“Then I was quickly ready to depart for becoming a forest dweller even ahead of Him, as when lacking His association even residence in heaven is not to my liking.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.27)
साहं तस्याग्रतस्तूर्णं प्रस्थिता वनचारिणी।।
न हि मे तेन हीनाया वासस्स्वर्गेऽपि रोचते।
sāhaṃ tasyāgratastūrṇaṃ prasthitā vanacāriṇī।।
na hi me tena hīnāyā vāsassvarge’pi rocate।
Friend1: Let me ask you this. Was there not any sort of regret from the people in power over the situation of Sita Devi?
Friend2: From the Ramayana history?
Friend1: Yes. Particularly the phase of leaving for the forest, the fourteen year exile.
Friend2: What kind of regret are you expecting?
Friend1: Lamentation. Shame. It was bad enough that Shri Rama accepted such a punishment. Anytime there are multiple wives involved, the king is bound to find trouble. It is not surprising that Kaikeyi would be jealous of the other queens, viewing them as rivals.
Friend2: She really put Dasharatha in a bind. She used his own attention to dharma against him. She tested the value of the king’s word, as if placing it on a scale.
Friend1: With the love and affection towards the eldest son on the other side. I guess dharma won. The king placed duty over parental attachment.
Friend2: A tough situation, for sure.
Friend1: I am expecting more grief and sympathy for the plight of Sita, who is Rama’s wife. She decides to accompany her husband. As she later explained, it was almost like she went ahead of Rama. She was more than prepared, considering life in heaven to be without value if devoid of her husband’s association.
Friend2: If you think about it, that is one of the nicest things someone could say about another. It symbolizes pure devotion. In other words, she expects nothing from the one to whom she is married. She is ready to give everything.
Friend1: Right, but she shouldn’t have to sacrifice to that level. I am sure the parents aren’t expecting their daughter to marry into poverty. They aren’t anticipating the following:
“Oh, I found the perfect husband for you. Don’t worry. You will just have to roam around as a homeless person. It won’t be that long; fourteen years. Eating fruits and roots, sleeping on the ground, with no possessions of value to speak of. It will pass by in no time.”
Friend2: It tends to go in the opposite direction. Find a suitable protector who is well off enough that they can support your daughter.
Friend1: Yeah, so you get my drift. Sita became a vana-charini. She was a dweller of the forest, which at that period of time was typically reserved for advanced ascetics.
Friend2: People who give up the world in pursuit of higher goals, paramartha. They can’t comment on the issues of the day precisely because they have bypassed such concerns.
Friend1: They are above the dualities of gain and loss. They don’t pass judgment on matters of temporary significance. They are in it for the long haul, for connecting with the Divine energy.
Friend2: In that sense, what can you do? A person’s mind is made up. They would rather be in that situation of destitution. To them, it is superior to living in a palace.
Friend1: Okay, but why didn’t people try to stop her? Why didn’t they help?
Friend2: Oh trust me, the people of Ayodhya went to the very edge of what was acceptable. They were ready to create a city in the woods, so to speak. Rama dissuaded them.
Friend1: The whole situation is just sad, if you think about it.
Friend2: For sure, but it makes you think. What exactly is so special about Dasharatha’s eldest son? Why are certain people able to tolerate such extremes in order to have His association? What must they be deriving from the experience? Rama cannot be ordinary; there must be something amazing about Him.
Something amazing must be,
For such devotion to see.
Tossing aside interest where,
Extended trip in forest there.
Such that Sita of statement profound,
That husband better than heaven found.
Always by His side to stay,
Preferred living that way.