In search of Sita by Malashri Lal & Namita Gokhale


Sita, the central character in Ramayan. She is not just the consort of the main protagonist of the story. But she is a subject in herself. If we look at the life of Sita in Ramayan, there are countable events that describe her life story. Her being found in a field by King Janaka. Her marriage to Ram who won her by breaking the bow, her insistence of accompanying her husband to the forest, her stepping out of the limit set by her brother-in-law. And her abduction by Ravana and living in Ashoka Vatika, her Agni Pariksha in Lanka. Her leaving the palace of Ayodhya and giving birth to her sons in forests and finally her return to earth.

Sita’s character is etched more out of a perception of her being an ideal wife than her strong character that takes some firm decisions. And is willing to go any length to live those decisions. She is an enigma. She is womanhood personified. But hidden in her persona are the traits that every woman would love to have. Her strength to handle the kind of pressure with as much dignity is something we all crave for.

This book In search of Sita is an anthology of collections of commentaries, essays, poems, and paintings and talks around the persona of Sita as a character. There is also a good account of different sub-stories from various regional versions of Ramayan.

One Ramayan talks about Sita being the daughter of Mandodari, who abandoned her. And King Janaka found the same baby in his field. There is another interesting take on why Rama asked Sita to leave his palace after coming back from Lanka. The popular story is an accusation by a Dhobhi that led him to take this decision. But this version says that on persuasion by her co-sisters and sisters-in-law, Sita drew the picture of Ravana on a wall. They all wanted to see how the Ravana looked like. This picture when seen by Ram made him envious. And he asked Sita to leave. Another explanation that makes Sita’s character more pious is that she drew only his feet as she had seen only that. But though Maya Saroopnakha, the estranged sister of Ravana completed the picture.

In Search of Sita by Namita Gokhale
In Search of Sita by Namita Gokhale

There is a detailed analysis of various forms and interpretations of Sita, as a woman and as a Goddess. There is a comparison between her and other women in the Ramayana and Mahabharat. And there is a contemporary look at her through fiction, through imaginary letters and through putting her in new media like animation. Editors Namita Gokhale and Malashri Lal have explored various mediums to explore the myth of Sita. And have done that quite successfully. The voices in the book are of various people, making it a multi-dimensional analysis.

Such subjects can never be complete. But In search of Sita is a pretty comprehensive attempt to look at the Sita from various angles. I think most women would find many resonances with various life events of Sita. Sometimes these would guide today’s women into taking decisions. And sometimes they would provide some insights. You would be amazed at the fact that a story that is as old as humans can still echo the same ethos and pathos. We continue to face the similar dilemmas in our lives. Can you imagine how deep-rooted our conditioning would be and probably this is what makes it very difficult for us to change them?

Buy this book In search of Sita Revisiting Mythology by Malashri Lal & Namita Gokhale at Amazon India

I would recommend this book to those who are intrigued by Indian mythology. And to women who would love to see the reflections of their own lives in Sita’s life.

More Books based on Ramayana

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  1. somewhere in my mind, i was thinking about this character (Sita). I have read ramayan in my childhood and since then i was thinking that "Why Sita suffered so much". In entire Ramayan, Happy ending was plotted for every character except Sita. Once i was talking to my mother about the Name "Sita". I haven't seen any lady named Sita. My mother explained that nobody wants to be their child to suffer like Sita. And Hence, people don't consider this name. Now as per your recommendation, will try to read this book. May be i'll get my answers…
    Thanks a lot for such a lovely note.

  2. I was pleasantly surprised to see the review of this book on your blog after "Beloved Witch" review. Especially coz the last book I read is this, and the next I plan to read is Beloved Witch!

    I bought this book since my name is Janaki , and somewhere deep in me I have the need to understand myself. Centuries might pass by and I find it surprising to find a delicate connect with Sita, still, in this day and age!

  3. Sita can be considered as embodiment of ‘Prakriti’ & Rama as the embodiment of ‘Purusha’. Both are the part of every thing human perceive.


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