Most of the people across India have read the “Ramayan”. or rather would have watched it. I had read the detailed version with the help of a friend who specializes in such things. She has studied mythology as a subject and also specializes in it. We began don’t you think Ram was a bit hypocritical and too perfect in terms of sending off his wife when she was away at Ravans Lanka. She said ” It was not a personal choice given the fact that he was the head of the state at that time and he had to set an example. So he asked her to give the ‘AgniPariksha’. But I said why her – she remained loyal throughout..To which my friend said. The Ramayan has been narrated by a man, we belong to a patriarchal society where no matter what happens the man is usually not blamed. Thus Ram was expected to set an example for his state and had to fore go his choice of keeping his wife.
Ram is supposed to be the reincarnation of Vishnu and Sita a reincarnation of ‘Shakti/Laxmi’. His role is pre-decided and he has to behave accordingly. Now he leaves for “Banvas” where his brother “Laxman” and Ram s wife “Sita” accompany. During the 12 years of Banvas, the incident in the forest wrt to “Sarupnakha” takes place. Sarupnaka is no ordinary being. She is the only sister of “Ravan and his brothers” – she is pampered and protected by them to the fullest. She sees “Ram” and changes her “Roopa” to attract him. She says to him “you should marry me”. To which Ram refuses. This is because she is a Rakshasa. But in reality, Sarupnakha was a very learned lady, who had ascetic or saintly powers. However, Ram had a destined path and the incident takes place where incensed by Saurpnakhas behavious towards Ram, Laxman cuts her nose. The phrase “Nak kat Jana” is a metaphor for “losing your respect”. Thereafter the vicious cycle begins where Lord Shiva’s statement is in action. If Laxman had not cut her nose, Ravan would have not avenged the incident.
Now coming to Ravan, he was a person who is said to have attained a “Number of Siddhi’s”. It means he had learnt the Vedas, he was an ardent bhakt of the Lord Shiv and Lord Shiv/ Lord Bramha had blessed him with a boon that No Dev or Rakshasa will be able to kill you. However, Ravana had asked Lord Shiv, I have roamed this earth and attained all I want. Now please give me Moksha. To which Lord Shiv states “A human will end your life, go live as a King and perform your duties. Now Ravan, returned to Lanka and began living his normal life. Over a period of time he became very cruel and proud. He used to perform a lot of misdeeds unfit for a person of his stature.Ravan had a main wife/consort “Mandodari” she was a devotee of the “Devi” and was the daughter of Mayasura – the King of Asuras and the Apsara- Hema (heavenly nymph). She is described as breathtakingly beautiful, pious and righteous. A story states that after a lot of penance Mayasura and his wife are blessed with Mandodari. In a few editions of Ramayan; Mandodari is a reincarnation of an apsara named Madhura who arrives at Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva, to pay her respects. In absence of his wife Parvati, Madhura has clandestine coitus with Shiva. When Parvati returns, she finds traces of ashes from Shiva’s body on Madhura. Agitated, Parvati curses Madhura and sends her to live in a well as a frog for 12 years. Shiva consoles Madhura and says she will become a beautiful woman and be married to a great valorous man. After twelve years, Madhura becomes a beautiful maiden again and cries out loudly from the well. Mayasura and Hema, who are performing penance nearby, answer her call and adopt her as their daughter. They bring her up as Mandodari.
Now let us shed some light on Ravans background. Now after his sisters incident, Ravan kidnaps ‘Sita’ and brings her to the “vatika” where she is stated to have stayed for more than 2years looking to Ram rescuing her. Now Ravan belonged to a Matriarchal society which believes that getting a woman without her consent is a big sin. It amounts to dishonoring the Goddesses and is considered a shameful thing. Hence, it is believed that Ravan did not touch her because of this. Another view states that Ravan’s wife (Mandodiri) stated that Sita was a reincarnation of a Devi in the human form. She said insulting her would amount to insulting the Goddess herself. This kept Ravan away from her but he lusted for her asked her a number of times to become his wife. But she states that “Mere rom rom main Ram hai”.
Now Ravan is attacked by Ram and he is defeated and killed by Ram -rather beheaded..Once Ram has won the battle and despite passing the AgniPariksha she is sent to exile in the Vana. She stays at Valmiki s ashram and during her stay she bears two kids “Luv and Kush”. Valmiki teaches the kids and at one of the ceremonious events, the children recite the story and greivance of their mother. Lord Ram hears it and enquires who these children are. Later on her finds out that they are his children and beckons Sita. Sita then appears in front of him and as we have read goes into the earth – where agni is there.
Now if we look at Ramayan, it states how a devoted wife is showing her duty towards the requirements of the Kingdom. But in certain cases, the Ramayan is reflective of the state of affairs and living style. Sorry we did not touch the topic of Hanuman, since it would be too detailed to explain.
PS: A parallel theory states that “Sita” in her past life was the daughter of a of BrahmarishiKusadhvaja, who is the son of Brihaspati, Lord-Guru of the Devas, the Gods. Having spent his life chanting and studying the sacred Vedas, he names his daughter Vedavati, or Embodiment of the Vedas, born as the fruit of his Bhakti and Tapasya. Her father wants his child to have Lord Vishnu for a husband. He thus rejects many powerful kings and celestial beings who seek his daughter’s hand. Outraged by his rejection, a powerful Daitya king Sambhu murder her parents in the middle of a moonless night. Vedavati continues to live in the Ashram of her parents, meditating night and day and performing a great Tapasya to win Vishnu for her husband. Ravan finds Vedavati sitting in meditation and is captivated by her incredible beauty. He propositions her and is rejected. Ravana mocks her austerities and her devotion to Vishnu; finding himself firmly rejected at every turn, he tries to molest Vedavati, pulling her hair. This greatly incenses her, and she cuts off her hair, and says she will enter into the fire before his eyes, adding, “Since I have been insulted in the forest by thee who art wicked-hearted, I shall be born again for thy destruction.” So she enters the blazing fire, and celestial flowers fell all around. It was she who is born again as Sita, and is the moving cause of Ravans death, though Rama is said to be the agent. This is just a parallel.
My friend stated that since the old days. Rakshasas were considered to be evil, but if you look at mythology we find that they had a different way of living and dealing with things. A bit aggressive in nature that is it. The gods also were cunning to a certain extent and always played pranks with them. However, this is a separate discussion altogether.
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