|| Sarga 21 ||

|| Tattva Dipika ||

||om tat sat||

Sarga 21

Sita, the teacher

The Subject of Sarga 21 is Sita's response to the arrogant Ravana.

Valimki starts the Sarga saying that Sita started her reply,
after placing a blade of grass between Ravana and herself.

"तृणमंतरः कृत्वा"

'तृण' means a blade of grass.

Sita places a blade of grass between herself and Ravana.
Then starts her reply.
At the first level it is simply following a custom.
A virtuous woman does not respond to an outside person directly.
There would always be a separation shielding her from the other.
The blade of grass is that symbolic separation.
That is also the normal interpretation.

But there are more echoes.
Placing that blade of grass is an indication to Ravana,
that Ravana is nothing more than a blade of grass for her.
It is also a hinting that Ravana does not have a right to talk to her.

Ramayana Tilaka says.
"रावणस्य साक्षात् संभाषणार्हत्वात् तृणव्यवधान करणम्"
That placing of that 'तृण' is meant to say that Ravana is unfit to talk to her.

There is another link to the blade of grass.
That is that blade of grass which Rama used against a crow.
Rama invoked Brahmastra into the the blade of grass
which set it on a course to chasing that crow.
Chased by that blade of grass,
the crow travels all over the three worlds.
Unable to find a saviour comes back to Rama.
The Crow falls at Rama's feet and saves itself.
Sita is hinting that Ravana's fate will be similar unless he asks for Rama's protection.
In fact this thought comes through in her reply later.

तृणमंतरः कृत्वा
प्रत्युवाच शुचिस्मिता

She placed a blade of grass,
and then the reply went forth from Sita,
who was described as "शुचिस्मिता".
शुचिस्मिता means one with a bright smile.

Amidst all that sorrow
दुःखार्ता रुदती सीता , Sita immersed in sorrow and crying,
when she started her reply she was "शुचिस्मिता".

Why "शुचिस्मिता"?
what was that bright smile meant to be?

Ramayana Tilaka explains Sita's thinking as follows.
"कथमस्य दुरात्मनो रजस्तमोभि भूतस्य मयि दुराशेति", शुचिस्मिता|
"How can this 'absolute rogue' full of Rajo Tamo gunas can even aspire for me?"
That bright smile was like laughing at Ravana's foolishness or audacity.

We see Sita in different forms through this Sarga.
The main form of Sita that will linger is that of a teaching mother

A son may do many wrongs,
the affection of a mother restrains her anger.
Almost on a similar token Sita was not angry in her reply.
When the child asks for a thing that is not possible or
a food that is not good for him,
a mother has a smile for that foolish baby wishes.
So it is with Sita's smile, in her reply.

The underlying feeling associated with that smile is purity
It is neither anger nor dirty thoughts.
That comes out in her first sentence.

She says,
"निवर्तयमनो मत्तः
स्वजने क्रियतां मनः"।
Divert your mind from me
Focus your mind on your people

साधुधर्मं अवेक्षस्व
साधु साधु व्रतं चर।
"Ravana follow the path of virtue
Follow the path of virtuous ones"

This is a उपदेश , or advise.
This is a counsel given by Sita.
This is also an universal counsel for all men with a roving eye.
This also is the advise for the Jivas who look at Self as part of the body complex.
The Self that should seek Paramatma , cannot be made a part that which creates bondage.
Sita belongs to Bhagavan Rama
Ravana's effort is to make Sita as his.
Sita's counsel is that it is not possible .

Root cause of all such thoughts is the mind
The mind with its flights creates bondage.
The ones with mind under control are on the path of Self realization.
For them all actions are for Bhagavan
and all actions are ordained by Bhagavan
And those actions do not create bondage .
In that spirit Sita tells Ravana "निवर्तय मनो बुद्धि" .

In the same strain of counseling Sita tells one more thing.
When one desire another's wife, one ought to look at his own family.
Just like one would protect one's own wife,
other's wives too require a similar protection.
This also a counseling gem from Sita

Saying "परदाराः पराभवं" ,
Sita warns that one who desires another woman,
would also be insulted by that woman.
This also a counsel from Sita..

