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Sita - The Silent Power of Suffering and Sacrifice

Article of the Month - May 2020
Viewed 156704 times since 15th May, 2020

All versions of the Ramayana are unanimous in reiterating Sita Ji's fidelity and devotion towards Rama even in times of extreme adversity. For example, when Shri Rama is preparing to go to exile in the forest all alone, she addresses him thus: "O son of an illustrious monarch, a father, a mother, a brother, a son or a daughter-in-law, all enjoy the fruit of their karma individually and receive what is their due. It is only the wife who actually shares the fortunes of her husband. When you depart this day for the dense forests which are difficult to penetrate, I shall walk ahead of you crushing under my feet, all the thorns that lie on your way."

This is just one of the many expressions Sita used to convince Shri Rama to take her with him. She considered it her privilege to share in his misfortune and suffered the consequent trials and tribulations in equal measure throughout their sojourn in the forest. However, being exiled in the forests was the least of her troubles.

In fact, not even her kidnapping by Ravana could break Sita' immense will-power, constantly nourished as it was by the memory of her beloved Rama. Ravana too, fearing the accumulated merits of a chaste woman did not dare touch her; he nevertheless did try to make advances. What was Sita's reaction to his overtures? The great sage poet Valmiki has captured her wretched condition vividly, through a series of inspired metaphors. For example, on viewing Ravana: "She seemed like a flame wreathed in smoke; a great fame which had dimmed; a lotus pool stripped of its blossoms; like Rohini pursued by Ketu (a metaphor for the eclipsed moon); a traditional text obscured by a dubious interpretation; a faith that has been betrayed; an order that has been flouted; a hope which has been frustrated and an understanding that has grown feeble."

Witnessing her appearance, Hanuman says: "For a woman the greatest decoration is her lord, and Sita, though incomparably beautiful, no longer shines in Rama's absence."

Although her physical beauty undoubtedly dims on account of the enforced separation; she keeps her mind fixed upon Rama, and thus radiates with an inner beauty as a result of this steadfastness. "Though that blessed one was shorn of her own beauty, yet her own soul did not lose its transcendency, upheld as it was by the thought of Rama's glory and safeguarded by her own virtue." Truly she remained chaste in both thought and deed and the various recensions of the epic recall episodes where even the mighty Ravana had to bow before Sita's piety. Once for example, when the demon approached her, she placed a single strand of straw in between them and challenged him to cross the "proverbial last straw." Predictably he did not dare to do so. He knew that the chastity of a virtuous woman was like a fire that could reduce to ashes anyone who tried to violate her against her will.

Ravana Fails to Win Over Sita at Ashoka Vatika, Lanka City
Ravana Fails to Win Over Sita at Ashoka Vatika, Lanka City

All of Sita's miseries in the confinement of Ravana however, pale in comparison to the emotional trauma she was subjected to after Shri Rama's victory over Ravana. In a bitter irony, what was to be her moment of deliverance, turned out to be the beginning of another trial.

Standing before Rama, her eyes raised expectantly to his face, the innocent Sita wept, overwhelmed at the prospect of a joyful reunion with her Lord after his victory. The latter however remained formal and aloof and set out to articulate his heartfelt thoughts (hrdyaantargatam bhavam): "Today I have avenged the insult to my honor and fulfilled my promise. You stand unabashed before me, even though suspicion has arisen with regard to your character. Today you seem extremely disagreeable to me even as a light to one who is suffering from sore eyes. Therefore go wherever you like, O Janaka's daughter, the ten directions are open to you today. What man born in a noble family would take back with an eager mind a woman who has dwelt in another's house, simply because she has been kindly disposed towards him in the past? How can I accept you, who were touched by Ravana while being borne away by him and who regarded you with a lustful eye? There is no more attachment for you in my heart. You may therefore go wherever you like."

