Saturday, March 2, 2024

Ramayana – 10: Abduction of Sita

After Rama eliminated Khara, Dushana and Trishira along with 14,000 demons, the terrible news about this carnage was delivered to Ravana. Ravana approached Mareecha for advice, but Mareecha turned him back. Now Surpanakha on her part provoked Ravana to avenge Rama by bringing Sita and marrying her. Ravana thus provoked, went back to Mareecha again. Mareecha’s saner counsel fell into the deaf ears of Ravana. After Ravana threatened him, Mareecha agreed to go in disguise as a golden deer to lure Rama away from Sita so that Ravana could abduct her when she was alone.

Through all this, there is no clue available to find out when the abduction took place. However, the probable time can be deduced from the later dates. For example, after confining Sita to the Ashoka Vana, Ravana offered her a period of 12 months to make up her mind (VR: 3-56-24). Further information found in Sundara Kanda shows that Hanuman met Sita in Ashoka Vana on the expiry of 10 months of confinement of Sita.

Month of abduction deduced from the Lunar eclipse when Hanuman met Sita.

When Hanuman reached Ashoka Vana to meet Sita, Ravana also came there and tried to persuade Sita. In that context, Ravana said that two more months were left for her to take a decision (VR: 5-22-8 & 9). We must find out in which month she was abducted and when the 12-month period was going to end.

While looking for an answer, we can spot a verse in Sundara Kanda soon after Hanuman landed, stating that a lunar eclipse was just over at that time (VR: 5-5-6). The hare-like spots on the moon were eclipsed (partial eclipse) and they became visible when Hanuman reached the city of Lanka. He saw the moon in the middle of the sky (VR: 5-5-1) when he arrived at the city. When I checked the Jhora simulator, it did show a lunar eclipse in the month of Magha, in the year Subhanu which was the 14th year of exile. In tune with adding a tithi to the simulated date, the date was 20th October, 5077 BCE. We will discuss this eclipse in detail while writing about Hanuman’s flight to Lanka.

The major input for our current discussion is the month, Magha, by which time 10 months of Sita’s confinement were over. From this, we can deduce the month of abduction.

The remaining two months are counted from the day Ravana spoke about it to Sita. Hanuman was also present in the scene, hiding behind the trees. And we know that it was a Full Moon Day (because moon was eclipsed in the early part of the night). By Caitra 2 months would be completed. This helps us to derive the month of abduction as the previous Caitra. That is, Sita was abducted in Caitra of Subhanu year.

Time of abduction indicated by Jatayu.

The time of abduction was told by Jatayu to Rama. This appears in the 68th sarga of Aranya Kanda when Rama found Jatayu badly injured when Jatayu tried to stop Ravana from taking away Sita. 

Jatayu said,

येन याति मुहूर्तेन सीताम् आदाय रावणः |

विप्रनष्टम् धनम् क्षिप्रम् तत् स्वामि प्रतिपद्यते || -६८-१२

विन्दो नाम मुहूर्तो असौ काकुत्स्थ अबुधत् |”

(Meaning: The Muhurta in which Ravana had taken away Sita, known as ‘Vinda’ will cause the lost property to return to the possessor (that is Rama). Ravana was not aware of it) (VR: 3-68-12 & 13a)

There is a discussion in about this verse, giving the names of the 15 diurnal Muhurta-s without stating the source. A Muhurta contains 2 Naadi (Nazhigai), i.e. 48 minutes (1 naadi = 24 minutes). The daytime and the nighttime are divided into 15 equal parts each, such that there are 15 diurnal and 15 nocturnal Muhurta-s. Muhurta-s can be auspicious or inauspicious which decides the kind of specific works to be carried out in the relevant Muhurta. Jatayu said that Ravana abducted Sita in Vinda Muhurta which would not benefit him because whatever was stolen in that Muhurta would ultimately reach the owner.

When we checked the list of 15 Muhurta-s given in that website, they appear different from what is in vogue today. The names of the Muhurta-s can be read in the book ‘Muhurta’ by Dr. B V Raman. Vinda is not present in the currently known list of Muhurta-s. When I compared the present list with the one given in the website, I found a few of them matching in the same order (order of sequence of Muhurta-s is very important). For example, Maitra Muhurta and Vishvadeva Muhurta appeared in the correct order as the 3rd and the 7th diurnal Muhurta. This gave me the confidence that I can rely on the order of sequence for Vinda given in the website. It was the 11th Muhurta. The 11th in the present list is known as ‘Vahini’.

