Daughter of the Earth, OR: Why the Goddess Has Left Us
When the earth split open, and she
Lay, beautiful and dark-haired,
Lotus-soft and star-eyed,
Born of the Plough, born of Life,
Did they know who had emerged?
Adopted by a kindly King,
And later, won as a prize
By the Righteous Prince who
Had bent the mighty bow,
Sita, the Earth-Girl chose jungle over palace,
When her Prince was banished there.
Her Righteous Prince, a toy of Fate,
Left his kingdom, ruled by duty above all –
Duty to his heartbroken father’s promise
To a jealous second wife, his other mother.
Could he have disobeyed?
And if he had, how could he be
Rama, Prince of Dharma,
The Righteous Prince Incarnate?
In the beautiful forests of Panchavati,
Surrounded by blooming creepers,
And golden-eyed deer, happy with her Prince,
Protected by him and his brother,
She lived for a while, asking nothing,
Receiving what Mother Earth gave,
Until a golden deer drew her gaze,
And she sent Rama to obtain it.
Why did she choose to covet beauty,
When it was enough just to behold it?
Rama, ready to please Sita, pursued the deer,
Shooting it through the heart.
The deer, a demon, changed
Before Rama’s horrified gaze, calling out
In Rama’s voice, “Lakshmana!”
And Lakshmana, charged with guarding Sita,
Urged by her to heed his brother’s cry,
(Though it was not), drew a magical line
And said, “Stay inside, do not cross
This line will protect you from danger.”
He left, against his will, against all instinct.
Why did he choose to let her
Bend his will to her own?
At what cost, obedience?
Approached by the ravening Demon-King
From Southern Lands, Earth’s daughter,
Stepped over the line drawn in the earth
By Lakshmana. The protection broke.
Why did she not choose to stay within it?
But if she had stayed, could she have been
True host to the disguised Brahmin,
Ten-headed Ravana, the Demon-King,
Who had come seeking food?
Captive in his winged chariot,
Flying over kingdoms, finding herself
At last in a garden, where demonesses
Inveigled her to give in to Ravana’s advances,
Sita chose to sit apart, sighing, weeping.
And when Rama, hearing of where she was,
Sent Hanuman, his loyal emissary,
That Monkey God offered Rama’s ring
As proof of who he was,
Offering to fly her back to her beloved.
She gave him an ornament from her hair.
She said, “Tell Rama to come for me.
I shall not leave until I am avenged.”
Did she have to choose this path?
Did she know that if she’d chosen
To return with the good Monkey-God,
She might have been spurned?
And so, war commenced.
Destruction and gore, and severed heads,
Wailing wives, burning buildings,
Scenes of carnage and horror unpeeled.
Bears and monkeys, and the Righteous One,
Battled for Sita’s honor.
And Rama’s army won, awash in blood.
Did they have any choice in any of this?
And if so, why choose death over life?
And when the time came to return home,
Her husband stepped forward,
But people clamored for proof
She had to be pure, chaste.
Their muttering grew loud,
And the Prince said, “My wife should be
Above reproach, Purity herself.
I cannot take her back, not after
She’s been in the house of another man.
She has to prove herself.”
Did he choose to ask this of her
To offer proof to his doubting people,
Or to himself?
She read the doubt in his eyes, and
Her own eyes burning with the heat
Of ten thousand suns, she stepped into
A prepared pyre, and stood, praying,
Unsinged, surrounded by flames.
Agni, the Fire God, himself blessed her.
And she was thus fêted: Sita the Pure!
Why did she choose to prove this?
Was not her word enough?
But soon, muttering grew again,
And the people demanded proof again.
And again, Rama chose to listen.
Was he truly the Prince of Dharma,
Or was he Rama, the Weak God?
Now, banished, she bore her suffering in quiet.
What thoughts assailed her?
Did she feel rage, bitterness?
Did she weep? Did she curse her stars?
Then, when her twins were born,
Rama found her, wept with sorrow
At having let her go. She wept with him.
And returned again to rule by Rama’s side.
And once again, people muttered,
Over and over, the demons in their hearts,
Voicing susurrations of suspicion.
Were his people worth this much pain
Should she choose to prove herself
Again and again?
She saw the doubt again in his eyes.
She closed her mind, stopped her ears,
Stitched up her torn heart, and made
Her choice, the only choice born
Within her, born from her own counsel.
She took a final path, hers alone.
She turned away from the “Righteous One”
Away from her tearful children,
Away from the doubting populace.
Turning to her Mother, she called out
Silently, in sorrow, and with longing.
And a long furrow opened before her,
Dark and welcoming, promising peace.
She walked straight into it,
Mata Bhoomi welcomed her home.
Sita, the Unsullied, the pure of heart,
Born of the Earth, gift of Kings,
Returned to the one place
That was truly hers, hers alone.
Looking neither right, nor left,
Nor turning to gaze upon her husband
Or her stunned, silent twin boys,
She chose her path, alone.
And when the earth had split open, and she’d
Walked into that cleft, beautiful and dark-haired,
Slim and tall, lotus-soft and star-eyed, with
Straight-backed pride, unafraid, eyes dry,
Did they know who it was that had left the world?
Had any of this been of her making?
The world had been too much for her.
This world is too much for us.
Save us all,
Save us all,
Save us all.
Mine is a poem in support of Sita. I am tired of the Ramas of this earth.
*In case you want to know more, read a concise summary of the story of Rama and Sita here (you can always look for the lengthier versions in a library):
By Vijaya Sundaram
A native of India, Vijaya Sundaram has lived in the Boston, Massachusetts, area for the past 25 years. She is a singer-song-writer, guitarist, poet and writer who spent seventeen years as an 8th Grade English teacher at a local public school. Only recently feeling the urge to publish, she’s been sending out her work to various literary magazines. Vijaya has been published in literary magazines Calliope and The Phoenix Rising Review. You can read more of Vijaya’s work on her blog, StrangeLander2