Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Understanding Agnipariksha

            We already have observed that Rama’s character is blemishless and filled with every virtue in Understanding Rama – Agnipariksha 1. We dived deeper into his fathomless love for Sita in Rama’s love for SitaAgnipariksha 2. In this final portion, we will analyse Agnipariksha in finer detail.

One of the biggest accusations the non devotee makes, especially in a derogatory tone, is Rama asked Sita to jump into fire, as he suspected her character. Ignoring the fact that how Rama’s opponents (Read more in How opponents saw Rama, How female opponents saw Rama), even the most tamasic minds had much better understanding of Rama than the half baked accusers. How? Association with Rama, even in a negative connotation can still purify their mind and eventually sprout some sattva to get better understanding. So if people who parrot standard accusations do not get any better, what could be the reason? They have not even cracked open the original Valmiki rendition. Let us not let this fault trip our constant misunderstanding.

            First let us walk through the Agnipariksha incident and then proceed with an analysis.

Agnipariksha incident:

            After the fall of Ravana, Rama instructs Lakshmana to consecrate Vibhishana as the ruler of Lanka. Having done so, Rama asks Hanuman to seek the request of the new ruler to meet Sita and inform her of the well being. One must note the only person besides Rama and Lakshmana, Sita had grown to trust was Hanuman. Having brought the wondrous victory news to Sita, Hanuman eagerly awaits her message. Sita is overwhelmed with extreme joy. Hanuman seeks as a boon to quash all the rakshasis who were abusing Sita until then. Sita not only rejects it outright, but also educates Hanuman on why such a thought itself was wrong.

            Hanuman immediately conveys the desire of Sita to meet Rama. A thoughtful teary Rama instructs Vibhishana to inform Sita to take a bath and be adorned with jewels and bring her immediately. Sita cares not for the instructions on how to meet as she wanted to see Rama right away. Vibhishana cajoles her to follow Rama’s direction and brings her in a palanquin. Vibhishana, who is eager to make the rendezvous quicker instructs the eager onlookers to make space, gets rebuked by Rama. In a stern voice, Rama informs Vibhishana to bring Sita by foot, so all the vanaras and others assembled can look at Sita. Seeing displeasure on the face of Rama brought anxiety to Lakshmana, Hanuman, Sugreeva and others. 

            As Sita approached nearer, Rama talks to her in an unusual tone. He tells that he had fulfilled his duty and honor to release her from her captivity. He acknowledges the role of Hanuman, Sugreeva and Vibhishana as if Sita was not even a reason. He reiterated that it was for the honor of himself and his dynasty and not due to Sita, this war had to be fought.

            Rama states just like light may not be appreciated by a person with poor eyesight, he was unable to resolve the suspicion in her character. This is a critical sloka which we will return to solve the misunderstanding.

            Rama tells Sita she is free to go in any direction and there is no work that remains pending with her. Another point we will revisit, Rama addresses her as Bhadre, meaning dear lady. There is no need for words of endearment, if his mood was suspicion. He wondered which noble man will take back a lady who has spent time in another man’s house. He declared he didn’t have any intense attachment for her and she was free to choose any person as her husband – Lakshmana or Bharata or Shatrugna or Sugreeva or Vibhishana. The harsh words and attitude of Rama sliced Sita’s heart. She gives Rama a befitting taunting reply, but understands Rama’s intent. Sita registers all her arguments with tears. She asks Lakshmana to prepare a pyre and put an end to the fire of false blames. Seeing Rama’s consent, Lakshmana merely obliges. 

            After doing pradakshina to Rama, she prayed to agni, if her heart never wavered from Rama, the she may be protected. Note she knew, just as Rama did that it was not suicide. From Sundarakanda we know it was her grace that shielded Hanuman from fire. Even in the gravest moment, she calls Rama as Sarvadharmajna (Knower of all Virtues).  As she entered the fire, the entire world appeared to be at a standstill.

            Rama is not only thoughtful but descends into deep melancholy with eyes filled with tears. If it was based on doubt, jealousy or any other silly allegation given by the half baked, there is no need for the tears. Rama is not imagining all the fun he will be missing without Sita like a normal sense ridden human. These tears from Raghava have only one meaning. The script he had signed up for was too strong for even him to handle.

            This brings all the Devas, Brahma and Shiva along with the departed ancestors of Rama. Brahma’s worshipful declaration is followed by Agni restoring Sita and highlighting the glory of her character. Shiva advises Rama to seek Dasaratha’s blessing who gives the trio some words from his heart and Indra follows suit by restoring all the dead vanaras and healing the wounded.

