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Musings on sita"s "agni-pravEsam" #19

From: sudarshan (
Date: Thu Dec 31 1998 - 11:19:57 PST

Dear members and friends who are (still patiently) following this thread,

In the scene leading to the "agni-pravEsam" there is poignant question
Sita-pirAtti poses to Sri.Rama after He tells Her that She is free to do
what She wants with Herself ... and as for Him, He wants nothing to do with
Her anymore.

""tadgachha hyaByanu-gnyAtA yaThEshtam janakAtmajE" I
Go away, Sita..... begone from me... wherever you like... as you like!

"EtA dasha dishO BhadrE kAryamasti na may tvayA I"   
"There are ten directions around you. Choose one and just fade away into
"kAryamasti na may tvayA ....".
I have no longer any need for thee....".

After listening to such heart-rending words of bitter rejection by Him,
Sita plaintively tells Her Lord She is truly unable to understand why He
ever went to all the trouble of mobilising Sugriva's army, of befriending
Vibeeshana, of sending Hanuman to Lanka on reconnaisance and finally,
going on the long march across the rough seas to wage a bloody, devastating
war with Ravana.... why He ever did go indeed to such lengths of effort if
He was already convinced about Her infidelity!

At that point she pointedly puts to Sri.Rama the following question:

"prEshitastE yadA virO hanumAn~avalOkaka: I
  lankAsThAham tvayA vIra kim tadA na visarjithA II"

The real substance of the above verse of Valmiki has been very aptly
captured by Prof.K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar in his "sitAyana":

"When your emissary Maruti came
   He observed my withered state,
 My plight as a prisoner of sorrow,
   and my proximity to death ..

On his return did'nt he make
  fair report of my vast tribulation?
Alas! now this to me, thine flint-hearted response!
  My 'tapas' all in vain ! 
***********         ************    **************

The above verse of Valmiki and Sita's poser to
Her Lord in it.... they are both real soul-wrenchers!

It makes the reader's heart spurt with overwhelming pity for Her.

It makes one wonder too :

* Why even after receiving from Hanuman, in the "sundara-kAnda", the
"veda-sabda-pramANa" of Her chastity...

* Why after having received the "vedic" testimony about Her essential
Truth, in full and unambiguous measure, in what was conveyed to Him as
about His beloved Sita ( the "vAkya-vAriNa" which we examined in such great
detail in an earlier post)....

* Why even after being resuscitated by such Truth about Sita (the
Upanishadic allegory of regaining "nihsvasitam" which we alluded to)....

Why... why after all that ... why did Lord Rama still give vent to His
darkest suspicions about Sita's fidelity and that too amidst the open
assembly of the commonweal of Lanka and Kishkinda?

Why indeed? 

Was not "veda-sabda-pramaNA" He received from HanumAn in the
'sundara-kAndA" sufficient to make Him apprehend the Truth ??

Was not the incontrovertible authority of the Vedic "word", "sound" and
"revelation" (the allegorical form and substance of the entire
"sundara-kAndam") ... was not all that enough to convince the Lord that the
matter of Sita's chastity was nothing but clear, self-evident and
resplendent Truth.... ?!

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

The answer to the above complex questions is this:

If for ordinary mortals like us "pratyaksham" and "anUmAna" are found to be
defective instruments with which to apprehend the eternal Truth ( a matter
which, if you remember, we spent considerable time discussing in Musing #
11 & 12), then equally, if not more, so is the inadequacy of the 3rd
"pramANam" viz. "vEda-sabda-pramANa"... the word of the Vedas.

There is no doubt when the ancient Vedic "rshis", those seers adept in
"vedAbhyAsa", heard the Rg Veda proclaim "vEdAhamEtam purusham mahAntam,
Adityavarnam tamasas parastAt...." they actually perceived the same Truth
the Veda exults about. They could apprehend the Truth since they had
crossed the boundaries of perception ... (the "Doors of Perception" as
Aldous Huxley called them) .... the "rshis" had indeed transcended those
boundaries of perception which we know to be circumscribed by Time and
Space.... and hence
they could intuitively grasp the Vedic verity of the Supreme Reality... of
the "parE
pumsi", the "purusham mahAntam"....!

But for the like of us and those of our ordinary ilk where is the question
"vedAbhyAsa" and attaining the light of knowledge that is born out of it?
How is it
possible for us, frail and feckless as we are, how is it possible for us to
attain to that state of consciousness of the ancient "rshis"? How then can
be depend on the "veda-sabda-pramANa" to help us cross the spatio-temporal
limits of Perception and to open the doors to
directly apprehending the eternal Truth?

It is simply Impossible, isn't it ?!

Equally must we then consider that it was impossible too to the mass of
"vanarA-s" and "rAkshasA-s" who were present with Lord Rama when Hanuman
conveyed to Him word about Sita.... 

While Lord Rama and Hanuman being the "parE pusi" and the other a
whose "brahma-gnyAnam" was as highly evolved as that of any "rshi"... while
between them they could well do with the evidence of "sabda-pramANa"
as the "sundara-kAnda") ... to the great assembly of lesser humans like
and "rAkshasA-s" of Kishkinda at large (beings no different from us in
spiritual advancement) to them "veda-pramANa" was of as much use as
"pratyaksha" or "anumAna-pranAmam".   

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

What is "sabda-pramaNA" really ?

We must explore the question in brief in the next post after which we will
go on to the final phase of our long discussions on "sita"s
agni-pravEsam"... and wrap it all up soon.

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,