Home Letters Seetaa Jayanti – the birthday of Maataa Seetaa
Arya-Hindus in Guyana and elsewhere all over the world paused, some on May 20 and others on May 21, to celebrate the birthday of Mother Seetaa. This festival brings into focus an illustrious female character, Mother Seetaa, whom we must study and seek to emulate.
What is there in Seetaa’s persona that pulls us to her? Why is it that we feel motivated to turn the pages of her history to understand who she was?
The first character trait of Maataa Seetaa that comes to mind almost immediately is the impeccably ideal life that she lived. Her marriage to Shri Raam brought together two souls, two families, and two cities. She ‘came over’ from her father’s kingdom in Mithilaa to live permanently in her husband’s family in Ayodhyaa, and there is no evidence in the Ramayana that shows her as having ever returned.
When Raam and Seetaa had just arrived in the forest to live in exile, Janak and Sunainaa, her parents, came to see her. Seetaa went to the hut where her parents were staying to pay them respect. The Ramayana records her as saying nothing – no crying, no complaining, no showing of regret and hurt feelings. And very soon after she arrived in their hut, Sunainaa indicated to Janak that she shouldn’t be kept long – she had to return to Raam, for parents’ residence was no longer the residence of their married daughter.
Also, when Kaikeyi had given the order for him to go into exile, Shri Raam asked Seetaa to stay on in Ayodhyaa for the 14 years to help look after his parents, reminding her that a dutiful daughter-in-law had great blessings coming her way. Seetaa acknowledged those potential blessings, but said to Shri Raam that a wife without her husband was like a body without soul, a river without water; and so, without Shri Raam’s presence, heaven for her would be no different from hell. Seetaa, instead of returning to her parents’ home, chose to follow her husband to live through immense hardship coming from bushes, thorns, hunger, fatigue, rain, heat, etc.
Many people heap abuse on Shri Raam for giving credence to rumours spread by illiterate people about Seetaa’s character, and consequently sending her, in a pregnant state, into the forest for a second time. Even this part of the epic saga contains long-lasting inspirations for us in these modern times. It shows the deep sense of discipline, restraint, and responsiveness of a virtuous King. In banishing Seetaa, King Raam showed that the concerns of his subjects far superseded those of his immediate family, no matter how ruinous the consequences were. A lesson in sacrifice, indeed, for modern political rulers practising nepotism! Shri Raam’s virtue remained intact, because he never married anyone else, but still saw her as his wife.
We may remember that when he had performed a huge sacrifice in Seetaa’s absence, he had a golden statue of her meaningfully placed next to his side. Also, she also never succumbed to any vindictiveness, anger, and temptation to get married to someone else. She remained loyal to him to the last breath. In fact, she bore him handsome, virtuous, and skillful twin sons [Lav and Kush] who were a lesson to the world.
This world, especially Hindus, need living examples of Raam and Seetaa again; for that’s the only way each home, Hindu or otherwise, would become Ayodhyaa again. Happy Seetaa Jayanti. Namaste!! And, do pardon this unusually long post!
Dr Satish Prakash
Gurukula – Guyana
and New York