Book III : Aranya Kanda - The Forest Trek
Seetha rebukes Lakshmana for he is still here, loitering away even after listening Rama's cry for help. She goes to the extent of slandering him as having intents to woo her, at the cost of Rama's life. Lakshmana tries to pacify her but in vain, as she persists in her rash talk. Lakshmana leaves her alone and starts to reach Rama, broken-heartedly.
This is a much debated chapter in Ramayana because human complexities are involved in its narration. The sublimity of Seetha's characterisation is disputed by her speeches in here. The question is whether Seetha becomes an ideal woman in view of her tongue-lashing, or not. This is as good as asking the nature as to 'why it thunders before a storm, scaring children, birds and calves... cannot it just shower some rains and go...' If anything is not done in accordance with her wish and whim, or which goes against her peculiar way of thinking, it is usual for a shrewd woman to tongue-lash. Here, Seetha is called a woman who is bhart® prema antha - bhart® kÿema arthi 'blinded by the devotement to her husband...' 'a desirer of her husband's welfare...' even at her own risk.
This Ramayana is not the story of Rama. It is raama ayana and becomes raamaayaNa when compounded. Again raama is not the epical hero Rama alone. Seetha is also raamaa as said by Sumantra in Ayodhya, Ch. 60, 10th verse:
b˜l˜ iva ramate sŸt˜ a b˜la candra nibha ˜nan˜ |
'like an young girl Seetha, with not so young moon's face, [i.e., like the full moon,] is delighting herself even in uninhabited forests with Rama...'
Thus this epic is called r˜m˜ r˜mayo× ayanam r˜m˜yaõam 'the peregrination of Seetha and Rama...' where the first word raamaa with elongated end syllable belongs to Seetha and the second raama with shortened end syllable belongs to Rama, and thus this is the peregrination of both Raamaa and Raama. If the course of the legend has to move forward, the characters have to move, and if they were to move, some situations should become turning points, and this is one such situation occasioned through the shrewdness of Seetha. In a legendary perspective, if evil is to be eliminated, good has to peregrinate troublesomely, and that troublesome peregrination of Seetha, as well as that of Rama, is triggered off at this situation, again due to the shrewdness of Seetha. Thus, there is no oddity in the shrewd talk of Seetha. Some more discussion is incorporated in the endnote.
aartasvaram tu tam bhartuH vij~naaya sadR^isham vane |
uvaaca lakSmaNam siitaa gacCha jaaniihi raaghavam || 3-45-1
1. siitaa= Seetha; vane= in [deep of] forest; bhartuH [svara]= husband's, voice; sadR^isham= identifiable; tam aarta svaram= that, grievous, voice; vij~naaya= on identifying; lakSmaNam uvaaca= to Lakshmana, spoke; gacCha= you go [at once]; raaghavam jaaniihi= about Raghava, you know.
On identifying the grievous voice that is identifiable with her husband's voice, Seetha spoke to Lakshmana, "you go at once, and check up on Raghava.' [3-45-1]
na hi me jiivitam sthaane hR^idayam vaa avatiSThate |
kroshataH parama aartasya shrutaH shabdo mayaa bhR^isham || 3-45-2
aakrandamaanam tu vane bhraataram traatum ar.hhasi |
2, 3a. bhR^isham kroshataH= loudly, yelling; parama aartasya shabdaH= highly, of a fretful one's [Rama's,] sound [voice]; mayaa shrutaH= by me, heard; me= my; hR^idayam= heart; jiivitam vaa= life, or even; sthaane na avatiSThate hi= in place, not, abiding, indeed; vane aakrandamaanam= in forest, he who is screaming; bhraataram= [such] brother; traatum arhasi= protect, apt of you.
"I have heard the loud yelling voice of highly fretful Rama whereby my heart, or my very entity, is not abiding in its place, and it will be apt of you to protect such a brother of yours who is screaming in the forest. [3-45-2, 3a]
tam kSipram abhidhaava tvam bhraataram sharaNa eSiNam || 3-45-3
rakSasaam vasham aapannam si.mhaanaam iva govR^iSam |
3b, 4a. simhaanaam= for lions [under seize]; go vR^iSam= bull; iva= as with; rakSasaam vasham aapannam= for demons, subjugation, one who obtained - your brother Rama might have come under; sharaNa eSiNam= protection, he who is seeking; tam bhraataram= such a, to brother; tvam kSipram abhi dhaava= you, quickly, towards [him] run.
"He might have come under the subjugation of demons as with a bull coming under the seize of lions, hence, you hurry up so as to near such a brother of yours who is seeking protection." So said Seetha toi Lakshmana. [3-45-3b, 4a]
na jagaama tathaa uktaH tu bhraatuH aaj~naaya shaasanam || 3-45-4
tam uvaaca tataH tatra kshubhitaa janaka aatmajaa |
4b, 5a. tathaa= that way; uktaH tu= he who is spoken to by her, [i.e., Lakshmana, though she said a lot to him,] he on his part; bhraatuH shaasanam aaj~naaya= brother's, order [to stay guard to Seetha,] remembering; na jagaama= not, [Lakshmana has not] moved out; tataH= then; kshubhitaa= she who is agitated= for Rama; janaka aatmajaa= Janaka's daughter - Jaanaki; tatra= in that matter - in the paradox of his not going out; tam uvaaca= to him, to Lakshmana, she spoke.
