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Society's Cruel Treatment of Sitaji


Banishment of Sita was the lowest point of Rama’s life.  He abandoned a pregnant wife without even explaining to her why he was doing it.  There was no trial, no jury, no evidence, no chance for Sita to put forward her point of view.  It was the gravest miscarriage of justice in the history of RamaRajya. 


Saddest fact is, this miscarriage of justice was carried out not by the king, but by his subjects.  How terrible must Rama have felt that he could not go against the will of his people and had to abandon his own wife and sons just to deflect criticism from the ruling institution of the monarchy.  If I were Rama, I would have abandoned Ayodhya and gone to the forest with my wife and children for it’s lack of faith in me and my wife.  Sadly, Rama didn’t want to let others down and decided to suffer the terrible judgment of the people on him and his immediate family.


What amazes me is no one protested on behalf of Sita.  Not the rest of the Suryavansha family, not Videha’s family, not the religious leaders, not the subjects, not even the sadhus and rishis who lived outside the royal protocol and could have censored Rama for his unjust act.  All because “the people” had objected to their queen !


When Valmiki Rishi brought the injustice to the court of the Raghus at the Ashvamedha yagna, no one could refute the evidence that the sons of Sita were the sons of Rama because they were the exact facsimile of their king.  Though shamed, the society, and their king, still demanded proof positive of Sita’s purity.  Disgusted with their blindness, Sita decided to abandon the people, their king and her husband for their lack of faith.


Sadly, the incidence hasn’t taught our society the one lesson Ramayan tried to teach.  Essentially, the situation is a permanent warning to the society that it should never, ever judge anyone based on flimsy, unsubstantiated hearsay.  Society has to realise that it – the society – was guilty of having made Rama carry out this serious miscarriage of justice.  Society was responsible for the sadness visited upon Sita and her sons.  Society was responsible for Rama having to spend the rest of his life in abject loneliness.  Society was judged to be guilty of being heartless, uncaring and more importantly, unfair.


Has the Indian society learnt its lesson ?  Evidence would suggest not.  It still pries into everyone’s life.  It still interferes needlessly in everyone’s life.  It is still too quick to judge.  It is still too critical of anyone and everyone.  It still holds people to account for things it would not want to be called to account for itself.  It is still particularly harsh on women.  It is still horribly harsh on women.


Why ?


Have we not learnt our lesson ?  Have we not realised how ruthless, needless, unfair and unnecessary their judgment was of Sita ?  Have we not learnt that people should not be subjected to agni pariksha just to satisfy our curiosity ?  Have we not realised that women are particularly venerable to charge of “disreputable behaviour” even when it can’t be proved ?  Have we not realised in all these thousands of years since the Ramayan that whenever we, as society, carry out such injustice, we are killing a bit of humanity in ourselves ?  Have we not learnt any thing ?


Sadly, as faceless “society”, we still do this far too often.  Single women, working women, divorced women, widowed women are constantly censored by the society.  We blame Manusmriti or other scriptures for this, without realising that we, WE, are doing this.  Not the scriptures.  We are being harsh on our own fellow human being.  And for what ?  So that we can be sanctimonious and say “This does not happen in our society !”  knowing full well that it does.  How hollow a victory is that !


Fate of Sita is repeated in our society because of the double standards we have for men and women. 
Fate of Sita is repeated in our society because women are even harsher critics of women than men.
Fate of Sita is repeated in our society because we never challenge cruel rumors against women.
Fate of Sita is repeated in our society because WE – the royal WE – let it happen.

Let’s wake up and stop this abuse of Sita.


See other articles on women of Ramayan
See other articles on women of Mahabharata

© Bhagwat Shah    [email protected]

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