[Advaita-l] Did Shri Rama really abandon Sita?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Mar 26 03:18:38 EDT 2018

Still working my way through some older topics.  This one is apropos for 
the blessed occasion of Rama Navami.

On Sun, 17 Dec 2017, Aditya Kumar via Advaita-l wrote:

> Was Shri Rama, the maryada purushottama abandon his dharma-patni because 
> some random woodcutter gossiped about her? Even common folk won't do 
> such a thing. It is strange. I feel like this woodcutter story was added 
> later to undermine/insult Rama/faith in Rama. Any leads or opinions on 
> this matter?

In a democracy citizens are of equal worth and all deserve to have their 
voices heard.  Furthermore whoever is in charge has to apply the rules 
equally to themselves as others even at personal cost.  Ayodhya was not a 
modern democracy but Shri Rama was the ideal ruler so it is not strange 
that He would apply similar principles.

On Wed, 20 Dec 2017, Jack Sparow via Advaita-l wrote:

Jatin please do not use pseudonyms on this list.

> Yes it is addition to main Ramayan much later by a poet named Bhavbhuti in
> his work: Uttar Rama charita. It is more of fiction work and prior to this
> there is no mention till 1st century bc.
> The fact can be verified when one reads Bhattiya s work written in second
> century bc by the name Ravan Vadhiyam, it does not mention Ram abandoning
> Sita.

Ravana Vadha Nahakavya popularly known as Bhatti Kavya is actually a work 
on vyakarana which ingeniously explains all the rules of Sanskrit grammar 
through the medium of a retelling of the Ramayana.  The 2nd century BC date 
is mentioned because of the tradition that Bhatti (a prakrit form of 
Bhartrahari a famous grammarian or some say he was the brother of 
Bhartrhari) was one of the nava ratnas of the court of king Vikramaditya. 
However historians tend to think a 6th century AD date is more likely as 
some of the earliest known manuscripts include colophons that suggest the 
author wrote it in Valabhi (not Vikramadityas Avantika)  If this were 
true, than it would be after known citations of the uttarakanda.

A simpler explanation for the exclusion of uttarakanda in the Bhattikavya 
is that it is designed as a textbook for young boys and so omitted 
sensitive subjects.  The story is that Bhatti was teaching Panini to his 
students when a wild elephant crossed their path (I assume he was teaching 
outdoors) According to dharmashastras this kind of bad omen meant a one 
year suspension of study.  Bhatti wrote his poem so he could teach 
vyakarana without teaching an actual vyakarana shastra.

Now this is a legendary story but my Guruji once told me of a similar 
practice in contemporary times.  In Kashi after a boy learned the basics 
of vyakarana via e.g. Laghu Siddhanta Kaumudi, he would study the 
Raghuvamsha of Kalidasa.  But the lessons would start from the 2nd sarga 
only.  Why?  Not because pandits believed that it was inauthentic or 
anything but because the 1st sarga contains the story of the curse that 
fell upon the ancestors of king Sagara and this is considered too 
inauspicious for young ears.

I don't know where you got the idea that Bhavabhuti is from 1st century 
BC.  The usual date estimated for him is 8th Century AD.

S.V Belvalkar in the introduction to his edition of the Uttararamacharita 
mentions a similar idea in the context of the Ramopakhyana in the 
Mahabharata which ends with the rajyabhisheka of Shri Rama and is 
therefore also often cited as a reason for doubting the authenticity of 
the uttara kanda.  Belvalkar points out that the context of the narration 
of the story (by Rshi Markandeya) is to explain to the Pandavas who are 
facing the misfortune of exile a similar example of how good people with 
bad luck eventually ended up with a happy ending.  It would spoil the 
pedagogical point to continue the story onwards.

On Mon, 18 Dec 2017, Aditya Kumar via Advaita-l wrote:

> Sorry for flurry of posts. My last one for the day. But seems like
> Uttara Kanada is indeed a fanciful interpolation. If abandoning Sita
> didn't rattle your Dharmic sense, this another incident might help. The
> infamous incident of Rama killing a 'shudra' ascetic features in the
> same Uttara kanda. But Rama is not the real reason for his hate/bigotry
> against Shudras performing Tapas. A Brahmin complains that his son had
> died mysteriously and so he stages a dharna! in Rama's palace. Rama
> enquires his council which features illustrious sage like Narada. They
> say that a 'Shudra' is performing Tapasya which has caused the death of
> ONE random Brahmin boy. So Rama gets his aerial car! and scouts his
> kingdom. When confronted, the 'Shudra' expresses his wish to go to
> heaven in his mortal form! Rama, without much ado kills the 'Shudra'!
> for performing Tapasya!! Finally, the gods shower a flowery rain for
> preventing a 'Shudra' from entering heaven.  So in uttara kanda alone,
> Shri Rama is a misogynist, an oppressor of down-trodden and most
> importantly a Brahmin incites the king to kill the 'Shudras'.
> Hmm...where have I read that before?

I don't know.  From one of those mediocre bloggers you like to read?

In the actual Ramayana, Shri Rama is friends with Guha who is described as 
being the king of the Naishadas (Some gloss Naishada as Bhil but that is 
probably an anachronism.  But they were definitely Adivasis of some sort.) 
Then He accepts hospitality from Shabari (whose name means "forest 
dweller.") who is not only an ascetic but a woman to boot.  And he takes 
advice from a humble woodcutter as you yourself have mentioned.  So other 
than a prejudiced mind, who could think that He was against Shudras?

The story of Shambuka is given in more detail in act 2 scene 2 of the 
Uttara Rama Charita Here Bhavabhuti says that he was a Gandharva who had 
been cursed to his current birth on Earth, a curse that could only be 
lifted by being killed by Shri Rama.  Shambukas actions were done to 
purposely antagonize so this could happen sooner.  This similar to how 
Jaya and Vijaya the dvarapals of Vaikuntha who fell under a curse chose to 
be killed in three lifetimes by Vishnu Bhagavan rather than spend seven 
lifetimes away from Him as devotees.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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