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Musings on Sita's agni-pravEsam#11

From: sudarshan (lucasfie_at_md2.vsnl.net.in)
Date: Sat Dec 12 1998 - 10:11:40 PST

Dear Members who are following this thread,

Before we proceed with examining what we said were the Vedic undertones of
the "agni-pravEsam" episode, we observed in Post#10 that it is essential
first
we take a careful look again at the scenes leading to Sita's epic ordeal.

In post#8 we saw Sri.Rama exploding into bitter fury the like of which we
do not see Him exhibiting anywhere else in the Ramayana.

"prAptachAritra-sandEhA mama pratimUKhE stiThA I
 depO nEtrAturasyEva pratikoolAsI may driDam I" 

....... He says.

"I can't stand the sight of you, Sita .... you are revolting to me....my
eyes flinch from you as if they were diseased and can't bear the glare of
light."

When you reflect deeply about these words, you cannot help but term them as
a symptoms of a typically Freudian slip..... why?.... We'll discuss it
later while analysing the Vedic undertones of this episode...

For the present, when we read it, we become aware that Rama's bitter
statement is extremely intriguing. His malevolent words sound very unreal,
very incredible when you compare and contrast them with what He says, in
the 'sundara-kAnda', to AnjaneyA, when the latter hands over Sita's
"choodAmani" (crest-jewel) as proof of successfully completing his
reconnaisance of Lanka.

Rama receives it, fondles the jewel in His hands and ....after a long
moment of pensive and painful recollection...the Lord bursts into tears.
And then follows a most extraordinary outburst best described in
Sri.Valmiki's own words:

"kimAha sItA vaidEhi brUhi sowmya puna-ha puna-ha I
 pitAsumiva tOyEna singh~chanti vAkya-vAriNA II"     (Valmiki V.66.8)

"Tell me now.... once, twice, trice ....and then again ("puna-ha puna-ha")
and again ...What were Her words?!! Tell me AnjanEya, now, tell me what
were Her words.... for it is those words that will revive me ....".

It is extremely significant to note here Sri.Rama's reaction. Dear members,
please DO NOT fail to discern that Sri.Rama here does not ask of
Hanuman,"Tell me how is she? Is she well? Is she unhurt?".... which would
have been the perfectly natural thing to do under the circumstances.

Instead He wants to hear what she had to SAY! Rama wants to know first what
Sita "uttered"... what Her first words were.... "vAkya-vAriNa"!

Rama then continues:

"chiram jeevati vaidEhi yadi mAsam Dharishyathi I
 na jeevEyam kshaNamapi vinA tAmasi-tEkshaNAm II

 kimAha sItA hanumam-statvata-ha kaThamAdhya may I
EthEna Kalu jIvishyE bhEsha-jEnAturO yaThA II

 maDhurA maDhurAlApA kimAha mama BhAminI I
 madviheenA varArOhA hanumann kaThayasva may II " (V.66.10,14-15)

"Tell me what were Her words?... Tell me exactly ... what those words of
Hers were! For, I tell you, O HanumAn, it is those words which, like rain
drops on parched earth, will bring me back to life.... I beseech thee,
tarry not... Tell me what did She say? Do not keep anything back! Like a 
desperately sick man depending on the medicines of the physician I grapple
now for my very life that depends on the words she spoke to you .... those
sweet words  ("maDhurA maDhurAlApA kimAha mama BhAminI") the sweet words of
Hers that you now bring me!"

It is hard to believe... is it not dear members?... that the anguished,
agonized being who uttered the tortured words above in the "sundara-kAndam"
should be the same one in the "yuddha-kAndam" to turn to His spouse and
spurn Her with words bitterer than the raging, icy winds of an arctic
winter:

""prAptachAritra-sandEhA mama pratimUKhE stiThA I
 depO nEtrAturasyEva pratikoolAsI may driDam I" 

("I can't stand the sight of you, Sita .... you are revolting to me....my
eyes flinch from you as if they were diseased and can't bear the glare of
light.").

How is it... we are now forced to ask ourselves here... how is it that the
same person who, in one breath, said that the "sweet sound of the words of
His spouse" are to His dying spirit "like rain-drops falling on parched
earth" ..... how could the same person, when face-to-face with the spouse,
recoil with revulsion from Her saying that His eyes refuse to countenance
Her, just as "diseased eyes" flinch reflexively from the glare of dazzling
light ?!!!

It is a good question! A real stumper, indeed!! A question, were it to be
posed in a formal examination on the subject of the Ramayana, would
certainly leave many of us scratching our heads and nibbling the ends of
our pens in doubt.......

So how do we answer it ?

   ***************     ***************     *****************

The clue to the answer lies in 2 specific expressions in the two Valmiki
"shlOkA-s" above; they are both pregnant with deep meaning.... and they are
both essentially Vedic in nature!

The first clue is "nEtrAturasyEva....." (sight) and the other is,
"vAkya-vAriNa...." (words or utterances).

The Vedic undertone of the first clue is "pratyaksham" .... or, that which
is apprehended by plain, naked sight.

And for the second one, it is "veda-vAkya"..... the word of the VedA-s.....

In the next post let's explore what these Vedic clues are and where they
will lead us.

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,
sudarshan