Long ago there was a king by name Nimi. He was very famous in three worlds as a result of his just rule and the performance of appropriate religious rituals. He was very righteous and brave. He had a son by name Mithi. It was Mithi who built the city of Mithila.
The twenty-second king in this line, Hrstaroma, was a great person who knew all shastras. He had two sons by name Seeradhwaja and Kushadhwaja. All those kings who ruled over this kingdom were called Janaka‘s and the kingdom was called Videha and the capital was known as Mithila.
Hraswaroma crowned his son Seeradhwaja and went to the forest as custom required. Seeradhwaja ruled over the land very efficiently and justly. His brother ruled from Sankashya.
Janaka was a rajarshi.1 Once he decided to perform a yaga. As he was ploughing the land on which he was to perform the yaga as the custom demanded, the sharp end of the plough got stuck to a box. There was a lovely little girl-child in the box. The furrow made by the plough while ploughing is called Sita in Sanskrit
A king who has risen to the position of a sage by his saint lines and austerity
language. As the child was found while ploughing, she was named Sita.
The divine preceptor Brihaspathi had a son by name Kushadhwaja. He was as wise and brilliant as his father. He was a brahmarshi* 2 as well. He would study the Vedas every day. His daughter was Vedavathi. He desired that Mahavishnu, one among the Trinity, should become his son-in-law. In order to fulfil her father’s desire, she matted her hair like a sage, put on deer skin and began to perform tapas to please Mahavishnu. Her face was radiant with divine brightness.
Once Ravana was on a military campaign and while he was moving in his chariot, he chanced to come to the place where she was performing tapas. When he saw her, he was attracted by her exquisite beauty and his heart
was filled with greed for lust.
He told her about his desire but Vedavathi refused to yield. “Who is this Vishnu? He can never be equal to me in courage, strength and power of austerity and wealth,” he spoke proudly. “Except you, no one else speaks so low of Mahavishnu, a paragon among gods. Everyone makes obeisance to him,” said Vedavathi’
Wicked Ravana was not ready to listen to brahmarshi is a sage of the highest order having attained the knowledge of Brahman, the Ultimate. her. He took her by her hair. She was very angry, used her hand as a sword, cut off her hair and freed herself away from Ravana. She was burning with anger and looked at him as she was going to reduce him to ashes. She made a fire. She said: “Lo you wicked, as you have touched my body, I do not wish to live any more. I am going to jump into this burning fire. I am going to be born as a woman, just to destroy you. If I have done anything good in this life, let me not be born of the womb of any being. I will be the daughter of a righteous man and live a pure and perfect life.” So saying, she jumped into the fire. The devas rained flowers on her from heaven.
This Vedavathi was found in a box while Janaka was ploughing the land for preparing the place for a yaga. He considered her to be his child and brought her up with great love and care. She was named Sita. She is also famous by the names Maithili, Janaki and Vaidehi.
She grew up under the love and care of king Janaka and queen Sunayana. She grew up in the company of her sister Urmila and Kushadhwaja’s daughters Mandavi and Shruthakirti.
Sita was born of the earth. She was very beautiful and excellently behaved. As a marriageable young lady, she was exquisitely attractive and, in fact, more attractive than an apsara (apsara = a heavenly nymph) A number of princes from different parts of the earth came as her suitors. Janaka desired that the young man who wanted to marry Sita must be courageous and unmatched in the skills of war. He should be able to lift and string the divine bow which his ancestors received from Lord Shiva.
Long ago, king Daksha performed a yaga. Lord Shiva was angry and he stringed that bow and got ready to kill the devas. They fell at his feet and pleased him with prayers. Shiva was pleased with their prayers and gave the bow to
them as a gift. The devas deposited that best among bows with Devadatta, one of the ancestors of King Janaka. King Janaka announced that the young man who lifted the divine bow, strung it and shot an arrow from it would marry Seta.
Ajodhya was the capital of Kosala. Ikshwaku was the first king of that land. Great kings such as Raghu, Aja and Dasharatha were the others who ruled over Kosala. Dasharatha had three queens namely: Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Dasharatha did not have children for a long time. After obtaining blessings from the royal priest, and consent from his ministers and holy men, he performed a sacrifice called Aswamedhayaga. In the same way, under the leadership of Maharshi Rishyashringa, he performed Putrakameshti Yaga. As soon as the fwrnahuti” was over, an extremely radiant divine figure appeared out of the leaping flames of the yajnakunda*, holding a vessel full of payasam, gave it to king Dasharatha and asked him to give it to his queens. He told him that he would get sons. Dasharatha distributed the payasam among his queens.
Twelve months later, the queens conceived and later gave birth to four sons. Kausalya’s son was named Sri Rama, -Sumithra’s sons were named Lakshmana and Shathrughna and Kaikeyi’s son came to be called Bharatha. The children grew up and they mastered all the shastras and Vedas.
Once Brahmarshi Visvamithra visited Dasharatha’s palace. He asked Dasharatha to send Sri Rama and Lakshmana with him for protecting the yajna he desired to perform. Though unwilling, the king agreed to send the princes with Visvamithra on the advice of the royal preceptor Vasistha. Rama and Lakshmana followed Visvamithra towards his hermitage. On the way, Sri Rama killed the wicked demoness Tataka and her son Subahu. Her other son
Marica was thrown away far off into the midst of the ocean. He helped Visvamithra to complete the yajna.
Poornahuthi is the final offering of ghee and other holy things at a homa.
Yajna Kunda = spot of the sacrificial platform where the sacred fire is lit.
Then Sri Rama and Lakshmana left for Mithila to attend a great yaga, king Janaka was performing. On the way, Sri Rama broke the spell of a curse pronounced on Ahalya by her husband, sage Gowthama. Then they reached Mithila.
