Rama and Sita’s love story is eternal and had been retold many times, but perhaps you have not heard of it other than to know if some famous characters like Hunaman, Sita, Visnu, and Rama? If your curiosity has been piqued in the past I thought I would bring some light to this most epic telling of an eternal love!
A most simplistic telling of this great story…..
A retiring King Dasaratha of the city of Ayodha chooses his son Rama as his heir. The King has three wives and children with all three. His younger wife Kaikeyi asks that he appoints her son Bharata, instead of his favorite son. Kaikeyi pleads that he owes her two favors, these are called boons and once given you must fulfill it, so she demands that he fulfill one of her boons, as she feels misfortune will come upon her if he doesn't crown Bharata king and banish Rama to the forest for fourteen years. The king reluctantly agrees but is very disheartened with his younger wife.
So Rama goes with his beautiful wife, Sita, and his brother Laksmana, leaving their riches to live a simple life.
Previous to this, Rama had met Sita in a garden and they had fallen in love at first sight. Sita was very beautiful and coming from a very prestigious family had many interested in her hand in marriage. Her father was not desirous of this union since he knew that Rama was being exiled. Sita loved him so much that she chose to go with him.
In the forest, the three meet the demoness Surpanakha who falls in love with Rama. Rama refuses her advances and Laksmana wounds her. She flees to her brother Ravana, ruler of the island kingdom of Lanka. After hearing Surpanakha's report of the beauty of Sita, Ravana decides that he must have Sita and changes himself into in wandering holy man to find her in the forest. When Rama and Laksmana are distracted, Ravana carries Sita off to Lanka.
Sita mourns in Ravana's garden in Lanka, while Rama and Laksmana enlist the services of Hanuman, the monkey king, to help them find her. Hanuman, able to make himself larger or smaller, starts his search for Sita by taking a giant step to the Island of Lanka. Carrying Rama's ring he finds Sita and identifies himself as Rama's messenger. Sita is delighted, but Hanuman is caught and Ravana sets Hanuman's tail on fire. Hanuman escapes and sets fire to Lanka.
Rama, Laksmana, Hanuman, and his monkey army lay siege on Lanka. The monkeys make a bridge to Lanka, and after a long battle with spears, bows, and arrows, Rama kills Ravana. Sita, however, is not received by Rama unreservedly; he questions her chastity after having lived in the house of another man. When he asks her to undergo the test by fire; she agrees. Proving her chastity by remaining unscathed by the fire, she rejoins Rama. Later, Rama abandons her to maintain the sanctity of public opinion and she goes to live in the ashram of sage Valmiki and bears twin sons Lava and Kusa, who as young men became reunited with their father, the god-king Rama.
Rama ruled for thousands of years. While he was king, everyone was peaceful and contented.
OK! If you are like me you will be concerned about this story that is depicted as being the greatest love story ever told! I agree, it's not that romantic so I have staved off of telling this tale for quite a while. But as is common in all Hindu stories, there is a symbolic meaning behind them, here is that meaning.
The symbolism of the main story
The symbolic significance of Rāmāyana has been interpreted very differently by various scholars. At the most basic level, the epic represents the vulnerabilities to which human beings are susceptible due to their weaknesses and impurities and the conflict between good and evil forces which may arise from them. It portrays the deep connection between God and his devotees and the power of devotion. It also suggests how with virtue and righteousness and with the help of God mortal beings can surpass even gods in their ability to destroy evil.
The epic Rāmāyana teaches many valuable lessons. It brings to the forefront the vulnerability of human life and the message that even God is not free from suffering when he incarnates upon earth. We learn from it that in the midst of difficulties, human beings should not lose their moral imperative. They should follow the example of Rāma and remain on the path of righteousness, without succumbing to evil temptations and without surrendering to evil powers. They should also learn from the example of Rāvana that knowledge and power can become destructive if it is tainted by the impurities of ignorance, desires, egoism, and delusion.
The epic story symbolizes the power of devotion in human life and the deep connection between God and his devotees. God incarnated upon earth as Rāma to provide humans with an ideal role model which they can follow to achieve liberation. The following is the symbolism of the main story of Ramayana. It is presumed that the readers are familiar with the main story of the epic.
1. Rāma symbolizes the auspicious qualities and the Supreme Self. He descends into the mortal world (the body) in search of the individual Self (Sīta), his devotee, from which he is separated in the beginning of creation.
This is the retelling of the feminine and masculine that exists within us all. The search for what is missing within and the knowledge that what we search for is our True Selves, the Atman.
2. Rāvana symbolizes the ego with ten evil qualities, who defies God and asserts his individuality due to his tamasic and demonic nature.
3. The body represents Lanka, which is ruled by the ego (Rāvana) who holds the embodied Self (Sīta) in captivity because of delusion and demonic pride.
4. God (Rāma) assembles the army of monkeys, represented by senses and other bodily parts which are by nature restless and fickle.
5. With the help of intelligence (Lakshmana), breath (Hanuman) and the restrained senses (army of devout monkeys), he builds a bridge (channel) across the ocean of consciousness (mind) to descend into the being and find the Self.
These epic tales have been retold thousands of times and are depicted as the greatest love stories of our time, or any time for that matter. But as always we ultimately need to look within and find the truth of all questions there. This is no exception, what we search for lies within, that we are the universe that God created and that which we most yearn for is to know our True Selves and to live in eternal bliss.
Hari Om Tat Sat