Our Pariksha

            It is now our turn to do some pariksha on ourselves, our understanding, our level of sattva. As one gets immersed in the emotional lamentations and outbursts of Rama, it is hard not to give some attention to the pain Rama has to bear.

Silly reason:

            The wildest I have heard was Rama sends the message through Vibhishana to have a bath and adorn nice dress and jewelry. His secret understanding was Sita will not take the advice literally and come immediately in the same state. Seeing Sita follow the instructions literally made him angry within, he behaves wildly. 

            There is no evidence or credence to such a ridiculous interpretation.

Bhagavata Dosha:

            Sita during the Mareecha’s golden deer episode heaps abuses on Lakshmana who was bent on following his brother’s instructions. The feigned Rama voice thoroughly shook Sita to the core and she wanted Lakshmana to rush to the rescue. A stubborn Lakshmana was made to listen to serious allegations of his attraction to Sita and as the one who was awaiting Rama’s demise. Though he tried to make sense, brushing aside all her rants and cruel abuses, Sita was bent on sending him on a rescue mission. Though Sita has always been a motherly figure and this is exemplified when Rama wants Lakshmana’s opinion about the iewelry thrown by a lady in the sky. Lakshmana’s attitude is captured as

अहम् जानामि केयूरे अहम् जानामि कुण्डले ||  
नूपुरे तु अभिजनामि नित्यम् पाद अभिवंदनात् |  (4-6-22)

I know not the bracelets or the earrings, but the anklets I am sure, as I worship her feet.

            It is important to note that Sita’s words of suspicion were a cheap ploy on her part from her lips and not her heart. As one reads her abduction episode minutes apart, she repeatedly wails for Lakshmana to come and protect her, as much as she screams for Rama.

            Sita’s repeated accusation that Lakshmana was after her was perhaps in same measure outrageous as Rama’s demand to prove Sita’s character. Sita knows that her abduction and suffering were the result of her own past wrong deeds. We do not find a single taint, except this role she played to the script.

            Some say if this was not resolved it would have resulted in deeper dark reactions from Lakshmana on return to Ayodhya. This line of thinking is worse than Sita’s false allegations on him.  Even at the height of Sita’s tirade he keeps calm as he venerates her and tries to reason even her odd behavior. Lakshmana doesn’t harbor any grudge or ill feeling for her actions and Ramayana doesn’t record it. Only the deluded who want to act like his spokesman imagine such ideas.

            It is very obvious to understand that even the divine couple is subject to the Laws of Karma, as long as they are in the mortal frame. Sita’s misplaced desire for the golden deer was the seed that grew into Rama’s pursuit. The deep love for Rama morphs into strong words for Lakshmana, whom Sita loves like a son. (Read more on Desire – a genealogical approach). Sita’s words yields its fruits as Agnipariksha. We get a glimpse of this golden standard Sita is being held to in Bhagavad Gita (3-21), where Krishna insists that the actions of great men (includes women) set standards for the common man to follow - yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ. How do we get the clue – Sita’s first words of response to Rama’s barbs was to question why Rama is behaving like an uncivilized person treating another uncivilized person (prakritah prakritam iva – 6-116-5) By the end of her response, it is almost like Sita wants to apologize to Lakshmana for her fiery words. She asks Lakshmana himself to create the pyre.
Then why Agnipariksha

            It is very evident that Rama seems to be using Agnipariksha as an entry point to achieve more than proving Sita’s chastity. There is a subtle hint of Ravana physically manhandling Sita during her abduction. Sita gives a clear response stating that her contact with the evil minded Ravana was due to daivam (fate/predestined/divine). She informs that her limbs once under the control of Ravana, she became more helpless to resist from his firm grip. Yet her heart which was completely in her control was abiding in Rama

Proving Sita’s chastity to others and Rama’s words as some sort of karmic debt repayment for her caustic words to Lakshmana seems to be akin to Shiva swallowing halahala poison. Actions of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana appear to be like a sad script they are subjecting themselves to. Rama uses a simile to express his predicament - दीपो नेत्रातुरस्येव प्रतिकूलासि मे दृढम्. Just like a person having eye problem has issues with the brightness of the lamp. Rama clearly articulates that Sita is as unacceptable as the lamp’s light. If there is a problem with the eyesight, how can the lamp be faulted. In the same way, Rama hints that he is unable to express Sita’s chastity to the world (and needs her help to make the case).

