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SITA & SHAKTI
Sri Sita Jayanti: April 11
What is Shakti? It is the feminine power or energy which prevades the Universe. Frank Morales writes, " She is the heat of fire, the brilliance of the sun, the very life force of all living beings. She is the power of intelligence, compassion and divine love." Shakti is a great, wonderful power! She is found in all women and also in men.
Many individuals admire Mother Sita. Yet those same individuals may not think of her in connection with Shakti because they believe she was passive and was submissive to her husband. Yet if you look at her life, you will see she often did not agree with him and she used her Shakti to effect many events in their lives. In many ways she is like our own mothers.
She is a great goddess and the whole story centered on what happened to her. Because of her actions, the story ended very differently than if Ram had no Sita in his life. Ram could not have accomplished any thing without Shakti of Mother Sita because Shakti is the power behind every thing in the Universe.
Sita's whole life shows her Shakti. As a child she accomplished what few strong men could do. The Sage Parashurama visited King Janaka, her father, and the sage transported an unusual, heavy bow which he placed right outside the palace, near the royal hall. Sita saw the bow and started to play with it. He said to her father, "My dear king, only a great, and strong person can wed this girl of such capacity!" This was the Bow of Shiva, which is so heavy that no ordinary person can lift it, let alone play with it. Only an Avatar can lift it without help.
At her Svayamvara Ceremony years later, she chose Ram because he could lift it. Only her consort, or her equal, would be worthy enough to marry her. In marriage we find our equal. One of Hinduism's greatest strengths in ancient times was its ceremony in which the woman choose the husband. If women did this today in India, they would be highly valued. India might also be more prosperous and have less poverty. When womankind is valued, she is educated and respected. Unfortunately Indian girls today are aborted by some families because of their sex. Women are murdered by some family members because of greed in connection with dowries. This is a sad commentary on how a society loses its matriarchial roots. With more women leaders, the Indian government would become less corrupt, more ecological and fair to all. Women are the embodiment of the Mother Principle. They bring the upliftment of society and social progress.
Sita also insists on accompanying Ram to the forest, despite his own belief she was too fragile to survive in that environment. She loved him and did not want to be separated from him. In ancient times in India (and still today in some places) a woman took care of her mother-in-law. If her husband was travelling or worked elsewhere, she was required to stay and help the mother-in-law with household tasks. Sita did not bow to social convention in this situation. Sita convinced Ram to let her go to the forest with him and his brother, Lakshman.
She asks Ram to chase the golden deer, despite his misgivings. She also insisted that Hanuman let Ram save her even though Hanuman had the ability to sneak her out of Ravana's Garden. So she was a very important actress in the whole Ramayana story.
In many ways she is the stronger, more courageous one. Ram believed in social convention even though he knew she was faithful to him. He listened to the hearsay of his people and asked her to leave him and go into the forest. Agni came out of the flames and attested to her faithfulness and yet she is the one not believed by his people. This is what many of us women face daily. Our thoughts, opinions and actions are not respected on the same level as men's opinions, thoughts and actions. We are told we are way off when we are using our inner knowing, which is a superior form of knowing. It's women who truly have changed society for the better. We are the ones who have brought social progress and creative thought to the world.
At the end of her sojourn on Earth, she invokes her mother Bhumi Devi, Goddess of the Earth, before the people to show her faithfulness to Ram. Bhumi comes and takes her away. Ram is very sad as are their twin sons. Sita had a Shakti which she used in the end where justice was restored. One must remember she is an Earth goddess and had to return to the Earth. When Mother Earth is not respected, humans pay the price and effects of her Shakti. She has been speaking very loudly lately. Effects of global warming are signs of our disrespect of our Mother Earth. It is time we listen to her.
There is also another Ramayana called the Adbhuta Ramayana promoted by the Kashmirian Shaktas in which Sita assumed the form of Kali and killed Ravana. She is called the Supreme Being of the Shaktas in this story. When you think about it, Sita is the Shakti behind the whole story. The essential truth is the same in both stories. Shakti is the one who triumphs in the end.
I have always liked Sita because she was a very real Queen and Mother who used her personality in various ways to over come so much. Thinking of Mother's Day, she is like many of our mothers. She was a strong, courageous and complicated woman who used her Shakti so very effectively in every situation. Sometimes she was more passive, but at other times she was a very active person in the whole story. Much like many women she over came societal barriers as a single parent. In the end it is her Mother, the feminine energy, who triumphs. It is from Our Mother which we came and to her which we return. Happy Sri Sita Jayanti! Happy Mother's Day!
JAI SHRI SITA!, JAI SHRI MOTHERS!, JAI SHRI SHAKTI!