‘I no longer wish to live this unjust life anymore, I no longer wish to go back to my kingdom, I no longer wish to return to my husband’, Sita asked her mother, Dharti, to take her back to her womb, away from the cruel world, back to Earth. Amid her sons and her husband, she settles into the ground as her mother sympathizes with her agony and grants her wish.

Sita, the incarnation of Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Ram, the adopted daughter of King Janak and Queen Sunaina, a paragon of feminine virtues and a symbol of self-sacrifice, courage, and purity. Sita, the princess of Mithila was adopted by Raja Janak when he found her inside the ground, covered in mud, while plowing the field, performing a yagna. He adopted her and named her Sita, the Sanskrit word for furrow, hence, the Goddess of Harvest in Rigveda.

Sita was said to be the daughter of Dharti, found inside Earth, born from Earth, she was also called Bhumi or Bhumija meaning Earth’s offspring. Though her biological mother was Prithvi, she was brought up by the queen consort of Mithila, Sunaina, along with her younger sister Urmila, who later married Lakshman, the brother-in-law of Sita.

Once of age, Sita chose Ramchandra (Ram) as her husband in her Swayamvar, as Ram, the son of Dasharathand Kaushalya, rulers of Ayodhya, showed great valor and strength, impressing both Sita and her father King Janak. In the grand marriage ceremony of Sita and Ram, Sita’s sister Urmila and cousin sisters Mandavi and Shrutakirti also got married to Ram’s brothers, Lakshman, Bharat, and Shatrughan.

Sita, like any other young girl, had the dream of spending a romantic life with her husband in his kingdom of Ayodhya, but it was not long after their marriage when Ram’s stepmother, Kaikaiyee asked for a wish from King Dasharath, to send his eldest son, Ram, Sita’s husband to a 14 year-long exile from Ayodhya. Having to stand by his word, the King had to grant this painful wish of his third wife and ordered his own son’s exile, Vanvaas.

Young Sita’s dream was enfeebled against her undying devotion and loyalty towards her husband, as Ram asked her to stay back in the castle taking care of the elderly until he returned, she argued, fought and begged him to take her with him. She was least concerned about the hardships of living in a forest, for those moments, she was no longer a princess, a future queen, she was the true-blue wife, who put her husband above all, wanting to stand by him in everything. “Do you not know that the hardships would be my luxuries when accompanied by your love, I will not stay back, I will walk through the thorns in the forest in front of you.”, Ram could not refuse Sita and left for his Vanvaas along with his brother Lakshman.

While in exile practicing penance, the three of them took to the deep forests of Dandaka in the south of Citrakuta. Years of struggle, hardship, and tribulation, she faced it all with great courage, never complaining and always sharing the burdens with her husband and his brother. Yet, life wanted to test her more. After those 13 long painful years, it was the beginning of the 14th year in exile, when she spotted a majestic golden deer grazing in the forest and asked her husband to get it for her. A Golden Deer, never having seen such a deer by either of the brothers, Lakshman tried to warn Ram about the possibility of this creature being a demon in disguise, but seeing Sita enchanted by it, Ram decided against it. Still being skeptical, Laksham drew the infamous Lakshman Rekha, a protective circle in the dust across the entrance of their hut to protect Sita from any strangers, he asked his sister-in-law, who he respected as her mother, to not step out of it, as barring her, no one would be able to cross it, and then left with Ram to get her the deer.

Unknown to threats, neither of the three knew about the vicious plans of Ravan. The deer was none other than Ravan’s Uncle, Mareecha, the one who had the power to transform himself. It was revenge that Ravan sought. Ravan planned to distract Ram and Laksham with the help of his uncle and harm Sita.

Why Sita? It was tied to his urge to avenge his sister’s sufferings. Ravan’s sister Shurpanakha was smitten with Ram and wanted to marry him, but he was already Sita’s husband and firmly refused to Shrurpanakha’s proposal. Unhinged, she wants to take no for an answer and was so determined that next, she asked Laksham to marry her, who angered cut off her nose and ears. To shed Ram beloved wife Sita’s blood similarly, Ravan had planned this.

He disguised himself as a sage and went to Sita’s hut, but it was the Laksham Rekha that stopped him from entering, as he called Sita out, looking at her, he was instantly attracted to her beauty and no longer wanted to harm her but have her, the evil king tricked Sita to cross the Lakshman Rekha herself asking her for water and abducted her instantly.

She paid the price of her beauty and generosity at the hands of a baleful king. She was forcefully taken to Lanka, Ravan’s Kingdom, nowhere to be found by Ram and Lakshman when they returned, falling prey to a vile promiscuous man’s lustful and hungry eyes.

Ashok Vatika, the garden across the ocean, the place storing the agonizing pain of Sita when captivated by Ravan. Refusing to cooperate and stay within Ravan’s Palace, she spent the 12 months of her abduction in this garden under the Ashok Tree.

