Wasn’t it immoral for Rama to exile Sita on just a rumour?

by Chaitanya CharanJuly 4, 2021

Answer Podcast

Answer Podcast Hindi

Answer: First of all Lord Ram did not banish or abandon Sita. If we have to use the word banish clearly in the sense in which it is used for Lord Ram when He was banished by Kaikeyi’s arrangement, then He had to go into the forest in the jungle where He had to fend for Himself and they had no ready home over there, they had no one to take care of themselves. So first thing that Lord Ram did not banish Sita like that. She was still within His kingdom under the care of Valmiki and Valmiki was under the care of Lord Ram directly he was in His kingdom and Lord Ram is the supersoul in the heart of all living beings and He is the supersoul in the heart of Valmiki also and Valmiki Rishi by his foresight he understood what was happening and he told the female hemits that were there in his hemitage to take care of Sita just like there own daughter. So in that sense Sita was certainly not banished the way Lord Ram was banished. So banish is too harsh a word and it is not proper to use it in this context. Now still the question remains why did Lord Ram send Her out of His palace when there was no fault on His side. So there are three different factors involved over here. There is the principle that this is not just from Vedic culture but this is also in European _________, it was there Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion. Srila Prabhupada would quote that the idea is that actually for a king to be able to effectively rule the people, the king himself has to be exemplary and that exemplariness has to manifest expression all walks of his life. So one of the exemplariness of the king is detachment. Now what kind of detachment is expected from the king. Although the king has the best opulences that anybody else has in the kingdom, but still the king is expected to use these opulences for the sake of dharma and for the sake of dharma he has to be ready to sacrifice those opulences. So for example when there is a sacrifice, the king is supposed to use the wealth that he has for performing sacrifice and while performing sacrifice the king is meant to give profuse charity to the priests who are there and the priests are not just official priests, the sages who are there, they are meant to be devotee to god entirely. So the idea is that the king has to be an ideal exemplar of dharma. So as a part of being exemplar of dharma one is that in the Vedic culture it is understood that family attachments are obstacles on the spiritual path. At a particular stage in a person’s life family attachments are important in the sense that they are also a part of a person’s duty so that the person can make spiritual progress but at the same time those duties if they diverted or diversed from the spiritual perspective then they just become material and taking care of ones family members is to some extent done even in the non human species also. So there is certainly nothing spiritual about that. So Lord Ram when he came to the world, He wanted to exemplify the dharma in the most extraordinary way. So that he did by showing that he had no attachment to His wife. So now if Lord Ram had really any attachment then He would have married some other wife later. He did not do that. It was not that He was personally concerned with His enjoyment. Some people say that for the sake of His own reputation, He gave up His wife. But at best a reputation can give a person only material pleasure so if material pleasure was all that was His interest and if reputation was all that was His interest then He could always have preserved the reputation by having some other wife, but he never did that. So at the time of there marriage, He had promised Sita that He would take a ekapathni vrta, He would not accept any other wives and His fidelity to Sita is seen through His keeping that vrta and further if we see although when yagnas are to be performed, the husband and wife have to sit together. Now although there was no one who could substitute for Sita unless Lord Ram married and there was pressure on Him that if you have to perform the yagna ashwameda kratu dikshita Rama, He had to perform ashwameda and other yagnas, so for that He had to have a queen with Him, so then He made images of Sita, golden image of Sita and that image was what sat with Him. So if we are looking at it, there are two aspects there is attachment and then there is responsibilty. Detachment does not mean irresponsibility and attachment is not necessarily irresponsibility. So if Lord Ram had been irresponsible or as the word here in the question uses immoral, then He would have just not cared for Sita at all, if Sita had just been a means for His reputation and because She was a spot on His reputation, He would have given Her up. Then He could just have abandoned Her entirely. He would not even have told Lakshmana  to take Her to Valimiki’s ashram. He would just have told Her get out of my palace but He carefully arranged for Lakshman to have Her taken to the hermitage of Valmiki and again He did not marry anyone else even when there is obligations required it to some extent. So of course when the sages saw that they just told them that the yagna can be performed with the image also and He did that. The fact that He went to the extreme of doing that indicates that he was not irresponsible or immoral just concerned about worldly pleasure through reputation or enjoyment. Lord Ram himself was very principled. So what He is exhibiting through sending Sita away from His palace is not irresponsibility or immorality but detachment and exemplary conduct. So detachment means that as far as setting up the dharma is concerned one is not ready to compromise at all. One is ready to sacrifice any pleasure that is required for the setting up of dharma. So this is from Lord Ram’s perspective. Now we might argue that actually if Sita had been at fault then all this might have been ok, but Sita was not at fault if there is just a rumour somewhere then why take a rumour so seriously. He could just have confronted those people who where having those rumours and corrected them and infact that was Lakshman’s impulse. He felt that I want to who is saying this, I will go and set them straight but Lord Ram knew that the point here was not to set to silence one voice or to correct one