They were accorded a fitting welcome at Mithila by king Janaka. Visvamithra introduced Sri Rama and Lakshmana to the king. The king told them about the divine bow-Shivadhanus- and how he found Sita. He ordered the great bow which was placed on a cart on eight wheels, drawn by 5000 strong men, to be brought to the court.
Sri Rama took permission from Visvamithra, lifted the bow in his left hand and tried to bend it to string it. To everyone’s surprise, the bow broke into two. The terrific sound made everyone in the court, except Janaka, Visvamithra, Rama and Lakshmana, swoon.
Janaka was very happy. He sent his ministers to Dasharatha with the happy tidings that ‘Sita has been won by Rama, the son of Dasharatha and will bring fame to her clan.’ Preparations for the marriage were made in Mithila.
When Dasharatha received the news of Rama breaking the divine bow, he was delighted. He came to Mithila with a huge royal entourage. He was received with great pomp and ceremony.
The city of Mithila was decorated in a wonderful manner befitting the occasion. Everywhere there was an air of great festivity. The front of every house was decorated with rangavalli designs. Every house echoed auspicious music. The citizens were elated when they heard that their beloved princess was going to marry Sri Ramachandra.
At the sacred moment of Uttaraphalguni, to the sacred music of chanting of Vedic hymns, Janaka addressed to Sri Ramachandra.
“lyam Sita mama Sutaa Sahadharmacharithava,” meaning: “My daughter Sita is going to become your lawful wife. Please accept her as your wife and she will follow you as a shadow follows a man.” So saying, he placed Sita’s handsome hand in Sri Ramachandra’s and poured holy water on her’s.
All the sages gathered at the marriage hall, all the brahmins, ministers, royal guests and the people were happy to see Sita who was exquisitely dressed in a silk saree and made up with expensive and shining ornaments, appeared very charming, wed Sri Ramachandra, who was grand, handsomely attractive and good natured.
At that auspicious occasion, Urmila was married to Lakshmana, Mandavi was married to Bharatha and Shruthakirti to Shathrughna.
The next day king Janaka gave a large number of precious gifts to his sons-in-law before he took leave of them.
On the way back to Ayodhya, Parashurama, who was on a destroy-kshatriyas campaign, met Sri Ramachandra. In the duel that followed, Parashurama was beaten and that was the end of his pride. When the royal entourage reached Ayodhya, they were given a grand welcome.
The queens welcomed Sita, Urmila, Mandavi, and Shruthakirti according to the royal traditions and took them to the gynaeceum’. They waved the holy lamp and then the daughters-in-law worshipped the family deity. They took blessings from the elders.
Sita and Ramachandra were an ideal couple in the best tradition of this holy land of Bharatha. It appeared as though they had one soul though they had two different bodies. Their thoughts ran alike. They loved each other dearly. They reflected in each other’s heart. They served the elders and loved the young ones with great devotion and sincerity. They won everyone’s heart in the process.
In the mean time, emperor Dasharatha decided to crown Sri Ramachandra and retreat to the forest. Sri Ramachandra and Sita began to observe certain vrathas as part of the crowning ceremony. Manthara, one of Kaikeyi’s maid servants, came to know about it. She went to Kaikeyi and with her sweet and attractive words made Kaikeyi demand from the king two boons, namely – her son Bharatha should be crowned
king and Rama should be sent to the forest for fourteen years.
When Sri Ramachandra heard it, he went to his mother, took her blessings and told her about Kaikeyi’s demands. Then he went to Sita. She did not know about the sad development. Therefore she had worshipped the devas. When she looked at Sri Rama, she was shocked. He was dull and sad. She came near him and said: “My Lord, why do you look sad? What is the cause for it? Why haven’t you tied the sacred wristband?”
Sri Rama told her about his going to the forest and the crowning of Bharatha. He said: “My dear Sita, be faithful to the new king Bharatha; serve my parents with devotion. Be careful. Fourteen years will fly like fourteen days.”
Sita was sad when she heard it. She pretended anger and said: “My Lord Ramabhadra, your words do not befit a great prince like you. Neither are they fit to be heard by me. We have our duties to perform. We get the fruits of our labour. In the case of a wife, she shares with her husband his joys and sorrows. He is everything to her. I will go to the forest with you to make your way easier.”
She continued: “My parents have taught me how to be a good wife. As I am happy in your company in the palace, I will be happy with you in the forest. I will eat roots and fruits which you eat. I will derive happiness by looking at trees, rivers, animals, birds, hills and mountains. I do not wish to have Kamadhenu , Kalpavriksha and even heaven when you are not with me.
“You are a princess. A forest is a fearful place. There are demons and wild animals. You cannot withstand the rustic life of the forest – a life of renunciation, sleeping on a bed made of grass, sitting on deerskin, dressing oneself in a dress made of fibres from barks of trees. Please think again,” said Sri Rama.
“My Lord, all that you have said so far are to my advantage. Once, when I was in my father’s house, learned brahmins told me that I was destined to live in a forest for sometime. Help me to make it true. To a faithful wife, her husband is god. Still if you go to the forest without taking me, I will die here.”
bKamadhemi is a divine cow which would grant everything its possessor asked for. 7 Kalpavriksha is a divine tree yielding whatever is asked for by its possessor.
All her pleadings went in vain. Sri Rama did not agree to take her to the forest. With Kr? pride, she said: “Don’t you think my would take his son-in-law for a woman man’s form? I cannot live without yo u and ’ is certain.” So saying, she embraced him began to sob. This ideal and devoted wife never shed tears until then. Tears began to fl ’ down her cheeks like a stream. Realising that she was firm in her resolution, he agreed to take her with him.
Sita was very happy that she would be going to the forest with Sri Rama. Now she began to make bountiful gifts to the poor, deserving and the learned. She made a gift of expensive golden necklaces, chains inlaid with precious stones, girdles and many other precious jewels to the wife of Suyajna, the son of Vasishta.
