Friday, February 5, 2010

PDE Ramayana: Sita and Rama

Reading Guide. You may be surprised by the next turn of events: things certainly do not happen as Sita expects after the battle.

Image: The image below shows Sita speaking with Rama, and they are attended by Lakshmana and by Hanuman who are waving chowries (yak tail fans) which are used in Hindu rituals.

SourceMyths of the Hindus and Buddhists by Sister Nivedita (1914). [600 words]

Mandodari's Lament | 73. Sita and Rama | Sita Tested

But now Rama called Hanuman to him and sent him to search for Sita and inform her of all that had befallen, and he found her still by the Ashoka tree, guarded by rakshasis. Hanuman stood before her humbly and told his tale, and she gave him the message, "I desire to behold my lord." Then the radiant monkey came to Rama and gave him Sita's message.

Rama wept thereat and was plunged in thought, and with a heavy sigh he said to Vibhishana, "Do thou bring Sita hither quickly, bathed and fitly adorned with sandal-paste and jewels." He repaired to her and gave her Rama's command; she would have gone to him unbathed. "But thou shouldst do according to thy lord's word," he said.

"So be it," she replied, and when she had made her ready, worthy bearers brought her on a palanquin to Rama.

Rama, beholding her who had long been the prisoner of Ravana and overcome with sorrow, was stricken at once with fury, joy, and grief. "O lord of rakshasas, O gentle king," said he to Vibhishana, "do thou bring Sita near to me." Then Vibhishana drove away the crowd of monkeys, bears, and rakshasas, and the attendants with canes and drums roughly hustled the assembled host.

But Rama bade them desist and ordered that Sita should leave her palanquin and come to him on foot, saying to Vibhishana, "Thou shouldst rather comfort than harass these our own folk. No sin is there when women are seen abroad in time of war or danger, at an own-choice, or at marriage. There can be no wrong in seeing her, the more so as I am here to guard her."

Vibhishana, cast down at that rebuke, brought Sita humbly up to Rama, and she stood shamefast, hiding as it were her true self in her outward shape, beholding Rama's face with wonder, joy, and love. At the sight of him her sorrow vanished, and she shone radiant like the moon.

But Rama, seeing her stand humbly near him, could no more hold back his speech, and cried, "O gentle one, I have subdued thy foe and wiped away the stain upon my honor. The work of Hanuman, in crossing the deep and harrying Lanka; of Sugriva, with his army and his counsel; and of Vibhishana, hath borne its fruit, and I have fulfilled my promise, by my own might accomplishing the duty of a man."

Then Sita looked on Rama sadly, like a deer, with tear-filled eyes, and Rama, seeing her so near, but bethinking him of honour in the sight of men, was torn in twain. "I have wiped away the insult to our family and to myself," said he, "but thou art stained by dwelling with another than myself. What man of high degree receives back a wife who hath lived long in another's house? Ravan has held thee on his lap and gazed on thee with lustful eyes. I have avenged his evil deed, but I am unattached to thee. O gentle one, I am forced by a sense of honour to renounce thee, for how should Ravana have overlooked thee, so fair and dainty as thou art, when he had thee at his will? Do thou choose what home thou wilt, whether with Lakshmana, or Bharata, or Sugriva, or with Vibhishana."

Mandodari's Lament | Sita and Rama | Sita Tested

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