misconception. The point here was to represent a principle and the principle was that the king should be spotless. So spotless that even rumours are not possible about such a person. Now in today’s socio politically _______ what to speak of rumours, even when evidences are there, even at that time the administrators, the politicians, the kings don’t care and they continue to hold on to there post and to do there irreligious, corrupt and immoral activities. So it’s very difficult for us to comprehend this level of morality. None the less this was what Lord Ram exemplified. So Lord Ram had a conflict in between His duty as a family member, as a husband and duty as a king and He did His duty as a king by exemplifying detachment and He did His duty as a husband by ensuring that Sita was cared for although She was not cared for directly in His palace by Him but She was cared in His kingdom through His representatives, sages who were there and elderly hermits that were there in the sage’s hermitage. So now the most agonising and to some extent emotionally difficult to accept this is from Sita’s perspective. So you could say what was Sita’s fault that She had already gone through the agni pariksha and She had already proven Her chastity, first of all She had maintained Her chastity despite all the allurements of Ravana. Both Ravana had threatened Her as well as tempted Her. So She maintained her chastity despite it all and then She proved Her chastity by going through the agni pariksha and then even after that She had undergo the mortification of being rejected by Lord Ram. So certainly this is very heart rending and firstly we have to understand that the whole Ramayan, every scripture there is a story line, there is philosophy and there is a rasa. There is a emotional experience that that scripture suppose to offer and that emotional experience is purifying, uplifting and eventually liberating. So in the Ramayan the primary emotional experience that is offered is called as karuna rasam. Karuna rasam is not exactly compassion but we can’t have compassion for the Lord or His associates but the idea is that normally compassion is invoked when we see somebody else suffering. So seeing the Lord suffering and the Lord gracefully accepting that suffering that inspires attraction to the Lord within us and that emotion which arises is purifying. So the whole purpose of the Ramayan is primarily to give, it is written _____ rishi is called as the adhi kavi and is called as the adhi kavya, the first poetry. So it is meant to promote that feeling and that is actually promoted first through Lord Ram’s exile, although Lord Ram just as Sita when She was sent to the forest She was utterly faultless. Similarly when Lord Ram himself was sent to the forest, He was utterly faultless. Now there was just some circumstance by which Dasharatha was bound and Lord Ram had to be sent to the forest. So similarly there was some circumstance by which Lord Ram was bound and Sita had to be sent to the forest. So we may say that there are differences in the situation that Lord Ram could have rejected the rumours but then we could also say Dasharatha could have rejected His word to Kaikeyi. Dasharath maharaj was king, Lord Ram was king also but the important principle over there is that there is something deeper being communicated over here. The communication is that even the Lord when he descends to the world to perform His pastimes, He has to some extent suffer and the way He accepts suffering with grace is what is meant to be taught for all time to come. So that is the lesson.So if we are going to blame then Lord Ram could have blamed Dasharatha maharaj which he did not do and similarly Sita did not blame Lord Ram. She understood why He had done it and although it pained her immensely just as it pained Lord Ram to go to the forest and not be there in the kingdom with His parents and with the citizens but He accepted it, similarly Sita also accepted it. So now is this meant to become a stereo type or a model for everyone, obviously not. The principle of sacrifice is something which is exemplary but the idea that somebody creates suffering upon somebody else to invoke that spirit of sacrifice is a perverse understanding. So it is not that the Ramayan recommends that step mothers conspire to send their stepsons into exile nor does the Ramayan recommend that, pregnant wives be abandoned. Every scripture if you don’t understand it in it’s proper context and purpose distorted lessons can be taken from it and this may unfortunately happened sometimes but that is not at all the intent of the Ramayan. The intent of the Ramayan is to first of all stimulate within us intense emotional attraction towards the Lord and His consort by seeing how They are suffering and secondly through Their suffering They exemplify to us how we can gracefully accept suffering when it comes in our way. But the idea that we should impose suffering upon others is a complete perversion and if that has happened, that is unfortunate and that is regrettable and the vaishnava acharyas especially in the Sri sampradaya, they have actually taught that Lord Ram’s exiling mother Sita was to invoke this karunya rasa, Jiva goswami also talks about it and from the rasa point of view there is a higher experience also that love in separation is higher than love in union in the sense that the emotions become intensified. They say that “the heart grows fonder in the absence of the beloved”. So Lord Ram wanted to give Sita that highest experience of love in separation and for that purpose this happened. So overall we can understand this at multiple levels, at the first level from the administrative point of view as a king Lord Ram had to set the example of complete detachment so that He could exemplify dharmic detachment for His citizens and He did that but on the other hand Lord Ram as a husband was not irresponsible, He arranged for the care of His pregnant wife, then from the still higher perspective of the Ramayan, it exemplifies to us how even the Lord undergoes suffering with grace and inspires us to accept whatever suffering we undergo in our lives because of our past karma to also accept it gracefully. It also increases emotional attraction towards the Lord in our hearts and lastly it enables Sita and Ram to taste the supreme rasa of love in separation which is the highest emotional experience between lovers.