Although she spoke a lot to him in this way, Lakshmana on his part has not moved out remembering his brother's order to stay guard to Seetha, and hence that Janaki, the daughter of Janaka, who is already agitated for Rama further spoke to him in the paradox of his not going out of hermitage. [3-45-4b, 5a]
saumitre mitra ruupeNa bhraatuH tvam asi shatruvat || 3-45-5
yaH tvam asyaam avasthaayaam bhraataram na abhipadyase |
5b, 6a. saumitre= oh, Soumitri; yaH tvam= which, you; asyaam avasthaayaam= in such an, exigency; bhraataram= at brother; na abhi padyase= not, towards, going; such as you are; tvam= you; bhraatuH= to brother; shatru vat mitra ruupeNa asi= foe, like, in friend's, mien, you are.
"You are like a foe of your brother in friend's mien, Soumitri, as you are not making a move towards a brother even if he is in an emergency. [3-45-5b, 6a]
icChasi tvam vinashyantam raamam lakSmaNa mat kR^ite || 3-45-6
lobhaat tu mat kR^itam nuunam na anugacChasi raaghavam |
6b, 7a. lakSmaNa= oh, Lakshmana; tvam= you; raamam= Rama be; vi nashyantam= completely, destroyed; mat kR^ite= my, sake of - because of me; icChasi= you wish; mat kR^itam= my, sake of - because of me; lobhaat tu= greed for gain - cupidity, only; raaghavam na anugacChasi= Raghava, not, following on; nuunam= definite is that.
"Because of me you wish Rama to be completely destroyed, and only because of your cupidity for me you are not following up on Raghava. It is definite. [3-45-6b, 7a]
The 'real' woman in Seetha is coming out. From now on, she goes on talking unhesitatingly, unilaterally and even abusively because her mind is fuddled with the thought 'some damage is being done to her husband.'
vyasanam te priyam manye sneho bhraatari na asti te || 3-45-7
tena tiSThasi visrabdhaH tam apashyan mahaadyutim |
7b, 8a. te= to you; vyasanam= dire straits [to Raghava]; priyam manye= most liked, I deem; te bhraatari snehaH na asti= to you, in brother, attachment [heart,] not, is there; tena= as such; mahaa dyutim= to great-resplendent one; tam= him [at Rama]; a + pashyan= without, seeing - when he is unseen; vi srabdhaH tiSThasi= without, hurry - complacently, you are staying behind.
" 'Raghava in direst strait' is the most liked thing to you, thus I deem, as you have no heart for that brother, and as you complacently stay behind even when that great-resplendent Rama is unseen. [3-45-7b, 8a]
kim hi sa.mshayam aapanne tasmin iha mayaa bhavet || 3-45-8
kartavyam iha tiSThantyaa yat pradhaanaH tvam aagataH |
8-9a. tvam= you; yat pradhaanaH= which [Rama,] as helmsman; iha aagataH= to here, you have come; tasmin [praaNa] samshayam aapanne= that one [that Rama,] [life-and-death,] uncertainty, when he is undergoing; iha tiSThantyaa= now, staying on - at hermitage; to you; mayaa= with me; kim kartavyam bhavet hi= what, business, will be there, I wonder.
"After which helmsman you have come here that Rama is undergoing an uncertainty of life-and-death, as such I indeed wonder what business you have here now in staying with me at this hermitage?" Seetha spoke so to Lakshmana. [3-45-8, 9a]
evam bruvaaNam vaidehiim baaSpa shoka samanvitam || 3-45-9
abraviit lakSmaNaH trastaam siitaam mR^iga vadhuum iva |
9b,10a. evam bruvaaNam= this way, who is talking; baaSpa shoka samanvitaam [pari plutaam]= tears, anguish, she who is having them [who is deluged with]; trastaam= to fretful one; mR^iga vadhuum iva= deer, female, like; to such a; vaidehiim siitaam= to princess from Videha kingdom, to Seetha; lakSmaNaH abraviit= Lakshmana, spoke.
Lakshmana spoke to Seetha, the princess from Videha kingdom, who is talking deluged under tears and anguish in that way, as she is fretful like a she-deer. [3-45-9a, 10b]
pannaga asura gandharva deva daanava raakshasaiH || 3-45-10
ashakyaH tava vaidehii bhartaa jetum na sa.mshayaH |
10b, 11a. vaidehii= oh, Vaidehi; tava bhartaa= your, husband; pannaga asura gandharva deva daanava raakshasaiH= by serpents, asura-s, gandharva-s, gods, fiends, demons; jetum= to be vincible; a+ shakyaH= not, possible one; na samshayaH= no, doubt.
"Oh, Vaidehi, your husband is an impossible one for vincibility by serpents, asura-s, gandharva-s, gods, fiends, demons, no doubt about it.
devi deva manuSyeSu gandharveSu patatriSu || 3-45-11
raakSaseSu pishaaceSu kinnareSu mR^igeSu ca |
daanaveSu ca ghoreSu na sa vidyeta shobhane || 3-45-12
yo raamam pratiyudhyeta samare vaasava upamam |
11b, 12, 13a. shobhane= oh, auspicious one; devi= oh, lady; samare vaasava upamam raamam= in war, Indra, similar - vies with, Rama; yaH prati yudhyeta= he who, can counter, attacks; saH= such a combatant; deva manuSyeSu= among gods, humans; gandharveSu patatriSu= gandharva-s, birds; raakSaseSu pishaaceSu kinnareSu mR^igeSu ca= among ogres, kinnaraa-s, beasts, also; ghoreSu daanaveSu ca= among horrendous, demons, even; na vidyeta= not, obtainable - unmarked.
