Often we are told that Ram had abandoned Sita because people had started doubting her chastity. We find it strange because Ram could have easily tried to explain the situation to his people instead of simply abandoning Sita.
Lot of people, in order to satisfy their political needs, have termed this as an example of how women is made to suffer in a male dominated society. Lot of other people have tried to justify it by saying that Ram was just trying to perform the duties of a king due to which, he had to respect the views.
Those who see Ram as a symbol of male dominated society often ignore the fact that he had maintained the respect of Kaikeyi even though she was the cause behind his exile to forest. They even overlook the fact that it was Ram who had saved Ahilya from a curse.
Those who say that Ram was trying to follow the expectations of his people, overlook the fact that he had rejected the recommendation of his people to get married again so that the kingdom can have next king.
So what exactly made Ram abandon Sita?
Well, to understand this, we need to consider few things that happened in Ramayana before this incident.
- Ram asks Sita not to join him during his exile in forest. Sita rejects the idea and joins Ram in exile.
- While chasing the golden deer, Ram orders Laxman not to leave Sita alone.
- Sita hears a false cry from Ram (it was from Marich to confuse Sita and Laxman) and asks Laxman to go for his brother’s help.
- Laxman refuses to leave Sita alone because he was ordered to do so.
- To this, Sita gets angry and blames Laxman that he was secretly eying on her and wanted his brother to die so that he can marry her instead.
- Laxman, who only used to look at Sita’s feet, couldn’t take this blame and leaves angrily to help Ram.
- Ravan kidnaps Sita
- Ram blames Laxman for leaving Sita alone. Laxman explains the situation to Ram.
- There is a detailed description of how Ram tries to talk to birds and trees to find out the whereabouts of Sita.
- When Ravan is defeated, Ram is excited to meet Sita and asks to get her in full respect.
- However, when Sita is brought near him, he tells her that she is free to go anywhere since the purity of her character cannot be trusted.
- To this, Sita jumps in the fire but is rescued by Agni deva.
- Ram is happy to accept Sita back.
- Ram becomes the king of Ayodhya. Sita is pregnant and Ram is happy.
- Ram hears the gossip regarding Sita’s character and asks Laxman to leave Sita in forest.
If we follow the story carefully, we realize an interesting aspect. It was Sita who had doubted the character of Laxman first for no fault of his, which had in turn, resulted in her kidnapping and the war following it. At the part of point 11, Ram tries to play the same trick on Sita to make her understand the state of Laxman. Unfortunately, Sita cannot take this blame and tries to kill herself. Ram realizes that Sita cannot accept any sort of blame on her chastity.
When he comes across the gossip over the chastity of his pregnant wife, he imagines what could happen once she hears the gossip. She would have handed over the child to Ram and would have immediately killed herself. The only way to make her live longer was to get her to the place where she would have to raise the children on her own. That way, under the responsibility of raising the child, she would have postponed her death.
The plan works. Sita continues to live and raises Luv and Kush on her own in Valmiki’s ashram. Ram does not try to get in touch with her since she would have immediately handed the kids to Ram before ending her life. Unfortunately, Luv and Kush capture the royal horse, which eventually results in Ram’s reunion with his sons.
As expected, after handing over Luv and Kush to Ram, Sita asks her mother Earth to take her back to earth, thus ending her life.
It’s an interesting story for each one of us, where we see Ram and Sita not loosing the love, respect, care and trust even at the time of hardship.