Sita Character

For many of us, the name Sita conjures up an image of a chaste pati vrata woman, the 'Ideal Woman'. Some see her as victimized and oppressed, who obeyed her husband's commands, followed him, remained faithful to him, served her in-laws or yielded to parental authority, had to prove her innocence, raised her children alone, generally did her duty whether she wanted to or not. 

Yet, there are others who see a more liberated Sita, the cherished wife of Ram. She was outspoken, had the freedom to express herself, asserted herself whenever she wanted to get her way, fell for the temptation of the golden deer, spoke harsh words, repented it, loved her husband, was faithful to him, served her family, did not get seduced by the glamour and material objects in Ravan's palace, faced an angry and suspicious husband, tried to appease him, reconciled her marriage, later accepted her separation, raised well-balanced children as a single mother and then moved on. 

When we study Ramayan closely, we see Sita revealed her greatness wherever she was placed. When we call these characters great, what exactly do we mean? Do we mean that their lives were pure, so free from human weaknesses and so richly endowed with subtle protective forces that no complicated situations could arise to upset them. Far from it. Their greatness was rather in their strength that came from truth, sincerity, self-sacrifice and other virtues. If the test of greatness is the capacity to remain true to one's principles in spite of terrors and temptations, Sita's greatness was undoubtedly more pronounced, for she portrayed a greater power of endurance than any other character, except possibly Ram. It is not that Sita did not cry or complain. Hers was not the endurance of the stone or the wall with no outside expression for the inner workings. Hers was the special capacity, amidst the wailing and complaints, to use her discrimination and to face her challenges in a dignified manner.1

n Ramayan, I saw that in the case of almost every great woman, the initial stroke of calamity from outside or the surging up of greed from within did as a matter of fact produce the normal human reaction of desperation. But as the first effects subsided, every woman regained her balance, very slowly in some cases, but steadily until at last she reached the highest values of life that mankind or womankind could ever manifest under similar circumstances.