"Oh, auspicious one, unmarked is some combatant who can counterattack Rama from among gods, humans, gandharva-s, birds, ogres, kinnaraa-s, beasts, or oh, lady, even from horrendous demons, as Rama vies with Indra in any given war. [3-45-11b, 12, 13a]
avadhyaH samare raamo na evam tvam vaktum ar.hhasi || 3-45-13
na tvaam asmin vane haatum utsahe raaghavam vinaa |
13b, 14a. raamaH samare a +vadhyaH= Rama, in war, not, killable - inextirpable; tvam evam vaktum na arhasi= you, to talk, that way, not, apt of you; tvaam raaghavam vinaa= you, Raghava, without; asmin vane haatum= in this, forest, to abandon; na utsahe= not, I venture.
"It is inapt of you to talk that way as Rama is inextirpable in a given war, and as for me, I do not venture to abandon you in this forest in the absence of Raghava. [3-45-13b, 14a]
anivaaryam balam tasya balaiH balavataam api || 3-45-14
tribhiH lokaiH samuditaiH sa iishvaraiH sa amaraiH api |
14b, 15a. balavataam balaiH api= of forceful ones [Crowns,] by military forces, even; sa iishvaraiH sa amaraiH api= [headed by] their lords, with, by gods, even; samuditaiH tribhiH lokaiH= coming in insurgency, of three, worlds [collectively]; tasya balam a+ nivaaryam= his [Rama's,] prowess, not, repressible.
"Let the most forceful Crowns with all their military forces, or, all of the gods together with their heads, why they, let all the three worlds put together come mutinously, whether jointly or severally, Rama's prowess is irrestrainable. [3-45, 14b, 15a]
hR^idayam nir.hvR^itam te astu sa.ntaapaH tyajyataam tava || 3-45-15
aagamiSyati te bhartaa shiighram hatvaa mR^igottamam |
15b-16a. te hR^idayam nirvR^itam astu= your, heart, turn back [be diverted,] let it be; [ayam= this]; tava santaapaH tyajyataam= your, anxiety, be divested; te bhartaa= your, husband; mR^iga uttamam hatvaa= extraordinary, deer, on killing; shiighram aagamiSyati= quickly, will come back.
"Hence, let your heart be diverted and anxiety divested, as your husband will be returning soon on killing that extraordinary deer. [3-45-15b, 16a]
na sas tasya svaro vyaktam na kashcit api daivataH || 3-45-16
gandharva nagara prakhyaa maayaa tasya ca rakSasaH |
16b, 17a. saa tasya svaraH na= that [voice,] his [Rama's,] voice, is not; vyaktam= it is evident; kashcit daivataH api na= of some, gods, even, it is not; kenacit= by someone; maayayaa kR^ita= chicanery, it is made [mimicked voice]; saa= that [voice]; tasya rakSasaH ca= his [Maareecha's,] of demon, alone; gandharva nagara prakhyaa maayaa= celestial, city, similar, magical [city.]
"Evidently it is not the voice of Rama, nor that of any other god, but someone mimicked that voice for chicanery, and that must be the illusory voice of that demon Maareecha, similar in effect to the magical city of gandharva-s usually created by magicians in general. [3-45-15b, 16]
Lakshmana has repeated the word gandharva nagara which he said to Rama. This magic is said as: gandharva nagaram proktam indraj˜lam manŸÿibhi× 'magic show of showing celestial cities by magicians.'
nyaasa bhuutaa asi vaidehi nyastaa mayi mahaatmanaa || 3-45-17
raameNa tvam varaarohe na tvaam tyaktum iha utsahe |
17-18a. varaarohe= oh, best lady; vaidehi= oh, Vaidehi; nyaasabhuutaa asi= entrustment, you are; mahaatmanaa raameNa= by great-souled one, by Rama; tvam mayi nyastaa =you, in me [in my security,] are entrusted; iha tvaam tyaktum na utsahe= now, you, to leave, not, I dare.
"And you are an entrustment, oh, best lady Vaidehi, as the great-souled Rama has entrusted you in my security, as such I do not dare to leave you off now. [3-45-17, 18a]
kR^ita vairaaH ca kalyaaNi vayam etaiH nishaacaraiH || 3-45-18
kharasya nidhane devi janasthaana vadham prati |
18b, 19a. kalyaaNi= oh, gracious one; devi= oh, lady; kharasya nidhane= Khara's, in elimination; janasthaana vadham prati= Janasthaana, regarding eradication of, towards; vayam etaiH nishaacaraiH= we are, with these, nigh-walkers; kR^ita vairaaH ca= became, adversaries, also.
