Thursday, 22 March 2018

Was Sita never abducted by Ravana? Which book states this?

My Answer:
According to the Dasaratha Jataka, a text dated between 300 BCE and 400 CE, Seetha was never abducted by Ravana. As a a matter of fact, in that text, Ravana is not even mentioned…
The English translation of the Dasaratha Jataka can be read here:
The Jataka begins with a householder grieving for the loss of his beloved father. The Master then says, to the grieving householder, that the sages in the ancient past, who knew the realities of life, never grieved upon the loss of their father. He then narrates the story of Rama, a sage, who did not grieve at all, upon the loss of his father.
There was once a king named Dasaratha, who, after abandoning his prior, reckless life, had ruled Varanasi with justice. He had a total of 16 000 wives. Of these wives, his chief wife bore him 2 sons, Rama and Lakkhana, and 1 daughter, Sita. Soon after this, she died, and the king was immersed in grief. Emerging from this grief, he married another lady, who bore him a son named Bharata. Due to love for her, Dasaratha gave her a boon (i.e. she could ask for anything from the king). At that moment, she did not use her boon, but held onto it, for use at a later time… When Bharatha was seven or eight years old, she asked Dasaratha, using the boon, to give the kingdom to Bharata. Hearing this, Dasaratha was enraged, and verbally abused her for asking him to put his two sons (Rama and Lakkhana) to death and confer the kingdom on Bharata. Hearing this, Dasaratha’s wive was terrified, and entered her inner apartments. A couple days later, she made the same request to Dasaratha again. Again, Dasaratha did not grant the boon, but he became apprehensive and thought that to obtain the kingdom for Bharata, his wife may try to deceitfully have Rama and Lakkhana killed…
So, Dasaratha consulted with an astrologer, who told him that he would die within 12 years, and then asked Rama and Lakkhana to go to a neighboring kingdom or to the forest, and to return after 12 years and seize the kingdom of Varanasi. Sita also wanted to go with her dear brothers, and hence went along with them… They built a hermitage by the Himavanta, and lived on fruits and water. Since Sita and Lakkhana considered their elder brother Rama, a father-like figure, they told him to stay in the hermitage and that they two will always bring fruits for him (Rama) to eat. Living in such a manner, nine years had passed, and it was then that Dasaratha died. Bharata performed his funeral rites, and then went to Rama to ask him to rule the kingdom. When Bharata told Rama about the news of their father’s death, the former broke down, but the latter neither grieved nor wept, there was not even the slightest commotion of his senses.
Rama soon realized that his other two siblings would not have the ability to control their senses, like he did, and as a result, he suspected that they would weep at great lengths for the death of their father. Hence, when the two came back to the hermitage, Rama asked them to enter a pool of water as their punishment for coming back (with the fruits) late. It was then that he told the two about the news of their father’s death. Hearing this, they became insensible. When Rama told them the news of Dasaratha’s death for a second time, they once again became insensible. Then, Rama told them about the news of Dasaratha’s death for the third time, and yet again they became insensible. Seeing this, Bharata’s attendants (that accompanied him to Rama’s hermitage) raised Sita and Lakkhana from the water…
Then Bharata became very curious why Rama was not lamenting for his father’s death, despite the fact that Sita and Lakkhana were immersed in grief, and asked him for the reason for his lack of grief…
Rama replies to Bharatha, explaining his reason for a lack of grief, by speaking the following verses:
Hearing this, everyone in the hermitage became free of sorrow… Then, Bharata asked Rama to accept the kingdom of Varanasi. Rama, however, did not want to return that quickly, since three years were still left in the period that Dasaratha had given Rama. So, Rama sent Sita and Lakkhana along with Bharata to Varanasi, and completed the remaining three years in the hermitage. Since Bharata refused to reign in this three year period, Rama removed his straw-shoes, and told Bharata that these shoes will reign for the time being…
The ministers would place these shoes on the royal throne prior to considering each case. If the conclusion made by the ministers was correct, the shoes would remain in their original position. But if the conclusion they made was wrong, the shoes would strike one another, signalling to the ministers that the conclusion they made is incorrect, and that they should reconsider the case.
Three years passed by in such a manner, and then Rama returned to Varanasi. He made Sita his consort and ruled the kingdom, with justice, for 16 000 years. Then, after dying, he went to heaven…
Hearing this, the householder remained in possession of the fruits of sotāpanna!
And that concludes the Dasaratha Jataka. It does not mention Ravana, neither does it mention Seeta’s kidnap. I hope you enjoyed reading my summary of this version of Rama’s story. If you wish to read the entire English translation of the Dasaratha Jataka, you can do so here:

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