Category Archives: Mythology

The Sacrifices Of Bhagwan Ram

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Why did Lord Ram exile Mata Sita even though she underwent agnipariksha?

Source : Ramana CV (Quora) ; 
https://www.quora.com/Why-did-Rama-exile-Sita-even-though-he-conducted-agnipariksha

Why did Rama leave Sita?

Ramayana has always been a great source of inspiration to me. Its a story of a human who overcame all obstacles while upholding the rules and principles; It’s a story of leadership; It’s a story of the start of civilisation, the setup of a structured way of living; But what’s often overlooked is that it’s a story of how Rama helped and supported rehabilitation of various women.

First we have Ahalya, a woman punished for being the victim of someone’s lust. We then have a woman, Shabari, punished for being born in the “wrong caste”. Another, Tara, was the victim of political and social powers beyond her. Yet another, Mandodari, feared being ostracised for being the wife of a villan.

Rama stood by all of these women.

Not only that, he supported them and helped them being rehabilitated into the society. So this is the biography of Rama.

Why would such a kind, compassionate, inclusive, progressive person punish his own innocent wife with exile?

Though Uttara Kanda was a major interpolation to the Ramayana, this question has always troubled me. I have read various articles and books, spoke to various people but nothing helped. I then came across this blog post (why did Rama abandon her ?), a wonderful analysis on this issue. The following is a direct extract from the blog post authored by Bhagwat.


Why did Rama abandon Sita ??

That crucial question has bugged me for years.  Yes, I have heard of all the plausible arguments in favour of democracy and public opinion and how Rama really loved Sita but had to do it for the love of Duty etc.  None of this made sense.  Indeed, which part of Dharma Shastra would allow him, as a caring King and a loving husband to abandon a pregnant woman ?

This is particularly galling when you consider that this is the same Rama that helped rehabilitate the sagely Ahalyaji.  In Ahalya’s case, here we have a woman who has been raped under the guise of Indra pretending to be her husband.  She is than duly abandoned by Rishi Gautam and cursed in the bargain !   How unfair is this ?  To be raped and cursed for being raped !  To punish a victim for crimes committed against them is unfair and unreasonable in any society.  Yes, Rishi Gautam felt hurt and betrayed, but there was no reason to take it out on his innocent wife !  He even protested that she must have known the difference between her husband and someone pretending to be the same – so surely, she is guilty !!

Ahalyaji was raped in the darkest part of the night – just before pre-dawn, at a time when her husband was out and about to take the morning bath in the river.  There is no way she could have known in that light if it was Rishi Gautam or not.  Only the rishi’s macho-manliness required him to punish the culprits and in his rage, he cursed the innocent aswell as the guilty.

Condemned by her husband, Ahalya lived unacknowledged, unwelcome, in an ashram full of people that should have been compassionate to her.  She lived so ignored by the community, that she might as well as have been a stone !  Hence the reference to Ahalya as shalya – stone.

Rama felt the injustice of the sentenced passed by society on an innocent woman.  Woman condemned by her aggressor and her peers.  A woman who had no way to redress the system that had wronged her so badly, had someone who was at the pinnacle of the system to stand up for her.  Rama stood by her.  That scion of Raghuvansha, descendant of Suraya, prince of the clan of Bhagirath.   He came to stand beside the woman no one wanted to know.  Once he stood by her, everyone was bound to re-examine their own stance.

In our modern age, Princess Diana used the same thing to bring AIDs victims out of the cold and into the full glare of the media, into the warmth of human rights.  Her touching and talking to AIDs victims without gloves and masks made everyone feel it was OK for them to do the same.

The great and good of the world can make a huge difference by whom they choose to associate themselves with.  The causes they support, suddenly become talk of the town. Society always looks up to its leaders to set an example for them.   Krushna says as much to Arjun in the Bhagvad Gita – The acts of the great are seen as guides by the masses, hence the great have a great responsibility to behave in a manner that inspires the society to better itself.

Rama was a great prince.  His association with Ahalyaji would propel her cause, the cause of all wronged women, into the lime light.  It would set an example of how compassion and kindness should replace coldness of social ostracization.

Rama helped rehabilitate Ahalyaji.   He brought her out of social exile and had her reunited with her family.

This was an act of great compassion for a young prince, not even married yet !


Even during his exile, Rama continued his task of helping to rehabilitate those whom the society considered too uncouth to communicate with.

He spoke to Guha, the leader of the fisher folk.

He also ate with Shabri, the aboriginal.

No one would sit and eat, let alone have any social relationships with the tribal people living in the deepest, darkest jungles of India.

Rama did.  He not only sought them out, he made them feel at ease with him – the mighty prince of Kaushal !

Rama’s association with Shabri helped establish her as a sagely woman of great wisdom.  Once accepted by the illustrious student of Vashishtha and Vishvamitra, everyone began to seek her out !


Rama went further and made crucial alliance of friendship between himself and the Vanar prince Sugriv.  It was a friendship, a relationship between equals – not between a prince and a tribal, but prince and a prince !!  This is the special relationship between Rama’s progress through the Southern lands and friendships he fostered between different communities he found there.

Let us not forget, he fought the high caste brahmin’s court, that of Ravan, and not the non-Aryan communities in-between.   Rakshashas are born of a sage and are the step brothers of Yakshas.  Yet Rama fought them with the help of Vanars.  He made the Vanars – people whom the Aryans considered to be little more evolved than monkeys, his blood brothers and brought them into the main stream of the society.


Rama helped yet another woman regain her social standing – Tara – queen of Kishkindha during the rule of Vali and Sugrive.

Though initially wedded to Sugrive, she was later commandeered by Vali and later returned to Sugrive.

She had a son – Angada – during her time with Vali and Rama promised to make sure he would not suffer politically or socially during the rule of Sugriva.   Rama made sure Angad was made the crown-prince and Tara restored to the position of queen and future queen-mother.  The laws and rules of the Vanar community were respected – Tara’s forced change of marital partner was the way tribal communities ruled and some still do.

Rama, by supporting Angada, introduced progressive ideas in Aryan and Vanar societies and encouraged ideas of compassion.

Under normal circumstances, it seems, Angada would have died as the off-spring of the old enemy and Tara would have had to swallow that pain in the name of social order.

No more.  Rama showed that Tara had no choice in her situation and the society should treat her with compassion and understanding.


After the defeat of Ravan, the mortal enemy of Rama, Mandodari, his chief queen, comes out to grieve over her unfaithful husband.

This was a man who had a roving eye and kidnapped many women to satisfy his lust.

Mandodari, as his first wife, was secure in her position, but, powerless to restrain him.

Her security came from being the first to wed him, and the first to give him valient sons as heirs, but her powerlessness came from knowing her husband was a lustful man who knew no restraint.

Being the super power of his time, he knew no one would stand up to him.

He took what he wanted, when he wanted, from where he wanted.  If the gods could not restrain him, how could Mandodari ?

Rama recognised this.

Why should she be punished for his avarice ?

He called her a Sati, and honoured her as a paragon of the virtue of patience.

He gave her the honours due to the widow of the fallen warrior.  Rama made sure Mandodari was not vilified for the sins of her husband and sons.