Harsh words indeed, which pierced Sita's tender heart like arrows tipped with poison and shrinking within herself, the sensitive lady shed profuse tears, saying: "I was helpless when I came into the contact of Ravana and did not act of my own free will on that occasion. My adverse fate alone is to blame on that score. That which is under my control, viz., my heart, eternally does it abide in you." Addressing her brother-in law Lakshmana, she says: "Raise for me a pyre, which is the only antidote against this calamity. I no longer desire to survive, smitten as I am with false reproaches." Lakshmana looked at his brother, half-expecting him to put an end to this bewildering public spectacle. Scrutinizing his elder sibling's expression, Lakshmana realized, to his horror, that this was exactly what Rama expected.

Not one of the assembled warriors, who just moments before had proved their mettle in the battlefield, had the courage to dare open his mouth opposing the grave injustice being perpetrated. The obedient Lakshmana set out to prepare the pyre. As a mark of respect, Sita Ji circumambulated Rama, who, as the ancient texts put it - stood with his head bent low. As she approached the blazing fires, the world went into a crisis: the immortal gods and living beings, the cosmic elements, the four Vedas and Dharma, all cried out in horror. Then:

As if she were going home to her place on the lotus that rises up from the flooding waters, she jumped in; and as she entered, that fire was scorched by her burning faithfulness.

The lotus here refers to Sita being an incarnation of the great goddess Lakshmi, who is typically associated with this auspicious flower.

Here, to highlight the extremely pure bearing of Sita, the poet has depicted the moment as being one of an excruciating, fiery torment. Fire is burnt by the heat Sita holds within herself; generated by a lifetime of chastity, self control, faithfulness, suffering and sacrifice, which are represented here not as abstract ethical virtues but rather as part of the substantial and dynamic reality that suffuses the inner being of a faultless woman like Sita. It was this same heat that had earlier terrified Ravana against coming near her.

Her trial-by-fire is portrayed evocatively in the ancient texts and she not only emerges unsinged, but also manages to scorch the god of fire (Agni) himself, who, according to Kamban, screams out in pain and protest. Lifting Sita in his hands, Agni points out that the beads of perspiration formed on her body due to anger directed at her husband were not dried up by his flames while the flowers she wore in her hair still continued to bloom as freshly as ever. Sita's accumulated spiritual force of concentrated energy (tapas) proved too much for even the fire-god, who emerged saying: "I had to materialize because I could not bear the blazing fire of faithfulness in this woman."

He also asks Rama:

Didn't you hear
when the gods and sages
and all that moves and is still
in the three worlds
screamed, as they struck their eyes? Have you abandoned
and resorted to misery instead?

Will rain fall,
will the earth bear its burden without splitting in two,
will Dharma go the right way,
or can this universe survive
if she becomes enraged?
if she utters a curse,
even Brahma on his lotus will die.

Rama is overjoyed at the developments and the public display of his wife's unblemished character: "Sita undoubtedly needed this purificatory ordeal in the eyes of the people inasmuch as this blessed lady had lived for a long time in Ravana's confinement. The world would have murmured against me saying that my mind was so dominated by desire that I actually accepted the daughter of Janaka without proving her chastity. I too knew Sita to be undivided in her affection to me. Ravana couldn't violate her, protected as she was by her own moral power. In order, however, to convince the inhabitants of the three worlds, I ignored Sita even while she was entering the fire. She is as inseparable from me as sunlight from the sun."

That Sita herself volunteered for the agni-pariksha speaks for the high volume of understanding between the couple since she understood Rama's wish without him explicitly stating it. Her action was not a surrender to the unreasonable whims of a husband rather a supreme act of defiance that challenged the aspersions cast on her, by the means of which she highlighted the superficiality of his doubts, so that even the gods had to materialize and point out the apparent fallacy in the trial so unceremoniously cast on her. She emerges as a woman that even Agni - who has the power to reduce to ashes everything he touches - dare not touch or harm. She was the victim twice victimised.

Thus reconciled, the contended couple repaired back to Ayodhya and Rama continued to rule as an ideal monarch over his extensive rein.