Paramatma is the sole refuge, Sita demonstrates this by willingly jumping into the fire. When Paramatma himself abandons us (impossible scenario, except when our ego puts a huge wall to part us from him), there is no alternative.

To understand the real reason let us employ another verse from Bhagavad Gita (4-8), where Krishna assures that to protect the good, destroy the one with terrible deeds and to re-establish the roots of dharma he will appear again and again in different yugas.

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्‌ । धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥ 

Ravana was the bad guy, Rama came to protect others from. The Rishis were the good for whom this avatara was for. Then what is the dharma, Rama is trying to protect. Rama was offered the throne by Bharata, even Kaikeyi who said she will retract her boon, yet Rama chose to abide by the last words that bound Dasaratha.

यः ते मन्त्र क्ऱ्तः पाणिर् अग्नौ पापे मया ध्ऱ्तः | तम् त्यजामि स्वजम् चैव तव पुत्रम् सह त्वया || (2-14-18)

The Real reason for Agnipariksha

Dasaratha abandons Kaikeyi and Bharata, owing to extreme heartbreak caused by the cashing of boons by Kaikeyi and his extreme attachment to Rama. Rama loves Kaikeyi just as he does Kausalya, despite her one instance of causing grief to all. Rama avatara will be incomplete if he failed to restore this impossible predicament as Dasaratha is no more to retract his words. Yet without protecting the good ones, Rama’s very purpose of coming down will be questionable. A lot of dharma will be compromised, including extreme injustice towards Bharata, who is still living like an ashramite, remaining at a krosha distance from Ayodhya, to establish Rama’s rule through his sandals. Also, Dasaratha’s desire to have seen Rama in his death bed remained unfulfilled, who is also the only person that can certify if the exile terms were completed per his terms.

Rama never likes to be indebted. We see the extremes he goes to gratify Jatayu’s sacrifice by doing obsequies and treated the bird as his own father. This aspect is also evident in many other cases. At the end of the war with Ravana, Rama is saddled with the burden of all the injured and dead vanaras’ extreme sacrifice. Rama has no way to resolve this in a human form.

Rama is sitting on a veritable time bomb. He has to reach Nandigrama in person in the next couple of days. Obviously he doesn’t have time to do penance to please the Devas and make his superhuman tasks into a reality. He deploys another technique. When dharma gets shocked like Tataka crossing the line of feminity and motherhood, an avatara appears to set the imbalance right. Naturally when an avatara gives even the appearance of transgressing dharma, the shock brings all the lokapalas and devas to plead their case.

 Rama, it appears, seems to be using the entire episode of casting aspersions on Sita to divert our attention from the superhuman events happening. On one hand, Sita seems to be getting some sort of retribution for her caustic words towards Lakshmana, on the other the entire drama is lopsided. Rama seems to still be brutish in his treatment towards Sita. While in the end, it is Rama who is held holding the blame of mistreating Sita, the average reader misses the entire backdrop of Agnipariksha. Mired under the tamasic veil, one finds it hard to rise above the face value of the episode. 

Just as Shiva resorted to consuming Halahala poison for the welfare of others, Rama uses the pretext of others who can potentially question Sita’s virtues, even if it be baseless. Rama’s words shock Sita who feels Agnipariksha is the only way to prove her virtues. Rama assumes a very stern posture that scares everyone to even make an utterance.

हि रामं तदा कश्चित्कालान्तकयमोपमम् | अनुनेतुमथो वक्तुं द्रष्टुं वा प्यशकत्सुहृत् || (6-116-22)

            During Narasimha avatara, Bhagwan assumes not only a fearsome form, but also remained in fury seeing the troubles his devout bhakta, Prahlada, had to endure. (Read more in Follow this child – Part 3 on Prahlada). The Devas unable to handle the fury deployed Prahlada to calm him. In Ramayana, unable to see the inexplicable anger (we later see it was feigned), the Devas lead by Brahma and Shiva appear on the scene, along with the departed ancestors of Rama.

            Brahma tries to get a clue by approaching Rama with a question that how Rama, the all knower and the maker of the cosmos, chose to ignore Sita falling into the fire? Rama gives not only a clear hint, but also the solution he desires from the assembled illustrious audience. He declares he is a human being, son of Dasaratha and desires to listen about his real nature from Brahma himself. Since the Devas were not bound like Bhagwan in human form, he also indirectly communicates his desires that need to happen.

