The ideal shown by Sri Sita Devi and Lord Ramachandra.

By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj

The appearances of Sita Devi and Radharani are similar. Rama, Krishna, and many others came in a human-like way. They came from a father and mother. But Sita Devi did not come from the womb of a mother. When Rajarsi Janaka was ploughing, he suddenly found Sita Devi on the end of his iron instrument as She came out of the earth. He took Her at once to his parents and gave Her to his queen. Sita Devi was brought up in his kingdom, and later She was given to the hands of Ramachandra.

When the time of Ramachandra’s coronation came, there was a great catastrophe. Kaikeyi came to Dasarath, and because Dasarath wanted to satisfy his obligation to her, Ramachandra had to go and live in the forest just before He was going to occupy the throne. Sita Devi followed Ramachandra, and They had to pass fourteen years in the forest. After thirteen years, Ravana carried Sita to Lanka, and She spent one year there as a captive. Then there was a fight. Ravana and all his followers were killed, and Sita Devi was taken back to Ayodhya.

There are many things we have to understand properly. How could Sita Devi be forcibly taken away by a demon? She is Laksmi. She is the beloved of Ramachandra. So how is that possible? Her existence is quite transcendental. Mahaprabhu explained this,

sparsibara karya achuka, na paya darsana
sitara akrti-maya harila ravana
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 9.192)

“A demon cannot see transcendental substance, what to speak of stealing or forcibly carrying away Sita.”

That was all eyewash, a mere show, a drama, we may say. Only to teach the public, the subjects, Ramachandra had to play like this with Sita. There are so many things to be learned here.

Ramachandra was so sober, so considerate, so indifferent, so courageous, but still His love and affection for Sita was so great that He began to weep like a child day and night for months and months. He has so much love for Sita. Yet after Ravana was killed and Sita was brought in front of Ramachandra, a peculiar change took place. Ramachandra said, “I cannot take Her back. She lived for a long time in the clutches of Ravana. I can’t accept Her. To show that I am not a coward, and to teach Ravana, who stole My wife, a lesson, I fought. I have now finished My duty, but I cannot accept Sita. She must be given a test. For the sake of the public, She must pass an examination of Her chastity.” This attitude was shown by Ramachandra. His followers began to weep and cry: “What cruelty to our mother! We cannot tolerate it.” Especially Hanuman was upset. Anyhow, the Absolute’s order was there. A fire was arranged, and Sita Devi entered it. When the fire went out, Sita Devi was still there intact. No harm or injury to Her body was found. The people were astonished to see this. Then Sita was accepted by Rama.

After fourteen years Ramachandra came back and occupied the throne. In Ayodhya Ramachandra had His spies. Raja pasyanti karnabhyam: kings see with their ears, not with their eyes. Charita pasyanti, they see through their CIDs (ambassadors). One day a CID came, and Ramachandra asked him, “What is the matter? How are things going in the country?” The CID replied, “It is difficult to say. Today, I have heard the very worst news.” Ramachandra said, “Don’t be afraid. Say it!” Then the CID said, “I saw a quarrel between a wife and husband in an ordinary family of a washerman. The washerman said to his wife, “I won’t maintain you. You stayed in someone else’s house.” The husband was rebuking his wife: “You spent the night in someone else’s house, so I won’t maintain you. That henpecked Rama may accept and maintain Sita, who lived for a year in the house of Ravana, but I will not behave like that. Rama may do it, but I will not.”

This was reported to Ramachandra. Ramachandra became very serious. He called for Laksman and said, “Raja prakrti ranjanat. The root meaning of raja, king, is ranjanat. This means that his duty is to satisfy the subjects, the people. So, when I am king, I have no independence to think on My own. I must be guided by the will of My people. When such an objection has been raised about My practice and character, I have to do something about it. So, Laksman, My brother, You have done many things for Me without any consideration of right and wrong. I want to leave Sita. I ask You to go and banish Her in the forest. Some days ago, She proposed to Me that She wants to see the tapovan of Valmiki. With that plea, You can take Her and leave Her there in the forest.

Laksman did so. He went to Sita, “You wanted to visit Valmiki’s tapovan. Ramachandra has ordered Me to take You there.”

Sita could not apprehend immediately that a catastrophe would come. She was rather cheerful, “Yes, take Me there.”

After taking Her to that forest, Laksman began to shed tears under a tree. Sita asked, “Laksman, why are You crying?”

“This is the fact.”

“Oh, this is the fact? You have come to banish Me in the forest amongst these wild animals? And this is the decision of My Lord?”

