India, a country older than the history itself, where the first seeds of civilizations were cultivated and India, the land of myths and legends.
India is considered as one of the oldest civilizations along with Greece, Rome, China, Egypt etc. but except from Indian civilizations, all other ancient civilizations could not stand the blows of time and faded away. They are now only part of history books and as a part of scholarly expeditions. In India, our thousands of years of history are still a part of every Indian household. Every day we listen to the stories of Ramayana and The Mahabaharata and every child is aware of these stories and characters. Tyrants and attackers always tried to destroy our ancient history throughout the ages but were never really succeeded. Our stories that are still a part of our upbringing like they were thousands of years ago. The various mythologies of India played a crucial role in shaping the present India and so the women in those mythologies. We worship and respect the women of the Indian mythology like Sita, Draupadi, Radha etc. In his article, we will have a look at the most respected woman ever in our mythology and in the Hindu religion, Sita, the devoted wife of Lord Rama who is regarded as the incarnation of Supreme Lord Vishnu from a different perspective and her plight as a woman.
In India, mothers still tell their daughters to be devoted to their husbands like the way Sita was. But have we looked at Sita as just a human being and not as a Goddess? If we look at her from this perspective, then we will notice that all her life she just suffered, mostly because of others. She dwelled in the forest for fourteen years just for the sake of satisfying the male egos of her Father-in- law King Dashratha and husband Prince Rama. She was kidnapped from the forest because of the evil and lustful eyes of another male, The King of Lanka Raavana. Of course Rama fought for her and won her back. But after that, what he did? Asked her to prove her purity. He asked her to go through the Agneepariksha to prove her purity as she was in the land of another male for one year. Sita went through the Agneepariksha and proved her purity. But was Rama pure, Sita could have asked him to prove his purity as he was also away from his wife for a year and was dwelling in various kingdoms.
Even after, Rama accepted her back, her plight continued and was abandoned to forest just because of a rumor. We hail Rama as a right full and strong king but why he was rightful and strong only for his countrymen and not for his wife Sita who was with him during thick and thin. For him, the life of Sita just did not matter. What mainly mattered, was his own personal name and recognition. He did not take the manly course of defending his wife and stopping the rumor which as a king he should have done and which as a husband who was convinced of his wife’s innocence he was supposed to do. Sita was abandoned in the forest to die but as luck favored, she was saved by sage Valmiki and found a resort in his ashram where she gave birth to the twins of Rama, Luv and Kusha. It was Valmiki who gave protection and a place to live to Sita and her sons. During the due time King Rama never bothered to query about her in those 12 years and whether she was dead or alive? Later, as the legend goes, King Rama reunited with his sons after the famous Ashwamedha Yagna.
But before taking Sita back into his life, Rama once again proclaimed, ‘ I am aware that Sita is pure and chaste and Luv and Kusha are my sons. She went through the Agneepariksha proving her purity,so I took her back. But people in my kingdom still had doubts on her, so as a rightful king and to keep the respect of my kingdom I abandoned her. Hence, let Sita prove her purity once again and I shall accept her.’
Guess, it was enough for Sita as she suffered a lot without an iota of a mistake from her side and she said, ‘I never imagined of anyone except Rama even in my wildest dreams. So, let Mother Earth open and cover me. As I always loved Rama in words, in thoughts, and in deeds, let Mother Earth open and bury me!’ After these words, the Mother earth opened her arms and welcomed Sita. Heavenly flowers bestowed in Sita and she went forever to the lap of Mother earth, leaving her husband and sons behind. This story implies that Sita rather preferred to die than returning back to Rama who treated her no good.
It is the plight of Sita and the tragedy of most of the Indian women. In India, women are asked to behave like Sita only to be live on the mercy of their husbands. Of course, the time changed and with time many other things also changed change. But the plight of women still continues. Every day, we hear the news of dowry related killings, female foeticide, rape, domestic violence. The women of India are still suffering just the way Sita suffered and her plight still continues. It’s the women who have to break this chain, the women need to wake up and proclaim her rightfulness in this male dominated society. You cannot be like Sita anymore. No more Agneeparikshas to prove your purity and devotion because every day, women in India go through an Agneepariksha of her own. Such is the plight of Sita and the Indian woman.