Saturday, June 14, 2008

Symbolism of Sita desiring the golden deer!

Symbolism is in fact the message given by

Scriptures and Ithihasas.

It starts right from the Vedas.

Rig veda is full of connotations

that can be deciphered only by enlightened minds.

To an ordinary reader they would

look like abstract thoughts sprung from mystic minds.

But that they are not so is what all the later works

starting from Upanishads to Ithihasas have established.

When the spiritual prowess of the

people of vedic age started declining,

there came a transition from mythical imagination

to abstract philosophy which found a place in the upanishads.

Learning from a teacher or guru kula vaasam

was unheard of in vedic period

when the son learnt from the father

(one instance to substantiate this is the Brahmopadesam

that is originally done by father to son.)

who in turn transferred the knowledge

to the next generation.

But the decline continued and

the guru-sishya relationship also took a beating

resulting in further dilution (or simplification of Thought)

and Ithihasas filled the bill to import the knowledge of the Vedas.

We find continuous re-orientation with reference to

all mystic issues

from Agni to Attainment of Brahman to Prapatti.

Everywhere the symbolism is maintained or

sought to be conveyed by means

appropriate to the conditions of time.

For instance, the whole of Sundhara khandam

is a symbolic representation of the Jiva’s plight

in samsara and the qualities such as seshatwa etc

that have to be observed by the Jiva,

waiting for the Paramatman to give the lift.

This view –

that the jiva is waiting and it is for Him to lift ‘whom He chooses’

- is to be found (back-travelling chronologically)

in Vedartha sangraha and in Sri Bhashyam

to the 1st sutra of the Bramha sutras,

in Bhagavd Gita (10-10 ‘dadaami buddhi yogam’)

and earlier in Mundaka upanishad.

(“whomever He chooses, by him alone He is reached.

To him this Self reveals his own form” (Munda III-2-3)

Another symbolism of Sudhara khanda is

the role of Acharya ( in Hanuman)

in enabling the Jiva attain Him.

If we substitute ourselves in Sita’s position

(when we read Sundhara Khanda)

and make all the pleas and prayers from our life’s point of view,

we would realise how it would help

in understanding the wonderful relationship

that has to exist between Him and us.

The same feeling or import can not be had

when we read the respective passages

from Vedas or upanishads.

It is because of the limits in the level of evolution of our minds.

It is for people like us,

Ithihasas have come in place.

If we fail to understand the symbolism,

they are said to have lost their purpose.

That is how the need arose in later years

To give us one line solutions like

Thirumanthram, dwayam

and charama slokam.

Coming to the symbolism of Ramayana,

the incident around the golden deer alone

has too many meanings.

First of all why did Sita ,

who was prepared to shed

all mundane wishes and

ready to wear the mara vuri,

desire the golden deer?

Is it to convey (to us) that she is Sri,

the HiranmayI having a natural affinity to things golden?

Is it for this reason Rama immediately obliged her

(as against the caution sounded by Lakshmana)?

Since Sri is His manas, mind and Will,

he could not say a single word against Her?

Since the deer also was golden,

did He as one having affinity to Sri, the Golden,

not stop till He got it?

Was it the reason Mareecha chose to look golden

Than anything else?

Taking the gold stuff further,

is it because she is Hiranmayi,

did Rama make an image of hers in gold and

used it in his sacrificial karmas?

I am saying this

because commentators have expressed doubts whether

shastras have approved of this.

Taking this further to Vedic and upanishadic thought,

is she, as golden and desirous of things golden,

the personification of the of the glow at the heart

of the Sun, the seat of Brahman as scriptures say?

Coming to mundane life,

is the kundumani pon (gold)

that even the poorest of the poor manage to tie

in the mangalya sutra because of wishing for Her

(the golden one with all auspiciousness and riches)

presence in the coming of the bride?

Is Sita herself a personification of womanhood,

revealing in the episode under discussion,

that whenever the Mind (of the woman) fails

in rational thinking,

the entire life (of the couple) is bound to be ruined?

Entire Ramayana is around what happened to Sita.

So too the entire life of a person around what/

how his wife behaves?

Is that why the very first hymn in the marriage

function runs thus:-

“Oh, Girl, get up on the head of your husband!” The

assembled people echo the sentiment in the words :-

"You are the full blown monarch of this house.”

Thus any and every incident of the Ithihasa

can be explained at three levels,

physical, vital and mental

(Bhoo, Bhuva and Sva).

Every part / aspect of creation

including the human body and the world around us

is seen to be at three levels.