Thank You.

Transcription in hindi

Transcribed by – Niramala Shorewala Mataji (Kaithal)

प्रश्न- क्या भगवान राम का सीतादेवी का त्याग करना अनैतिक नहीं था? क्या किसी अफवाह की कारण किसी पति को अपनी पत्नी का त्याग करना चाहिए? क्या एक पति होने के नाते श्रीराम का यह एक अनुत्तरदायी व दोषपूर्ण कृत्य नहीं है?

उत्तर- श्रीराम ने माता सीता का न तो बहिष्कार किया था और नहीं त्याग। अगर हम देश निकाला का सही अर्थ देखें तो जैसे भगवान राम को चौदह साल के वनवास के लिए भेजा गया था, जहाँ वन में उनके पास न घर था न ही कुछ और साधन, श्रीराम ने माता सीता को इस प्रकार का देश निकाला नहीं किया था। सीतादेवी उनके राज्य में वाल्मीकि आश्रम में उन्हीं की देखरेख में थीं। श्रीराम सभी प्राणियों के हृदय में परमात्मा रूप में स्थित हैं। वे वाल्मीकि मुनि के हृदय में भी स्थित थे। वाल्मीकि मुनि त्रिकालदर्शी थे। वे समझ गए थे कि क्या हो रहा है और उन्होंने अपने आश्रम में रहने वाली स्त्री सन्यासिनों को कह दिया था कि सीता देवी की देखरेख एक पुत्री की तरह होनी चाहिए। इस दृष्टिकोण से श्रीराम ने सीतादेवी को देश निकाला नहीं दिया था।

फिर भी इस संदर्भ में यह प्रश्न रहता है कि श्रीराम ने सीतादेवी को अपने महल से बाहर क्यों किया जबकि सीतादेवी का इसमें कोई दोष नहीं था।

