Sita

Sita (pronounced [ˈsiː t̪aː] listen , Sanskrit: सीता, IAST: Sītā) or Seeta, is the consort of Lord Rama (incarnation of Vishnu and Krishna[6]) and an avatar of Sri Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of good character, good fortune, prosperity, success, and happiness. She is esteemed as the paragon of spousal and feminine virtues for all women.[7]

Sita is the central female character and one of the central figures in the Hindu epic, Ramayana. She is described as the daughter of the earth goddess, Bhūmi and the adopted daughter of King Janaka of Videha and his wife, Queen Sunaina. She has a younger sister, Urmila, and the female cousins Mandavi and Shrutakirti.[8][9] Sita is known for her dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity.

Sita, in her youth, is married off to Lord Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. After marriage, she accompanies her husband, along with her brother-in-law Lakshmana, in his exile. While in exile, the trio settles in the Dandaka forest from where she is abducted by Ravana, the Rakshasa king of Lanka. She is imprisoned in Ashoka Vatika in Lanka until she is rescued by Rama, who slays her captor. After the war, in some versions of the epic, Rama asks Sita to undergo Agni Pariksha (an ordeal of fire) by which she proves her purity before she is accepted by Rama, which for the first time makes his brother Lakshmana get angry at him.

In some versions of the epic, the fire-god Agni creates Maya Sita, who takes Sita's place and is abducted by Ravana and suffers his captivity, while the real Sita hides in the fire. During the Agni Pariksha, Maya Sita and the real Sita exchange places again. While some texts say that Maya Sita is destroyed in the flames of Agni Pariksha, others narrate how she is blessed and reborn as the epic heroine Draupadi or the goddess Padmavati. Some scriptures also mention her previous birth being Vedavati, a woman Ravana tries to molest. After proving her purity, Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya, where they are crowned as king and queen. After a few months, Sita becomes pregnant, to which a washerman makes insensitive comments on Sita to his wife, which Rama in disguise hears. Rama then sends Sita away on exile. Lakshmana is the one who leaves Sita in the forests near sage Valmiki's ashram. Years later, Sita returns to the womb of her mother, the Earth, for release from a cruel world as a testimony of her purity after she reunites her two sons Kusha and Lava with their father Rama.[10]

Sita
Sitas Exile by Raja Ravi Varma (1848 - 1906)
Sita in exile by Raja Ravi Varma.
AffiliationAvatar of Lakshmi, Devi, Panchakanya
TextsRamayana
FestivalsSita Navami, Janaki Jayanti, Vivaha Panchami, Diwali, Dussehra
Personal information
Born
Either present-day Sitamarhi district,[1][2][3] Bihar, India or Janakpur,[4][5] present-day Nepal (both the places were part of the Mithila Kingdom)
ConsortRama
ChildrenLava
Kusha
Parents
  • Janaka (father)
  • Sunaina (mother)
SiblingsUrmila (sister)
Mandavi (cousin)
Shrutakirti (cousin)
DynastyVideha (by birth)
Raghuvanshi-Ikshvaku-Suryavanshi (by marriage)

Etymology and other names

Indischer Maler von 1780 001
Rama and Sita in the forest by an Indian painter from 1780

The goddess is best known by the name "Sita", derived from the Sanskrit word sīta, furrow.[11]

According to Ramayana, Janaka found her while ploughing as a part of a yagna and adopted her. The word Sīta was a poetic term, its imagery redolent of fecundity and the many blessings coming from settled agriculture. The Sita of the Ramayana may have been named after a more ancient Vedic goddess Sita, who is mentioned once in the Rigveda as an earth goddess who blesses the land with good crops. In the Vedic period, she was one of the goddesses associated with fertility. A Vedic hymn (Rig Veda 4:57) recites:

Auspicious Sita, come thou near;

We venerate and worship thee
That thou mayst bless and prosper us
And bring us fruits abundantly.

In Harivamsa, Sita is invoked as one of the names of the goddess Arya:

O goddess, you are the altar's center in the sacrifice,

The priest's fee
Sita to those who hold the plough
And Earth to all living being.

The Kausik-sutra and the Paraskara-sutra associate her repeatedly as the wife of Parjanya (a god associated with rains) and Indra.[11]

Sita is known by many epithets. She is called Jānaki as the daughter of Janaka and Maithili as the princess of Mithila.[12] As the wife of Rama, she is called Ramā. Her father Janaka had earned the sobriquet Videha due to his ability to transcend body consciousness; Sita is therefore also known as Vaidehi.[12]

Devi Sita while playing with her sisters in childhood had unknowingly lifted the table over which the bow had been placed; this was something that no one in Mithila could do. This incident was however observed by Janaka and he decided to make it a backdrop for Swayamvara because he wanted a son-in-law who was as strong as his daughter. [13]

Legend

Birth

Rama, Sita, Lakshmana
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana

The birthplace of Sita is disputed.[14] The Sita Kund[1] pilgrimage site which is located in present-day Sitamarhi district,[2][3]Bihar, India is viewed as the birthplace of Sita. Apart from Sitamarhi, Janakpur which is located in the present-day Province No. 2, Nepal,[4][5] is also described as Sita's birthplace.

