She is auspicious. She is venerable. She is pious and holy. She is the personification of the Earth’s fertility, abundance, and well-being. She is Sita.
So, as we have all learnt or watched in RamanandSagar’s Ramayana, Ram was forced into exile and Sita joined him renouncing all the luxuries she was used to. Ram and Sita spend some wonderful days while at Panchavati. But trouble starts brewing when Sita lays her eyes on the Golden Deer, Mareech and she asked Ram to get it for her. What she did not know was that Ravan had requested his uncle Mareech to take the form of a beautiful and attractive Golden Deer in order to lure Ram away from the hermitage.
While heading out, Ram entrusts her to Lakshmana’s care. Ram is about to hit the deer with an arrow, when Mareech, still in the form of the deer, loudly cries out, “Oh Lakshman, Oh Lakshman” in Ram’s voice. Hearing this, Sita and Lakshman feel that it is indeed Ram asking for help. Fearing for her husband’s safety, Sita forces Lakshman to go and save his brother. Lakshman finally has to break the promise given to his brother and decides to go in search of Ram. But before leaving, Lakshman takes out an arrow and draws a line outside their hut. This LakshmanRekha is drawn in order to protect her from any danger from outside.
While Sita waits all alone in the ashram, Ravan takes the disguise of a sadhu begging for alms. Sita tries to give alms from inside the LakshmanRekha, but Ravan insists that she step outside. As soon as Sita crosses the LakshmanaRekha, Ravan abducts her and then takes her back in his flying chariot to his kingdom in Lanka, where he holds her as a prisoner in one of his palaces for a year.
What happens after that is well known. How Sita even refuses to sleep under Ravan’s roof and is installed in the palace garden. How she is later rescued by her husband and his army. But how later Ram rejects her, as some people in the kingdom start talking of how she slept in another man’s house. Thus Sita throws herself on a funeral pyre in anguish, and her purity is proven when she is spared by the flames. But how finally, disillusioned by her love, she asks Earth to take her into itself.
But that is not why I am writing this post. After recently watching Ravan being burnt on Dusshera, I was suddenly reminded of how women from time immemorial have been threatened by unscrupulous and disrespectful men, especially in India. We may pride ourselves of being a land where women are worshipped, but that is just theory. Cases of Nirbhaya and thereafter hundreds of cases reported in the newspaper are now gaining mileage because of the media, but women have always been vulnerable in India. And we need strong actions and change in mindsets to safeguard our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Thankfully, technology is coming to our rescue in today’s age with some applications like the Smart Suraksha App that is an Android application that aims at making women feel safe.
Now we have gadgets like phones, internet, GPS etc which perhaps make life tad bit safer, but I am left looking back at what happened all those years ago. Sita did not have any way of getting a message sent across to her husband or family. I wish she had Smart Suraksha with her. But, what is done cant be undone. I do hope that all women get such an application today so that if they are ever caught in a similar situation, they will be in a better position to handle it.