Disclaimer : This is just my opinion that I am sharing here. I have not done any study or research on the subject. Simply my OPINION.
I don’t have any problem till the part when Ram left for Vanvas with Lakshman and Sita. But after that how the story goes… it always bothered me little bit.
Over the period of time, the original story has been modified so many times that almost every region has it’s own Ramayana. Through out my life, I’ve been hearing different versions of different parts of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and while discussing these things with a few friends, I came up with my own Ramayana story which I find more logical and justified.
I am sharing those thoughts here, which I call my own version of Ramayana 😉 , and everyone is, of course, free to agree or disagree.
1) Sita was daughter of Ravan. (My teacher of History in Primary School introduced me to this concept. She said that one of the ancient South Indian Ramayana presents this idea…. and makes more sense to me since a king like Ravan, with knowledge and spirituality hight enough to make the Pushpak-Viman and an entire city of Gold, would not kidnap someone’s wife ) Ravan was a very learned, noble and strong man. But when Sita was born there was a big war going on ( Aryan v/s Dravidian probably ?? ). He could not risk the safety of his family, specially his wife and his new born daughter. He had to anyways protect his wife since that was matter of his pride. Even if he tried to hide his wife somewhere, people would call him a coward. But this was not the case with his daughter. Hardly anyone knew about her and that’s why she was safer. And he didn’t even want anyone to know about her. So he hide her in a far away land, under the earth, while making sure that the baby stays safe there and also keeps getting air to breathe. I believe that he also probably made sure that a good King finds her there. So this is how Janak found the beautiful girl child from the Earth. He adopted and raised her as his own child.
2) Ravan never stopped caring about his daughter. He always kept an eye on her. When he found out that his little, delicate daughter and her husband are forced to leave the kingdom and live in the woods, he was very angry and shocked. The world didn’t know that Sita is his daughter. So one day when Ram and Laksham where not around, he went to meet her. He explained her the entire story and told her how much he was worried. He requested her to go along with him and live in his palace till the time of Vanvas. But Sita was determined to stand by her husband and support him, so she refused. Ravan being her father could not accept her decision and that’s why forced her into coming with him to his palace, where Sita refused all the royal treatments and missed her husband.
3) Society didn’t know about Ravan being Sita’s father and that’s why the Kidnapping act was not fair. If Ram would let her be there just like that, they will accuse him of not protecting his wife and the pride of Ayodhya. So Ram had to declare a war against Ravan and bring his wife back. Vibhishan was suppose to become King anyways, but that would have had happened much later if this complex situation didn’t occur. Any how, they went for the best solution by putting Vibhishan on Ram’s side so that after defeating Ravan, Ram can declare Vibhishan as the king, which wouldn’t have been possible if he was still on the enemy side. Ravan had to be killed because without loosing the war he couldn’t handover Sita to Ram, and being alive after loosing the war was not acceptable to him as a man of high pride.
4) Ram always trusted Sita and had no question about her “purity”. He probably also knew about her being daughter of Ravan. Since the society was not ready for the truth; they could not let anyone else know the real story. There were many other people who participated in the war on Ram’s side and he had to also show some respect to them. If he would accept Sita back just like that, they would question him. So for their satisfaction, he had to ask Sita, harsh questions in front of everyone. Of course, Sita answered them all but as you can imagine, it was really a painful and embarrassing situation for her and that’s why the questioning is called “Agni-pariksha”.
5) After coming back to Ayodhaya, Ram became the King and everyone loved him very much. But this love turned out to be a bad influence on Sita’s life. Ram loved Sita deeply but the questions about her being kidnapped by Ravan and accusations about her purity were increasing day by day and that’s why there might have been a threat to her life. Meanwhile she also got pregnant. To save her and his unborn kids from any possible danger Ram had to do something. He could not leave the kingdom and go away with her for two reasons. One that he had accepted this responsibility and he was man of his words. Second, if he would leave kingdom for her, people would blame her for stealing their beloved King from them and would be really angry with her, which would have just worsened the situation. He couldn’t even hide her in some palace far away, because if anyone found out about the hiding place, she will be again in danger. So he had to go for the painful solution of abandoning her. Though he never truly abandoned her. He explained the situation to her and she being always understanding, agreed even with tears in her eyes. Lakshman was asked to take her to Valmiki’s Ashram as Valmiki was the only person outside the Kingdom whom Ram trusted. Ram always took care of her security and comfort there. Sita lived a simple life at the Ashram and there she gave birth to twin sons of Ram. Ram never married or loved any other woman. He missed Sita and suffered that pain all his life.
6) Ram knew about his sons but could never go and meet them or Sita. If he tried to meet them, people would get to know that he had not really detached himself from them, and the same old threat might rise again. When he realised that he was coming to an age where he should pass on the responsibility of the Kingdom to his sons, he decided to do a “Yagna”. It was merely a mean to Introduce his Sons to his people. With Sita’s permission, he took them back to Ayodhya and gave them all the necessary training and guidance to become good Kings. Since Sita’s hiding place was disclosed in the process, she had to leave the Ashram and go to another safe hiding place. People were told that she being child of the Earth, she went back to her. After handing over the Kingdom to Luv-Kush, Ram also left for the woods, where I believe he disguised himself as one of the Munis and lived for rest of his life with Sita. (Yeah.. I like happy endings only 😉
So all you ladies, before judging Ram as a bad husband who abandoned his wife, think about this. He suffered in loneliness most of his life, to keep his wife and kids safe. Sita suffered separation from her loving husband, for the safety of her kids. They had courage, knowledge, wisdom and strength… and that’s why we should respect them.