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January 30, 2010

Agni Pariksha

I have been trying to find a good rational explanation for ages and the ones that were made did not make any sense to me.

Do you agree that in Ramayana, Rama was right in putting Sita through Agni Pariksha to prove her chastity after defeating Ravana? Couldn’t he trust his wife’s words that she protected herself from getting harmed from Ravana?
Though I am aware of the various explanations that have been put forward like the Sita kidnapped by Ravana was an “image of Sita” and not her and when she passed through the burning flame, the ‘real’ Sita returned.  Also that it was necessary for Sita to pass through the Agni Pariksha to prove her purity.

I don’t quite agree with it coz when it’s taken in context with the common man. Does it mean that a man who does not trust his wife can make her go through a test to prove her faithfulness?  I know the times were different but the issue of trust is interpreted differently not they way I think most of will do.

On top of that, after clearing the “Agni Pariksha” and going back to Ayodha, she is again send on a second exile when a common man says that he is not great enough like Lord Rama to accept his wife who had lived in another man’s house.

There are various interpretations of the decision taken by Rama to send Sita on exile.  One of them is that he took the decision as a king and not as a husband.  What I fail to understand is why no attempt was made to make the public understand about the purity of Sita and that she was not unchaste as it was made out to be?  Does it not send the message across that if a man thinks that his wife is unchaste he can throw her out of the house especially without proving whether it was indeed the case?

Remember the public opinion is not always right.  If it’s the king duty to look after his people then it’s also his duty to remove any misconceptions that arose within the public.
If one looks from Sita’s point of view, she ended up losing her husband and paid for the crime of abduction by Ravana.  It’s no surprise that she took refuge in Dharti mata when Rama came to take her back to Ayodha in case fingers were pointed at her again…

P.S.:  If anyone has better explanation, I am all ears.


Anonymous said...

I don't have a better explanation..I completely agree with you.
With all due respect to the epic, I feel that Sita passed that unnecessary Agni Pariksha, but was so insulted by it, that she asked to be taken back into the earth which she came from...In other words she chose to leave her doubting husband!

Nice choice of topic Survivor! :)

V Rakesh said...

For me, to put someone through the test is a sin, a sin since it questions trust!

But then, maybe that was how trust evolved too!

blunt edges said...

ram could have conducted a loyalty test on sita (emotional athyachar style) ;)

Himanshu Sharma said...

It is not a matter of unchaste-ness , but rather chasteness . The idea you are presenting is in many ways linked to the fact that women are considered an epitome of purity , chasteness and truth in India . So to protect that image , Sita had to take the test .
Now the question "Why was Sita the one loosing everything ? "
Your rights very strongly imply your duties . Why did Ram go and save her , he had no obligation , but he did . Because he married her and loved her , so it was his duty to protect her .
Same with Sita , she enjoyed the marital life and the respect from Ram . "He even saved her " .So to go back to Ram , she had to prove that she is chaste . If she wouldn't have , then probably it would put the whole women-kind's chastity in danger .

Anonymous said...

Although there are some voices that justify the agni-pariksha, a vast majority of Hindus see it as wrong. When Ramayana was being shown on the TV, the viewers wanted Ramayana to end at Sita, Ram and Lakshman's return to Ayodhya.

This is the beauty of Hinduism... that we can make such observations.

Ram is considered an ideal man, but not an ideal husband. Girls all over India pray for a husband like Shiva, not a husband like Ram.

"The most powerful indictment, however, comes from the people of Mithila, the region which is the parental homeland of Sita. We are told that Sita's being is part of the very consciousness of Mithila; she is all pervasive in the land, in the water, and in the air of Mithila. "Her pain sits like a heavy stone on the hearts of Mithila's people.

This sentiment comes through numerous folk songs of the region."


"Even today, people of Mithila avoid marrying off their daughters in Marg-Shish because that is the month Sita got married. Even today, people of Mithila do not want to marry their daughters into families living in Avadh, in fact anywhere west of Mithila.

They repeatedly recite Sita's name in marriage songs but Ram's name is omitted.
At the end of the song there is usually one line which says "'such like Sita was married into Raghukul [the family name of Ram]'" (Dalmia, 1986)10 .

