Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana

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Ramayana is the story of Rama, the son of King Dasharatha. He was the heir to his kingdom, an empire. Yet, due to the malice prevalent in the palace, the Prince was exiled. He had to live in the forest with his wife and his younger brother for fourteen years. Rama took this step to ensure that his father’s reputation as a man who keeps his word, was not tarnished. One of the underlying themes of the Ramayana echoes the upholding of tradition, reputation, and the family image. The Ramayana is all about obeying the rules and laws of Dharma, and about maintaining reputation even if it means personal loss and unhappiness. According to this book, this is the key to understanding the story of Sita in the Ramayana. Who is Sita? She plays a prominent role in the epic, but is a very quiet and restrained character. Her husband adores her, yet he abandons her in the end because of the persistent gossip among his subjects about Sita’s fidelity. Through all her travails, Sita remains quiet, does not lose her composure, and does not vocally demand retribution, like the fiery Draupadi of the Mahabharata. Draupadi is acknowledged as a strong character, and she is. But, Sita is often viewed as meek and submissive. Sita’s silence is not the silence of the weak. It is the silence of the ascetic, who knows the truth, and so is patient. She knows her husband loves her, and she is indispensable to him. Moreover, she knows she is the Goddess who makes him the God, the woman who makes him the whole man. She was found as a baby in a furrow when Janaka ploughed a tract of land to prepare for a yagna. Thus, from the beginning, she is special and stands apart. Even when she is held captive by Ravana, she does not really fear him. Sita: An Illustrated Retelling Of The Ramayana explores the enigma of Sita and explains her real strength of character. It is a very interesting analysis of a woman most people might think was a weak character, who was supposed to represent the ideal of submissive womanhood. This book shows why this was not so.