आत्मानं मानुषं मन्ये रामं दशरथात्मजम् ||  सोऽहं यस्य यतश्चाहं भगवंस्तद्ब्रवीतु मे | (6-117-11)

            As soon as Brahma sings glory about Rama’s true nature, Agni bhagwan raises Sita in her full glory, comes to her defense and instructs Rama not to even harbor a negative doubt on Sita’s character or virtues. We know from Sundarakanda that it was Sita who protects Hanuman’s tail that was set on fire and that the fire could not enter Ashokavana due to Sita’s piety. 

            Rama gives a lengthy response only from a human point of view that he did not doubt Sita, but it was done for establishing her purity to the three worlds.

अनन्यहृदयां भक्तां मचत्तपरिवर्तिनीम् | अहमप्यवगच्छामि मैथिलीं जनकात्मजाम् || (6-118-15)

He affirms strongly that there is no difference between Sita and himself, just as there is no difference between the Sun and Sunlight.  अनन्या हि मया सीता भास्करेण प्रभा यथा || (6-118-19). We can quickly recall despite the stern feigned face of Rama, his head drops in deep sorrow with teary eyes, when Sita jumps into the pyre and his choice of word Bhadre to address Sita. He thanks the Devas as a human would for their salutary advice given and promises to oblige.

            Shiva who seems to have understood Rama’s heart, points Rama to Dasaratha and seek his blessings. Dasratha’s pain on having sent Rama to exile is still afresh, despite the joy of having seen him again. Dasaratha expresses his desire to see Rama as the next King and reunite with the virtuous Bharata.  Rama’s first words were a request to be gracious to Kaikeyi and Bharata. कुरु प्रसादं धर्मज्ञ कैकेय्या भरतस्य || (6-119-25) He pleads Dasaratha to retract his words of disowning Kaikeyi and Bharata, to which Dasaratha obliges. If Rama did not shock the Universe of disowning Sita, even though it was a cruel drama enacted, Rama could have never fulfilled Dasaratha’s desire to see Rama or to revoke the curse of Dasaratha’s words at Kaikeyi and Bharata. Dasaratha’s latest words also give his approval that the exile was completed to his promise and that Rama was no longer bound by those stipulations. Dasaratha clarifies to Sita that Rama’s repudiation was to put the spotlight on her virtuosity and her feat of using fire to demonstrate has only added to her purity. He requests Sita not to have bitterness in this regard.

            Indra comes forward to personally thank Rama’s blessing of eradicating Ravana and his cohorts, asks Rama to seek a blessing in return. Rama seeks the lives of all Vanaras to be restored to their former selves for their wondrous deeds of sacrifice.  मम हेतोः पराक्रान्ता ये गता यमसादनम् | ते सर्वे जीवितं प्राप्य समुत्तिष्ठन्तु वानराः || (6-120-5) He also wanted the injured to heal and all of them to have संपन्नबलपौरुषान् - augmented vigor. It is interesting to note that this may be very unnatural, so he keeps repeating this request with the hint that “NO” is not an acceptable response. Indra is delighted to thank Rama by fulfilling his desire.

            To put the Devas, who can carry out his desires that need superhuman powers to fulfill, Rama along with Sita willingly place themselves into a bind that is so terrible for the world to watch. The lesson we can learn is for ultimate noble cause, an ultimate sacrifice may be necessary. To this day, we are bogged in a debate if Rama was misogynistic or patriarchal in his behavior, in a classic display of our extreme foolishness and ignorance about the subtlety of Rama’s footsteps, firmly rooted in dharma.  If we are still mired about the merit of Agnipariksha, then we have not understood the level of sacrifice both Rama and Sita have done to protect dharma and the good.

            May our hearts be purified by the fire of Sattva that emerges by the constant thinking of the lotus feet of Rama.

Om Tat Sat

Monday, October 15, 2018

Rama's love for Sita - Agnipariksha 2

            Having taken a peek at Rama’s character, now let us engage in taking a glimpse at Rama’s love for Sita.

Rama’s love for Sita exudes throughout Ramayana, yet it gets masked beautifully by the different rasas narrated by Valmiki. Unearthing this love and showcasing it will enable us to realize the magnitude of Rama’s love for Sita and the horrible blunder one can make in even thinking of questioning it by applying overtones of his doubt on her character. The biggest fallacy one can make is to consider Rama and Sita are separate. One of Bhagwan’s name is Srinivas, which implies Narayana is inseparable from Lakshmi. He is identified even in pralaya (cosmic dissolution) by her presence, according to SriVaishnava tradition. Yet for the purposes of our understanding, let us follow this spatio-temporal separation.