So, first we have Ahalya, a woman punished for being the victim of someone’s lust.

We than have a woman, Shabri, punished for being born in the “wrong cast”.

Another, Tara, was the victim of political and social powers beyond her.

Yet another, Mandodari, feared being ostracised for being the wife of a villain.

Rama stood by all of these women.

Not only that, he supported them and helped them being rehabilitated into the society.So this is the biography of Rama.

Why would such a kind, compassionate, inclusive, progressive person punish his own innocent wife with exile ?


Rama battled with bigotry of others all his life.  If you look at the list of the greatest Pati-Vrata-Naries – ladies who are considered to be the most devoted to their husbands – four are from Rama’s time.  Ahalya, Tara, Mandodari and Sita !

So, why would Sita suffer what others had been spared ?

Sita was not raped, Ahalya was.

Sita was born into the royal family, yet lived like the tribal – Shabri – for the best part of her life.

Sita’s sons were legitimate, unlike Tara’s, and yet, their birthright was snatched from them even before their birth.

Sita’s husband was the paragon of Dharma, yet, she suffered insults even Mandodari was spared !!

Why ?

After Agni-pariksha, Rama knew that Sita was unmolested by Ravan.  Yet, why did he not stand by her as he stood by Ahalya ?  If Rama forced the society to change its views of Ahalya, why did he not do the same for Sita ?

Rama gave Angada the rights reserved for a crown prince, why did he not protect the rights of his own sons ?  He was able to change centuries of social norm for Tara, so why not for Sita ?

Rama guarded the rights and honours of a woman who was the wife of a veritable monster.  Why did he not guard even the basic rights of his own wife ?

No, this article is not a feminist attack on Rama.  I have set out the scene of Rama’s previous social activities so that we can explore the reasons why Rama abandoned Sitaji.


Rama was a leader.  Like all leaders, he lived his life in the full glare of the public.  Everyone knew his life, inside out.  There was nothing he could hide in his life.  To please people around himself, he did everything necessary to make them happy.  He even abandoned his mother and kingdom to prove what a law abiding (Dharma Dhurandhar), wonderful son he was.  His reward – exile and adulation.

Sadly, the exile was oh-so-long and the adulation was oh-so-short !

Society, any society, is fickle.   They raise you to the pinnacle one minute, and dash you in to the dust the very next minute, without a second thought.  You cannot please all thepeople all the time.  People are cruel and will remember bad parts more so than the good ones.

The very people who welcomed Rama and Sita as their “life and soul”, later smirked and gossiped about them behind their back.  Surely, others of greater intelligence and eloquence must have muted the ideas before the washer man spoke them aloud !  The washer man was but the most out-spoken proponent of these gossips.

Gossip is one thing people love the most.  Gossip is the killer of any utopia.  Rama-Rajya, the utopia of Hindu scriptures, was seriously flawed because just as the people enjoyed the “perfect rule”, its “perfect ruler” led a hollow life.  Without the love of his life, Rama was incomplete and unhappy.

Rama found that once doubt found a foothold in the mind of his subjects, it was impossible to dislodge it.  No amount of Agni-pariksha could remove this doubt, as doubt, by its very nature, is founded on feelings and not facts.  No amounts of proofs, given by the very Gods, can remove doubts.  Doubt fractures the very foundation of faith and once faith is gone, all the rest is useless.

Rama knew this.

As an idealistic young man, he could fight for Ahalya, Shabri and even Tara.  He could challenge the social norms and moralities with the zeal of a rebellious youth, believing that he can do anything he puts his mind to.  How many young people, even today, believe they can do what generations before them have not been able to ?

But, as a mature ruler, Rama found life to be very different.  Out of power, he could do no wrong.  People adored him no matter what he did, as he was worse off than they (the people) were.  If they lived in modest houses, Rama lived in a mud hut, in the middle of the jungle.  How could they not love him ?

But now, living in a palace, he was in a better place than them.  He could now be criticized.  Rama knew this too.   He had to lead an unblemished life.  Be whiter than white and give no reason for anyone to find any flaws in the façade of his perfect life.

But, even his most strenuous efforts could not stop the fire of doubt spreading across his capital.  Once tainted by gossip, there was little he could do to shake it off.   Those who pointed fingers at Rama and Sita, lead less than perfect lives themselves.  But, they expected Rama and Sita to lead an exemplary life, well beyond the capability of anyone.

“Let he who is innocent, cast the first stone.” said Christ.

Sadly, there are no innocents around.

Even more sadly, the more guilty they are, the harder they stone you.

They ruthlessly stoned Sita’s reputation.

Without proof, without reason, without remorse, they punished Sita for a crime she did not commit.

Rama could do nothing to protect her.  If he did, he would be accused of favouritism.  For sake of political correctness, he had to step back and let the cruel drama unfold.  He could intervene, but not without leaving everything he had worked for behind him.  Alternative was to leave with his wife to the unanimous life somewhere else, far from Kaushal.  Born and raised as a prince, he could not do abandon his subjects.  To abandon his perfect plan of a perfect society was too much for him.

He took the only option open to him – the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

He abandoned any chance of happiness in his life for the happiness of his people.

He abandoned Sitaji and sent her back to the forests !

He sought the help of sage Valmiki in this matter, as he was one of the most progressive of sages at the time.

But, he still loved Sitaji.  More than ever !


When his people demanded he remarry for the Ashvamedha Yagna, Rama had enough.  He placed a golden statue of Sita in place of his wife and challenged his kingdom to disprove him.  He could have made the statue out of anything, stone, wood, silver, but why gold ?  Just as gold never tarnishes, Sita in his view could never have a tarnished character.  Sita was his wife, even in abstentia.  Marriage was a personal matter and no amount of public opinion could shake him from it.  He had enough of running his life being guided by public opinion.   No more !  He could abandon a queen for peace amongst his people, but he would never abandon his wife !  Tough talk – if only he had done it a few years earlier !

You cannot run your life on public opinion.  If anything, that is the flaw in RamaRajya.

Democracy, or public consensus, are great ideas, but often lead to the common denominator – and that is usually the lowest common denominator.  There is little to gain from going for the common denominator.

Rama and Sita could not live life with so many responsibilities and so little reward for it !  Sitaji kept fighting off suspicious rumours about her and her sons.  Eventually, she stood up to them – not like Rama with his allegorical golden Sita, but a concrete affirmation of who and what she was.  Sitaji said, in no uncertain way, “Accept me as I am.  If you don’t, the loss is yours, not mine.”

There is an old poem by Kalapi that says – “Dayahin thayo raja, raasahin thai dhara”.  When the king become merciless, the very Earth of that kingdom losses its essence.  Just as the Earth cracks when it is totally dry, without any moisture, without any life, without any “raasa” (joy in life), eventually Rama and Sita both cracked.  Sitaji preferred to be away from such an unforgiving society.  It was our loss.

So, what should WE do ?

Lets stand up and be counted.

Be in charge of your life !

Don’t let others rule your life for you !!

Anytime we do not stand up against the cruel dictats of our family / work-place / school / community / society / country – we are condemning one more Sita.