"Oh, gracious lady, we have become the adversaries of these night-walkers insofar as the elimination of Khara and others, and concerning the eradication of Janasthaana. [3-45-18b, 19a]
raakSasaa vividhaa vaaco vyavaharanti mahaavane || 3-45-19
hi.msaa vihaaraa vaidehi na cintayitum ar.hhasi |
19b, 20a. vaidehi= oh, Vaidehi; mahaavane= in great forests; himsaa vihaaraaH raakSasaaH= violence, swaggerers in, demons; vividhaa vaacaH vyavaharanti= various, voices, they put to use; cintayitum na arhasi= to bother about it, not, apt of you.
"The demons are the swaggerers in violence in great forests and they will be employing various voices. Therefore Vaidehi, just do not bother about it." Thus Lakshmana advised Seetha. [3-45-18b, 19, 20a]
lakSmaNena evam uktaa tu kruddhaa sa.mrakta locanaa || 3-45-20
abraviit paruSam vaakyam lakSmaNam satya vaadinam |
20b, 21a. lakSmaNena evam uktaa tu= by Lakshmana, this way, she who is said, on her part; kruddhaa= [Seetha] became furious; samrakta locanaa= with bloodshot, eyes; satya vaadinam lakSmaNam= actuality, advocate of - veracious, to Lakshmana; paruSam vaakyam abraviit= rude, sentence, she spoke.
As for Seetha, she became furious on hearing Lakshmana's words of advice, and while her eyes are becoming bloodshot she spoke these rude sentences to that veracious Lakshmana. [3-45-20b, 21a]
anaarya karuNaara.mbha nR^isha.msa kula paa.msana || 3-45-21
aham tava priyam manye raamasya vyasanam mahat |
21b, 22. anaaryaH= an+aaryaH= not, noble - debased one; a + karuNa aarambha= dayaa prasakti rahitaH= mercy, devoid of, starter of; nR^ishamsa= dreadful one; kula paamsana= dynasty, degrader of; raamasya mahat vyasanam= Rama's, fatal, hardship; tava priyam= to you, much liked - you derive pleasure; thus; aham manye= I, deem.
"You are a debased one devoid of mercy, thus a dreadful one, and a degrader of your dynasty, and I deem that you derive pleasure from fatal hardship to Rama. [3-45-21b, 22a]
The wording anaaryaH akararuNaarambha= dayaa prasakti rahitaH is as per the text of Govindaraja, while other mms have it as akaarya karaNa aarambha; a kaarya kaaraNa aarambha 'starter for doing an untoward deed.' From Seetha's viewpoint it is 'in wooing brother's wife you are the starter of an untoward deed.'
raamasya vyasanm dR^iSTvaa tena etaani prabhaaSase || 3-45-22
na eva citram sapatneSu paapam lakSmaNa yat bhavet |
tvat vidheSu nR^isha.mseSu nityam pracChanna caariSu || 3-45-23
22b, 23. lakSmaNa= oh, Lakshmana; raamasya vyasanm dR^iSTvaa= Rama's, hardship, having seen - on noticing; tena= by that reason [fatality to Rama]; etaani= all these [sermons]; pra bhaaSase= verily speaking [holding forth, haranguing]; nityam= always; pracChanna= concealed - in cloak and dagger way; caariSu= those who are moving ones - conducting themselves; nR^ishamseSu== regarding pitiless ones; tvat vidheSu= of your, kind; sapatneSu= in rivals [sapatni= also means a co-wife, who is a natural enemy]; paapam bhavet= sin, that exists - they tend to commit sin; [iti] yat= [that which fact is there,] that fact; na citram eva= not, uncommon, in that way - unsurprising.
"You are haranguing all these sermons only on noticing hardship to Rama. It is unsurprising that the pitiless ones and rivals of your kind, who always behave in a cloak-and dagger way, will tend to commit deadly sins, Lakshmana, and it is not uncommon. [3-45-22b, 23]
suduSTaH tvam vane raamam ekam eko anugacChasi |
mama hetoH praticChannaH prayukto bharatena vaa || 3-45-24
24. su duSTaH= very, maleficent; tvam ekaH= you, singly; prati cChannaH= covertly; mama hetoH= me, because of; bharatena prayuktaH= instigated, by Bharata; vaa= or; ekam raamam= lone one, Rama, [who was coming to forest all alone]; vane anugacChasi= into forest, you followed.
"You are verily maleficent for you have singly and covertly followed Rama, who started to forests all alone, or instigated by Bharata, only because of me. [3-45-24]
The covert operation of Lakshmana as instantly surmised by Seetha is that, 'when one half-brother Bharata can snatch the kingdom from Rama, you, the other half-brother, can snatch away his wife, hence you have come with covert intentions, on your own, leaving all your kinsfolk. Or, Bharata wanted me too along with the kingdom, so he might have instigated you to fetch me for him, after Rama's death, thus he covertly sent 'you' alone.'
tat na siddhyati saumitre tava api bharatasya vaa |
katham i.ndiivara shyaamam raamam padma nibhekSaNam || 3-45-25
upasa.mshritya bhartaaram kaamayeyam pR^ithak janam |
25, 26a. saumitre= oh, Soumitri; tava= your; vaa= or that of; bharatasya api= of Bharata, even - whether; tat= that [thought, intrigue]; na siddhyati= not, achievable; padma nibha iikSaNam= lotus, bright, eyed one; indiivara shyaamam= blue-lotus, blue-black one [in complexion]; raamam= such a Rama; bhartaaram= as husband; upa sam shritya= nearby, well, sheltered - dependent on, put my faith only in my husband; pR^ithak janam= another, commoner - person; katham kaamayeyam= how, can I lust after - long for - as husband.