            Rama is known to be a mithabashi, one who speaks very little, taciturn. Yet the most he is captured speaking in Valmiki Ramayana is trying to prevent Sita from going along with him to the forest. He labors at length, trying to reason with her at the perils of a forest life. By the same token, he barely does raise so many objections for Lakshmana’s desire to accompany. He merely checks for his sincerity to come. 

            During the conversation, he declares to Sita that like the Self created Brahma, he is fearless. Yet when he sees Sita in grief, he does not even desire Svarga.

देवि तव दुह्खेन स्वर्गम् अपि अभिरोचये | हि मे अस्ति भयम् किंचित् स्वयम्भोर् इव सर्वतः || (2-30-27)

Though he approves her to accompany, he repeatedly expresses his displeasure to take her to forest and subject her to the vagaries of life in it. 

मम सन्ना मतिः सीते त्वाम् नेतुम् दण्डकावनम् |(2-30-39)

He keeps reiterating his love for her by declaring that even svarga without Sita is unacceptable to him. (नेदानीम् त्वदृते सीते स्वर्गोऽपि मम रोचते || (2-30-42)

Rama and Sita shared an ideal marital relationship. Sita had the complete liberty to be herself. Shortly after visiting Maharishi Suteekshana, she plays the role of a minister by reminding of his promise to wipe the asuras and not to merely spend all the time in peaceful forest life amidst the wondrous rishis.

         Rama declares that he is willing to even forego his own life, even Lakshmana and Sita, but never go back on his promise, especially the ones he had given to the Brahmanas (rishis in this case) 

अपि अहम् जीवितम् जह्याम् त्वाम् वा सीते लक्ष्मणाम् || (3-10-18b)
तु प्रतिज्ञाम् संश्रुत्य ब्राह्मणेभ्यो विशेषतः |
He is quick to assure Sita’s place in the pecking order as even above his own life. Since Sita is an ardent follower of dharma and always wants to ensure Rama’s dharmic adherence, Rama is very happy to note that Sita is loftier than his life.  सधर्म चारिणी मे त्वम् प्राणेभ्यो अपि गरीयसी || (3-10-21)

Rama being a devoted husband is very protective of Sita, especially against sinister elements. We see this during Viraadha’s episode (Read more in How Rama’s opponents saw him). Rama declares the grief of others touching Sita (without her approval) was paramount and more than seeing the demise of his father or the loss of his kingdom. 

पर स्पर्शात् तु वैदेह्या दुःखतरम् अस्ति मे | पितुर् विनाशात् सौमित्रे स्व राज्य हरणात् तथा || (3-2-21)

Rama is willing to even entertain a chat with Shoorpanaka, a rakshasi (read more in How female opponents saw Rama), but the minute he saw Sita’s life in danger, asks Lakshmana to defend her. As if Rama remembered the Viraadha episode in conjunction with his conversation with Sita about his sworn duty to protect the rishis, he is eager to prove his prowess. During his war with Khara and Dhushana he takes them on single handedly and destroys them in a brief time, yet ensures Sita is far away in a cave with Lakshmana. The episode was also to instill hope to Sita which will help her tide the upcoming abduction and separation episode. Pleasing Sita was Rama’s prime desire. We see that was the reason why Mareecha was able to tantalize Sita into tricking her as a golden deer.

Rama’s lamentation continues for more sargas than any other single idea in Ramayana. While it is very heart wrenching to read the outbursts of Rama, one cannot help note the deep love he has for Sita. He thunders to Lakshmana that unless Devas restore Sita to him immediately, he will make the Universe devoid of Devas and Asuras. His wrath knows no limits. A world devoid of Sita is a good reason for him to chastise the entire Universe, though he had deduced the abduction was the act of a single asura.

It is critical to make note of this episode of Rama’s fury, as it takes Lakshmana’s reasoning to save the Universe from Rama’s arrows.

The plight of Sita, her love for Rama and the grief she was willing to subject herself to honor her love for Rama is very evident. But even the most casual reader of the text cannot help notice the deep pining of Rama and his constant lamentations. Even the most beautiful scenery on the shores of Pampa lake only adds fuel to Rama’s misery while they were looking for Sugreeva.