Source 2 : https://www.speakingtree.in/blog/why-lord-ram-send-mata-sita-to-forest-was-lord-rama-right-or-wrong

One of the greatest merits of Hindu Scriptures is that it is open to interpretation and criticism. Some of the actions of Lord Ram in Ramayana have been criticized and many even doubt whether Lord Ram deserves the reverence and worship that he is getting. All the actions of Lord Ram that are open to criticism today could have easily been polished and edited by Sage Valmiki and presented him without any so called flaws. This is the greatness of Hindu scriptures; it does not preach or impose teachings and ideas but kindles the reader to think, participate in a healthy debate and reach a conclusion. It wants the reader to remain independent and think independently.

Our king might accept a wife who had stayed in another man’s home but not me – On hearing a washer man question the purity of the Queen of Ayodhya, Lord Ram decides to send a pregnant Mata Sita to the forest. Rama is the ideal king and for a modern reader this is heights of stupidity and absurdity. A modern reader would want Lord Ram to stand by his wife and defend her and not to fall for the irresponsible prattle of his foolish subjects.

If Lord Ram had sent the washer man questioning the purity of Mata Sita to prison, he would be performing the duty of a husband.

But will he be performing the duty of a King? Lord Ram could have beheaded the washer man on the spot. But will he be able behead all those people that questions the purity of Mata Sita. Lord Ram would have become a dictator! Would we worship such a Lord Ram today?

Some would suggest that Lord Ram should ignore such silly comments. A husband can ignore silly comments but an ideal King cannot.

The people of a kingdom looked up to their King for inspiration and all his actions had a meaning and they were followed and often quoted by elders in a village whenever there was a crisis situation. He is the best and final example. An ideal king like Lord Ram who accepted all his subjects as a part of his family was forced to act when there was a dissenting note in the society. It was not a silly dissenting note but one that questioned the very moral fabric of the society. Lord Ram was forced to sacrifice his wife for the well being of the society and to stop it from undergoing moral degradation.

We are used to prime ministers, presidents, chief ministers and ministers who are corrupt, and famous for nepotism. So we cannot even imagine about a ruler like Lord Ram. A ruler like Lord Ram is utopian for many of us. But it is true that a king like Lord Ram ruled this earth and even today we dream of Ram Rajya.

But did Lord Ram marry again? No, in fact he suffered more than Mata Sita. He was lonely in the huge palace. He was always immersed in the thought of Sita. He had to bear the voidness created by Mata Sita’s departure. He was filled with remorse – a husband who had to send his pregnant wife away. A father who could not even look at the face of his children.

So what did Lord Ram gain by sending Mata Sita to the forest? Nothing but pain and misery and he is criticized for the act even after thousands of years.

But Rama did his Dharma, he upheld the accepted standards of ideal kinghood. It might not be acceptable to modern man who is rarely bothered about Dharma.

Source 3 : https://www.thespiritualscientist.com/2016/12/rama-abandon-sita/

Rama’s forsaking Sita is the Ramayana’s most challenged and most challenging incident. A man’s abandoning his pregnant wife because of an unproven accusation seems troublingly wrong.

Reputation

Why did Rama do such a thing? Was he excessively reputation-conscious? Did he abandon Sita just because he didn’t want his good name sullied by having a wife suspected to be impure? But if he had been so obsessed with his reputation, then why did he not remarry after sending Sita away? A king overly concerned about appearances would want a trophy queen by his side; being a queen-less king was hardly a reputation-enhancer.

As a wealthy, powerful emperor, Rama could have married anyone of his choice. He refused to remarry because he wanted to honor his word to Sita. Soon after their marriage, Rama had promised Sita that she would be his only wife. By keeping that pledge lifelong, Rama showed his respect for Sita, thereby rebutting her accusers.

If Rama had wanted to remarry, he could have justified giving up that pledge on the grounds of religious duty. As a king, he was expected to perform sacrifices meant for his state’s welfare. And tradition mandated that the sponsor perform such sacrifices with his wife. When priests pointed out this requirement and exhorted Rama to remarry, he respectfully but firmly refused. He honored the traditional requirement by making a golden image of Sita and seating it besides him during the sacrifices. By according this honor to her through her image, he proclaimed that he still considered her his wife. And that he still considered her pure, so pure in fact that her image could sit next to him in rituals that often required exacting standards of purity.

 

Ethical crisis

If Rama considered Sita pure, why did he abandon her? Because the ethical dilemma confronting him didn’t seem amenable to any other solution.

We need to see the actions of characters in the epics in the light of the prevailing culture and its cherished values. The Ramayana depicts a deeply spiritual culture. Therein, people saw success not just in terms of prosperity in this world, but also in terms of the spirituality cultivated during one’s journey through this world. Cultivating spirituality, in its highest sense, meant developing devotion to the source of everything, God, and harmonizing one’s whole life accordingly. In such a culture, all relations and positions were seen as opportunities for sacred service, service to God and to others in relationship with him. One service was the service of exemplifying detachment, especially from things that came in the way of one’s spiritual growth.

Most people are attached materially to their relations and positions. Such attachments can keep them alienated from God, who is the ultimate provider of everything including family members and who is the ultimate shelter after death, when all family members are left behind. Materially attached people are naturally attracted to those with lavish material assets. The person with the most impressive material assets is usually the king. If the king demonstrates detachment by not letting material things come in the way of spiritual cultivation, then the king’s example forcefully edifies citizens about the importance of life’s spiritual side. So, integral to the king’s duty was the duty of demonstrating to his citizens that worldly attachments couldn’t sway him from his spiritual dharma. This duty conflicted with Rama’s duty as a husband.

When Rama heard the accusation leveled against Sita, he was faced with an ethical dilemma. Whereas a moral dilemma confronts us with two choices, one moral and the other immoral, an ethical dilemma confronts us with two choices, both moral. For resolving an ethical dilemma, we need to discern the higher moral principle and harmonize the lower moral principle as much as possible. Rama’s dilemma was ethical because his duty as a king conflicted with his duty as a husband.

As a husband, he was dutybound to protect his wife. But as the king, he was dutybound to exemplify and teach detachment to his citizens. If his citizens felt that he was so attached to Sita as to keep her despite her impurity, then they would, consciously or subconsciously, use Rama’s alleged attachment to rationalize their own attachments to unworthy things. Of course, Sita was not impure. She had not left Rama and gone to Ravana; Ravana had abducted her against her will. Because Ravana had been cursed to die if he ever violated a woman against her will, he had tried to gain Sita’s consent by alternately tempting and threatening her. She had heroically preserved her purity by spurning his temptations and braving his threats for an endlessly long year. Rama himself had no doubts about Sita’s purity. But anticipating people’s objections, he had prepared to address them. After the fall of Ravana in Lanka, when Sita was brought into his presence, he had her purity dramatically demonstrated through the test of fire. Moreover, after that test, the gods led by Brahma had certified Sita’s spotless character.

If despite all this, people were still questioning Sita’s purity, Rama felt that nothing would ever convince them. If he neglected such people and continued to live with Sita, he would appear attached. If he silenced them, he would come off as so blinded by attachment as to be vindictive. He felt that his duty as a king required him to show his detachment from Sita.