"Whether this is an intrigue of yours or that of Bharata it is unachievable, Saumitri. How can I long for another commoner when I have put my faith only in the lotus-blue-complexioned and lotus-bright-eyed husband of mine, Rama? [3-45-25, 26a]
For how shall I, the chosen bride / Of dark-hued Rama, lotus-eyed, / The queen who once called Rama mine, To love of other men decline? - Griffith.
samakSam tava saumitre praaNaan tyakSyaami asa.mshayam || 4-5-26
raamam vinaa kSaNam api na eva jiivaami bhuu tale |
26b, 27a. saumitre= oh, Soumitri; tava samakSam= in your, presence; praaNaan tyakSyaami= lives, I discard if it comes to that; a +samshayam= unmistakably; raamam vinaa kSaNam api= Rama, without, a moment, even for; bhuu tale na eva jiivaami= on earth's, surface, not, thus, I live.
"If that comes to that, I will just discard my life in your presence, Soumitri do not mistake it. I do not eke out an existence on this earth even for a moment without Rama." Thus Seetha threatened Lakshmana. [3-45-26b, 27a]
iti uktaH paruSam vaakyam siitayaa romaharSaNam || 3-45-27
abraviit lakSmaNaH siitaam praa.njaliH vijitendriyaH |
27b, 28a. vi jita indriyaH= self-mortified one; lakSmaNaH= Lakshmana; siitayaa= by Seetha; iti= in this way; roma harSaNam= hair, raising ones; paruSam vaakyam= acerbic, words; uktaH= he who is spoken to; praanjaliH siitaam abraviit= with palms-adjoined, to Seetha, he spoke.
When that self-mortified Lakshmana is addressed in this way with hair-raising and acerbic words by Seetha, he spoke to her suppliantly adjoining his palm-fold. [3-45-27b, 28a]
uttaram na utsahe vaktum daivatam bhavatii mama || 3-45-28
vaakyam apratiruupam tu na citram striiSu maithili |
svabhaavaH tu eSa naariiNaam eSu lokeSu dR^ishyate || 3-45-29
28b, 29. maithili= oh, Maithili; uttaram vaktum na utsahe= reply, to say, not, I venture; bhavatii mama daivatam= you are, to me, a godlike; apratiruupam [a+prati+ruupam] vaakyam= [not, reflective in form, sentences,] matchless words - words in a class by themselves, unseemly words; striiSu tu= in women, on their part; citram na= surprising, it is not; eSa naariiNaam svabhaavaH tu= this sort of [using grandiloquence,] for womenfolk, is the nature of, on its part; eSu lokeSu dR^ishyate= in this, world, it is obvious.
"I do not venture to reply you Maithili, as you are like a deity to me. Women using words that are in a class by themselves is not at all surprising. This sort of bringing stilted words into play is the nature of women and it is obvious in the world. [3-45-28b, 29]
vimukta dharmaaH capalaaH tiikSNaa bhedakaraaH striyaH |
na sahe hi iidR^isham vaakyam vaidehii janaka aatmaje || 3-45-30
shrotrayoH ubhayoH madhye tapta naaraaca sannibham |
30, 31a. striyaH= women; vimukta dharmaaH= unbound, by rightness - etiquette of decency; capalaaH= whimsical; tiikSNaaH= cantankerous; [svabhaavena= with such a nature]; bheda karaaH= vicissitudes, artificers of; janaka aatmaje vaidehii= Janaka', daughter, oh, Vaidehi; [me= my]; ubhayoH shrotrayoH madhye= both, ears, in between; tapta naaraaca sannibham= burnt, iron arrow, like [words]; iidR^isham vaakyam= this kind of, words; na sahe hi= not, bearable, indeed.
"Women by their nature are unbound by the etiquette of decency, whimsical, cantankerous and they tend to become the artificers of vicissitudes, and oh, Vaidehi, the daughter of Janaka, indeed unbearable are this kind of words that are much the same as burnt iron arrows thrust in between my two ears. [3-45-30, 31a]
The role of women in bringing alterations in joint families, peaceful histories or even in transcending legends is evident in every culture. mah˜nto api hi bhidyante strŸbhi× adbhi× iva acal˜× | k˜mandaka - lavaõa jal˜nt˜ nadya× strŸ bhed˜nt˜ni bandhu h®day˜ni | pr˜cŸna sm®ti - dk - 'They, the women, may be great beings but they tear asunder hearts, like oceans tearing great mountains.' Lakshmana is not eye-to-eye with Seetha and he is going on listening all her accusations with his two ears. And in between his two ears his conscience is there which is not permitting him to tolerate these words, yet he is tolerating.
upashR^iNva.ntu me sarve saakSino hi vanecaraaH || 3-45-31
nyaaya vaadii yathaa vaakyam ukto aham paruSam tvayaa |
31b, 32a. nyaaya vaadii= conscientiously, [although] reasoning; aham= I am; tvayaa= by you; yathaa= as to how; paruSam vaakyam uktaH= bitter, words, spoken to; for such one like me; me= to me; saakSinaH= corroborators; sarve vane caraaH= all of the, forest- itinerants - sylvan deities; upa shR^iNvantu= closely, hear; hi= indeed.