  • Valmiki's Ramayana: In Valmiki's Ramayana and Kamban's Tamil epic Ramavataram, Sita is said to have been discovered in a furrow in a ploughed field, believed to be Sitamarhi in Mithila region of present-day Bihar, and for that reason is regarded as a daughter of Bhūmi Devi[15] (the goddess earth). She was discovered, adopted and brought up by Janaka, king of Mithila and his wife Sunaina.
  • Ramayana Manjari: In Ramayana Manjari (verses 344–366), North-western and Bengal recensions of Valmiki Ramayana, it has been described as on hearing a voice from the sky and then seeing Menaka, Janaka expresses his wish to obtain a child and when he finds the child, he hears the same voice again telling him the infant is his spiritual child, born of Menaka.[16]
  • Janka's real daughter: In Ramopkhyana of the Mahabharata and also in Paumachariya of Vimala Suri, Sita has been depicted as Janaka's real daughter. According to Rev. Fr. Camille Bulcke, this motif that Sita was the real daughter of Janaka, as described in Ramopkhyana Mahabharata was based on the authentic version of Valmiki Ramayana. Later the story of Sita miraculously appearing in a furrow was inserted in Valmiki Ramayana.[16]
  • Reincarnation of Vedavati: Some versions of the Ramayana suggest that Sita was a reincarnation of Vedavati. Ravana tried to molest Vedavati and her chastity was sullied beyond Ravana's redemption when she was performing penance to become consort of Vishnu. Vedavati immolated herself on a pyre to escape Ravana's lust, vowing to return in another age and be the cause of Ravana's destruction. She was duly reborn as Sita.[16]
  • Reincarnation of Manivati: According to Gunabhadra's Uttara Purana of the ninth century BCE, Ravana disturbs the asceticism of Manivati, daughter of Amitavega of Alkapuri and she pledges to take revenge on Ravana. Manivati is later reborn as the daughter of Ravana and Mandodari. But, astrologers predict the ruin of Ravana because of this child. So, Ravana orders to kill the child. Manivati is placed in a casket and buried in the ground of Mithila where she is discovered by some of the farmers of the kingdom. Then Janka, king of that state adopts her.[16]
  • Ravana's daughter: In Sanghadasa's Jaina version of Ramayana and also in Adbhuta Ramayana, Sita, entitled Vasudevahindi, is born as the daughter of Ravana. According to this version, astrologers predict that first child of Vidyadhara Maya (Ravana's wife) will destroy his lineage. Thus, Ravana abandons her and orders the infant to be buried in a distant land where she is later discovered and adopted by Janaka.[16]

Marriage

Rama breaking the bow to win Sita as wife
Rama breaks the bow to win Sita as wife.

When Sita reaches adulthood, Janaka organizes a Swayamvara in Janakpurdham with the condition that Sita would marry only that person who would be able to string Pinaka, the bow of the god Shiva. Janaka knew that the bow of Shiva was not even liftable, let alone stringable for ordinary mortals, and for selfish people it was not even approachable. Thus, Janaka tries to find the best husband for Sita.

At this time, Vishvamitra had brought Rama and his brother Lakshmana to the forest for the protection of sacrifice. Hearing about this swayamvara, Vishvamitra asks Rama to participate in it and takes Rama and Lakshmana to the palace of Janaka in Janakpur. Janaka is greatly pleased to learn that Rama and Lakshmana are sons of Dasharatha. Next morning, in the middle of the hall, Rama lifts up the bow of Shiva with his left hand, fastens the string tightly and finally breaks the bow. However, another avatar of Vishnu, Parashurama, became really angry as the bow of Shiva was broken. However, he does not realize that Rama is also an avatar of Vishnu, therefore after being informed of this, he apologizes for getting angry. Thus, Rama fulfills Janaka's condition to marry Sita. Later on Vivaha Panchami, a marriage ceremony is conducted under the guidance of Satananda. Rama marries Sita, Bharata marries Mandavi, Lakshmana marries Urmila and Shatrughna marries Shrutakirti.[9]

Exile and abduction

Ravi Varma-Ravana Sita Jathayu
Ravana cuts off Jatayu's wing while abducting Sita

Some time after the wedding, Kaikeyi, Rama's stepmother, compelled Dasharatha to make Bharata king, prompted by the coaxing of her maid Manthara, and forced Rama to leave Ayodhya and spend a period of exile in the forests of Dandaka and later Panchavati. Sita and Lakshmana willingly renounced the comforts of the palace and joined Rama in exile. The Panchavati forest became the scene for Sita's abduction by Ravana, King of Lanka. Ravana kidnapped Sita, disguising himself as a mendicant, while Rama was away fetching a golden deer to please her. Some versions of the Ramayana describe Sita taking refuge with the fire-god Agni, while Maya Sita, her illusionary double, is kidnapped by the demon-king. Jatayu, the vulture-king, tried to protect Sita but Ravana chopped off his wings. Jatayu survived long enough to inform Rama of what had happened.[17]

Hanuman Encounters Sita in Ashokavana
Hanuman finds Sita in Ashokavana

Ravana took her back to his kingdom in Lanka and Sita was held as a prisoner in one of his palaces. During her captivity for a year in Lanka, Ravana expressed his desire for her; however, Sita refused his advances and struggled to maintain her chastity. Hanuman was sent by Rama to seek Sita and eventually succeeded in discovering Sita's whereabouts. Sita gave Hanuman her jewellery and asked him to give it to her husband. Hanuman returned across the sea to Rama.[17]

Sita was finally rescued by Rama, who waged a war to defeat Ravana. Upon rescue, Rama makes Sita undergo a trial by fire to prove her chastity. In some versions of Ramayana, during this test the fire-god Agni appears in front of Rama and attests to Sita's purity, or hands over to him the real Sita and declares it was Maya Sita who was abducted by Ravana.[17] The Thai version of the Ramayana, however, tells of Sita walking on the fire, of her own accord, to feel clean, as opposed to jumping in it. She is not burnt, and the coals turn to lotuses.

