BIRTH EPISODE OF SITA IN ADHYATMA RAMAYANA

 

Dr. M. Lakshmi

 

            Sita’s birth episode has taken many turns in different works. But the divinity in Valmiki Ramayana, though he did not say that Sita is Maha Lakshmi, lost its ground in subsequent Ramayanas gradually. The ‘Avataravada’ puts Rama on high pedestal as Sri Vishnu in their writings. But though these Ramayanas praised Sita as Lakshmi, they tried to lower the divinity of Sita.

 

            Sri Hari desires to come down to the Earth with an intention to kill Ravana. ‘Vishnu, dividing himself into four parts, desires to give his birth on the earth as a man. Then he decided Dasaratha as his father’ 1(Bala Kanda, Sarga 15, Slokas 30&31, p59). ‘Rama represented one half of Vishnu; And Kausalya shone brightly with that son’ 1(Bala Kanda, Sarga 18, Sloka 11, p68). Vishnu, when he desired to be born on the Earth, made a search for his parents and decided Dasaratha and Kausalya as father and mother. Let us know about Sita.

 

            Janaka says ‘As I was ploughing the field intended for sacrificial  purpose, a female baby was found. As the baby was seen while of ploughing , its name is known as Sita. I brought up her so, she is Janakatmaja’ 1(Bala Kanda, Sarga 66, Slokas 13&14,p208 & 209).

 

            Sita while narrating her birth event to Anasuya, says ‘I am Ayonija’ 1(Ayodhya Kanda, Sarga 118, Sloka 37, p530).

 

            Valmiki says that Sita is ‘Ayonija’. But he did not say that Sita is Lakshmi.

 

            Poets subsequent to Valmiki faced some problems. Sri Maha Vishnu, the ‘Paramatma’ when he desired to be born on the Earth, decided Dasaradha and Kauslaya as his parents. Then what about Sita (Lakshmi) the wife of Rama?. It is difficult to understand Valmiki’s mind fully.

 

            ‘Avatara’ means to come down to Earth. Vamana, Parasu Rama, Dasaradha Rama and Krishna are human Avataras. Mastya, Kurma, Nrusimha are other forms. Only in Ramavatara, the presence of a wife is essential. Rama, the paramatma needs a mother for his presence on the Earth. If Sita is described as ‘Ayonija’, the subsequent poets fear that the position of Rama might be lower to her. But Valmiki has taken great care in describing their birth events.

 

            Brahma says to Gods ‘None except a man can kill Ravana’ (Bala Kanda, Sarga 15, Sloka 14, p57). So Lord Vishnu decided to be born as a human being 1(Bala Kanda, Sarga 15, Sloka 30, p59). And decided to make Dasaradha and Kausalya as his parents.

 

            It is a point to note that Valmiki declares in the beginning of his story that he narrates also ‘the esteemed story of Sita’ 1(Bala Kanda, Sarga 4, Sloka 7, p21). She is divine, pure at heart. She should be capable of withstanding the onslaughts of critical circumstances. So Valmiki says that Sita is Ayonija. There is every reason to say that Rama as ‘Manusha’- a man; and also to say Sita as – Ayonija. Sita has to be kidnapped by Ravana. She shall be under the control of that Rakshasa for some time, and hence there shall be an opportunity to doubt her character. Having in mind all these things, Valmiki declares her unique and invincible character saying that she is ‘Ayonija’.

 

            In Yuddha Kanda, after the death of Ravana, while giving her reply, she declares her purity to one and all in general and Rama in particular. ‘You are estimating my female hood only like a man with low thinking’ 1(Yuddha Kanda, Sarga 119, Sloka 14, p526). Wing to Janaka, my birth took place on the surface of the Earth’ 1(Yuddha Kanda, Sarga 119, Sloka 15, p526). She remembers all about her divine origin – ‘Ayonijatva’. Becoming impure in any way in body is impossible and needless to say about her mind. Ravana might have touched her body, but that was due to her inability and fate is responsible for that, 1(Yuddha Kanda, Sarga 8, Sloka 8, p525). It is the nature of fire to burn every thing. But Sita was unscorched. She is pure and divine and the touch of either Ravana or Fire god cannot change her and she is divine as ever. All this necessitates Valmiki to proclaim that Sita is Ayonija.

 

            This feature we see again in Maha Bharatha. Vyasa says that Draupadi is Ayonija – ‘Homa Labhdhva’. The declaration of Valmiki about the birth of Sita as Ayonija is not fully understood by the world. So ‘Vishnu Purana’ as a commentary to Valmiki described Sita as Homa Labhdhva. By the time of the emergence of puranas, Rama is adored as Paramatma and Sita as Lakshmi.

 

            Brahmanda Purana of forth century says that Sita is Ayonija and also Maha Lakshmi, 2(Upodghata Prakarana, Adhya 64, Sloka 15, p162). Vishnu Purana of fourth century, 3(Caturdasana, Adhya 4, Sloka 93). Devi Bhagavata of sixth or seventh century, 4(Adhya 30, Sloka 12, p168). Vishnu Dharmottara purana of seventh century, 5(Pradhama Kanda, Adhya 221, Sloka 48, p467). Agni purana of eighth century, 6(Adhya 5, Sloka 11, p5). All the above puranas also say that Sita is Ayonija.

 

            However, we find that Sita is described as ‘Dharanija’ in Devi Purana itself. For Sita, Valmiki uses the words like Janakaja, Janakatmaja,l Maidhili, Vaidehi etc. we never finds words like Dharanija, Bhumija, Avanija, Dharatmaja etc in Valmiki Ramayana. Most purnas whether knowingly or unknowingly followed Valmiki and described Sita as Ayonija. In course of time words like Dharanija took place in puranas. We find both words Ayonija and Dharanija in Devi Bhagavata. Perhaps this purana might have not recognised any difference between these words.