Exhibiting a stoic spirit of sacrifice, Rama deemed his duty as king more important than his duty as husband, and so sent Sita away to the forest. But he didn’t entirely neglect his duty as a husband; he did that duty too because the forsaken Sita was still in his kingdom and thus indirectly in his protection.

When the distraught Lakshmana informed Sita of Rama’s decision, she was devastated. But soon she regained her composure, understood her Lord’s heart and gracefully accepted her part in the heart-wrenching sacrifice that both of them had to be part of. She didn’t resent Rama and didn’t poison her sons against their father. She raised them lovingly, accepting with fortitude the role of a single mother that had been thrust on her.

Of course, she was not a single mother in the modern sense; she didn’t have to single-handedly earn a living and care for her children. After being forsaken, she lived in Valmiki’s hermitage, where the matronly female hermits took care of her and helped her to take care of her children.

It’s worth noting that banishment may not be the best word for describing Sita’s abandonment. Banishment implied being evicted from the kingdom into the forest – as had happened to Rama earlier in the Ramayana. Though Sita lived in the forest, she was still in Rama’s kingdom. She did not have to scour for food, clothing, shelter; these were arranged for in Valmiki’s hermitage.

 

Sacrificers, not victims

The whole Ramayana is permeated with the spirit of sacrifice – a spirit that attains its summit in the separation of Rama and Sita. The mood throughout the epic is not of demanding one’s rights, but of sacrificing one’s rights for a higher cause.

When Rama was exiled because of the promise of his father Dasharatha, Rama didn’t demand his rights as the rightful heir. He could have argued: “I am utterly blameless, yet I am being not only disinherited but also exiled, as if I were the worst of criminals. And all this just for honoring some undocumented promise made by my father to my stepmother. How unfair!” Far from arguing thus, Rama immediately agreed to sacrifice his right for the higher cause of honoring his father’s words. He even calmed those who wanted to rebel against the king.

On hearing about Rama’s exile, Sita too didn’t fight for her rights. She didn’t claim that she as a princess deserved to live in royal comforts. She willingly, even insistently, sacrificed those comforts for accompanying her husband to the forest.

This spirit of sacrifice is illustrated by Lakshmana too when he accompanied Rama to the forest. Sita being Rama’s wife was expected to stick by his side through thick and thin. But nothing of that magnitude was expected from Rama’s brother. Yet Lakshmana didn’t demand his right to royal comfort; instead, he sacrificed that comfort for the cause of serving Rama.

Bharata too demonstrated this spirit of sacrifice. He could have ascended the throne, justifying that it had come of its own accord; he himself had done nothing wrong to get it. Yet, he didn’t. Even when Rama entrusted the kingdom to him, he didn’t consider royal luxury as his right. Though he discharged the responsibilities of a ruler, he placed Rama’s sandals on the throne and sat at their feet. Emulating his brother’s hermit lifestyle, he lived in a cottage outside Ayodhya and eating austere fare.

Importantly, none of these characters saw themselves as helpless victims deprived of their rights; they saw themselves as conscious agents who chose to sacrifice their rights for a higher cause. In that same spirit, Sita, on being forsaken, didn’t see herself as a victim of a judgmental husband. Recognizing that she had been called to bear a particularly heavy cross, she gracefully, even gallantly, accepted the necessary sacrifice. Those who portray her as a victim do grave injustice to her awesome strength of character.

Such people err even more if they portray Rama as a victimizer. In this incident, his position is similar to that of Sita – both are partners in an excruciating sacrifice. Perhaps the best parallel to appreciate Rama’s agony in sending Sita away is Dasharatha’s agony in sending Rama away.

Just as Dasharatha wanted with all his heart to offer the best of everything to his son, Rama too wanted to do everything he could for his wife. After all, she had endured, for his sake, thirteen years of austere life as a hermit and one year of agonizing life as an abductee. Just as Dasharatha was bound by duty to do something that broke his heart, so too was Rama bound by duty. At least, Dasharatha could point the finger at Kaikeyi and could vent his anger at her machinations. Rama couldn’t do even that, for people would have thought him vindictive. So, he had to not only give the wrenching order of exiling Sita, but also keep the storm of his anger and agony contained within himself.

Just as Dasharatha was not punishing Rama, Rama too was not punishing Sita. Just as father and son had to make a painful sacrifice for a higher cause, husband and wife too had to make an anguishing sacrifice for a higher cause.

 

Esoteric explanations

For those seeking explanations based on past-life causes, the Valmiki Ramayana offers one and the broader Rama tradition offers many. The epic (6.51.15) mentions an ancient curse that ordained the separation of Vishnu and Lakshmi. Once, when the demons were fleeing from the gods led by Indra, they took shelter of the sage Bhrugu’s wife, Khyati. When the gods asked that the demons be handed over to them so that they could be duly punished, Khyati became incited by a misguided sense of compassion. Summoning her mystic powers, she started attacking the gods, who beseeched Vishnu for help. A hard-earned win against deadly demons was being undone because of Khyati’s misplaced protectiveness. To prevent such a catastrophe, Vishnu was constrained to use his own mystical disc Sudarshan Chakra for slaying her. When Bhrugu came to know about this, he became enraged. He cursed Vishnu to take multiple births in the material world and, in one such birth, to be separated from his wife – just as Bhrugu was now separated from his.

Of course, Rama as the Supreme Being is not subject to anyone’s curse. Still, he accepted it out of deference to the sage and for furthering his own pastimes. The enactment of that curse comprised the chain of events that led to the separation of Rama and Sita, who were Vishnu and Lakshmi incarnated on earth.

The Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition explains that the separation of the divine couple facilitates viraha-bhakti, devotion in separation. Separation intensifies the devotee’s remembrance of the Lord. And as the Lord is not a finite person, but is the Supreme Person, he is always present in the devotee’s heart. When the devotee remembers him intensely, he reciprocates by increasingly manifesting himself in the devotee’s heart, thereby intensifying the devotional trance. Externally such separation seems like agony, but internally it is the summit of spiritual ecstasy. Separation does to love what wind does to fire – spreads it more and more. When separated from Rama, Sita relished such intense devotion.

 

Injustice towards women?

 

Some people see this incident as representing Indian culture’s repressive attitude towards women. But is Rama’s forsaking Sita meant to be a benchmark for judging all women based on unfounded suspicions? Not at all. The pastime is meant primarily to illustrate the mood of sacrifice. Its specific details aren’t meant to be universalized, as is evident from Rama’s conduct in other situations.

That very Ramayana which describes Rama’s abandoning Sita also describes Rama’s mercifulness towards everyone, including women, even women looked down upon by mainstream society. The sage Gautama’s wife had been literally petrified, turned into stone, because of a curse triggered by her accidental unchastity. Rama, far from being judgmental towards her, mercifully released her from that curse and reinstated her in the respectable position of the sage’s wife. The female hermit Shabari was treated as an outcaste, but Rama graced her by accepting the berries she offered. Tara had become widowed after the demise of her husband Vali, but Rama ensured that she was given a place of dignity in the Kishkinda palace. Considering the cultural conservatism of those times, Rama’s actions were exceptionally inclusive and magnanimous.