Abandonment and later life

The couple came back to Ayodhya, where Rama was crowned king with Sita by his side.

While Rama's trust and affection for Sita never wavered, it soon became evident that some people in Ayodhya could not accept Sita's long captivity under Ravana. During Rama's period of rule, an intemperate washerman, while berating his wayward wife, declared that he was "no pusillanimous Rama who would take his wife back after she had lived in the house of another man". This statement was reported back to Rama, who knew that the accusation against Sita was baseless. Nevertheless, he would not let slander undermine his rule, so he sent Sita away.

Thus Sita was forced into exile a second time. Sita, who was pregnant, was given refuge in the hermitage of Valmiki, where she delivered twin sons named Kusha and Lava.[9] In the hermitage, Sita raised her sons alone, as a single mother.[18] They grew up to be valiant and intelligent and were eventually united with their father. Once she had witnessed the acceptance of her children by Rama, Sita sought final refuge in the arms of her mother Bhūmi. Hearing her plea for release from an unjust world and from a life that had rarely been happy, the Earth dramatically split open; Bhūmi appeared and took Sita away.

Sita's exile during her pregnancy was because of a curse during her childhood[19]. According to Padma-puran, Sita had caught a pair of birds when she was young. The birds were talking about story of Sri Ram heard in Valmiki ashram which intrigued Sita. She has the ability to talk with animals. The female bird was pregnant at that time. She requested Sita to let her go but Sita only allowed her male companion to fly away. As a result, the bird cursed Sita that she would suffer a similar fate of being separated from her husband during pregnancy. The male bird was reborn as the washerman.

Sita test fires

Sita's fire test

Sita Bhum Pravesh

Sita returns to her mother, the Earth, as Sri Rama, her sons, and the sages watch in astonishment.

Rama and sita in pavilion

Rama and Sita from Uttara-Kanda.

Speeches in the Ramayana

Ramayana - Marriage of Rama Bharata Lakshmana and Shatrughna
The marriage of the four sons of Dasharatha with the four daughters of Siradhvaja and Kushadhvaja Janakas. Rama and Sita, Lakshmana and Urmila, Bharata and Mandavi and Shatrughna with Shrutakirti.

While the Ramayana mostly concentrates on Rama's actions, Sita also speaks many times during the exile. The first time is in the town of Chitrakuta where she narrates an ancient story to Rama, whereby Rama promises to Sita that he will never kill anybody without provocation.

The second time Sita is shown talking prominently is when she speaks to Ravana. Ravana has come to her in the form of a mendicant and Sita tells him that he does not look like one.

Some of her most prominent speeches are with Hanuman when he reaches Lanka. Hanuman wants an immediate union of Rama and Sita and thus he proposes to Sita to ride on his back. Sita refuses as she does not want to run away like a thief; instead she wants her husband Rama to come and defeat Ravana to save her. [20]

Jain version

Hanuman before Rama
Rama seated with Sita, fanned by Lakshmana, while Hanuman pays his respects

Sita is said to be the daughter of Ravana's queen Mandodari. It was predicted that the first child of Mandodari would bring annihilation to the family. Hence, Ravana deserted the child when she was born. The minister who was responsible for this took her in a pearl-box, placed her near a plough and told King Janaka of Mithila that the girl had been born from the furrow. Janaka's queen Sunaina became Sita's foster mother.

There is also a narration about Sita's brother Bhamandala. He did not know that Sita was his sister and wanted to marry her. He even wanted to abduct her. This story ends when Bhamandala, after learning that Sita is his sister, becomes a Jain ascetic.

Symbolism

Hermitage of Valmiki, Folio from the "Nadaun" Ramayana (Adventures of Rama) LACMA AC1999.127.45
Sita in the hermitage of Valmiki

A female deity of agricultural fertility by the name Sita was known before Valmiki's Ramayana, but was overshadowed by better-known goddesses associated with fertility. According to Ramayana, Sita was discovered in a furrow when Janaka was ploughing. Since Janaka was a king, it is likely that ploughing was part of a royal ritual to ensure fertility of the land. Sita is considered to be a child of Mother Earth, produced by union between the king and the land. Sita is a personification of Earth's fertility, abundance, and well-being.

Swami Vivekananda on Sita

Valmiki train Lava Kushas in Art of Archery
Valmiki training Lava Kusha (sons of Rama & Sita) in the art of archery.

Swami Vivekananda states that Rama is considered the type of the Absolute and Sita that of Power. Sita is the ideal of a woman in India and worshiped as God incarnate.[21]

According to Swami Vivekananda, Sita is typical of India – the idealized India. Swami Vivekananda assured that if world literature of the past and world literature of the future were thoroughly exhausted, yet, it would not be possible to find another Sita, because Sita is unique; the character was depicted once for all. Swami Vivekananda felt there may have been several Ramas, perhaps, but never more than one Sita.

Vivekananda said:

All our mythology may vanish, even our Vedas may depart and our Sanskrit language may vanish forever, but so long as there will be five Hindus living here, even if only seeking the most vulgar patois, there will be the story of Sita present.

