The horror story of how Rama treated his guiltless wife Sita is widely accepted by Indians and influences relations even today
An Indian writer, Vishumenon, who is an astute and, above all, frank and honest observer of his own culture and its many mythologies past and present, give this down-to-eart account of the Ram-Sita relationship its continuing bane on Indian culture and behaviour. That the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, L.K. Advani, wanted a return to the ancient traditional values of India under Ramaraj is very telling. Now his successor, Narendra Modi - also a fervent believer in Hindu-nationalism who wants to establish Hindu Rashtra in India (i.e. the system that existed under Lord Rama etc.). He is but the latest in a long line of Hindu Indian PMs and Presidents who have endorsed, attended upon and worshipped numerous Indian self-proclaimed ‘Gods’, most notably the megalomaniac and continuously State-protected Sathya Sai Baba (see The Guardian). Sita was, of course, Rama’s wife…which also means, according to Sathya Sai Baba’s claims of being the 'poorna avatar' (full reincarnation of Vishnu etc.), his former wife in his former body!
In a blog entitled 'Not our Culture' Vishumenon wrote, "Our culture runs through our veins. Think what Bhagwan Ram did to Sita-mata. A demon called Ravan lived in Lanka. (Even today, Lankans are demons to many Indians)"
Further he wrote that Ravana's sister lived in some part of South India who, seeing saw young and handsome Ram with his wife "and his reasonalby handome brother passing by her village, young Tharka (I think that was her name) was enamoured of the fair youth and begged for their love." She pleaded that either of them to make love to her and Lakshman, "restrained by the presence of his elder brother and his wife, decided nonetheless to derive some sadistic pleasure and cut off her breasts and some other parts with which a woman woos a man." Learning of this Ravana took revenge, flying in his contraption to grab Sita and kidnap her to Sri Lanka. Sher was kept under arrest, Ravana offering to mke love to her if she married him.
Vishumenon continued: "Ram, being a god, managed to come to Lanka with the help of monkeys (not being a demon but only a god he couldn’t fly nor own an airplane) and recaptured Sita. Now there was a big question to be answered: was Sita pure enough for recapture? In our culture there is a simple trick to find if your wife remained chaste while you were away. You simply ask your wife to walk through six feet of blazing fire. If she comes out alive, she has been chaste and good enough for recapture, (but subject to further tests). If not, well not. You could try that every time you make that biennial trip home from your Dubai job. You can’t try it on your servant even if she were a female and you have a secret affair with her. Well, Sita-mata (mind you, she is mata or mother because she passed the test.) passed the test with flying colours. She looked forward to happiness ever after and went home, jumping with joy by her husband’s side. But Ramji believed in listening to public opinion. Not that he listened to it when he was going to the jungle for fourteen years to honour a ‘word’ of his father. Father’s opinion counts first, then public opinion. Obviously mother’s opinion didn’t count because she too had begged him not to go. Public opinion need not be the view of a majority – a single washerman’s view could do. Particularly if it coincided with his own lingering doubts. So Ramji threw his pregnant wife into the jungle and lived with a statue of her likeness."
Vishumenon pointed out that this horror story of Sita’s later life is not an aberration and was really written by Valmiki, the great poet. Yet the the attitude of men has not really changed so much because "men - those who went by the cast name of Valmiki, those who were washermen and those who weren’t - set off a riot, burnt buses and shops in North India till the Government-owned Door-Darshan persuaded the producer to hurriedly produce and telecast the parts. The fire test (subject to further tests and gossip) is illegal today and can only be conducted clandestinely. When Ram Rajya comes, which surely must because Advaniji says so, the tests would be resumed. What is good for Ram can’t be illegal for his devotees."