When Rama meets Sugreeva to form a pact of friendship, he brings the jewelry thrown at him by Sita. He shares it with Rama, who falls on the ground wailing. Rama hints to the mortally wounded Vaali why he cannot take his help though he was superior to Sugreeva in combat. (Read Subtle Dharma behind Vaali vadam). At the heels of his coronation, Sugreeva’s hedonistic lifestyle, ignoring the promise made to Rama and the anguish of Sita’s separation was ripping Rama’s heart, yet, he never wavers from dharma. Rama sends a strong message through Lakshmana, besides amply cautioning his brother to not lose his temper. Rama sets an example of how to identify the correct resource for the task when he not only chose Hanuman, but also gave him his signet ring and other information to be relayed to Sita. This only highlights that Rama was so centered on dharma that despite the emotions that went through him, it never affected his actions.

Rama’s love for Sita is very intense. When Hanuman brings the news of Sita’s discovery along with her message to give up her life in a month’s time, Rama wonders that Sita may be very strong as she can live without his presence for a month. He pines that he cannot even live without Sita for a moment. (चिरम् जीवति वैदेही यदि मासम् धरिष्यति | क्षणम् सौम्य न जीवेयम् विना ताम् असित ईक्षणाम् || (5-66-10)

Despite all the sorrow, when the news of Sita’s presence in Lanka was announced by Hanuman, Rama wastes not a moment. At the next auspicious hour, he orders the troops to head to the coast. Rama tries to please Saagara by his three night prayers. His extreme love for Sita and the time she gave Rama to rescue her evaporating made him extremely furious. He was willing to dry up the oceans, if that was the only option to reach Lanka with his army. Again Saagara had to come in person, provide a proper acceptable solution.

As a part of the extreme psychological warfare unleashed on Sita and Rama-Lakshmana, Indrajit, Ravana’s son, kills a maya Sita in front of Hanuman. When the most reliable Hanuman himself got tricked, he carried the news to Rama, who faints. It takes Vibhishana a herculean task to get Rama out of the boundless sorrow of the imagined Sita’s death. This happens only few days prior to meeting Sita. If Rama’s heart was harboring doubts as alleged by scholars who never read Ramayana or the ones bent on misinterpreting, they will have to explain how the doubt came in a few days amidst a terrible battle. Doubting is a mindset that is a virtual antithesis of Rama’s deep love for Sita.

It is interesting that both Rama and Sita at different junctures conclude that they both are undergoing the terrible times owing to the past bad karmas. While Rama deems himself as a blameworthy wrongdoer second to none, Sita repents for her past actions (against Lakshmana?). In case of Rama, we cannot find anything odd he has ever done to go through such terrible times. For Paramathma, his actions are mere divine play and only he can illumine why he chose to do things in a certain way. But in case of Sita, the message we gather is very different. Everyone, especially the exemplary people in the society, must adhere to very high standards of dharma. Even justifiable scenarios cannot be a pretext to waver from dharma.

Rama’s love for Sita is supreme, yet his adherence to dharma, even if it be at his own cost seems to be a virtue he exemplifies.  We see this in the methods he deploys to find partners to search, methods to search, lead an army and even on the battlefield. Dharma adherence of this caliber happens only when one goes beyond selfishness. We must recall Janaka’s words at the time of Sita’s panigrihhana -  इयम् सीता मम सुता सह धर्म चरी तव || (1-73-26) . Rama’s firm interest and love in Sita is rooted in her being the epitome of dharma paripalana

            If Rama is dharma personified (vigrahavan dharma) the Sita is dharma through actions. Rama is more than aware of this fact; hence he seems very incomplete in the absence of Sita. This is not to be misinterpreted that his love was only because Sita was the highest representative of dharma, but because there is no difference between Rama and Sita as they are the highest embodiment of dharma. Nothing can be more absurd than holding on to the hallucination that Rama doubted Sita

            This point gets self evident from Lakshmana’s words in Ayodhya Kanda, where Rama tries to persuade Lakshmana to return to Ayodhya with Sumantra. Lakshmana makes a passionate plea that neither Sita nor he will be able to live for a muhurta if separated from Rama, just as a fish cannot live without water.

सीता त्वया हीना अहम् अपि राघव | मुहूर्तम् अपि जीवावो जलान् मत्स्याव् इव उद्धृतौ || (2-53-31)

            This clearly is enough evidence that Sita and Rama are one principle, but embodied as two beings. Lakshmana is eager to include himself into the equation of Rama-Sita to highlight his love for Rama.

We will uncover more in our final insight into Understanding Agnipariksha.

Om Tat Sat