Sita-Her Conviction and Compassion

Sita- Her Conviction And Compassion

The Ramayana is the epic story of Sita ,says Valmikhi.

As we read, we too feel the same way…she might not kill demons on her own but she displays character and courage under very trying situations.

Some “scholars” talk in a derogatory way about Sita or Savitri and say they were weak women .

These scholars are the learned ones who neither care for, nor try to learn what they don’t know anything about.

If one really reads the epics, one cannot help admiring the superior qualities of these women which just cannot be taught by any school .These women made their own decisions and they were not “door mats” as some people want us to believe.

Here are some scenarios/scenes that I like very much, scenes that I feel help us understand Sita the person , her conviction, her values and above all, her superior compassion.

I am quoting from memory what I read from Rajaji’s Ramayan[ Chakravarthi Thirumagan] , “Sundara Kandam” [ In Tamil , by LIFCO publishers] and also various discourses on Kamba Ramayana I have either watched in TV or read about.

Scenario 1:

Ram is preparing to go to the forest and there is great anguish in the royal palace.

His mother Kaushalya is distressed enough to say that she too would follow her son and go to the jungle.

Rama tells her politely but firmly that as a woman, her first duty is to be with her husband and to serve him.

She doesn’t argue with this point and decides to stay back.

When it’s her turn, Sita argues that she too would go to the forest with her husband.

When Ram tries to dissuade her, she counters him by quoting what he said to his mother!

“A woman’s first duty is to be with her husband and to serve him”.

When she’s told about the travails of a life in the jungle she asks ,

Nin pirivinum sudumo perungadu?” [Will life in the jungle be more terrible than a life without you?]

I know I can never do justice to the immortal words of the inspired poet Kambar, but I am trying to convey the message.

Upanyasaks says that Ram was actually testing the conviction of Sita and when this daughter of Janaka displayed the strength and grit that was expected of her , he might have smiled with happiness.

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Please correct me if I am wrong, the narration follows Sita till the Jatayu episode and shifts to the perspective of Ram after that point.

We meet her again in Ashok vatika, through the eyes of Hanuman when he comes in search of her almost after ten months.

The narrating technique maintains a suspense element, but does not leave out important details.

The distress Sita experienced during that period and the subsequent hope she feels when the Vanar prince meets her is described in the Sundara Kaanda in Kamba Ramayanam.

A daughter of Vibeeshan was her only support during this time and the reason she kept a hope that she’d be rescued, despite the dire threats of the other Rakshasis.

Reading Sundara Kanda , one cannot be but touched by her supreme devotion to her Lord.

She tells Ravan, with a quiet courage that her Lord would come to rescue her after defeating the Rakshasas in the war .

She gives the Rakshas king some stern advice asking him to send her back to her Lord and ask his pardon, which the egotist doesn’t heed.

[Vibishan’s daughter Thrijada’s dream had to come true after all and the war had to take place].

But a little later, Sita is deeply distressed and assailed by doubts that Ram might have even forgotten her, but that could be attributed to what she was going through at that time.

The Vanar prince meets her just when she is thinking of taking her life.

They exchange notes about the happenings on either side and she hands over her crown jewel to him[ to be shown to Ram] as a proof that Hanuman indeed met Sita and no body else .

Scenario 2

Hanuman flies northwards, lands in the mainland [after setting fire to Lanka and after driving some fear in the heart of the Rakshasa king:-))] and frolics in the forest with his friends for a while.

When he meets the King who ruled his land [ Sugriv] and the Emperor who ruled his heart [ Ram],and when he is asked about sita’s whereabouts, he first does his “Pranams” towards South [ The direction where the brave one was waiting ,without food, without sleep but with just HIS name in her heart and soul.]

Hanuman says,

“Kandein Seethaiyai
Kandein Karpinukkaniyai…”

I saw Sita
I saw the ornament for chastity…

He then says,

Un perunDevi enRa urimaikum
Unnai peTra
Man peru marugi ennum vaimaikum
Mithilai mannan
Than perun thanaya
i ennum

Thagamaikum thalamai sanRal
Enperum Deivam Ayya! Innamum
Ketti enban

She deserves to be your Queen
A suitable daughter in law she is,
To your Father the King.
The daughter deserving of the King of Mithila,
She is the one I worship oh, Lord!…

[ Translated with due apologies to Kambar the inspired one.]

I did not want to translate “Deivam” as Goddess as that word is not used in the sense we generally mean .

Innamum ketti ,I feel, is better translated as “Aur Suno” and not” Let me tell you.”

[Indian languages despite their differences “speak” the same way.
Must be because of the cultural thread that connects. It must be a lot easier to translate Indian thoughts from one Indian language to another.]

Hanuman had recognized Ram, the minute they both had met first.But when he says “en perum Deivam” about Sita, Hanuman makes it clear how much he revers her.

Scenario 3:

The war is won and Hanuman meets Sita in the Ashok vanam to deliver the good news.

He takes a look at the Rakshasis around her and asks her whether he can punish them for the harassment they meted out to Sita during the time she was imprisoned.

[Note: he does not think it is his divine right to punish the vanquished as victors normally do, he’s asking for permission instead.]

[We, a very civilized bunch of people, now have Geneva conventions– on paper.]

What Sita says at this point is hailed by Upanyasaks.

“Who amongst us has not made a mistake? After all these Raksahasis did not act on their own.They were merely carrying out the orders of their master. Moreover, most of them are in grief now as they have lost their husbands in the war. Let them be.”

Unless we read the previous chapter, it would be hard to appreciate what she says ,but it’d be enough to understand that Sita was mentally harassed by her guards ,the Rakshasis, during her time in Asoka vanam.

And one can agree with Hanuman when he says to himself when he first sees her.

 He observes the quite courage she displays even when she is threatened with her life,” A suitable wife to Lord Ram, indeed”.

Indeed, she was, the daughter of Janaka, the hope of Dasrath’s vansh, the crown jewel of Ayodhya , the Queen of her Lord’s heart, the woman who burnt fire that fateful day, the woman who shed tears almost all her life but who never gave her values or principles up .

Salutations to Mother.

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 Part of this article was previously posted in Sulekha.

Narensomu

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