"Let all of the forest-itinerants indeed listen as to how you are addressing me with bitter words, though I am reasoning with you conscientiously, and let them become my corroborators for the sake of justice. [3-45-31b, 32a]
dhik tvaam adya praNashyantiim yan maam evam visha.nkase || 3-45-32
striitvaat duSTa svabhaavena guru vaakye vyavasthitam |
32b, 33a. tvaam dhik= upon you, fie; striitvaat= by faminality; duSTa svabhaavena= with acrimonious, temper; [tvam= you]; adya guru vaakye vyavasthitam= presently, mentor's, ordinance, one who is abiding in; maam= me; yat= by which [impulsive, hot-headed] reason; evam vi shankase= in this way, you are - verily, mistrusting; by that crotchety alone; praNashyantiim= you will ruin - say, 'may God damn you' - but not actual perish or ruination, a sort of exasperated expression.
"Fie upon you, you are acrimoniously tempered owing to your faminality, and by which impulsive reason you mistrust me who am presently abiding in my brother's order, may God damn you for that crotchety. [3-45-32b, 33a]
gamiSye yatra kaakutsthaH svasti te astu varaanane || 3-45-33
rakSantu tvaam vishaalaakSi samagraa vana devataaH |
33b, 34a. vara aanane= oh, one with best visage; kaakutsthaH yatra= Kakutstha Rama, where he is; to there; gamiSye= I will go; te svasti astu= to you, safe, betides [you be blest]; vishaala akSii= oh, broad-eyed one; tvaam samagraaH vana devataaH rakSantu= you, all of the, forest, divinities, may protect.
"I am going there where Rama is, oh, lady with best visage, you be blest, and oh, broad-eyed one, let all of the forest deities protect you. [3-45-33b, 34a]
nimittaani hi ghoraaNi yaani praadur.hbhavanti me |
api tvaam saha raameNa pashyeyam punaraagataH || 3-45-34
34b, c. ghoraaNi yaani nimittaani= dangerous ones, which of those, forebodings; praadurbhavanti= are bidding fair; gauging by them; punaH aagataH= again, who has come back - on my return; tvaam raameNa saha= you, along with, Rama; api pasheyam?= even, can I see - can I see you again? na vaa= not, or; [Extra foot obtaining in other mms: iti etat= thus, that - that matter; na jaanaami= not, I know; janaka aatmaje vaidehii= oh, Janaka's, daughter, Vaidehi.]
"Gauging by those dangerous forebodings that are now bidding fair, can I to see you again along with Rama on my return, or not? That I do not know." Thus Lakshmana spoke to Seetha. [3-45-34b, c]
Lakshmana is repeatedly addressing Seetha as 'a broad-eyed-lady,' suggesting that 'though you have broad-eyes, but your mental perception is not that broad' 'as your eyes are belying your faculties.' 'And as 'the daughter of Janaka,' that is the 'daughter of a judicious person, yet unable to discriminate.' And as Vaidehi that is, one 'coming from Videha province.' Videha also means 'without body.' You are some supernatural, yet that demon beguiled you,' so on.
Lakshmana said Seetha 'be lost in desolation...' in the first instance and further said that she 'be blest...' and seeks the help of pastoral divinities to protect Seetha in his absence. This appears self-contradictory on the part of Lakshmana. But it is held correct, for he uttered derogatory words in the first instance as a vexed person and then, on knowing what that is suddenly uttered by him, he is correcting himself in saying that 'she be blest...' He wished her to prosper as she belongs to Rama. Whatever belongs to Rama that cannot be ridiculed, especially his mother-like elder sister-in-law.
lakSmaNena evam uktaa tu rudatii janakaaatmajaa |
pratyuvaaca tato vaakyam tiivram baaSpa pariplutaa || 3-45-35
35. lakSmaNena evam uktaa tu= by Lakshmana, thus, she who is said, on her part; janaka aatmajaa= Janaka's daughter; rudatii= wailing; baaSpa pari plutaa= tears, overly, whelming her; tataH= then; tiivram vaakyam prati uvaaca= curt, sentence, in reply, said.
When Lakshmana spoke to that wailful daughter of Janaka, she on her part spoke this curt sentence to him, while tears whelmed her to a fault. [3-45-35]
godaavariim pravekSyaami hiinaa raameNa lakSmaNa |
aabandhiSye athavaa tyakSye viSame deham aatmanaH || 3-45-36
36. lakSmaNa= oh, Lakshmana; raameNa= with Rama; hiinaa [vinaa]= deprived of [devoid of]; godaavariim pravekSyaami= in Godavari, I plunge myself; athavaa= or else; aa bandhiSye= tie myself [I hang, string up myself]; [athavaa= or, else]; viSame= from heights; aatmanaH deham tyakSye= my, body, I give up.
"Without Rama I plunge myself in River Godavari, or else I string up myself, or discard this body of mine from heights..." Thus Seetha started to vent out her feelings. [3-45-36]
pibaami vaa viSam tiikSNam pravekSyaami hutaashanam |
na tu aham raaghavaat anyam kadaaapi puruSam spR^ishe || 3-45-37
37. aham tiikSNam viSam pibaami= I, deadly, poison, I drink; vaa= or; huta ashanam pravekSyaami= into Ritual-fire [rather - flaring fire,] I enter; tu= but; raaghavaat anyam puruSam= than Raghava, other, person; kadaa api= never, even; [or, padaa api= with foot, at least]; na spR^ishe= not, going to touch.
