinated the whole assembly by their charming voice and appearance. Poor Rama was nearly maddened, and when in the drama, the scene of Sita's exile came about, he did not know what to do. Then the sage said to him, "Do not be grieved, for I will show you Sita." Then Sita was brought upon the stage and Rama delighted to see his wife. All of a sudden, the old murmur arose: "The test! The test!" Poor Sita was so terribly overcome by the repeated cruel slight on her reputation that it was more than she could bear. She appealed to the gods to testify to her innocence, when the Earth opened and Sita exclaimed, "Here is the test", and vanished into the bosom of the Earth. The people were taken aback at this tragic end. And Rama was overwhelmed with grief.
    • In: p. 278
  • Rama and Sita are the ideals of the Indian nation. All children, especially girls, worship Sita. The height of a woman's ambition is to be like Sita, the pure, the devoted, the all-suffering!
    • In: P. 278
  • Sita is typical of India — the idealised India. The question is not whether she ever lived, whether the story is history or not, we know that the ideal is there. There is no other Paurânika story that has so permeated the whole nation, so entered into its very life, and has so tingled in every drop of blood of the race, as this ideal of Sita. Sita is the name in India for everything that is good, pure and holy — everything that in woman we call womanly. If a priest has to bless a woman he says, "Be Sita!" If he blesses a child, he says "Be Sita!" They are all children of Sita, and are struggling to be Sita, the patient, the all-suffering, the ever-faithful, the ever-pure wife. Through all this suffering she experiences, there is not one harsh word against Rama. She takes it as her own duty, and performs her own part in it. Think of the terrible injustice of her being exiled to the forest! But Sita knows no bitterness. That is, again, the Indian ideal. Sita was a true Indian by nature; she never returned injury.
    • In: p. 278

Sita and Draupadi: Aggressive Behavior and Female Role-Models in the Sanskrit Epics[edit]

....Janaka says: If Rama can string this bow, sage, I will give to this descendant of Dasaratha my daughter, Sita, who was not born from a womb.
Rama easily lifts, strings, and breaks the great bow, and wins Sita. Dasaratha is sent for and a marriage is arranged. Marriages are also arranged for Rama’s other brothers, Bharata, Laksmana, and Satrughna.
She breaks into sobs in Rama’s arms. Rama finally relents, and Sita: accompanies her lord to the forest.
Sita is taken by Ravana to the Ashoka grove where she is confined. She refuses his advances and is given one year to yield or die. Ravana makes various threats as do the demonic women who guard her. Sita bravely counters these threats, preaching the virtues of a true wife, and reviling the demon.
Crushed by his words, Sita undertakes an ordeal by fire, so that she might prove her faithfulness to her lord. She calls upon Agni, the god of fire, to testify to her purity, and casts herself into the fire. But Agni, recognizing her purity, refuses to consume her. The gods then descend from heaven to testify to her purity and faithfulness....
The two live happily for some time; however, Sita’s ordeal is not over. Doubts as to Sita’s fidelity are circulating among the common people. Unable to endure the rumors, Rama orders Laksmana to take the pregnant Sita to the desolate forest and abandon her, which he dutifully does.
...During the sacrifice, Rama’s two sons, Lava and Kusa, recite the Rama story as composed by Valmiki. At the end of the recitation, Rama is so moved by the story of his own adventures and of the suffering of his beloved wife. Sita, that he decides to take her back, despite the rumors and slanderous talk of his subjects....

Sally J. Sutherland in:Sita and Draupadi: Aggressive Behavior and Female Role-Models in the Sanskrit Epics, in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 109, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar, 1989) published by American Oriental Society.

