“O friend. Sita now wishes to give to your wife a pearl necklace, a string of gold and a girdle. O gentle one, please take them.” (Lord Rama speaking to Suyajna, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 32.7)Download this episode (right click and save)
hāraṃ ca hemasūtraṃ ca bhāryāyai saumya hāraya |
raśanāṃ cādhunā sītā dātum icchati te sakhe ||
“Happy wife equals happy life.” That is the saying, but it’s easier said than done. For any person, finding true happiness is difficult since desires always change. One day I want to eat pizza for dinner. If I eat the same thing day after day, the enjoyment might fade. Then it’ll take something different to make me happy.
The eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is known as the goddess of fortune. She is Lakshmi Devi. Since good fortune tends to come and go, she is also known as Chanchala. Since she is associated with the lotus flower, the symbol of purity, she is also known as Padmini.
When God the person descended to earth as Shri Rama, Lakshmi incarnated as the daughter of King Janaka of Mithila. The father found her as a baby in the ground while ploughing a field. For that unique circumstance she earned the name Sita.
Just as her husband was not an ordinary prince, Sita was not the typical princess. She had the spirit of renunciation since youth. Despite growing up in royalty, Sita showed some amazing qualities in her relationship with Rama.
1. She gives away the couple’s wealth
Rama lived in Ayodhya as the crown prince. He was the heir apparent to the throne held by the father, King Dasharatha. Rama was the eldest and most beloved son. The relationship with God is such that everyone is attracted to Him to some degree. Even the atheists are attracted; they go towards the shadow of the Divine, the illusory energy known as maya.
God the person was in their kingdom, so the people of Ayodhya all considered Rama their own. When He arrived home with a new wife, she was accepted with love and respect. In that ancient time, the kings had amazing wealth through taxes. The first duty of government is to protect life and property. Only when they do this properly do they have a right to collect taxes.
“If a king cannot give protection to citizens from thieves and rogues both in the government service and in public affairs, he has no right to exact taxes from them. In other words, the king or the government that taxes can levy taxes from the citizens only if the king or government is able to give protection to the citizens from thieves and rogues.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.14.17 Purport)
What you possess you can give away. Rama did this once after He was asked to leave the kingdom for fourteen years. The stipulation was not just in duration; He had to live like a renounced ascetic, a wandering one at that. Prior to leaving, Rama called upon various respected people of the priestly class. He gave away the couple’s valuable jewels and ornaments, with Sita urging Him on. She was not protesting. She was just as renounced as her husband, and she loved making people happy by giving in charity.
2. She makes deals with demigods
There is Bhagavan, who is the Supreme Lord. There are also the devatas, who are the demigods. They are godly, possessing the mode of goodness, but they are not quite God Himself. The demigods live on planets that are destined for destruction, but one who reaches the abode of the Supreme Lord never has to return to the land of birth and death.
“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)
In Vedic culture there is tremendous respect for demigods. If you have not yet figured out that material rewards are temporary and provide fleeting happiness, you can approach a demigod with full faith to get your wishes fulfilled. The wise pass beyond this stage and worship God the person without motive and without interruption. That practice, known as bhakti, is millions of times more fulfilling.
Rama’s wife had an interesting practice while the couple were travelling in the forest. When approaching sacred rivers and pious trees, she would make deals. If they would ensure the successful return of her husband to Ayodhya, then she would return and worship them profusely. Since her husband is God Himself, this deal-making doesn’t fall in the category of demigod worship. Rather, she was helping these elevated souls get an opportunity to share in Rama’s glory.
3. She enjoys giving gifts to brahmanas and their wives
Just as a man might enjoy going to a baseball game or playing sports with his friends, a woman might enjoy going shopping for new clothes or jewelry. There are common tendencies in each gender, after all. With Sita things were a little different. One of her favorite activities was going to the forest and finding ascetics who were dedicated to her husband.
She would ask Rama to go with her so that she could deliver gifts to these ascetics and their wives. Of course they did not worship in order to get these rewards, but Sita has so much affection for anyone who is devoted to her husband. The best example is with Shri Hanuman. Though in the body of a Vanara, or forest-dwelling monkey, Hanuman has all his needs for worship taken care of. Sita provides for him since he is so dear to Rama.
Prior to leaving for forest to live,
Urged husband vast wealth to give.
To brahmanas dedicated to Him,
In devotion living free of sin.
With trees and rivers deals making,
Rama’s success then worship taking.
Amazing qualities in Sita to see,
Of charitable and kind heart is she.