“Yes, what can I do? This is the order. I am not independent. I have nothing to say. I am only carrying out the order of My master. Please forgive Me.”

“Yes, what can You do? If He has ordered You, then of course You cannot but obey that.”

Sita was also pregnant at that time. Laksman perhaps went away, and while Sita was sitting under a tree, some of the disciples of Valmiki came, saw Her there, and reported to Valmiki. Valmiki knew everything because he had already written the Ramayana, the Pastimes of Rama. He was waiting for this day. He came and took Sita with much affection and adoration. He brought Her to his cottage and treated Her like an affectionate daughter. She gave birth to two children, Lava and Kusa, and they grew up there.

Meanwhile an asvamedha-yajna was proposed by some rsis, and Ramachandra accepted it without Sita. But the rsis said, “To perform the sacrifice, there is the formal necessity of a queen by Your side.”

Ramachandra said, “No. I am not prepared to accept any other wife. It is not possible for Me.”

Then how to do? The rsis came to Ramachandra’s relief, “You can construct a statue of Sita.”

A golden Sita was constructed, and taking Her, that statue, at His left, Ramachandra performed the sacrifice. Of course, news of this came to Sita. Sita also thought that if Ramachandra was going to perform sacrifice He would have to marry again. But when She heard that He was not going to marry a second time, that He had prepared a golden figure of Her for the sacrifice; She could not be removed from the affection of Ramachandra.

Later there was a fight between Rama-Laksman and the sons of Sita, Lava and Kusa. The sons were defeated, and Valmiki came and made peace between them. At that time Sita came before Ramachandra. Ramachandra asked for another examination, another test, of Her chastity. Sita was mortified. At last She called upon Her mother, the earth, “O Mother, I cannot tolerate this insult repeatedly. Please accept Me, take Me in your lap.”

It is said that the earth cracked open, and Sita went in. Seeing this, Ramachandra ran into that crack to get Her back, but the crack closed before Ramachandra could do so. Ramachandra had to come back empty-handed. Of course He knew everything. He was sober, serious, and above all a king. He had to manage, to look after the welfare of the people. He went back to His throne again.

Sita Devi, Laksmi Devi, came to show such an ideal for our benefit. Almost Her whole life was full of sorrow and pain, and She had so many qualities: adherence, affinity, chastity, devotion, abnegation, and so on. Women can be proud of Her ideal. She is respected by all. Sita Devi’s ideal is immortal here in India. It has been honoured for a long time. Such deep selflessness, such affection towards Her husband, such affinity and purity, how She maintained Her purity under adverse circumstances, all these things are to be learned from Her unparalleled example.

Ramachandra is very very generous and sublime. That is very attractive. It is heart‑touching. His self‑abnegation is extreme. In response to the remark of a single subject, an ordinary man amongst lakhs and crores of men, He made the greatest sacrifice. He sacrificed to the maximum extent. Dasarath has several thousands of queens, innumerable queens, but Ramachandra had only a single wife. And He played with Her in such a merciless way. It is possible only for the Lord. He did so to set an example here on the earth that we must not allow ourselves to be guided or attracted by the so-called ideals of luxury and pleasure in this mundane world, which are very mean things. Truth is above all. That should be the ideal of our life: the beck and call of truth. We should try to live the life of a surrendered soul with our eyes fixed on the aim. That is truth. We shall live a life for the truth, and not for any amount of pleasure or comfort which may be proposed from this plane. This ideal helps us to select our way and shows us our brilliant future. Everything here is trifling. We must trample down under our feet all the prospects proposed by this mundane world. The truth is truth, and we must aspire to be subservient to the truth, to the highest ideal. This world is nothing. We must trample over it.

This inspiration we get from the character and example of Ramachandra and Sita Devi. It will elevate the standard of our life and supply energy to show us the ideal substantially. We shall imbibe energy from Their characters to pursue our ideal. We can’t measure the inestimable goodness that we imbibe from the characters of Ramachandra and Sita Devi. So, we are infinitely indebted to Them. Let Them bless us with Their goodwill and grace so that we may pass through the temptations of this world towards the higher goal which we have anyhow come to accept.

Gauraharibol.

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern exponent of the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the school of Srila Rupa Goswami. Subtle and profound yet vivid and practical, his representation of both the broadest and deepest spiritual truths has and continues to fortify and nurture the faith of spiritual aspirants the world over. For more information on Srila Sridhar Maharaj, please visit his biography page.

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