The Ramayana: An Interpretive Analysis
The Ramayana is a multi-leveled masterpiece with so many meanings and interpretations you could spend your whole life just studying it. On one level it is a narrative describing Hindu culture of the time and the conquests of a brave warrior similar in some ways to the Iliad. On a second level it’s an outline for a moral life, much like the bible. And lastly, it is a Post-Vedic Hindu scripture depicting the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. In this paper I will explore one facet of this complex story, the relationship between Rama and Sita.
Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is also a role model for Hindu women, possessing all virtues as well as great beauty. Extremely loyal, she, and Lakshmana accompany her husband, Rama, into 14 years of exile in the forest.
Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, is the preserver and protector of the universe. His life is one of perfect conformity to Dharma, the Hindu code of right life. When his father Dasaratha attempts to install him as the next king of Ayodhya his stepmother Kaikeyi forces the king to exile Rama to forest for 14 years and induct her son as king. This is the real beginning of Rama and Sita’s Story.
Let’s look at a few scenarios and examine how our heroes treat each other. Very soon after entering the forest Rama is approached by Soorpanaka, a sorceress, who has taken on the form of a pretty young woman. Professing to love him she engages him in conversation. He is immediately suspicious and soon sees right through her. As Rama is talking to Soorpanaka, Sita comes out and joins Rama. When Soorpanaka suggests that Sita is really a sorceress and warns Rama of the danger she poses, he plays along. Soorpanaka encouraged thus, lays into Sita with every bit of hatred she can muster. Sita, scared, runs into Rama’s arms for protection. In the process of...