More misfortune however was in store for Sita. No sooner had the couple settled down than rumors started in the capital questioning the propriety of having a queen who had spent a year in a villain's captivity, putting her chastity under doubt. Surprisingly for a clear-headed individual, Rama took these allegations to heart and asked his younger brother Lakshmana to banish Sita (this time alone), to the forests. Rama did this even though he was well aware that his wife was well advanced into the family way. Thus Lakshmana carried Sita the next morning to the forests. The unknowing, innocent lady cheerfully boarded the chariot. Little did she know what travails lay in store for her. Once they reached the wilderness, her brother-in-law informed her thus: " You have been forsaken by the king who is afraid of the ill-report circulating among his citizens. You are to be left near this hermitage by me."

Hearing these cruel words the crestfallen Sita fell swooning to the ground. However, it was not long before the valiant lady composed herself and addressed him thus: "This mortal frame of mine was indeed composed by the creator for bearing sorrow only. What sin was committed by me, that though being of good conduct, I should be forsaken by the king? I cannot give up my life since I carry within myself the seed which will carry forward the lineage of my lord. Do then as you are ordered O son of Sumitra (Lakshmana's mother), forsake me the miserable one, obey the orders of the king, but do tell him this on my behalf: If to preserve your good name among your people, I must be sacrificed, I am content to let it be so. As you serve your subjects, so I serve you."

Sita - The First Single Mother in the World

Thus abandoned, Sita gave birth to twin sons in the wilderness and brought them up all alone, without the protective presence of a father, hence becoming the first single parent in history.

When these worthy sons entered their teens, tales of their valor spread far and wide, and it was not long before Rama realized that they were his own offspring. This knowledge prompted him to immediately call his beloved Sita and the two boys to his court. In front of the assembled subjects, tributary kings, ministers and merchants from all parts of his empire, he asked her to undertake the fire ordeal again for the benefit of these venerable gentlemen, who had missed the earlier one in Lanka.

Sita's reaction however was different from that earlier occasion. The emotional scar had obviously not healed. This time she did not ask her brother-in-law to prepare a funeral pyre for her. Nor did she circumambulate her husband in meek submission. Rather, with folded hands, she merely uttered the following words: "If I have remained true to Rama in mind, speech and action, may the Mother Earth embrace me in her bosom." No sooner had she spoken than the ground beneath her feet split wide open, and before anybody had the time to react, she entered the depths. A dejected and helpless Rama was engulfed in grief. Thus did end the exemplary life of Sita, with fate pursuing her to the bitter end.

In the televised version of the Ramayana, shown in serialized form on Indian television, the Earth Goddess is shown emerging from the ground seated on a bejeweled throne. Spreading out her arms she beckons Sita saying: "Come my child, this world is not worthy of you." Sita does as she is told, leaving behind her, the lamenting assembly.

Sita Enters The Earth (Based on the Ramayana of Valmiki)
Sita Enters The Earth (Based on the Ramayana of Valmiki)

Sita's appeal to Mother Earth to reclaim her was not the helpless reaction of slighted woman. It was a spirited, self-effacing statement of protest, when things went beyond endurance.

Did Rama Really Doubt Her Chastity?

Rama's conduct vis-a-vis Sita leaves many questions unanswered. The most significant is of course whether he really doubted her fidelity. There is a strong logical basis supporting the conventional view:

1). Some time after he abandoned her, Rama decided to perform the horse sacrifice (ashvamedha yagya) which is the highest ritual a king can strive to. There was a technical snag however. Of the hundreds of ceremonies a Hindu has to perform, not one can be performed without a wife. Therefore many in Rama's retinue suggested that he remarry. A suggestion he firmly rejected: "In the heart of Rama there is place for only one woman and that one is Sita." He therefore had a golden image of his wife made and completed the sacrifice. Would anyone thus give his wife a position of such supreme respect if he doubted her chastity?

2). Before entering the fire, Sita circled Rama clockwise, in respectful homage. What was Rama's reaction during her circulation? Well, he kept his head down (adhomukham). Is this not a gesture of self-indictment and contradiction? The ostracized victim is boldly performing what she has set out to do, while her accuser stands with a hung head.

Conclusion: Who is Greater? Rama or Sita?

