Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PDE Ramayana: Sita

Reading Guide. In this episode, Rama meets Sita and falls in love. Just as Rama is an avatar of the god Vishnu, Sita is an avatar of the goddess Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort, so the love that Rama and Sita share is a heavenly and eternal love.

Image: You will see Sita below in the form of a theater puppet from Andhra Pradesh in southeastern India. You can read more about the shadow puppets of Andhra Pradesh at Wikipedia.

Source. The Divine Archer by F. J. Gould (1911). [600 words] This selection comes from Gould's versions of the Ramayana which is based both on Valmiki's Sanskrit Ramayana but also on Tulsidas's Hindi Ramayana. You can find out more about Tulsidas at Wikipedia or in this lovely Amar Chitra Katha comic book: Tulsidas.

Ahalya | 8. Sita | Janaka

The sun had not yet set, and Rama saw that his brother Lakshmana had a keen longing to view the wonders of the city, so he asked leave of Vishvamitra, and, with the hermit's consent, they walked out into the streets. As they crossed the marketplace, crowds of people, young and old, watched them with wondering looks, for the princes were handsome: they were clothed in yellow coats; their breasts were shining with big pearls; curly hair peeped out from under their caps; they carried bows and arrows in their hands. And girls, peeping from latticed windows, whispered to one another that these princes were goodly youths, and surely the dark one was fit for wedding with the king's daughter, Sita.

Thus they rambled from street to street till they arrived at the meadow of sports — a vast place marked out in a ring and all round it were, first, a row of seats for princes and nobles; then behind that, higher up, a row of seats for the citizens, and a grand gallery, painted in many colors, was the Place of Ladies. All was quiet, and after giving a hasty look at this tournament field, the brothers hurried to their lodging, and were soon asleep.

At the rising of the sun, Rama and Lakshmana bathed in a stream and asked the hermit if they might pluck flowers, and he cheerfully gave leave. Now, as they roved, they saw the splendid garden of the king, and they entered and admired the fruit trees and the flowers, and the peacocks, which spread their glorious tails, and they came to a lake like a looking-glass, around which were steps of smooth stone, and water-hens plashed in the pool, and thousands of lotuses spread their lovely petals to the sun. And the gardeners allowed the princes to cut flowers.

And it came to pass that the Princess Sita was walking in the garden with her maids. One of the maids had gone in front of the others, and she suddenly saw the two youths. She paused one moment and then ran back.

"What have you seen?" asked her companions.

"I have seen two most noble youths."

At that instant, Rama heard the jingle of the bangles on the lady Sita's feet, and he said, "I know of a surety that there comes hither a lady whom I shall love beyond all things else in the world." Lifting his eyes he saw Sita, the king's daughter, and they loved each other then and for ever.

The princess said not a word.

"It is time to go," said one of the maids. "Let us return to the palace, Lady Sita."

"It is time to go," echoed the princess, and presently she and her companions had passed from view of the brothers. On the way to the palace, she stopped at the house of the goddess Bhavani and, entering the temple, she knelt before the image and prayed, "Great Mother, bright as the lightning, and giver of gifts to gods and men, thou knowest, as I bend before thy lotus feet, what is the wish of my heart."

Then a garland of flowers dropped from the hand of the image, and Sita picked it up with joy, and felt a throb in her left side, and was sure, by these tokens, that her prayer was heard.

With flowers in hand, the princes returned to the guru, and told him of the meeting in the king's garden. The sage recited holy legends during the day, and at night Rama lifted his eyes to the moon and said, "The queen of night is not so fair as Sita."

Ahalya | Sita | Janaka

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