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Sita's sufferings

From: M.K. Krishnaswamy (surfings_at_mediaone.net)
Date: Sun Feb 03 2002 - 17:19:52 PST

Dear Members,

Sita's sufferings as also the slaying of Vali as depicted in our Puranic literature has agitated the minds of many Rama Bhaktas. Late Sri C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) in his Ramayana and Shri Narayana Bhattathiri in his  Narayaneeyam have dealt with this subject and stated their views. Their comments are reproduced below; these may also be seen reproduced in the web-site: http://people.we.mediaone.net/surfings/RamaPage.htm#Sita . 

As observed by Rajaji, 

"if we keep in mind that when God takes a lower and limited form by His own ordinance, limitations follow and we should not be confused thereby. This is my humble view as against other explanations propounded by the pious."

"Vaalmeeki has it that Raama gave some explanation with which Vaali was satisfied. But I am omitting all this as pointless and pray that the learned may forgive me. What I think is that an avataar is an avataar and that among the sorrows that the Lord and His consort had to endure in their earthly incarnation, this liability to have their actions weighed on the earthly scale is a part."

Dasan,
M.K. Krishnaswamy

Sita's sufferings:

Comments by C. Rajagopalachari in his "Ramayana":

Rama's face showed a strange transformation of mind. None of those around him, not even Lakshmana, could understand. 

"I have slain the enemy," said Rama (to Sita). "I have recovered you. I have done my duty as a Kshatriya. My vow is now fulfilled."  ......"It was not for mere attachment to you that I waged this grim battle; but it was in the discharge of duty as a Kshatriya. It gives me no joy now to get you back, for dubiety envelopes you like a dark cloud of smoke."

"What do you wish to do now?" he continued. "You must live alone, for we cannot live together. You can stay under the protection of any of our kinsmen or friends. How can a Kshatriya take back a wife who has lived for so long in a stranger's house?"

Sita looked at Rama. Her eyes flashed fire. "Unworthy words have you spoken!" she said. "My ears have heard them and my heart is broken. The uncultured may speak such words, but not one nobly born and brought up like you......................Is it my fault that the wicked Raakshasa seized me by force and imprisoned me? But since this is how you look at it, there is but one course open to me." 

Then, turning to Lakshmana, she said:
"Fetch the faggots, Lakshmana, and kindle a fire."

Obeying Sita, Lakshmana kindled a big fire and the princess, with eyes fixed on the ground, circumambulated her Lord and exclaimed: "Ye Gods, I bow before you. Oh Rishis, I bow to you. Oh Agni, you at lease know my purity and will take me as your own!" 

With these words she jumped into the flames. And wonder of wonders! The lambent flames were crowded with celestial figures; for all the gods came and assembled there. 
Brahma spoke: "Narayana! Mighty God that took human form to slay Ravana! Is not this your own Lakshmi?"

Agni, God of fire rose in his own body out of the flames and lifting Seeta in his arms with all her clothes and jewels untouched and intact, presented her to Rama. 

Rama said to Brahma: 
"Who am I? All that I know and can tell is that I am Rama, son of Dasaratha. You must know who I am and whence I came and more; it is you who must inform me." 

Rama accepted Sita fire-proved saying to her: "Think you that I did not know your irreproachable purity? This ordeal was to satisfy the people................" So saying, he drew her to his side. 

Then Dasaratha descended from above and, placing the prince on his lap, blessed him. 
"My child!" he said to Sita. "Forgive my son. Forgive him for the wrong he did to you to preserve the dharma of the world. God bless you."

In conclusion, Rajagopalachari observes in his book:

I have followed the story of the Prince of Ayodhya as told by Valmeeki. There was a legend current among people, I think even before Valmeeki's time, that after recovering Sita, for fear of scandal, Rama sent her away to live in the forest. This pathetic episode must have sprung from the sorrow-laden imagination of our women. It has taken shape as Uttarakaanda of Ramayana. 

Although there is beauty in the Uttarakaanda I must say my heart rebels against it. Valmiki had disposed of this old legend through the fire ordeal in the battle field. Even that ordeal does not seem to me as consistent with Rama's character. It is painful to read it.

As the Prince returned from Mithila he met Parasurama. I have heard it said that with that meeting, Parasurama's Avataar came to an end. Likewise, it should be held, I think, that Rama's avataar  came to an end with the slaying of Ravana. After that battle, Rama remained only as a king of the Ikshvaku race. On this theory, Rama's treatment of Sita after the battle and in the Uttarakaanda can be explained simply as the behaviour of a king in accordance with the customs of the time. 

Narayana Bhattatiri's comments in his Narayaneeyam:

In Canto35 Verse 10 of Narayaneeyam, Narayana Bhattatiri attempts to explain Rama's action after slaying Ravana, resulting in Sita Devi's ordeal by fire and again, later in Ayodhya, when he sent her away to the forest even though she was  pregnant. 


The following translation is from Narayaneeyam published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras (March 1976):

"This human embodiment of Thine is for instructing mankind how too much attachment (Kama) will lead to pangs of separation and how addiction to Dharma (the letter of the Law) will push one to such Adharma as abandonment of innocent ones. Otherwise, it is unimaginable how Thou, who art ever established in the Atman-consciousness, canst ever have any weakness of the mind. O Thou Lord of Guruvayoor, the very embodiment of Sattwa, deign to remove my sufferings from this disease."

The following comment appears in Note #14 appended to the text:

"Bhattar's estimate of Rama Incarnation, that it is to show men how intense affection (Kama) will lead us to pangs of separation (as Rama suffered from his loss of Sita) and how extreme addiction to Dharma, (the letter of the Law), will push one to Adharma -- is an echo of the Bhagawata verse 5.19.5-6. Many a devotee of Rama will not agree with this, although it may be conveying a subtle point that would interest a critical student. Rama and Krishna are two major incarnations, the former being glorified in the Ramayana and the latter in the Bhagawata.  

Both have been equally important factors in the devotional life of India. Rama Incarnation depicts a model of manhood and human conduct which people are asked to follow, whereas Krishna is a Divine manifestation whose words are to be followed but not deeds.  In some Vaishnava texts, Rama is therefore described as Maryada-Purushottama (Divinity who has restricted Himself by laws) and Krishna as Pushti-Purushottama (Divinity that bestows Grace in ways that are not bound by laws and social norms.) 

Slaying of Vaali - Rajaji's account: 

"All who are born must die. This is the law. I do not therefore grieve for my death. Still, your sin is great in killing me in this treacherous way."  This, Vaali, son of Indra, reproached Raama with his dying breath. And all this is fully set out by Vaalmeeki, the divine poet, as well as by Kamban.  Against this accusation what defence could Raama offer?

Vaalmeeki has it that Raama gave some explanation with which Vaali was satisfied. But I am omitting all this as pointless and pray that the learned may forgive me. What I think is that an avataar is an avataar and that among the sorrows that the Lord and His consort had to endure in their earthly incarnation, this liability to have their actions weighed on the earthly scale is a part. .............................................................. 
...................................................................................................... 
Raama erred in running after the magic deer to please his wife. Consequent to this, difficulties and sorrows and conflicts of duty pursued him. If we keep in mind that when God takes a lower and limited form by His own ordinance, limitations follow and we should not be confused thereby. This my humble view as against other explanations propounded by the pious."



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