इस विषय के आंकलन में हम तीन पक्षों के दृष्टिकोणों पर विचार करके करेंगे – (i) श्रीराम का दृष्टिकोण (ii) सामाजिक दृष्टिकोण (iii) शास्त्रों का दृष्टिकोण।

श्रीराम का दृष्टिकोण – वैदिक संस्कृति में ही नहीं यूरोपीय संस्कृति में भी ये मान्यता है कि राज्य की पटरानी को पूर्णतया संदेहरहित होना चाहिए। एक राजा को अनुकरणीय होना चाहिए और इस बात का प्रदर्शन उसके जीवन के हर स्तर पर दिखना चाहिए। राजा के अनेक गुणों में से एक है वैराग्य। पूरे राज्य में राजा के पास सर्वश्रेष्ठ ऐश्वर्य होता है किंतु राजा उसका उपयोग धर्म की रक्षा के लिए करता है। उदाहरणार्थ, धार्मिक कार्यों में राजा अपनी संपत्ति का ब्राह्मणों में भरपूर दान करता है।

राजा धर्म का प्रतिनिधि होता है। वैदिक संस्कृति के अनुसार अत्यधिक पारिवारिक आसक्ति आध्यात्मिक जीवन में एक बाधा बन जाता है। गृहस्थ जीवन में पारिवारिक संबंधों का महत्व होता है क्योंकि ये व्यक्ति के कर्तव्य निर्वाह का भाग होते हैं। कर्तव्यों का निर्वाह आध्यात्मिक विकास के लिए आवश्यक है। किन्तु यदि यही पारिवारिक संबंध उसे अध्यात्मिक प्रगति से दूर ले जा रहे हैं तो वे भौतिक हो जाते हैं। देखा जाए तो इस प्रकार परिवार जनों की देखरेख पशु पक्षी भी करते हैं, तो इसमें विशेष रूप से आध्यात्मिक कुछ नहीं। जब श्रीराम धरती पर अवतरित हुए तो उन्हें धर्म पालन का सर्वोच्च आदर्श स्थापित करना था। सीतादेवी का त्याग करके उन्होंने सिद्ध किया कि वे अपनी पत्नी के प्रति अनावश्यक आसक्त नहीं थे। यदि वे आसक्त होते तो बाद में किसी अन्य स्त्री से विवाह अवश्य करते।

कुछ लोग कहते हैं कि श्रीराम ने अपने मान सम्मान को बचाने के लिए सीतादेवी का त्याग किया। यदि ऐसा होता तो वे अश्वमेध यज्ञ में अपना मान बढ़ाने के लिए दूसरा विवाह कर सकते थे। यज्ञ करने के लिए उन्हें एक रानी की आवश्यकता थी और उनपर ऋषि मुनियों द्वारा दूसरे विवाह के लिए दबाव भी था। किन्तु उन्होंने दूसरा विवाह नहीं किया। वे अपने एकपत्नी व्रत पर अडिग रहे और सीतादेवी के प्रति अपनी निष्ठा का परिचय दिया। यहाँ दो पक्ष हैं एक है आसक्ति दूसरा वैराग्य। वैराग्य का अर्थ अनुत्तरदायी और आसक्ति का अर्थ उत्तरदायी नहीं होता है। यदि श्रीराम उत्तरदायी नहीं होते तो सीतादेवी के बारे में बिल्कुल चिंता नहीं करते। यदि सीता देवी केवल एक मान सम्मान का प्रश्न होतीं तो श्रीराम उनका पूर्णतया त्याग कर सकते थे। वे सरलता से उन्हें महल से बाहर निकाल सकते थे। किंतु उन्होंने श्रीलक्ष्मण को आदेश देकर सीतादेवी को वाल्मिकी आश्रम तक पहुंचाया। इन बातों से साफ पता लगता है कि श्रीराम अनुत्तरदायी व अनैतिक नहीं थे। उन्हें अपने मान सम्मान व भौतिक सुख से कोई लगाव न था। वे सिद्धांत के पक्के थे। सीतादेवी को महल से भेजकर उन्होंने वैराग्य और धर्मपालन का सर्वश्रेष्ठ उदाहरण प्रस्तुत किया। धर्म पालन के लिए वे कुछ भी त्याग करने के लिए तैयार थे।

