“The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.45)
Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, expanded Himself into human form many thousands of years ago in the form of Lord Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Born into a very pious line of kings known as the Ikshvakus, the Lord was trained from His birth to be an expert kshatriya warrior. When the time came for His installation as the new king, the entire city rejoiced. Yet due to unforeseen circumstances, Maharaja Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya and father of Lord Rama, decided instead to install Rama’s younger brother Bharata as king. In addition, he ordered Rama to leave the kingdom and spend fourteen years in the forest as an exile.
Lord Rama went to tell his wife Sita Devi the news. Sita was the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi whose appearance on earth coincided with that of Lord Rama’s. In the spiritual world, Lakshmi is the eternal consort of Lord Narayana, Krishna’s four-handed form. She is God’s better half and provides Him energy. As Sita Devi, Lakshmi performed the same functions by playing the role of Lord Rama’s wife. The two had enjoyed several years of marital bliss prior to the incidences surrounding Rama’s exile. Upon being given the order from His father, Lord Rama told Sita to remain in the kingdom for the exile period. While telling her this, the Lord appeared very dejected and His wife could see that. He didn’t want to leave her all alone, but He knew the laws of dharma dictated otherwise.
Dharma, or religiosity, dictates the proper conduct for man in all circumstances and has its origin in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. When God personally appears on earth, He plays different roles depending on time and circumstance. Sometimes He is peaceful, sometimes He is ruthless, and sometimes He appears just to teach. As Lord Rama, God’s mission was to reinstitute the Vedic principles of dharma, and to kill the evil Rakshasa demon named Ravana. At the time, Ravana, playing the role of a staunch atheist, was on a mission to rule the world. He had propitiated many demigods and received various boons from them. He used these powers to defeat all his enemies and to disturb the sacrifices of the brahmanas, the saintly class of men. According to Vedic philosophy, there can only be peace in society when there is an ample supply of brahmanas regularly performing yajnas, or sacrifices, for Lord Krishna. These sacrifices take different forms depending on the time period. During Ravana’s time, the sacrifices were conducted by brahmanas residing in the forest since saintly people prefer to live in peaceful surroundings. Through satisfying God, the demigods are also satisfied, which results in material benedictions for society at large. Ravana was a sworn enemy of the demigods and the brahmanas, so this naturally led to a fearful situation for those living on earth.
Lord Rama’s purpose was to kill Ravana and restore law and order. As a person committed to dharma, He knew that it would not be proper to take His wife with Him to the forest. In the Vedic tradition, a marriage is the union of a man and woman for life, where each person has particular responsibilities assigned to them. The wife’s role is to always serve and please the husband. The husband’s role is to provide complete protection to the wife under all circumstances. The concept of equality exists but on the spiritual level, not the material. By each person following their prescribed duties, the husband and wife share in the accumulated spiritual merits, meaning they both either ascend to heaven or fall down into hell after their current lives. Since Rama was invested with the duty of protecting His wife, He knew that Sita’s remaining in the kingdom would be more proper. Forest life is considered suitable for wild animals, beats, and men who have their senses completely under control. Akin to being homeless, a person can only survive in the forest if they can subsist on very little food and suffer through the most miserable of conditions. It was for this reason that only brahmanas, or great sages, would live in the forest. True brahmanas are completely dedicated to Krishna, so they automatically have their senses under control due to their service.
Lord Rama knew that it would be very difficult to provide His wife the protection she deserved if she were to roam the forest with Him. A husband or a wife is very difficult to maintain, as can be evidenced by the high divorce rate in the Western countries. The marriage relationship requires much time and effort even for the most committed of couples. A spouse requires constant attention, just as children do. Rama knew that Sita would be better protected in the kingdom where she would benefit from the services provided by the royal court. In the forest, Rama would be her sole source of protection, so He was afraid that she would be more vulnerable in such a situation.
“Why are you so dejected and whence is your fear that you are willing to leave behind your wife who has none else but you?” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 27)
On the other hand, Sita Devi had her own point of view. She flat out rejected her husband’s request, and instead put forth her own series of arguments in favor of her coming along. Her statements were flawless and worthy of the highest praise, yet the Lord still rejected her request. Finally, Sita was forced to resort to clever insults and name-calling. In the above mentioned statement, she is chastising the Lord for being dejected and fearful. From her point of view, Rama had nothing to fear at all. She was completely devoted to Him in thought, word, and deed. Her only desire was to make Him happy and to serve Him. She couldn’t understand why He would think that she would be a burden on Him. Sita, having a divine nature, wasn’t born from a mother and father in the traditional sense. She took birth from the earth, known as Bhumi Devi. When she was a baby, Maharaja Janaka, the king of Mithila, found her one day while ploughing a field. He loved her instantly as his own daughter and raised her as such. For these reasons, Sita was very accustomed to life in the wilderness and wasn’t afraid to spend fourteen years there with her husband. In her eyes, Rama had nothing to worry about.
During a marriage ceremony, the wife is instructed to always follow the orders of her husband and to serve him faithfully. It appears that Sita was in defiance of this edict by her refusal to obey her husband’s advice that she remain in the kingdom. There are many different religious systems, each having their own rules and regulations. The purpose of these rules is to allow one to reach the platform of love of Godhead. Simply going through the motions of performing various sacrifices and singing hymns won’t take one to the highest stage of perfection.
“Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.42-43)
Sita Devi, being the perfect devotee of God, was already on the platform of love of God. She transcended any and all laws of dharma. Lovingly serving Krishna is the topmost form of dharma. In this instance she put up a staunch fight, for her only mission in life was to act in Krishna consciousness, and to always be at Rama’s side.
Lord Rama, being dedicated to the laws of dharma, was eventually forced to acquiesce and allow Sita to come with Him. She won Him over with her devotion. This proves without a doubt that God can only be won over through one method, love. By nature, God is neutral towards all living entities. This material world was created to fulfill the desire of the spirit souls to have a false sense of enjoyment and to lord over nature. Krishna willingly obliged but He put in place the mechanisms to allow one to come back to the spiritual world.
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Bg. 9.29)
If we take to the process of devotional service, we can be in God’s favor. If we learn to love God, then we too will always be associated with Him. In this age, the recommended method for increasing love of God is the constant chanting of His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. All the rules and regulations of the Vedas can be satisfied by one who has developed a loving attachment for Krishna. The Lord is worshipped in various forms and He is always seen with His devotees. Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Lakshmi-Narayana…the Lord is always worshipped alongside His energy. Sita is the Lord’s energy due to her full and complete devotion to Him.
Categories: glories of sita devi