Today marks the auspicious appearance day of a very great female personality, namely Sita Devi, the consort of Lord Ram. Sita Devi, one of the most prominent personalities in the great epic Ramayan, is an epitome of pure love and devotion and an exemplary chaste wife. Her character and her pastimes set a great example and high standards for all women in today’s world, whether in the role of a daughter, wife, mother or in fact in any role at all. It also shows the strength pure hearted women can have, and is a good warning to everyone to never disrespect a respectable woman.
The appearance of Devi Sita on this planet was truly extraordinary and was an indicator of her divinity. Once, when there was a drought in the kingdom of Mithila, the janak at that time, maharaj Seeradhwaja, with the instructions of the Brahmanas, performed a Yajna to invoke the blessings of the Lord so that his kingdom may be freed from the disturbances created by the draught. After the Yajna was performed the Brahmanas instructed Maharaj Janak to plough the earth himself so that the sacrifice would bear the desried result. When Janak, who was a very saintly and learned king, was thus ploughing the land, the tip of the plough got stuck to something in the ground, which when dug, revealed a beautiful golden box. In that box, lay an exquisitely beautiful and divine baby girl. The king, who was childless till then, was extremely happy at heart to receive this girl and excepted her as his daughter, who was then named by the assembled saints as Sita, due her having appeared during the ploughing of the earth, as the tip of a plough is called Sita in Sanskrit. After this incident the king was blessed with a daughter, who was named Urmila and the two sisters grew up under the loving care of their parents. When Devi Sita was a small girl, she attracted everyone’s heart with her noble and beautiful qualities, and she was very devoted to the worship of the Lord.
The ancestors of Maharaj Janak were blessed with the bow that Lord Shiva used to kill the demon tripurasur, and therefore it was kept in the palace and worshiped by everyone. There are two versions of a pastime of Devi Sita with this bow. Some devotees say, that once when the Sita was playing ball with her friends, the ball rolled under the table on which the celestial bow was place. With a desire to retrieve the ball to continue with the play, Devi Sita with great ease lifted the bow, which was otherwise very difficult to lift even for the most powerful fighters on the earth. Another version of the story suggests that Sita would worship the bow and in order to clean the surface on which the bow was placed she lifted it up. In either case, when Maharaj Janak heard of this incident, he was truly amazed, and at that time he took a vow to marry his daughter to the person who was qualified and strong enough to lift the bow of Lord Shiva and string it. After that, in due course of time, Lord Ram came there with Rishi Vishwamitra and he won the hand of Devi Sita in the Swayamvar.
After having peacefully lived in Ayodhya for many years giving pleasure and serving her in-laws, when Maharaj Dasharath wanted to enthrone Ram as the king of Ayodhya but was forced to send him to the forest due to the two boons that he had promised to his wife Kaikeyi, Sita Devi insisted on accompanying Lord Ram to the forest. This shows how she was completely dedicated to her husband and made no considerations about the discomforts that she may have to face in the rough terrain of the forests. Her decision was praised by all respectable personalities in the society and she was considered as the personification of devotion to her husband. When she was thus traversing through the forests with her husband and brother- in-law, never did she complain about any inconveniences, rather she was faithfully serving Ram and keeping a happy demeanor for his pleasure. Once while living in the forest, before the kidnapping of Sita, Lord Ram invoked Agni dev and entrusted Devi Sita in his care, in order to carry out the lila for which he had descended on this earth. Thereafter, in Panchavati after the episode of Shurpanakha and the killing of Khar and Dushan, on Ravan’s instruction Marich disguised as a golden dear to captivate Sita, and Ram went to catch the dear on Sita’s insistence. After hearing the calls for help, that were actually made by marich in the voice of Ram, Sita instructed Laxman to go help Ram, but understanding that there was some demoniac game at play Laxman refused to go. However, he had to eventually submit to the orders of his sister-in-law and for her protection drew a line around the cottage, which he requested her not to cross. In the absence of the two brothers, the deceitful demon Ravan came disguised as a Brahman and begged for alms. When Sita asked for forgiveness for not being able to cross the line and come to serve him and instead humbly asked him to come forward, he threatened to curse her and thus making her fearful forced her out of the line. At that time revealing his true identity and his lusty intentions, he dared to kidnap Devi Sita, who is the mother of the entire universe and thus ensured his destruction in the near future. In truth he had actually only taken Chaya Sita, for if the actuall Sita would be there, due to her fierce purity and sanctity, he would have been burned immediately. But the pastimes of the Lord are inconceivable and Sita wanted to give the credit of saving her to her husband and also the Lord wanted to kill all the demons on the planet which would have been possible only by having a war.