Sri Rama and Lakshmana got ready to go to the forest dressed in clothes made of fibre. When Kaikeyi gave Sita such a piece of cloth, she was frightened just as a deer gets frightened when it sees a net. She said to Sri Ramachandra: “how do wives of rishis put on such clothes?” She took the pieces of cloth and tied one round her neck. She stood holding the other in her hand as if stunned. Then Sri Ramachandra himself tied that piece round the silk saree she had on. When the royal ladies saw the spectacle, they began to cry. Sri Ramachandra dressed Sita in those simple clothes.
A wife is the reflection of the soul of her husband. She will remain here and rule the land on Rama’s behalf. If Sita goes to the forest, the entire Ayodhya goes to the forest, and the forest becomes Ayodhya and Ayodhya turns into a forest,” said Sage Vasistha.
As Sita decided to go to the forest on her own will, later Vasishta suggested that she could live with Sri Ramachandra in her normal dress. He suggested that she should take enough pairs of dresses and jewellery with her. He also suggested that a number of maids and chariots should be sent with her. But Sita, following her husband, refused all those royal aids and went with him in simple fibre clothes.
Dasharatha got dresses and jewellery sufficient for her for fourteen years. She put on everything and made everything glow around her for a moment and gave everything back.
Queen Kausalya embraced Sita and advised her to follow the path of a devoted wife
“A fickle-minded woman does not bother about the respect of the family she was born or the family she had entered. She does not value education, does not respect marriage and its sanctity. Such a woman behaves in a licentious way. But the devoted ones behave in dignified ways, respect the truth, and spend time listening to discourses by learned scholars. They conduct themselves in a befitting way, upholding the glorious traditions of womanhood. Serving their husbands is their only concern. They think that it is only through the good deeds of their husbands that they attain salvation. This is how the two types of women conduct themselves in society. Do not refuse my son just because he was sent to the forest. Whether he is rich or ?oor, he is your divine model and partner in ife,” said queen Kausalya.
When Sita understood the hidden meaning of Kausalya’s words, she said: “Mother, I will follow your advice to the very letter. I have learnt those principles of life from my parents as well. A woman with a hundred sons can never shine in life if she does not have her husband living with her. Children may give short-lived pleasure, but the happiness she gets from her husband is lasting. The fruit a faithful wife gets in life is “Streenam Bharta iva daivatam. ” I firmly believe in it. So saying, she touched Kausalya’s feet and got her blessings. Lakshmana also made up his mind to follow Sri Rama.
Then Sita, Sri Ramachandra and Lakshmana went round their father and mothers, sought their blessings and left for the forest. Dasharatha, the people in the palace and the citizens of Ayodhya grieved very much.
Sumanthra, the chief minister of Dasharatha, accompanied the three up to the Ganga, took leave of them and returned to Ayodhya. Guha, the king of Nishadas, had made arrangements for Rama and others to get across the Ganga. While sitting in the boat, Sita prayed to Gangamatha thus:
“Holy mother Ganga, by your blessings my husband, Sri Ramachandra, is going to live in the forest for fourteen years as desired by his father and he will return to Ayodhya on the completion of fourteen years of forest life. On our return, along with Sri Rama, I will worship you, the benefactor of mankind.”
Proceeding from the ashram of sage Bharadwaja, they came to the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna. When they reached the middle of the river, Sita prayed: “O holy mother Yamuna, please bless us. My husband Sri Ramachandra has desired to spend fourteen years in the forest. Bless us so that this stipulated period is over without hurdles. On our return I will worship you. Please bless us.”
While they were living in Chitrakoota, she would enjoy the beautiful scenes around and the majestically-flowing Mandakini. One day, Sita was walking with Sri Ramachandra nearby a beautifully formed rock. Sri Ramachandra would speak to her lovingly. Enjoying the beauty himself, he would make her happy.
After some time they left Chitrakoota, went to the ashram of sage Atri and received his hospitality. Sage Arti’s wife Anasuya treated Sita as if she were her own daughter and said: “Forgetting your position as a princess, you have given up all royal pleasures and followed your husband. It is indeed a great good fortune.” Anasuya congratulated Sita. Then she preached Sita the duties of a wife in these words: “By renouncing everything and following Sri Rama to the forest, you would attain great religious merit and fame.”
“O holy one, my mother and mother-in-law said to me the same in the form of blessings. I am happy to serve my husband who loves his parents, won over his passions and is considered a paragon among humans. Rohini and Savithri are considered great and worshipped because they served their husbands with great devotion.”
Anasuya was very pleased with the words of Sita. She embraced Sita and gave her a divine string of beads and precious jewels.
On Anasuya’s request, Sita told her the story of her birth and marriage. On the advice of Anasuya, Sita put on the divine dress and jewellery, went to Sri Rama and told him everything. Sri Rama was happy that Anasurya accorded Sita a welcome which ordinary mortals would never dream of getting.
In Dandakaranya, Sri Ramachandra was approached by the disciples of sage Sharabhanga and requested him to save them from the wicked rakshasas. Sri Rama agreed to help them.
On that occasion Sita spoke about some of her doubts. “Aryaputra, you are a great man and righteous too. Sometimes great people make small mistakes. Do you think it right to punish those who haven’t harmed us? Have the rakshasas harmed us in any way? My Lord, I am speaking these words as a result of my great love and respect for you. I am not preaching. Snehacca bahumanacca, smarage twam na shikshaye.”
Sri Rama congratulated Sita for her reasonably sincere words. But he told her that it was the duty of the kshatriya to protect the sages from the wicked demons.
