ShriRama vanquished Ravana in the great battle of Ramayana and returned to Ayodhya along with Ma Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. Upon ascending the throne of Ayodhya, Rama asked Sita to go to the jungle. This was a decision that always stuck to him like a sore thorn. Ever since, Rama has been ridiculed and doubted by many for this act.
This Navratri, I had asked Anjaneya to provide me with an answer. By the grace of Hanuman, the answer came in the form of the video interview above published by the YouTube channel, The String .
In this video, R Sriram Chakradhara, one of the co-authors of the book Thavaasami, explains this incident in detail. His explanation can be summarized in the following three points: First, Chakradhara explains this incident by saying that Rama was first and foremost a king, and he could not totally ignore the subjects of the kingdom. Furthermore, while Valmiki Ramayana mentions a few people speaking ill of Sita, it does not mention even a single instance of any citizen going to Rama and beseeching him to bring back Sita. We must remember that these were the same Ayodhya citizens who had followed Rama to the jungle when he was leaving Ayodhya at the insistence of Kaikeyi.
Second, while Rama could have accompanied Sita to the jungle for the second time, it would have been an indirect admission of Sita’s guilt. Rama had even offered to do that but none of his younger brothers were willing to take the reins of the kingdom. To be specific, Rama did not send Sita to any random place in the jungle. He had requested that she be left at the place of Valmiki’s ashram. This one single act of Rama deflects all questions from being directed towards Sita, and makes him alone the center of all blame and insults for ages and generations to come. Apart from this event in Valmiki Ramayana, nowhere else has any person ever talked about Sita’s character. But even today people will question Rama. Such was his love for Sita that it is beyond our puny minds to even comprehend.
Third and final, Chakradhara says that Sita herself provided the proof that Rama never doubted her even for once. In her final Agni Pariksha, she invokes Mother Earth and asks her to open up if
a) she has thought about and loved no one else but Rama, and
b)if Rama knows this to be true.
This was a heart-wrenching appeal to Mother Earth. Sita in a way wails to her mother (Mother Earth), pleading how she could not give up when, Rama, himself the maintainer of the universe, had to suffer so much. The pain that Rama had to go through was beyond what she could bear to endure. While Rama knew that Sita was beyond blemish, Sita could not bear to witness her man being the target of all doubts of the people, and yet carry on quietly. Can we even imagine the pain of being a king to such ungrateful people?
In the Sundara Kanda by Tulsidas, the Sant writes the following couplet about the love between Rama and Sita:
कहेहू तें कछु दुख घटि होई। काहि कहौं यह जान न कोई॥Expressing the sorrow of the mind reduces the pain. But whom should I share my pain with? No one knows this sorrow. O darling, only my mind knows the essence the love between you and me.
तत्व प्रेम कर मम अरु तोरा। जानत प्रिया एकु मनु मोरा॥
सो मनु सदा रहत तोहि पाहीं। जानु प्रीति रसु एतनेहि माहीं॥
Subsequently, Sita says this in the return message to Rama:
अवगुन एक मोर मैं माना। बिछुरत प्रान न कीन्ह पयाना॥Separation is fire, body is cotton and breath is wind, thus (by the combination of fire and wind) this body can burn in an instant, but the eye sees the form of the Lord for its own benefit ) Rains, so that even the fire of separation does not allow the body to burn.
नाथ सो नयनन्हि को अपराधा। निसरत प्रान करहिं हठि बाधा॥3॥
बिरह अगिनि तनु तूल समीरा। स्वास जरइ छन माहिं सरीरा॥
नयन स्रवहिं जलु निज हित लागी। जरैं न पाव देह बिरहागी॥4॥
By becoming one with Mother Earth, Sita became Ayodhya so she could bear the burden of Rama’s sorrow as he walked on the sacred land, looking after his people and discharging his duties. Ma Sita can be the gentle breeze when the heat of separation becomes too much. She became the Sarayu that could touch ShriRama’s body whenever he took bath or drank water from it. She became the mother that feeds millions of ShriRama’s children till day. Ma Sita and ShriRama are inseparable. They are not two, they are one.
Edited by Vamsi Kiran