In all this Sita acts like a mother personified
She asks with wonder.
"are there no saints here?"
and adds that may be "even if they are there you do not follow them"
And patiently goes on to explain the consequences of a king not following the virtuous path.
With king not following the virtuous path,
prosperous countries and cities are destroyed.

Here Ramayana Tilaka has a thought.
"सन्तां न वा संतीत्यादिना विचिन्त्य , दयावती स्वयमेव उपदिशति ।

The comment is that Sita having thought about whether there are saints or not etc
the kind lady (दयावती ) herself teaches (Ravana).
And the Sloka flows from her as her teaching !

Hearing Sita say
"शक्या लोभयितुं नाहं ऐश्वर्येण धनेन वा"
Meaning that she cannot be tempted by wealth
also hearing Sita say
"भास्करेण प्रभा यथा"
meaning that she cannot be separated from Raghava
like splendor cannot be separated from the Sun.
We virtually hear her saying that she is Lakshmi ,
the consort of Vishnu.
And Rama is that Vishnu.

Sita is also laying down another marker.
The Jiva seeking the Supreme being,
cannot be tempted by many temptations on offer.
He must keep the focus on that path that leads to realization.

There is another thought which also attests to Sita's counsel.
Like that crow which came back to Rama seeking protection,
Ravana too must seek Rama's protection as the only way to avoid annihilation.

But thinking that egocentric maniac may outright baulk at such a suggestion,
almost like the mother explaining to a petulant son Sita says
"तेन मैत्री भवतु".
That is "make friendship with him (Rama)"
"Friendship" sounds like it is between equals.
Thinking that the thought of being treated as equal may appeal to Ravana,
and accept the path of friendship
Sita says "तेन मैत्री भवतु".

Of course that does not go with Ravana.
Again we see Sita using the route of counselling Ravana.

Sita says
"तेन मैत्री भवतु ते यदि जीवितुमिच्चसि"
meaning that if you wish 'to live', make friendship with Rama

There is another thought in this.
"to live" does not mean being part of that body complex and moving around.
That is not living.

Body recognizing Self and living with Self is that 'living'.
Just like the relation ship of "body" and "Self'
"Self" too is related to "Paramatma" the Supreme being.
"Self" must live with "Paramatma" till it realizes the unity of the two.
Living with that awareness of "Paramatma" is 'true living'.
Not otherwise.

Here Sita is referring to "living" like that
when she is suggesting friendship with "Paramatma",
that is Rama.

Sita anticipated that Ravana may have questions.
Such as whether Rama accepts friendship of the one who took away his wife.
Sita answers that straight away.
Rama is "विदितः, धर्मज्ञः ,शरणागत वत्सलः"
Rama is learned, and knows the path of Dharma.
Rama is one who rewards those who seek his protection.
So, Sita says seek his friendship.
He will reward.

Faults in others are not an opportunity for one to seek higher ground.
Accepting Childs faults is mother's tender affection.
The cow that does not eat a soiled grass,
still licks away all the dirt on the body of the calf she gave birth to.
That is tender love of the mother.
Mother setting aside a child's fault and caring again is that.
That is tender love of a mother.

We also commit so many faults offending the dignity.
There is no related automatic atonement
Leaving it to God and following him is the way.
Then we too receive that tender affection of the Supreme being.

This is the counseling of Ravana by Sita,
This is also a counseling for all.
The action for one who arrogates himself the universal riches is clear.
Offer them to the Supreme being.

Sita warns Ravana saying
"गिरिं कुबेरस्य गतोsपधाय वा
सभां गतो वा वरुणस्य राज्ञः ।"
effectively saying "you may go anywhere but you cannot escape" Rama's arrows.
This is a warning to all who want to follow a path away from the Supreme being."
This is Sita's universal message.

Thus in the 21st Sarga we see Sita in a different light.
We see her in the form of a Universal mother, Jaganmaata.

