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Sita=Laksmi; MayaSita=Draupadi
Date: Fri Nov 13 1998 - 06:32:05 PST


The concept of Maya-Sita is described in Madhva's Mahabharata commentary
(summarized by KT Pandurangi):

The person kidnapped by Ravana was only a makeshift image of Sita. The actual
person of Sita went to Kailasa.  The fact of Sita's Prakrti only being taken
away by Ravana is mentioned in the Kurma-purana, Varaha-purana,
Brahmavaivarta-purana, Bhavisyottara-purana, and Agni-purana.  It is also
suggestively mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana by the statement
"pravekshhyaami hutaashanam."  It was Agni who managed to place a prakkrti of
Sita and enavble Sita to go to Kailasa. This is suggested by this statement of
Valmiki Ramayana. THe other Puranas state it more clearly:

Brahmavaivarta: agniryogena siitaayah maayaasiitaaM cakaara ha 

Varahapurana: shivasthaame 'vasahdevi tatra maam dhyaayati sadaa

agnau ahashyarupena varsam tistha mamaajnaya
ravanasya vadante maam purvavat praapsyase shube

The events of Sri Rama being misled by Marica, Sita longing for the deer, Sita
being kidnapped by Ravana are merely lokavidambana. These do not indicate any
ignorance or difficulty on the part of Sri Rama and Sita.
<end summary>

Regarding the previous incarnations of MayaSita, there is some info that she
was originally Vedavati then MayaSita then Draupadi.
The following story is told in the Puranic Encyclopedia from Devi-mahatmya
Skanda 9:

When Rama and Laksmana were in exile in the forest with Sita, Agni came to
Rama and told him in private thus: "Oh Rama, You have incarnated on earth to
kill Ravana.  The time for that is drawing nigh and ere long Ravana would
carry away Sita.  It is not proper that Sita, the incarnation of Laksmi should
be touched by Ravana.  Therefore I shall keep Sita safe with me and I am
giving you a phantom Sita to be with You in Her stead." Sri Rama took Mayasita
from Agni without even Laksmana knowing it and handed over the original Sita
to the custody of Agni.
At that time (of the fire ordeal), Agni taking back MayaSita gave the real
Sita to Rama , unscathed by fire.  Then when MayaSita was abandoned by Rama
and Laksmana she bowed down before Sri Rama and Agni and asked them thus:
"What am I to do now? Where should I go?"  They advised her to go to Puskara
and do penance and blessed her saying that at the end of her penance she would
become Svarga-laksmi.  ParamaSiva was pleased by her penance and appearing
before her asked her what boon she wanted. MayaSita who had become Svarga-
laksmi by then requested Siva to give her a husband.  She repeated the request
"Patim dehi" five times and Siva said she would have five husbands in her next
life as the daughter of the king of Pancala with the name Krishnaa.

Any comments appreciated

Gerald Surya