When they went to the ashram of Agatsya, the sages admired Sita in the following words: “Exquisitely tender Sita has followed Sri Rama to the forest out of her pure love for him. Therefore Sri Rama has to keep her happy and contented. Normally women follow men when they are rich and prosperous. They reject men in their distress. But Sita deserves to be respected and placed among the greatest pathivrathas8”
8A pathivratha is a woman who remains faithful to her husband and serves him with love and affection.
Sita, who was being praised by everyone, had to face troubles. Her difficult days seemed to be approaching as Ravana’s sister,
Shurphanaka, chanced to stray into the ashram where Sri Rama was living. She was so taken by Sri Rama’s handsome figure that she made up her mind to marry him. She said: “This ugly and weak woman is not a proper match for you. I am going to make a deserving wife to you. Please marry me.”
When Sri Rama refused, she tried to kill Sita. On orders from Sri Rama, Lakshmana severed Shurphanakha’s earns and nose.
Shurphanaka was in great pain and she ran to Lanka screaming and reported to her brother Ravana everything. She sang the unmatched beauty of Sita and asked him to make her his wife. She also said that his gynaeceum will be dull without Sita in it. She tried to stuff his mind full of wicked thoughts.
As part of Ravana’s wicked plan, Marica took the form of a magic deer and began to flirt about Sri Rama’s ashram. Attracted by the golden colour, its grace and beauty, Sita desired to have it for her. She asked Sri Ramachandra to get it alive. If he could not get it alive, she wanted him to bring it to her dead so that she could have its skin.
Sita is a princess. She has followed me to the forest. She has not desired for anything so far. Therefore it is my duty to fulfil her desire’- thought Sri Rama. He asked Lakshmana to see that no harm came to her. He began to chase the
magic deer. It led him deep into the forest. When he realised that he could not get it alive, he shot an arrow at it. Marica who was in the form of the deer screamed: “Hah Sita! hah Lakshmana!” in a voice similar to Rama’s
When Sita heard the scream, she thought that Sri Rama was in danger and that he wascalling for help. She asked Lakshmana to go to Rama’s help.
“That is the trick of the rakshasas and no one can harm Rama. Further, I cannot go leaving you alone unprotected,” said Lakshmana.
“Lakshmana, it is sad that you desire for your brother’s death. You must be in love with me and therefore you do not want to go to help Sri Rama. You have come to the forest pretending to protect me. You wretch and wicked! You seem to take pleasure in Sri Rama’s distress. You are a cheat. I cannot live without Sri Rama. I am going to give up life right now.”
Lakshmana was shocked to hear the unfair accusations. He said to her sadly: “Devi, why do you look at me with suspicion? You have spoken unfair words about me. May God bless you. Let the forest gods protect you.” As he said so, they could experience a number of signs of ill omen. Lakshmana felt sad and doubtful whether on his return with Sri Rama he would see Sita in the ashram.
Lakshmana touched Sita’s feet, took her blessings and helplessly proceeded in the direction of the cry, leaving Sita alone.
Ravana, who was hiding nearby, was waiting for that opportunity. He disguised himself as a sanyasi and came to the ashram. When he looked at the exquisitely beautiful and innocent Sita, he fell in love with her at first sight. He went upto her and said: “Are you the goddess of earth? Are you goddess of wealth? Are you an apsara?” He began to praise her beauty in amorous terms.
“This terrible forest is not a fit place for a great beauty like you. How can you, o tender lady, wander about this fearful forest?” he asked.
Sita welcomed the sanyasi with respect, asked him to be seated and gave him arghya? padya10 and some fruits to eat. Fearing that the brahmin sanyasi would get angry and curse her, she told him who she was, her birth, how she married Sri Rama and other details.
In reply Ravana told her that he was the emperor of Lanka and brother to Kubhera, the Lord of wealth, asked her to become his queen and go with him to his palace in Lanka. When he finished speaking, he assumed his real form
of a rakshasa.
When Sita heard his wicked words, she said,
an offering of water with various ingredients to the hands of go^’ or holy men water for washing the feet.
“You wretch, don’t you know that I am the lawful wife of Sri Ramachandra? Like a deceitful fox, you desire to have me, who can never become your queen. You fool, you desire to prosper on the deadliest of poisons Kalakoota.’
You can never have your desire fulfilled. You desire to carry fire which would bum you to ashes. You appear to be walking on a sharp-pointed weapon by desiring to have me as your queen. You will not live if you touch me.”
Though she spoke these bold words, in her heart of hearts she was trembling with fear.
Ravana began to talk about his courage, wealth and strength. It had very little effect on Sita. She said: “It is a tragedy that the brother of the lord of wealth stoop down to the level of committing a sin of this nature. You are wicked, cruel and licentious. You along with all your rakshasa citizens are going to perish soon. Even if you have tasted nectar, you are going to perish and that is certain.”
Ravana, who was love-sick, turned a deaf ear to Sita’s words. Assuming his terrible rakshasa form, he forcibly held Sita by her hair in his left hand, lifted her and forcefully placed her in his magic chariot. Sita began to shout for help. “Rama! Lakshmana! save me. Don’t you see that I am forcefully being abducted by Ravana? Why
}Kalakoota is the deadliest poison which came out of the ocean when the devas and danavas churned the ocean.
don’t you punish the wretch? Ravana, you are going to perish. O mountains, trees, plants, birds and animals, please inform Rama that Ravana has carried me away by force,” she continued shouting as Ravana’s chariot took off.
The best among birds, Jatayu, was a friend of Dasharatha. He accosted Ravana and challenged him to a duel. It was a long fight. In the end, Ravana cut Jatayu’s wings. Sita was really helpless. She passed her hand gently on Jatayu’s back saying: “Sri Ramachandra, this brave bird fought with the cruel rakshasa in order to save me. Unfortunately he is lying dead.”