  • The two princes, Rama and Laksmana, having slain the raksasas who were interfering with Visvamitra’s sacrifice, are informed by that great sage that they will now journey to Mithila to witness Janaka’s sacrifices. At the same time, Visvamitra tells them of a wonderful bow in Janaka’s possession.
  • ...the two princes are introduced to Janaka, they again hear of the bow’s history. It is in this retelling that we are first introduced to Sita. Janaka tells his guest that his daughter’s “bride-price“ is “great strength? He has set the following condition for the winning of his daughter: the successful suitor must string the bow of Shiva. No king has been able to do this, though many have tried. The kings, angry, laid siege to Janaka’s city, Mithila. After a year, Janaka, nearly defeated propitiated the gods and was sent help. The besieging kings led in fear. After relating this story, Janaka says: If Rama can string this bow, sage, I will give to this descendant of Dasaratha my daughter, Sita, who was not born from a womb.
  • She is said to be as lovely as a goddess, and is compared to Sri, goddess of beauty. She is said to possess virtue and beauty. Of her personality, we know only that she is in love with her husband, and she is said to be devoted to Rama.
  • Rama, having learned that he is to be exiled for fourteen years, goes to tell his wife. She, hearing of her husband’s change in fortune and his resolution that she remain in Ayodhya, begs Rama to be allowed to accompany him and is desperate to share in his fortunes.
  • ...she is so set on accompanying her husband into exile that she says to him: If you do not want to take me, suffering so, to the forest with you, then I will commit suicide by means of poison, fire, or water.
  • Now, if you will not take me, determined, to the forest, then I will this very day drink poison so I will not fall under the influence of my enemies!
  • What could my father Vaideha, the lord of Mithila, have had in mind when he took you for a son-in-law, Rama, a woman with the body of a man? How the people lie in their ignorance! Rama’s “great power” is not at all like the power of the blazing sun that brings the day.
    • Sita talks to Rama in insolent way.
  • She breaks into sobs in Rama’s arms. Rama finally relents, and Sita: accompanies her lord to the forest.
  • A woman who holds her husband dear whether he is in the city or the forest, whether he is good or evil gains worlds that bring great blessings. But bad women have no sure understanding of virtue and vice. Their hearts are the slaves of desire, and they lord it over their husbands.
    • Anasuya's advice to Sita on proper behavior with respect to one’s husband.
  • Her deference to Anasuya, her grateful acceptance of advice from an elder, her speaking only after having been addressed — all these create in the mind of the audience a feeling that Sita is not only a devoted, loving, and self sacrificing woman, but a deferential and unassuming one as well, despite her earlier behavior.
  • Sita next plays a prominent role in the Aranyakanda. The first of two events in which she figures, which must be considered a harbinger of the later, is the abduction by the demon Viradha. Immediately Rama and his brother slay the aggressor, freeing Sita.
  • In the second episode, we see Sita again abducted this time by Ravana. In this famous scene, we learn much more about her. Ravana has decided to abduct her for revenge. He has devised a plan: Marica is to take the shape of a golden deer and prance about in front of the ashram. Sita upon seeing the deer will want it and send Rama after it. Rama will go, leaving Laksmana behind, and then through a trick of voice, Marica will call out for Laksmana’s help, and Laksmana too will be lured off. This happens, leaving Sita alone, and Ravana abducts her.
  • Sita’s unusually demanding behavior; initially we see her insist that Rama capture the deer alive. Laksmana realizes that the deer is, in fact, Marica, and Rama decides to kill the animal and take its skin. Sita’s strong will is again her most striking trait. When she begged Rama to accompany him to the forest Sita used virtually all of her persuasive talents on her husband, although her exact motives were difficult to determine, and now again her demanding nature emerges. Even though the stated motive—her mothers-in~law would enjoy possessing the deer—clouds the issue of her own interests, the action appears to be largely self-centered.
  • Sita’s aggressive and cruel behavior towards her brother-in-law, is a heretofore unseen part of her character. She convinces Laksmana to leave her and go to Rama’s defense. Her outburst, again under the pretext of concern for her husband’s safety, is revealing. She accuses Laksmana of being a spy for Bharata or having designs on her.
  • You are a very wicked person, and alone followed Rama, all alone, to the forest, concealing your (real) motives for the sake of (getting) me or spying for Bharata.