Sita was a true Indian by nature, Vivekananda concluded, who never returned injury.[22]

Portrayal

Srisita ram laxman hanuman manor
Deities Sita (far right), Rama (center), Lakshmana (far left) and Hanuman (below, seated) at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Watford, England

Hindu tradition reveres Sita. She has been portrayed as an ideal daughter, an ideal wife and an ideal mother in various texts, stories, illustrations, movies, and modern media. Sita is often worshipped with Rama as his consort. The occasion of her marriage to Rama is celebrated as Vivaha Panchami.

The actions, reactions, and instincts manifested by Sita at every juncture in a long and arduous life are deemed exemplary. Her story has been portrayed in the book Sitayanam.[23] The values that she enshrined and adhered to at every point in the course of a demanding life are the values of womanly virtue held sacred by countless generations of Nepalese and Indians.

Her portrayal as an ideal queen is ambiguous. Her sacrifices and actions are most often portrayed in her personal capacity and not as a governance figure. Sita was abducted because she had to step out of the safety line to give alms to Ravana disguised as a Brahmin. The giving of alms to Brahmin in those times was more of a duty to be performed, rather than an optional charitable act. This held true more so for the royals and they were to lead by example. Also, the incident of Sita's refusal to come back with Hanuman like a common thief, her renunciation of queenhood and exile from Ayodhya after her return. All her key aspects are shown in a favourable light, not as a head of state, but as an ideal woman. In contrast, Sri Rama is always portrayed as a fair and just king who gave the highest priority to the good of his people, in addition to being depicted as an ideal husband and an ideal son.

Temples

Although Sita's statue is always kept with Rama's statue in Rama temples, there are some temples dedicated to Sita:

Janki Mandir

Janaki Mandir of Janakpur, Nepal is a center of pilgrimage where the wedding of Sri Rama and Sita took place and is re-enacted yearly as Vivaha Panchami.

LK-seetha-amman-kovil-01

Seetha Amman Kovil, Nähe Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b "Hot spring hot spot - Fair begins on Magh full moon's day". www.telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Sitamarhi". Britannica. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "History of Sitamarhi". Official site of Sitamarhi district. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Narendra Modi Cancells his visit to Sita's birthplace Janakpur, Nepal".
  5. ^ a b "Birthplace of Sita in Janakpur, Asia Travels".
  6. ^ "Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 9 Chapter 10 Verse 2". Bhaktivedanta Vedabase A Treasure of Spiritual Knowledge.
  7. ^ "Sita, Hindu Deity and incarnation of Lakshmi". Michigan State University. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  8. ^ Sutherland, Sally J. "Sita and Draupadi, Aggressive Behavior and Female Role-Models in the Sanskrit Epics" (PDF). University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Swami Parmeshwaranand (1 January 2001). Encyclopaedic Dictionaries of Puranas. Sarup & Sons. pp. 1210–1220. ISBN 978-81-7625-226-3. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  10. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 78.
  11. ^ a b Suresh Chandra (1998). Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Sarup & Sons. pp. 304–. ISBN 978-81-7625-039-9. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  12. ^ a b Heidi Rika Maria Pauwels (2007). Indian Literature and Popular Cinema: Recasting Classics. Routledge. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-0-415-44741-6. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  13. ^ "https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/wittyfeed+india-epaper-witty/12+mythological+facts+about+sita+that+most+of+us+don+t+know-newsid-72197999"
  14. ^ "Bihar times". Archived from the original on 19 October 2014.
  15. ^ "The Story of Mother Sita the consort of Rama". Salagram.net. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  16. ^ a b c d e Singaravelu, S (1982). "Sītā's Birth and Parentage in the Rāma Story". Asian Folklore Studies. University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 41 (2): 235–240. doi:10.2307/1178126. JSTOR 1178126.
  17. ^ a b c Mani pp. 720-3; Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia: a Comprehensive Dictionary with Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8426-0822-0.
  18. ^ Bhargava, Anju P. "Contemporary Influence of Sita by". The Infinity Foundation. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  19. ^ "Padma-puran pdf file" (PDF). 1 October 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  20. ^ Valmiki, Ramayana. "Sundarkanda, sarga 37". www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in. IIT Kanpur.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 4/Lectures and Discourses/The Ramayana
  23. ^ "Sitayanam – A Woman's Journey of Strength" by Anju P. Bhargava Archived 1 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine

References

External links

Alluri Sitarama Raju

Alluri Sitarama Raju (born circa 1897-98 - 7 May 1924) was an Indian revolutionary involved in the Indian independence movement. After the passing of the 1882 Madras Forest Act, its restrictions on the free movement of tribal people in the forest prevented them from engaging in their traditional podu agricultural system, which involved shifting cultivation. Raju led the Rampa Rebellion of 1922–24, during which a band of tribal people and other sympathisers fought in the border areas of the East Godavari and Visakhapatnam regions of Madras Presidency, in present-day Andhra Pradesh, against the British Raj, which had passed the law. He was referred to as "Manyam Veerudu" ("Hero of the Jungle") by the local people.

Harnessing some aspects of the earlier non-cooperation movement and taking advantage of his own reputation among the tribal people, Raju led raids on police stations in and around Chintapalle, Rampachodavaram, Dammanapalli, Krishna Devi Peta, Rajavommangi, Addateegala, Narsipatnam and Annavaram. With his followers, he stole guns and ammunition and killed several British police officers, including two near Dammanapalli. Raju was eventually trapped by the British in the forests of Chintapalle, then tied to a tree and was executed by gunfire in Koyyuru village. His tomb is in Krishna Devi Peta village.

