Women are conditioned for ages to belong to the world which includes their family members. They forget about themselves being individuals too. They don’t consider themselves worthy of the love which they give to others. This is, at least, the version of feminists. This time, I am looking into the book which re-tells the story of Ramayana, the great Hindu epic, through the alter ego – Sita. Much other than Sita, the book seems to speak the language of modern age feminists, using Sita as a vehicle of their thoughts.
‘The Liberation of Sita’ written by well-known Telugu writer Volga and translated into English by T. Vijay Kumar and C. Vijayasree is an attempt to look at Sita in a different light. Sita is better known as the wife of Purushottam Ram. I wonder why even after fulfilling her duties as a wife and as a daughter in law wholeheartedly why she is not awarded with an adjective like Nari Uttama. The book retrospects the image of a woman who is sent to exile in a pregnant state for no fault of hers. A princess by birth, she had spent 14 years in the forest with her husband, and later alone giving birth and raising her two sons with values and skills expected from princes of Raghukul. During her stay in forest, she happens to meet four women who help her in attaining realization of self. These women are actually minor characters in the heroic saga of Lord Rama. These characters gain a voice in this book and speak their heart out.
The book relives Ramayana through Sita who is not shown as a privileged princess but as a woman abandoned by Maryada Purushottam Rama because he has to prove just to his masses. Sita takes all on herself and sacrifices to this altar of fidelity. She starts her journey with pain but her encounters with Surpnakha, Ahalya, Renuka and Urmila make her realise her identity. She ends her journey after attaining self-actualization.
‘I am the daughter of Earth, Rama, I have realized who I am.’
Though it is too easy for the feminist writers to re-tell and alter any epic, famous novel, famous story through the eyes of the female protagonist, let us ask a few pertinent questions regarding The Liberation of Sita. For most of the people who claim to be intellectuals, the epics are all ‘only written documents’ without any factual correctness of the events. In short, epics are equal to fiction! Good enough – however, then, every fiction has the right to enjoy its independence; why does it bother the re-artists and they tend to bash almost all the ‘celebrated’ male protagonists? Do they every say wrong to the evil king Ravana who forcibly imprisons Sita? That’s strange, isn’t it?
If we tend to believe that the epics are historical records of things which happened on the Indian soil, then we must believe in the theory of Avatars. By that logic, it was all pre-defined and Lord Vishnu, along with Goddess Lakshmi, was to play his part on the earth. So, let’s settle with that – that was to set the example for the generations to follow.
However, as a woman, with due respect to all the characters of Valmiki Ramayana, I am a little connected to this Sita version in The Liberation of Sita. Let us embark a journey through the eyes of Sita. There are sentences that the females will relate to. I found myself too deeply affected by a few. A must read for all females in particular to identify themselves and for the males to gain a new perspective.