(Sita drops her necklace as the demon king Ravana carries her away in his chariot. Still from Sita Sings the Blues)
It has probably become apparent to those of you regular readers that my inclinations are headed towards Sri Rama, as far as an ishta devata, goes. I fought it for a while, under the idea that I was learning about and getting to know all the various aspects of Brahman before settling on one. That led to a lot of confusion and frustration, during which I prayed to – surprise, surprise – Rama, because I didn’t know who else to pray to. That should’ve been a tip-off.
Anyway, that’s not really he point. The point is that while I was able to be quite comfortable with praying to Rama, I had a very hard time with Sita. Actually, I’ve had a hard time reconciling the stories of most of the female devis with my modern, Western ideas about women and feminism. At a glance, most of the women in Hindu stories aren’t in favorable positions, especially if you’re looking at them from a Western perspective. Sita must constantly prove herself to Rama. Radha pines away for Krishna. Parvati must go through many trials to even get Shiva to notice her.
So I meditated on Sita Maa. A lot. And here’s where I’ve netted out:
I adore her.
Putting superficial Western ideas aside, she is a lovely lovely example of patience and devotion. I ask her every day to give me just an ounce of her infinite patience and self-control. Rather than seeing her as a person who might hold a “modern” woman back, I think she is an example for all “modern” people, in that she teaches us to weather hard times and have faith that God is there for us, even when things seem hopeless. She teaches us quiet perseverance. She teaches us limitless devotion. She teaches us kindness and generosity to everyone, no matter who they are.
In the same way that the rakshasas are examples of perfect souls blinded and trapped by maya, Sita is the patience of the soul, waiting for us to realize it and free it so that it can be reunited with God, Rama, the universal oneness, whatever you want to call it.
Jai Sita Maa!