The bhakti tradition explains that the same Absolute Truth who manifested as Rama manifested later as Krishna. And Krishna demonstrated an even more inclusive attitude towards women deemed fallen by society. Once, when he killed the demon named Bhaumasura, he came across the many princesses who had been abducted by that demon. In the prevailing conservative society, these princesses had become permanently stigmatized, even though the demon hadn’t violated them. Driven by a peculiar idea of gaining religious merit, he had been waiting for an auspicious day to take the princesses for himself. Still, because these princesses had lived in the demon’s captivity, society considered them defiled.

They thanked Krishna for having rescued them from the demon and begged him to rescue them from their destitute condition too. When he asked them what exactly they wanted, they requested that he accept them as his maidservants. He more than consented, making them not his maidservants, but his queens. He not only reinstated them, but also elevated them to the status of royalty in a phenomenally powerful kingdom.

Consider the contrast between the Lord’s dealing with Sita and these princesses.

  1. He asked Sita to pass a test by fire, but he didn’t ask these princesses to undergo any such test.
  2. Sita was already his queen, yet he sent her away. These princesses were unrelated to him, yet he made them his queens.
  3. Sita was already pregnant with his children, so he had a major obligation to her. He had no such obligation to the princesses, yet he accepted an obligation to them and reinstated them to respectability.

 

The point of this contrast is to illustrate that the Lord is too great to be reducible to any mundane characterization based on any one incident. The Lord’s activities, known as lila or pastimes, are enacted to serve varying purposes. Accordingly, different pastimes demonstrate different qualities. As Rama, his pastime primarily demonstrated the principle of sacrifice. As Krishna, his pastime primarily demonstrated the principle of compassion.

 

 

Inspiration for selflessness

The Ramayana’s extreme examples of sacrifice can inspire us to infuse a healthy dose of selflessness into our relationships. Significantly, Indian society that has drawn enduring inspiration from the Ramayana is characterized by robust family relationships. In many parts of the world, families are falling apart. But in India, the family structure is still strong. Much of this strength comes from the readiness of family members to sacrifice for each other.

Appreciating Rama’s forsaking Sita as an act of supreme sacrifice harmonizes with the Ramayana’s seminal starting question: whowas the ideal person? The eponymous epic declares Rama the ideal person. A person who abandons his pregnant wife can hardly be considered ideal. But a person who consistently demonstrates the signal virtue of sacrifice, no matter what it costs him, even if it costs him separation from his pregnant wife – that person is indeed extraordinary. And when both husband and wife demonstrate such sacrificing spirit, meditating on those exalted exemplars can offer immortal inspiration.

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Question: In the Ramayana, when Sita was wrongly accused by a washerman, why did Lord Rama banish her?

Answer: Firstly, Lord Rama never banished mother Sita. Banishment implied being evicted out of the kingdom into the forest without any arrangements for food, clothing or shelter. That was what happened to Lord Rama when he was banished by his step-mother, Kaikeyi. But Lord Rama asked Lakshmana to escort Sita to the hermitage of the sage Valmiki, where the venerable sage received her with a respectful aarti (worship) and the elderly lady-hermits lovingly cared for her. As the hermitage was in thekingdomofLord Ramaand under his protection, it’s entirely incorrect to say that the Lord banished Sita, for the Lord indirectly arranged for her food, clothing, shelter and care.

Now we may ask: why did the Lord sent Sita out of his own palace into the hermitage?

To understand the answer, we need to appreciate the values held sacred by the Vedic culture that the Ramayana demonstrates. The Vedic culture considers all relationships and all positions as opportunities for sacred service, service to God and to all his children. When Lord Rama heard the accusations being leveled against his consort, this situation constituted an ethical crisis. In an ethical crisis, one has two choices, both moral, unlike in a moral crisis, when one has two choices, one moral and the other, immoral. To resolve an ethical crisis, one needs profound wisdom to recognize the higher moral principle and adjust the lower moral principle accordingly. So, through this incident, Lord Rama, who was God incarnate playing the role of an ideal human being, taught us how to wisely resolve ethical crises. As an ideal husband, the Lord was duty-bound to protect his wife. But as the ideal king, he was also duty-bound to exemplify and teach his citizens, whom he loved like his own children, the path to spiritual advancement. Ordinarily, people are very attached materially to spouse, children, house, wealth. So, the king is duty-bound to demonstrate to his citizens the principle of detachment so that they become inspired toward detachment and thus make spiritual advancement. That’s why Lord Rama considered his duty as an ideal king more important than as the ideal husband and so sacrificed his love for his wife for the sake of his love for his children (citizens). But he didn’t abandon his duty as a husband; he thoughtfully did that duty by transferring Sita from his direct care in the palace to his indirect care in the hermitage. Mother Sita, understanding the heart of her Lord, gracefully accepted her part in his sacrifice. Unfortunately, all of us, for whose sake he did this glorious sacrifice, fail to appreciate him.

Source 4 : http://www.patheos.com/blogs/drishtikone/2012/11/sita-abandonment-no-matter-which-way-one-looks-ram-was-never-a-bad-husband/

In today’s world, it is unimaginable for anyone to value anything that is not one’s own – relative or asset – more than that which is consider “own”.  So, when a King gave someone a wish to ask anything of him and if that person asked for the King’s flesh, or to banish his first born, he wouldn’t think twice.  Yes, it wasn’t fair on his son, who had absolutely nothing to do with the whole incident of his Father’s granting of the wish, but he too, as per the societal norms simply leave everything behind to live in a jungle for 14 years.

When Prince Ram left his Kingdom to go live in the forest, the King didn’t send his choicest goodies for his pleasure.  His life – and that of Sita and Lakshman – who had joined him out of their own volition despite Ram’s protests – was miserable and tough – from others’ viewpoint, but he lived it with utmost Grace and love.

When Ram married Sita, the first thing he did was to vow that unlike others in that age and time, he will remain steadfastly a One-woman-Man.  Never will be set his eyes on anyone and never will be marry anyone.  He didn’t demand anything of Sita, he just took it upon himself to set the context of his marriage and his conduct in there.

Sita, out of her love and felt duty – and despite protests from Ram to stay back (just as Lakshman’s wife Urmila did) – accompanied him everywhere in the forest and gave her all to that relationship.  Ram, on the other hand, loved her more than he loved anyone.  Respected her more than he respected anyone.  He would run and beget things at a moment’s notice at the whim of Sita.  No matter what he did, his first and foremost concern was always Sita and not him or Lakshman.  Although he never wanted, yet his agreeing to take Sita along with him to the forest was more to agree to her wishes as opposed to force his own decision on her.  Once the situation took the shape where Sita accompanied him, he was duty-bound and also love-bound to care for her over and above himself and his own brother.  Which he did.

If one has to view the relationship of Ram and Sita, it has to be viewed in the substantive context of how they lived, loved, cared and respected for each other from the time of their marriage to the time they came back to Ayodhya.

Ram’s character and Sita’s Abandonment

Ram’s character today is being maligned because of his abandoning of Sita after they returned back from the forest and she was pregnant.