Ravana continued his journey. His magic chariot began to fly in the sky. Sita was in a hopeless situation. She was very angry with herself. She spoke strong words: “You are a coward. Just to abduct me, you have used the ploy of the magic deer. Yes, your unmatched bravery has to be appreciated, because you fought with this aged bird and killed it. This act of yours is against dharma. This is the end of you. You have no right to live after perpetrating this heinous crime.”
As the chariot was flying in the sky, she saw four great monkey-warriors sitting on a rock. Immediately she removed her jewels, tied them in a piece of cloth and threw the bundle down so that it fell near them. Ravana flew over hills and across the ocean and entered the city of Lanka. He showed to Sita all his wealth and tried to tempt her to marry him.
But Sita was least attracted by it. She was thinking of Rama. Ravana told her that he was ready to renounce everything to become her slave.
Sita was well-versed in wordly conduct as much as she knew dharma. Therefore she did not lift her head to see Ravana. She had a small blade of grass between herself and Ravana and boldly told Ravana about her pathivratya,11 her devotion to Rama as a devoted wife.
Ravana realised that Sita was made of sterner stuff and he lost courage to force himself on her. Therefore he kept her in Ashokavana, his royal garden. He had a number of royal maid servants to keep guard on her. He ordered them to try all means of temptation and threat to make her change her mind. Days rolled by and Sita felt that she was like a deer caught in the net of a hungry tiger. She was miserable.
In the mean time, back in the forest, Sri Rama experienced a number of ominous signs and he realised that Sita was in trouble.
When he reached the ashram with Lakshmana, he saw things in the ashram in astate of disorder. In the absence of Sita, the ashram looked deserted.
Pathivrathya is a state in which a married woman remains faithful to her husband and serves him loyaly through thick and thin.
”Could some wicked forces have abducted Sita? Is she dead? Have some wild animals or rakshasas killed her? Will she be hiding somewhere? Has she gone to fetch water or fruits? Has she gone to have a bath? Rama began to worry. The two brothers searched for her everywhere, in vain.
Sri Rama was the most worried man. He would remember Sita, her words, her smiles and the happy moments he had spent with her. His sadness increased. The most respected Sita might be in a state of fear about the rakshasas, he thought. She must be crying for help.
Sri Rama, in his great anxiety, began to enquire about Sita with the birds and beasts he met. They turned towards south and looked at the sky. He understood the message. He began to move towards south. He saw some flowers strewn on the ground. He had given those flowers to Sita. They looked fresh.
As he proceeded further, he noticed huge steps of a rakshasa. He saw broken arrows and parts of a chariot. At a little distance away, he saw Jatayu lying on the ground about to die. He thought that it must be the demon who had swallowed Sita. When he went near, he heard the bird say:” Ravana has taken Sita by force. I fought with him single-handed, but Ravana severed my wings. He has already killed me.” Rama’s eyes were flooded with tears. When at last Jatayu died, Sri Rama performed the last rites and helped him reach heaven.
Sugreeva was the son of the sun-god. He was living with his followers on the Rishymuka ranges.
Hanuman was the son of Vayu and Anjana Devi. He was an advisor to Sugreeva.
Rama and Lakshmana, who came in search of Sugreeva, met Hanuman. With his help the two aggreived,
Rama and Sugreeva, became friends. They agreed to help each other. Sugreeva showed Rama the bundle of jewellery, which Sita threw down from Ravana’s chariot. Rama’s eyes became moist and he asked Lakshmana to examine it. Lakshmana told Sri Rama that he saw only the feet of his sister-in-law every day while prostrating before her and never her face and therefore he could not identify the jewellery excepting that which adorned her feet.
Vali, the son of Indra, was a great warrior, who had defeated Ravana. There was some misunderstanding between him and his brother. He wrongfully annexed Sugriva’s kingdom and took away his wife.
Sri Rama killed Vali and helped Sugreeva get back his kingdom and his wife. Sugreeva, in order to keep his word, sent monkeys in search of Sita in all four directions. The team, headed by Angada, son of Vali, went southwards. The party included Hanuman, Nala, Neela, Jambavantha, Mainda, Dwi vidha, Gandhamana and many others. Sugreeva gave them a month to get news about Sita.
Sugreeva had great faith in Hanuman. Hanuman, you are a great hero. You have wisdom and strength. You can conduct yourself according to the situation. This great task can be accomplished only by you,” he said and wished them success.
Sri Rama gave Hanuman his shining ring with his name inscribed on it and said: “Hanuman, as soon as Sita sees this ring, she will confide in you.”
The monkeys who went north, east and west came back disappointed. The monkeys which went southward had great faith in their mission. They at last came to the mountain and entered a cave called Rikshabila. They got acquainted with the divine lady Swayamprabha. Swayamprabha played host to them giving them food. The stipulated one month was over and they could not succeed in their mission. They did not dare face their king and therefore decided to die starving. Hanuman consoled them saying that they would succeed with god’s grace. In the meantime, they met Jatayu’s brother Sampati.
He told them where Ravana and Sita could be found.
He said: “Ravana is the Lord of Lanka. It is a hundred yojanas13 from the sea. The divine architect Viswakarma has built that wonderfully beautiful city. Sita is in Lanka. You have to cross the sea to reach Lanka. Go ahead. You are going to succeed.”
The monkey leaders were discussing their strategies when Jambavan reminded them of Hanuman’s birth, past history and his prowess. This motivated Hanuman and he grew in size and showed great interest in jumping across the ocean to go to Lanka. He took the blessings of the elders. “My inner self tells me that I can pluck Lanka out of its place and bring it here,” so saying he roared loudly.
“When I fly the earth may not withstand my speed. So I will start slowly and accelerate when I reach the Mahendra range,” he said. He climbed up a tall hill, prayed to god, concentrated all his powers and took off. Overcoming all obstacles, he reached Lanka.
He let his left foot touch the earth first. He began to search for Sita everywhere, but he could not find her. Then he reached the Ashoka grove and beheld Sita there.