Sita sets a high standard as an ideal wife who stays unswerving in her loyalty and righteousness, no matter how unfavourable her husband's response. Her refusal to perform a second agnipraiksha and her consequent reversion to mother earth is not merely an act of self-annihilation. It is a momentous and dignified rejection. By this act does she emerge supremely triumphant. If the defining scale for quantifying greatness is the amount of suffering one has undergone, it is undoubtedly Sita who is the clear winner. It is her dignified tolerance and self-effacing silence, which may even be termed as weakness by many, that turns out to be her ultimate emotional strength, far valorous than any assertive aggression. Rightly therefore does her name always precede that of Rama (as in Sita-Ram or Jai Siya-Ram).

Whole world is Rama Sita I know,
With folded hands to them I bow.
Whole world is Rama Sita I know, With folded hands to them I bow.

In the words of Swami Vivekananda, " There may have been several Ramas, perhaps, but only one Sita."

References and Further Reading:

- Gandhi, Mahatma. The Collected Works (Vol. 20): New Delhi, 2000.

- Grimes, John.A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy(Sanskrit - English): Varanasi, 2009.

- Hawley, John Stratton and Donna Marie Wulff: The Divine Consort (Radha and the Goddesses of India): Delhi, 1995.

- Kakar,Sudhir: The Essential Writings: New Delhi, 2002.

- Kinsley, David. The Goddesses' Mirror Visions of the Divine from East and West: Delhi, 1995. -

-Richman, Paula (ed). Questioning Ramayanas: New Delhi, 2003.

-Richman, Paula (ed). Many Ramayanas The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia: New Delhi, 2001.

- Sastri, The Rt. Hon. V.S. Srinivasa Sastri. Lectures on the Ramayana: Madras, 1986.

- Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana (2 vols. With Sanskrit Text and English Translation): Gorakhpur, 2001.

- Vatsyayan, Sacchidanand. Jan Janak Janaki (Hindi): Delhi.

- Vivekananda, Swami.The Complete Works (Vols 3, 4 & 6): Kolkata, 2003.

Post a Comment
  • Thanks for this marvelous piece. I really enjoyed reading
    this and have to state 1 thing - that you really are
    an incredible writer. I really don't usually bookmark origin - that the last time I did so was with And that I do wish to
    see more of your articles in my bookmarks. Thanks for the work, have a fantastic
    by Hart Natasha on 19th May 2020
  • Dear Mr Kumar,

    thank you for the well-written article. As a lover of India and Indian culture, I nevertheless feel compelled to write the following answer:

    Reflecting on the enormous number of raped women not only in India but in every country of the world including my own, Germany, and after having read completely the Valmiki-Ramayana and the Ramcaritmanas by Tulsidas and watched both the whole 1988 and 2008 versions of the Ramayan TV Series, I ask myself whether there has ever been any male in the world who would have been worth the sacrifice of Sita. It would certainly not be Rama who has no respect for his wife at all and is completely outside the range of males electable for a female who has any self-respect. Otherwise Rama would not doubt the "honour" of a woman who would have had no chance against Ravana in case he would really have raped her. How can a woman be the culprit when a man rapes her? How can it be HER "honour" which is lost when in reality HE is the one who behaves like a person who has no honour at all?! This blaming of the victim that is inherent in all Sita-Ram stories is a shame, and Rama should have been clever enough to understand this and refrain from insulting his wife like that. If my husband would do anything like that to me, I would leave him instantly.

    It also does not help women in the least to read that the power of a woman's chastity may be so strong that even a god cannot resist it. Have you ever heard of a real woman raped in reality who was able to use that power? It is a fairytale not applicable to everyday life, and people who believe in the Sita story might even believe earnestly that the woman who does not overwhelm her rapist with the power of her chastity is guilty of her rape herself.

    You seem to be of the opinion that Rama in reality does fully believe in Sitas ongoing chastity, and only has to convince "the people" about that by a fire ordeal. If he does believe her he should not insult her, and if he is so dependant on what "the people" say then he just has no self-confidence but is a coward who is afraid of people who ask awkward questons. Fully mature individuals are not afraid of being criticised, but Rama is so afraid of this that he rather sends his beloved wife away than standing some criticism from outside.