 

            Let us observe roots (Vigraha Vakya) of some compounds.

a)                  Varija (Lotus) – One born from water. Pankaja (Lotus)-One born from Panka (mud).

b)                  Let us see the following---Kausalyaja (Rama) – One born of Kausalya. Valija (Angada) – One born of Vali. In getting the root meaning, there is difference between unanimated and animated compounds. If unanimated words are personified and made animated the root of those compounds change accordingly.

c)                  Girija (Parvati) – Here ‘Giri’ means Himavanta. So here the root shall be one born of Giri.

 

In the beginning, the meaning for Dharanija might be – One born from Earth. Later, The word Dharanija might be personified. When we want to describe a tree and use the word ‘Bhumija’ the root of that compound shall be – One born from the Earth. We do not say it as – One born of Earth.

 

We all know that the Earth is considered to be one of the wives of Vishnu. In spite of this fact, many Ramayanas in many languages say that Sita is Dharatmaja, Avanisuta etc. Now let us observe the position of Adhyatma Ramayana in describing Sita’s episode. It says ‘while ploughing the field for sacrificial purpose, by the point of ploughshare, a female child with good features is found’. 7(Adhyatma Ramayana, Bala Kanda, Sarga 6, Sloka 59, p47).

 

The author describes Sita as ‘Yoga Maya’.7(Bala Kanda, Sarga4, Sloka 4, Sloka 18, p35). And also says that Sita performs the acts of creation, preservation and destruction of the Universe. 7(Bala Kanda, Sarga 1, Sloka 34, p22). But it is a wonder to note that Adhyatma Ramayana drops the word Ayonija for Sita, which is said by Valmiki. Adhyatma Ramayana is more concerned to adore Rama as paramatma. So, Sita or Lakshmi should be his power. Yoga Maya is expected to be under the control of Rama, the author could not describe Sita as Ayonija. He accepted her as Janakatmaja. But Adhyatma Ramayana is so wise and prudent, that it is not agreeable for it to use words like Dharanija, Dharatmaja etc, to Sita.

 

In Adhyatma Ramayana the name of Sita occurs four hundred ninety eight times. But we find the name Dharasuta twice and Avanisuta once in Sundra Kanda and once as Avanisuta in Uttara Kanda. Total four times. I presume that these names are interpolated.

 

In our mythology we find that the Earth is the wife of Vishnu. (Bhu Devi). So it is not wise to say that Sita is the daughter of the Earth. Some poets followed and others overlooked this principle. Adhyatma Ramayana is averse to use the names like Dharanija, Dharatmaja etc, to Sita.

 

The intolerable cruel deeds of Ravana drove all gods to the presence of Lord Vishnu. There ‘Vishnu is with his wives Sridevi and Bhudevi on his Garuda the eagle king’. 7(Bala Kanda, Sarga 2, Sloka 12, p26).

 

As Adhyatma Ramayana says that Bhudevi is the wife of Vishnu, it is not acceptable to that work to say that Sita is the daughter of the Earth. We find one more example. In Uttara Kanda, after banishment to forests, Sita again enters Ayodhya and gives her presence to Rama. But she refuses to say with Rama. ‘If  I do not think of any other person except Rama, O goddess of Earth! Give away to me ‘7(Uttara Kanda, Sarga 7, Sloka 40, p382).  The actual word here used is Dharanidevi. If Adhyatma Ramayana admits Sita as the daughter of the Earth, the address might be Dharani Mata – Mother Earth. So we can conclude that Adhyatma Ramayana never thought of Sita as the daughter of the Earth.

 

Research scholars say that the primary period for purana literature is between fourth and ninth centuries, though it extends up to sixteenth century. In this primary period most of the puranas say that Sita is Ayonija. However, Devi Bhagavata says that Sita is Ayonija and also Dharanija. In the opinion of this purana it found no controversy in saying both the things. In the view of this purana Dharanija means that Sita is from the Earth only. At a later stage, the Earth in this compound got personified. And consequently, the difference between Dharanija and Dharatmaja vanished. So we can conclude that before Sita is recognised and told as Dharatmaja Adhyatma Ramayana was compiled. In a later stage, some poet described not finding the words like Dharatmaja unbecoming, interpolated some names in Sundara Kanda mainly and in Uttara Kanda. The poet who interpolated these names had no idea of the thinking of the original author. It is a matter to be considered that this kind of words are not seen upto Sundara Kanda. Sundara Kanda ‘Parayana’ is an auspicious act. Bhaktas desirious of good and also to get rid of bad read Sundara Kanda. So this Kanda gets much popularity in the society.

 

The same thing we find about Valmiki Ramayana too. So inserting names like Dharanisuta in Sundara Kanda, thought by the later poet as his divine duty. However, the same Avanisuta also is found in Uttara Kanda.

 

So names like Dharatmaja to Sita is not agreeable to Adhyatma Ramayana. In addition to keep distance from this kind of thinking, he intentionally told that Bhudevi is Vishnu’s wife. And in the end Sita addresses the Earth (Bhudevi) as ‘O Dharani! And avoided saying Dharani Mata.

 

Adhyatma Ramayana might have been written by the time when Sita was not considered as Dharatmaja. So the writing of Adhyatma Ramayana may be placed some time before the first millennium A.D.

 

References:- 1. Valmiki Ramayana 2. Brahmanda Purana 3. Vishnu Purana 4. Devi Bhagavata 5. Vishnu Dharmottara Purana 6. Agni Purana 7. Adhyatma Ramayana

 

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