Hanuman

In Hinduism, Hanuman (; Sanskrit: हनुमान्, IAST: Hanumān) is an ardent devotee of Rama. Lord Hanuman, known as the Lord of Celibacy was an ideal "Brahmachari" or called Naistika Brahmachari in Sanskrit and is one of the central characters of the Indian epic Ramayana . As one of the Chiranjivi, he is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the Mahabharata and the various Puranas. Hanuman is the son of Anjani and Kesari and is also son of the wind-god Pawan, who according to several stories, played a role in his Avatar.If yoga is the ability to control one's mind then Hanuman is the quintessential yogi having a perfect mastery over his senses, achieved through a disciplined lifestyle tempered by the twin streams of celibacy and selfless devotion (bhakti). In fact, Hanuman is the ideal Brahmachari (one who follows the path of Brahma), if ever there was one.

He is also a perfect karma yogi since he performs his actions with detachment, acting as an instrument of destiny rather than being impelled by any selfish motive.

While Hanuman is one of the central characters in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, the evidence of devotional worship to him is missing in the texts and archeological sites of ancient and most of the medieval period. According to Philip Lutgendorf, an American Indologist known for his studies on Hanuman, the theological significance and devotional dedication to Hanuman emerged about 1,000 years after the composition of the Ramayana, in the 2nd millennium CE, after the arrival of Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent. Bhakti movement saints such as Samarth Ramdas expressed Hanuman as a symbol of nationalism and resistance to persecution. In the modern era, his iconography and temples have been increasingly common. He is viewed as the ideal combination of "strength, heroic initiative and assertive excellence" and "loving, emotional devotion to his personal god Rama", as Shakti and Bhakti. In later literature, he has been the patron god of martial arts such as wrestling, acrobatics, as well as meditation and diligent scholarship. He symbolizes the human excellences of inner self-control, faith and service to a cause, hidden behind the first impressions of a being who looks like an Ape-Man Vanara.Hanuman is stated by scholars to be the inspiration for the allegory-filled adventures of a monkey hero in the Xiyouji (Journey to the West) – the great Chinese poetic novel influenced by the travels of Buddhist monk Xuanzang (602–664 CE) to India.

Janaka

Janaka was an ancient king of Videha, approximately in the 8th or 7th century BCE,. The rulers of the Videha kingdom were all called Janakas. He later appears as a character in the Ramayana. His original name was Seeradhwaja & he had a brother name Kushadhwaja. His father name Hroshhoroma. King Nimi was the first ruler of Videha kingdom. Then king Mithi, supposed the name Mithila came after him. His son king Janaka(1st), he was the first janaka. Then after three successor came king Devraat and after Devraat the 15th successor was Hroshhoroma.

Janaka is revered as being an ideal example of non-attachment to material possessions. He was intensely interested in spiritual discourse and considered himself free from worldly illusions. His interactions with sages and seekers such as Ashtavakra and Sulabha are recorded in ancient texts. His relationship with adopted daughter Sita led her to be called Janaki Mata. The city of Janakpur (a sub-metropolitan city in Dhanusa District of Province No. 2 of Nepal ) is named for him and daughter Sita. The Videha (or Mithila) kingdom was located between east of Gandaki River, west of Mahananda River, north of Ganga river and south of Himalayas.

Lakshmana

Lakshmana (Sanskrit: लक्ष्मण, IAST: lakṣmaṇa, lit. he who has the signs of fortune), also spelled as Laxman or Lakhan, is the younger brother of Rama and his aide in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. He is also known by other names- Saumitra ( IAST: saumitra, lit. son of Sumitra), Ramanuja ( IAST: rāmānuja, lit. younger brother of Rama) and Bharatanuja ( IAST: bharatānuja, lit. younger brother of Bharata) or Laxman.

Lakshmana is the twin brother of Shatrughna. According to the Valmiki Ramayana, Lakshmana is one quarter (25%) component of the manifestation of Lord Vishnu and is considered to be an avatar of Vishnu. However some puranas of later times regard him as the avatar of Shesha, the thousand-headed serpent associated with Lord Vishnu.

Lakshmana rekha

Lakshmana Rekha (Sanskrit: लक्ष्मण रेखा), in some later versions of Ramayana, is a line drawn by Lakshmana around the dwelling he shares with his brother Rama and Rama's wife Sita at Panchavati in the forest of Dandakaranya which now part of the city of Nashik in Maharashtra. The line is meant to protect Sita, while he is away searching for Rama. Ramacharitamanas, the popular North Indian rendering of story of Rama, does not feature the Lakshmana Rekha story in the Aranya Kanda. Neither does the original, the Valmiki Ramayana. However, in Lanka Kanda of the Ramcharitmanas, (35.1) Mandodari rebukes Ravana on his boisterous claims of valour by hinting that his claim of strength and valour is shallow for he could not even cross a small line drawn by Shri Rama's younger brother Lakshmana.

In the story, Rama goes chasing a golden deer (which actually is the Rakshasa Maricha in disguise), and does not return for a long time. When Sita coerces Lakshmana to leave in search of his brother, Lakshmana who cannot bear to see Sita cry in grief, reluctantly decides to go and search for Rama, subject to his condition that Sita not cross the protective line he draws. Anybody other than Rama, Sita and himself attempting to cross the line would be singed by flames erupting from the line.

Once Lakshmana leaves in search of Rama, the Rakshasa king Ravana comes in the form of a mendicant and asks Sita for alms. Not expecting a trick, she unsuspectingly crosses the Lakshmana Rekha to provide alms to him and Ravana kidnaps her in his Pushpaka Vimana.