    When people rumour about Sita even after the fire ordeal, why does Rama not stand in front of his people and tell them that he fully believes in his wife and that the people can either have him as their king together with Sita or not at all? For me, he is a coward whom I in the place of Sita would have left as soon as possible and certainly before getting pregnant! She did just that in the end, she finally left him, but MUCH too late! And she also did not leave him by claiming her place in the world but by giving the world over to males like him who have since then governed our earth without granting the females their part of the cake.

    As long as we women do not openly criticise such male misbehaviour as Sita experienced from Rama and as long as we do not take our consequences, nothing will change in patriarchal society. Why is everybody expecting women to be ideal wives, but nobody expects any male to be an ideal husband?

    When I came to India first as a young girl in 1978, I was absolutely impressed by the strength and power of the women I met. But it was a strength that they had gained IN SPITE of their male relatives, in spite of their husbands and not because of any support they might have got from them. Only in rare instances did I get the impression that female strength originated clearly from the empowerment of the women by their male family members.

    In your conclusion, you praise Sitas "dignified tolerance" and lack of aggression - but did these qualities help her in the least? No, they didn't, because these qualities are those that a MALE wishes to experience in a female, they are those qualities that make it easy for MALES to get along with their women. What we need everywhere in the world are women who question all those patriarchal expectations, who do NOT circle husbands who question their honour and do NOT show any tolerance, dignified or not, towards male impertinence.

    The article is nice and romantic, but it idealises female submission under a husband who is so far from being an ideal partner to a free and strong woman that I fail to understand how she can stand to stay with him. Sita as well as all my Indian female friends do have this female potential, but idealising submission is no option for females in our world today. It is detrimental for them and only helps the males. Especially as long as males do not give back anything.

    You Indian males have so strong women in your myths and stories, but please begin to understand that women are not born in order to play the roles of consenting slaves to the males. A woman is born as a free living being with equal rights and equal potentialities for a successful and happy life.

    Warm regards from Germany
    by Vimukti on 18th May 2020
  • It'll be a wonder if this article could've been written any more beautifully & articulately. One is reminded India has historically held so much divinity. I used to subscribe to a forum long ago -- DivineIndia. Sacchi -- MannDivineIndia. Testimonial of jagruti lies not only with the writer, but also within commenters who responded with so much heart & can relate so emphatically. Sabon ke mann ka deep hamesha jalta rahe. Tabhi Mandir mein bhi jaan aati hai. Jab aatma itni sundar hai, to socho vatavaran kitna sundar ban jayega. Dharm ko hamesha sache mann, aatma aur nirahankar se nibhana chahiye. This is exactly what Sita Mata did. Praja ke hit mein Ram bhagwan ne ekdam sahi nirnay liya. Aur Dharti ma ko Ma Sita ko apne paas bulana bhi sahi tha. Rahi Ram Sita ke saath ki baat -- agar woh sach mein Ma Lakshmi aur Vishnu bhagwan ke avtar hain, to alag hone ka sawal hi nahin uthta. Wishing everyone enlightenment not just by story, but by application, heart, mind, and daily living. Best Wishes. -Ritika
    by Ritika Sinha on 16th May 2020
  • Most excellent, as usual. ... Siya Ram, Siya Ram.
    by Brian / Cat ji on 16th May 2020
  • A powerful short version, beautifully done. Thanks
    by Mukti on 15th May 2020
  • Dear Noor,
    Look not with 21st century eyes at Sita. You are selectively believing some things and rejecting other things according to your conditioning and conveniencem and this is what MF Hussain also did...
    This great epic happened in a yuga when a completely different mindset and a completely different spiritual culture was prevailing and it's sometimes hard for us Kali Yugis to understand all this...