It is important to understand Ram’s action in context of who he was and what relationship he had with Sita all along.  It is outrageous to evaluate his whole life and person on the basis of one action, which may have been understood out of context by someone who has never even read the story fully!

Sita story was added later to Ramayan

But before we go there, let us understand where this “Sita Abandonment” story comes from?

Amongst the Hindu religious texts, Ramayan is considered Smriti, meaning learned by memory.  Shruti religious texts were revealed texts as opposed to learned by memory.  The way to understand it is that while Smriti can be the basis of theology of Hinduism, Shrutiwhich can be propagated by experience and methods from the teacher/Master, is more subtle in instruction.

The so-called latter years of Ram were never part of Tulsidas’ Ram Charit Manas or Valmiki’s original Ramayan.  This story of Sita’s Agni Pariksha and her abandonment as well as the whole story of Luv and Kush is the subject of “Uttara Kand” of Ramayan.  It is held by most scholars that this particular part of what is now clubbed with the other chapters was not there originally and has been clearly added later.

while stabilizing the original text of Ramayana, historians surmised that portions of two Books [Kaandas], namely Book I, Bala Kaanda and Book VII, Uttara Ramayana (not listed above) are later additions – “The first and the last Books of the Ramayana are later additions. The bulk, consisting of Books II–VI, represents Rama as an ideal hero. In Books I and VII, however Rama is made an avatara or incarnation of Vishnu, and the epic poem is transformed into a Vaishnava text. The reference to the Greeks, Parthians, and Sakas show that these Books cannot be earlier than the second century B.C……”[ The cultural Heritage of India, Vol. IV, The Religions, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture ].

However Book I, Balakanda is considered to be an original version except for some injected stories. Story starts from the fifth chapter of Book I, and tradition demands it to be read with the others. This stipulation is not obligatory to Uttara Kaanda, a later kaanda, wherein Sita’s expulsion to forest takes place. (link)

So, those who categorically talk of Ram being a “bad husband” seem to be making up the whole conclusion out of something that was never part of the main text at all!

Sita Abandonment Anyhow

In the canto addressing the whole episode, it starts with how Ram and Sita would spend time in the evening with each other, with Ram repeatedly talking of his love for Sita.  That day, he knew Sita was pregnant, and also reiterates that he wants to give her whatever she wants.

Post that when he hears of the discontent and the questions being targeted at Sita and to their relationship amongst the populace, he goes to check it out himself.  It is there that the episode of washerman happens.  Now, it is obvious from the story that the discontent was very widespread and it certainly wasn’t a washerman’s comment on which Ram turned Sita out.

Anyhow, he came back and fought through the whole situation within himself.  Men had openly and regularly started treating women with suspicion and with abuse.  Right or wrong, that had negatively impacted the way women were being treated by men in the kingdom.

The logic of the populace was that while Ram’s character of single-woman devotion would bind the men, the taking away of Sita by Ravan on his lap and she remaining there with him for one year was to impact the women negatively if they weren’t held accountable for integrity.

That was the argument of the populace.  Ram, however, didn’t have even an iota of doubt or malice.  The incident, in any case occurred, as per the story after many months of their coming back!  During the whole time, Ram and Sita’s relationship was not just fine but Ram was as devoted and besotted by her as ever.

Why abandonment?  The main reason that one finds why he went to decide on this was because during the discussion when Ram promised her whatever she wished, she expressed her deepest desire to once again go and stay with the people and animals in the forest the way they had done during their exile.  Ram had at that time, prior to the knowledge of subjects’ discontent, said that he would make sure her wishes are followed.

The decision was not easy for him and he knew that if he were to even come in front of Sita, he would not let it happen.  So he asked Lakshman to take Sita to the forest across the river and leave her near the Ashrams of the Sages.

His discussion with Lakshman and other’s who accompanied him was terse, strict and as a King.  He addressed it as a King as opposed to as a husband.

All through the entire time that Sita was away, he didn’t sleep properly, lived minimally, and wouldn’t entertain any woman’s thought other than Sita’s.  It was obvious that Ram suffered a lot in himself as well.

The decision never sat well with Ram ever in his life, but it was something that he did as a King and not a householder.  Such a decision would have never happened or even been appropriate when he was a Prince and not leading the entire populace.  But as a King, he gave his everything to that role.  And in that he was consistent.

The women argue that this was not correct since why would you put your own wife to harm to lead the Kingdom well.

Such arguments come from people who have never had the responsibility of leading other people.  Many times, leaders of people have taken decisions to put their own and dearest in harm’s way to save their people.  Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed his ENTIRE family, including his two young sons to fight Aurangzeb in order to save the lives and honor of people who had come to him seeking refuge!  He was not even ruling them!  He simply took on the responsibility because it was the right thing to do, despite the fact that those Dogra kings weren’t reliable allies.

One can judge the actions in many ways and make conclusions that seem to reflect one’s own limited view point of the world, as opposed to the facts in that situation.  When Ram’s life and his decision on Sita is viewed in totality, then it is difficult to really say that he was such a bad husband.

In fact, Gautama Buddha – who abandoned his wife and infant to find his own path – basically abandoned her because of his own whim – , may come across as a worse husband 🙂  But that is a story for another day.

Source 5 : http://udaypai.in/why-did-rama-abandon-sita-in-the-forest-the-secret/

Raghu Rathinam from Kuala Lumpur asked me a question: “Why did Rama banish pregnant Sita in the forest? Was it not adharma (non-righteousness)? Wasn’t it inhuman?”

“Hmm. It’s funny a person from a country that legally allowed divorcing wives by sending a single SMS in this so-called modern world questioning something that happened almost 10,000 years ago.” I said.

“But that doesn’t answer my question and do not justify Rama’s fault…I am really mad at Rama for this heinous act. I have heard a very weak argument in favour of democracy and public opinion as reasons to abandon his wife…Tell me, which part of Dharma Sastra would allow him, as a caring King and a loving husband to abandon a pregnant woman? ”

“You are right. But Rama cannot do anything against Dharma. That means, there should be some other reasons or it may have happened in some other way….” I said.

“Oh, you are also trying to support Rama’s cruel act? It didn’t happen?”

“It happened. Ramayana is an Itihasa (= iti+ha+asa= It happened this way) and100% truthful biography. The real meaning of Ramayana is the route to Rama or travel to his heart. If you had read original Ramayana, you would not ask this question. Obviously, you haven’t. You might have read either coloured interpretations or somebody filled your mind with pre-assumptions. Rama proved that he is the most perfect man living in the earth as the righteous king, loving husband and caring father by sending Sita to Valmiki Ashram (hermitage) in the forest.” I said.

“I am shocked and surprised. But I know you won’t tell without base. Uday sir, please tell me the real reason. Please. I am not able to answer the question asked by people in my country ridiculing our Hindu gods.” he said.

“Rama was NOT a god; he was an ordinary human being. He didn’t show any miracles. Still, all gods and sages worshipped him.”

“Why?”

“The famous ‘Vishnu Sahasranama’ says that just reciting the name of Rama once is equivalent praying to Vishnu thousand times. Hanuman, the most powerful god, preferred to be a slave of this ordinary man. But Rama accepted him as a friend…Hanuman wrote the biography of Rama but later dumbed in the ocean saying that he was not even worthy of writing it…”

“I didn’t know there was a Hanuman Ramayana…” Raghu said.