Even genetically these

three levels are inherited from three generations

starting from parents to great grand parents and the

return of obeisance to them is done to these three

levels (vasu, rudra, adithya).

From the medical

science also we have proof,

that diseases of the vital

level (fluids etc) are passed on to grand children and

not to one’s own children.

The grand children inherit the faculties of the vital level

from the second generation, i.e, grand parents.

In the above episode,

the importance given to gold in mundane life is to be deemed as symbolism

at physical level.

Connecting gold (also manjaL or turmeric which

is equated to gold and Sri)

to auspicious qualities of Lakshmi is the symbolism at vital level.

Rama listening to Sita (as manas) and going after the deer

is the symbolism at mental level.

Again Sita desiring the deer is a physical level phenomenon.

Rama going after the deer is one dictated

by vital level happenings (harmones?).

And Sita ever glowing in Rama’s manas (Sun / Brahman)

is a mental level phenomenon.

In short it is to convey ideas by different means,

that scriptures and Ithihasas have come to stay.

Those ideas are picked up by people in accordance with

vasanas, experience etc.

But to completely fail to see the symbolism in them

beats the very purpose of their creation..

Related post on symbolism of Vaali vadam:-


திவாண்ணா said...

//did Rama make an image of hers in gold and

used it in his sacrificial karmas?

I am saying this

because commentators have expressed doubts whether

shastras have approved of this.//

just this evening iw as discussing this with my son about this.
it was alittle perplexing how rama could do sacrifices while sita was in the valmiki ashrama.
son said being a king he must have had more queens and so no problem but such a view wont be accepted by anyone as rama is popularly known as eka patni vratan.still rama would not have done anything against scriptures, right. he even put the pithru piNtam on the ground because that is what is prescribed, though dasaratha appeared in person and was prepared to take it. would a avahanam of a living person in a golden prathima permissible?
questions questions...
but let us get on with what we know and can understand

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Whether Rama had other wives or not is a question that crops up time and again. This debate gains its place from a verse in Sundhara khanda where Sita, losing hope that Rama would not rescue her, cries that after the end of vanavasam, Rama would go back to Ayodhya and live happily with other women. I will write on this issue in detail sometime later.


Some commentators are of the opinion that there is no precedence to keeping golden image of Sita as a substitute for her in homas.
But Vivaha dharma (read my blog on pati, patni and vivaha)is that without the wife initiating the homa as the manas, the homa can not be done. The sama vedin's practice is also this.

But since Sita personifies, manas - gold, Rama had her golden image. Srisookhtham (Rig vedic hymn)connects, sri, gold and deer as one and equal.It is on this basis I wrote this blog

Jayasree Saranathan said...

This is on whether the couple share the result of a deed done by one of them...

Based on Dharma sastras and the way Destiny works, Varahamihira has said in the chapter "Stree Prasamsadhyaya" in his book Brihat Samhita that the results of all actions done by the couple are shared equally between them. If any one of the couple goes in a wrong direction, the mistake is equal and the resultant papa is shared equally between. This is applicable to all actions and poojas too.

In this way, it can be deduced that a corrupt person amassing wealth in corrupt ways - is going to be used by his wife and kids. But the wife will also get a 50% share in papa of such corrupts ways.

Another instance of such sharing happens in the episode of Sita desiring the golden deer. Knowing the pros and cons of that desire and expressing them too, Rama however went on to fulfill Sita's wish. Since she has desired, the result would have to be borne by Rama too.

However Varahamihira thinks that men generally do not bother about this rule. But women are far better in this aspect.(72-12, Brihat samhita

a said...

nice interpretation! liked it....however I would like to ask that is Sita is Rama's mind and will then the 'agni-pravesha' was also Sita's will?

Sita surely knows that she's a beautiful woman,born and bred as a girl from royal family she surely knows the customs that 'royalty' demands therefore she might have been well aware of the consequences that would happen after she was abducted and released.
I feel the whole episode of 'agni-pravesha' is not merely a gender based issue ,it was but a test for both Rama and Sita.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Wandering mind >>
Sita is Rama's mind and will then the 'agni-pravesha' was also Sita's will?<<

Agni pravesha is not gender-oriented issue.
The secret of the Will of the Almighty and the way the Almighty brings out that Will into action is embedded in Agni- pravesha ordeal.
Ramavathara is 'designed' to show the world the highest order of Manushya Dharma, which none other the Divine couple can emulate. I will bring out the nuances of this fire- ordeal shortly.