Endure | The story of Sita

 

For some reason, granny’s Ramayan always ended midway; when the demon king is defeated and the rightful “good’ king and queen come back home, to live happily ever after. This didn’t feel so much of a halfway back then however, for how else could an epic tale end otherwise, if not with a ‘happily ever after’? Alternating between Cinderella and the Ramayan, I was shielded, as a kid, into all these happily ever afters, night after night.

 

It was much later in life, that I discovered the true ending of the Ramayan, and I was shook. Was our great hero then, not so perfect after all? Sita’s glorious life shadowed under her husband’s perfections all through childhood only to find google describing her as “a consort of Lord Ram” in my adulthood. Like every other story, the Ramayan comes with its own contradictions, parallel stories, vernacular versions, myths and claims. So, even if the world has drafted a favourable version into our minds, I’ve come across numerous angles and bypaths of the epic. While the world debates over it being a myth or a true story, I would like to take my bed time reminiscing and look at the symbolism it offers for the heroine and the part it plays in shaping up our beloved Sita.

 

Unfair though life may have been for Sita, the one true force was always with her, probably birthed her, according to the myth. The earth’s child is more than a wife to the great Ram, more than a capture of the demon king. In my many readings of the epic in many versions, what strikes resemblance is the forces of nature that always were by Sita’s side, right from her birth. In her troubled times, in her times of need, a perpetual companions in a way. Wether it was the soil that birthed her, or the fire that deemed her pure, the trees that she prayed to on her way and the trees that bestowed upon her the pleasure of their company in her times of sorrow. There is a highly scientific explanation to every story that makes Sita complete, complex and concrete. It is magical and extra ordinary, like the Ramayan itself.

“Endure”

Brown, lied the soil low.
A barren land, of a barren kingdom.
The king sought out,
To plough away the desolation
And prayed he, to the skies, to the Earth For any,

even signs of proliferation. 

 

Took pity, the sky did on him,
And the Earth birthed a part of itself, 

Blessed him in a golden urn,
Adorned with, and like the lotus,
Rooted in the grounds, nurturing fertility, 

A golden child, prospering eternity.

 

An offshoot was she, of her name
Shone the sun on Mithila walls
In iridescent colours more so
Like the tulsi, proffering from root to leaf
A celestial beauty and humility to her fame 

The lands felt blessed in her presence Crops and rains, 

the kingdom did flourish 

A paradigm of good virtue,

Like fertility itself
Bloomed every leaf, the sun iridescent.

 

Like lightening in the sky,
The Pinaka gleamed, then broke
The Sun God’s horses strayed their paths

The Earth shook as the Elephants trumpeted 

The divine tortoise and the boar,
The serpent King did fidget
When they learnt of the broken bow

The bow that once Sita herself lifted
In utter oblivion though she might have been 

It became her fate for matrimony
An equal match, did she find
In this ego-breaking symphony

A marriage of celestial blessings
Blessed by heavens itself
Two mortal forms of immortal righteousness 

A bond laid out by the Earth herself
For her child, fathoming her destiny perhaps

Their Holy matrimony, became the country’s strength More than just the consort, of the king to be coronated She was a pillar of integrity, virtuousness, nobility

 

The divine decree was pronounced,

As it ought to be
Driven out were they, from comforts of their home

To find an abode in the woods
Closer to the Earth, closer to their fate

Chitrakoot, the wondrous hill
Where Mandakini danced amidst flowering trees 

The wind swept through the cinchona flowers 

Bringing along their scent for Sita
Who found home beneath the Nipa and Lodhra Bamboo straws made for huts
And mango flowers gave food delicious crust Yellow berries, pomogranate, orange and jackfruit 

Talk about an affluent home,
 

With food and luxury in abundance
Riches of greens, in the great forest
Giving a taste of the great forest life,
First home away from home,
Accommodated her unasked yearnings.

 

But alas her path was further ahead,
Awaiting her in yet another mesmerising forest plain

 

The wilderness of Dandakaranya,
Rows of trees and sacred long grass
Sal, Axle and jujube
Wild beasts and hermitages
Scattered like grass blades
Where good and evil both lived,
Men served punishments here
The demons raged here,
Called these plains as if for what was coming 

For it was here that Shurpanakha
Met with them.
She lost her nose and they peace,
Began this a series of events
Unstoppable, like a forest fire itself.
Drove them further away,
From demons and their abode.

All these plants and trees it seems,

Swayed to serve her,

Some gave fruits and some their scent,

Some their blessings and some shade.

 

It was in Panchwati then,
That unfolded her fate
Under a cottage made of Mesquite trees
Bound with the sal and date palms
The wind bore the fragrance of padma saugandhik What other peace could they possibly ask for Winter rice and Barley grew
And did wheat and sandalwood

 

The campaka flowers like Sita’s neck, Ram said The majestic Banyan tree, like Ram, said Sita

 

The breeze wafted through sandal trees
And danced with blue lotus and the water lilies The bliss too good to be true it seemed,
For Sita found a fetish for the madhuka flowers Like that of the sides of the deer Maricha. Driven towards her destiny
Out went the brothers,
In came the imposter,
Flew Sita in the air up high
In the flying chariot

The ardent Vulture did struggle Did Jatayu ferret and perish But not before the truth he told And bless the Badari tree

That pointed out to the Direction of the pushpak Cried the forest together In woe of the abduction

Began the search for a trace of Sita water-lilies and red oleanders
Grew on the baks of Pampa
Saw Hanuman the city of Lanka Meanwhile built they a bridge

With the will of each stone
In the wake to find Sita shone

Ebony, cheer pine and beauty berry The Lankan forests were filled plenty Sniffed the great Hanuman
The Ashoka Vatika

Lit Lanka he,
With the fire that burnt in every heart

Refused did Sita, to go with Hanuman, 

Said she’ll wait for her beloved Ram 

What endurance, what perseverance 

For if she had gone then,

How ever could the demon be killed.

The Vatika become her mourning companion Soaked her sorrows
 

The Ashoka trees
Golden, fiery, blue and skin

Did the flowers burn in her grief

Did the Ashoke shelter her despair
The champ and the Bakula,
The mango groves
All witness to her pain, yet her decorum 

The Kalpa Vriksha oozed its fragrance 

To soothe her pains away

Ravan’s garden though it might have been In all its glory was Sita’s dwelling
Sita’s confidante, Sita’s shoulder

When the war was won and the demon defeated 

Why was it Sita who had to go through a test 

Did the fire burn aghast
Past her glorious eyes, and everyone’s

 

She was the fire herself
Containing the world’s certainty 

She was the fire that burned Doubts, 

none of which should have Drawn breath

 

When all seemed well then
The goddess of fertility herself 

Had a womb ready to birth
Once again was she driven away 

From the comforts of city,
She never ceased to call home 

Like the blades of grass then, 

Moist and prolific
Did Luv and Kush breath
In oblivion and away yet.

 

All through life,
With the sky for shelter
And the mother standing ground
I wonder was she more,
Than just the Godess of fertility
She was herself the force of the soil, 

And the winds combined
She was herself her mother’s spirit
For who else could endure
All that she did
With the sky for shelter
The golden child did bid her goodbyes, 

Like she came, thus she was gone.

fin.

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