Mandodari, though the queen consort of the demon king Ravan, was known to be pious and righteous, although knowing her husband’s craze to want to marry Sita, she was able to put her jealousy away and help Sita during the months she spent under the Ashok tree. Sita waited every single second for her husband to come and rescue her, it was Hanuman, who finally came to her. Sita was not only a perfect wife but an intelligent woman, well-versed in Shastras, when Ravan had abducted her, on her way to Lanka, she dropped her jewelry creating a path, a trail for her husband to follow to be able to find her. Upon Ram’s instruction, Hanuman and followed this trail and reached Sita to tell her that he will bring her back home safely.

To fight the demon king was when Ram had crossed that ocean using floating stones to reach Lanka and get his wife back. Victorious, Ram killed Ravan and destroyed most of his clan whilst Hanuman had set fire to Lanka.

Good wins over evil, but she gets caught up in the crossfire. It should have come to an end, her pain and suffering, she should have peacefully returned to her kingdom as a queen. She was forced to endure more, a woman so true to her husband, was questioned over her virtue, her purity. The wife who spent over a decade in a forest for Ram was asked to go through Agneepareeksha, the Ordeal of fire, to prove her chastity. Publicly, she walked through fire, remaining unburnt, proving her celibacy during her abduction, only after which did Ram claim her back as his wife and queen. If the toil and anguish of one lifetime were less enough, there is another interpretation that believes in the existence of Maya Sita.

Vedavati, the daughter of Lord Guru of the Devs, a young woman who had spent her life studying the Vedas, chanting and worshipping Vishnu. Meditating in her ashram, she was seen by Ravan, who was instantly captivated by her beauty and approached her, upon being rejected by her, he insulted her devotion to Vishnu and molested her. In desperate vengeance, she entered into the fire in front of his eyes, cursing him that her rebirth will be the death of him. Reborn as Maya Sita, she was the one who got abducted by Ravan into Lanka whilst Sita was safely hidden, hence as Ram killed Ravan, she got her revenge. It was her who took the Agneepareeksha and died walking through the fire, when the God of Fire, Agni, appeared with Sita, telling how she was safely hidden, hence proving her chastity. It is considered that Maya Sita was reborn again, like Draupadi, daughter of Draupad, the one who went through her meal of unfair sufferings, from her marriage shared between five brothers to her being betted upon by them and molested thereby in an open court, yet, her strength is what makes her the incarnation of Durga.

Once accepted by her King consort, she was back to her court, pregnant with the future ruler of Ayodhya, still, she remained unaccepted by her kingdom. The words of one odd washerman, heard by Ram, were the reason why he sent his pregnant wife back into exile. ‘I am not like our king, I will not accept you after you have spent a night in another man’s house’, the washerman said to his wife, these mere words made Ram believe that his men did not respect or approve of him and he ordered Lakshman to send Sita away from Ayodhya, yet again, to another exile.

Was walking barefoot through fire not proof enough of her purity, was her word not enough to be proof of her chastity, or was another man’s opinion above his love for his wife. Lakshman, unwillingly, left Sita in the deep end of a forest, near a sage’s hut, asking him to take care of her. Valmiki, the sage, took care of Sita until she gave birth to the twin sons of Lord Ram, Luv, and Kush. Her sons learned every skill from Valmiki and were as capable as a prince brought up in a palace. Sita, though away from her husband, found happiness in the togetherness of her sons.

Young Luv and Kush dragged a man to their hut to show him to their mother one day, the man was none other than Hanuman, Ram’s devotee.

Ram had left the sacrificial horse, during the Ashvamedha Yagna, the horse that denoted the Rule of the particular king. If a person was to stop him, he was to fight a war with the ruler’s army, if he won, he would be crowned the next ruler. As this horse was running through the forest, Sita’s sons stopped it and won against the army of Ayodhya and Hanuman, they dragged Hanuman by his tail, to prove their valor to their mother. To see the young boys who had won against his army, Ram came to Valmiki’s hut where he saw Sita and instantly recognized that they were none other than his own sons.

He wanted his family back, he asked Sita to return to the palace with their sons, but all Sita felt was betrayal and pain, she no longer wanted to handle the burden of life, or go back to a husband who had thrown her out. This is when she called out to her mother Dharti and asked her to free her from all this and take her back.

Sita, the unforgettable character of the Hindu epic, Ramayana, ends her mortal life going back into the earth.

A great king, a great son, a great brother, but a failed husband, moments after Sita freed herself from the world, Ram was so guilt-ridden that he wished upon his own death, but this was not enough to right any of those wrongs that Ram committed, putting his pride, kingdom, landsmen above his wife.

A long painful journey of men questioning and testing her, living in the hardships of isolated lands, abducted by one, rejected by another, walking through fire, she finally went back to where she came from. Her earthly life ending at where it began, mitti se ubhri wo mitti mein sama gayi, always to be remembered as the silent power of suffering and sacrifice.

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