“Sitadevi, the dearmost wife of the Supreme Lord Ramachandra, certainly has a spiritual form full of bliss. No one can see her with material eyes, for no materialist has such power.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 9.191)
Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, incarnated on earth in the form of a pious prince named Lord Rama. Sita was His wedded wife, and the two were happily enjoying their married life when one day, the Lord was ordered to flee the kingdom and live in the woods for fourteen years. The king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dashratha, was Lord Rama’s father. At the request of his youngest wife, Dashratha ordered Rama to renounce the kingdom, and the Lord willingly obliged. Not wanting to subject Sita to the rough conditions of forest life, Rama requested her to remain in the kingdom for the exile period.
Sita Devi defiantly objected this request by putting forth a series of arguments and rhetorical questions to her husband. With Lord Rama living in the forest, Sita would have no one to protect her in the kingdom. According to Vedic rules, a husband’s duty is to provide protection to his wife at all times. Rama’s younger Bharata was set to be installed as the new king, and his mother Kaikeyi was the one who requested Rama to be sent to the forest. Since the mother of the new king would be someone who didn’t look upon Rama favorably, it would be natural to assume that she would look upon Sita in a negative light as well.
In actuality, Bharata was a great devotee of Rama, and never had an ill thought directed at Him nor Sita. However, Sita was very beautiful and delicate, so it would be expected that others might covet her. Sita Devi was actually an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, who is also known as Shri. “Shri” means beautiful, and Sita was certainly the most beautiful woman to have ever lived. Her shy and quiet demeanor and her dedication to Rama made her loved and adored by all. It was completely plausible that with her husband gone, others might try to proposition her. This was evidenced by later events when she would be kidnapped by the Rakshasa demon Ravana. Lord Rama would eventually acquiesce and allow Sita to accompany Him to the forest. During their time there, Ravana, who was wreaking havoc throughout the world, successfully kidnapped Sita by setting up a diversion that drew Lord Rama away from the couples’ cottage. Ravana was a staunch atheist committed to sense gratification at any cost. He had many wives whom he enjoyed thoroughly, yet he was enamored by Sita. She was so enchanting that he had to have her. Ironically, it was Sita’s kidnapping that was the catalyst for Ravana’s demise. Rescuing Sita was just the excuse Rama needed to kill the demon and demolish his kingdom.
“Do you, like to an ordinary actor, wish to hand me over to others, who am chaste, pure as a virgin, and long held in conjugal affection?” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 29)
In the above referenced statement, Sita is more or less posing a rhetorical question to her husband. “I have acted perfectly towards you. What reason do you have for abandoning me?” She even mentions that she is as pure as a virgin. The couple had been married for many years at the time of this incident, so one may wonder how she could still be pure. The answer is that the loving affairs of God and His pleasure potencies are not of the material variety. The sex indulgence of the ordinary man and woman is completely on the material platform. More about lust than love, sex life is the ultimate form of material sense gratification, and it serves as the main cause of the living entity’s bondage to the repeated cycle of birth and death. However, in the spiritual world, that perverted form of lust becomes purified when directed towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna’s pleasure potency expansions, such as Shrimati Radharani, the gopis of Vrindavana, and the various Lakshmis, all serve to please the Lord. They are His energy and He is the energetic. The love that Sita and Rama shared was completely of the spiritual variety, and in that vein, she always remained a virgin.
In the material world, we generally equate a woman’s purity with her virginity. In the traditional Christian style wedding, the brides are only supposed to wear a white wedding gown if they have maintained their virginity; otherwise they are to wear a dress of a different color. Nowadays this tradition generally isn’t adhered to. In actuality, real purity can be measured in everyone based on their devotion to God. Sita Devi proved her purity through the various events of her life. She suffered through many hardships, from having to abandon the kingdom and live in the forest, to being kidnapped by Ravana, and being abandoned by Rama towards the end of her life. She was able to survive all these events by concentrating her mind on her husband, who was God Himself. After Rama killed Ravana and rescued Sita, He was initially hesitant to take her back. She had lived with another man for many months, so the rules of propriety stated that she was now impure and not worthy of being taken back. To prove her purity, Sita swore by fire that she had not touched Ravana in any way. In front of her husband and other onlookers, she placed herself on top of a blazing fire and amazingly was untouched by it, thus validating her statements. The Lord actually knew she was pure, but He wanted to demonstrate to others just how perfect she was.
We have all accumulated dust in our hearts through contact with material nature since time immemorial. Repeatedly taking birth and indulging in sense gratification, we have lost our purity due to our forgetfulness of God. The Lord is our best friend and ever well-wisher, but we have forgotten this fact. He is eagerly waiting to embrace us, but the impetus is on us to make the first move. Just as we can’t force anyone to love us, God can’t will us to come back to Him by breaking our relationship with nature. In this age of Kali, Lord Chaitanya has recommended a single method for rekindling our relationship.
“harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha” (Brhan-naradiya Purana, 38.97)
“There is no other means of salvation in this dark age except the constant chanting of the holy names of God: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
“Hare” means God’s energy, and Krishna and Rama are two of His names. Sita is Rama’s energy, so by chanting the maha-mantra, we are glorifying them. No one is more worthy of praise than Sita and Rama, for theirs is the perfect love story. May we be so blessed so as to one day love God as purely as Sita does.
Categories: glories of sita devi