Stories From Great Indian Epics: Ramayana

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The Story of Rama 24

"Fire Test" For Sita

Without wasting any more time, eager to meet Sita, Rama (with his company) reached Ashokvan. Sita had heard about the battle between Rama and Ravana, and was expectantly waiting for victorious Rama to reach her. Joyous end to her suffering and grief was in sight. The sorrow was to be replaced with the joy of reunion.

Rama arrived. Emaciated but cheerful, Sita touched holy feet of her husband. The scene was too sublime; everyone watched with reverence flooding of Rama's feet with tears from Sita's eyes. Rama lifted Sita with tender love.

Then softly Rama spoke, "O Sita, you are the embodiment of tolerance and forbearance. Moreover, you represent purity at its highest. But you have lived under the shelter of Ravana. I know the fire of your chastity has prevented Ravana from even touching your nail. But I have my own limitations. As a king I am answerable to my people, and therefore, I would like you to prove you purity in front of all (publicly) so that in future people on this earth would not cast doubt - dare not put any blame - of infidelity on your noble character."

The Fire Test -- Agni Pariksha

Thus addressed, Sita responded by saying, "O my lord, how true you speak! Yes, by your grace, Ravana could not - dared not - come near me. I am as pure as Fire. Hence I will prove purity of my character by passing through the raging fire flames."

Soon a huge fire was ignited. The flames reached high up in the sky. Everyone retreated two steps backwards. Sita approached the Fire and prayed, "O Fire God - Agni Deva -, this humble daughter of yours prays to you protect her if she is pure. But if Sita has ever thought of any other man other than Rama -- in thought or word or deed, nay even in dream -- O Fire God, reduce me to ashes. Of what use such a body to me that is corrupt!"

So saying Sita entered the raging flames. Everyone was tense except Rama, Laxmana and Hanuman, for they knew the truth. Sita was Shakti of Rama, she cannot be impure. No fire would hurt her. And true! Sita remained in fire unscathed and unharmed. The Fire God could do nothing in the face of purity of Sita. Soon the raging flames reduced themselves to ashes. Sita was standing there, her face shining with divine luster!

The whole scene changed to jubilant cry of 'Victory to Rama', 'Glory to Mother Sita', Long live Sita. Sita since then is ever worshipped as a Goddess of Purity, Grace, Tolerance and Suffering. Her name is taken before that of Rama; as Sitaram.

Previous Part: Battle Between Rama and Ravana Next Part 25: Rama Praises His Devotees

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Also of interest:
Stories From Great Indian Epics 2 : The Mahabharata

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