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Re: About Seetha Mata

From: Mohan Sagar (msagar_at_worldnet.att.net)
Date: Sun Nov 01 1998 - 16:37:54 PST

I am far from qualified to discern the official SriVaishnava position on
Sri Kurma purAnam (let alone anything else), and I certainly would not
question the Gaudiya position regarding Maya-Sita.  However, I was taught
that SriVaishnavas recognize Adi kavi Valmiki's Ramayanam to be the sole
accurate source for learning about the vaibhavam of RamAvatharan. 
Consequently, I would doubt that SriVaishnavas would easily accept the
Maya-Sita concept, although the idea does provide us with some comfort, and
despite the fact that it has become part of the popular story surrounding
the sthala purAnam of how and why Sriman Narayana came to bhulOkam as
thiruvenkatamudAyAn.

As one aspiring to be a prapanna and a Rama bhaktha, I try to spend as
little time as possible thinking about or questioning these extremely
painful moments of His Avatharan.  To me, He is always with Piratti at His
sannidhi at Bhadrachalam, and that is all that matters.  However, if I were
to attempt to use my very limited knowledge to speculate my perspective on
the subject of the agni-pariksha incident would be based on two sources. 
One is Smt. Vasudha Narayanan's outstanding article on the SriVaishava view
of Srimad Ramayanam in which it is suggested that thAyAr as Sita Piratti in
the Ramayanam is not only fulfilling her unique role as purushakAram, but
is also serving as the paradigm for the mumuksu, giving the example of how
a prapanna should conduct her(him)self even under the most frightening of
circumstances.  I believe that Swamy PeriavAccan Pillai has expanded on
this concept in one his works (I would appreciate someone's help with the
name of this work).  The other source would be verses 7 & 8 of Sri Vachana
Bhushanam of Swamy Pillai Lokacharya: (transliteration and translation by
Dr. Robert Lester, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of
Colorado; typographical errors are my own)

-----verse 7----

PurusakAramAmpotu krupaiyum pAratantryamum ananyArhatvamum venum.

The qualities essential to the purusakAram are Mercy, Dependence on the
Lord, and not being subservient to anyone other than the Lord.

-----verse8----

PirAtti murpatappirintatu tanNNutaiya krupaiyai veliyitukaikAka.   Natuvir
piritatu pAratantryattai veliyitukaikAka.  Anantaram pirintatu
anayArhatvattai veliyitukaikAka.

Piratti's first separation revealed Her mercy.  Her dependence on the Lord
is revealed in her middle separation.  The final separation revealed her
not being subservient to any other.

In commenting on verse 8, Dr. Lester, who learned this work form Sri
Agnihotram Ramanuja Tatacharya and Professor A. Thiruvengadathan, states
that the three separations in the above text  refer to the three times that
Piratti is separated from Her Lord, the first when Ravanar kidnaps Her, the
second at the agni-pariksha, and the third when she is exiled from Ayodhya.
 Her complete dependence on and subservience to the Lord, one of the chief
qualities of the purushakAram as suggested by verse 7, is seen from Her
unquestioning and faithful undertaking of His Command to take the
agni-pariksha.

Consequently, I would gather that the agni-pariksha incident is a
demonstration and proof without doubt of Her position as purusakAram and an
example to all other mumuksus of how one should follow the Lord's commands
without question.

The above is an attempt at a scholarly approach to the subject.   However,
I believe that one can only truly begin to understand just how much the
Divine Couple really love each and every one of us by meditating on how
much pain they must have felt.   The ones who are described as inseparable
as the fragrance and the flower, as the sun and the light, were separated
for so many months for the sake of the ignorant souls of this world, only
to have to undergo such a horrible test to set an example to these same
unworthy souls.  Our simple faith in Them is virtually meaningless when
compared to the level of The Divine Couple's Love for us.

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,

Mohan Raghavan