Goddess of Devotion and Mystical Submission:
Sita exists only for love. She personifies loyalty. She incarnates devotion. She stands for the principle of loving submission-submission to the masculine, submission to the divine, submission to life itself.
Story of Sita:
Sits was born from the earth. She was found as a baby in a furrow her body aglow by her father King Janaka. King Janaka was a seeker of wisdom and by being his daughter she was bestowed with his qualities of devotion. As she grew she became a beautiful young girl whose love would radiate from her and fill all those she encountered and was famous for her virtue. Many princes had asked for her hand in marriage but she turned them away.
Far away in the Kingdom lived the Rama. Rama’s father was a righteous King loved by all and whose lessons on love and leadership were being bestowed on his son Rama to train him for the day he took over the Kindgom. By the time he meets Sita his training is so far along that he is beyond passion and attachment. Rama came to Sita and although he found her most beautiful and loving and kind his reasons for marriage were more to do with Dharma or duty rather than love. The duty of Cosmic form of love(Rama) marries the embodied form of love (Sita). She on the other hand fell instantly in love with Rama and soon the two were married.
Back at home things were unravelling.Years ago one of Rama’s father’s wives had saved his life. Indebted to his wife he granted her one unconditional boon. In Ramas absence she asked that her son be ruler for 15 years and that Rama be exiled to the forest. Rama’s father had no choice but to grant this boon and send his son off to the forest. The decision would later kill him from grief. When Rama was told he had to leave he asked Sita to stay in the Kingdom but she refused saying “deprived on her consort a woman cannot live.”
Sita and Rama were happy living in the forest until one day a demoness woman disguised as a maiden tried to temp Rama through seduction. Rama looked at the woman and said “how can you ask me to be with you? Can you not see that my wife Sita is right here and she is my love?” The demoness undismayed takes her demon brother and disguises him as a golden deer. Sita’s love for all creatures begs Rama to catch the deer so she could have him as a pet. Rama chases after the deer and in his absence the deer transformes into the demon Ravana and steals Sita away to his island. Ravana was in love with Sita and thought that once she was with him she would give herself over to him. Sita’s love was unwavering. She was seduced, her life was threatened, Ravana tried to trick her by showing her the head of dead husband as an illusion. She remained faithful.
Rama returned to his Kingdom took back his throne and sent his servant the monkey God Hanuman off to rescue his wife. Finally Hanuman rescued Sita and returned her to her Kingdom. Upon Sita’s return Rama refuses his wife. He claims that she could not have lived with another man for so long and not been unfaithful. He claims he fought the demon Ravana for the honor of the family not to have his wife returned. He makes what he declares a generous offer of protection “you may marry one of my brothers but I will not have you.”
Sita swears that she was taken against her will and that she remained faithful and to prove herself true she sets a ring of fire around the throne of Rama. She prays to the God of fire Agni “Since my heart has always been true to Rama, give me your protection.” With that she steps into the fire, it blazes up around her but not a hair on her head is singed. The necklace of flowers she wears around her neck still has the dew of the water. Upon seeing this Rama dissolves into remorse and begs Sita to forgive him and they come together in triumph.
It would seem as though the story ends here and all is happily ever after. However the people of the kingdom begin to whisper. They say she is dirty, that Ravana had his way with Sita and has poisoned the mind of her husband. Rama begins to falter. He needs to save face. He decides to banish Sita even though he has just learned she is pregnant with his twins.
Off Sita goes back into the forest she raises her sons. Years go by and one day Rama is hunting in the forest and he meets his two sons. They have become strong archers and he is proud of his boys. He finds Sita and agrees to take her back on one condition. She must perform a second public ordeal declaring that she is the faithful and loving wife. Sita seems to agree, she comes back to the palace and there standing in front of his throne Sita petitions her mother the earth.
“If I have always been pure and faithful to Rama in thought, word, and deed may the sweet earth receive me.” At her words a throne rises from the earth, Sita sits on the throne, which then sinks into the ground. The Goddess returns to her origins. Rama is said to mourn her forever. He never remarries, he always keeps a golden figure of Sita by his side.
When we hear the story of Sita it is hard not to feel the anger of the feminine collective towards the centuries of oppression by men. The story of Sita feels outdated. We live in a culture of women who have fought so hard for the rights and freedoms of women that we have almost tipped the scales too far and adopted the energies of the yang. Yet she still exists in many cultures including our own. She is the generation of women who believed that by being good wives, good daughters, and good mothers they would be protected, that their connection to others defined them. Contemplating Sit’s story can bring up all the grief of the collective feminine and a deep rage at the masculine, with its rigid notions of honor and it’s assumptions that women are property.
But to see Sita as either a victim or as the embodiment of wifely virtue is to miss who she is at her core.
Goddess of love:
Sita is the holding quality of love. She is the essentially feminine power of unconditional embrace, embodied in the energy that holds a child in the womb. Sita is that quality in the feminine whose unconditional love draws out the innate goodness in someone who the patriarchal mind considers irredeemable. Sita is that quality in the divine that can hold us in all our confusion and that has the power to transmute our darkness in it’s holding light. She is the feminine in most need of protection because it is most open to violence and betrayal.
When to invoke Sita:
Sita is that energy that we invoke when we ourselves or someone we know requires that unconditional love. We all want to fall in love with someone who loves us unconditionally. This is why if we have a good relationship with out mother it lasts forever. She is the one person in the whole world who will always see our side, she will always listen and love us no matter what the circumstances. Yet to turn this around how challenging is it for us to love our spouses/partners/friends in much the same manner. We place conditions and expectations on people so that they measure up to our worthiness of love.
For contemplations and meditations on the Goddess Sita visit Sally Kempton's book "Awakening Shakti".