“Shrimati Sitadevi is the mother of the three worlds and the wife of Lord Ramachandra. Among chaste women she is supreme, and she is the daughter of King Janaka.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 9.201)
Maharaja Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya many thousands of years ago, was on the precipice of installing his eldest son, Lord Rama, as the new king, when at the last moment he changed his mind. Dashratha instead decided to hand over the crown to Rama’s younger brother Bharata, and coupled with that decision was the order for Rama to live in the forest as an exile for fourteen years. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, advented on earth as Lord Rama to reinstitute the principles of dharma and to kill the evil demon Ravana.
Since the Lord was completely dedicated to piety and obeying His father’s commands, He was more than happy to accept such an order from Dashratha. The one problem He had was that His wife, Sita Devi, was sure to be aggrieved by the situation. Lord Rama was Krishna’s expansion on earth, and Sita Devi was Goddess Lakshmi’s expansion. In the spiritual world, Lord Narayana, Krishna’s four-handed form, is always served by Goddess Lakshmi, also known as the goddess of wealth or fortune. God is the energetic, and His immediate expansions such as Radharani and Lakshmi are His energy. Sita’s role in the material world was the same as that in the spiritual world, to serve and love God. At the time of this incident, Sita and Rama had already been married for several years. She was the perfect wife and devotee and was completely dedicated to her husband. When Lord Rama told her the news, she insisted on serving the exile period with Him. The Lord however, begged her to desist. He told her that it was her to duty to serve the new king, Bharata, and his immediate family members. In reality, Dashratha indeed wanted Rama to be the new king, but on a previous occasion he had promised his youngest wife, Kaikeyi, any two boons of her choosing. Kaikeyi was Bharata’s mom, and at the instigation of her servant Manthara, she became incited with a jealous rage. Due to her envy, she wanted her son Bharata to be the king instead, so she cashed in on her two boons right before Rama was to be coronated. Fearing that Rama would object to the decision, she requested as her second boon, the banishment of Rama to the forest. Dashratha was a very pious king in his own right, one in a long line of noble rulers known as the Ikshvakus. In those days, a king’s word meant everything, so he was compelled to grant Kaikeyi her wishes.
“O, sinless one, do you become subservient and serviceable to him whose pleasure you bid me seek, and for whom you have suffered yourself to be impeded (in the installation)?” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 29)
In the above referenced quote, Sita Devi is reminding her husband that the same people who put Him in this predicament, namely Kaikeyi and Bharata, would be the new rulers of the kingdom. She was asking Him why He had become subservient to the same people that caused Him this hardship. In reality, Lord Rama was right in trusting Bharata, for His younger brother was just as dedicated to Him as anyone else. While these events were unfolding, Bharata was in a different part of the country, visiting the kingdom of his father-in-law. He did not receive news of the events until later on. Lord Rama, His wife Sita, and His younger brother Lakshmana would eventually repair to the forest. Dashratha would quit his body due to feelings of separation from Rama, and it was after this that Bharata was summoned home. Seeing what had happened, Bharata was sorely distressed and he scolded his mother. He had no desire to rule the kingdom, thus he immediately set out for the forest to find Rama. Upon meeting the Lord in Chitrakuta, Bharata begged Him to return to the kingdom and rule over it. The two parties were at an impasse until finally a compromise was reached. Rama would be installed as the king in spirit, but would remain in the forest to serve the exile period. Bharata would return to the kingdom with Rama’s sandals. These sandals would symbolically govern the kingdom until the Lord’s actual return. Bharata, for his part, refused to govern in Rama’s absence, so he took to meditating on the Lord’s feet for the duration of the exile period.
Sita Devi’s statement to the Lord was part of a series of arguments intended to get Him to change His mind about not letting her come with Him. In the end, the arguments proved most effective since Rama was forced to acquiesce. Though Bharata was a pure devotee of the Lord, Sita’s statement actually has a larger meaning. She was basically asking Rama, “Why do you want both of us to be subservient to people who acted against You? That is not right.” Sita, who was shy and quiet by nature, was just as dedicated to the rules of dharma as her husband was. As the wife of the eldest son in the family, she gladly served Rama’s mothers and obeyed their every word. In reality, she only acted this way because that was how her husband wanted her to act. In the Vedic tradition, a wife is instructed to view her husband as her only deity. The wife serves the husband and the husband protects the wife; these are the prescribed duties in a marriage. Not only was Rama her husband, but He was God Himself, so Sita had no problem worshipping Him alone. Since she was only dedicated to Him, she had great difficulty acknowledging or respecting anyone who was inimical towards her husband. This is the example that we should all follow, for we should not respect anyone who has animosity towards Krishna or looks unfavorably upon Him. There are many such people like this in today’s world, for atheism is steadily gaining in popularity. We live in the most advanced technological age where there is ample opportunity for sense gratification. In America, people have become so prosperous materially, that one of the biggest perceived problems is childhood obesity. People mistakenly think that they are the cause of such wealth and abundance, but in actuality, everything comes from God, and forgetting that fact can be very costly.
The demon Ravana was the quintessential atheist. A devout materialist, he used his immense strength and prowess to accumulate vast amounts of wealth. Thinking Himself invincible, he was ultimately undone by his kidnapping of Sita. Sita represents wealth and prosperity, and by stealing her, he had to suffer at the hands of God Himself in the form of Lord Rama. Ravana’s entire kingdom was destroyed, and he was forced suffer the pain of death, at which point all his wealth became meaningless. Those associated with Ravana also had to suffer for his mistakes. Ravana’s brother Vibhishana however, joined forces with Lord Rama right before it was too late. Since he was a great devotee of the Lord, Vibhishana didn’t suffer the same fate as Ravana. Instead, Lord Rama handed over to him the kingdom of Lanka after Ravana’s death.
So the lesson to be learned is that we should all avoid the association of the Ravanas of the world, and instead befriend those who are devoted to Krishna. One should avoid intimate association with the atheist class of men if one wishes to make serious spiritual advancement. People who are dedicated to sense gratification may not be bad people per se, but they will have different interests than people who are Krishna conscious. Generally speaking, people who are working hard for sense gratification, the karmis, seek pleasure through the four pillars of sinful life, namely meat eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex. If a devotee regularly associates with such people, these bad traits are sure to rub off, causing the devotee to fall down from the spiritual platform. People dedicated to Krishna seek pleasure by serving the lotus feet of the Lord. These are the people we should associate with and learn from. Lord Chaitanya and all the great acharyas agree that the highest boon in life is to have association with saintly people, Krishna bhaktas. Sita Devi is one of God’s greatest devotees, and by reading about her activities, we can have direct association with her. Following her lead and learning from her example, we are sure to become great devotees too.
Categories: glories of sita devi