    Just like the elements protected Sita when she jumped in the fire, the same heat protected her when Ravana tried to approach her. Also, Ravana was a Shiv bhakt, and that also helped in controlling him...
    by Om on 12th Jul 2010
  • a very useful and clarifying source. Sita was indeed mahaan. I believe people still feel aggrieved about her treatment, even the land is a hotbed of injustice today, just look at the curse that is upon Ayodhya, surely this is Sita's curse. The poorer Shri Rama is considered as a husband, the greater the dutiful king, just look at what the Queen of England has had to sacriface for her sense of duty.
    by ravi on 19th Aug 2009
  • How wonderful the story of Ramayan could be re-interpret again..I myself named after Sita Devi and not by design having a serious relationship now with a guy named Rama.
    I have been falling in love with the Ramayan story since a child and this writing of yours is very much indeed inspiring and enlightened me with Sita's true wisdom..
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts with us,,
    by Sita uma on 12th Dec 2008
  • This article inspired a school project. The information was very informative-- nothing was missing. Thank you so much for providing this article for students like myself.
    by Kat on 4th Dec 2008
  • Great article and analysis by the authors! Thank you very much - excellent portrayal of Sita - its very meaningful that she deserted Rama and not the other way around.
    by Charu T on 10th May 2008
  • I love Sita Devi so much! Thanks so much for this beautiful article on Her life!
    by Jai Sita-Ram! :) on 3rd Apr 2008
  • I have seen the Ramayana seriel in DD channel when I was growing. But only now I have read such an engraved small version of Ramayana. There may be any number of Ramayana, but we as a human have to follow only the truth to live in World. Laws are to be discussed and followed, but truth (Religion) should be felt and not to be discussed. Jai Ram, Jai Sita...
    by Sreebalakumar on 28th Oct 2007
  • I have been having a stressful week at work and everything was going wrong after reading this powerful artical I was mezmerized and all my stress melted away
    by Ria Shah on 28th Oct 2007
  • What a great retell about a story that has been passed down for generatoins.

    I have read the ramayan in 2 different ways and have heard 25 retells on it never have I heard such wonderful writen words
    by Mia Pandyaa on 28th Oct 2007
  • A GOOD ARTICLE ....realy its wonderfull
    by Raghavendra Lolla on 3rd Aug 2006
  • Lets consider reality for a moment:
    Lets say a beautiful woman stays is kidnapped by a lustful man and stays with him for a long period of time.
    Is it possible by any stretch of imagination that she did not have nay sexual contact with him ?
    I think Ravana must have ravished Sita ; not only him but also his male relatives and other countrymen.
    by noor on 31st Jul 2006
  • I very much enjoyed this beautiful article. Though, i had heard a addition to this tale: when lakshman questions ram as to why he was not sent to receive his sister-in-law, ram replies that a fire has to be prepared as we have to take back sita from the fire-god. To clarify his statement, ram tells his bro that he had previous knowledge of sita's kidnapping before the actual incident and hence had asked her to take refuge with the fire-god. And sita did so leaving behind a shadow of hers. Hence no one knew about it and ram was forced to create the whole agni-pariksha episode to cover up his true divine identity. I am not sure how far this is true, but it makes sense to me.
    by Akshaya on 2nd Mar 2006
  • I personally would like to know what example Ram set, as described by the author,

    "In other words, Rama wanted to set a standard, a stainless example for his subjects and followers to look up to."

    What is this so-called "standard" - that victims of the crime of kidnapping have no rights? I don't get it.
    by Sita kinkari on 7th Aug 2005
  • As with Yudhisthira's overwhelming adherence to the pure road to the next life as Nirvana (i.e. self-extinction in the soul), Ram fails to see that acceptance of things beyond our control and / or knowledge of certainty is often the higher road. Sita's self-sacrifice, a reflection of that by Sati in the face of her father's view that Shiva's act of violence had attainted her, too, is only valid because she was the goddess incarnate and her cause of the highest moral ground. Many women have been encouraged to emulate her example on lesser grounds, sometimes positively shamelessly abusive onees, with probably dire consequences in both this world and the next incarnation for both the suttee and the man who was its cause.
    by Ian Ison on 24th Apr 2005
  • Very well narrated article on the Ramayana. Beautiful depiction of mother Sita's patience in life and devotion to her husband. Well written about Sri Rama's role, actions to uphold dharma while sacrificing a lot. Thank you for illuminating our minds in these times on earth where dharma is hard to preserve.
    by chandni on 14th Apr 2005
  • What a wonderful narration. I was mesmerized. Thank you for making my day.
    by Ruthie on 18th Mar 2005
  • Thank you for such a detailed revelation of Sitaji's life.
    by Sameer Roy on 18th Mar 2005
  • What a well-written comprehensive retelling of an old traditional tale - quite inspiring!