Radhey Shyam Ramayan mentions that the crossing of Lakshamana Rekha by Sita was done absent-mindedly by an anxious Sita only to honour the great Indian tradition of "अतिथि देवो भवः" (Atithi Devo Bhava): the guest is embodiment of a Deva (divine entity). Sita crosses the boundary line only to give alms to Ravana once he insists that alms cannot be accepted across a barrier as having a boundary in between was against the principle of free will of the donor.

Mandodari

Mandodari (Sanskrit: मंदोदरी Mandodarī, lit. "soft-bellied";) was the queen consort of Ravana, the king of Lanka, according to the Hindu epic Ramayana. The Ramayana describes Mandodari as beautiful, pious, and righteous. She is extolled as one of the Panchakanya ("Five Girls"), the recital of whose names is believed to dispel sin.

Mandodari was the daughter of Mayasura, the King of the Asuras (demons), and the apsara (celestial nymphs) Hema. Mandodari bears three sons: Meghanada (Indrajit), Atikaya, and Akshayakumara. According to some Ramayana adaptations, Mandodari is also the mother of Rama's wife Sita, who is infamously kidnapped by Ravana. Despite her husband's faults, Mandodari loves him and advises him to follow the path of righteousness. Mandodari repeatedly advises Ravana to return Sita to Rama, but her advice falls on deaf ears. Her love and loyalty to Ravana are praised in the Ramayana.

Different versions of the Ramayana record her ill-treatment at the hands of Rama's monkey generals. Some versions say they disturb a sacrifice by Ravana, and some that they destroy her chastity, which was the last protection for Ravana's life. Hanuman tricks her into disclosing the location of a magical arrow which Rama uses to kill Ravana.

Maricha

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Maricha, or Mareecha (Sanskrit: मारीच, IAST: Mārīca, Indonesian: Marica, Malay: Martanja, Tamil: மாரீசன், Thai: มารีจ, Mareet) is a rakshasa (demon), who is killed by Rama, the hero of the epic and an avatar of God Vishnu. He is mentioned as an ally of Ravana, the antagonist of the epic. His most notable exploit is his role in the kidnapping of Sita, Rama's wife. His son Kalanemi was killed by Hanuman.

Cursed to be a rakshasa along with his mother Tataka and brother Subahu, Maricha initially led his life terrorizing sages. He was defeated by Rama at the behest of the sage Vishvamitra. He tried again to kill Rama, but had to run for his life again. Ultimately, Maricha assumed the form of a golden deer and helped Ravana kidnap Sita.

Maya Sita

In some adaptations of the Hindu epic Ramayana, Maya Sita (Sanskrit: माया सीता, "illusional Sita") or Chaya Sita (छाया सीता, "shadow Sita") is the illusionary duplicate of the goddess Sita (the heroine of the texts), who is abducted by the demon-king Ravana of Lanka instead of the real Sita.

In the Ramayana, Sita – the consort of Rama (the prince of Ayodhya and an avatar of the god Vishnu) – is seized by Ravana and imprisoned in Lanka, until she is rescued by Rama, who slays her captor. Sita undergoes Agni Pariksha (an ordeal of fire) by which she proves her chastity before she is accepted by Rama. In some versions of the epic, the fire-god Agni creates Maya Sita, who takes Sita's place and is abducted by Ravana and suffers his captivity, while the real Sita hides in the fire. At Agni Pariksha, Maya Sita and the real Sita exchange places again. While some texts mention that Maya Sita is destroyed in the flames of Agni Pariksha, others narrate how she is blessed and reborn as the epic heroine Draupadi or the goddess Padmavati. Some scriptures also mention her previous birth being Vedavati, a woman Ravana tries to molest.

The Maya Sita motif saves Sita – the chief goddess of Rama-centric sects – from falling prey to Ravana's plot of abduction and safeguards her purity. Similar doubles or surrogates of Sita and other goddesses are found in various tales of Hindu mythology.

Nashik

Nashik ( also called as Nasik (listen)) is an ancient holy city in the northern region of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Situated on the banks of river Godavari, Nasik is well known for being one of Hindu pilgrimage sites, that of Kumbh Mela which is held every 12 years. It is the third largest city in Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune. Mumbai-Nashik-Pune forms a golden triangle in Maharashtra.

The city located about 190 km north of state capital Mumbai, is called the "Wine Capital of India" as half of India’s vineyards and wineries are located in Nashik.

Radha

Radha (Sanskrit: राधा, IAST: Rādhā), also called Radhika, Radharani, Radhe, Shyama, and Priya, is a Hindu goddess popular in Hinduism, especially in the Vaishnavism tradition. She is said to be the head of the milkmaids as Pradhan Gopika (chief amongst all gopis) (also called the gopis or Braj Gopikas) who resided in Braj Dham. She is the power potency of the supreme personality of Godhead Para Brahman, who is Shri Krishna according to Vaishnavite, and some specific translations of Bhagawatam and Padma Purana. She is the personification of pure devotional service unto sri krishna (bhakti devi). She is thought of as the supreme Goddess in her own right and celebrated on the festive day of Radhastami.

She is also called Vrindavaneshwari (Queen of the Sri Vrindavan Dham). She appeared as queen of milkmaids and queen of Vrindavan-Barsana. She taught selfless love and surrender to the Godhead Shri Krishna. She is considered the supreme goddess in Vaishnavism. Rasik sants have mentioned her as a descension of the Supreme Goddess, Source of the Infinite Lakshmi and the original form of Yogmaya and Allhadini Shakti (Power of Divine Love) which is main Power of the Godhead Shree Krishna. She and her consort Krishna are collectively known as Radha Krishna, the combined form of feminine as well as the masculine realities of God. Lord Krishna often underwent various kinds of "leelas" with Her.

