Much has been spoken about Rama asking Sita to perform Agni Pariksha in Ramayana. Turns out, it’s a misconception build up in a systematic strategic way to show Rama in bad light, may be. We must understand that facts stated wrongfully may either be a mistake or a distortion. I shall stick with latter, which led to various misconceptions, not to forget, the disconnection of various past generations, our fore-fathers.
Before we move forward, a disclaimer, this wonderful and well researched piece is by Nayonika Vats, an examination of past, manipulations in Ramayana.
A response to Devdutt Patnaik’s article “Why Rama Was A Misogynist, but not Buddha”.
What “makes” educated women consider a man who burnt his wife as a Bhagwan/role model?
As your premise is wrong, hence your conclusion is way off the cliff.
There are two ways of looking it. If you’re NOT a believer then you should NOT believe in a fairytale that a “Superwomen” enter into the fire without getting hurt. As you are NOT a believer so logic dictate that you should scrap the whole episode as hogwash. Since you are citing supernatural imaginary story to deride Rama and at the same time you are a disbeliever. Your position is contradictory. Your contradiction cues perfidy. Your perfidy confirms that you have an AGENDA.
Your internal contradiction and false dichotomy is enough evidence to deduce the only logical inference that you’re a LIAR with an agenda.
You have three ONLINE TRANSLATION of Valmiki Ramayana.
I couldn’t get to find your fantasy anywhere. The perfidy of people like you in Journalism and politics like baffle me. How can you be so dishonest?
Clearly, thou hast NOT readst Valmiki Ramayana. Nowhere in Valmiki Ramayana Lord Rama commanded Sita to jump in fire. I will stop writing if you back your position with evidence. Now I’m about to discuss the Fire Trial from Valmiki Ramayana. This is for the believer and ardent Hindu, I URGE disbeliever NOT to waste your time. Go play in your so called science lab.
Valmiki had enough described about every question we probably can have and dealt them with great detail. People who talk without even looking into what has actually happened criticize Rama and get away from Sita’s mercy. Let’s not be a part of that mob and try to spread wisdom to everyone with whatever truth we know. Now lemma explain the episode of Agni Pariksha but let me take you back to sunderkand before explaining it. Ramayana OR any historical literary sources are like Jigsaw puzzle. Each episode in isolation conveys very little. Together they make you understand the real meat of the source.
When Hanuman’s tail was lit, the rakshasas started displaying him in the streets of lanka. Sita heard the news and prayed to agni like this.
“yadyasti pati susrUshA yadyasti charitam tapah yadivAtyEkapatnItvam sItO bhava hanUmatah yadi kinchidanukrOsastasya mayyasti dhImatah yadivA bhAgyasEshOme sIto bhava hanUmatah yadi maam vritta sampannAm tvam samAgama lAlasaam savijAnAti dharmAtmA sIto bhava hanUmatah”
The last sentence in bold means:
If dharmatma Rama knows that I am chaste, sIlavati and am waiting for his arrival, then O agnideva stay cold to hanuman.
And due to this satya vachana, agni stayed cold to hanuman. That’s when hanuman found that agni was not burning him, he understood that,
This is the greatness of Sita who is the teja of Rama.
After he burnt lanka, he turned back and saw the whole lanka in fire and got disheartened that Sita might got caught in fire. Again he thought for a second and said to himself convincingly that,
Sita herself is an agni who can save herself with her brilliance. How could agni burn agni
There is a reason all these incidents should be known before going to the final incident. One, we will have complete understanding of the dharma in Ramayana. Second, we will know a lot more than concentrating on one incident.
Sita did agni pravesh voluntarily to die. Reasons will come later. The incident finally became agni pariksha. Important thing is Rama never told in words to Sita to prove her chastity with agni parIksha.
Kaikeyi’s first wish was that Rama has to go to forest 14 years and not Lakshmana and Sita. Dasharatha never said this with his mouth that Rama has to go to forest. It is not pitru vakya pAlana that Rama did. It is pitru satya pAlana. Then he took permission from his mother though she was reluctant first. He then came to Sita and told her that this is all what happened and he has to go to forest immediately. Rama tells her to live the 14 years serving the elders and practicing penance. Sita says she will come with him and serve him in the forest. But Rama objects and says forest is very dangerous and she would have a hard time there. Sita persists and start crying for his behavior.
