Sita - Goddess of Sacrifice
Sita is the earthly incarnation of goddess Lakshmi who descended on Earth when Lord Vishnu incarnated as Rama. The epic tale of Ramayana revolves around Sita's abduction by Ravana the demon king. Sita is a household name and goddess for Hindus. She has a huge set of followers in Southeast Asia.
Sita was the child of Goddess Earth Bhumi and was adopted by the king of Janak. King Janaka had found her in the fields of Mithila. Some scriptures suggest that Sita was the incarnation of Manivati an ascetic woman who was was molested by Ravana. Manivati had pledged to destroy Ravana's lineage. She took birth as Ravana's daughter in her next life. When the astrologers warned Ravana that this child shall bring his destruction, Ravana decided to abandon her and left her in some far-off land. This is where King Janaka found her and raised her as his daughter. Some other versions suggest that Sita was Vedavati in her previous birth. Ravana tried to molest Vadavati who was an ascetic woman. Vedavati immolated herself in fire and declared that she shall cause his destruction in her next birth.
Even as a child Sita was no ordinary mortal. Once while playing she happened to pick up Pinaka which was the celestial bow of lord Shiva. The bow was so strong that it was not possible for a normal human being to lift it. Janaka knew that his daughter was special and hence wanted a groom for her that will match her greatness. He decided to conduct a Swayambara for Sita which would be based on a contest. The person who can lift the Pinaka and string it will be chosen as Sita's groom.
When Rama and his brothers who were traveling with sage Vishwamitra and Vishwamitra heard about the Swayambara, he asked Rama to participate. Rama won the contest and was married to Sita thereafter. His brothers are also married to Sita's sisters. Together they returned to their kingdom of Ayodhya.
Rama was the eldest prince and hence the rightful heir to the throne of Ayodhya. However, Kaikeyi who was Rama's stepmother wanted her son Bharat to become the king. She demanded this from King Dashrath and asked him to send Rama to exile for fourteen years. When Rama got to know of Kaikeyi’s wish he accepted her demand and decided to leave the kingdom. Rama's brother Lakshman and his wife Sita decided to follow him.
Together they left the city of Ayodhya and started living in the Dandaka forests. This is where Surpanakha, sister of Ravana, the demon king saw Rama and fell in love with him. She approached him and asked Rama to marry her. Rama declined her offer and told her that he was married to Sita. Furious Surpanakha now decided to kill Sita. This is when Lakshman fought Surpanakha and cut her nose.
When Ravana got to know that his sister was ill-treated by Rama and Lakshman he became furious and decided to seek revenge. He decided to abduct Sita. He instructed his uncle Maricha to disguise himself as a golden deer. Sita saw this deer she asked Rama to get it for her as she wanted the deer as her pet. Rama agreed and went into the forests. When Rama and Lakshman were away from Sita, Ravana disguises themself as a sage and kidnaped her.
He forcibly pulled her into his flying chariot and flew off to Lanka. Jatayu the vulture bird tried to stop Ravana and attacked him. Ravana chopped off his wings and it fell on Earth. When Rama and Lakshman started searching for Sita they found the injured bird who tells them about the incident.
Sita is taken to Lanka and kept as a captive in Ashok Vatika. Ravana kept insisting on her to marry him. He doesn’t force himself on her as he was cursed that if he ever touched a woman without her content he shall die. However, he kept persisting that Sita should marry him. Sita continued to reject his proposal and maintained her chastity. Meanwhile, Hanuman was sent to Lanka by Rama. He found Sita and asked her to come with him.
However, Sita demanded that her husband Rama should come and free her from the captive of Ravana. Hanuman went back and came back with Rama to Lanka. The battle of Ramayana begins and Rama succeeded in killing Ravana. Sita is freed from his captivity and they get united again.
Rama was sure of Sita's chastity. However, to prove to the world that his wife was still pure he asked Sita to undergo Agni pariksha. Sita walks on the pyre of fire and is proved pure and innocent by Agni. In some versions, it is mentioned that when Ravana was conspiring to kidnap Sita, Lord Agni decided to create Maya Sita which was an illusion. The real Sita was hiding under Agni's refuge and her illusion Maya Sita was kidnapped by Ravana. At the time of Agni pariksha, the real Sita emerged from the fire and reunited with Rama.
After reaching Ayodhya Rama ascended the throne of Ayodhya and became the king. However, his subjects were not happy with queen Sita. For them, she was impure as she stayed in the house of another man. Rama to please his subjects asked Sita to leave the kingdom and stay in sage Valmiki's ashram. Sita was pregnant at that time She stayed in Valmiki's ashram for the rest of her life and raised her two sons Luv and Kush singlehandedly. After a few years when her sons reunited with their father, she decided to leave this world by invoking Goddess Earth and requesting her to let her free from this cruel mortal world. She leads a heroic life displaying courage wisdom and self-sacrifice throughout her life course.
Art Credit: Gururaj Bhandari Follow us on
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