अब हम यह आंकलन कर सकते हैं कि यदि सीतादेवी का दोष होता तब ये त्याग उचित था किंतु किसी अफवाह के कारण ये किया गया। क्या किसी अफवाह को इतनी गंभीरता से लिया जाना चाहिए?
सामाजिक दृष्टिकोण – श्रीराम अफवाह फैलाने वालों से बात करके उनकी शंका दूर कर सकते थे जैसा कि इस अफवाह को सुनकर श्रीलक्ष्मण ने तुरंत कहा था कि ऐसा कौन कह रहा है। श्रीराम जानते थे कि वास्तविक समाधान किसी एक आवाज को दबाना नहीं था। वास्तविक समाधान इस सिद्धांत की स्थापना था कि एक राजा को नितांत निष्कलंक होना चाहिए। निष्कलंक इतना कि उसके बारे में लेषमात्र भी संदेह न हो। वर्तमान समय के नेता अफवाहों की बात तो दूर ठोस सबूत होने पर भी नहीं मानते और पदों पर बने रहते हैं। ऐसी स्थिति में हमें श्रीराम की उच्चकोटि की नैतिकता को समझने में कठिनाई हो सकती है। सीतादेवी का त्याग कर उन्होंने अपने राजधर्म का पालन किया तथा सीतादेवी को वाल्मीकि आश्रम में भेजकर अपने पति धर्म का पालन किया।

शास्त्रों का दृष्टिकोण – सीतादेवी के लिए इस निर्णय को स्वीकार करना अत्यंत दुखदायी था। इसमें सीतादेवी का क्या दोष? सीतादेवी ने अग्नि परीक्षा देकर अपनी पवित्रता का प्रमाण पहले ही दे दिया था। रावण के फुसलाने और धमकाने पर भी उन्होंने अपनी पवित्रता पर आँच नहीं आने दी। इस पर भी श्रीराम ने उनका त्याग किया। यह अत्यंत दुखदायी है। हमें यहाँ समझना चाहिए कि शास्त्रों की कथाओं में तीन पक्ष होते हैं – (i) कथा (ii) दर्शन (iii) रस। शास्त्र की कथाऐं हमें भावनात्मक अनुभव प्रदान करती हैं। यह भावनात्मक अनुभव हमारा शुद्धिकरण करता है, हमारी चेतना को ऊपर उठाता है और अंततः हमें मुक्ति प्रदान करता है।

रामायण हमें मुख्य रूप से करुण रस प्रदान करती है। जब हम श्रीराम को देखते हैं कि वे कैसे समभाव और शालीनता से अपने दुखों को स्वीकार करते हैं तो यह रस हमें भगवान राम के प्रति आकर्षित होने के लिए प्रेरित करता है। इनसे जो भावनाऐं उभरती हैं वे हमें शुद्ध करती हैं। वाल्मीकि ऋषि को आदि कवि कहा जाता है। रामायण का मुख्य उद्देश्य है इन भावनाओं का पाठक में संचार करना। सर्वप्रथम यह भावना श्रीराम के वनवास की कथा से आती हैं। जैसे जब सीतादेवी का त्याग किया गया तब वे निर्दोष थीं, वैसे ही जब श्रीराम को वनवास भेजा गया तब श्रीराम भी दोष रहित थे। परिस्थितियों के कारण महाराज दशरथ वचनबद्ध थे और श्रीराम को फलस्वरूप वनवास जाना पड़ा, ठीक उसी प्रकार परिस्थितियों के कारण श्रीराम बंधे हुए थे और सीतादेवी को वाल्मीकि आश्रम जाना पड़ा।