‘Vinash kale vipreet budhi’ is a famous saying which means that at the time of one’s destruction one is not able to think properly and that was the situation with Ravan. Despite the constant requests and suggestions from his wife and brother, to hand over Devi Sita to Lord Ram, Ravan, stubborn and proud as he was, did not heed their wise council, which led to his destruction and the destruction of the entire demon society at the hands of Lord Ram and his army. After the war, however, instead of accepting Sita back, Lord Ram instructed Devi Sita to prove her chastity by entering fire. This was done not because Lord Ram had any doubts about her pristine character, on the contrary he was well aware that the real Sita was under the protection of Agni dev and therefore in order to curtail the possibility of others questioning her chastity and to get back the real Sita, this pastime was performed by the Lord, which is truly inconceivable for the ordinary human brain.
Thereafter, upon their return to Ayodhya and the coronation of Lord Ram, they lived happily in their kingdom till yet another painful pastime came to take place. In Ayodhya, there occurred an incident that one day the wife of one of the citizens returned home after having spent a night elsewhere due to various reasons and the husband refused to accept her in his house, and said that he was not Ram that he could except a woman back in his house who had stayed with another man. This although highly inappropriately said by the person, but Lord Ram, being the king, had to ensure that his subjects had faith in him and therefore he instructed Laxman to take Sita, who was at that time pregnant, to the forest under the pretext of visiting the saints, which Devi Sita was always very eager for, and to leave her in the forest and tell her that Lord Ram had given her up due to the unrest amongst the subjects in the kingdom. With a heavy heart Laxman carried out Lord Ram’s order and took Sita to the forest and left her there. When Devi Sita found out the true reason for their coming to the forest, she was heartbroken, but due to her unflinching faith and love in her Lord, she accepted his order and took up an austere life for his pleasure in the hermitage of Rishi Valmiki. In due course of time she gave birth to two boys, namely Luv and Kush, and they grew up under the care and instructions of Rishi Valmiki.
When Devi Sita was in the forest, Lord Ram decided to perform a horse sacrifice and requested the royal preist Rishi Vashisht to conduct it. Thereupon, the Rishi told Ram that he could only perform the sacrifice with his wife, or if that was not feasible then he should get married again. This however was not exceptable to Ram as whatever he had done was due to the public and he personally had no doubts whatsoever about her purity and he had taken a vow not to marry anyone else. In order to solve this dilemma, the sage instructed Ram to make a golden statue of Sita to sit in the yajna with him, after which every year a new deity of Sita Devi was made. In one such sacrifice, Luv and Kush happened to sing the Ramayan, which they had learned from their guru Valmiki, the author of Ramayan, which stole the hearts of all those who were assembled there. When eventually everyone got to know that they were Lord Ram’s sons, Devi Sita was called to the court to come and once again prove her chastity so that Lord Ram may except her and the boys. When Sita came to the court, she was accompanied by Valmiki Rishi who proclaimed in front of everyone that she was pure and that they should except her on his word as he had never spoken a lie, but despite this, she was asked to prove herself. Then as the ultimate proof, she invoked Mother Earth and requested her to take her back in her lap from where she had originally appeared. Answering her prayers, Mother Earth appeared and to everyone’s dismay Devi Sita entered the earth and in this way brought her pastimes on this earth to an end. Lord Ram was very much aggrieved by Sita Devi’s entering the earth but he then excepted his sons and ruled on the earth for many more years before ending his pastimes.
In this way, the life of Devi Sita is truly inspirational, in the way that despite all the troubles that came her way even though she is the eternal consort of Lord Ram, her mood was always to serve him and she was always most merciful to all those around her. On her auspicious appearance day, we pray to her for her causeless mercy that we may be able to attain unflinching devotion for Radha Shyamsundar.