Though she was clad in ordinary and unclean clothes, she appeared pure and chaste. She had grown lean, but he saw a divine brightness radiating from her face. She looked sad. She answered the description Sri Rama had given of her.
“Sita in all her divine features, deserved Sri Rama and no one else. She is still living expecting Sri Rama’s arrival. Though she looks emaciated, she shines like a bright jewel amidst frighteningly-featured rakshasa women,” thought Hanuman.
In the meantime Ravana would visit Sita very often and press her to change her mind. He would speak harsh words to her.
Sita would refuse his cajolery and threats. She would think of Ramachandra and grieve. Chaste and magnificently-beautiful Sita appeared like an eclipsed moon, the sun hidden by clouds, an extinguished fire, a dried river, the moon during the dark half of the lunar month and a faded lotus. Her miseries seemed to see no end. Ten months passed this way.
As usual, one day Ravana came to her. “Ten months are over. If you do not agree to be my queen, I am going to ask my cook to cut you to pieces and bring to me a meal of you,” he shouted.
“O God, isn’t there anyone in Lanka who would make him think and speak better?” Sita wailed. She heaved a deep sigh.
The rakshasa women who surrounded her were tearfully ugly. “Ravana is ready to give up its extremely beautiful and fortunate queen Mandodari. Why don’t you listen to him and begin loving him?” said one of the rakshasi by name Harijata.
They began to praise Ravana in glorious terms and tried to influence Sita.
“A human being should wed another human being only once. As Shachi married Devendra, Arundhati Vasishta, Rohini Chandra, Savitri Satyavantha, Damayanti Nala and Sukanya Chyavana, I wedded Sri Ramachandra and I follow him as the shadow follows the man,” said Sita. “O my God! O Ramachandra and Lakshmana! Why has my fate reduced me to this hopeless state?” she wailed.
“Those who behold bright-eyed Sri Rama are the blessed. I am unfortunate not to have him by my side. I cannot touch Ravana even with my left foot. I would die rather than give up Sri Ramachandra and live with this wretch,” she decided.
Then Trijata, an old rakshasi, gave an account of a dream she had one night in which she saw the victory of Sri Rama and the destruction of Ravana. “If it is going to be true, I will protect you,” Sita thanked the rakshasis. Seta’s personality was so great that even a cruel rakshasi was won over by her.
“No one dies an untimely death. That is why I am still living amidst these rakshasis. All my efforts being faithful to my husband have gone waste. Sri Rama, I love you and I am going to give up my body here.” As Sita was wailing thus, she experienced a number of good omens. Hanuman was sitting on the tree under which she was sitting. He began to narrate the story of Sri Rama in a melodious voice. Sita heard it. She looked up and saw Hanuman. “What is this? Has Ravana come here to test me in the guise of a monkey? Is it a dream? I am not asleep! Let it be true,” she prayed.
Hanuman got down and in great reverence did pranam to Sita. “I presume you are a princess and a great queen. If you are Sita, who was abducted by Ravana, may divine goodness descend on you. Answer me,” he began.
Sita narrated her entire story and told Hanuman that Ravana had given her two months time to yield to him. “When the two months are over, I am going to give up life under this very tree,” she said sadly.
This meeting boosted the confidence of both. He came near her. Sita was filled with doubt and fear. Yes, Marica and Ravana approached her as a magic deer and a sanyasi. Naturally she asked him whether he was Ravana. “Are you really a monkey or Ravana? If you are not Ravana, tell me how Sri Rama looks like,” she said to Hanuman.
At that juncture, Hanuman began to describe Sri Rama’s divine features. “Sri Rama is truthful and righteous. He always speaks pleasing words. Lakshmana resembles Sri Rama in almost all aspects. Sri Rama is always thinking about you. He has been grieving on your account. He is not interested in food or sleep. He sobbed bitterly when he saw the ornaments you threw on the hill,” he said.
Hanuman also exhibited his strength and courage. His nectar-like words increased her confidence in him. On realising it, Hanuman gave her the ring Sri Rama had given. Sita was very happy to see it. She thought she had seen Sri Rama himself. Her face shone as bright as that of the full-moon.
Sita’s happiness knew no bounds. She praised Hanuman. “You are a great man. You have leaped over the ocean with ease. Fear does not lurk anywhere near you. I have a lot to speak to you about because Sri Rama has sent
“Does Sri Rama feel sad in my absence? Does he do his appointed duties even in his sorrow? How does he conduct himself with his friends? Does he use the four upayas (sama, dana, bedha and danda) with his enemies? Are his new friends good? I hope that he is not absent-minded? When is he going to come here with Sugreeva and his army? Am I going to see
Ravana being killed by Rama? Does Sri Rama look dull?” She rained questions on Hanuman,
When Hanuman told her about how sad Sri Ramachandra was, she asked him to get Sri Ramachandra to her as early as possible. Hanuman asked her if she would like to go with him. She modestly refused to do so.
“If Sri Rama destroys Ravana along with all the rakshasas and then takes me from here, it is an act befitting his bravery,” said Sita.
Even in her misery, she desired Sri Rama’s well-being, fame and nothing else.
“The best among vanaras, convey this message to Sri Ramachandra: ‘Dasharathi, I will live here just for one more month. I am swearing this on truth. Ravana, the wicked, abducted me and has kept me a prisoner here. Please save me. This act will befit your greatness.” Then she pulled out her chudamani (a jewel worn in a crest) from her apron and placed it in Hanuman’s hand asking him to give it to Sri Ramachandra.