“Yes. An incident happened in the court of Vikramaditya, first-century BCE emperor of Ujjain, India. Somebody had got a verse (sloka) written in palm leaf (used in place of paper in olden times). Kalidas, the greatest poet in the world, has analyzed it and told the emperor – ‘going by the depth and power of the Sanskrit language used in this, the author must be Hanuman. This sloka should be part of the lost Hanuman Ramayana’…”I told him, then asked: “Do you know who has written Ramayana first?”

“Maharshi Valmiki. Ramayana is Adi Kavya (first poetry), right?” Raghu asked.

“Wrong. Actually, Rig-Veda is Adi Kavya. Ramayana, written by Valmiki at a later period, is the first biographical poetry and is popularly credited as Adi Kavya. Ramayana was originally written by Brahma. Narada also wrote Ramayana. Many scriptures mention about those two Ramayanas that had more than one lakh verses. But we have lost it. Later, Narada advised Valmiki to write Ramayana. There are more than 300 versions of Ramayana including written in many countries around the world. Rama’s life inspired people around the world as he should have been the most popular hero then.”

“But, why are you telling all those things? My question was about abandoning Sita.”

“I am coming to that. Parvati asked her husband Shiva about ‘Loka Tattva’ (Truth about the world). In meditative spell Shiva revealed “Rama Tattva”, which is known as ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’, another version. Obviously he was also meditating on this ordinary man – Rama. The sacred mantra, Gayatri has 24 syllables. Valmiki Ramayana has 24,000 slokas. Each 1000’s sloka start with each syllable in the gayatri. It is said that the name Rama is powerful than Gayatri. The biggest praise of Rama had come from his arch-enemies, Ravan and Maricha. Why did everybody praise and worship him?”

“Yes – that’s confusing, why this man is worshipped so much?” Raghu said: “But, sir, my question was…”

“Yes, I know, don’t be jumpy. Now about Sita. She was not a meek or weak woman. In her childhood, Sita had easily lifted the table over which the powerful ‘Pinaka’ or ‘Shiva Dhanush’ (the bow of the Shiva) had been placed – no one else in the world could lift it. Sita was so powerful and well-balanced. When Rama decided to go in exile, Sage Vasistha advised: “Let Rama go as an obedient son. But Sita can stay back here and rule Kosala kingdom from its capital Ayodhya. (The modern world is still apprehensive about making a woman leader) to which Sita replied ‘Is not the wife’s dharma to be at her husband’s side? Let me walk ahead of Rama so that I may smooth the path for his feet,’ And she walked in the front, not behind and submissive, as portrayed in many movies, pictures and interpreters.”

“Oh, really…I didn’t know that Uday Sir…”

“Rama is known as Sitarama. Can you show anywhere in this world, where they put wife’s name as first? Okay. Before answering your question on banishing Sita, I have ten questions for you. Have you heard about Janaka?”

“Yes, Sita’s father. He loved his daughter so-much that she is also known as Janaki”
“Yes – even in the Gita, Krishna portray Janaka as man of wisdom. A powerful King. Question 1. Why didn’t Janaka take Sita back to his palace when Rama had sent her to forest? Why did he support Rama’s decision?”

2. Even today the worst husband would show the basic minimum courtesy to leave his wife in her father’s place. Why didn’t Rama do that?

3. We have seen how powerful and dharmic Sita was. Would she allow Rama to desert her just like that, if it was not right?

4. Rama had two sons, Luv and Kush who were singing in the streets of Ayodhya praising the valour and qualities of Rama. If Sita was hurt by Rama’s action would she allow that? Obviously, she was not hurt. She was worshipping Rama’s idol in the hermitage. Why?

5. The Sages during his time and the authors of Ramayan were Dharmic. If Rama did anything adharmic, why would they praise or worship him? Why would they project him as a role model to entire universe?

6. Do you think great Sages like Vyasa, Valmiki and all are fools to include the incident of abandoning of Sita (Sita parityaga) in Ramayana to tarnish Rama’s image? They would have easily written that Sita delivered two children in the Palace and lived ever happily thereafter. Then nobody would have raised such question. Why did they intentionally add this incident in Ramayana to make people question him?

7. During those days it was a practice for kings to have several consorts. Rama didn’t marry again. In fact he suffered more than Sita. He was lonely in the huge palace. He was always immersed in the thought of Sita. His love to Sita is unquestionable. Then why did he leave her in the forest?

8. Rama is particular that even the shadow of another woman should not touch Him. He never even looked at any woman other than Sita. Every cell of his inscribed with love to Sita. He was totally dedicated to Sita. Why would such a person banish her?

9. Rama guarded the rights and honours of women (Tara, Mandodari etc) who were wives of his slain enemies. Why did he not guard even the basic rights of his own wife?

10. When his people demanded he remarry for the Ashvamedha Yagna (A sacrifice ritual of emperors), he placed a golden statue of Sita in place of his wife and challenged his kingdom to disprove him. He could have made the statue out of anything, stone, wood, silver, but why gold?

“Sir, those are hard-hitting questions. I could never ever think like that…”
“That’s what – you are taught to think in a particular way by those modern mentally retarded (or disturbed) pseudo intellects. They have conditioned your mind through the text books and media, so that you would NEVER think logically or rationally. Such questions would never come to your mind…These secrets will be revealed only to an earnest seeker with non-biased mind.”

“Please explain the secret, Uday sir”

“First reason is the same that you portrayed as a weak argument – in fact it is a strong one. Hindu dharma says: ‘A King’s (ruler) first and foremost duty is to take care of his country and his subjects. A ruler should be a Sevak, serving his country and subjects. Citizens likes and dislikes are important than his selfish ones. A King had to lead an unblemished life. He should be whiter than white and give no reason for anyone to find any flaws in the façade of his perfect life.’ Those who pointed fingers at Rama and Sita, though lead less than perfect lives themselves, expected Rama and Sita to lead an exemplary life. In fact, Rama preferred to hand over the kingdom to any one of His brothers and leave to forest with Sita. But none of his brothers accepts to take over the kingdom as it is against their own dharma! So he has to follow the dharma as a King. He could not abandon his subjects. He cannot abandon his perfect plan of a perfect society ‘Rama Rajya’. So, he abandoned any chance of happiness in his life for the happiness of his people.”

“Yes, I agree with you, it’s a known fact. You have gone further deeper, that’s all – But didn’t he fail in the dharma of a Husband and father? So how can he be perfect man?” he asked.

“Valmiki said that Rama spent a whole sleepless night before taking the decision of leaving Sita to his Ashram in the forest. Here, Valmiki reveals how Rama reached to a righteous, self-less, dharmic, non-emotional decision. It shows Rama’s love and care.”

“What was that?”

“He loved his wife more than himself. Once tainted by gossip, there was little he could do to shake it off. As an ordinary man, Rama could practically do nothing to protect her. If he did, he would be accused of favoritism. When people started attacking the reputation of Sita with venomous scandals, Rama couldn’t tolerate it. He wanted others also to treat Sita as pure and divine. Sending her to ashram will divert the public fury and slander towards him, instead of Sita. He was right. Now, see, including you, everybody is accusing Rama but nobody criticizes Sita. This shows his pure love and care for Sita as also the respect to chastity of womanhood…”

“Wow! I didn’t think that way. Yes, he has done his dharma as a loving husband. What about the dharma of a father?”