    I am a writer with a special interest in symbolism amd metaphysics; also an artist, and so find pleasure in the lovely words and images you present to people. Many in the West have little understanding of Asian life and thought, or of the iconography of the different spiritual systems - you do something to dispell this ignorance.

    Thank you.
    by Rochelle on 17th Mar 2005
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the Sita and Rama article. I found especial interest in Sita's engulfment by mother earth, what a beautiful tale. Thank you for sharing!

    by Jennifer on 17th Mar 2005
  • I am enjoying reading your last article, "The Silent Power of Suffering." It is an interesting interpretation and is giving me something to think about in this regards...that what seems like powerlessness is actually a manifestation of power.

    My Goddess group met last week and we honored Dhumavati. Such tenderness was evoked through her suffering and her strength was revealed to us. WE were all surprised to find ourselves bathed in love..a paradox considering her quarrelsome, obsteterous nature. WE created through Her an alter of roses past their prime with an exquisite beauty all their own even in altar sparse, but subtle and powerful. In the middle we had a picture from your gallery of Dhumavati dressed in white, her hair loose, riding her chariot. Do you recall this image? WE all expressed gratitude to you for sending Her to us in this way. WE never plan our altar or even what Mahavidya will visit us, but it magically unfolds. WE have been meeting like this once a month for the past five years. What a journey it is!
    by Kaila on 17th Mar 2005
  • Your articles have kept me spellbound with details beyond being merely informative; "class act" readings of a high caliber. Thank you very much.
    by IDHO Falconmyst on 17th Mar 2005
  • Thank you for that 'story' and your work to provide the wisdom of India.

    But it was a former world that needed ideal monarchs to teach the "populace" how to progress in a hopeless history... but hence it has nothing more to do with the Dharma to sacrifice ones happiness for a "larger national interest" and to turn this earth from a battelfield to a graveyard where we (the searcher for trouth) can still find all these "stainless examples" for the brain and heartless subjects and followers of mad-going gods.

    And is it realy a historical truth that "the sacrifice of (a) Jesus sufficice to free a sorrowing world?...

    Well, I hope to meet Sita on the dark side of that 'supremely triumpant' reason of a politicaly correct act for a 'larger' interest than the happiness of a wo-MAN…
    by Pete ORE on 16th Mar 2005
  • Excellent article on Sita Ram. I appreciate all the energy you put into these mailings.