यहाँ हम कह सकते हैं कि दोनों परिस्थितियों में अंतर था। श्रीराम अफवाहों को सुनकर अनसुना कर सकते थे। तो फिर हम यह भी कह सकते हैं कि महाराज दशरथ कैकेई की मांगों को ठुकरा सकते थे। लेकिन महत्वपूर्ण बात यह है कि इन दोनों परिस्थितियों में एक महत्वपूर्ण बात यह है कि जब भगवान धरती पर अवतरित होते हैं और लीला करते हैं तो उन्हें भी दुख सहन करना पड़ता है। इन दुखों को वे शालीनता व सहजता से स्वीकार करते हैं। यह सीख देना ही इस कथा का मूल उद्देश्य है। यदि दोष ही देना था तो श्रीराम महाराज दशरथ को दोष दे सकते थे और सीतादेवी श्रीराम को दोष दे सकती थीं। किंतु दोनों ने ही ऐसा नहीं किया। सीतादेवी को अतिशय दुख हुआ कि श्रीराम ने उनका त्याग किया किन्तु वे समझ सकती थीं कि किन परिस्थितियों ने श्रीराम ने ऐसा किया। ऐसे ही श्रीराम को भी वनवास का दुख हुआ किंतु उन्होंने स्वीकार किया क्योंकि वे समझते थे कि किन परिस्थितियों में ऐसा हुआ।

तो क्या हम सभी को ऐसे त्याग का अनुसरण करना चाहिए?

नहीं, ऐसा नहीं कह सकते। त्याग का सिद्धांत अनुकरणीय और कठोर है। किंतु यह विचारधारा कि कोई जानबूझकर किसी को दुखी करे जिससे किसी दूसरे व्यक्ति में त्याग की भावना उत्पन्न हो तो यह एक दोषपूर्ण और आधारहीन समझ है। रामायण इस बात की अनुमोदन नहीं करती कि माँऐं अपने सौतेले पुत्रों को वनवास भेजें। रामायण यह अनुमोदन भी नहीं करती कि गर्भवती पत्नी को त्याग दिया जाए। किंतु यदि हम शास्त्रों को सही ढंग से न समझें तो हम उनकी शिक्षा का त्रुटिपूर्ण अर्थ लगा लेते हैं। रामायण का उद्देश्य है कि करुण रस के माध्यम से हमारे भीतर भगवान के प्रति आकर्षण की भावना उत्पन्न हो। श्री संप्रदाय के आचार्यों और श्रील जीव गोस्वामी ने भी यह बताया है कि श्रीराम का सीतादेवी का त्याग करना करुण रस में है। रस के दृष्टिकोण से यह एक उच्च अनुभव है। मिलन से विरह का प्रेम उच्च स्तर पर है क्योंकि इसमें भावनाएँ और तीव्र हो जाती है। ऐसा कहा जाता है कि विरह में हृदय प्रेमी की स्मृति में मग्न हो जाता है। तो श्रीराम को सीतादेवी को इस उच्च कोटि का अनुभव कराना था, इसी कारण ऐसा हुआ।

सामान्यतः इस घटना को हम अलग-अलग स्तर पर समझ सकते हैं । पहले स्तर पर भगवान राम को धर्मपालन का उद्देश्य स्थापित करना था। फिर चाहे उन्हें अपनी पत्नी का त्याग ही क्यों न करना पड़े। इससे उनके वैराग्य की भावना का पता लगता है। दूसरा वे अनुत्तरदायी नहीं थे। श्रीराम ने सीता देवी का त्याग नहीं किया उन्होंने अपनी पत्नी सीता की वाल्मिकी आश्रम में व्यवस्था की थी। एक ऊंचे स्तर पर भगवान राम हमें अपने उदाहरण से दिखाते हैं कि कैसे उन्होंने स्वयं भी दुख का अनुभव किया और कितनी शालीनता से इन परिस्थितियों का सामना किया। हमें भी अपने जीवन में आए दुखों का सामना इसी प्रकार करना चाहिए। अंततः यह घटना भगवान राम और माता सीता को कारुण्य रस अर्थात विरह में प्रेम का उच्च अनुभव कराती है।

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Chaitanya Charan

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