“The material defects of mistakes, illusions, cheating and sensory inefficiency do not exist in the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi-lila 7.107)
Comment: What kind of God is Lord Rama if He betrayed His wife Sita by sending her to live in Valmiki’s ashrama?
Response: Lord Rama, the incarnation of God in the Treta Yuga, did indeed renounce His wife towards the end of His time on earth. The couple had ruled over Ayodhya as king and queen for many many years prior to Sita Devi being sent to live in the hermitage of Maharishi Valmiki, Rama’s great devotee and official biographer. Actions speak louder than words, and this act of the Rama’s may seem to be wrong on the surface, but we should understand that the Lord is incapable of committing mistakes.
When examining the Lord’s life and pastimes, we shouldn’t cherry pick certain incidents, while ignoring others. Rama was on earth for a long time and performed many heroic deeds, so we should study all His pastimes before we have the nerve to pass judgment. Beginning from the time prior to His advent and continuing through His last days on earth, the Lord was completely dedicating to serving the needs of His devotees. In fact, Lord Vishnu decided to come to earth in human form only at the behest of the demigods who were terrified of the Rakshasa demon Ravana. God is great and completely self-satisfied, so He has no need to do anything, but in order to please His votaries, He comes to earth from time to time to give them protection and reinstitute the principles of dharma or religiosity. Born in the line of pious kings known as the Ikshvakus, Rama was intent on maintaining the prestigious family traditions. His father was the very well respected Maharaja Dashratha of Ayodhya. Dashratha was often addressed as the “Lord of Earth”, for his fame and prowess was known throughout. In order to maintain the good name of His father, Lord Rama agreed to live in exile from the kingdom for a period of fourteen years. Dashratha had previously promised his youngest wife Kaikeyi any two boons of her choosing, so he couldn’t renege when Kaikeyi asked for Rama to be banished. The Lord was the eldest son of the king, and next in line for the throne. He easily could have thrown a hissy-fit, refusing to accept His father’s words, but He didn’t. He voluntarily accepted a renounced order of life simply to honor the good name of His father and His ancestors.
Lord Rama’s wife Sita, the most chaste and beautiful woman to ever have lived, insisted on accompanying the Lord for the duration of the exile period. Rama wanted very much to protect His wife from the dangers lurking in the woods, but she was up to the challenge, not wanting to live without her husband. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana also insisted on following Him, for he was ever attached to his elder brother. In this way, Rama allowed both of them to accompany Him simply to satisfy them and not Himself. Later on, after Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the Lord enlisted the help of the Vanara king Sugriva. Sugriva had lost his kingdom due to a dispute with his brother Vali. Lord Rama helped Sugriva regain his throne by killing Vali while the two brothers were engaged in battle. For a kshatriya, one belonging to the warrior caste, such an action was against the proper code of conduct. An enemy shouldn’t be attacked while engaged in battle with another. Yet Rama was more than willing to break this rule so that His dependent, Sugriva, could prosper. Once again, the Lord was acting in the interest of His devotees and not Himself.
After successfully defeating Ravana and reclaiming His wife, Lord Rama lived happily as the king of Ayodhya for thousands of years alongside Sita. However, one day one of the citizens had a gripe with Rama over the fact that He took Sita back after she had lived in the house of another, that being Ravana. According to the rules of propriety, such an act was prohibited. Upon hearing this, the Lord decided to send Sita to live with Valmiki Muni in the forest. This was in no way a slight on Sita, for she was a perfect devotee and wife. Ravana was never able to touch her, for she proved her purity through a fire ordeal. However, the Lord wanted to protect the good name of His father and His ancestors, so that is why He chose the course that He did. Rama wanted to set a good example for His fellow citizens. Unlike politicians of today who feel they are above the law, kings of the past wanted to be very pious. If they set a good example, then the rest of the citizens would follow and society would be peaceful.
The true fact of the matter is that devotees can never be separated from God. As long as one constantly has the Lord on their mind, thinking about Him, praying to Him, and singing His glories, then they are always with the Lord.
When Lord Krishna personally came to earth some five thousand years ago, He also had to leave His closest consort, Shrimati Radharani. Though He grew up in Vrindavana with all the other cowherd boys and girls, His duties later in life forced Him to go to Mathura and subsequently to Dvaraka, where He played the role of a king. Radharani was forced to live in separation from the Lord, but we should understand that the two are always together. God and His immediate expansions Radha, Sita, Lakshmi, etc. are always with Him and that is why they are referred to as eternal consorts. Even Lord Chaitanya renounced His wife at a very young age to take to the sannyasa order of life so that He could preach the original Hare Krishna movement throughout India. Though renounced by her husband, Vishnupriya had her mind always fixed on the lotus feet of Shri Krishna Chaitanya and in this way they were never truly separated.
Atheists and other asuras love to find fault with Lord Krishna, Rama, and other forms of God, for they themselves are reprobates by nature and view God as a threat to their sinful way of life. Though Krishna and His devotees don’t bother them at all, these atheists still take any opportunity they can get to try to tear down the established principles and traditions of dharma as enjoined in the shashtras. These demons have always been around, for in the past they took the forms of Ravana, Shishupala, Kamsa, etc. It’s up to the devotees of the Lord to stand up to these demons of today by cutting their words with our sharp logic and reason. We don’t need any fancy weaponry, for our devotion and love for God is enough to defeat this enemy. Lakshmana dedicated his whole life to serving and protecting his brother, and we should follow in His footsteps. Lord Rama is our king forever and ever, and we will always love Him and His wife Sita.