“Maruthi, think of the course of action you have to undertake. Let Sri Rama carry out the action and save me from the clutches of Ravana,” she said and conveyed her regards to Sri Rama, Lakshmana, Sugreeva, Angada and other vanara warriors. Hanuman did pranam to Sita and consolded her before leaving that place. Anjaneya destroyed the beautiful gardens of Ravana and killed many soldiers and commanders of the king of rakshasas. Havana’s
son Indrajit took him prisoner with the help of Brahma and took him to Ravana. At the court, Anjaneya advised Ravana to restore Sita to Sri Rama. Angered by Maruthi’s deed and words, Ravana ordered his men to set Anjaneyas tail on fire and take him in a procession through the , streets of the city.
When Sita heard about it, she prayed to the fire god. “O Lord of fire, If I am faithful to Rama and if he is righteous, if it is true that Sugreeva is to save me from this misery, ‘sheeto bhava Hanumatah.’ Do not hurt Hanuman.”
As desired by Sita, the lord of fire did not hurt Hanuman’s tail. Hanuman burnt most
parts of the city. Then he began to worry about Sita, for, he had burnt most parts of Ashokavana. “My god, what have I done in my anger? What might have happened to Sita? Is j she living in Lanka or not? He was worried. When he heard from the celestial singers that r Sita was safe, he was very much relieved.
He came back to Ashokavana and saw for himself Sita safe. Then he went back to Kishkinda, the capital of Sugreeva.
He met Sri Ramachandra and said: “I have met Sita Devi and she is safe. Though she is being threatened by rakshasis, she has her heart firmly fixed in you.” He told Sri Rama all he saw and had done in Lanka and gave Seta’s Choodamani to him.
When Sri Rama set his eyes on it, all the past events came to his memory and tear drops gushed from his eyes. Sri Rama’s huge army encamped on the seashore.
In Lanka, Ravana’s brother Vibhishana who had realized Ravana’s misdeed and Sri Rama’s great strength, love of truth and righteousness, advised Ravana saying: ’’Having Sita, who is someone else’s wife is equal to keeping an all-destroying fire in our land. It will bum the city and all of us. Restore Sita to Sri Rama and save us. We have been experiencing several incidents of ill-omen all these days, ever since you brought Sita here. Be reasonable and return Sita.” Ravana rejected the proposal outright and in great anger, he banished his brother from his land. Vibhishana came out and surrendered himself to Sri Rama. The vanara army was ready for war. Ravana got an estimate of the enemy strength and conferred with his ministers about the strategy for the imminent war.
By the power of his maya (magic), he got a fake head of Rama ready and, showing it to Sita, he said: “Sita, look here, the source of your love is dead. Prahasta has killed Rama. Now that Rama is no more, accept me as your lord.”
“O my dear Raghukulanandana Rama, has it come to this? How unlucky am I to become a widow?” Believing it as true, she wailed.
O Paragon among humanas, have you died leaving me an orphan? How can I suffer this loss? Astrologers predicted long life for you. Are they proved false? please take me with you.
‘Ravana, place me on Sri Rama’s body. Let me die with him. It would be a sacred duty for a wife. I cannot live for a single moment without my Ramachandra. It would be a sinful life and I do not want it,” she said.
As Ravana turned to go away, the magic head and the bow disappeared.
At that moment, Sarama, one of the rakshasis consoled Sita telling her that it was only Ravana’s magic and that Sri Rama and his friends were safe and sound.
The war began. Thousands of rakshasas were killed. All the well-known demon warriors bit the dust. Then Indrajit confronted Sri Rama’s army and went back after getting hurt badly to perform a yajna in order to get more power.
Vibhishana told Rama that Indrajit had gone to a secret place and advised him to send Lakshmana immediately to disturb him and kill him.
Accordingly Sri Rama sent Lakshmana and he killed Indrajit easily. When Ravana heard about the death of his son, in his great sorrow and anger, he rushed to Ashokavana to kill Sita.
But he was stopped by one of his ministers by name Suparshwa, who advised him to go and kill Sri Rama and then get Sita. ’Killing a woman is not in keeping with the great qualities of a warrior like you, your majesty/ he said.
Then ensued a terrible battle between Sri Rama and Ravana and the latter was killed. Vibhishana was crowned king after Ravana’s cremation. Then he sent Hanuman to Sita with the message that Ravana was killed.
Sita felt relieved and extremely happy to hear the good news. For a moment she was tongue-tied. She was elated at Sri Rama’s triumph. She desired to give the messenger a gift for bringing the good news. “Hanuman, I don’t have a fitting thing to give you as a gift. You are the son of Vayudeva. You are righteous. You have great qualities such as courage, knowledge of all the shastras, brilliance, qualities of mercy and compassion, firmness and fortitude.”
Hanuman folded his hands and said: “I am going to destroy all these rakshasis who gave you a lot of trouble. Permit me to do so. They made you unhappy with their cruel words and behaviour.”
Sita, the mercy-incarnate said: “Hanuman, all these are servants of Ravana and they acted on his orders. I suffered on account of my bad luck. None of them ill-treated me after Ravana’s death. Show me one person in this world who
does not make mistakes.”
She expressed her desire to see Sri Ramachandra. Hanuman came back to Sri Rama with that message.
Sri Rama asked Vibhishana to bring Sita to his presence. Sita desired to meet her lord in the , simple dress she had on; but as desired by him, she dressed herself in all grandeur and came in a chariot. All the vanaras and others crowded round her chariot to have a glimpse of her. Sugreeva ordered them to move away. Good character is the protection to a woman. Let Vaidehi get off and walk towards me, so that all can see her,” ordered Sri Ramachandra.
Accordingly, Sita got down and walked up to Sri Rama slowly. She walked downcast out of bashfulness and modesty. She came and stood before Sri Ramachandra. She was calm. She looked at Sri Rama in great joy.
Sri Ramachandra looked at Sita whose face radiated modesty and great virtue and said a bit harshly: “I have released you from the clutches of the demon with the help of these warriors, and removed shame my royal family was put to. I have completed my vow. I have no interest in you. You can go where you like.”
