Enraged as she is, our Granny’s still reading from Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsam. Admittedly, it has been marvellous throughout except for this one part which despite being great prose is a great travesty for this dynasty.


The Line of Raghu, victors and renouncers as we have known them to be, relinquished something else.
This time it wasn’t the throne. In fact, it was something bigger, only for the throne.
It was their Queen.

Rama abandoned his wife, Sita. The explanation for the act is as (if not more) shocking than the act.

To think a man went to war for a woman and then abandoned her, is the most absurd, ridiculous, nonsensical thing which makes me wonder what it meant to be a woman in that era. And clearly, a man too. Perhaps there were none, after all…



“To see Ayodhya in good cheer,
Followed by an aide, he went up
To the palace top which touched the sky.
And there he revelled in beholding
The rich shops on the royal road,
Boats plying on the river Sarayu,
And the gardens near the city, full
Of pleasure-loving citizenry.
In speech foremost, in conduct pure,
With arms as strong as a kingly serpent,
That conqueror of foes then asked
His monitor Bhadra of the talk
When people spoke about his ways.

Pressed to answer, that man replied:

‘All your deeds do please the people,
Except the lord’s acceptance of
A lady who lived in a demon’s house.’
With this grave censure of his spouse
Which was a blot on his own repute,
The heart of the Vaidehi’s lover
Was split, as if it had been struck
By a red-hot iron hammer.
‘Should I disregard this obloquy,
Or renounce an innocent wife?’
In distress at either option,
His mind swayed, as if upon a swing.
As disgrace could not be countered except by his renunciation,
He then wished his wife to give up:
For those who value their reputation
It is greater even than their selves,
What to say of personal needs.”


Rama says to his brothers:

“I will give up Videha’s daughter,
As I did the earth entire
At my father’s order, in the past.
I know that she is sinless, but
Think people’s censure to be strong,
Like the blemish on the moon
They hold the earth’s shadow to be.
As for my slaying of the demon,
That effort was not meaningless,
But reprisal for his hostility:
Does an angered snake want blood to drink
When it bites the foot that tramples it?
So, if you want that I extract
This thorn of slander and live on,
Then my conclusion should not be
With pitying hearts by you opposed.”


And so,

“This decision of their king,
So harsh and hard for Janaka’s daughter,
No brother was able to oppose
Nor indeed give it support.

Then, looking at compliant Lakshmana,
His famous older brother, who
Always said what he did mean,
Gave an order separately.
‘Gentle one, your brother’s wife
Is pregnant and also wishful
To see hermitages; on this pretext
Take her to Valmiki’s grove
As the charioteer, and leave her there.’
This command of the elder brother
The other heard and duly accepted,
As Bhargava had, on his father’s order,
Like an enemy, struck his mother:
An order given by the elders,
Indeed is not to be debated.”


At first glance, these extracts make you see red. Our ancient texts have stories of queens being abandoned in forests. And every single time, they either press on or burn up or bury themselves in grief.

No one opposed it, no one condemned it and no one even stopped calling Rama a King or a God or a Victor. You can give up all you want, but if you give away your Queen because somebody made a lousy comment, it makes you no King.



(Last word: If this piece doesn’t go down too well with you, get a chaas (cold buttermilk), get a life or better still, get a Queen.)



(Note: The SHOUT! Network makes no claim to the extracts in translation. Our Granny has narrated the tremendous work of a very reputed translator, scholar and researcher.)



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