Sita Calls for Mother Bhumi
For this story, we'll be looking at the tail-end of some versions of the Ramayana - when Sita finally meets Rama again, after spending years in exile with her sons.
I watched as my sons finally met Rama, their father, for the first time.
Their happy smiles and their happy chatter warmed my heart.
I looked at Rama, my love, who I had not seen for many years.
Our eyes met.
For that brief moment, his face grimaced, before his eyes darted away from mine.
And I could see all of the unspoken things on his mind.
I would not be going back with him, and he would be taking my sons with him, back to his kingdom.
All at once, I started to remember everything that had led up to this moment.
I remembered falling in love with Rama, and marrying him.
I remembered how Rama was exiled by his father, the previous king of Ayodhya - over some promise the previous king had made with his second wife.
And I remembered how I had followed Rama into exile.
It was during this exile that we came into conflict with rakshasa demons.
This conflict would escalate over the years, until I was kidnapped by Ravana, the king of the rakshasas.
And though Ravana had tried to persuade me to become his wife over the year that I had spent as his prisoner, I refused and I kept myself pure.
Then, finally, Rama arrived with Hanuman and his army of monkeys, and waged a long war against Ravana.
After Rama had finally slain Ravana and had won the war, I thought that we would finally be happy.
Our exile ended soon after, and we returned to Ayodhya, where Rama was coronated.
However, rumours began to spread throughout the kingdom that I had become impure during the year that I had been in captivity.
And those rumours casted doubt upon my beloved's ability to be king.
Hoping to dispel the rumours, King Rama gave an order to have me undergo an Agni Pariksha - a trial by fire.
After the fires were unable to burn me - proving my purity, I thought that the rumours would end, and that we could go back to our happy lives.
But, that was not to be.
The rumours persisted.
Even though my beloved had believed me, the people did not.
And so, I was exiled.
I gave birth to our twin sons in this forest, and raised them with the help of the ascetics that lived here.
I had taught our sons about how great of a king Rama was, and how we would be reunited with him one day.
And when Rama had finally arrived, after a great many years, I thought that my wishes had come true.
But, that was not to be. At least, not with me in the story.
The kingdom still does not believe in my purity - and if I were to return, doubt would be casted upon King Rama's rule.
Sadly, I looked at my husband again.
I sincerely believe that Rama loves me.
But, he would never let that get in the way of his duty to his people and his kingdom.
Such is the man that I had fallen in love with, and such is the man that I had devoted my life to.
Seeing my sons reunited with their father, their place by his side assured, I decided to let it all go.
"Mother Bhumi!" I cried out, with tears in my eyes.
Everyone turned to look at me.
"Take me back into your womb!" I prayed, "Free me from this cruel and unjust world!"
Rama started to approach me, "Sita, what-"
Suddenly, the ground shook.
I took one last look at my sons.
"I love you, my sons."
And then, I took one last look at my husband.
"Take care of yourself and our sons, Rama."
With that, the ground beneath my feet split apart, and I fell into the earth.
Daedalus, Architect of the Labyrinth
Was Sita's undying devotion to Rama a mistake? Was her tragic ending just a symptom of the times?
Was Rama in the wrong for his stubborn and steadfast duty to his kingdom, over the love for his wife?
These are all things that you'll have to decide for yourself, dear reader.
(As noted, this is a retelling of just one version of the story. There are also versions of the story where Sita does not get exiled again, and the story ends happily.)