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SRI SITA JAYANTI
This world in not worthy of you
On May 22nd we will celebrate Sita Jayanti, the Appearance Day of Mother Sita, the daughter of Bhumi Devi, Goddess of the Earth. Her earthly father, Raja Janak, found her in a field. Her earthly mother is Raani Sunaina. Sita is the consort of Sri Ram. Many people know her story in relation to Ram and Lakshman, Ram's brother. What I would like to focus on is her experiences in the forest with Valmiki, the Sage, and her twin sons, Luv and Kush. It is in these experiences, she becomes, as Pandit Rajin Balgobind, says, "the first single parent in the world." Away from Ram she has the opportunity to develop a different kind of spiritual experience for herself and her children. She, like many women, has to prove herself many times over, going through two trials proving her faithfulness to Ram. This is something which Ram never had to equally endure. Often women in today's work force have to be two to three times more capable than a man in order to be accepted as equally valuable as a male worker. Often women are not believed in cases of rape or sexual harassment and often the criminal is not brought to justice.
I have to say that Valmiki steps up to the task of providing an education to her and the boys, is a fine father figure and does everything he can to show her as the great woman she is, despite the attitudes of the citizens of Ayodhya. Sri Ram was quite concerned about his image with them when telling Sita to go into the forest pregnant with their twin sons. Modern rulers are equally concerned about their images on the internet, TV and newspapers. Sita had great courage going into the forest alone before meeting Valmiki, the Sage. Tigers, wild boars and rhinos are just some of the creatures who inhabited habitats in that area. Her twin sons were born in the forest. At his ashram she was involved in various tasks which were physically exhausting. Through it all she had a shakti, which means a power and strength. As Jacqueline Sutheren Hirst says in Sita's Story, "Sita is a role model as a shakti. She has a hidden power which she uses in the end."
There is an ending to the story which I will relate to you now from the Valmiki Ramayana Ultara Khana:
Lord Ram continued many sacrifices during his reign. Two boys came into the arena of the sacrifice while Ram was siting on his asan. Valmiki had taught the boys the whole poem of the Ramayana and had put the story to a very beautiful and melodious swara tune. Valmiki, accompanying the boys, commenced in perfect union. Night after night the recital continued until it came to Sita's abandonment to Valmiki's ashram. Rama was then convinced they were his very own sons born to Mother Sita. He sent word to Valmiki that he should come with Sita and vouch for her purity and faithfulness. If Sita was willing to come before the assembly and give her proof of her innocence, she could resume her rightful place at Ram's side. Everyone agreed and the next day Srimata Sitadevi came. Everyone was touched at the sight of her, her head and eyes downcast, tears running down her face, her long hair adorning her back. Valmiki Muni respectfully approached Sri Ram saying, "O son of Dasarath, here is your wife Sita. She has been staying in my ashram since you abandoned her, performing austerities. She is completely without blame and is pure and innocent. Due to your position as king, you feared public opinion may be detrimental for you, and so you have also performed severe austerities. However, it is now proper that your impeccable wife be allowed to prove her own innocence." Sita stood in silence, her eyes transfixed on the ground without blinking. With folded hands she said, "If Rama has always been foremost in my heart, then may my Mother Earth (Bhumi) herself deliver me. If I have only been true to him, wholy, mind, body and soul, then may my Mother Earth deliver me. If I have loved none but him, then let my Mother Earth deliver me." As she spoke the Earth rumbled, shook and cracked open where Sita stood. Srimata Bhumi Devi then appeared, seated on a throne of incredible natural earthly opulence, surrounded by 'nagas' (snakes), and she invited Sita to take her seat along side her. She said, "Child, this world is not worthy of you!" Sita, entrusting her children to Valmiki, ascended the throne supported by the nagas adorned with fiery eyes and jewels on their heads. There, seated besides her mother, Bhumi and Sita disappeared from sight. The Earth closed up leaving not even so much as a furrow on the surface as though nothing had happened.
So Sita returned to her mother Bhumi, and Ram reigned 13,000 more years. Sita became one of the most beloved deities in India. In the end she had a hidden power to challenge the injustice she went through in her earthly sojourn. Bhumi spoke the truth and Sita's Shakti energy transformed the situation. Bhumi reminds me of my own mother in how she would not put up with injustice. Many of us remember women in our own lives who were like Sita and Bhumi who stood up at the right time and took on injustice.
JAI SHRI SITA MA! JAI SHRI BHUMI DEVI!