It is very lengthy but I am trying to summarize it.
Then Rama says,
If you cry, even swarga is not pleasing to me.
Even though I am capable of protecting you in forest, its not good to order you to come to forest with me without knowing your strong opinion.
This is required because, already the world has criticized Rama very well for his deeds towards Sita in the name of women abuse, but Rama has at every place tried to show Sita’s greatness and after every incident Valmiki reveals the reason lucidly.
Finally orders her as,
Now O Sita, come along with me and become my dharma chArini.
Thats all Rama says.
But Sita herself says something which clarifies this. It is now that the Agnipariksha takes place, when Sita says in grief,
King’s dharma is very rigid.
You have shown me the grief one tapasvI would feel when penetrated with such sharp words. I have said the same to lakshmana when he was relucant to go when mArIcha came as the golden deer and imitated your voice. Then she orders Lakshmana to set up fire. Before going into fire, she says to Rama, I wold like to say only one word. You and me are not different as the sun and his light. Then she walked towards the fire.
Valmiki then explains the state of Rama for the grief he had and Sita’s hurt feelings which left her no reason to live.
Rama who was dharmAtma closed his eyes and drops were flowing out.
Sita has now entered agni. All the devathas along with brahma and shiva came there. They say,
You being the protector of all the worlds, who is the uplifter of dharma, how can you suspect Sita like a common man?
Then Rama says,
I think I am Rama, a human, son of Dasharatha. Its better you all tell me who I am.
Then all the devathas recite a sthotra called Rama sthotra in his glory. There are two great sthotras in yuddha kanda, one Aditya hridayam and two Rama sthotram. Both are considered very divine like Bhagavad Gita which is a part of the bhishma parva of Mahabharata. At the end of this Rama sthotra they also decalre that who ever will recite this sthotra will be victorious in every deed they do.
Then agni comes to Rama and asks Rama for rescue. He was unable to sustain Sita and says that he is an indhanAgni, an agni which burns on some fuel (indhan). She is unindhanAgni. She is an agni which doesn’t need any fuel. Agni could not bear Sita as her brilliance was destroying agni’s brilliance.
Agni then confesses this,
not with words, manas, mind, vision Sita would never behave irrelated to Rama.
If Ravana had taken her away, its his misconduct, but Sita’s manas always belonged to Rama.
O Rama Sita does not have a single sin on her part. So accpet Sita who is so very pure in her conduct.
This was agni’s confession. Agni is considered the sakshi for all the truth. Here agni himself confessed her to be pure.
When Agni said this Rama was greatly delighted. His state here was explained by Valmiki as,
Rama who is a dharmatma had eyes which were delighted with joy.
Then Rama declared in front of everyone his opinion on Sita and the reason for his deed.
For sure Sita is very pure. If I accept her directly the world would say
Rama being blind with desire has accepted Sita who has a doubtful character.
So I have explored Sita and showed the truth to the world. I know Agni cannot harm her.
Sita can protect herself from agni with her brilliance.
These are the same words Hanuman uses in Sundara Kanda when he thought Sita might have got caught in fire and then convinces himself that Sita can protect herself.
Now Sita has been proved to the three worlds to be pure.
I havent said Sita to do this. But Sita understanding my intentions did this. Sita herself is a great fire and no fire can approach her to burn.
I cant live without Sita.
This is the love and affection he had towards Sita. These are the words Rama says to everybody who stood there.
“EtatchritvA subham vAkyam rAghavEnApi bhAshitam tatham subhataram vAkyam yAjahAra mahEshwarah”
When Rama said these ‘Shubha Vakya’ Lord Shiva says further ‘Shubhataram Vakya’.
O Rama with great chest and arms, you have thought very well and did a great deed.
Lord shiva certified Rama’s action to be absolutely perfect.
Then Sita stood by Rama’s side and they both shone with great brilliance.
Nayonika says, “I owe my mentors, Sri Rama and Mallikarjun Vallem, for my understanding of Valmiki Ramayana.”