At this point, it is also instructive to read Sita's reproach in its entirety,
without the interjected explanations of Tattvadipika as above.

Sita's reply goes as follows.

Sita , a chaste woman ever thinking of her husband only,
crying afflicted by grief yet with a gentle smile
replied him putting a blade of grass between them.

'Turn away your mind from me.
You fix it in your own people.
Like the sinner hoping for blessings,
desiring me is not proper for you".

'Born in a great lineage, having gained a great lineage,
devoted to single husband ,
the contemptible forbidden action (proposed by you) will not be done'.

Glorious Vaidehi having said this to that Ravana
turned her back and spoke these words again.

' As a chaste married woman ,
I am not a wife to be obtained by other efforts.
You may examine the righteous conduct.
With honesty follow honest action.
Oh Night being ! Like your wives are protected,
similarly other's wives too are to be protected.
Making yourself an example enjoy with your own wives.
Oh Evil minded one ,
one with unsteady mind with no control on his senses,
one who is unsatisfied with his own wives,
will be insulted by other's wives'.

'Are there are no pious one here?
Or you do not follow the saints.
That is why your evil mind is after forbidden actions.
Indulging in unrighteous act,
you are not following righteous advice leading to destruction of the Rakshasas'.

'Having kings who are foolish engaged in improper acts,
prosperous countries and cities are destroyed.
In that way having obtained you this Lanka which is filled with gems ,
will soon be destroyed because of your single crime'.

'Oh Ravana ! Living creatures will rejoice with the destruction of a foolish king,
who is killed by his own deeds,
In that way insulted people will be delighted about your destruction.
They will say 'luckily he met his doom etc'.

'I cannot be tempted by power or even wealth.
Like the splendor of the Sun I am not separable from Rama'
Having used his shoulder which protected the world
and which performed great deeds,
I am not going to use any other shoulder'.

'Like the knowledge of an ascetic
who is bathed in ceremonial duties,
who is a realized soul
I belong to that Lord of the earth, and fit for him only'.

'Oh Ravana ! Unite me with Rama.
That would be good,
like uniting the seperated female elephant
with the king of elephants in the forest.

If you are desirous of avoiding dreadful death
seek the friendship of Rama the bull among men.

As one who knows Dharma,
he is kind to those who seek protection.
If you desire to live then seek his friendship.
You propiate him, and he is kind to those who seek protection.

Controlling yourself it is proper for you to return me.
This way having given me away you will achieve prosperity.
Ravana ! Otherwise you will face death.

The raised thunderbolt may spare you ,
the Yama may spare you.
But the angry Lord of the world Raghava will not spare you.
You will hear the great sound of Rama's bow ,
like the thunderbolt released by Indra,
the one who performed hundred Yagnyas',

'Well jointed arrows with flaming fangs
like that of poisonous snakes
marked with names of Rama and Lakshmana will soon be raining.

The shafts with feathers of Kanka bird falling on this city
will be killing Rakshasas everywhere.
Like the Garuda swiftly carrying away the great serpents,
the great Rama will kill the king of demons.
Swiftly my husband the subduer of enemies will take me away from you
like Vishnu with three strides took away the prosperity of the Asuras'.

'When the Rakshasa army was killed in Janasthana
you being unable to do anything resorted to this evil deed.
Oh Mean one, when the two lions among men were away,
entering the unprotected hermitage I have been abducted by you.
You would not have been able to be stand in front of Rama and Lakshmana
like a dog in front of two tigers , if you smelt their presence.

You cannot stand both of them in a battle
like the one armed Vritrasura could not face the two armed Indra.
My husband Rama with the son of Sumitra
will destroy your life breath
like the Sun destroys a little water with his radiance'.

'Doomed by time,
going to Kubera's mountain or palace,
or entering Varunas assembly ,
you cannot evade Rama's arrows
like a mighty tree cannot escape lightning'.

Thus ends Sarga twenty one of Sundarakanda

||om tat sat||
|| This is what we understood from Tattva Dipika of Shri Bhashyam, Appalacharyulu garu"||
|| om tat sat||