"I drink deadly poison, or I enter a flaring fire, but I will never touch another man other than Raghava. [3-45-37]
With regard to touching another man, some texts say the word kadaapi 'never' and some padaa api 'by foot, even.' 'I do not touch any other man even with my foot.' This signifies 'marriage.' In marriages there is a custom for the newly weds, like handshake and pressing toes of one another, in order to acclimatise one with the other's body touch. Here, if this paadaa api is taken as that custom in marriages. Thus she says that 'in the process of marriages such foot-pressing of bride and bridegroom occurs, hence I do not wish to undergo such situations.' As such, this is not mere touching someone with her foot.
These intimidations of Seetha that she will commit suicide by consuming poison, hanging, plunging in river, self-immolation etc., are not new to Seetha or to any woman, under these irksome situations. She is giving many alternatives for suicide and the last one is self-immolation. If she is not going to die by hanging herself, or by consuming poison, or by drowning in river, then the question of self-immolation comes up. But she lists all of them in her anguish for Rama. With the same impetuosity she jumps into fire in the episode of agni praveshanam after war, when Rama belittles her. There also, she orders the very same Lakshmana to arrange pyre for her, disregarding her own accusations made at Lakshmana, at this situation.
iti lakSmaNam aashrutya siitaa duhkha samanvitaa |
paaNibhyaam rudatii duhkhaad udaram prajaghaana ha || 3-45-38
38. siitaa iti lakSmaNam aashrutya= Seetha, in this way, Lakshmana, made to hear [declaring]; duHkha samanvitaa= anguish, along with; rudatii= while weeping bitterly; duhkhaat= owing to agony - agonisingly; paaNibhyaam= with both hands; udaram pra jaghaana ha= belly, forcefully battered, indeed.
Seetha on declaring to Lakshmana in this way, she who is anguished and weeping bitterly, then started to smite her belly with both of her palms in a heightened agony. [3-45-38]
taam aarta ruupaam vimanaa rudantiim
saumitriH aalokya vishaala netraam |
aashvaasayaamaasa na caiva bhartuH
tam bhraataram ki.mcit uvaaca siitaa || 3-45-39
39. saumitriH= Soumitri; vi manaa= without, cheer [cheerless one]; aarta ruupaam= one agonised, in her aspect; rudantiim= [who is] bitterly weeping; taam= at her; vishaala netraam= at broad, eyed one [Seetha]; aalokya= on observing; aashvaasayaamaasa= tried to cheer her up; but; siitaa= Seetha; bhartuH bhraataram= to husband's, brother [brother of her husband - to Lakshmana]; tam= to him; kimcit na uvaaca ca eva= a little, did not, speak, also, thus [even then.]
Observing the agonised aspect of Seetha that cheerless Saumitri started to cheer her up by repeatedly informing that her husband Rama will come soon. Even then Seetha has not spoken in the least to the brother of her husband, and maintained a silence of antipathy. [3-45-39]
tataH tu siitaam abhivaadya lakSmaNaH
kR^ita anjaliH kimcid abhipraNamya |
avekSamaaNo bahushaH sa maithiliim
jagaama raamasya samiipam aatmavaan || 3-45-40
40. tataH tu= then, but; aatmavaan lakSmaNaH= self-respectful, Lakshmana; siitaam abhivaadya= Seetha, holding in reverence; kR^ita anjaliH= making, palm-fold; kimcit abhi praNamya= a little, in fore - going to he fore, reverenced - semi-salute; bahushaH maithiliim avekSamaaNaH [anviikshyamaaNaH]= repeatedly, at Maithili, looking back [checking up]; saH raamasya samiipam jagaama= he, Rama's, proximity, proceeded to.
But then, holding Seetha in usual reverence that self-respectful Lakshmana briefly came to her fore making a reverential palm-fold that briefly, and then he proceeded to the proximity of Rama, while repeatedly looking back at that lonely lady in the thick of forest. [3-45-40]
Till now Lakshmana is at her behind or at her sideways, as he usually stands a foot behind Rama or Seetha, and now came to her fore to revere her vis-à-vis and made a semi-salute, i.e., briefly and briskly adjoined and disjoined his palms, without bringing the joined palms up to his heart or his face. Bringing the folded palms up to one's own heart is suggestive of 'pouring forth one's own heart' at the other, which is known in prayers as iungo manus ante pectus and if it is lifted up to forehead, it is suggestive of 'concentrating with whole of the mind,' and if hands are totally lifted into air it is for the god unknown. But here this iungere manus is neither ante pectus, infra pectus, nor supra abdomen but a quick gesture. He is performing an iSTa namaskaara 'un, interested, greeting...' 'a half-hearted gesture' like a 'cold-handshake' rather than a 'warm' one because he is now sent by her compulsively and compulsorily.