There is a beautiful folk song of Mithila ... in which a daughter tells her father what kind of a groom he should find for her. After describing various qualities she is looking for, the daughter advises her father: "Go search in the north, go south, or get me a groom from the east. But don't go westward,"

"Ram may not have rejected her as a wife but only as a queen in deference to social opinion, but Sita rejects him as a husband. In Kalidasa's Raghuvansha, after her banishment by Ram, Sita does not address Ram as Aryaputra (a term for husband that literally translates as son of my father-in-law) but refers to him as 'King' instead. For instance, when Lakshman comes to her with Ram's message, she conveys her rejection of him as her husband in the following words: "Tell the king on my behalf that even after finding me pure after the fire ordeal he had in your presence, now you have chosen to leave me because of public slander. Do you think it is befitting the noble family in which you were born?" (Kalidasa)3

His rejection of Sita is almost universally condemned while her rejection of him is held up as an example of supreme dignity...

Here's the link. http://www.ninapaley.com/Sitayana/Manushi_YesSitaNoRam.html

Anonymous said...

Have you seen 'Sita sings the blues'? I have added a link to the movie on my blog. It's available on You Tube too.

Adisha said...

Well, my take on it is Kind of different. Honstely, till a few months back I was of the same opinion.

But recently I got the thinking it from another perspective.

Sita went through the agnipariksha.There is No question that Rama's decision on the agni pariksha and the subsequent exile was wrong.

Which goes to show that when even God's in human form are prone to make mistakes then us humans are also destined to do the same and by learning the lesson avoid the same pitfalls.

Sita lost her throne/kingdom but she was happy with her sons for so many years, whereas Rama lived as a king distraut over the loss of his wife, upset as a person. A woman needs nothing but her family so was it really Sita who suffered?

I think these lessons are what the epic claims to prove. For every story, may not be perfect but an ideal story has a moral in every chapter. :)

I hope to hear your comments on my thoughts as well .

The Survivor said...

@ Choco

Thanks Choco.

@ Rakesh

May be...

I agree that putting someone to test their loyalties is not fair. Better to ask than finding the truth from any other ways.

The Survivor said...

@ Blunt Edges

That would have made one hell of a episode.

@ Himanshu

Welcome to LIFE

I would have to disagree.

First of all, Sita was abducted and she did not willingly went with Ravana. So where does the talk of chasteness comes if you are kept captive against your will?

Then there is also a scenario of what Ram would have done if Sita had not clear the agni parikshaa. Was Sita to be held liable for the acts of Ravana when she was under captivity?

Rama had an obligation, the same way he was responsible towards his other family members.

Proving her faithfulness still led her into second exile, so the test did not proved be useful in anyways.

The Survivor said...


I agree with your points

No not yet seen the movie, but will try to watch it.

@ Adisha

You do make a point there but tell me how many people do actually think that way and accept that the decision was a wrong one?

Most of the people accept them as right as they are considered to be one of our holy epics and therefore don't question the decision.

How would you know that Sita was happy with her sons and did not missed her husband? :)

Everyone loves to have a complete family and I believe god in mortal forms too.

Rashmi said...

I recently came to know about the theory that the woman who was abducted by Ravana was not Sita but Indra in her form.

And if Sita went with Ravana after he was exiled because she was her wife and it was her duty to do so, couldne Rama also have done the same when he banished her as a king?

Wasnt it his duty towards her as her husband? I mean, if he acted like a king by banishing her based on what a commoner commented about Sita, he should have handed over the Kingdom to one of his brothers and gone with her.

He had some duties as a husband too..

again when he found Sita agian, he was willing to take his sons back but refused to take her.

Lots of controversies in both the RAmayana and the Mahabharata

and good insights provided by Indianhomeker above

Tripat "Prerna" said...

this is called love blind love which means to love ur beloved without expectationssss...

wonderfully expressed


The Survivor said...

@ Rashmi

He had that choice or perhaps he did not think of it as he already made his choice.

What about me? Mine not good enough :)

@ Prerna

Welcome to LIFE

Not quite sure how blind love fits into the debate.

Thanks for the kind words.

Winnie the poohi said...

Well am of the opinion.. if Sita was sullied when she was under abduction.. its Rama who was to blame.. after all he couldnt protect his wife.. how can the kingdom expect him to protect them?

The Survivor said...

@ Meenu

I agree but guess the people back then did not think of it.