Vahini, the 11th Muhurta is an inauspicious Muhurta particularly on a Tuesday. (Certain Muhurta-s are considered bad on certain days. Even Abhijit Muhurta, which is considered very auspicious, is bad on a Wednesday).

This gives us the clue that Sita could have been abducted on a Tuesday when Vinda Muhurta was on. This Muhurta runs between 2 and 3 pm everyday. So, we can say that Sita was abducted between 2 and 3 pm on a Tuesday in Subhanu year. Since the talk of the remaining 2 months was done by Ravana on Magha Full Moon, we can gauge the day of abduction around the Full moon of Caitra. It should be a Tuesday, close to the Full Moon in Caitra.

Such a date was searched for in Jhora and we got 31st December, 5078 BCE, Krishna Tritiya in Caitra with Tuesday running then. The previous Tuesday was on 24th December, when Shukla Dasami was running. Compared to that, 31st December with Krishna Tritiya was closer to Caitra Full Moon. The planetary / horoscopic details of 31st December appear more suitable for a bad event such as abduction, than on 24th December. The horoscopic details are shown below.

Abduction date

In Caitra Shukla Paksha of Subhanu year, the 13th year ended (The software shows the previous year Chitrabanu by default until December. It shows Subhanu from 1st January). Swati was the star of the day indicating that the 14th year of exile had started by then. This shows that the abduction took place in the beginning of the 14th year.

An important revelation from this horoscopic combination is that it helps us to decipher the birth star of Sita!

Sita’s birth star

The position of Jupiter in Sita’s Janma rasi (moon sign) at the time she was kept in confinement is part of ancient folklore / poetry.

"ஜென்ம ராமர் வனத்திலே சீதையை சிறை வைத்ததும்

It says that Rama went to the forest when Jupiter was transiting his Janma rasi; similarly, Jupiter was in Sita’s Janma rasi when she was kept under confinement at Ashoka Vana. We found it to be true in the case of Rama; so, it must be true for Sita too. Looking at the abduction time horoscopy, Jupiter was in Leo (Simha) indicating that one of Magha, Purva Phalguni or Uttara Phalguni must have been her birth star.

Before going into those details, let us examine the validity of the planetary combinations for abduction assuming that her moon-sign was Leo. The lord of the sign, Sun had gone to the 8th house while the 8th lord Jupiter had been transiting the sun’s house. Thus, there is parivartana between the 1st and the 8th lord with the 8th lord positioned in the 1st house (moon-sign) in retrogression. This is a sure sign of death-like calamity at that point of time. Moreover, the 8th house and the Janmesa (Sun) are receiving cruel aspects from the enemy planets Saturn and Rahu.

12th house indicates confinement. It was occupied by Ketu (though Ketu’s position cannot be true as written earlier, it would however continue to be in the 12th house looking at its degrees). The 12th house is aspected by Saturn (6th and 7th lord) joined with Rahu thus perpetuating confinement. The 12th lord Moon is in Kemadruma Yoga (bereft of planets in the company of or both sides of the moon) and is receiving the 10th aspect of Saturn. It causes a complete change in her status from being a princess to a prisoner (in this context).

With so many indicators in support of the trauma she underwent then, we are sure that the date is correct. When checked for next and the previous month, planetary combinations were not indicative of the trouble she faced.

Having established that the Moon sign was true (noted by the Janma Guru), we must deduce her birth star.

Throughout Ramayana, we find importance given to stars only, particularly to Tara Balam. The star of the marriage day Has been clearly stated in Valmiki Ramayana. It was Uttara Phalguni which is one of the stars positioned in Leo. It could not be the birth star of Sita because marriage is not conducted in one’s birth star. Of the remaining two stars, namely, Magha and Purva Phalguni, Magha does not match with Rama’s Punarvasu. Only Purva Phalguni matches with Punarvasu as, Punarvasu is the 6th star in the 3rd paryaya of Purva Phalguni. In other words, Sita’s Purva Phalguni matches with Rama’s Punarvasu. Therefore, Purva Phalguni must have been Sita’s birth star.

At the time of exile, Saturn was transiting her moon sign, but at the time of abduction Jupiter was transiting her moon sign. Additionally, it was in retrogression (vakra).


Abduction of Sita deduced from the lunar eclipse when Hanuman came to meet her in the Ashoka Vana.

Abduction date: 31st December, 5078 BCE, Subhanu year, Caitra Krishna Tritiya, Tuesday.

The exile year during abduction: 14th year of exile

The time of abduction: Vinda Muhurta (between 2 and 3 pm) as told by Jatayu.

Jupiter at the time of abduction: In Sita’s moon sign.

Sita’s birth star: Purva Phalguni