Sita’s Ascent is a small Novella that tells you the story of Sita after she landed in Valmiki’s Ashram in Uttara Kand of Ramayana. It tells her story through various characters who were a part of her life’s journey. And hence contributed in some way to her journey. This is the second book I have read on Sita after In Search of Sita by Namita Gokhale & Malashri Lal.
Sita’s Ascent book begins in a very intriguing way, with Lakshman leaving Sita at Valmiki’s Ashram. And breaking the news to her that she is not to return to Ayodhya. The author then plays back the events of the evening before her leaving Ayodhya, her being pregnant with Lava, her conversation with Urmila and Rama. After this, the series of characters like Urmila, Rama, Lava, Mandodari, Soorpanaka, Lakshmana, and Hanuman tell their angle of the story of Sita. And how she played role in their stories and they in hers.
There is a mix of mythology as we know it or as it is documented in the history books. And numerous commentaries on that. And author’s own imagination. As there are many versions of epic, with regional variations, unless you have studied them all, it is very difficult to make out what part is referred. And what part is added on? This is exactly where lies the creative potential of our culture. We are allowed to change the epics, interpret them in a language that the world understands today. Interpret them for the current day dilemmas. And add your imagination to give a different path to the character in the story. Take the story in the direction you want a story to move.
Sita’s Ascent Novella is written like a screenplay. Language has been made contemporary. Especially by putting modern management jargon in many places. There is a fair amount of Telugu flavors with Aiyooos, Ammas, and mention of local rituals. That I am sure is not followed in North where Sita lived. There is also an adaptation of the local Ramayana tradition where Soorpanaka by deceit makes Sita depict Ravana. And then converts that description into a painting. This painting is what leads to banishing of Sita by Rama in this version of Ramayana. Which is known only to two of them and not anyone else? Language and narration are ordinary.
Read it, if Sita’s character in Ramayan intrigues you.