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Indian woman is no sacred cow. For that matter, no woman is of that kind, unless compulsorily conditioned to be like that. A woman can be said as cow-faced-tigress, as: go mukha vy˜ghra, [not in dissent.] She prowls, growls and howls at others if her interests are contradicted. Thus, Seetha’s is not only a sacred cow but also a shrewd lioness-princess, and her rash talking is not new or instantaneous at this place alone. She said something against Kaikeyi with Sumantra, which, Sumantra does not report to Kausalya in Ayodhya Kanda, chapter 60, and verse 14. One full chapter, Aranya Kanda of 9th is catered to Seetha’s haranguing Rama, when Rama wanted to wage an unprovoked war. She does not spare even her own husband, if the contemplated deed is contrary to her thinking, and because she is countering her own husband she includes a saving clause, ‘I have spoken in all my womanliness... it is up to you to decide....’ otherwise it will be a straight tongue-lashing. Thus talking riff-raff with Lakshmana is no great surprise.
Further, she is angering through perplexity caused by the hearing a help cry similar in tone with her husband's voice: bhart® ˜rta svara sad®þam ˜krandanam ˜kraõya vidŸrõa h®day˜ h®daya dayitu premõ˜ kartavyam aj˜nan˜ j˜nakŸ - - - sam utpanna kopay˜ sŸtay˜ - bh˜ÿitam - dk Seetha said mama heto× praticchanna× 'for me you are covertly behaving...' and Lakshmana, who is famous for his rashness also said to Seetha tŸkÿõ˜ bhedakar˜× striya× 'women are the severe wreckers...' of households, kingdoms etc., remembering Sage Agastya's saying in Aranya, Ch. 13 verse 6: 'With the dangling of hundreds of streaks of thunderbolt and also a weapon's incisiveness, and also with the speediness of an eagle and wind's gust, the women are conformable...'
Besides, Seetha vowed to offer many oblations to Ganga, when crossing that river to enter the deep of forests in Ayodhya II, Ch. 52, verses 87-90: sur˜ gha÷a sahasreõa m˜msa bh¨ta odanena ca yakÿy˜mi aham 'I will offer thousand pots of liquor, meaty food, if, my husband and I return safely...' Even though Shiromani Vyaakhya says that these are not liquor pots or it is not the meat food, yet they are some offerings to be made by Seetha to Ganga, if they return. She uses many 'if' clauses while praying thus, for the safety of her husband. What will become of them, if Rama's life itself is at stake?
Here, both Seetha and Lakshmana, are accusing each other. It is not reiterated elsewhere in Ramayana, and hence some say that this episode is an interpolation. 'Can these two go on narrating this scandalous dialogue to somebody, detailing how each accused the other...' is the ensuing question. This episode has happened in between these two and it does not merit a discussion with somebody else, because such a discussion will attract many cha, cha-s, and chi, chi-s s for Seetha, hence this is neither an interpolation nor a repeatable episode.
Then the commentator concludes in saying that each of them is right in his/her way and in emotion, situation and portent. sŸt˜ vacanasya bharti ˜rta þabda þravaõa samj˜ta kheda vaþena ˜padi r˜mo avaþyam samrakÿaõŸya iti etat abhipr˜yakatv˜t | lakÿmaõa vacanam api ayukta tara sŸt˜ vacana þravaõa janita kopa vaþena prav®ttam | agastya vacanam tu svata× saral˜ sŸt˜ iti abhipr˜yakam iti na virodha× - - dk
Later, Seetha repents for her rash talk with Lakshmana in yuddha kaaNDa, Ch. 113, verses 40, 45-46, saying:
bh˜gya vaiÿamya doÿeõa purast˜t duÿk®tena ca |
may˜ etat pr˜pyate sarvam sva k®tam hi upbhujyate ||
p˜p˜n˜m v˜ þubh˜n˜m v˜ vadh˜rh˜õ˜m api v˜ |
k˜ryam k˜ruõyam ˜ryeõa na kaþcit na apar˜dhyate ||
'When my fate is against me, and when my earlier sins [of finding fault with Lakshmana,] have acquired this [incarceration in Lanka...] one has to reap the results of one's own faults... a sinner, or a do-gooder, or one undergoing a capital punishment shall be treated kindly... who is he/she that does not offend...'
These are the very same words of Sugreeva in Kishkindha, Ch. 36, verse 11: "Either in faith or in friendliness if I have overstepped, in the least, that may be pardoned for I am an attendant of yours... for, none is unoffending...' All this culminates into the saying 'to err is human...'
On the other hand, in the perspective of mythology, the time has come for Seetha to go to Lanka, in order to effectuate her curse to Ravana as Vedavati, where Vedavati cursed Ravana, 'I will be the root cause for your total elimination... as Seetha...' For such a transit, Rama shall go away from her, for that she wanted that golden deer and as a good husband Rama ran after it. But this security guard is an obstinate obstacle than Rama and he will not go away from here, because he has to keep custody of his brother's entrustment. Unless such unbearable words are spoken to a self-respectful person like Lakshmana, he doe not stir out. To stop his leeching onto her, she had to talk in an abnormal way, which made him to go away, though reluctantly, and which paved the way for Ravana's entry. If the Golden Deer is not there, Rama will not go, if Rama's voice is not heard Lakshmana cannot be sent, and if Lakshmana does not go, Ravana will not come... then a blemish called anavasth˜ doÿa -- ad infintum... occurs to Ramayana. If we do not mind to end Ramayana in that way, Ravana will be ruling high, even today...
iti vaalmiiki raamaayaNe aadi kaavye araNya kaaNDe pa.nca catvaarimshaH sargaH
Thus, this is the 45th chapter in Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.
© Sept, 2002, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : August 06]