|Title||Avatar, Queen of Ayodhya|
Janaka (Adoptive Father)
Sunaina (Adoptive Mother)
Urmila (Younger Sister)
Shrutakirti (Cousin Sisters)
Sita is the heroine of the Hindu epic Ramayana. She is the spouse of the Hindu god Rama (avatar of Vishnu) and is an avatar of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and wife of Vishnu. She is esteemed as a standard-setter for wifely and womanly virtues for all Hindu women. Sita is known for her dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity.
Sita is described as the daughter of the earth goddess Bhūmi and the adopted daughter of King Janaka of Mithila. In her youth, she marries Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Soon after her marriage, she is forced into exile with her husband and brother-in-law Lakshmana. While in exile, the trio settle in the Dandaka forest, from where she is abducted by the Ravana, Rakshasa King of Lanka. She is imprisoned in the Ashoka Vatika of Lanka by Ravana. Sita is finally rescued by Rama in the climatic war where Rama slays Ravana. Sita proves her chastity by undergoing a trial by fire. Thereafter, Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya, where they are crowned as king and queen. However, Rama abandons a pregnant Sita, when one of his subjects casts doubt over her chastity. In the refuge of Sage Valmiki's hermitage Sita gives birth to twins Lava and Kusha. After her sons grow up and unite with their father, Sita returns to her mother, the Earth's womb to get release from a cruel world.
When Sita reaches adulthood, Janaka organizes a swayamwara with the condition that Sita would marry only that person who would be able break Hara Dhanu (bow of Shiva). Janaka knew, the bow of Shiva was unbreakable for ordinary morals and for selfish person it was not even approachable. Thus, Janaka tries to find the best husband for Sita. At this time Vishvamitra had brought Rama and Lakshmana to the forest for the protection of sacrifice. Hearing about this swayamwara, Vishvamitra asks Rama to participate in the swayamwara and takes Rama and Lakshmana to the palace of Janaka. Janaka is greatly pleased to learn that Rama and Lakshmana are sons of Dasharatha. Next morning, in the middle of the hall, Rama lifts up the bow of Shiva with his left, fastens the string tightly and finally breaks the bow. And thus Rama fulfils Janaka's condition to marry Sita. Later on Vivaha Panchami, a marriage ceremony is conducted under the guidance of Satananda. Rama marries Sita, Bharata marries Mandavi, Lakshmana marries Urmila and Shatrughna marries Shrutakirti.
Some time after the wedding, circumstances forced Rama to leave Ayodhya and spend a period of exile in the forests of Dandaka and later Panchavati. Sita willingly renounced the comforts of the palace and joined her husband in braving exile, even living in the Dandaka and Panchavati forests. The Panchavati forest became the scene for her abduction by Ravana, King of Lanka. Ravana kidnapped Sita, disguising himself as a brahmana mendicant, or begging holy-man, while her husband was away fetching a magnificent golden deer to please her (Panchavati Near Thapiyamaan Puliyur (Tamil Nadu). Jatayu, the vulture-king, who was a friend of Dasratha (Rama's father), tried to protect Sita but Ravana chopped off his wings. Jatayu survived long enough to inform Rama of what had happened. Ravana took her back to his kingdom in Lanka, and Sita was held as a prisoner in one of his palaces. During her captivity for a year in Lanka, Ravana expressed his desire for her; however, Sita refused his advances and struggled to maintain her chastity. Hanuman was sent by Rama to seek Sita and eventually succeeded in discovering Sita's whereabouts. Sita gave Hanuman her jewellery and asked him to give it to her husband. However, Hanuman was caught by Lankan forces. Hanuman was about to be executed and burnt in a bonfire when he managed to escape and in return burned down the Lanka capital city. Sita was finally rescued by Rama, who waged a famous battle to defeat Ravana. Upon rescue, Rama worried about the future of human society– that any man or women may not use this as an excuse to live with each other without marriage, makes Sita walk on fire to prove her chastity. The Thailand version of the Ramayana, however, tells of Sita walking on the fire, of her own accord, to feel clean, as opposed to jumping in it. She is not burnt, the coals turn to lotuses. Walking on live coals is still a common custom in the south of India.
Abandonment and Later Life
This incident is a later addition at original Ramayana. After the rescuing Sita from Lanka, Rama returns to Ayodhya where he is crowned the king. Then, he passes time pleasantly with Sita. After some days, Sita becomes pregnant. The citizens of Ayodhya spread rumours against Sita's Purity. When this news reaches Rama, he banishes Sita from his kingdom. Valmiki requests Sita to stay at his Hermitage. After some months, two twins Luv and Kush are born to Sita. Valmiki trained them into a talented, skilled warriors. After some years, Rama decided to perform Ashwamedha (Horse-Sacrifice) Yajna. When the horse roams around the kingdom, the twins capture the horse. To regain the horse, Lakshmana, Shatrughna, Bharata and the mighty Hanuman battle against the twins, but in vain. When it was Rama's chance to battle with the twins, Valmiki produces Sita before Rama. Sita calls mother Earth to receive her in her lap from where she was born, as testimony of her purity and for a release from a cruel world, thus closing her incarnation as Lakshmi. Seeing this, Rama could not control himself after seeing this, pointing an arrow towards earth to release Sita. Then the demigods appear to tell Rama about his incarnation and he returns to Ayodhya with his sons.