Radha is worshipped in some regions of India, particularly by Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Vaishnavas in West Bengal, Bangladesh Manipur, and Odisha. Elsewhere, she is revered in the Nimbarka Sampradaya and movements linked to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.Shreemati Radharani ji is considered a metaphor for the human spirit (aatma), her love and longing for Prabhu Shree Krishna ji is theologically viewed as symbolic of the human quest for spiritual growth and union with the divine. She has inspired numerous literary works, and her Rasa lila dance with Krishna has inspired many types of performance arts till this day. She is said to be incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and Krishna is her husband Lord Vishnu's incarnation as per some texts.

Rama

Rama or Ram (; Sanskrit: राम, IAST: Rāma), also known as Ramachandra, is a major deity of Hinduism. He is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna and Gautama Buddha. In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Being.Rama was born to Kaushalya and Dasharatha in Ayodhya, the ruler of the Kingdom of Kosala. His siblings included Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna. He married Sita. Though born in a royal family, their life is described in the Hindu texts as one challenged by unexpected changes such as an exile into impoverished and difficult circumstances, ethical questions and moral dilemmas. Of all their travails, the most notable is the kidnapping of Sita by demon-king Ravana, followed by the determined and epic efforts of Rama and Lakshmana to gain her freedom and destroy the evil Ravana against great odds. The entire life story of Rama, Sita and their companions allegorically discusses duties, rights and social responsibilities of an individual. It illustrates dharma and dharmic living through model characters.Rama is especially important to Vaishnavism. He is the central figure of the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, a text historically popular in the South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. His ancient legends have attracted bhasya (commentaries) and extensive secondary literature and inspired performance arts. Two such texts, for example, are the Adhyatma Ramayana – a spiritual and theological treatise considered foundational by Ramanandi monasteries, and the Ramcharitmanas – a popular treatise that inspires thousands of Ramlila festival performances during autumn every year in India.Rama legends are also found in the texts of Jainism and Buddhism, though he is sometimes called Pauma or Padma in these texts, and their details vary significantly from the Hindu versions.

Ramayana

Ramayana (; Sanskrit: रामायणम्, Rāmāyaṇam [ɽaːˈmaːjɐɳɐm]) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahābhārata. Along with the Mahābhārata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa.

The epic, traditionally ascribed to the Rishi Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, the legendary prince of the Kosala Kingdom. It follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest by his father King Dasharatha, on request of his step-mother Kaikeyi. His travels across forests in India with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of his wife by Ravana, the great king of Lanka, resulting in a war with him, and Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king is the crux of the epic.

There have been many attempts to unravel the epic's historical growth and compositional layers; various recent scholars' estimates for the earliest stage of the text range from the 7th to 4th centuries BCE, with later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE.The Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. It consists of nearly 24,000 verses (mostly set in the Shloka meter), divided into seven Kandas and about 500 sargas (chapters). In Hindu tradition, it is considered to be the adi-kavya (first poem). It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king. Ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like Mahabharata, Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman, and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of the South Asian nations of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the South-East Asian countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain adaptations. There are also Cambodian, Indonesian, Filipino, Thai, Lao, Burmese, and Malaysian versions of the tale.

Ramcharitmanas

Ramcharitmanas (Devanāgarī: श्रीरामचरितमानस, IAST: ŚrīRāmacaritamānasa), is an epic poem in the Awadhi dialect of Hindi, composed by the 16th-century Indian bhakti poet Goswami Tulsidas (c. 1532–1623). Ramcharitmanas literally means "Lake of the deeds of Rama". Ramcharitmanas is considered one of the greatest works of Hindi literature. The work has variously been acclaimed as "the living sum of Indian culture", "the tallest tree in the magic garden of medieval Indian poetry", "the greatest book of all devotional literature" and "the best and most trustworthy guide to the popular living faith of the Indian people".

Tulsidas (the Sanskrit name of Tulsidas can be transliterated in two ways. Using the IAST transliteration scheme, the name is written as Tulasīdāsa, as pronounced in Sanskrit. Using the Hunterian transliteration scheme, it is written as Tulsidas or Tulsīdās, as pronounced in Hindi). Tulsidas was a great scholar of Sanskrit. However, he wanted the story of Rama to be accessible to the general public and not just the Sanskrit-speaking elite. In order to make the story of Rama as accessible to the layman as to the scholar, Tulsidas chose to write in Awadhi, a dialect of Hindi which was the language of general parlance in large parts of north India at the time. Tradition has it that Tulsidas had to face a lot of criticism from the Sanskrit scholars of Varanasi for being a bhasha (vernacular) poet. However, Tulsidas remained steadfast in his resolve to simplify the knowledge contained in the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Puranas to the common people. Subsequently, his work was accepted by all.

Ramcharitmanas, made available the story of Rama to the common man to sing, meditate and perform on. Ironically, when he wrote it, Tulsi was ostracized by Hindu fundamentalists (then represented by local priests) for having "corrupted" an epic written in Sanskrit. The writing of Ramcharitmanas also heralded many a cultural tradition, most significantly that of the tradition of Ramlila, the dramatic enactment of the text. Ramcharitmanas is considered by many as a work belonging to the Saguna school of the Bhakti movement in Hindi literature.