  • Without doubt, right in front of you Saurnitri, I will kill myself: even for a moment I cannot live on this earth without Rama.
    • Sita once again, to gain her ends, she swears that without Rama she cannot live, and that if Laksmana does not go and save Rama she will kill herself.
  • Sita, alone and worried about Rama, is approached by Ravana in disguise. Thinking him a brahman and fearing a curse, Sita initially treats him respectfully. Ravana reveals himself and propositions her. Repulsed at the thought. Sita castigates his impudence. Ravana, mad with infatuation and desiring revenge abducts Sita, and as he carries her away in his magical chariot she cries out “Rama, Rama.”
  • Sita is abducted as soon as she is left defenseless. Sita acknowledges Ravana only because she knows that social proprieties require respectful treatment of a brahman. She is also afraid that he will curse her. The respect that Sita feels she owes the brahman, again an authority figure, is clearly based on fear.
  • Sita is taken by Ravana to the Ashoka grove where she is confined. She refuses his advances and is given one year to yield or die. Ravana makes various threats as do the demonic women who guard her. Sita bravely counters these threats, preaching the virtues of a true wife, and reviling the demon.
  • As the year passes, and the taunts and threats become more intense, Sita gives way to despair. She wonders why Rama, the husband to whom she is so devoted, has deserted her and not come to her rescue, and how she has survived without her beloved lord. Sita’s lamenting is turned inward. She blames herself for her condition.
  • After many adventures the story culminates in the battle between Rama and Ravana. Sita is rescued. Rama summons his princess [Sita], but instead of being overjoyed at seeing her once again, is overcome by shame.
  • What illustrious man of good family would take back a woman who had lived in another’s house even though he longs to? How can one who has pretensions towards a great family take you back, when you have sat upon Ravana’s lap and have been looked upon by his lustful eyes? The reason I won you back was to restore my fame. l have no attachment to you. Leave here as you wish! This is what I have decided: choose Laksmana or Bharata as you please. Choose Sugriva, the lord of the monkeys, or the raksasa king Vibhisana. Make up your own mind as you like. Sita.
  • Crushed by his words, Sita undertakes an ordeal by fire, so that she might prove her faithfulness to her lord. She calls upon Agni, the god of fire, to testify to her purity, and casts herself into the fire. But Agni, recognizing her purity, refuses to consume her. The gods then descend from heaven to testify to her purity and faithfulness. Rama, commenting that he knew all along that she was pure and only wanted the citizens to be satisfied, takes her back. Reunited once again, they return to Ayodhya where Rama takes up his rightful position as king.
  • The two live happily for some time; however, Sita’s ordeal is not over. Doubts as to Sita’s fidelity are circulating among the common people. Unable to endure the rumors, Rama orders Laksmana to take the pregnant Sita to the desolate forest and abandon her, which he dutifully does.
  • Sita is an apparently innocent victim of fate. She has suffered numerous horrors for no other reason than that she is Rama’s wife. Faithful to her lord, she has little choice but to follow him into exile. Deprived of the privileges of royalty, Sita lives in the forest, suffering the hardships of an ascetic life. As a result of a plot to take revenge upon her lord, she becomes the victim of a brutal and humiliating abduction, which brings shame and dishonor to her and her family.
  • Rama undertakes this Sacrifice traditionally sanctioned to confirm a monarch’s hegemony. During the sacrifice, Rama’s two sons, Lava and Kusa, recite the Rama story as composed by Valmiki. At the end of the recitation, Rama is so moved by the story of his own adventures and of the suffering of his beloved wife. Sita, that he decides to take her back, despite the rumors and slanderous talk of his subjects. He gives orders to have her brought before him and to have her once more attest to her fidelity. Sad and forlorn, Sita appears before the citizens and vows that she has always been faithful to her lord Rama. She takes an oath:
  • Since I have never thought of any man but Rama, let the Goddess Madhavi [the Earth] split open before me.
  • Sita takes an oath.
  • As Sita speaks, the Earth, her mother, gives her refuge. Sita, twice rejected by her lord, and once abandoned, though pledging her faithfulness to Rama, now prefers death to life with him. The roles have been reversed, and it is Rama who must suffer the pain of abandonment.
  • After suffering countless insults and rejections, Sita finally takes revenge on Rama in the most aggressive manner she knows. In carrying out her characteristic and oft repeated threat of self-immolation, she brings to a culmination her passive-aggressive response to Rama.

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