“Talk to scientists or psychologists. They would tell you about the atmosphere that is needed for a pregnant lady, otherwise, how the child will be in the future. The pregnancy time decides the long-term health of future child as also the baby’s development and thoughts. The calm, quiet, serene and pious atmosphere in the ashram and the neuro-linguistic effect of and Vedic chants would be a boon to the unborn child. The example is Prahlad. The demon King Hiranyakashipu’s pregnant wife, Kayadhu was in Narada’s ashram. The unborn child (Prahlad) has become very pious and devotee of Vishnu and later as powerful righteous King. If pregnant Sita was in the palace, the scandals and slanders will reach there and inhabitants will talk ill or indirectly victimize her. She will have miserable, stressful and depressed life in the palace, affecting the child in the womb. Rama’s intelligence had won here too. He had got two smart kids who were powerful enough to defeat even Rama. They continued the legacy of the legendary Solar Dynasty (Suryavansa)…”

“No words. But you didn’t tell about the gold statue of Sita…”he reminded me
“Rama wanted to give a clear message to the public – Just as gold never tarnishes, Sita in his view could never have a tarnished character.”

“I am sorry; I didn’t know all those things. I wasted my time and poisoned my mind listening to ignorant people. I lost chance to worship Rama “he was sad.

“I was also hesitant to pray to Rama…” I couldn’t finish before he asked: “So you also did question Rama in the past…” (See also: http://udaypai.in/?p=899)
“No. Never. May be due to accumulated good karma of my forefathers I had the opportunity to read Ramayana during my school days itself…”

“You said you didn’t want to pray.”

“After reading Ramayana, I didn’t know if I am even worthy of reciting the word “RAMA”, let alone praying to him. We are sitting here, brain-washed by pseudo intellects, and criticizing Rama. What qualification do we have to criticize the greatest man ever lived, without even knowing about him? He is the ONLY perfect man came to the earth. A man of unlimited love, care and compassion. So the ancient world had elevated him to the level of Vishnu as an avatar…” I said.

I think Raghu was tearful then. He said he was going to do penance by writing “Sriramajayam” (Jai Sriram) 100,000 times. I told him it was not necessary. Rama’s energy is there in this universe. It loves all; we all are his subjects that mean he will do anything for us. We don’t have to do anything to please Rama. He will be pleased if we live happily and peacefully because that was the concept of Rama rajya.

Hindu prayer in English for non-Indian seekers / sadhaks

Intro : I have composed this prayer for non-Indian seekers of Hinduism in English. It is important to know that Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma) is a complex mix of many profound theologies, philosophies, schools of thoughts, etc. Contrary to popular opinion among Westerners, Hinduism is not polytheistic. It may be considered as henotheistic and panentheistic. Profound philosophies like Advaita Vedanta, Achintya Bhedabheda, Vishishtadvaita, Tantra, Vedic texts, etc. form the base of Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma). "Sanatan" means eternal and "Dharma" means moral order. Because Hinduism is henotheistic, its scriptures mention and praise numerous deities as if they are one ultimate unitary divine essence. While concentrating on one form of God, the devotion of a Hindu sadhak rises to such a level that for a particular period of time that form of God is worshipped as Supreme. There are a plethora of schools of thoughts in Hinduism which can be described as being monist, monotheist, henotheist, panentheist, etc. Different sects have different interpretation even though all of them are united as a single Hindu family. While making this humble attempt to compose an English Hindu prayer, I would like to clarify that I do not intend to disrespect any school/sect and I indeed respect and endorse all of them. All these sects/schools are like pearls tied together with a single string of Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma). Therefore like most Hindus, I respect all deities/names/forms as manifestations/representations of the same Supreme Divine. Most Hindus consider different forms as signifying different attributes/qualities of the same Supreme Divine. Thus, Hindus are secular in the sense that we see even non-Hindu names, terms and forms of God (of different religions of the world) as that of the Supreme Being itself. I recommend reading the Bhagavad Geeta (Advaita Vedantic interpretation) to understand the true essence of Hinduism.

Prayer

I begin by reciting the sound Om (ॐ), which is the divine cosmic sound containing all vibrations of the Multiverse and symbol of the cause of the Multiverse, essence of life, Brahman (God principle), Atman (soul), and Self-knowledge (Swabhaas).

I bow with folded hands (Namaste/Namaskar pose) before the One who is worshipped first (Pratham pujya) Lord Ganesha, remover of all obstacles in the path to righteousness (Dharma) and god of auspiciousness.

I bow with folded hands before Swamy (Lord Of Lords), Lord Vishnu, preserver of the Multiverse and Swayam Prabhu (God itself).

I bow with folded hands before Father Lord Shiva, destroyer and transformer of the Multiverse (Sanhaarak), Pashupatinath (Lord Protector of all beings), Rudra (mightiest of the mighty) and who is the essence of the world (Sansar saaram).

I bow with folded hands before Mother Adi Shakti (Parvati/Mahakali/Parashakti), protector of righteousness (Dharma) and force underlying the whole Multiverse.

I bow with folded hands before Mother Saraswati, embodiment and bestower of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and learning.

I bow with folded hands before Mother Lakshmi, goddess of abundance, wife of Lord Vishnu and bestower of wealth, fortune and prosperity.

I bow with folded hands before Lord Krishna, who is the embodiment of love and is Swayam Prabhu Purna Purushottam (God itself complete with all divine qualities).

I bow with folded hands before Mother Radha, supreme goddess of blissful devotion and soulmate of Lord Krishna.

I bow with folded hands before Lord Ram, who is the perfect ideal person (Maryada Purushottam).

I bow with folded hands before Gurudev (teacher/guide/expert/master) Lord Hanuman, the embodiment of devotion, knowledge, power, excellence, part incarnation  of Lord Shiva (Shivaansh) and supreme devotee of Lord Ram.

I bow with folded hands before Lord Narsimha, incarnation/avatar of Lord Vishnu and he who strikes terror in the minds of non-religious and non-righteous (adharmi).

I bow with folded hands before Lord Venkateswara Swamy, manifestation of Lord Vishnu and destroyer of sins.

I bow with folded hands before Lord Vithoba (Vitthal/Panduranga), manifestation of Lord Krishna and guide towards the Supreme.

I bow with folded hands before Lord Mururgan (Kartikeya/Shanmukha/Swaminath/Skanda), son of Lord Shiva and god of war.

I bow with folded hands before Lord Brahma, creator of the universe.

I bow with folded hands before Brahman (pronounced “Brahm”), the highest universal abstract impersonal formless genderless pervasive infinite eternal true blissful principle/reality underlying the Multiverse and also existing apart from it.

Thus bowing before all the divine forms of the Supreme, I end by reciting Om (ॐ), concentrating upon Om (ॐ) and dissolving my whole being into Om (ॐ).

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-Ribhu Vashishtha