Sarama (Ramayana)

In the Ramayana, Sarama (Sanskrit: सरमा, Saramā) is the wife of Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana, the demon (rakshasa) king of Lanka. Sometimes, she is described a rakshasi (demoness), at other times, she is said to have gandharva (celestial dancers) lineage. All accounts agree that Sarama was friendly to Sita, the consort of Rama (the prince of Ayodhya and an avatar of the god Vishnu), who was kidnapped by Ravana and imprisoned in Lanka. Like her husband who sides with Rama in the war against Ravana, Sarama is kind to Sita and aids Rama. Sarama and Vibhishana had a daughter called Trijata.

Sita Mai Temple

The Sītā Māī Temple is an ancient structure situated in the village of Sitamai in the Karnal district of Haryana in North India. It is at a distance of 19 kilometers from Nilokheri and lies on one of the alternative routes available to travel between Karnal and Kaithal. This is perhaps the only temple in the whole of India outside United States of Nepal that is solely dedicated to the Nepali Hindu Goddess Sita, the divine consort of Rama of Ayodhya.

Sita Ram Goel

Sita Ram Goel (16 October 1921 – 3 December 2003) was an Indian religious and political activist, writer, and publisher in the late twentieth century. He had Marxist leanings during the 1940s, but later became an outspoken anti-communist and also wrote extensively on the damage to Indian culture and heritage wrought by expansionist Islam and missionary activities of Christianity. In his later career he emerged as a commentator on Indian politics, and adhered to Hindu nationalism.

Siya Ke Ram

Siya Ke Ram (English: Sita's Ram) is an Indian historical-drama epic TV series on Star Plus produced by Nikhil Sinha under the banner of Triangle Film Company. This show presents the epic Ramayana, the story of Rama and Devi Sita through Sita's perspective. The show features Ashish Sharma and Madirakshi Mundle playing as Lord Rama and Lady Sita respectively and Karthik Jayaram as Raavan. It aired on Star Plus. The show was telecast in several languages in India and abroad including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the UK as well as parts of the Middle East. Also aired on Star Utsav as Ramleela - Divya Gatha Siya Aur Ram Ki and on Vijay Super as Seedhayin Raaman and is currently re-runs on Star Bharat from 5 August 2018 in Sundays from7pm to 8pm.

Trijata

Trijata (Sanskrit: त्रिजटा, IAST: Trijaṭā) is a rakshasi (demoness) in the Ramayana who is assigned the duty of guarding the kidnapped princess and goddess Sita, Sita, the consort of Rama (the prince of Ayodhya and an avatar of the god Vishnu), has been abducted by Ravana of Lanka, a demon king whom Trijata serves.

In the Ramayana, Trijata appears as a wise old rakshasi, who dreams of Ravana's destruction and Rama's victory. She accompanies Sita on a survey of the battlefield of the war between Rama and Ravana, and reassures Sita of Rama's well-being when Sita sees her husband unconscious and presumes him dead. In later Ramayana adaptations, Trijata becomes the daughter of Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana who sides with Rama. She plays a much greater role in later versions, especially Southeast Asian ones.

Barring a few exceptions where Trijata is cast as Ravana's agent, she is generally portrayed as a friend and loyal companion of Sita in her adversity. On numerous occasions, she offers solace to Sita and brings news from the outside world; she also dissuades Sita from committing suicide. After Rama's victory and Ravana's death, Trijata is richly rewarded by Sita and Rama. While some Ramayana adaptations mention her being a devotee of Rama, Southeast Asian versions often depict her as the wife of Rama's monkey general Hanuman, whom she bears a son. She is worshipped as a local goddess in Varanasi and Ujjain; both in India.

Valmiki

Valmiki (; Sanskrit: वाल्मीकि, Vālmīki) is celebrated as the harbinger-poet in Sanskrit literature. The epic Ramayana, dated variously from 5th century BCE to first century BCE, is attributed to him, based on the attribution in the text itself. He is revered as Ādi Kavi, the first poet, author of Ramayana, the first epic poem.

Ramayana, originally written by Valmiki, consists of 24,000 shlokas and 7 cantos (kaṇḍas) including Uttara Kanda. Ramayana is composed of about 480,002 words, being a quarter of the length of the full text of the Mahabharata or about four times the length of the Iliad. The Ramayana tells the story of a prince, Rama of the city of Ayodhya in the Kingdom of Kosala, whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, the demon-king (Rakshasa) of Lanka. The Valmiki Ramayana is dated variously from 500 BCE to 100 BCE or about co-eval with early versions of the Mahabharata. As with many traditional epics, it has gone through a process of interpolations and redactions, making it impossible to date accurately.

British satirist Aubrey Menen says that Valmiki was, "recognized as a literary genius," and thus was considered, "an outlaw," presumably because of his, "philosophic scepticism," as part of an "Indian Enlightenment" period. Valmiki is also quoted to be the contemporary of Rama. Menen claims Valmiki is, "the first author in all history to bring himself into his own composition." Rama met Valmiki during his period of exile and interacted with him. Valmiki gave shelter to Sita in his hermitage when Rama banished her. Kusha and Lava, the twin sons of Shri Rama were born to Sita in this hermitage. Valmiki taught Ramayana to Kusha and Lava, who later sang the divine story in Ayodhya during the Ashwamedha yajna congregation, to the pleasure of the audience, whereupon, King Rama questioned who they were and later visited Valmiki's hermitage to confirm if Sita, the two children claimed as their mother was in fact his wife in exile. Later, he summoned them to his royal palace. Kusha and Lava sang the story of Rama there and Rama confirmed that whatever had been sung by these two children was entirely true.

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