    by Kathy Rabold on 15th Mar 2005
  • Thanks for a wonderful article. I have thoroughly enjoyed all your monthly newsletters and will continue to lookforward to reading them each month - Meera
    by Meera on 15th Mar 2005
  • Thank You Nitin !!
    by Wim Borsboom on 15th Mar 2005
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"There is Rama, the son of Ayodhya's king Dasharatha in his human birth, and there is Rama's divinity, his divine aura that overwhelms the Tulasi's entire Ramacharit-manas, one manifest - with attributes, and the other, unmanifest - without attributes. With main emphasis on his majesty in South Indian tradition this crown is taller than usual. His 'khadgasana' images are usually in three modes; one with his right foot moved forward represents him in a commander's disposition ready to rush for protecting a devotee in crisis or redeem him from some calamity. Harihara, a form in which he shares with Shiva half of the body. Basically a bird Garuda is seen for ages as Vishnu's ardent devotee, a learned human being and an auspicious presence, and in iconographic tradition often conceived with a man's face, anatomy, ornaments and ensemble. The Puranas are replete with tales of Garuda's divine exploits."
Iconography of Vaishnava Images: Vishnu
"Her epithet in the Devi-Mahatmya is Mahalakshmi. She is the wrathful four-armed goddess of battlefield represented holding in them various weapons…. A form of Lakshmi seated over a lotus laid over a golden seat and a pair of white elephants…. Except in some classical forms in Lakshmi-Narayana imagery Lakshmi is ordinarily two-armed…. Incarnation theory is the crux of Vaishnavism. Vishnu incarnates alone but Lakshmi also incarnates in simultaneity…. Though very rare some enthused artists have conceived on Ardhanarishvara line also Vishnu’s Ardhanarishvara images."
Iconography of Vaishnava Deities: Goddess Lakshmi
"Both the Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga…. The following is a list of features typical to Kaliyuga…. A man will consider only those people to be his relatives who are related to him through….The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others….. We can save ourselves from Kaliyuga."
50 Characteristics of Kaliyuga
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Analysis of Happiness in the Upanishads
"Bhishma undoubtedly is one of the central figures of the Mahabharata.…. One should not venture out too early in the morning…. But one should not go to sleep with wet feet….A person who desires to live long should never irritate the following three…. One must shun company of people who criticize the Vedas…. If we are traveling, one must find shelter inside a house…."
Living the Full Life: 50 Instructions from the Mahabharata
"Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children."
Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)
"Durga Puja is more than the periodically observed navratra in the subcontinent..The akaal bodhon Durga Puja has evolved into great socio-cultural significance in the Eastern Delta region, and is the lifeblood of Bengalis everywhere...On dashami the next day, one could sense the pall that descends upon the delta...Ma Durga's time in Her girlhood home draws to a close. Now is the final throes of festive exuberance."
Durga Puja - Worshipping the Wife of Shiva, Daughter of Bengal
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
The Light That Enlightened Millions
(The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"No one spends even a single moment without doing some action or the other....We generally notice in history that almost all civilizations acquire a lot of material affluence in the beginning and after sometime they go into oblivion....We very well know that it is only the work based on well thought plan that solves problems and not our worry.....The success of any action depends not only on visible parameters but also invisible one....We are carried by the slogans of the times and move in the turbulent waters of life in a rudderless boat.....Want to give us a state of pleasure which is constant and never ending."
Dharma: The Only Remedy for Modern Man
"One uniqueness of our Vedic religion is that it allows for salvation not only through renunciation (nivritti) but also through the path of material happiness (pravritti).... If dharma makes it mandatory that conjugal pleasure be restricted to the life partner, how is it that Krishna indulged in the amorous sport of Rasa with others' wives?.... Some stopped cooking, some stopped feeding, some stopped eating, some stopped washing clothes etc. and ran away.... Upanishads call the jiva in waking state as Vishwa and the dreaming jiva as Taijasa (Mandukya Upanishad Mantras 3-4)."
Krishna's Rasa Lila: The Vedantic Perspective
"A man receives a wife given by the gods... Where women are revered, there the gods rejoice; but where they are not, all efforts are unfruitful…. The husband, tradition says, is the wife, They can never be cut loose from one another. This is the dharma made by Brahma himself….he king who bears patiently when those in anguish insult him will be exalted in heaven…. If the driver of a vehicle injures a man, animal or property, he needs to be punished along with the owner of the vehicle…. This in a nutshell, is the definition of suffering and happiness."
Living According to Manu: God’s Manual of Instruction for Life
"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"The sources of Dharma have been systematically divided into four simple categories....This desisting from the prohibition is what constitutes the karma, leading to Dharma.....There are many Vedic Karmas which do not find mention directly in the Vedas but are found only in the Smritis....The Agnihotra mentioned above can be performed at any one of the three times....Lord Shiva drank the deadliest poison easily. However, if anybody else did the same, he would be reduced to ashes....However, this is the weakest source of Dharma out of the four."
Understanding Dharma: The Four Authentic Sources
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Shiva, the Nataraja
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