Sita, who expected soothing and loving words from Sri Rama, was shocked at his unfriendly and rude words. She felt like a tender flower trampled by a huge elephant. Tears flooded her eyes. Sri Rama spoke such harsh words before a lot of other people and that made her choke with shame.
“Brave warrior, such piercingly-harsh words should not have come from you. Such words are spoken by uncultured and cruel human beings. It is not right for you to suspect my chassity. I swear that I am faithful to you in thought word and deed. If the wicked demon brought me here by force, it was not my fault. If you had sent this message of discarding me I would have taken away my life on that occasion itself. So many of you need not have taken so much trouble to save me. You have accused me as if I were an ordinary woman. I am born of the mother earth and I am different from ordinary mortals. You have seen me for a long time. Knowing me very well, you have put me to shame.” She was sobbing as she spoke. Then she spoke to Lakshmana: “Lakshmana, please prepare a pyre.
That is the only way out of my misery.”
As desired by Sri Rama as well, Lakshmana prepared a funeral pyre. Sita went round Sri Rama. Then she went near the Lord of Fire, bowed with reverence to Gods and said: “If it is true that I have not wavered in my thoughts about Sri Rama, if I have not deviated from the path of righteousness, if I have been faithful to Sri Rama in my heart, word and deed, if all the devas consider me chaste, let Agnideva protect me.” She went round the burning fire and jumped into it. All assembled there witnessed the spectacle with bated breath. All devas and gandharvas watched Sita enter fire, Everyone i 1 shouted in pain. The sorrow was all-pervading.
All the devas came to Sri Rama and reminded him of his true form. Lord Brahma said: “Though you are a son to King Dasharatha, in reality you are Sriman Narayana himself. Sita Devi is Mahalaxmi incarnate. You have
successfully completed the sacred task of destroying Ravana. When the fire god heard Brahma’s words, he came out of the fire along with Sita Devi. She was exquisitely dressed as before. Her garland of fresh flowers had not even faded at the touch of fire. The god delivered Sita to Sri Rama saying: “Sita is the purest among mortals. She is most sinless and the best. She has been faithful to you. Take herback.”
“You spoke the absolute truth. I knew it very well. But I had to put her to this severe test to prove to the world that she is chaste. Ravana i could not have done any harm to Sita who is pure as fire,” said Sri Rama and received his
Dasharatha appeared before them along with Lord Mahadeva. Sita, Sri Rama and Lakshmana touched his feet and got blessed.
Dasharatha spoke to Sita: ’’Dear Child, do not be angry with Rama. You have achieved the impossible and proved to the world that you are chaste. That was Rama’s intention. I do not need to say anything about your duty as a wife.
Ramachandra is everything to you.”
Then all the Vanaras, Sita, Sri Rama and Lakshmana travelled to Ayodhya in a Pushpakavimana)4 As the plane flew, Sri Rama showed Sita the battlefield of Lanka, the sea, the bridge, Kishkinda, Panchavati, and Chitrakoota
and other important places on the way.
They landed near the ashram of sage Bharadwaj a and told him about their experiences of fourteen years. After enjoying the hospitality at the ashram, they proceeded to Ayodhya.
Hanuman went to Ayodhya in advance and told Bharatha what had happened and gave him the news of Rama’s arrival. Bharatha was greatly happy.
Sri Rama and Bharatha met and it was a great sight to watch. Bharatha offered him the sandals he had brought from Sri Rama. He also gave him back the kingdom. Sri Rama and Lakshmana were dressed up for the coronation ceremony. The coronation was celebrated in all grandeur.
At the end of the celebration, Sri Kamachandra distributed cows, horses, gold coins, ornaments and clothes to the deserving. Sugreeva and Angada were presented with a divine necklace and bracelets. Sita was given a necklace of pearls. Sita held the necklace in her hands and looked at Sri Rama expectantly: “I understand you. Give it as a gift to one whose face is radiating with divine light, who is intelligent and skilled, one who has strength, courage, fortitude and compassion.” Sita gave it to Hanuman.
As days rolled by, one day Sri Rama heard that some among his subjects doubted the conduct of their king because he had accepted Sita who had lived in the city of the wicked Ravana for some days. Sri Rama believed that a king should serve as a model to his subjects. Therefore he decided to renounce Sita though he knew fully well that she was the purest of the pure. At that time, Sita was pregnant and she expressed her desire to visit sages in their ashrams. Sri Rama asked Lakshmana to take Sita and leave her in the forest near the hermitage of sage Valmiki. He did this in order to show the world that he was righteous.
Even when she was put to such terrible hardship, the noble lady did not blame Sri Ramachandra.
She had to live in the ashram of sage Valmiki. She gave birth to twins. They were named Kasha and Lava. As they grew up, they were given all education befitting kshatriya princes.
In the meantime, Sri Ramachandra performed Aswamedha Yaga. Sage Valmiki took Sita, Kusha and Lava to Ayodhya. The two boys chanted the Ramayana in the court.
Sri Rama was happy, but he asked Sita to prove to the people of Ayodhya that she was pure. In order to prove her purity, Sita prayed to mother earth to vouchsafe that she was pure of heart.
“Lo! No sooner did she speak thus, there was a thunderous noise. At the place where she stood, there was seen a great crack in the earth, out of which came a divine throne. Mother Earth was seated on it. She called Sita to sit on her lap. As soon as she did so, the throne, along with Mother Earth and Sita, disappeared.
Righteous Sita became a model wife, faithful to her husband in her heart, word and deed. She led a life of suffering all along. As she had understood Sri Rama, she never complained. She never spoke harsh words to him even when she was subjected to great hardship. She remained a faithful and loving wife and queen. Her life is a holy book to all women in this great land. All those who understand this are really blessed.