“Hearing those words, Sita, whose face resembles the full moon, spoke the following pious and sound words to Hanuman.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.1)
sā sītā tat vacanam śrutvā pūrṇa candra nibha ānanā |
hanūmantam uvāca idam dharma artha sahitam vacaḥ ||
Darkness all around. People steeped in the mode of ignorance. Not only chasing sense gratification at the personal level, but no respect for life and property. After all, how would the thief feel if someone stole from them? Would they like it if foreign attackers raided the home and used violence against innocent people living inside?
The Rakshasas in Lanka were about to get a taste of their own medicine. The notable distinction is that the delivery of the violence would be justified. Like the words of Sita described above, the work would be in line with dharma. This has several meanings depending on the context of the discussion. Dharma is essentially righteousness. Pious behavior. Doing things the right way.
The people in Lanka generally followed adharma, taking the lead from their king, Ravana. His worst crime was cheating to steal away the princess of Videha, who was married to the prince of Ayodhya. She was hospitable to him as a guest in the forest of Dandaka, and he repaid that kindness by dragging her away, using deception to first gain her favor.
The moment of payback was soon to arrive. The harbinger of bad things to come was the arrival of Shri Hanuman, the dedicated servant of Shri Rama. If Rama had been near the hermitage at the time of Ravana’s visit, there would have been no danger. Ravana would have been defeated. The evil king thought he got away with it, that living on an island far away insulated him from enemy attack.
Hanuman was in a monkey-type body, and yet he made it across the vast ocean, entered the city undetected, and was able to locate Sita. The description of her face shows the stark contrast. She was like the moon to a place perpetually in darkness. It wasn’t an ordinary moon, either. Purna-chandra, full and bright.
One person in dharma meeting with another. Hanuman described what Rama was feeling in separation from His wife, and now Sita is preparing to respond. She will speak words appropriate and in line with interest, artha.
It is said that devotees of the Lord are silent. It is considered one of the qualities belonging to the Divine side, divyam. The meaning is not that they never speak. It is that they do not waste time speaking nonsense. Their words are in line with piety, dharma, and meeting the highest purpose.
Words the highest purpose meeting,
Like Sita when Hanuman greeting.
In Ashoka oddest of place,
She of moon-like face.
Not ordinary so,
Like full to glow.
In line with dharma to speak,
How husband and wife to meet.