Harshada explores the character of Seeta in an innovative way,
Ramayana or the spiritual significance of it needs no introduction in India or even, worldwide. The story of Ramayana is eternal – without a beginning or an end; retold by generations to generations preserving the original essence.
When we hear the word, Ramayana – our human brain rolls it in a linear storyline – a kingdom of joy, a happy marriage, an evil step-mother, an exile, a cruel play of destiny, heroic prince with all weapons rescuing his wife, reunion, and then a dot of prejudice on a white tapestry. Let’s redefine these familiar slides in a new way to make them a trailblazing inspiration for women of today and future.
So, what is missing in this grand epic of Ramayana…?
The true essence of Seeta – her courage, her grit and her resilience.
CHARACTER INTRO -
Seeta, the most influential female character is an integral part of Ramayana. Though, there is an emphasis on Rama as a God and incarnation of God Vishnu, the greatness and sacrifice of Seeta cannot be undermined. No other character till date, is able to create such a strong sense of individuality and that’s exactly how I want each woman to portray herself in today’s world of Gender Equality. Seeta has blazed such an extraordinary trail that even today she is a subject of generational curiosity and research.
- The Traits / Qualities –
Analysing the qualities of Seeta in different viewpoints we can scrub out the old stereotypes and bring in new insights. Seeta is an inspiration to women generation making every woman believe that she can overcome any situations in life – be it chaotic or bad or disastrous. Only ‘she’ has the individual power to bring herself out of it – that is how the feminine divine energy works (considering the Mahishasura Mardini concept.)
Let’s, discuss Seeta on an outer frame through - SWOT analysis – strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.
- Living in the royal palaces filled with comfort and luxury, she decided to be with her husband during the 12-year exile period. This was her own personal decision which shows that Seeta was not a submissive woman but quite outspoken and firm in her decision-making. Further, she looked up the exile period as an opportunity and leveraged it to bring out her skills – learning, culinary and sporting.
During the exile, she thrived in the wildness of jungles, mountains, and unknown dwelling places. The thorns, wild animals or demons in the forest couldn’t hurt her as she had a strong mind power. Even in her parent’s palace, she was powerful enough to move the Shiva Dhanush at a tender age which even Gods and demi-gods couldn’t lift together.
Most of the time, when Rama and Lakshmana use to go out for visiting sages, hunting, collecting woods and other duties, she used to be alone at home and such a character can / should never be classified as weak or dependent – Seeta was bold and brave enough to be in the forest during primitive times not once but twice in her life. (we will get to this point later).
- The traditional board games were originally invented by Seeta when she was held as a captive in Ashoka Vatika by Ravana. It really takes a genius to invent a game that is played not only by the inventor but an entire society. She was optimistic and full of life, exploring her creativity when she was going through a hell of sufferings and torture. She is a perfect metaphor for strength and endurance.
- In Ramayana, she is mostly depicted as a subject of captivity, imprisoned by Ravana. However, if we rethink on this aspect – Seeta was held as a captive by Ravana but she never surrendered to him. During her captivity, she never consumed a drop of water or any food surviving on the divine ambrosia given to her by God Indra. She never accepted any gifts or clothing sent by Queen Mandodhari, Ravana’s wife. Seeta continued to be dressed in the divine garment that kept her ever-fresh and clean. These were gifted to her byAnusuyiya, wife of Sage Atri during her stay in the jungle. Even the Gods in the heaven, demons, kings and every living being used to be afraid of Ravana, but here a lone captive lady kept on refusing and rejecting him every time he came to her with his desire. Seeta even challenged the mighty Ravana to cross a strand of straw placed between them.
Even, in the situation of threat, she was calm and resilient, believing in her own powers and mental strength.
(Imagine being captured and surrounded by demons, without any mode of communication to rescue you, how terrible does it sound?)
These episodes signify that Seeta was self-reliant, proud and more than all; FEARLESS.
D.) The one thing that was constant in Ramayana – is Seeta’s commitment to life and her dharma. Even when her purity is put to test, she moved forward to prove herself. When Lakshmana leaves her in the forest on instructions of Rama, she holds no grudge or hard feelings against him or Rama. She understands his orientation towards duty and dharma. She fulfils the 100% responsibility of raising and educating her twin sons alone in the ashram. I just love her knack for twisting threats into opportunities.
She never showed herself to be helpless. Her practical journey gives us a broader understanding of how instead of being suppressed with issues like gender, race, social discriminations she focussed on creating a better representation of herself for upcoming generations. (and this is a worth a lesson)
If we integrate all these traits then it is clearly evident, that Seeta was full of extraordinary abilities and strength. Please, stop remodelling her into a shy, timid and submissive lady.
GOING BEYOND TO DEEP-DIVE -
Her Existence -
The story of her birth (ascent) and her descent from the earth both are mysterious enough to intrigue all of us forever. Like consciousness she appears and after connecting us with our soul (Rama) she disappears into the five elements. So, she is the connecting energy. The medium connecting us with our inner core…
Get ready to increase the volume of your audio buttons as I share one such not much known story about Seeta.
“It is a custom in Hindu traditional culture, that the newly wed bride prepares a feast for the bridegroom’s family. Such traditions have been a part of our life and society, and were followed even in the royal palaces. Accordingly, Seeta had prepared a heavy feast that would truly delight the senses of the entire family. Seeta was an expert cook and she was confident that everyone in the palace would relish her prepared food items.
She held a bowl of delicious creamy rice kheer in the cup of her hands, and was bringing it to her father in law - King Dashrath to savour. Suddenly, a strong wind blew and a twig of grass fell in her Kheer. This incident made Seeta were angry as she had prepared the food with much love and care. She looked at the twig, her glance was so full of anger that the twig was instantly reduced to ashes but the Kheer remained pure and clean. Seeta thought that no one noticed it. But she was wrong. King Dashrath had seen it all and realized his daughter in law is not an ordinary woman. He took from her a promise that she will never look at anyone with an angry look as it is against the laws of nature. Seeta accepted and fulfilled that promise to this extent that even when she could have burned Ravana into ashes by her one glance she did not do so!
This demonstrates her strong commitment to her personal values system even at the time of crisis.
Ramayana is a journey of Rama (soul) but we need strength or energy to carry out that coast to coast journey – And that energy is Seeta. She is the pure energy that purifies everything and energizes Rama to eliminate evil from the earth.
Seeta is a legend – a larger than life canvas that can give you a hope that everything is possible if we are ready to author our future. Love, pain, sufferings, and other emotional bytes are installed in her destiny creating numerous shifts in her life. But she never allowed these structural forces to pin her down.
After doing a moral analysis of these emotional experiences and her characteristics, I have learnt to be more responsive, fluid and alive to feel the experiences of life.
We need a lot more of women to create that kind of representation and we have a long way to go. Let’s document something that can be an inspirational guidebook for upcoming generations to follow.
If you have an unfilled gap in your life, a cavity or a space then meditate on the philosophies of Seeta, and I am sure; the process of purification and healing will begin.
“This happens only when you revisit Ramayana from Seeta’s perspective to inspire your outlook and dive into new, and unexplored possibilities.”
And believe me, that’s what Seeta is intended to do with her every visitor.